You may be wondering why I wasn't on the start lists and/or the results from this weekend's World Cup in Poland...... that's because, as I write this I'm sitting at my kitchen table half way across the world in Alaska. Yep. After more than twelve consecutive weeks on the road my bed was calling and I decided to take a short, un-planned trip to AK for a few days. It was a hard decision, and one that had to be made "spur of the moment" as opportunities for transport are limited and timelines were tight. Also, next weekend is one of the few "off" weekends on the World Cup and to make flying back to the US count, it's nice to have a larger chunk of time for the visit.
It's funny that I'm home now, as opposed to earlier this winter. After breaking my wrist there was certainly some pressure to come home for rehab but I choose to stick it out in Europe and continue onwards. My thought was to avoid travel, the ten-hour time change, and to stay in my racing/training "groove." I toughed it out, training in Ramsau with one pole by myself through snowstorms and wind. Then came Russia and it's frigid conditions. I thought the cold would give me an advantage (being from Alaska) but I had a really hard time in Saturday's -19c race with my face turning white and my body feeling horrible. Sunday I turned things around a bit and things were looking up. My result wasn't anything spectacular but it was coming around & I looked forward to finding that groove yet again.
Monday we flew back to Munich on the charter flight from Yaroslav and Tuesday, it was all I could do to get out of bed. I slept all night & all morning. I finally got outside for a ski at noon but could hardly move. I went back to bed. The next few days were low in energy and I had some digestive issues - either from Russia or beforehand, I am not sure. Needless to say, the week was rough and on Saturday, in the Czech Republic, I dropped out of the race which is something I simply don't do. My body felt like an underpowered fiat or a 20-watt light bulb; horrible. Also, I knew that I would be counted on to race the 4x5k relay the next day for the team. Had I struggled through the 15k in Czech, I would have absolutely nothing left in my already diminished tank for Sunday's team event and the team needed me; I needed the team.
Saturday night I booked my ticket to fly home with the departure scheduled for the following day, a couple hours after the relay race. Then, funny enough, Sunday was great. I was able to hang with the pack and helped the US ladies have the best women's relay finish of all time. I felt better and I was having fun. Then, I had to decide: Get on the plane and come home for a break, or stay in Europe, per my original plan and not return until April. I was indecisive; I agonized for a few short hours. As the song says, "Should I stay or should I go!?" Part of me wondered, why, after such a long stint in Europe is this happening now? I've been here this long; don't go home when there are race opportunities to be had. After waking up my coach at 4:30 in the morning to talk it out and calling Delta only to realize that my special Internet fare was non changeable & non refundable (even though I had purchased it within 24 hours) I decided to get on the plane.
A part of me felt like taking a short trip home was a retreat, a "white flag" so to speak. But I think that the winter caught up with me. My wrist, racing the tour with an injury, the rehab, and then to top it all off, feeling horrible for the week heading into Czech and then dropping out of a race. All of this compounded and I felt that the best way to recover, both mentally and physically was to do so in my own bed, in my own zip code. So, that's what I'm doing. I saw my parents briefly in Seattle, I cooked a spicy Mexican dinner for my in-laws (four different kinds of salsa, FYI) I'm hanging out with my husband who has been a great sport (about living the "bachelor" lifestyle) about all of this, napping with my cat Buggz, and ensuring that I'm 100% healthy for my return to Europe and the World Cup.
Yes, I will potentially be jet-lagged, yes, I will "toe" the line with some travel in my body, and yes, I've given up some precious World Cup starts and potential point scoring opportunities. But, a break was needed and as one my teammates so eloquently put it, she said, "Holly, think of this as an opportunity to go home and do your laundry!" And that is exactly what it is..... a chance to do my laundry.... maybe wear a new shirt..... I might also tackle my taxes, my PFD application, enter a domestic race..... I will be back in Europe in time for races in Lahti, Finland and Norway. After that, only time will tell.
If you've gotten this far into my detailed account of why I'm not in Poland at the moment, thanks for sticking with me. It probably would have been enough (and acceptable) for me to say, "I'm home for a short break before the remainder of the season." Yet, the decision for me was difficult and I find myself questioning whether I did the right thing everyday. However, I'm working on letting go of things that are out of my control and focusing on making the most of every situation. After all this is ski racing, not brain surgery and it's not a big deal, right? Every other competitor, from every other country has taken break(s) at home and this is mine. After just a couple days I'm already feeling better and I can't wait to get back to it - Lahti, here I come!