Ski Season, So Far…

So, here we are, smack dab in the middle of ski season, and I have finally decided to get things going on my blog. While I originally first got the site established last fall, smack dab in the middle of running and triathlon competitions and at an equally inconvenient time, I just wasn’t able to commit myself to writing and updating like I had hoped due to the time constraints of school. Now that I am finally a graduate (five and a half years later!), I am setting out a goal for myself to write often, and benefit from my blog in the ways that I intended when I first created it. I truly believe that reflection, whether it be on races, training, attitude or just sports and life in general, is the key to improvement in the future as well as enhancing one’s experience now. So… that being said, I begin my first entry, with a reflection on the 09-10 ski season, so far.

This year’s ski season has been an incredible one thus far, and I really believe that it will only continue to get better. While I entered the season unconventionally, coming virtually right off of a long competitive season of running and triathlon and without much rest or specific ski training relative to most of the rest of my life, I have really been pleased with my results. It took some time to get adjusted to the snow and the transition was certainly not made easier by my lack of ski-specific training, but once I got over that first hump, things have really been accelerating at a pleasantly surprising rate.

To put it simply, I feel good. I feel in shape, I feel balanced and at ease on my skis, I feel motivated and energized, and most of all I feel hungry and ready to race, and have been able to carry that attitude with me into and all the way through each of the races so far this season. This has for some time now been my biggest struggle, as I have felt stuck in “third-gear,” so-to-speak, and just not quite in possession of that competitive drive that sets an athlete apart, for at least a few years now. Since the beginning of this season, that has truly turned around. And right now, I honestly could not ask for anything more. This is a huge goal for me to have accomplished, and it has made such a big difference for me this year, in every way. I believe that I owe most of this change to the extent that I was able to push myself in totally new arenas this past summer and fall. During that time, I saw breakthroughs in the level that I was able to and desired to push myself, and my competitive spirit begin to rise again. Now that I am back in my long-familiar element, I have been able to bring that spark; that desire with me, and racing really does feel like a whole new experience, and a whole new level. I am so grateful.

So far this year I have competed locally in the following races, and with the following results: Auburn Ski Club 9km Duathlon (3rd woman, 1st senior); Snowshoe Thompson 10km Classic Race (3rd woman, 1st senior); Paco’s Fun Race 10km Freestyle (1st woman overall); Sierra Skogsloppet 15 km Freestyle Race (2nd woman, 2nd senior); Tahoe Rim Tour 26.2km Classic Race (2nd woman, 1st senior).

Of course, each of these races demonstrated clear areas for improvement and brought respective ups and downs, but all in all, I have been absolutely pleased with each and every one for that one reason discussed above: I pushed. And I mean really pushed. For the first time in a long time, I was really, truly racing, in each of these. I was going for it, with no inhibitions. This doesn’t mean that things always went well or I always got the result I wanted, or that the pushing didn’t hurt like hell everytime, but it means that I did do what it takes to make it hurt. And in the end, this is a great, great thing. When I have crossed the line after each of these races in extensive pain and knowing that I made that pain happen because of my own level of exertion, I am satisfied, regardless of the result. That is what I have been trying to achieve for a few years now, and that is what skiing is all about.

Fortunately for me this season, I have not had the setbacks of the past keeping me from attaining that feeling, and I have seen the corresponding results. In addition the new level of racing I am experiencing, I feel like I have attained a new level of fitness — most likely also due to a long, hard summer of making it hurt both in training and competition. I have felt strong in training and been training smart, and this has made skiing extremely fun this season. I feel like I am in a new place and able to make new goals and push myself to greater limits. I would like to follow this route for the rest of this season — a route to higher goals — which I plan to continue to carry into the running/tri season this summer.

To do this, here is my tentative plan for the rest of ski season: First and foremost, to train smart. While I want to continue to push myself in training and push the envelope within my training, I need to make sure that I am paying attention to my body and its needs and limitations. I have put in so much work all year long leading up to these months, and I need to be constantly aware that at any moment, my body could simply demand rest and be satisfied with nothing else. That being said, I want to continue to increase my intensity and remain steady with my overall training volume. As far as racing, scheduling has been tough this year, almost entirely due to financial constraints. (Ah, the joy of being a recent college graduate in the midst of an economic recession!). I am in the process right now of trying to make two out-of-town trips work: the Boulder Mountain Tour, next weekend, and the Aspen Supertours (Feb.13-14). As of now, things are not looking too good, with my approximately-50-dollar-current bank account sum! But, we’ll see if I can pull something together… You never know! With or without those races, the rest of my year looks like this, for the time being:

Jan. 21 Alpenglow 20km Freestyle
Feb. 6 BMT 30m Freestyle OR Feb. 7 Allen Bard 10km Classic
Feb. 13-14 Aspen Super Tour races (20 km Free, 5 km Classic) OR Feb. 15 Presiden’t Cup 15km Freestyle
Feb. 19-20 Nevada Invitational (15 km Free, 5 km Classic)
Feb. 28 Royal Gorge Midseason Freestyle 10km
March 7 Great Ski Race 30km Freestyle
March 28 Gold Rush 42 km Freestyle

For now, these are the races I plan to do for sure. I may try to squeeze a few more in there, or may end up getting sick or just not feeling great and end up dropping one or two. But as it stands, the biggest events would be the BMT, Aspen Super Tour, Nevada Invitational, Great Ski Race and Gold Rush. At these events (provided I can make it to the travel events), I will get to see more extensive competition than at the local races, with a larger pool of very good skiers. This will provide some good chances for me to test my improvement from last season. I hope these races will work out.

Right now I am in a recovery phase after last week’s super tough Tahoe Rim Tour race. My body still seems to be tired and my muscles just aren’t recovering as fast as I had hoped. So this week, training remains pretty light. I am also racing 20km on Sunday, and while it is not a super important race and I don’t necessarily need to be fast, I would like to feel good and again feel in a place where I can keep the momentum of pushing to the limits in yet another race. This while be my main goal for Sunday.

Tomorrow, I am headed off to Mammoth BRIGHT and EARLY (4 am departure!!), for one of the CNISSF high school races. That’s the other big change for me this year… I am coaching! I coach the Incline High School team, and they are great! It has been amazing so far, with a really positive impact on my own skiing. More about this tomorrow following the race… for now, I think it is probably beyond time to try to get some rest before the long drive and very long day.

Thanks for reading, and check back soon!

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