If you’ve ever watched my teammate Jessie Diggins race, then you know that she has this incredible ability to push herself to her absolute limit, ride the line of pain and maximal physical exertion and then just blow right by it. She finishes nearly every race with nothing left to give, leaving every ounce of energy, strength and sweat on the race course. I’ve always admired this about her and fantasized about what it would be like to race like that. It’s not that I don’t push myself or suffer my own version of pain during races, but I rarely come face to face with that line of absolute effort where the body has two choices: move forward faster or fall down trying.
|Testing blood lactates during a hard interval session|
Although updates to my blog haven’t changed much in the last month (whoops!) my relationship with pain has. It started in the strength room. A few weeks ago I found myself looking at a particularly challenging combination of burpee pull-ups on the day’s strength plan. With only 30 seconds rest between 5 sets of 15, I was not entirely sure I would actually be able to complete the exercise. Turns out I couldn’t and on the final set I missed the last two pull-ups, my arms completely spent. Rather than discouraged by the misses however, I actually started to feel excited-I found my limit!
|Sweating hard can be pretty fun when you have an equally sweaty friend|
|Trying some new exercises in the gym|
This newfound ability to flirt with that limit line carried over into an afternoon interval session on my roller-skis, working my way through all-out double pole repeats. With one interval left, I had already completed what I would consider a “good” workout. HR in the right zone and the right amount of “on” time and rest. But on the last interval, I decided to try to see if I could go just a little bit harder. My heart rate skyrocketed with the faster pace but instead of dying and slowing down my speed increased.
|Double Pole-that thing I love to hate to love|
A week later I competed in my first triathlon. I signed up for the sprint, an event comprised of a 750-yard swim, 14-mile bike and 5km run. I sent it from the beginning, splashing through Lake Dunmore and emerging in 5th place only to be passed and dropped by a few women while wrestling with my wetsuit and frantically buckling my bike shoes and helmet. I managed to pass a handful of women on the bike and adrenaline kicked in, powering my rusty bike legs to 3rd by the start of the run. At that point the two women ahead of me were minutes away and third place for my fist triathlon was completely satisfactory.
|Natalie and I pre-Tri…we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into…|
|Maybe could have hustled a bit more here….|
Maybe it was because I had nothing to lose…or maybe the feeling after that DP workout stuck with me but I surprised even myself and started running harder, putting in a surge I was unsure I could maintain.
|It’s not always pretty…|
I finished within 4 seconds of second place and 20 seconds of first, closing an initial gap of 2+ minutes over the course of 5km. I didn’t catch either women, but even the act of at least trying to, and coming within reach of the possibility, was equal parts exhilarating and educational. A week after the triathlon I won my first race of the summer on a Hail Mary finish line sprint with less than 100 meters to go. My coaches will be the first to tell you that I am NOT a sprinter.
|Victory medals at the race for the cure|
As a ski racer, we have countless opportunities to test ourselves against others and our own limits. But those limits can be, well, limiting. One of my biggest breakthroughs this summer has been learning to try again. Not learning to fail, but more to just try, like tasting an unusual food. Everyone talks about fear of failure but I think in some ways I had simply become afraid of really trying. Sometimes those “tries” turn into triumphs. Sometimes, they fall short. But I have yet to truly try and be disappointed with the result. With every try comes a better understanding of where I am, where I can be and where I might be with a little more practice. And more often than not, those ‘tries’ surprise me and put me closer to my goals that I actually believed possible.
|Learning to try|
|Adventure running..4 peaks in 4 hours for Annie Hart’s 24th birthday!|
|When you realize you are no longer in your early twenties….|
|Perfect day for some mountain adventures|
|And celebrating the one and only GOOB|
|Sophie and I also fund some mountains in New Hampshire to explore last week during a long run|
|Lots of sweaty sessions with the crew this summer…feeling strong (and very damp) after a hot and humid interval workout up Stratton Mountain|
|One of the best ways to cool off!|
|Finding that limit during the uphill suffer run fest|
|Skate training with the squad|
|And making the most of hot temps and tired legs|
|Plus the perfect R&R during an easier recovery week 🙂|