Dear Self; Stop Holding Yourself Back.

April:  Please Make it End

Coming back to the national team this spring was not easy.  Getting renamed to the team was not a right, it was a privilege.  It seemed my coaches and our International Competition Committee looked at me and said, “Alright now don’t mess this up!”   …at least that’s how it felt.

They were giving me a second chance, not because I earned it, or met any criteria, but because they saw something in me I myself am still trying to find.

May:  Fighting It

I more or less careened into the first national team camp of the year, a constant mixture of scared and thankful.

You see I spent  so much of the past season blocking out all the negative things.  Dwelling on all the bad just didn’t seem productive and it appeared I wasn’t going to catch a break.  I thought that if I could ignore all the bad parts maybe then they wouldn’t exist.  …one of those “if I can’t see you, you can’t see me” clauses that only works when you are six years old.

I spent so much energy blocking out everything that I started to block out not only the bad but the good as well. I was numb.

It was easier to feel nothing.

No frustration.  No Anger.  No disappointment.
but also
No happiness.  No little triumphs.  Emptiness.

I was protecting myself and destroying myself all at the same time.  And I was tired.  A deep and empty tiredness that sleep couldn’t, wouldn’t fix.

I was overwhelmed.  Coaches. Team mates. I had spent the year hiding, tucked away.  And now everything was out in the open.  And I was fighting it.  I was holding myself back.

June:  Let it Hurt

After the initial shock wore off and I reopened myself to the frustration I could feel myself coming back.  I allowed myself to acknowledge the uncomfortable and get over myself in the process.

I was alive again.  I was hungry again.  I was thriving.

After a year of struggling in survival mode I was finally feeling ok. Better than ok, I was happy.

Sometimes you have to work for your happiness.  And that is exactly what I did.

I moved off complex into a shoebox of an apartment.  Seperating pieces of myself.  My sport and my space.  Balance and focus finally restored.  I was happy.   My internal dialouge was changing.  Hungry to ski, hungry to improve.

July:  Truth in the Moment

We just finished up our annual july camp in Jericho, Vermont.  Picturesque and complete with hot humid days, bugs, and time trials.

And although my time trials were not anything special the feeling I have racing has changed for the better!  When I was first starting to ski race Mr. Burger gave me the best advice a skier could ask for, “Racing hurts.  You can’t avoid it, so you better learn to be friends fast.”  

I lost a little bit of that last year.  One of the biggest things that makes me the athlete I am was gone.  I was afraid to hurt and instead chose to suffer.  But I’m learning again.  Embracing the uncomfortable, finding good in the bad days, and feeling a little be tougher every chance I get.

(If you look closely you can see the goosebumps!)

“Pain is a relatively objective, physical phenomenon; suffering is our psychological resistance to what happens.  Events may create physical pain, but they do not in themselves create suffering.  Resistance creates suffering.  Stress happens when your mind resists what is… The only problem in your life is your mind’s resistance to life as it unfolds.”  -Dan Millman 

Corrine Goes to Race the Big Dogs

When I signed up for the Loon Mountain Race earlier this summer I didn’t really know exactly what I was getting myself into.   I’ve always admired mountain runners.  Drooled over the possibility of some day racing the Leadville 100, the Bridger Ridge Run, the Gortex TransRockies… (yes I have an adventure bucket list)

When I picked Loon I thought… “Oh neat and fun!”

As we got closer to race day I knew the field would be deep and talented.  Turns out to be the deepest field ever for the US at Women’s Mountain Running Champs.

There I was.  Suddenly  in the toughest field I have ever run with.  On the toughest course I’ve ever raced.

These gals brought age, experience.  They have a credentials.  Running resumes.  Running what?  …Man was I in deep.

One bio after another.   “Olympic Trials Marathon Racer”  “National Champion”  “NCAA Champion”  “Reigning World Champion”  “17 minute 5km PR”    

The only thing running through my mind?  “OH MY WORD!”  followed closely by “What was I thinking!?”

But I stepped on the line in my plain jane running shorts and my Jenkins Mtn Scramble t-shirt surrounded by what appeared to be 24 genetic freaks in race singlets with sponsors plastered across their chests.  Breathe Breathe Breathe.  Don’t freak out.  

Then they said go.  and I went with them.  At least I tried to.  We came through the first mile in something like 6:40 going uphill.  As we hit the first down hill I dropped back.  It was clear my legs aren’t used to turning it over like this girls.

I spent much of the race going back in fourth with Maria, the next youngest in the field at 24 and one of the few other girls not from the West.   We chatted a little bit at one point when we were breathing well enough that we were both coherent.  Cheered each other on.  Joked about  age.  Made comments like “This is the tough part right?”  and “Where are we?”   “Um going up!”   We found icecream to be a strong motivation as Maria yelled out, “Maria is getting icecream tonight!”

We kept pumping our arms.  We kept trying to move forward.  Up the hill.  One foot.  Two feet. I had goose bumps shortly after passing through mile number two. The final kilometer rocked us with it’s 40% grade (yep 700 whole feet of vertical).  I choked on a water feed.  Got my butt kicked by a woman twice my age.  Had to do everything in my power to not eat the incredible wild strawberries as I made my way slowly up Upper Walking Boss.  And finally, just as I promised myself, I got to the finish and sat down.

As I sat there somehow managing to drink the water someone had handed to me (though I have no recolection of actually ever being handed the initial cup) Maria came over and gave me a high five, we had made it, “Twenty more years Corrine, twenty more!”

These women are tough.  As for me?  I’m hooked.

Pretty certain one of the next things I said was, “I want ice cream. And then I want to run it again.”

Here’s a parting shot of the women’s podium (and World Championship Team) from Joe Viger with Mo rocking the top spot!