This was such a crazy weekend! Both the 15km mass start classic and the 4x5km relay were great opportunities to work on mental toughness and dig deep.
Our team as a whole didn’t have a great day in the classic, and everyone was pretty smoked at the end of the race. I don’t have any excuses; I just didn’t have the spark that day and the race turned into a struggle to finish. On the last lap I heard this ragged breathing and found myself wishing some coach would just put the athlete out of their misery…before I realized that the sound was coming from ME. Whoops. However, there was a great silver lining to the day, getting to see the Canadians do so well. Perri, Devon, Babs and Lenny all scored points and it was cool to see!
For me, this morning was one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a long time. Everyone was tired. You could see it in people eyes right before they put on a smile and pretended they were just fine. But it was there. There was no denying that yesterday had been rough, but everyone just shrugged it off and came out swinging. And today, we decided that yeah, the race was going to be super tough and probably hurt a ton, but we were going to have fun with it and give it everything we had anyways. We put on knee-high striped socks, bumped some good music and proceeded to apply face-paint and glitter. And we ended up getting 5th place (only .1 second out of 4th) - the best a Women’s XC relay has ever done! But for me the real victory was seeing everyone dig deep, get tough, and pull out their game face when it counted. Our relay team went Holly, Ida, Liz then me, but the “relay team” really included the ENTIRE team USA.
The nice thing about being anchor leg, for me, is having to only do one tag-off! The bad thing is putting stress and pressure on yourself because you’re the one who has to cross the finish line. So my plan was to focus on only what I could control, and not worry about how the results panned out. Of course, that didn’t happen…go figure. As soon as Liz came into the tag zone and I realized I’d be skiing with Charlotte Kalla, I threw my plans of “skiing my own race” out the window and proceeded to glue myself to Kalla.
We skied the entire 5km together, never more than 5 feet apart. Although my Salomon boards were so fast – our techs nailed it and I’m positive we had the best skis on the day – that on the downhill before the stadium on the first lap I passed her and got to lead around the stadium! Which put me pretty much on cloud nine, although it was dumb to lead into a headwind leaving the stadium. However, one of the benefits of wearing the “rookie” label is being able to get away with crap like that. In the final .5 kilometers, I wasn’t sure how much kick Kalla had left, and made the mistake of staying behind her on the downhill, not wanting to get reeled back in on the flat. I tried a couple times to get around her right before the stadium but got solidly blocked so had to wait till the lanes to pull the trigger on a sprint, and it didn’t catch hold in time. However, I’m psyched out of my mind on getting a photo finish with an Olympic Gold Medalist! I think I must have been in a lot of pain because I couldn’t stay standing at the finish but I was so excited I couldn’t feel a thing, which was just fine with me! I found out later than I had the fastest anchor leg over Kalla and Bjoergen, which I’m going to solidly blame on the fast skis. Thank you Salomon for Hooking. Me. Up. This. Year!
The dudes relay team got 12th, and they were right in the mix for the first part!
Tomorrow afternoon, we road trip to Poland, which should be cool – this year has been one big sight-seeing tour for me. I’m excited to see another new country!