January 9, 2013

The Perils of being an Endurance Athlete

After the first sprint, I felt as though I had been run over. I was exhausted and sore and not feeling my best, but I was so determined to win the Skate race, I don't think any virus could have taken over my mind, however, after the skate race, I continued to feel poor. I had that swollen throat that I attempted to convince myself was anything but a cold. Maybe I had suddenly developed allergies, maybe it was from racing in the really cold, dry air, maybe it was from cheering so much, anything but a virus. Knowing in the back of my mind that these were silly thoughts, I was a mess inside knowing I really can't afford to miss any races this week if I am to accomplish my goals and also knowing that racing while sick can ruin your entire season.

Being the stubborn person I am, I put that bib on and give it my best in the 20k classic as that was probably my best event. I felt fine and I hung in the pack easily. There were 6 of us that sepparated ourselves from the others within the first of 4 laps so it was simply a race of six. Feeling comfortable in the pack, I thought maybe I had more in me than I thought. I pushed the pace at times and was able to respond to any move made by others in the pack, that is until the last kilometer came. My friend and teammate Sadie, put in a killer move destroying all those behind her and leaving us to fight for the rest of the podium spots. As we started up the last, but giant hill, I tried to muster everything I could but had no fight left me, that last gear missing so I had to settle for fourth. It was not the podium place I was looking for, but all considering it was an effort I had to be proud of. Skiing 20km also gives any racer a lot of time to learn and experience so it was a valuable experience for me, emphasizing my weaknesses and giving me more time to learn how to ski relaxed in a pack, something I really struggle with. I could lie to myself after that race though, I was suffering some evil virus's attack on my body.

The podium, teammate Sadie in 1st, teammate Kate in 2nd and good friend Sophie in 3rd (Fasterskier Photo)

pure exhaustion at the finish line. (Fasterskier Photo)

And then there were 6... (Fasterskier Photo)

Struggling to find my gear up the last hill (Fasterskier Photo)

A view from the back of field right out of the start (Fasterskier Photo)

Leading out of the stadium (Fasterskier Photo)

The 6 of us headed out on another lap (Ian Harvey/Toko Photo)

Sophie and I in sync (Ian Harvey/ Toko Photo)

After some nice rest at home, I was surprised to feel much more energetic and like myself the next day. I thought for sure I had kicked that virus and was ready to give it my all the next day. My body was simply fooling me however, as I went to bed that night my head began to get heavy and those winter cold feelings came back. I woke up feeling that much more terrible, but got in the car and headed to the race anyhow. I really needed to race in order to score points for the overall lead, something that is a big goal of mine. I threw my bib on and went for it, feeling like I couldn't get the air I needed and that my muscles were going to quit at any moment. I ened up qualifying for the sprint in 5th, which was not bad by any standard so it was game time, I was going to race those heats with every last once of energy I could find. I won my quaterfinal and actually started feeling a little better. I lacked the confidence in my strength however, knowing I wasn't 100% and got caught playing cat and mouse games in my semi. It came down to inches and I did my best but ended up 4th in that heat, needing a 3rd place to move forward. That marked the end of my day, putting me in 7th place overall. Again, it was not what I was looking for, but I did all I could do and learned a lot from the day.

To put this all in perspective, last year, 7th place was the best I finished in any race at US Nationals so despite my groans about the last two races, I have had an incredible week and am very happy with how most of it went. Getting sick to an endurance athlete feels like you are on your death bed and your life might end, but in reality its just a simple part of life we all must deal with. It's just a bad turn of luck when those illnesses strick during some of the more important days. It was incredible racing here in Utah and having so  many friends and family members out there cheering. I am thrilled to have shown all my supporters what it is I am out there training for everyday and what I spend all in winter doing.

The best part? For once, I can crawl into my own and get a good night sleep without worrying about packing up all my skis and clothes and jumping on a plane to head to the next destination. I get a nice week to recover at home before hitting the road again!

Once again, thanks for all the cheers and support!

Results from the week:

Coverage of all the races:

The Park Record (www.parkrecord.com)  and the Salt Lake Tribune (www.sltrib.com) did articles on the races as well, but I felt the best one was in the Deseret News, which I know most of my fans don't read so here is that link: