Recollections and reflection post-NACAC Championships in Toronto.... I nearly caught the Silver and I crossed the line for Bronze...But I came home with a shade of Gold.
2018 has been a FANTASTIC season for me. The year has been filled with triumphs and even a couple nuggets of happy surprise. My support network is unwavering and my coach is remarkable, to say the least. We make a solid team and I continue to trust the journey--We share a goal and target; enhancing my gratitude for his expertise, cheer, and friendship. The target is the Tokyo Olympics 2020 with the ores being World Championships 2019 in Qatar. All other races are simply sparklers for an enhanced glow and accumulating experience.
The feeling I departed an elevator with [See previous blog post: 'Plead the 25th. HELP!'] mirrors the uplifting feeling I return home from Toronto with, regardless of my 2018 NACAC result.
Each ripple beautiful because experience assures and has shown us that ripples eventually smooth.
Control the controllable and how we choose to perceive is within our (general) control. #mentaltraininginc
Okay, so, if you are in the know of a couple scenarios that took place mere hours before placing my feet on the starting line: You might doubt or miss the hints of a vibrant afterglow. You may even think I'm upset (or was). Nope! I may have received my first ever dq in the history of my entire athletic career but to my surprise--Instead of feeling concerned about the result...I was more preoccupied with nursing my stomach (ha) AND appreciative of one-off moments shared and exchanged with beautiful and inspiring teammates (including coaches and management).
In terms of the race and outcome: I was informed approximately 10 minutes after I crossed the finish line seconds behind 2nd. For my coach's birthday (who was celebrating his special day in Tahoe same day as the NACAC 20km race walk race), I hoped to gift him a podium-finish and a personal record by following his race plan as close to exactly as he requested. Obviously, aside from one resolvable detail I DID follow his race plan, so, in terms of that: SUCCESS!
My training has been going promisingly well, so, why would we expect anything less? I didn't assume anything. I don't practice the art of assuming things (well, I prefer not to and so *assuming* is not something that comes second nature to me). So....
The race would become a fun test of my intrinsic belief in my abilities...I almost didn't pass. But I did...sort of. After reviewing video of my technique during the last three laps of the race and comparing them with my technique before those laps: While I still don't agree with the calls I can understand what threw the judges into shock over my form--I delayed too long on throwing the hammer down during the second portion of my race. My legs were numb...I could barely feel them. So, I doubted I would be able to catch up to, and surpass, my targeted competitors (even though I know I'm in shape to do so). I held back. I hesitated. I waited. But then I didn't hesitate...and I received exuberant cheers from coaching staff and fans in response to the large gaps I was rapidly closing. Exciting! My perspective of the race comes with silver linings--or more accurately: Golden highlights disguised as Silver or Bronze (and tarnished finish) that, for this particular weekend, melted into a version of gold that outlasts medallions.
When I was notified it took me by (somewhat) surprise how little bothered I was. I was annoyed with myself and disappointed, sure...but not as much as I thought I would be upon notification of my soiled perfect record. A first mark and may it be my last. Period.
My concern and focus was more on my stomach....cramps. Hell was running loose in my uterus with "blades out" and chilling fire-darts of pain. So, compared with the very real pain in my stomach I didn't much care about anything else but to get back on the ferry (yes, we took a ferry to and from the race course--ha! To quote our male NACAC silver medalist, Nick Christie: "It was the earliest I've ever had to wake up for a late morning race...." and has the most obstacles (albeit fun and unique!); shower, and crawl into bed with a book while I nurse my cramps. I am among a low percentage of women in the world who get cramps that are so unbelievably severe that I eventually have to crawl to move myself anywhere. My legs go numb and weak...I get really hot and...drop. Fortunately, athletics has decreased the frequency of these 'begging for mercy and death-like' level of pain but I'm not entirely free of them.
Some days we're feeling on top of the world and other days--moments during such days--simply aren't our best. Ain't no thang.
A snapshot of events 24-hours leading into this race and afterward will help illustrate why I come away from this race feeling positive rather than what several would expect:
- At 6pm the night prior I and 22 others got stuck in an elevator. I saw my athletic career momentarily flash before my eyes while we waited for over 30 minutes for help to get us out. Call it melodramatic, maybe, but very real risks were a hand. No matter—we survived to laugh about the experience and feel a little more unspoken kinship.
- Boys mistakenly consider the following TMI but it is a real potential race interference and distraction for women, monthly: My period came two weeks late. Yup. Showed up ON the night leading into the race and that morning giving me the most severe cramps I've had since over a year ago. It sucks when this happens... my legs go numb and my body feels like I'm sitting next to a furnace (or has become one!). A migraine sometimes accompanies these.
- General Anxiety symptoms have a lingering affect of causing the mind and body to feel a little if not A LOT wiped out, which is why (and how I manage to counter the affect) I am adamant about getting 8-10 hours of sleep per night--especially 1 and 2 nights prior. This, accomplished...but even the most genuine efforts aren't always enough. I realized it was having an affect on me early during the race--it came in the form of self-doubt. I began to doubt if I could catch up even though I knew I could...my training and personal best 20km time of 1:34:26 and a successful new American Record 15km after a tough week of training earlier this year proves to me I am capable.
- My first red card showed up on the board as I finished my third to last lap. That makes some sense since the third to last lap is when I finally decided to put the hammer down and reel in the Gold, Silver and Bronze position.
- I saw that I received my first red card as I approached my second to last lap.
- By the time I approached my final lap I saw two red cards. I tried to back off but I was still reeling in third place. This is the part I delayed
too long. UGH. I was careful but I threw more caution to the wind than I typically prefer to do.
- If you've read this far down, you know.
Control the controllable and how we choose to perceive is within our (general) control.
At least I got to hold the flag up high and alongside my competitor and TeamUSA teammate, Maria Michta. I had to fly out early morning following our 2018 Outdoor Championship race, so, I missed our podium ceremony (and therefore didn't get to raise the flag proudly with my TeamUSA mates). On this day, for a few minutes...a missed coveted moment in Ohio was made up for here in Toronto.
Life finds a way to circle around and help pay respects when we, in turn, appreciate silver-linings. <3
In My Life: We Are as Swans