Ah, the bliss of a post-holiday vacation… Testing out — or exchanging — those killer (in whichever sense of the word is most appropriate) presents, munching on tasty leftovers, SKIING, and just enjoying the simple pleasure of care-free day without agenda… Must be nice!!!
While this may be the situation for many right now — of whom I am extremely envious! — it is not the case for me. I did get a blissful four days off for Christmas — my first “vacation” since starting work in April — but as slowly as it came, it went even more quickly, and I am back on the grind. The holiday was amazing, and I particularly enjoyed being able to get some quality time on my skis… in addition to my lack of agenda and surplus of delicious treats, which I may or may not have overindulged in (I’ll leave it at that).
But, time passes, so inconveniently at times, and I find myself doing the holiday hustle, while many others are catching up on some R&R. I am somehow managing a fine balancing act of three jobs in addition to training, and of course taking the time to enjoy the finer moments in life and be a contributing family member and friend. I have become a relative master of this unique art, like a performer at a circus, and most people would probably find me just as crazy. But, while there are certainly some bumps in the road, I have to say, I am enjoying the act, despite its quick pace.
One would certainly be very lucky to be able to dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to being an athlete, and call it their career in addition to their passion and practice. But in my experience, that is fairly rare, because life, and in my case other passions, come in conflict. And that’s where the balancing act comes in. I understand that the reality for me is that there are several things I am passionate enough about to want to pursue as a career: for the time being, writing, athletics, coaching and teaching, though there are so many others I only wish I could squeeze in, and likely will do in the future. I have chosen to pursue each of those things, in a quest to see where they will take me, and in an effort to support myself amidst the realities of life (more specifically, bills, and even more specifically, those nagging student loans). And I am doing my best each and everyday to give all that I can to each of these roles, because frankly I wouldn’t have it any other way.
While I know that my situation is probably not entirely unique or any more difficult than anyone else’s, I do acknowledge that it presents challenges, and is not the easiest path toward attaining optimum success in any one area, including skiing. But, it is the path I continue to chose, for reasons that perhaps only I can understand. And along with the difficulties, it continues to bring me many rewards.
Just before the holidays, my team, North Tahoe High School, raced in their first CNISSF race at Kirkwood. To say that the day was less than ideal is a gross understatement. The weather was unbelievably harsh. But the kids, several of whom were racing for their first time, got out there and gave it their all. And though some of them were disappointed with their results, I felt extremely proud of their efforts. I know there are only better things to come, and I am anxious to see them unfold.
In addition, several athletes I am coaching/have been coaching/ have coached, went out in yet another snowstorm and left everything they had on the Snowshoe Thompson course, and found themselves meeting the JO qualifying standards for the race. That was a first for several of these athletes. And while I couldn’t be there to witness it, I was so incredibly impressed and proud to see their results. A very big reward, for them, but also for me.
On teaching… I have started a few different clinics over at Tahoe XC, including a Women’s only clinic, which has been an immense success thus far. While I have heard feedback that the women are reeping the benefits of the class, I don’t know whether they know that I am too. It is, in so many ways, empowering. To be with a strong group of female athletes sharing in the same goals and challenges and working together to achieve and overcome them is really an incredible feeling, beyond what I had expected. I knew the atmosphere would be great for the women in the class, and conducive to success, but I didn’t predict that I would feel so empowered by it as well. Being able to teach and share with these women has been awesome so far, and I am looking forward to watching them, and myself, progress throughout the season.
I also got the chance before school got out to ski with a few of the middle schoolers that I had coached this summer through the development program. Again, I felt empowered by the atmosphere, though there were only four of us. I could see just how strong their passion for skiing has become, elevated by the season, and how many gains they had made over the summer. It was a sense of accomplishment for me, knowing I had something to do with it. And when these same athletes went on to win the middle school boy’s race, I felt I had a little part in that too, somewhere rooted in the background.
I have not done a ski race yet this year, as I just haven’t felt I had enough solid on-snow training days under my belt yet, but that will come soon. And so too will those rewards. For now, I am doing my best to hustle with grace — my dance of choice — and enjoy the moments along the way.