I wish I could be writing this blog about what a great week of racing I had last week at National Champs, and how wonderful it was to break up my european racing with a little racing in the US... but sometimes things just don't work out as planned. Sometimes, you fall during your warm-up at the Olympics and break a bunch of ribs. Sometimes you fall running on Christmas, break your wrist, and are forced to race the Tour de Ski with a broken hand. And sometimes, you travel home to the US for Nationals, and you spend the week standing on the sidelines, cheering on your competitors, only wishing you could join them at the line. This is what happened to me last week in Rumford, Maine.

Christmas was a tough time for me. A long travel home from Europe, then shortly after, a trip to Seattle and back, and then soon after a travel to Maine that turned into two nights of no sleep due to some unfortunate plane cancellation. With so much travel, mixed with the excitement of being around my family, and taking care of a lot of stuff during the short two weeks a year I am home in the Methow- my health was what suffered. I managed to catch a cold about halfway through the break, but never gave myself enough of a rest to really fight it. With a rough travel to Maine, the cold that "just kept giving" managed to strike again shortly after arriving. Spending the first part of the week resting, somewhere along the way my sinus's took the brunt. I used to suffer from a lot of sinus infection problems a few years ago, but I haven't had one since, so at the first sign of sinus issues, I knew it was time to get serious. This was not just some cold that I could ski through. Sinus's are a funny thing, where if you ignore the infection, chances are it's going to come back and get you real bad in the near future. Having made that mistake a few too many times in the past, I made the hard decision to sit out the race, and hope I would wake up feeling better the following day.

Going into the week, as I realized my health was not in the right place, I decided to take one day at a time. I wasn't going to write the whole week off from the beginning, rather I was going to make decisions daily. In the back of my mind though, I was convinced I would be skiing with a bib by the end.
APU ladies with our new Swix uniforms and E'KLAAR hats
Lucky for me, I have a coach that understands and monitors sickness very well. Having lived mistakes before during his career, Erik has made it a goal of his to keep athletes from doing similar mistakes. Right from the start, Erik listened and watched quietly, allowing me to call the decision- but overriding when it was necessary. As the wise old lady said, "patience is a virtue", and thats what I had to go by this week. Near the end of the week, I was so frustrated, I couldn't take it anymore, and told Erik I would race the final race. While doing race prep the day before, the little voice inside my head silently shouted, "what are you doing!!". By the end of my workout, after a few silent tears, I knew what the right thing to do was, even though I didn't really want to accept it. Leaving for Europe shortly after this race meant that it was even more important to be 100% when I get on the plane.

Even though this week was emotionally very hard for me, there were some great things that came out of it. First, in order to not infect my teammates with my "cold that just kept giving", I moved in with my parents. This meant that I got to spend an extra week with them, which was super awesome! Even though they didn't get to watch me race after traveling across the country, at least we got some time together. The second thing was, in order to keep my mind off of the frustration of being sick, I spent my spare time doing French lessons on Rosetta Stone. I have a short break in school at the moment, so I took the opportunity to start learning the language that my boyfriend speaks. I have always been frustrated with my inability to speak any other language well, so now I have a good reason to actually change that. Third, I got to spend some time with my home team. APU has such an awesome team filled with lots of excitement! I always love coming back to spending time with them. With lots of new faces on the team it was fun to see the new dynamics and the new energy in the group!
Doing some cheering with an Alaskan group of ladies
I also got to watch some really impressive racing. When you are in the race, you never get to see what it looks like, and how your closest competitors are skiing. But standing on the sideline, I got a great view. It was fun to cheer them on, but at the same time emotionally hard. Luckily I was getting constant blasts of positive emails from my teammates over racing in Europe as well as good support from the APU crew. With so much positive energy, its hard to be down very long. So thanks everyone, I really appreciated it!

I got to watch one of my close friends, and teammate win her first US Nationals medal. The coolest part is Kate Fitzgerald would have never dreamt of winning a silver medal in a sprint race a year ago. So stoked for you Fitz!! Big Congrats!
I also got to break up my week with an annual Fast and Female event in Bethal, Maine. This time was a bit different than usual in that Jessie Diggins and I actually ran the event. Having always been an ambassador in the past, it was fun to take a bit more responsibility and take on a larger task. There was a good turnout, with around 80 girls- so there was lots of smiles, stories and inspiration.

The group of Fast and Female ladies
I am now training in Craftsbury, Vermont before taking off for Milan, Italy tomorrow. This place is like the skiing mecca of the east. Great skiing, good food, great living conditions and awesome people. Lars Flora and I just got back from coaching a junior group. Craftsbury has a great system where you work off your living costs by volunteering for various things. What better way to make your trip affordable than to coach little kids!! They all came from Liz Stephans town, so I got to teach them all of Liz's best tricks so that they can beat her when she comes back. Thanks Craftsbury for the hospitality!!

Next up: We will race a city sprint on Saturday, and then a team sprint on Sunday, both skate in Milan, Italy. Hopefully the short turnover for time adjustment and travel will not get to the best of us. The sinus's are feeling better daily, so think it will be time to pull the bib on this weekend finally!

More updates to come from the "city of fashion" this weekend.