After Nationals I was selected to race in the World Cup in Ulricehamn, Sweden. “Awesome,” I said “I’ll be there.”
Well, getting to Sweden from the East Coast sounds mellow for an Alaskan who is used to lots of travel. Compared to flying from Alaska this will be a breeze, I thought… just a short bump to Svenska… but unfortunately this was not to be the case!
A clever winter storm ripped into the Northeast just as I was scheduled to depart Burlington. I saw the forecasts two days ahead of the storm and contacted American Airlines. They wouldn’t allow me to travel early before the storm arrived because my ticket had not yet been altered as a result of weather. So, I patiently waited for the storm to cancel my flight. The moment my Sunday flight was canceled I called AA, who informed me that the next available flight departed on Friday- getting me to Sweden at roughly the same time as my race start. Not ideal.
So, I decided to get a little crazy and bought a United Airlines ticket with miles last minute. I canceled my AA ticket with a full-refund because of the weather event. Now, I was scheduled to depart Tuesday. On Tuesday I was all good to go, but then trouble struck again when a drone started flying around LGA. Air-traffic control said no-go to flying while they dealt with the rogue drone situation, which caused my flight to Newark to be so delayed that I missed my connection to Europe. Thus, I enjoyed a night and full day in Newark. Luckily, I brought spare clothes in my carry on and was able to do a full gym-rat session at the hotel.
I finally made it to Sweden with all my bags and arrived at the hotel Thursday evening. On Friday I tested skis and went for a mellow ski around the race course. My coach told me I had no pressure to race given my late arrival, but I actually felt surprisingly good, so I decided to race both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday went pretty well, but Sunday’s effort sent my legs into utter shock. I think the back-to-back races with swollen feet and ankles from travel might have been a little less than ideal. My feet cramped up Sunday, and by Monday I felt like I had done an intense mountain running race. Luckily, it wasn’t quite as bad as after Mt. Marathon this summer when Jessica had to give me a piggy back ride the next day, but I was still hurting pretty bad.
Don’t get me wrong though, Sweden was incredible! 20,000 fans per day cheering and an awesome course made the travel misfortunes totally worth it (not to mention all the bags of mini-pretzels and cookies I picked up on the plane). The relay Sunday was super exciting despite my poor performance, and there are many more opportunities for great results ahead. Now I need to wash everything I raced in because it stinks of smoke from all the campfires and BBQs burning on the side of the race course from enthusiastic Swedish ski fans! Normally I’d let the BO slide, but the smoke really threw it over the edge.