Every athlete reaches a point in their career where things go downhill. My mom reached that point during her prime years of ski racing. Her biggest regret, she says, is quitting after that year. Of course she couldn’t stay away from the ski tracks for too long and she eventually returned to the national team. I have learned from her that when times are looking dark, you must persevere with all your might. Looking back, I can fully say that I tried my best in every race at JN’s this year.
The classic sprint brought me unfortunate wax, but I still kicked as hard as I could. During my most solid race, the skate 10k, I pushed hard out of the start and immediately started moving up in the pack. Once in the top thirty I kept trying to pass a group of about 10 girls to put me in the top twenty, each time I was passed back. Despite how bad I felt, I kept reaching for my goal. I wasn’t scared when it came to the classic race, I saw the pace of the fast girls and decidedly matched it up the hollow. Even though I ended up blowing up, I had to be brave and try the pace because I wasn’t about to say, “Well I’m having a bad week so I’ll so out slow.” I placed myself in third going up the hollow the day of the relay, knowing that if I felt good I could hang there. I had another unfortunate event that day in which my pole broke (good excuse for a new pair of poles).
I had an optimistic conversation with Rick Kapala at the closing ceremonies. I told him about my discouraging results and he replied, “In all the years you’re going to be competing this is just one bad week at an inconvenient time. We all know you’re fast.” This was exactly what I needed to hear.
Feeling the thrill of having a really solid race becomes infectious in an athlete. I know what it feels like to have mind and body click, unfortunately mind was there and body wasn’t at this JN’s. I will persevere though, as I hope all the athletes on this trip will too.
One other thing, Alex Kopytko and I were up to our usual tricks at this JN’s. This year, playing Just Dance evolved into two full on dance offs. Alex won the first one, which forced me to drink a liter of mountain dew. Fortunately, I won the second and Alex had to suffer through a V8. Even though I was lying on the couch like a beached whale afterwards, I downed the mountain dew in 15 minutes while Alex took an hour to drink his V8. I couldn’t be happier when I felt no side effects at the closing ceremonies, while Alex looked pale despite his ridiculously sunburned face. I encourage everyone to mention V8 in front of him, just to see his reaction.
My hope is that everyone learned something this year at JN’s. I definitely know Alex learned to stop making bets with me. I learned exactly what I have expressed here and what Rick told me. “Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”- Emerson.