I have been fortunate to attend both World Juniors for biathlon (last year) and Cross Country this year, allowing me to race some of the best in the world and learn from them. Going into these World Juniors, I felt that there was no way I could screw up my races too badly… There were no shots to miss, penalty laps to do, and I had confidence that I was the fittest I could be. My first few days there I re-familiarized myself with the course, learning every uphill, downhill and corner on the trail to ensure no snowplowing or unnecessary thinking (my biggest nemesis). In the back of my head I could tell I wasn’t feeling great: My legs and arms were much heavier than usual, I could hardly do a short interval burst without feeling extremely tired, and I just didn’t have my normal zip. However, some of my best races have happened when I have felt the worse, so I remained optimistic. On the day of the first race, a 5km skate, I felt no nerves but only excitement. I tried to ignore the sluggish feeling while I warmed up, trying to focus only on getting out there and racing my heart out. Unfortunately, it wasn’t going to be my day.
It only took about 2 minutes out of the start gate to realize that how I had been feeling all week was accurate… That my legs were not ready to race, despite how hard my mind was trying to push them. That 5km was probably the most difficult race of my life. In Canada, when you have a bad race, you will still place decent. When racing the world, it’s a completely different story. After my race, I fell into the idea that I didn’t deserve to be racing there, that my qualifying was pure luck, and that I wasn’t and have never been fast. That feeling stuck with me until the next race, where everything finally clicked back together.
I was completely dreading the skiathlon… Judging by the way my skate race went, I fully expected to finish the classic portion in dead last, and suffer through the free technique, until I finished what I thought would be my last race of World Juniors. However, starting the classic section with perfect grip and glide the race quickly became one of my favourite races of all time. Surrounded by 2 of my Canadian teammates for the majority of the race, I managed to finish with my first top 30, and two different poles. :)
Although I still wouldn’t say I had my zip back, I was at least able to have a race I was proud of, and one that secured me onto the relay team - The last race of World Juniors where sparkles, hair ribbons and funky socks mirrored the flags of 12 countries. Overall, my experience left me wanting more than ever to become faster, stronger and more competitive. I am currently trying to find where my energy is hiding, as since I’ve come home it has been playing a very irritating game of hide and seek, where I seem to be miserably losing. :) I’m very excited to rest up a bit, and get ready to start training for a brand new season!
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