Me + Nordic Skiing = ?


Long blog... warning!

This blog originally started when Ahvo, the owner of Finn Sisu, convinced me that it would be interesting to have a blog that followed a more "average" person learning how to ski and race, and trying to combine that with training for another sport (in my case, running).

Off the blog went. I was in the Sisu program at the time, and moved into Vakava the next year. I loved it! I loved the challenge of something new & the fact it required me to think about so much (balance, strength, technique, etc.). There were many frustrated blogs as well, when I'd come back scraped up after a rollerski, be unable to remotely use my fitness when on skis, etc. I know some of the early blog entries were erased when we switched over to this blogspot format, so I don't know how many of those entries still remain.

Anyway, after I entered and ran the Houston 2009 winter marathon, I decided I wanted to see where I could take my running. Was I a 3:03 marathoner, or did I have more in me? I just wanted to find that limit, wherever it was. That's still my goal today. In that next year, I struggled to find a balance between running competitively and learning to ski -- both take so much time, and I found that skiing with the Vakava group caused me to be pretty tired the next few days in my running workouts. It became increasingly hard to do both (especially as my weekly running mileage increased), and I eventually decided that in order to really see where I could go with running, I needed to run. Skiing could be an occasional way to cross train, but my skiing hours needed to be fairly minimal, and very "easy".

I decided not to do Vakava this fall/winter as a result, and my skiing has suffered because of it. I no longer get out for practice once a week with the team, and no longer make time during the week to ski either (when I went to practice, I came back with about 15 things to work on, so would make time 2+ times a week to get out and practice those). Do you know how many hours I've spent "on snow" this year? 7.6!!! (Go ahead, you can shake your head and laugh :)) 2 of these hours were at the Boulder ski race and 2 were at Mora.

I've fallen out of love with skiing. I don't know why -- I actually do like it (once I'm out there), and would really like to concentrate on it to improve a ton. It's just that now when I go out, it's usually tagging along to one of Nate's races, and I am not enjoying it at all. Probably because I don't find a point to it now: why race if I'm not actually going to be able to compete and to improve on last year's performance? My personality doesn't exactly lend itself to "race participation" :). I also fight (mentally) against the sport a little, I think because it's Nate's sport and he's so good at it. I sort of feel like then that I need to like it, need to be competitive. I'm not super motivated when expectations or goals are set on me by someone else -- even though I know he isn't setting any expectations for me, I just feel like they are there.

Anyway, what's the point of this blog entry, you're asking? Well, the Birkie is just days away. The "BIG" ski race. The one I am COMPLETELY unprepared for. This race will increase my total ski hours by 50%. That's absurd. It's like showing up to participate in a fall marathon when you've only run about 50 miles the entire summer. Luckily, I have strong legs from the running I do, and a great engine, but that won't help me when trying to navigate around fallen skiers or slick downhills :/. I'm actually a little terrified of the event this year. I've never been so unprepared for anything...

I'm going to try to just take it easy, to talk to people out on the trail, and to smile... but I know even that will be hard for me. Why is this? I would have no problem entering a running race and running really slow, enjoying the people/scenery/event. Why am I dreading and loathing this upcoming ski race?

Ah, well, just need to get it done. Then the weather can warm up, I can store my skis away, and the running season can commence :). Just hope I survive Saturday in one piece! :)

Nichole Porath

Nichole is a blogger, elite level runner, and coach. She ran professionally for Brooks for two years after qualifying for the 2012 US Olympic Marathon Trials. During that time she founded TNC endurance, where she coaches and motivationally speaks to organizations large and small. This blog details her rise to national-level racing, and continues to follow her as she gets back into racing after starting a family. Read on, friends!

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