The gun goes off and the race begins. The competition is fierce but so am I and I know deep down I can do battle with this course and this field of incredible skiers. But after a few minutes into the race the pack is slowly but surly slipping out of my grasp. I keep hearing this wheezing from the racer behind me. The world slows down and the small fear in the back of my head slowly grows into a giant monster chasing me around the course. I outrun it for a little while but eventually it catches me and attacks. I suddenly feel like I have swallowed to big of a bit of food and it just wont move out of my windpipe. The wheezing is louder but the racer is still behind me and I know I can still beat him. Coming into the stadium the world starts to fade around the edges. In a moment of clarity and acceptance I know the wheezing racer is really me and that something is terribly wrong. The coaches appear in the distance and I make heartbreaking decision to drop out of a race for the first time in my life. There in Rachel’s arms breathing but not really getting any air I accept my fate and that I have full blown, real life, asthma. Sarah hands me an inhaler and I accept it desperate to breath again. The feeling of getting that first breath was like being woken up from a deep sleep with a cold bucket of water. The next few hours were mostly a blur of pain, anger, sadness, and finally, acceptance. As confirmed by doctors that night and the next day I have asthma and will have to start taking medicine to get better again. They upside is that I can and will get better and will be able to race again. Racing is one of the greatest joys in my life and to be racing internationally has been a dream of mine for years now. Yet hear I am, competing against some of the best in the world. To say the least I am not at my best but in the past few days I have come to realize I can still live this dream. And I have. Five days after the asthma attack I completed my first international race on the beautiful course here at Val Di Fiemme. It wasn’t my best and I still had some problems breathing but it was infinitely better than the skiathalon. I have begun down the road to recovery and I now know deep down that I can beat the monster inside of me.
Although having this experience here has been a challenge I am loving the time spent with the team spent here in Italy. Skiing here has been a jaw dropping experience every time I am out on the course and I can't imagine dong anything better!