Sometimes I think people tend to look at things closer when they lose than when they win. At least, that’s what I do.
When we win or when something goes really well, we don’t take much time to evaluate exactly what happened and why it happened. There is stuff under the rug that we ignore, because at first glance, since the result was good, it seems like, and it feels like, all went well. But when you suffer a real setback, you want to know all the reasons why - so that it will never happen again.
The whole trip to Europe that just ended with the World Cup in Heusden-Zolder was a big setback for me. If I’m honest, not many things went well, actually…
But there are always many ways to look at something. Some people like to see the glass half-full, and some prefer to see it half-empty. I usually fall into the first category; always trying to find the positive in every situation...I guess it must come from my dad who is Mister Optimistic in person. This time, however, I choose to look at the glass differently; the way Georges St-Pierre sees it. Simply, I choose to see that the glass has reached half of its capacity. That’s it. No emotion, no interpretation. Just a fact: the glass is filled halfway through.
Looking at the facts and leaving the emotions behind is the only way for me to really learn and see the situation for what is really is. It’s simply the truth.
So here are a few facts about this trip: I was unprepared for the first race (not physically, but racing-wise it was a shock), I got sick the day after the first race and stayed sick for the rest of the trip, I was disorganized, my travel plans were too ambitious, tiring and complicated, I got bored, I missed my family on Christmas, I had very bad results at all 3 races, etc.
Now that the facts have been stated, though, I can choose to look at them in many ways. The easy way would be to look at it as a series of unfortunate situations that happened. In that scenario, I would feel sorry for myself for being sick and for having bad races. I would get discouraged, use the “f**k it” attitude, eat all the pastries that I so deeply want to eat, and subconsciously put less effort into my preparation for the next block of racing.
The other way is to take responsibility for what happened, and learn from it. Ask myself some questions and find answers as to why things happened the way they did, and how can I make sure they don’t happen again. Why did I get sick? What did I do wrong? How can I prevent to be sick next time that I am travelling? How can I organize myself better? How can I plan my next trip more intelligently? How can I feel more “race ready” when I come next time? Etc.
Honestly, the first option seems very tempting in the heat of the moment, when all the croissants are looking at me and I’m kind of bummed about my results. But I know it would lead nowhere… Actually, I know very well that it would lead to even poorer performances and grater disappointments. So with the help of David, we made a decision: We would eat one pastry and then take responsibility for what happened and start working on the next block of racing.
While talking about it, we found some great solutions and interesting ideas for future trips. And as much as I make it sound like it was a nightmare of a trip, I’m actually very glad and thankful for it. Every opportunity to do one of these super strong European races is such a great experience. If you give it your all, there is no way to not grow from every one of these races.
In Zolder, for example I truly had a great time... And so did I in Namur and St-Niklaas. Actually, the races, even if my results weren't good, were definitely the highlights of the trip!
Here's a quick recap of Zolder:
- Start. Spun out, loose a few spots. "Stay calm." Zig-zag my way towards the front. Sitting in the top 20.
- Crash in front of me. Not fast enough to get around. People are running in the wrong direction.
- Unclip, get around, get going again.
- Find myself on the ground, still clipped in. People ride on and over me. “Shit. This is not ideal.”
- Get going again. “I am very far back now.” (I was somewhere in the 50s)
- Feel flat. Not moving up as much as I want.
- “Here we go again... no power!"
- About 2 seconds later, I decide to give myself a pep talk: “Okay negative Nancy. Stop it. Think about all the hours spent waiting in the hotel room, only being excited about this race. Now it’s finally happening, so make it the most of it!”
- The pep talk worked. Luckily, we are still in the first 3 min of the race.
- Still feeling flat but really digging deep and making all kinds of cool passes.
- Having so much fun.
- Hear David telling me to keep passing people. “I’m on it!”
- Making good decision. Totally focused and into it. This is fun.
- Hear Thomas and Milo cheer for me – Extra motivation! (Thomas and Milo are two super cool kids from a wonderful family that we met during the trip!)
- Keep passing people. Final lap – sprint on the final stretch and catch a group on the line (while someone else passes me) but not enough time to pass the group. Finish 26th.
- THAT WAS SO FUN! Chit chat with David, Thomas and Milo at the finish.
I had never had that much fun or that good of a race for finishing that far back. The level of the field at the CX races is really strong right now and you absolutely need to bring you’re A game if you want to be competitive. I really did the best I could with what I had on that day, and I guess you can’t ask for more. I was honestly happy after the race, even if I’m ultimately aiming for a better result…it was still a good performance.
Another thing I’m happy about is that I didn’t let the fact that I was sick play negative tricks on my mind. Before hand, I didn’t want to let myself be mentally affected by the sickness by giving myself an excuse, so I’m really proud that I didn’t do that and that I was still able to give all I have.
In the end, it wasn’t the best of trips, but I think there is a lot to take from it that can help me for the next time I go to Europe. I’m now off to Tucson to get healthy and train hard to be as ready as I can for the final block of racing in January.
As the saying goes, no matter how well or how badly things are going, you just have to “chop wood and carry water”. In other words, keep doing what you have to do, with your best effort. And frankly, I think that’s all you can really do, anyway.