We’re starting our second Tour event of the season tomorrow! But before I get into race stories, a really fun announcement that I’d like to highlight…the registration for my book launch party is up! We’re hosting it at the Stillwater Area High School (so my English teachers can grade my final project) because they have enough space to fit everyone who wants to come! The signup link is below:
I’ll be speaking, sharing a recap of the past year’s races, as well as some of the highlights from the book. We’ll cover the process of going from a pair of 3-pin binding skis at youth club to racing on the world’s biggest stage. We’ll talk about the ups and downs of ski racing, learning how to deal with pressure, being a woman in sport and what I hope people will learn about body image from my book.
Then you’ll get to hear from both Todd and I as he leads a Q&A session, before we sign books and take photos. I’m really looking forward to sharing this book launch event with everyone, and celebrating the end of the season!
The event is free and open to all, but please register for your ticket so they know how many people to expect! When you register for your ticket, the “price” is listed as $0-26.73 because there is also a book pre-order option for those who would like to order their book and have it signed at the event. There is also a donation option, for the ArtReach St. Croix to further fund their literary arts book programming…and those donations will be split between ArtReach, WithAll and Protect Our Winters.
Now back to racing…it’s been interesting for me, navigating pressure and the expectations of others in a post-2018 Olympic world. I have had a podium since the Tour, but also been so tired I wondered if I was going to collapse before reaching the finish line. I’ve made good choices, and some spectacularly dumb ones.
While racing in Nove Mesto, I had difficulty connecting to my body while racing. This seems a strange thing to say and even stranger now that I’m writing it, but it’s true! After the Tour de Ski and a little time off, getting back to racing felt like something my body wanted to do while my brain was saying “eeeehhhhhh…but really? Why?”
In Oberstdorf, the 15km skiathlon was a rough day for me as I was pushing absolutely as hard as I could…with a gas tank that was only about half full. I felt tired and low energy, but not on low mental energy, which made it very frustrating. The next day I rallied back, reasoning to myself that even if I was tired for a 15km race, anything can happen in a sprint. And anything DID happen, as I pulled off 3rd place on the podium! Classic sprinting…who knew, right?
We then scooted over to Seefeld for a mini training camp, during the only weekend that was without World Cup races the entire winter. After a chance to live in apartments and try to get over the homesickness that was starting to tug at me, it was time to get back to business in Sweden.
Falun was a bizarre weekend for me. The morning of the classic sprint race, I woke up with a super tweaked neck. I had managed to strain a muscle by sleeping funny, and it was an intense kind of pain that I wasn’t used to. Our entire sport is pretty much based on handling pain and discomfort during a race, but at least you’re in control of it; you could always back down the pace if you choose. This kind of pain was foreign to me, and while getting it worked on I started to tip over, recognizing the signs that I was about to pass out. I felt silly, with this loss of control. My trademark is being good at pain tolerance, so why I was starting to faint from a silly neck muscle pain? Luckily for me, we had our amazing volunteer PT Zuzana Rogers there, and she checked me out and made sure it was safe for me to race. Every time I planted my poles I felt unsettled, but I had set my mind on racing, so I pushed through it (this was undeniably stupid of me). By Sunday, I was incredibly sore but without pain, and I thanked my lucky stars every time I planted my poles and was able to push as hard as I could around the course.
But here’s the thing; the muscle strain was just an outward symptom of an overtired body. It wasn’t really about the neck at all. The problem wasn’t that I had almost passed out hours before the race, the problem was that I was extremely tired, my body was shutting down, and I was stubbornly insisting to myself that I was fine and ready to race. Even after 200-something World Cup races, it can be hard to be honestly in tune with your body and have the courage to rest when you need to. It’s something I’m (clearly) still working on. With that in mind, this week I cut my training load by a wide margin, and – surprise, surprise! – started to feel better and better through the week. I hadn’t realized how tired I was until I experienced what normal energy felt like!
If there’s any kids reading this right now, here’s what I have to say about it: it’s ok to be human. It’s ok to have races that aren’t exactly what you wanted, as long as you fought hard for them. I know, because I’ve had a wide range of races these past few weeks, and you don’t always have to have perfect performances. The only thing you “have” to do is get out there and give it everything you’ve got. And that way, you’ll either have a great race, or learn something to take with you for next time! And if you have any injuries or suspected injuries, get them checked out right away! Not all pain is significant, but all pain is worth getting looked at to be sure it’s ok.
So heading into this Tour of Scandinavia, my only goals are these:
- Be a good person (I mean, isn’t this on everyone’s goal list?)
- Set very clear process-oriented goals for each race, like “keep my core locked in tight while v2-ing”
- When I cross the finish line, be able to look back and honestly say I gave it all the energy I had that day.
- Decide for myself if each race was a success or not – BEFORE I look at the results sheet – based on how I hit my own goals and the effort I was able to give.
We’re excited to get this tour rolling! And as a Valentine’s Day bonus…a photo of our family dog Leo looking so darn cute.