Racing vs. Finals: The great showdown

Finals week during the competition season is one of the greatest tests of a student-athlete’s ability to multi-task.

The challenge begins with project week. This is the week before finals week, where every class has final reports, projects and presentations due. Stress levels are high as students attempt to finish everything before the end of the semester. The goal: make a presentation that won’t be embarrassingly awful.  Once all of the major assignments have been turned in, there is a momentary period of bliss that is quickly blown away by the daunting task of studying for final exams while traveling for races all weekend.

This critical weekend begins  with making a detailed schedule of how time should be spent to optimize productivity.

My predicted weekend schedule:

Last day of classes! All assignments have been turned in! *celebratory dance*
Go skiing
Pack skis for weekend
Pack for races
See friends who are graduating

Shake out run
Finish packing ski equipment
Drive to Marquette
Prepare classic skis

Pack for Houghton
Drive home
Study all night long.

Looking at the outline for the weekend, things don’t seem too bad. There will be plenty of time for studying or napping in the van, not to mention all of the time that we will have at the hotel after the races. At this point, things are feeling pretty positive. However deep down we know; things never go according to plan….

Actual events of the weekend:

Friday (Post Classes):

Expressed stress level

(Attempted) Expressed Stress Level

Pack skis for the weekend
Shoot the bull with the Cross Country Graduate Assistants for a half hour talking about skiing (oops, that wasn’t planned for)
Make an awesome homemade pizza for dinner, wait for pizza to cook, while snacking on everything else eatable in the house
Pack for the weekend (but actually just make a packing list)
Watch dumb (but funny) videos with housemates
Decide nothing productive is going to happen tonight
Realize the team van leaves in 9 hours
Go to bed

 Ok, so I’m a little bit behind schedule. I’ll just have to wake up a little earlier so I can finish packing, then everything will be back on track!


Actual Stress Level

Wake up
Finish (Start?) packing
Shake out run
Pile into van for departure (making sure that proper music selections will be made)
Drive to venue
Race to the bathroom upon arrival
Test skis & warm-up
Prep skis for Sunday
Lunch with family (it’s so nice of them to come watch our races!)
Finally make it to hotel
Post dinner walk
“Study” (but actually just figure out what grades I need on each test)
Bed time!

Well shoot… I didn’t study at all today, and the race didn’t go too well either. This is not good. Tomorrow I will be more productive. I need to be. But I can’t stress out, because if I stress out I’ll race poorly. Ok, game plan: go to sleep and do just enough in the morning to feel good about myself again. We’ll see how this goes. 


Stress levels reach all time high

Wake up
Actually start studying (short lived, but effective!)
Clean Skis
Nap (definitely the most productive use of time)
Get home
             (this is the point where I realize I have an exam in less than 10 hours and have only spent 30 minutes looking at the course material. Let total freak-out mode commence)
Rush to campus to study (after 2.5 hours of studying, things are looking up! so….) 
Time to go search for a Christmas Tree
Find the perfect tree and decorate it (I didn’t really need to study for those exams anyway…)
Take one last look at the practice exams
Go to bed feeling confident


Needless to say, neither the races nor studying went as planned this weekend. Saturday was a warm beautiful bluebird day, but the results were not nearly as sunny for me. Sunday’s race was a pursuit, something that most of us college folks haven’t done since high school. It was fun to revisit the old format, although it reminded me why I never liked having the classic races as the second event. Given everything that happened last week and everything happening this week, it’s easy to see that skiing has not been the top priority. After all, it’s pretty hard to keep your eligibility as a student-athlete if grades come back unsatisfactory. Next week, skiing will once again top the priority list as we race at home. Zero homework or classwork will be a much needed and welcomed change. It’s pretty easy to say I’m excited to have a “stress-free” weekend of racing on our home course.  This is going to be great.


My little Christmas tree

Saturday’s Press Release
Sunday’s Press Release


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