So now what? That is the question I have been getting lately. Starting in 2005 I have been a part of every major championships. Some have gone pretty well for myself others have been disasters but now those days are done. Weird to write.
When I got home last week it was a really odd feeling. All that I have been working for and trying to do has come to an end. I really don’t know where this season went wrong. Training was on pace or ahead of last year, interval times were the same or better as well. I am fit, it just never came together… There are a lot of little things I can point to but who knows… I do know that I had some pretty nasty allergies that I was dealing with in Rumford and was able to fight thru them in the 15k but my 30k still confounds me.
The week after Nationals was one of my hardest as a skier. I have always known that I could never give the Ski Team the choice not to take me and I knew I gave them a good one this time. Still I held out hope that they might take me to World Champs. That my 15k in Rumford would be enough after being the top American guy at the Olympics to get me there. When I got the call and found out that I didn’t make the team it hit me harder than I was expecting. I knew I probably wasn’t going to make it but to hear it was not going to happen was giant kick in the gut. I tried to rally for the classic race in Placid a few days later but one lap into the race I hit a patch of ice on a downhill and fell. From there the race just unravelled. I needed a break then I needed a plan.
It was so nice to finally come home after two months on the road and be able to step away from skiing. Wake up that first morning and have my girls around. To be able to relax and not talk about skiing, play with my daughter, hang out with my wife and just live.
Over the next few days I thought about going to Europe to do some World Loppet’s, the Vasaloppet and the Norwegian Birkebeiner are two that I have always wanted to do. Norwegian Nationals was also a possiblity. In the end I knew that I wanted to win the 50k Championship and those didn’t set me up well for that. I also have wanted to make a run at the American Birkebeiner. So those are the two big dates on my calendar along with some racing here at home that fit well with preparing for those. It is not what I had in mind coming into the season but given my options I am really excited about the possibilities and the process.
I still have my moments of frustration but now that I have a plan and have started to implement it, the freedom I have to train and race has been enjoyable. For years I have envied top runners who get to pick a race and train just for that. Now I have that chance. One week back training I already feel like I am is as good of shape as I ever have. Drives me nuts because I would love to see what I could do against the best in the World but fun because, well, it’s always fun to be in great shape and to be able to use that shape to hopefully make some money is even better.
Next up for me is Pia’s Classic. A 30k classic at Kincaid. After that a few weeks of just training before a tune up 30k before I head south to the Birkie.
I feel so lucky to have been able to put everything I could into ski racing and grateful to all those who have helped make this journey possible.