The Bad and the Ugly (Really, Really Ugly):
My races here in Estonia included the full spectrum. Yesterday (Saturday) was an Individual (15k, four shootings: PSPS, 1 minute time penalty per miss) race. It went horribly for me but I'm trying to take it as a learning experience and accept that while I don't think I was nervous or intimidated, it was my first biathlon race with more than fifteen other women (there were in fact sixty other women) and it was really, really windy. In most races I can count on my shooting being a strong point but yesterday that was not the case.
My first prone went okay considering how windy it was (1 miss). My first standing is where I fell apart: for those who know the term, yes, I dirtied (5 misses). I don't actually know if I've ever done that in a race before now. It's not fun... embarrassing might be a good word choice. I guess the one "up side" of it was that in an individual race we don't have to circle the penalty loop five times and try to keep count. My second prone stage I missed two and in my final standing bout I missed three. So eleven total misses and eleven minutes added onto my ski time. When you're ski racing and you know that you have that much time getting added to your ski time when you finish, it's really hard to find the motivation to really bury yourself out on the course. I finished 57th.
So the task today became turning it around. Believing in myself and having the race I know I can have. I focused only on what I needed to actually think about and just let the rest happen as I've practiced it. I listened to my favorite pump-up music while warming up and made sure to get a good pre-race routine in. Off the start line I landed on the course right behind Hannah, who was on her second ski leg after shooting prone. We skied the entire loop together, trailed by a French athlete who went on to finish 6th with clean shooting. I cleaned (missed none) in my prone, skied with the french athlete again, and then missed two in standing. My final ski leg was tough with no one out on course to chase (I started third from last) but I managed to finish a respectable 28th of 68, first for American women. While I still have a few things that I wish I'd done better (namely skiing a bit fast on that last leg), I'm much happier with today's result.
Tomorrow we leave for Russia and I'm not sure if I'll have internet there so I'm leaving you with this and a photo that I found on the biathlon world website. The yellow/black suit is the French athlete who finished 6th and that's me chasing her down on my second leg/her final leg.
Wish me luck in Russia!