Author: Hannah Otto
As I type this I’m sitting in the passenger seat driving home from the Leadville 100 and I keep getting bouts of goosebumps and having a ridiculous smile form on my face as I relive moments from yesterday. I never want to forget the feeling. I feel like I have so much to say about yesterday’s win, but I’m also struggling to find the words. I’ll do my best…
Part of what makes this win so special is zooming out across my season and looking at everything that happened to get to this place. So often we isolate moments and label them as “good” or “bad.” It’s an interesting exercise to look back even a couple of months and to think if I had known this was in God’s master plan for me this year, how would my emotions have changed. We never know what the future holds, we have to embrace the present, but at the same time, always hold out hope for an even better future.
Looking back at my season this year, it’s objectively the best season I’ve had to date. I’ve had more wins and stood on more podiums than any other year in my career, by far! I’m ranked higher in the World ranking than I ever have been before, by far! Yet, as athletes we always fall into the ‘more’ mindset. We know we are capable of more so we look forward, and push to reach our “full potential” whatever that may be. We can look through the lens of “this is my best season yet” or we can fall prey to the setbacks we’ve had as well, because my season hasn’t been free of those either. I’ve had health issues, illness, crashes, and injury in this season as well. At times your brain can play tug of war between feeling like you’re on the top of the world while simultaneously wondering if you’ll ever be enough. You must let the good thoughts win. You must keep the belief. I promise your time is coming.
It’s moments where your brain is playing tug of war that the team of people around you become more important than ever. I’ve had so many people breathing belief into me this year that it seems the final step was for me to jump fully on board. A special thank you to my coach, Chris Mileski!
With a big crash at the World Cup just 6 days ago, my prep for Leadville felt far from ideal. I had a barrage of doctor’s appointments leading into the race. I learned I had a Grade 2 AC joint separation. I was cleared to race, but warned it would “hurt a lot.” The doctor recommended I save my matches for race day and rest the shoulder by doing my final workouts on the indoor bike. I had no idea what to expect of my body going into Saturday, and I think that turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
I lined up in the early hours of Saturday morning with a quiet mind. I didn’t have many thoughts about the race and my expectations were wide open. I looked around and my competition and seeing the nerves in many of them I became acutely aware of what a strange feeling it was to be lacking nerves.