International Summer Tour 2017
Next Stop: Heusden-Zolder, Belgium
Good Day Readers,
The next stop on this tour brings me to Heusden-Zolder, the third race destination in eight days. In a beautiful town, with friendly volunteers, and a relaxed atmosphere, race #3 of the Europe circuit was underway. Unfortunately on this stop, the fatigue of racing was less to do with my legs and body, and more to do with my mind. Technically I was feeling relaxed, perhaps slightly less pep in my step, but ready to go. As a bonus, my coach Heather was able to come for a brief visit to watch myself and the other Vic City Elite athletes take to the track. Coming off two PB’s in my last two races, I was excited to continue the cycle, and do well while my coach had travelled to see us. All the while I chose to ignore the little voice in my head trying to say Hello? We’re feeling a bit flat and tired today.
Upon reflection, I can tell you, it is not a good idea to ignore the little voice in your head. Instead, I suggest acknowledging it, because I can guarantee it will not reveal something you cannot handle. During this race day, I learned the more you try to ignore it, the louder the voice will become. This race in particular ended up being called in 20 minutes early, which although I was ready, was still a notable disruption. When my heat was on the track, I stepped into my lane and waited for the announcer to finish announcing the start list. When the stadium went completely silent, I realized they had already called us “To your marks” in a foreign language. I was in the outside lane, looked back and saw the other girls of my heat were crouched over into their start positions while I was still standing tall. I had somehow missed my call to the line. In a panic, I hustled to my line and tried to stand still before the gun went off and avoid being charged with a false start. Meanwhile the little voice was whispering Phew! Next time might not be so lucky!
I ran the race to stay near the front with the pacer and went to make a bold move with 300m to go. Unfortunately this meant I was going to hit a very uncomfortable wall. Instead of having the courage to relax through it, that voice I chose to ignore earlier took that time to cast doubt loud and clear. The energy I wasted trying to combat my own self-sabotage eventually lead me to a time unreflective of my capabilities. The last 150m were not relaxed and a painful attempt to finish with a partially defeated sense of self. To explain this mental battle to anyone afterwards might make me seem crazy, which only made the opportunity seem more disappointing. The gloomy rain rolled in as I watched other Canadian athletes race that night, but I was really looking forward to some down time to recover.
Once I was tucked under the comforts of my blankets back in Leuven, I finally took the time to acknowledge the little voice. Feeling a bit flat and tired. Why was that? I had been practicing good sleep habits, eating well, and prioritizing recovery. Upon deeper reflection, I realized I had focused so much on being Adrea the Athlete, I forgot to take the time and effort to be Adrea the Person. As an athlete, I was ready to race. As a person, I was tired, and needed to prioritize some time and conversations with my close friends and family. Somehow along the chaos, I lost my athlete/life balance, and ultimately lost myself when I went to race. Through nobody’s fault other than my own, I went into this race fighting myself. If there is a lesson to be learned from this race fore me, it would be to listen to the little voice and follow its guidance.
My advice for moving forward, is even on the days when when you seem to lose to yourself, there is still something to be gained. I am sure this will not be the last time I or another runner will ever feel doubt or scared before a race, which is why I am sharing this story. This feeling is natural and not something to feel shameful or embarrassed about. These are the feelings I felt in my decision to share this story publicly because honestly it was, and is hard for me to hit “Publish”. It requires admitting I was a loser, and to be honest, my ego is not very happy about it. With enough consideration, I have arrived at the conclusion, the race was not a waste, it was an opportunity to trial racing against my own mind. This day I gained the experience of racing with self-doubt. In turn this gave me post-race disappointment and the challenge to find a way to learn from it. I hope by admitting and sharing my flaws in this race, readers can relate to these emotions, and find strength in themselves to listen and follow their own guiding voices. At the end of the day, I was able to make contact with my people back home, and realize the little voice was not there to throw off my race; rather it was there to remind me to find life balance while I was abroad.
Unfortunately in my initial attempts to forget about this race and fully move on, all photos I had were deleted to avoid my perceived reminder of failure. As a result, this post will end with a friendly reminder that life is what you make it, and if you have the choice, you might as well be as happy as my dog Willa 🙂 !
Thanks for reading and until next time,