I hope you're reading this somewhere cozy & hygge, perhaps after a cold ski or snowshoe...it was clear and cold this morning here in Ontario (with a glorious sunrise!) but even more lake-effect snow squalls are due today. Back in public school, we relished weeks like these, waking every morning and praying to hear on the local radio that buses were canceled: SNOW DAY! Today's agenda includes tobogganing, packing, and computer work, in that order of priority.
The rest of November and December have, as usual, flown by since my last update. I've truly been busy between travel for races, training, spending time with family, and working online, so again have procrastinated doing a quick mid-season update. I finished racing xc-NorAms in the West in mid-December and headed to my parent's place for Christmas, and have been based here in Ontario since then....training at my home club of Highlands Nordic or at Hepworth, and racing in Vermont and Quebec so far. It's been so strange to be in Canada this month instead of in Europe on the IBU Cup: doing snowy road trips to races and a long drive to train most days, seeing familiar faces from my racing roots here in Ontario as well as some of my extended family, and eating meals and spending time with my parents and Mads and Tristan (thank you all!!!!). I know in my gut this was the right choice this winter because I've also been needed here at home right now too, and family will always trump everything else in life.
To be frank, I also haven't felt very motivated to send out much news, because I've been a bit disappointed with the numerical outcome of many of my xc-races so far. However, yesterday I was again reminded that I suit up each day and go out there and challenge my mind, body, and soul because I love to suffer; I love to learn and evolve; I love the pursuit of mastery - the chasing of a dream that's much larger than yourself; and I love to get the best out of myself on any given day. Some days, that will result in what you perceive to be better numbers, and other days, worse...at the end of the day, they're just numbers, and as my dad likes to say, there's 80 million businessmen in China that really don't give a $#&*. Right now, pushing myself on classic skis, in longer (20km mass starts!) and shorter (1.4km sprints!) race efforts, and attempting to master a "new to me" sport has been, well, exhilarating and exhausting! Racing xc-ski races instead of biathlon this winter has been a lesson in patience and what feels like an ever-expanding-steep-upward learning curve. I honestly had not realized just how different the two sports are until giving myself the opportunity to pursue them both at such a high level. Yes, both are gliding on skinny skis on snow...but in biathlon, I was focused on such a set pace/effort level, for 6-10km, and getting those targets down before blowing up on the final loop...whereas in xc, I can literally go as hard as I want the entire time, no matter the distance...I feel a bit like my parent's dog Stan, when he's set free off the leash, to rip across the fields and though the woods, with nothing to hold him back and no thoughts wasted on pacing himself....the trick now is in riding the line between going hard and going smooth (going hard = scrambling; going smooth = speed) and getting those classic skis working properly under my feet during the pressure of a race situation!
I've also had to balance expectations myself or others have placed on me during this new endeavour. I REALLY wanted to do well in any and all skate races I've entered, especially long ones...and I can say that so far I'm only satisfied with one of them, my first 20km in Vermont (and that was purely based on feel, ability to move up through the field, and the enjoyment of it, not the numerical result)...I let the pressure of "I *should* be good at this event!" get to me. Lesson learned for anything in life: using the word *should* usually results in unhappiness or perceived failure. You do something because you *want* to (i.e.. race your heart out), or maybe *have* to (i.e.. shower, eat, sleep) not because you feel you *should* do it. I also have to accept that I am going to relatively displeased with 49 our of every 50 races I do (give or take) because I'm type A, and never satisfied...and that my previous hormonal/thyroid issues do still come into play on days where my body won't respond no matter how much my mind attempts to flog it!
This coming weekend I am racing a NorAm at my home club of Highlands Nordic, and I couldn't be more excited to tear up those hills again - a throwback to many fond high school racing memories. Over the coming weeks I will also be helping out a bit (ie. cheering) at the high school series of races with FE Madill; racing my first two 50kms in Gatineau and Minnesota (seriously psyched for these!); and then prepping for xc-Nationals in Ottawa (extra excited for the 15km and 30km event there). In-between races this winter I've kept my volume of training relatively high to attempt to carry enough fitness through the winter to do well as some of these longer distances, and been enjoying picking friends and teammates' brains on how to tackle racing for 2.5 hours. Yes, this may be resulting in legs not quite as fresh as I'd like them at races right now, but surviving a 5-month long race season is a lot of give-and-take!
As usual I've rambled on about skiing (surprise, surprise) and almost forgot to share the two main points of this update:
1) I was interviewed by Biathlon World (the IBU) back in early September. They publish a biannual magazine that highlights the biggest news in biathlon around the globe. The published the article in mid December. I felt very vulnerable sharing what I did...I'd long dreamed of being featured by these guys, but for winning an IBU Cup or World Cup or something, not for sharing my struggles. But I knew it needed to be out there: it's in the struggle that we connect with one another, learn, and raise each other up! Disclaimer: the interview was done before I decided to chase some xc races vs biathlon this winter...however, the sentiment and my honesty still ring true. I firmly believe that we need to open the conversation not just around body image, but about mental health - and not just in sport, but across all facets of life. It's not just about taking care of your body...your mind and soul need focused attention too.
2) The VIBE OF YOUR TRIBE. Spending more time with my immediate family and seeing a bit more of my extended family the past month, missing my biathlon teammates, spending a bit more race time with my xc teammates, and staying connected with friends far away has made me really realize and sink into the importance of those around you...Your tribe: the people who get you; who spend time with you purely because they want to; the people who would do whatever it takes to help you get by/reach new heights. When you're facing what feels like an insurmountable obstacle, life is bearable only because you're in this ravaging snowstorm together. Even if your world feels shaken up (not stirred), and even if their world is all kinds of crazy too, you can trust your tribe to help you weather the storm. I've also experienced how the vibe (the feeling; the aura; the sense) of your tribe can breathe life into you or smother you, depending on the collective mindset. When one person is doing well and positive, it can be infectious, and get the tidal wave swelling and building momentum. However, if one person is down and out for the count, or worse, a few of the tribe have lost their mojo, the sadness/negativity can spread like wildfire and take eons to extinguish. So, if you are struggling with motivation right now, or hurting inside or out, ensure that the vibe of your tribe - the main "feeling" of those around you, in every facet of your life - is trending towards the light. Not every day is going to be hunky-dory... but if you surround yourself with a tribe of those who are able to count their blessings, enjoy the small things during those mundane moments in life, and just hold space for whatever emotion you're feeling... you're set to sail through whatever waters lie ahead. Even if you all need lifejackets, water wings, and bail buckets at the ready.
On that note: THANK YOU ALL for reading these words, for chasing your own dreams and inspiring me, and for your continued support on the skinny skis....One year ago this weekend my right shoulder hung out of its socket, and I flew home from Italy for surgery, defeated and just plain distraught. Since then, I first lost then gained a lot of strength, a little wisdom, and my world view has grown. If you told me a year later I would be pushing my upper body so hard in double poling, and still ski racing, and exploring my limits, I would have called you crazy. A lot can happen - can change - can shock you - can love you - in a year.
I will draw sparkles from each and every one of you during my upcoming ski marathons... in the meantime, stay frosty, stay fresh, and find some fun out there!
There is suffering in life, and there are defeats. No one can avoid them. But it's better to lose some of the battles in the struggles for your dreams than to be defeated without ever knowing what you're fighting for. - Paulo Coehlo
Warriors of the light are not perfect. Their beauty lies in accepting this fact and still desiring to grow and to learn. - PC
Often in the search for your destiny you will find yourself obliged to change direction. - PC
Pura Vida EY
What I'm... Listening to: see playlist below Dancing to: Rie y Llora (Celia Cruz), Gasolina (Daddy Yankee), hit em up style (blue Cantrell), Taki Taki (DJ Snake ft. Selena Gomez, Cardi B, Ozuna), Mad Love (Sean Paul and David Guetta ft. Becky G) 🔥
Eating: all the amazing food my parents cook - mango salad, venison last night, and Mads' loaf
Drinking: coffee. Nasty icy Gatorade feeds in long races. Wearing: Trailsports and Windtower logos on my race headband, the RMR SuperWoman Race Suit, and so many base layers. Reading: "The Entity: 5 Centuries of Vatican Espionage" and "Hippie" by Paulo Coehlo.
Working on: keeping my feet underneath me and not over-striding; looking up and breathing deep
Rocking at: dialling the focus before the start line, even if I'm mentally/physically tired
My Playlist: Ooh Baby Baby - Priscilla G
The Long Road - Eddie Vedder and Nusrat fateh ali Khan
Queen - sean mendes
orinico flow - enya
sweet dreams - eurthymic
hard sun - eddie vedder
ingrid michaelson - girls chase boys
black velvet - allanah myles
roll out - ludacris
mike posner - song about you
whatever you want- pink
Mull River Shuffe - rankin family
cross to bear - vonda shepard
boomerang - imagine dragons
Not my name - ting tings
Ella crushing the highschool invitational at Hepworth #gomustangs
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!