Monday, 22 July 2013

On the Pursuit of Brilliance

The last two weekends were the most important races of the season for U23 Canadians. The Sudbury Canada Cup was followed by Nationals at Hardwood Hills, and these were the two races used for selection to the 2013 World Championships team. As you probably know, I did not race well. I was on the hunt for brilliance (well, at least brilliance in my own right), but it proved elusive. I've had many people ask me "So... what happened?", and there isn't really a clear answer to that question. I'm still trying to figure out what it was that didn't "click", but I can give you the bare facts.

I felt well rested and physically prepared heading into Sudbury. I was excited and felt like I was ready to have a killer race. Unfortunately, everything flipped upside down as soon as the whistle blew. My legs wouldn't turn over, and shortly after that the PANIC button was pressed. A downward spiral of negative thoughts paired with a rising feeling of panic ended the race for me. I'm not proud of the big ol' DNF beside my name in the results... in fact, I feel a twinge of shame every time I think about it. But, I know that it was the right decision. I wasn't able to put a lid on my thoughts, and I had to stop them before they did any more damage to my psyche (how crazy does that make me sound...).

Next up came National Championships. I knew having a good performance was going to require a HUGE turnaround from last weekend, but I also know that a podium was well within my reach. I spent all week getting my head back in the right place, and was the most physically ready I've ever felt (no joke). Whistle blew, and I felt in my gut that it was going to be good race. I led off the start and managed to come around after the first lap in 2nd place with a ~10sec gap to the leader. Right where I wanted to be. I hit the wood chips at the start of the second lap and immediately felt myself slipping... I'm not sure what happened, but a switch somewhere turned off. From there I gave it my absolute all, but my legs were no longer in the game. I finished up a distant 6th with some dashed dreams and a bruised pride. This gallery tells the story of my race pretty well... just slowly moving back within the field.

They say you should "say little when you lose", and I agree with that: making excuses is no way to behave as an athlete and is definitely no way to improve. So hopefully the above doesn't read like a pile of excuses. Ultimately, I didn't race as well as my competition. I've got some work to do - both mentally and physically - but I can tell you that my heart is 100% in it. The last couple weeks were a bit of a setback, nothing more. I'm still on the hunt for a brilliant performance, and I have absolute faith that I'll be able to make it happen!

On the bright side of things, HUGE congratulations to my friend Mitch for winning U23 men's Nationals. You deserve it, and I'm so happy for you! Commendations are also in order for all my Norco teammates... you guys raced really well, and produced some excellent results.

Big thanks to Havy, Norco, Shimano, Kenda, and Rockshox - my 650B rig felt absolutely MINT these past weekends! Honestly couldn't have asked for a better bike to ride. I also need to thank my coach for not giving up on me, and being 100% dedicated to helping me find success... There are no words to describe how much that means to me.

Next up on the agenda is Canada Summer Games in Sherbrooke, Quebec. Team Ontario is sending a strong contingent, and we're looking for some good results!

Until next time!

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