"My biggest enemy is my inner me" . David and I have been watching a rap series called Rhythm and Flow, and one of the young rapper on the show keeps saying this.
I can totally relate to that quote. For the longest time, I've always been my own worst enemy and my most fierce opponent. In a sense, I still am, but I've grown to really know and understand my inner me a lot better. I'm now more able to control myself and I've developed tricks & strategies to get the best out of myself on a regular basis.
I'm sure everyone has been in a situation like this before: Let's say you're playing basket ball and shooting hoops. You tell yourself: "Alright, let's see if I can get 3 in a row". You hope to get 3 in a row. You get the first two and then you start really hoping you can get the third one. But is it really up to chance if you're going to succeed?
What if, instead of hoping to succeed, you focused on exactly what you have to do to get the ball in the net? Place your hands that way, look at that specific spot, use that amount of force, etc.
Racing is the same for me. I used to be nervous about being nervous. "Will I be able to race to my full potential today?" That made me nervous because I felt I was not in control of it. But I've been working on it and I know it's my decision to perform to the best of my abilities - it's not up to chance.
I'm telling you all that because yesterday, I was nervous. Championships are special in a way that all you did in the season prior to that event does not count on the day. It's all about that one race to decide who will be the champion of the country for the following year. Everyone wants it, and anyone can take it.
I was nervous because I really wanted it. I knew it would not be easy. Jenn Jackson is a fierce competitor and I know she wanted to win as much as I did. But I embraced the stress - I was happy to be nervous, it was a confirmation that I wanted to win, and I was prepared to work hard for it.
From the start, Jenn Jackson was right there on my wheel and putting pressure. No surprise there. The first time at the barrier, she bunny hopped them as I ran them, and she gain a bit of time on me. "Noted". We rode the first lap together. I would gain a bit of time in the pedalling sections and she would gain that time back in the technical sections. My plan was to play it safe in the technical sections because I wanted to be sure not to make any mistake. But she was riding really well and it made me think maybe I would need to ride those sections more aggressively. On the second lap, she took the lead on the pavement, so I recovered on her wheel. I felt I maybe had a little bit more in the pedalling sections, so I knew the only way to win was to be at the front and put pressure from there. I adjusted and bunny hopped the barriers too, but other than that, I still played it safe. Hard, safe, hard safe...that was my strategy. After about 3 laps, I was staring to open a slight gap, so I kept pushing and pushing. It was tough - it was 0 degrees and raining outside, so we could not feel our hands and had to pay attention when shifting (luckily for me, the SRAM e-tap was super helpful here!). After a long race of digging deep and riding safely, I was able to create a gap and keep it until the finish line to take the win.
It felt really good. Even more so because it had been such a hard race. I can thank Jenn for that - she brought the battle to me and brought the best out of me on the day. That's super cool. I'm very happy to be representing the Maple Leaf for one more year.
I've done many, many mistakes in my career so far, and in a sense it's really nice because I feel I am finally starting to benefit from all those mistakes. I can't count the number of National Championships I messed up. But it's really cool to be here a few years later and be able to respond better to a similar situation where I would have flunked before. I think it's that progress (which David and I have been working on) that makes me the happiest.
It was a very quick trip for David and I. We drove 5h Friday, raced Saturday and drove 5h back home right after the race. But it was a great trip - my parents were there (which is always very cool) and it was pretty awesome to hang with the Canadian cyclocross community. Thank you everyone for cheering yesterday!!
As always - it just so happens that my job on the team is to pedal and cross the finish line. But the truth is that jersey belongs to many more people. Thanks for making it happen :)