Today was the second race in Nova Maesto, Czech and it would seem by results that everything is going terribly. But there is so much going on in biathlon that unless you know what happens you can be totally clueless. That’s one of the things that can make it so awesome but also so unpredictable. Today’s race was particularly wild. Between the leaders and those starting at the end of the pack it was a completely different race. About 15 people were already finished with their races by the time I even started. I got to cheer for my teammate at the finish line while I was standing in the start pen. The start pen, by the way, is like a little horse corral where everyone is running around and jumping and expressing all their jittery nervous tension. Lots of fun.
The tracks started out rock hard with a little new snow on top that makes a fast glaze, pretty good skiing conditions. But part way through, the wind started to howl and so some of those unlucky enough to be caught in the range during that time had no chance to hit their targets. For myself, I was a bit bummed to have missed two in prone but it seemed like that was actually pretty good shooting. As bib 71 however, I got to enjoy a different type of surprise. We’ve all been wishing for more snow and the Czech really delivered. Huge fluffy hard falling snowflakes started to pound down on us. By the time I came in to shoot for standing, it was snowing so hard that each minute that went by was about 20 seconds of slower skiing. I couldn’t see anything through my glasses. Hitting 4 in standing was great though I might as well have closed my eyes and pulled the trigger I could see so well. I left the range in the top 30. But having to ski through the blizzard with all that new snow gave me no chance. I guess you might think I would be disappointed but I am actually not at all. I am really happy that I fought hard the entire time and before the skies opened up on us I felt like I was finding my speed and skiing well for myself. And really, that’s all you can ever ask.
I think the same went for the Individual on Wednesday but I felt more confused about my race. After struggling with standing shooting for so long I finally decided that I needed to change something. It didn’t matter to me if the changes were purely psychological but something had to happen, placebo effect or not. I know that I am a good shooter but it has been so difficult lately to zero in on the black circle in standing. It’s like everything is moving on me. Incredibly frustrating. I made some changes to my rifle and right away everything felt more solid. I think that perhaps the nuts and bolts holding everything together had slowly loosened and my position therefore became much looser. So to my delight, I finally could actually hold the rifle on the target long enough to get a good sight picture and hit the damn thing! Such an awesome feeling. In the Individual I was so happy to have only missed 1/10 of my standing shots! I even stuck my tongue out at the coach standing behind the scope I was so psyched. The skiing was hard. But I fought the entire time and when one of the best ladies was on her last lap, I snuck in behind her and hung on as long as I could. I knew I would pay for it later on but I need that kind of experience. So when I finished, I felt happy with myself for doing a good job. Not the best… but good. And of course when I saw the results then I didn’t know what to feel. 60th? Yikes. I don’t’ want to be in the 50’s and 60’s. I want to be in the top 30’s and 40’s. So what do you with these conflicting feelings? I need some perspective and for that it’s always good to have a coach who can help you sort things out.
Maybe this year there are more girls in my ability range making it harder to place in the top thirty and forty. I don’t know. But my initial feeling was right and I did do a good job. Why feel badly about finally hitting some standing targets? And why feel badly about skiing technically well, aggressively, and fighting from the start. I can’t. The result is a number that everyone else gets to see, but only me and my coaches know how I performed. Having a good one today helped me feel like maybe I can be moving towards better numbers because I want that too. But before I can get there, I need to remember that I am “only trying to do my best” as my mom says and “that’s racing dude” as my dad always says.