It was almost exactly 6months to the day that I was released from hospital after the ridiculous ski accident that resulted in a pneumothroax. At that particular point, I was still considering whether I should continue in the sport, let alone even try and build back up for that coming European Season. I had made some amazing gains training with Dala Sports Academy, and the improvements were all measurable and very noticeable. The 12 unbearably uncomfortable days restricted to lying on my back in the hospital bed showed their negative effects in an overwhelmingly harsh way. I went from being the strongest, fittest and skiing technically better than ever before to not being able to walk for 1.5km without needing a sit-break. In the gym things were even worse, I went from 71.5kg to just below 66kg and this was certainly noticeable! I think I was probably stronger as a 12 year old.
Gradually, mostly due to my coach Mattias, Teresa, my family and friends my spirits began to lift and I saw that it was just realistically another good challenge to see just how fast I could bounce back. The incredible global support from everyone who contributed towards my fundraiser to pull me out of the unfortunate health insurance debacle not only made the new challenge financially possible, but also gave me a huge surge of motivation. I wanted to give these people a story to follow – change a stupidly unfortunate sob story into something fun, inspirational and high spirited.
I changed my goals accordingly. Originally I had hoped for a top 50% of the field in the Falun 2015 World Championships but with this already being quite a steep task, I adjusted it to just achieving better results than ever before. This was also considered to be a little unrealistic by a few, however especially as the race season grew closer, I began to certainly believe that it wasn’t at all unachievable.
For the pre-World Champs Australian Team Camp in Grönklitt, I knew I was coming into some great form. My body felt sharp, and in intensity sessions my heart rates were high but perceived effort was low and I was able to ski with some very solid speed and power. Mattias’ training plan had worked because at the end of that week (2 weekends ago) for the Östersund World Cup, I achieved a result that I believed was right up there with a career best performance. All pre-World Championship World Cups are the most competitive of World Cups with every athlete coming into their best shape and most teams filling their quotas. I positioned 74th, right on 78% of the field – my best ever performance was in Canmore World Cup 2012 where I placed 47th and 73% of the field but was a far less competitive event with many of the top Europeans not taking part.
Things were therefore looking like they were all coming together. My chest felt completely pain free and breathing was feeling so much more relaxed and complete at higher intensities. I not only thought I would achieve my adjusted goal, but I was also keen to so just how close I could go to making that original first goal of top 50%. Unfortunately I managed to find some more bad luck, so much so that I found myself inside hospital walls far sooner that I ever thought possible. The Gastro-bug got me agin and to explain to what extend here is a little quote from Phil… ‘I thought there was a roaring lion in the bathroom’. After a couple of bags of IV fluids, I was sent home to try and recover as quickly as possible.
The Skiathlon was out, as was the Team Sprint, both events I had been so excited for as they are probably my favourite events. The only lucky thing about this scenario was that I was able to restore my health and energy to the level where I could start my strongest event – the 15km freestyle. My pulse was high, energy was low and my legs just had nothing more to give. It was probably one of the more painful races I’ve ever done, simply because I had to force my body so much. The result, obviously not what I was hoping for. To be fair though, it wasn’t too disastrous and by placing 72nd (83% of field), I actually achieved the same result as what I did in the 15km freestyle last World Champs.
Life is full of ups and downs and all I can hope for is that this rollercoaster starts going back up for the 50km on Sunday.