For the first time, I participated in the Tour de Ski… otherwise known as the "big battle". For years I have been watching this race, and dreaming of the challenge of participating in it. Never did I really realize what exactly it entailed though. I knew that there was somewhere between 7-9 races. I knew that it ended with a hill climb. And, I knew that it entailed racing in several different locations.
|Dinner with the Haub's in Obersdorf- some of Erik and my WONDERFUL supporters! So wonderful to share an evening with them!|
Not until starting it did I realize that it is a constant RUSH of testing, racing, sleeping, resting, packing, traveling, racing, sleeping, eating, driving, resting, racing, etc., etc. There are very few seconds to turn your brain off, and truly relax.
|My tour roommate J.Diggs enjoying some nice views and beauty sunshine!|
|One of the road trips between venues. Race, come home and grab your bags, and jump in the van for a 3 hour road trip to the next venue. Fun stuff!|
|With such quick turnover... sometimes it just isn't worth it to unpack|
The first two races of the Tour were in Obersdorf, Germany, somewhere I had never been. The French Team was friendly enough to bring Erik and I over to Germany, so we quickly jumped back into the swing of racing after a wonderful break! After a nice streak of cold, snow, and wintery conditions… conditions switched just in time to rain and tropical storm as the racing began. Although it seemed to be a constant downpour in Obersdorf, somehow we found ourselves lucky enough to never race in the rain! While it was warm, it wasn't soaking us! Obersdorf was overly exciting for me, because I had my very first top 10 of the season… in SKATE skiing. Something I wasn't even dreaming I would achieve this year, so I was pretty stoked. Starting on a good note, I was ready to "head to battle" with a smile!
|Hanging out waiting for the "Tour de Ski Opening Ceremonies"|
|Skate Prologue in Obersdorf- Marcel Hilger Photo|
The four days of racing included:
3.3k Prologue- Obersdorf, Germany
10k Classic Mass Start- Obersdorf, Germany
Skate Sprint- Val Mustair, Switzerland
5k Classic- Toblach, Italy
|Enjoying some sunshine with my buds in Val Mustair|
|Some Val Mustair Sprinting.|
|Recovery Methods... massage, ice baths, contrast baths, stretching... and SLEEPING|
Before the Tour, my coach, Flora, and I put together a plan for Period 2 of racing. This included doing the first four stages of the tour, resting in Ramsau for a week, and then racing in Estonia and Russia the following two weekends. Not knowing how the tour would go, I was excited and set with this plan. When day four of the tour came around, the 5k Classic in Toblach, I finished the race, and found myself sitting 7th overall in the Tour. Suddenly this plan I had made didn't sound so fun… I wanted to keep going! As I did my warm down, I took a step back, and thought about my goals for the season. Some of the top ones on the list revolved around early February, in Falun, for World Championships. While it seemed so tempting to keep going in this incredibly fun pursuit, the Tour de Ski, I stuck to my guns, and kept the same plan. I have many more years ahead to take on "the big beast".
|Givin' it all!|
|Sometimes it just feels so good to go to exhaustion!|
I have watched the Tour de Ski for many years now, but I now feel like I have the true appreciation for it. I have so much more respect not only for the people that win it, but everyone that completes it!! It is incredible to watch people just tough it out, and keep fighting, day after day… when it seems impossible to have that much energy for so long! I only did four days, and it felt HARD! Not only that, all the staff are having a race of their own!! For them, they are working like crazy, driving us, going to all the meetings, and hardly getting any rest. They have our job, except without the rest and recovery! Yikes! Big thanks to you guys!
|JP and I doing some testing (Anatolii Tsymbalov photo)|
I am now in Ramsau, Austria trying to enjoy 5 days of rest and recovery, before jumping back into the swing of things and heading to Estonia for a sprint weekend.
More racing to come soon!