I just finished cleaning up my closet and I have a bunch of sweet looking, red and white Garneau jerseys and skinsuits to give away. And while I'm sad to be parting with these clothes, I can now reflect on the weekend and I think I can safely say that it is a good thing for me that I lost the National title this weekend.
"WTF is she talking about?!"
Well, you are right to be asking that. Actually, a few hours after the race on Saturday, someone kindly told me that it might be a good thing for me, and even though I smiled to that person, all that went on in my mind was: "WTF is she talking about?!".
A couple of days later, though, I can now agree with that person. That wise person was Mical Dyck, by the way (thanks Mical). And you know what, she is not the only wise one who has told me that.
So how did I finally come to that conclusion myself? Well, it took me a while to see it that way, because I was so mad with myself after the race. I wasn't mad at the fact Chirstel Ferrier beat me; she was strong, smart, raced really well, and earned that title fair and square. The reason I was mad is because I beat myself during that race.
I knew it was going to be hard to beat Christel. She has been very strong this year and she is a very smart and experienced rider. Some people in Canada don't know her because she is only recently Canadian, but she has represented France at the Olympics on the road and she has finished in the top 10 at Cyclocross World Championships several times through her long and successful career. She's been living in Quebec for the last two years so we've had the chance to race each other very often at the local and provincial races.
Anyway, I entered the race feeling ready and confident, but ready for a tough battle. Here's a short summary of how the race happened:
- I led from the start. Christel and I had a gap early on.
- She was sitting on my wheel. The course was very fast, dry and not technical at all in the dry. It was physically challenging though.
- "Keep pushing Magh!" I kept pushing but couldn't shake her off my wheel.
- I kept drilling it at the front thinking I could eventually make her crack.
- On lap two, I heard her not clipping quickly, so I attacked.
- I kept pushing hard at the front and extended the gap to about 10sec.
- After a lap at the front, the gap was stable at 10sec and I was hurting. I started stressing out. "Crap, this is really hard and I'm not making up time anymore."
- "Should I slow down and wait for her? Should I keep pushing and risk blowing up?"
- While I was somewhere stuck in my head, questioning myself, I slowed down, but never calmed down. I wasn't present. She passed and attacked me. I got surprised. I tried to follow her. I started stressing out even more.
- Her gap grew to about 5-10 sec. I spent too much time convincing myself to calm down while I was trying to catch her.
- It took me too long to calm down and her gap grew.
- She won. I lost.
To be clear, the reason that I feel like "lost" is not just because she won... She beat me (and won the race) which translated in me losing the race. That's a fact. But that's not why I'm saying that I lost. I feel like I lost because I beat myself and couldn't get out of my own way. I hadn't done that in a while, but it turns out I'm still not mature enough I guess.
I didn't really sleep after the race because I was disappointed and mad, and that physically hurt me deep down in my belly. So I went straight in and reflected about what was actually hurting me that way. Usually, what hurts the most is the truth, and facing it is the only way to learn and move forward.
So here's the truth: I messed up, I did a very bad job at controlling my emotions, I didn't trust myself enough and in the end, I choked. I tried to win too hard. I wasn't patient enough. I got nervous and questioned myself during the race. And when she passed me, I was still questioning myself about what was happening and why I couldn't follow, instead of actually trying to follow...all that because I didn't trust myself enough.
Interestingly enough, without talking to each other, David and I came to the exact same conclusion.
So, can losing the race be a good thing? I think so, and here's why: I race like that way too often, and I am just realizing it now. If I had won Nationals, I never would've made that realization. It wouldn't have hurt as much and I never would've thought much about it.
Sometimes, it needs to hurt for us (for me, anyway) to learn. And I think this one hurt enough for me to learn a lot.
Yesterday a good friend texted me something, as we were talking about my race. She said: "Sorry to say that, but that's sometimes more important than winning. I know it sounds bad, but you'll get it one day!"
I think I get it now. In some ways, her message helped me to officially get over the past weekend by appreciating the lessons I had learned and to set my sight on the next goals of the season.
In the end, it was still a good weekend, because I'm coming out of it better than when I came in. The energy at the event was really good and I heard a lot of people cheering for me, or introducing themselves to me to talk about their Fever. Furthermore, my family as well as a few close friends, and sponsors were there to cheer me on and that is always a very special feeling. I'm lucky to have their support and the support from a few close friends who are with me wether I win or lose.
I think I know who I'll give those Maple Leaf jerseys to...
Up next is the Pan Am championships this weekend, where I'll be looking forward to apply the lessons I learned. I'm also excited because Hannah Bauer (CX Fever Grant recipient) will be joining our team for the weekend. Should be fun!