When the going gets tough… the tough get going. Or they eat Nutella and read Little Women in bed

 12/17/11

*Note: This blog was written directly after the IBU Cup Sprint race in Ridnaun, Italy (as in I wrote it while I was stil wearing my purple long underwear). I have since been invited to race at the Hochfilzen World Cup and done two races this week with a Mixed Relay coming up tomorrow. I am super psyched for the opportunity I was given because I was showing strong skiing, despite my shooting mistakes.  I should have posted this blog earlier, but the internet situation has been interesting and while it doesn’t have any bearing on how I am now (which is good!) it still happened to me and I did feel these things and I think they are important. Racing is just as much about how you do when you are doing poorly as when you are doing well, maybe even more so.  Because if you keep going, when things are tough, then you know you can handle a lot.

Written 12/11/11

Trying on Angry Faces after the fact...

Today I am going to try my hand at therapeutic writing. I have been intending to write for a while now and I had some ideas that I kept playing around with but I think they need to wait. I am hoping that this and the jar of nutella that I am planning on consuming will make me feel better.

I’ve often wondered how and why some athletes can throw such hissy fits at the finish line. I’ve heard of some breaking their poles across their knees and ripping their ski suits off (not sure how one would accomplish that but I suspect if you are angry enough it will happen) and I’ve heard of others hammer throwing their rifles into the forest. I always thought this was fairly silly and dramatic. Not my style. But today at the finish line I was angry and I found out. I don’t think I have ever experienced anger as an emotion at the end of a race and it was intense. I needed the coaches to take my rifle away with from me because I was so close to just chucking it over my head. Instead I threw my glasses and later hurled my water belt at a wall.  I also spewed out some foul pirate language. I get embarrassed when I think of it but I didn’t really have an audience except for some understanding coaches  and maybe 12 volunteers and athletes who will forgive me and maybe chuckle later. Did someone do something to me during my race? Nope. Just me.

I have been experiencing a myriad of intense emotions in the past three weeks and this anger was simply the culmination of all of them. Anger is always a surprising feeling for me because I just don’t  angry that often . And because of that, when I am angry it is a bit scary. Racing can bring out the most blissful high feelings as well as the hurting kind and unfortunately, I have been experience more of the later than the former.

We had our first races in Ostersund, Sweden where the decision as to whom was going to start out on the World cup would be made. I totally blew it. I haven’t been that scared, sad and upset in a long time. I was bummed because I shot very poorly (50%) and that is not typically my style. Poor shooting is easier to get over because it can be an easier fix.  But what really had me scared was how badly I felt skiing. I wanted it so much and I put all of my energy into getting better this year and I was psyched. Last year was a really special breakout year for me because I wasn’t named to the team and I decided to give it one more shot on my own. I had a lot of support from the people around me and I ended up having my best year ever. So when I started to think of the trajectory of my racing path I could only see myself improving. When that doesn’t happen, it is awful feeling. Your heart feels tight, your stomach drops and your mind spins out of control.

So now my confidence is extremely low. What did I do wrong? What if I never feel good this year? What if, what if, what if. All I wanted was to be able to get into a groove on the world cup and get a good feeling for it. I can tell myself all I want that these emotions are not useful and I just have to be patient and smart and think positively. But you can’t make these feelings happen until they happen.

Luckily there are more chances to get on the World Cup. I just had to show that I deserved it by doing well. So my low confidence and I took a trip to Obertilliach, Austria where we duked it out a bit. Low confidence and despondence were winning for a while, but I took it easy so that I could try and recover from the emotional and physical tiredness I felt. And then bang. We went to Ridnaun, Italy, where I finally felt a little glimmer of hope when I didn’t feel awful the day before the race.  This Saturday we raced an Individual (20k with 4 shooting stages and 1 minute penalties). I felt incredible.  From the start of the race, it was easy to go hard and I just felt hungry to catch the next person in front of me. This is the most incredible feeling; so different from the depressed and wet blanket feeling that I had been experiencing. This is what you live for. A race like this will keep you going for a year. There was a minor blip though…. standing shooting was really bad. I ended up with 6 minutes of standing Woopsies. Too much for a good result. But I didn’t really mind because I was so happy to feel that way skiing and to be 5th in ski times.  My hope was reawakened.

This is where the anger comes in. Now that I had hope again, I was fired up and ready to race today. I knew that I could be fast skiing and  all I had to do was to hit some targets and I would be able to show my potential. Once again I totally blew it.  We had a sprint and I shot 60%. WTF. This is not me, but I don’t know what is going wrong exactly. Maybe I want it too badly. I am so scared of missing my chance, that I keep missing it. And now, I don’t really have another chance at being on the World Cup until after Christmas. This just prolongs the feelings of anxiety that have been haunting me for the past few weeks. Not a healthy state to be in. And I felt so angry with myself for wanting it so badly and then getting in my own way. I don’t feel angry anymore, just sad and tired of not being my normal, happy, confident, self (I’m still waiting for the Nutella to kick in).

Despite the fact that I don’t really want to be still racing on the IBU cup, now that the stakes are not as high  maybe I will relax and have fun racing in the way that I like and by default have better results. Who knows. “That’s racing dude”, as my dad always says.

I was intending on writing something about the cool firewood stacks that are everywhere and I’m sorry that this is only my second post. As a side note, being in Ridnaun, Italy, with the best food and some of the best views, has unfortunately not heard of Internet here yet. That, or Italians are smart enough to know that you shouldn’t bring your computer with you when you are on vacation and relaxing, which doesn’t fit very well with athletes because we are NOT on vacation and the internet is the only way we can communicate with home.

Enough of the Debbie Downer. The reason this can be such a difficult hobbyjob, is that we all have to figure out what to do with our emotions, be they positive or negative. Sometimes they can go away just by taking a nap. Sometimes they can be brushed off easily. And sometimes they hurt too much to really go away quickly and they keep coming back in waves. But when you have that good feeling, it is so wonderful that you instantly forget all the bad ones and I am so glad and fortunate that I had that experience yesterday.

Nap time. I can’t really complain about that either. Plus, I just read two books: one about an American fighter pilot who crashed, survived, spent weeks at sea only to be captured as a prisoner of war by the Japanese; and another about a five year old girl who lived through the Khmer Rouge regime. I get to eat all I want. What I am sad about is nothing in comparison.

Annelies

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2 Responses to When the going gets tough… the tough get going. Or they eat Nutella and read Little Women in bed

  1. Annelies, it is easy understand your emotions. But there is one simple fact – there is more than four members in your team so there must be some qualification. Yes, it is sad not to be choosen for the WC but you could see that your coaches change athletes even in the course of trimester so everybody knows that there is not only possibility to fall to the IBU Cup but there is also possibility to go back to the WC. And all quite fast.

    PS. Annelies, I have one advice how to improve situation for you and your teammates. Try to be 10. in the NC.

  2. George Cook says:

    1/3/12: Just going back over the blogoshpere and realizing that I can reply to your post.. Pretty neat way to communicate. I know your exact sports-life feelings, but anger isn’t usually one of them. However, I do remember being in a kayak race on the West River in 1973; I was in a brand new wild water boat which I had borrowed from Georgie Wescott. I tipped over in a non-descript rapid and took his new boat for a pretty rough early,early spring swim–its last as a new boat. I don’t know what happened, which made everything worse: worry, anger, self-doubt, sef-loathing, vague pangs of humor (the self directed kind), on and on. I too was pissed under somewhat similar life forces. “That’s racing dude” which sometimes translates into “That’s life dude.” I’m late to get in the next room so got to go. POPS

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