Czech It

This past weekend of racing in Thunder Bay is in the bag. These most recent races were the deciding factor for the U23 and World Junior Trips as well as selection races for World Championships. Needless to say, they were important races and the week started off with a promising start for me in the 15km Pursuit. The classic portion of the race went well for me, the pack was still tightly bunched together and there was a lot of jockeying for position. It was really fun rally car racing around the course with all those fast women. I was just hoping I would have enough circulation in my hands as we came in for the exchange. My exchange was terribly slow, but I grabbed the right equipment, so that's a bonus. I left the exchange in about 12th position and was on the charge to get that number down. I felt decent in the skate leg of the course but could've done a better job of managing my energy as we navigated our way through the field on the narrow trails. Coming up the final big climb, I was in 6th position and 1st U23 - but I let this slip away in the last 300m. Arg! It was close. It was hard fought. But I simply didn't have the finishing spark that I can usually count on. It was a great distance race for me but bittersweet to know how close I was to having the ease of qualifying taken off my back.

January 1st - Happy Birthday Coach Chris! Hard workin' guy taking a break from waxing ... but only for cake.

Friday was a break from racing and gave us time to reset for the sprint on Saturday. I felt primed and ready to attack Saturday's race. I didn't have a stellar qualifier, 9th place and 3sec from the lead. Really not where I wanted to be but I risked in places that ended up costing me time. That is what a qualifier is good for though, learning the course at race pace for the real show to begin in the heats. Lining up for my quarter final action, I was a little slow off the start. Hesitant after a false start against the field. This put me in second position up and around the first section of the course and then going down the high speed corner at the turn around point of the course. I had the outside line on this and I'm still not quite sure how it all shook out, but one thing is for sure, my jaw smacked the ground and gave my head a good bump. I was able to get up fairly quickly, a little dazed, but finished my heat. It's hard to decipher between what were concussion symptoms and what was just pure disappointment. I was devastated and my head was throbbing so it was recommended I be checked out by paramedics. All I kept repeating in my head was - please let this be a nightmare, wake me up!

After being assessed and monitored for the next 45mins I was released with a minor concussion. Turns out it was reality and I didn't wake up from this nightmare! The crash was not severe and although I hit my head it didn't feel like anything compared to my last concussion - which I still can't remember. The good advice I've been give is that you only have one head so it's best not to screw it up. After talking with the team doctor and considering my concussion history, it was recommended that racing the 10km Skate the following day wouldn't be best for my health. Physical exertion after a head injury, albeit minor, risks damaging the brain further and that's the last thing I need. There are some points in a race where you think 'this may be the hardest thing I've ever done', but I would take that thought any day over having to sit a race out. The dull head ache and neck ache that followed in the morning were easy to ignore when I arrived at the site and found that the men's team had absolutely owned it on the Lappe trails. Huge congratulations to the boys house of Railway Ave. Three roommates and teammates that owned the 15km podium.
Eesh! Looking a little rough after the crash. I did end up finding my hat and sunglasses afterwards which was much appreciated.

There is a happy ending! I have been named to the Canadian team to race in Liberec, Czech Republic for the U23 World Championships. The jury made the decision after a force majeur, and I was selected based off of my pursuit result, international potential and sprint qualifier result. Nothing ever does go to plan, but I am so thankful to be given this opportunity to race overseas and show what I am truly capable of.
I am surrounded by these beauties everyday. I am one lucky girl.

The Academy flew back to the Bow Valley today and I will leave with the Canadian team on Saturday. I'm not sure what my training will look like in the preparation ahead, but will talk to my team doctor in person tomorrow and go from there! For now I'll be working on my Czech and avoiding anything over stimulating for this lil noggin.