I think it’s time to re-share one of my all-time favorite quotes.
“Most people fail at whatever they attempt because of an undecided heart. Should I? Should I not? Go forward? Go back? Success requires the emotional balance of a committed heart.
When confronted with a challenge, the committed heart will search for a solution. The undecided heart will search for an escape. A committed heart does not wait for conditions to be exactly right. Why? Because conditions are NEVER exactly right.”
– Andy Andrews, The Traveler’s Gift
This Tour has been full of ups and downs for me, but one thing that allowed me to keep pushing and give it my all was deciding to fully commit. Not worrying about overall standings, results, points or anything other than deciding to give it my all each day. I don’t have really pretty or efficient technique, I don’t have raw speed or power, and often my race tactics are a little off the mark. But what makes me a good athlete is having a committed heart and being all-in, every time. Yet even this committed heart needs to recognize when it’s time to put down the cards and leave the table, and being really sick is one of those times that’s out of my control.
The morning of stage 3’s skate sprint in Val Müstair, I woke up with a really sore throat. Of course I immediately told the coaches and my teammates because that’s what you do when you live on the road with others – it sucks to be put in an isolation room and treated like you have the plague, but it sucks even more to get a teammate or coach sick by being selfish and not telling others that you may be coming down with something. I was convinced that my sore throat was simply because of the dry air in the altitude of the Swiss Alps, and that I was fine, but I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that something in my body wasn’t quite right. I put my mind towards racing the best I could, although looking back (hindsight’s always 20/20, isn’t it?) that explains why I suddenly died in the middle of my quarterfinal.
I got a solo room once we arrived in Toblach, Italy, and was hydrating and taking as much Vitamin C as I could, but I didn’t sleep well, waking up every few hours with a sore throat and pounding head. In the morning once I was up and moving about I felt much better, and decided that if I was getting sick I may as well have one last go. I raced the 5km classic, and had my third best classic result on the World Cup ever, coming in 19th. Uh….what the heck?!? I think in part that was because I was racing like it could have been my last day on the Tour, and I wanted to keep racing so badly that I was out to prove to myself that I could race through anything, even sickness. I figured conditions are never exactly right, and I didn’t want to make excuses for myself, so I didn’t tell the media.
However, that night I was up for what felt like the entire night, waking because I couldn’t breathe properly and the next day I felt so achy and awful that I knew it was time to call it. It really hurts to not finish the Tour when I had my sights set on completing it, and my races have been going well (except for the 10km classic, I’ve been in the points each time). But I have big goals left for the rest of the season and it’s time to get healthy again. And being sick I haven’t had any appetite the last 3 days, which is a real problem on the Tour when you need to be taking in enough food to recover each day. In all likelihood I would have crashed and burned had I tried to start today, so it’s better to start the recovery process sooner instead of dig myself into a hole. This all sounds totally obvious, I bet, but it’s always harder to make the decision for yourself than to look at the situation from another angle!
So, my plan from here is go still go to Predazzo, Italy and then to Seiser Alm, where I will recover and then have a nice little training camp before the races in Rybinsk, Russia. I will also be cheering on Kikkan and Liz in today’s race, and then cheering with all my heart for Liz as she finishes the tour! Of course I have also been avidly following the Nationals races in Houghton, and I’m cheering so hard for all my SMST2 teammates and friends over there! Let’s go, guys!