Enjoy Winter - Article 3
Nothing to it, but to do it!
Craftsbury Season Opener Recap
Photo courtesy of Phillip Balena
This past weekend, I headed up to Craftsbury for a short 24hrs to coach for Harvard in the season openers. Because it was a straightforward wax day, I was also able to jump into the race, which was a fun opportunity to put on a bib and do a low consequence test race for myself. I was a bit nervous because I was unsure how my body would feel, but overall I was surprised by how relaxed I felt. There are always going to be some nerves, but it was the good kind of anticipatory nerves as opposed to dreading nerves. I didn’t feel my stomach drop when Ollie was explaining the start orders or when the tone went off.
Part of that was the good natured banter at the start line with Annie McColgan, who never fails to keep the mood light. Got to give credit where credit is due. And then we were off. The race was a 10k Freestyle, about as straightforward as it gets. I settled into the lead group, knowing my warmup wasn’t the best and timid about pushing too hard too early. It was also my first day on snow of the year so it took a few kilometers to feel steady on my skis again.
At the end of last season, it was extremely difficult for me to push myself in races. With a few exceptions, I just didn’t have the mental energy or desire to bury myself. I was worried I would
feel the same apathy towards racing hard that had made it so mentally draining. But it wasn’t long in the race before I felt that ember start to catch fire and that innate competitiveness start to take over. Although I could definitely identify some fitness and strength limitations, I felt better than I expected both mentally and physically.
The Craftsbury 5k course is one of my favorite race courses, and I know it really well from training on the trails for two years. It felt only right that my first race in (out of?) retirement was in the GRP suit charging up Screamin’ Mimi. (Factory Team suit coming soon, stay tuned! You won’t miss it!). I really enjoyed ripping around again with a bib on and it bodes well for the season to come.
Annie McColgan dragging me up the first lap of Screamin’ Mimi.
On a sentimental note, there is a charm to Craftsbury that folds you in like a nice little hug. You can be fine without it for a while, but once you go back you realize how good it feels to be in that space. A huge part of that is the community there and the dedication at every turn to building up and empowering athletes of all ages by bringing them together. It was so nice to see the people who had made my time there special, and hear support and excitement for my next phase.
photo courtesy of Phillip Balena
Another cool part of the weekend was doing my first race as an assistant to the Harvard Ski Team. It was a really straightforward wax day but was a low stress way to learn about the rhythm of being a coach on a race morning. I have a lot to learn about the art of prepping race skis, directing athletes and helping everything go smoothly. It is fun to be back in the orbit of college skiing and feel a lot of the same energy that made my experience so unforgettable.
One of the great things about coaching is it’s a roundabout way of coaching yourself. I don’t know about you, but I don’t always listen very well to my own advice, but repackaged and directed at someone else, it sounds pretty good.
Over the weekend, I was speaking with an athlete about what motivates the team and gets them fired up to perform. We spoke about the importance of having personal goals, but also knowing what your teammates goals are. In college when I came to practice unmotivated, I would say to myself if you can’t find the motivation for yourself today, you have to find it for your teammate so they can have a good training partner. If you can’t do it for you, do it for the
person next to you. That mentality got me through a lot of tough practices and I’m confident that it positively impacted my race results.
I don’t have teammates that I train with everyday or that I will be racing and traveling with over the season. So who or what is my “teammate” that I can lean on? I am still working on exactly what that is but I think it is mostly the community of skiers around me and the people who have supported me along the way.
Standing on the podium is always fun, especially when it involves VT maple syrup! Photo courtesy of NENSA/Fred Bailey.
Up next, I am headed back to Idaho for the holidays and hopefully to get a solid block of altitude training before the first marathon!