January 14, 2015

What a Week

Temperatures never rose, the wind never stopped,  and the snow continued to fall, but we pushed on and completed two more races at U.S. Nationals.

I had the most successful week of racing of my career. I walked away with two more U.S. National titles, making a total of 3 for the week and a 3rd place in the other race. I even won what I consider my weakest event, skate sprints. It was truly an amazing week. It's easy to walk away from a week like this, revel in all the success and never reflect more than that. But, something I have been working on this season is focussing on the process of racing rather than the results themselves. Win or loose, I hope to learn something everyday, grow as a person, and make the best of whatever hits, which means taking time to reflect. So what makes a week like this possible?

1. Teammates and Coaches

My teammates have embraced me for who I am. We support each other, help each other, and create an environment in which we can all be ourselves and have an important role on the team. Erik has continually picked up my pieces when I fall apart, helped me to find the good in the bad, taught me how to believe in myself, been a mentor and role model, and continually emanates the most positive and enthusiastic vibes possible. I am happy when I am traveling and racing with my team. And don't forget the hours and hours of ski work the APU staff put in to make sure we were racing on the fastest skis possible! It takes a team!

On that same note, a team that works well together, finds success together. I would say APU dominated the championship, taking half of the spots in the A-finals in the skate sprint and half of the top 10 in the classic races. Go APU!

2. Racing for the Sake of Racing

I am a very goal oriented person and I often find myself becoming fixated on obtaining a certain result. However, this is very counter-productive. I have found a joy in racing this season that was not there last season and every time I stand on a start line, I am excited to push myself rather than feeling the anxiety of having to obtain a certain place in the race.

3. Remaining Positive

It's rare that a race is perfect by chance, but you can always make a race perfect or at least make the best of what is thrown at you. We were dealing with some nasty weather, but at the end of the day someone still was going to win the race so why not layer on the clothes and enjoy the adventure.

4. Putting Yourself Out There

It's often easier to take the safe route, make an excuse, or avoid something altogether, but then you never learn. It takes putting yourself out there and risking not meeting your goal in order to learn and grow and maybe even exceed your goal. I took a number of risks, leading a good portion of the 20k, attempting to win sprint heats from the gun, and not giving up after face planting and breaking a pole. I can consider my races successes because I did these things and I can be sure I learned a thing or two about myself and racing as a result of taking those chances.

5. Knowing and Having Belief in Your Strengths

This goes along with positivity. I find it easy to become obsessed with weaknesses. For me, it's downhills. I often fear downhills to the point that that is the only thing I think about the on the course, how negative! Erik has planted this idea in my head that if I focus on what I am good at, not only do I remain more confident throughout a race, I can develop a race plan that utilizes my strengths rather than revolves around minimizing my weaknesses. Of course, weaknesses need to be acknowledged and worked on, but that is what training is for, not racing. I had a really good summer of training so I felt my strength was my fitness so I focused my race efforts on believing in my fitness to get me through the slow, cold, grinding course of Houghton.

20k Classic Victory (fasterskier photo)

Skate Sprint Victory (fasterskier photo)

Last Race Exhaustion and Elation (fasterskier photo)

Chelsea and I leading the pack in the 20k classic

The Men's team put together some impressive media production that was picked up around Anchorage. Thanks Boys!
Here are the new clips:


And the ADN article:

I have just arrive in Estonia where I will be joining the US Ski Team for World Cups this weekend and next weekend. I hope I can take everything I have learned so far this year and apply it to the World Cup.