"My hunger is for excellence, not for success. Because when you attain excellence, success just naturally follows" - Mike Krzyzewski a.k.a Coach K.
Well, that is a very fine quote.
I did not exactly attain excellence this weekend at the World Cup in Namur...much less did I attain success. But somehow, I still had a great time and felt like it was a very good return to racing.
I hadn't raced since the Continental Championships about 5-6 weeks ago, and I found that I was a bit rusty during the race. We had done a lot of really good training, but my racing mindset and aggressiveness were lacking. I was slow at making decisions, and made a lot of mistakes. Actually, I felt like I was always reacting too late to what was happening around me, rather than being calm, anticipate, and prepare my moves.
I was soon reminded that this is not how you perform in a World Cup, where all 64 women lining up all want the same thing, at the same time, and have no mercy.
In the end, after many crashes and even more passing mistakes, I ended up 32nd, which is not even close to where I would like to finish...But I have to keep Coach K's advice in mind. I am not chasing success, I am chasing excellence. Which, if you think about it, is pretty awesome because the quest never stops.
The good thing is that now I know that when I am coming to Europe for some cyclocross races, it can be a very good idea to arrive earlier and do some smaller races before jumping into a World Cup; especially if I haven't raced at home in a while.
Looking back, I sure am a bit disappointed, mostly because I felt like we had really nailed the preparation so it was hard to see that it didn't really pay off for this particular race. However, there are more races to come and all the training and preparation I have done has still been done; it's still in the bag, no matter how good or bad this race has gone. Also, I actually had quite a good time during the race, because the course is so amazing. My favorite parts were the very steep, muddy, and fast descents that all had a fun corner at the bottom. It put a smile on my face every time I was going down one of them. I also liked the off camber traverse, which was really slippery and had many different "ruts" in it. It was a challenge every lap, and it was constantly changing, so a line that had been good the previous lap could be tricky the next one. It literally "kept you on your toes" the whole time.
I watched that race on TV countless times and always dreamed of riding/racing that course...Well, it was even better and even more fun than I had imagined it.
On that note, I will be back, Namur. And I'm already looking forward to it :)