Wow, it’s crazy how fast time goes by when you’re racing, racing, racing! The Tour de Ski was such a blast this year, and I was happy not only with my own racing but in seeing the determination, grit and mental strength of my teammates and our staff! The Tour is no joke, and it takes some serious commitment to get out there early every single day, testing skis, sprinting up the testing hill about a million times to do glide outs just so us racers can have our best shot!
A huge, huge thanks to our awesome support staff for sweating and smiling their faces off and making it possible for us to compete! As an athlete, it also take some awesome powers of self-delusion and positive thinking (maybe a 50/50 mix) to convince yourself that you’re not really that tired, you can go out and hammer day after day and if your legs feel dead, well…that’s just par for the course! EVERYONE’S legs are feeling dead, silly goose!
After coming into the tour feeling good but fairly unsure of where my fitness would realistically stack up, it was a big surprise (but of the most welcome kind!) to find myself still near the front during the 10km skiathlon in Oberstdorf. I remember thinking to myself, “wow, ok, you really do have a shot to win this thing! Your skis are amazing, and your body is still feeling good. Start thinking like it’s yours to win!” And I gave the sprint out at the end my best shot, and to finish 2nd was such a fun rush!
But however fun it may be to step onto the podium (and receive the biggest wedge of cheese you’ve ever seen in your life), it’s nothing compared to how happy I felt stepping up there with my teammate, Sadie, after the 5km individual skate in Toblach a few stages later! Seeing her up there made me cry, I was so happy.
We always say “we train together, and help each other get faster, so when one of us succeeds we know that it was the team that helped them get there…and if one of us can do it, everyone else can, too!” but to see it actually happening was the happiest moment of my winter. The entire team took pride in that day, because it takes such a group effort, and it was great to see the coaches and techs getting recognized for all their tireless efforts!
Then, of course…the last stage. The climb. Let’s just look at the course profile for a quick second….
Ok, done laughing? Nope? Ok.
Alright. Back to the blog.
I would say that it’s all in your head, but…it’s in your legs. Your lungs. Your arms. Your feet. Your core. It’s painful, and it’s everywhere. But it only lasts 35 minutes. And the feeling of staggering across that line in the snow at the top, once you’ve regained full consciousness, is the best feeling of accomplishment I’ve ever known. Because you’ve just done something so tough that most people in the world can’t, or won’t, do it. And it ain’t pretty, but you’ve made it! Personally, I liken my appearance in the final 300 meters to a rag doll, but someday I’ll be able to pull that together. What I’ve got now is the guts to go for it and that’s what’s most important!