Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - INDi2010 Racing Team
Exel Racing Team Update: The Athlete Professional

- By: Kara Mika

The Athlete Professional despite sounding similar, should not be mistaken for the professional athlete. These athletes are rarely seen in elite circles and are often found training in the dead of night. Unlike, professional athletes, their job is not a training program but a 40 hour work week, and it is in those hours outside of the 9-5 office schedule that their workouts are fit in. Over the years I have learned that with this lifestyle it is all about striking the right balance.

The progression to an AP (Athlete Professional) has come naturally to me. As a teenager in high school I balanced skiing (Georgian Bay Nordic), school (Kincardine District SS) and part time jobs (Dishwashing, Life guarding, etc). This busy schedule came with much caution from my parents. My mother would tell me - as only a mother can - “You are trying to do too much, it's not good for you”. Next came University in Thunder Bay, balancing a full time (6-7 courses) engineering course load and training with the National Team Development Center. This hectic schedule would eventually lead me to the brink of insanity. My professors in 1998 were less than impressed when I missed 6 of the 12 weeks of second semester for World Junior's in Switzerland and the Canadian Championships. In order to find that necessary balance, after my first two years I dropped to part-time student status and continued to ski in Thunder Bay with Big Thunder Nordic. Along with the course load change, being a “big thunder babe” helped keep me motivated to ski.

When I finally graduated with my Electrical Engineering Degree from Lakehead University, I accepted a job with RJ Burnside and Associates in Collingwood as a Consulting Engineer. Collingwood is a 10-minute drive from Highlands Nordic, where the 2003 Canadian Championships were held and a 2-hour drive from my hometown of Kincardine, Ontario. This relocation has given me the opportunity to begin to train and race at a high level again with Highlands Trailblazers under the guidance Larry Sinclair. It is here in Collingwood where I live from day to day as an Athlete Professional.

Waking up at 6am to train before work and then heading back out at 6pm after work has given me a new appreciation of the value of time. I am the type of person that needs to be busy, but there is a fine line between busy and burn out. Managing my training, my work, and my rest effectively is key to being a successful AP. It is this management of time that can often be frustrating for my friends, family and myself. I am very fortunate to have not only supportive people around me but a supportive workplace. (RJ Burnside and Associates has recently granted me the time I need to prepare for and race the World Cup trials in late November and early December.) Additionally, with the creation of the Exel Racing Team I now have a supportive team, which believes in individuality and the fact that we can all bring positive experiences and tools to a team environment. There are times that I struggle with the balancing act between work and my skiing dreams. This is my reality and I deal with what it brings. Honestly, I am not sure I would have it any other way.


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