In pre-school our teacher asked us, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My response?
“I want to be a Lion King! but I don’t know how I’ll drive… I’d have to sit on my tail.”
Growing up, I watched The Lion King every single day for multiple years. I wouldn’t be surprised if my parents can still recite the entire thing from memory. One of the reasons they allowed me to watch this movie so frequently is because of the many life lessons Simba experiences.
Pumbaa: “You know kid, It’s times like this my buddy Timon here says, ‘You got to put your behind in your past.”
Timon: “No, No, No. Amateur. Lie down before you hurt yourself. It’s, you got to put your past behind you.”
Saturday’s classic race did not go as well as I wanted it to. Conditions were changing, it was hotter than we’ve raced in all year, and it felt like my skis and I were in different worlds. By the first downhill I was being passed by people half my size and my skis refused to go any faster regardless of what I did. “Alice paging skis; it’s race day, lets move a little bit!” When conditions are changing, it’s really hard to get the wax right. Our coaches were out there until the last minute, taking every opportunity to make sure our skis were competitive. Despite the coaches’ best efforts, my skis refused to have their normal responsiveness. It was like they hadn’t taken their shot of espresso in the morning, and were struggling to wake up. I was able to gain some ground on the uphills, focusing on good body position and using my arms, but only enough to make up what would be lost on the downhill. At the finish line, the words from my buddy Timon were running through my head. “Forget about today, lets focus on tomorrow.”
Sunday morning, I was dragging my butt worse than my skis were the day before. No matter how much I tried not to think about Saturday, I just couldn’t shake the negativity from the back of my head. I needed a pep-talk. Walking through the stadium, I found Kevin. He has been coaching me for 8 years, and knows exactly what to say to help me focus my energy.
Me: Kevin, I need a pep talk
Kevin: First things first. Yesterday never happened. Going up the first hill I want you to focus on having good technique. Get that elbow high and have good glide on each ski. After that first hill go hard and race. Can you do that?
Me: Go out and just focus on technique? Yeah, I can do that.
Kevin: And put the last race behind ya?
Me: I can do that.
So, that’s what I did.
Joe gave me the greatest split I’ve ever received:
(As I’m approaching the coaches) “We don’t have any splits…” (As I’m skiing away) “…But you look like your racing well!”
It ended up being a great race. I was really happy with how I had skied tactically, technically, THE SUN WAS SHINING, and when the results were posted, I had the fastest time by 27 seconds. (woah, that was a surprise!)
Timon and Pumbaa were right. When things go well, it’s important to celebrate. But at the end of the day, you still have more racing to do. Sometimes races will suck, and it’s important to move past these and focus on what’s next. I struggle sometimes with putting too much self-worth into my race results. I have to remind myself that I am the same person after the 15 or 45 or 90 minutes spent racing, as I was when I woke up in the morning. Most days our skis are lightning fast, but on the few days where they aren’t it’s important to keep chugging away and pushing your limits until the last second. Perhaps you’ll surprise yourself.