Last three years I’ve traveled to Europe for the early World Cup season. Every year I pack up on Zicam, Cold-Eeze zinc lozenges and the like. A certain type of insurance; a precautionary measure to combat any unforeseen, unplanned, strength-sapping ailments picked up on the road. The nasal mist is like the glass on the front of the fire alarm that reads, “Break only in case of emergency.” The zinc lozenges are tucked away in the back of the toiletry kit, just in case something bad happens. Every year, for the last three years, I’ve ripped into the plastic pouch of zinc-laden lozenges, unfurled the safety seal on the gelatinous nasal spray. Not because I want to. Because I have to.
The World Cup opens this weekend. Unfortunately, my goals have changed. This weekend the odds are stacked against me sliding into a race bib. This week’s personal competition does not include competing against the Germans or Estonians or Russians. It’s all about regaining the ability to breathe in oxygen deeply without restriction. It’s about getting my strength and snap back. It’s about lying low in my classic little red Swedish cabin in the woods and resting and reading and relaxing. And not going stir crazy.
Next week is another chance. Next week I head to Kuusamo, Finland. I’ve been in the game long enough to know the pursuit to the top will be fraught with a little turbulence. Now I’ve got to show a little perseverance, a little resilience. Now is hardly the time to become brittle in the face of adversity. Until the next time.