A few years ago the day after Ironman Canada I had breakfast with two friends that had raced the previous day in the pro category. One had a stellar performance, the other wished the day had gone a little better. I can’t remember which one of the two made this statement, but I’ll never forget it, "you take what the day gives you."
Great wisdom. Whether it’s an Ironman where you spend seemingly countless hours preparing for just one race or skimo where you’ve prepared for months doing all kinds of training, to get ready for just a few races that count in the final standings... in either case in the end you have to "take what the day gives you." Some days everything seems to click and the body has great energy, other days not so.
This year I’ve had races where I came down with a cold the week of the race, gotten lost on course... or as the case in the final race of the year (Lake Louise), just felt a little flat. Of course there was at least one race where it mostly all came together and the podium was achieved.
In Lake Louise I was determined to not go off course as I had in the previous nat’l points race. Going from 3rd place in the latter stage of the race to dnf. So I volunteered time the day before to help set the course. Never before a race had I felt like I really knew the course well. A great confidence booster. I also got to sleep that night in the luxurious Fairmont chateau Lake Louise. I always sleep incredibly well there. I woke up at 5 a.m. for the early start feeling rested and ready to go.
However, early on I just felt a little bit missing on the high end. I could see most everyone right in front of me and even in late stages of the race spectators were saying, "they’re just right ahead of you!" But nevertheless, I just couldn’t fire up the engine to give that extra push.
I don’t know if it was the 2 xc races I’d done in the 11 days before. Both hard, longer efforts, but designed to keep my head and body in competition mode (with a whole month gap between Canadian skimo races I felt I needed this, plus a desire to stay in contact with the xc sport I love). Perhaps it was the 4 hours spent on course the day before.
As it ended up, places 3-6 were all within 5 minutes of each other. Of course I was in place 6. With just a little more umph.... I’m sure I could have gone 5 minutes faster. Of course I could have skied those downhills faster too. I definately improved this year on the downs (also in transitions, bootpacks, turnover speed and maybe even overall fitness), but I’m still losing time to better dh skiers.
So man! I did have a great season. I podiumed twice (one being nat’l champs). I improved in so many areas. Got to race in CO for N.A. championships. Probably qualified to go to World’s next year... so what am I complaining about? Well as an athlete it’s always about trying to go faster, get better, improve, place higher. I think I accomplished this....but still...
But at the end of the day.... you take what the day gives you. You train hard. Prepare the best you can in every area possible, then try to put it all together on race day. If you podium, get lost and dnf, or just feel flat, in any case you walk away with satisfaction that you did the best you could, you know where you’re going to be better in the future, but ultimately be glad and satisfied with what the day gives you.