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A Racer's Dilemma: Big race tomorrow and you are getting sick.
By:  Megan McTavish   (2008/01/15)


Sickness is something every athlete tries to avoid at all costs during the winter months. However, sometimes it seems to be unavoidable. Our team had some unfortunate luck of getting sick during the one week in the whole year that we least wanted to - the Canmore World Cup Trials in Duntroon. Post-Christmas racing is one of the most difficult times to stay healthy with all the visiting that happens beforehand. I was one of the victims of the dreaded "cold" along with Sheila. Ed was sick right before the race weekend and Karl right after. It is very difficult to prepare for a race when your head is full of congestion and you spend the night coughing.

It is not normally recommended to race when a cold hits. There are many reasons for this, the most important being the likelihood of your symptoms worsening and your recovery being prolonged. However, when it is a qualifying race, it is sometimes tempting to try. I have found that sometimes at the beginning of a cold, I feel fine racing and have actually raced really well. So, on Thursday morning last week, at the World Cup trials events in Duntroon, I got up and made the decision to race despite my developing cold. Luckily, it was one of those days I mentioned and the race actually went fairly well and I was glad I had given it a shot. The next question was, what next?? In addition to the Thursday race, the race on Sunday would have to be completed as well if I was to have any chance of qualifying for the World Cup distance events.

There was also a sprint event on Saturday, but I was more at liberty to not participate because it was not strictly required in order to qualify for the World Cup Sprint events. When I woke up feeling worse on Saturday morning I decided to spend the morning in bed and then headed out to prepare skis for Sunday’s race.

Finally Sunday morning arrived and unfortunately I was feeling even worse than on Saturday. However, as I mentioned above, I needed to do both distance races to have any hope in qualifying for the World Cups in Canmore. I decided, again, to give it a go and hope for the best.

Unfortunately, this time around things weren't on my side. Combined with a loose pole strap and tricky waxing I got myself around the course, but not with much speed or determination. It felt impossible to push myself to go fast. I finished the race and packed up to go home, my voice getting deeper by the minute. Looking back, in some ways it was probably not smart to race on Sunday. At the same time, things are always more clear in hindsight. I really thought that there wasn't much to lose because I didn't have any more big races happening for awhile. In fact, I ended up very close to the overall position I needed to qualify for the World Cups, despite a dismal Sunday.

When I got home, I took the next two days off and then only skied easy the rest of the week, allowing my body to recover from the torture I put it through last week! I'm feeling good now and ready to get back at it.

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