Enjoying the ride
The Olympic season is here! It's been a busy fall, but a fun one. We've been on the ice since Oct. 2, and things are going great. We have six new BMW sleds, so each driver/brakeman team is in one of the new sleds, and we'll soon find out who will be named to the World Cup team. (The first World Cup is Nov. 30 in Calgary.)
I've been pre-selected to the team because of my silver medal finish at the 2013 world championships, but I still raced in the first round of team trials in Lake Placid, N.Y., for extra practice last week. In an Olympic year when the competition is already so intense, I feel fortunate not to have to worry about this process and to be able to use these races to prepare for the World Cup season.
I'd love to set out to win every race, but winning isn't the most important thing right now. You could have the best run of your life and lose a race because somebody has a better day. Or you could have the worst run and win.
My second run in team trials was really fast. I won -- but I didn't feel good about it. I made some mistakes, and it just wasn't the best run I could have had. If I were only focused on the winning, I wouldn't have the motivation to work to improve, and I definitely want to continue to improve as we head into Sochi.
There has been some time away from the track, too. Last Wednesday I was in New York City for the Women's Sports Foundation's annual Salute to Women in Sports. It's the foundation's major fundraiser for the year, and it raised more than a million dollars! I‘m so grateful to have received grants from the WSF the last two years to help with my training expenses, so it was a great opportunity to go out there and do whatever I could to help the organization.
I was able to meet Diana Nyad, and I loved hearing her tell her story in her own words. Julie Foudy and Mary Carillo dressed up as sharks and did a rendition of "Don't Stop Believing" as a tribute to Diana that was pretty hilarious. Unfortunately I couldn't get a picture of the shark performance since it was right after the parade of athletes, and we weren't allowed to have cell phones for that!
We also had the U.S. Olympic Committee media summit out in Park City, Utah, at the end of last month. I was asked everything from what's the song of my life right now ("Best Day of My Life" by American Authors -- because it really is!) to normal bobsled questions like how fast we go ((about 75 to 92 mph). A lot of the questions were centered around which teammate I want to have as my brakeman, and I always have the same answer: I want the fastest one!
Next up we have the second round of team trials Oct. 25, and then it's home to Atlanta for a few days at the beginning of November. On the agenda: wedding cake tasting. For the most part, wedding planning is on hold, but we've taken care of the major things like the date (April 24, 2014) and the venue (my parents' house). I still need to finalize things like the catering and invitations.
Despite how busy it is, I'm having so much fun. The pressure of the Olympics isn't on quite yet, and I'm feeling really comfortable in my new sled. I'm not in peak shape right now, but I'm not supposed to be. I want to be in peak shape come February. For now it's a matter of continuing to train hard physically and keeping up with my nutrition.
In November, we have two weeks in Sochi that will be a challenge. It's an important time for getting to practice on the Olympic track, but the Olympic Village isn't set up yet, so we won't have great training facilities, and it will be hard to get the best food. It's going to be a crucial two weeks, nutrition-wise, and it will be tough to maintain everything I've worked for all summer.
But I'm not overthinking it all. I have a new iPod and been listening to the same five songs on repeat for weeks: Katy Perry's "Roar" (that song fires me up like nobody's business -- it's a really good power song!), "Wake Me Up" by Avincii, "Stompa" by Serena Ryder, "Demon" by Imagine Dragons and, as I mentioned before, "Best Day of My Life." Right now, this playlist is keeping my head clear, and keeping me motivated to take on the season!