This week is the US Cross Country National Championships in Midway, UT. Brian and I have been here with the CXC Team since the 26th of December. Since we spent so much time at altitude last month the acclimating has gone very smoothly.
This coming weeks marks the end of 5 and 1/2 months on the road for me. Next week Brian and I will be home again, although we did make a brief stop in last November, and sleeping in our own beds. I love this lifestyle but I miss my dog, my home and my neighborhood.
Skiing is such a unique sport and I have spent many many years trying to grasp what draws me to it. I have spent the better part of 14 years competing at US Nationals, yet I can't believe it has been that long!!! In those 14 years I have learned a lot about the sport and even more so about the people who compete in it.
When I first started skiing I liked it because my friends were going to join and all the cute soccer boys were also joining. I knew the coach from running and knew his passion was unmatched by any other coach at the school. When I started Cross Country Skiing a lot of my teammates were just like me. Some came from single parent homes, some had many siblings, most had parents who didn't ski themselves...etc.
As I have moved upward through the levels of skiing all the way to the World Championships and the Olympics, the differences began to grow bigger and bigger. Very few athletes had divorced parents, or single parents, very few paid for their own equipment, and even less paid for their own way to the Olympic Games. As I walked into the Opening Ceremonies in Vancouver, Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics I smiled because I had "Done it."
I had proven to myself that a child from a broken home without much financial support can reach the pinnacle of their passion. I was happy and I was proud! Now don't get me wrong...I had plenty of help and support along the way, hundreds of individuals were a part of my success and I will always remember them and what they have done for me. But I was able to break done barriers and leap over hurdles that seemed very strong and very high.
One of those barriers was paying for college. I always knew I wanted to go to college and I always knew I would have to figure out a way to pay for it. When I told my parent's I would get an athletic scholarship I think they believed me and I know that was the last time they thought about how I would pay for it. I didn't know any different. I thought all young athletes paid for their equipment and got rides from friends to events, raised money for the Junior Nationals and worked the whole time. Surely, I thought, everyone paid for college on their own.
I was wrong. I quickly figured that out after the first day in the dorm rooms when I realized I missed the memo on furniture and "other stuff" to make the room feel like home. I sat in my empty room with my blanket, pillow and a bag full of training gear and sneakers. I guess I didn't need to spend much time decorating so I went out for a run...
I just found out last week that I will be inducted into the NMU Athletic Hall of Fame. Once again I am excited and proud. As I think about my siblings and parents and all their struggles I realize how lucky I was to be living my dream.
The message left on my phone informing me of my induction made me think long and hard about what it really meant. I immediately thought of the kids Brian and I work with in the neighborhood and how we really emphasize the need to follow their passions and dream big. I am excited to get back to North Minneapolis and share photos and stories about my time in the yurt up in the mountains of Washington. I am excited race this week and remember how far I have come and how motivated I am to share my passion and drive with all those I meet.