Find the gnarliest hill… and attack it

FasterSkierMay 26, 2006

A paragraph from my training last week:

“I am already soaked to the core, even though I haven’t yet started the time trial. Rain is coming down in sheets and the road only twenty feet ahead is shrouded in fog. Before my warm-up, I drove to the top of Honey Hollow Road and measured it to be around 2 miles. As if I am about to jump into a cold pool of water, I start a countdown to get my mind ready for the pain I am about to experience.

And then its go time. It’s been over a month since I last pushed myself through mental and physical limits. Maybe longer. I fear that I will call it quits half way up, change the finish line of this ambiguous running time trial. That I won’t remember how to persevere and spite my body’s pleas for relief. That even without any competitors, I will lose to my biggest challengers: this pouring, miserable rain and the dirt-turned-mud road my feet meet with each stride.

But then it comes, from where, I am not sure. The innate craving to go faster, to overcome the pain numbing my limbs by going harder, to reach the top in one superhuman sprint. My watch beeps with each heartbeat, showing a value I haven’t seen in a year: 192 bpm. The rain starts to feel warm, even though it really isn’t.

Soon after, my body falls into a fast pace. Physiological processes start to reach a balance. So I push it even harder, and smile that I can. Where’s the finish, I have no clue, just keep pushing, always forward. A bend in the road seems somewhat familiar, so I quicken and deepen my stride. No, there are two more, and then a steep hill to the top, I remember. But now I’ve found another gear, so I use it.

Everything seems in order now, my mind focused solely on the finish and my legs propelling me there. The rest of my body is just along for the ride. Soon I see a familiar clearing up ahead. Breathing burns now. My calves tighten on the steep climb to a visible finish: a culvert and an out-of-place granite boulder. There is a short flat section, but my legs have no capacity for speed at this point. There is no one standing at the finish, no spectators lining the course, I am the only witness to my performance. And then it’s over.

As I’m heaving grossly beside the rarely used gravel road, the cold rain pelting my neck, a guy on a riding lawn mower drives by, waving a friendly good morning. If he only knew.”

A 2006 Olympian in biathlon, Brian Olsen, 22, lives in Heber City, UT and Jericho, VT. He competes for Team Soldier Hollow. Find more information on his website:


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