Everyone has their rough days.... In yesterday's race, the silver medalist from the 10k skate dropped out. Petra Madjic didn't start because she's out for the season with 3-4 broken ribs and a pneumothorax (punctured lung), one of the top Norwegians dropped her pole, was having a tough time, and then didn't finish..... Others had great days. Marit Bjoergen won her second gold medal and third medal of the 2010 Olympic Games. It's fun to see her come back so strong after a couple years of struggling. I had a rough race. I was tired, my legs filled with lactic acid the second loop of the classic portion and it was near impossible to hold the race pace I know I am capable of. It's hard to swallow having a tough race here of all places - the Olympic Games were you want to preform your best. My family is here, the race is on TV, I've received so much support from friends, family and people that I don't even know.
Rather than moping around and feeling sorry for myself I am trying to learn from the experience. This will be my first whole season of racing in nearly 6 years - how does my body handle the load? Today was my third race in 5 days - in hindsight, perhaps that was too much. This was now my 5th International racing experience.... I have learned a ton in the past couple of weeks, not to mention the past couple of months. I am learning what works and doesn't work physically, mentally, and emotionally. I am looking forward to future weeks, future months, and future seasons where I can improve upon my approach.
I would be surprised if you found someone at the Olympic Games that wouldn't like to win a gold medal. We are a select group of individuals that are here because we are highly motivated, goal oriented, and (hopefully) because we love what we do. But, there is only one gold medal per event at the end of the day and most athletes here won't win a medal at all. While gold, silver, and bronze are certainly hyped up, the Olympics are more than winning medals...... the Olympics are about perseverance, pursuit of excellence, and being the best that you can be. I had a very hard day yesterday but I plan on doing everything in my power to rest, recover, and come out strong for the remaining races of the Games.
Perhaps the highlight of my day yesterday was getting a surprise cool down partner after the race. Oeystein Petterson, (fondly known as the "Sausage" from a famous streaking event) one of the top Norwegian sprinters was skiing next to me and asked how my race went. I told him it was a "tough day" and he put everything in perspective. He said, "You're only allowed to be upset for one hour, then you have to move on. This is the Olympic Games and it's sunny out. Skiing is FUN!" Now, remember that this guy comes from a country with more ski pressure than anywhere on earth and here he is lecturing ME about how skiing should be fun. We skied the whole 3.75k loop together. We talked about this sprint race where he made the A final but was taken out on the big corner, we talked about my races, upcoming races, the courses, spectators, etc, etc.
So, maybe I didn't win the race, but the GO HOLLY banner than my mother in law sewed was the biggest banner in the entire stadium! A media representative actually asked me about it in the mixed zone!
Also, Christa Case wrote some really nice articles in the Christian Science Monitor. The first article talks about my quest to make the team. Click here if you're interested in reading it. The second article is titled, "The teams behind every Olympic athlete: parents, friends, and fans. Click here if you're interested in reading that one.
The plan for today is a recovery jog - I'm also going to watch and cheer on James and Bird in the men's pursuit. I get to watch with my family and Rob - SWEET. Good luck and have fun to all the APUers skiing the second day of Region Championships today!