Tuesday, March 2, 2010

30,000 feet up and headed North!

(Just a warning – this is a long post – I hope that I don’t put too many of you to sleep….. sorry!)

While getting to the airport (with 5 bags to check) was stressful, now that I’m mid-flight, I have some time to reflect on the past two weeks before hitting the ground (running) in Anchorage.
I am one of the few athletes returning home after the Games.  Most of my teammates are en route to Europe to compete at either the spring World Cups or The “OPA Cups.”.  While I would have liked to continue racing, I know the limit of my body.  I need some rest, plus I am going to coach Junior Olympics in Presque Isle Maine as part of Team Alaska’s coaching staff!  I made the commitment to coach in October and I want to keep my word.  Plus, I’ve been missing all of the people back at home that I work with on a daily basis.   There has been plenty of cheering and encouragement for me the past month.  Now I look forward to reciprocating!

(With my sister, Robin at the airport...) 

The past month that I’ve been away, (including the 17 days spent at the Olympics) feel like they’ve gone by fast…. Yet, it also seems like an eternity.  A LOT has happened since I stepped on the plane January 27th…… notably less than 24 hours after I was named to the 2010 USA Team. 

Here are some things I loved and learned:

1)   1)   High level skiing and International racers are no longer a “black  box” for me.  While I wasn’t at the top of the Vancouver results sheet, I feel like I have a much greater understanding of what it takes to get there. This will benefit not just my future skiing career but hopefully everyone that I coach as well.

2)   2)  I LOVE the fact that every four years, the World seems to be become united over one thing – athletics and the pursuit of excellence. What other event has the power to bring so many people together?  I can’t tell you how neat it was my sport on TVs everywhere.  The morning of the 28th (the last day of the Games) I was running around the village trying to pack up.  Everywhere I looked, the men’s 50-kilometer mass start event was on TV.  Security guards were watching skiing, athletes from all sports were gathered around the television in the dining hall, the race was playing in the polyclinic.  It was everywhere and people were loving it!  There is nothing that makes me happier than seeing folks being introduced to the sport that I love.
      3) Don’t be afraid to share your goals with others.  I think that telling people that I wanted to go the Olympics helped me get there.  If you have a “secret goal” consider verbalizing it.  Sometimes the help and encouragement that you receive from friends and family around you is the greatest gift you can receive.

(Here are some of the great master's women that I coach that made the trip to Vancouver to cheer me on!) 

4)   4)  I have meet and re-connected with so many people by means of my Olympic experience. Whether it’s getting a “congratulations” facebook post from my high school tolo date or seeing Amy and Lib Rust, the set of twins that I “coached” with when I was 10 years old on the sidelines after my 30k race, it was wonderful.  My "39-year-old" Great Aunt even bought and learned how to use a computer so that she would be able to follow my blog (and my sister’s too – check out Robin’s blog here.  She’s on a long solo bike trip around North America!) 

Things that I won’t miss:

1)   1) Our first morning in Vancouver we had a welcome/inspirational speech from Olympic Speed Skating medalist Bonnie Blair.  (For those that don’t know, Bonnie is the most decorated female Olympian of all time) Over coffee and bagels, she told us that during her last Olympics she locked herself in her room and only came out for training, eating, and competitions.  She never even spoke to her family – she only saw a “bird’s eye” view of them at the speed-skating oval after races.  At the time I thought she was absolutely crazy.  While I still think her method was a bit extreme, I understand the stress of the Games and felt first-hand, how much energy it takes to conduct the most simple tasks. I have always been a quick-moving, multi-tasker and I look forward to being able to be on my own schedule and spend time with family and friends without the burden of two buses and multiple security check points.  It frustrated me that I couldn’t spend more time with people that had come so far to see me.

2)   2) My near-future races probably won’t require that I wear a cell phone sized remote GPS attached to my bib!

3)   3)  Cafeteria food.  The combination of tapering (fewer on-snow training hours) and eating in a dining hall make you feel sluggish to say the least. I look forward to eating my own food.


4) 4) The necessity of carrying a clunky credential everywhere I go

I     It's been a busy six months for me.  Between my exertional rhabdomyoloysis injury in July, getting married one week later, deciding that I wanted to make the Olympic team, racing the early season, competing in US Nationals at home in Anchorage, starting my first world cup, and then going the Olympics (all while having a job) it’s been busy.  While it would be fun to sit on a tropical beach for a week to recover, there is no time for that right now.  As my good friend Bill Pearson said in our wedding ceremony, “Holly, you are your best when you are juggling a million things at once.”  Well, I suppose that the past 6 month and the next two will be no exception.  

A happy reunited family at the house on Alder Street!

Bill sent me this picture... the irony is great - a coach/athlete in the "no coach zone" racing at the Olympics! 

That's it for tonight. I have a busy few days ahead before I take off again - thanks for following and yet again, thanks for the all the support!  I had a great crew meet me at the Anchorage Airport today when I got in... they welcomed me home and helped carry my bags. If only travel was always that easy! 

Good night/Sincerely, 
Holly :) 


  1. Great to get all the inside info about what it's like to be an Olympian. So much more to the story that what we see on TV. Speaking of which, the general coverage of the cross-country events was unprecedented, even if we can never see enough of our Alaskan contingent. NBC opted not to have their own cameras. Did you ask Petter how he got so darn fast? The experience which you have gained will undoubtedly enrich Alaskan skiing for many years.

  2. Holly, a great time you had -- thanks for continiuing to share your experiences....

  3. Oh, and by the way. I could not believe the "Friend Request" I received the other day -- it was from your dad who is probably the last person I would ever expect to see on Facebook....