Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Internet Read my Mind (kinda).

I wrote this to myself not long after TransRockies. It sits in a spot in my 'draft' folder that means I see it every so often, but not every day…

"I have come to the realization over the last season or two that I put very high expectations on myself and then tend to not live up to those expectations on race day. When I don’t live up to those expectations during the race, I get a bit down. Negative even. Next season I’m going to try and turn over a new leaf and choose to be happy and positive on each race, no matter how the day plays out. No matter how much it hurts."

Anyway, I’m not entirely sure why, but that little thought has been on my mind a lot lately. In fact, Shane and I chatted about it quite a bit over the weekend while we were out running and biking. We talked about the fact that as a teenager I was soooo competitive ~ with myself, with others. I straight up just wanted to win. All.the.time. Now, I like training more than I like racing and in general, I think I’m a pretty non-aggressive person.

So yeah, somewhere along the way it seems I lost a bit of that competitive edge. Sure, I still like to challenge myself, and push myself and see what I’m capable of, but I feel like sometimes I lack the killer instinct or stubbornness to meet my lofty expectations. I think this often translates to me giving into the negative thoughts on race day.

Anyway, eerily enough, I came across two different posts/articles recently that I could really relate to. At times in each article, it was like the writers were in my head, articulating my thoughts and feelings better than I could ever articulate them myself.

The first one is here.

This line “Things I would never even think to say to another human being, much less one in pain, became perfectly acceptable to say to myself. Horrible, vile things blared between my ears with every step…” was eye opening.

Many of the things the writer was saying to herself were the same things that were running through my head during the marathon of IMC 2012. I felt like such a failure that day. I felt like I was letting down all of my friends and family who had come to watch by making them wait so long. It seems laughable now, but really, I felt like such a loser. The perspective the writer gave it, noting the fact that you would never say this to a friend (or a stranger for that matter), kind of hit the point home. I am realizing more and more that when the going gets tough, I tend to talk a bit negatively to myself. Obviously, this is something I need to work on.

The second post is here.

I can’t pinpoint one line that sticks with me quite as much as the previous entry, but I can definitely relate. I love training. Hell, I’ve said it many times before – I prefer training to racing. And, much like the writer of the above post, over the years I’ve come to realize that time trials or timed sets scare me. When I notice them in the calendar, feelings of nervous dread hang over me until I finally get the sucker over with.

I used to just tell myself the feeling of fear was “because it meant something to me.”  Which I do think is partly true. Of course, I want to see the improvements and gains that all my training has led to, but I also think it is a fear of [my own perceived] failure perhaps? Fear of a plateau, fear of not improving.

So, does this all relate back to my lack of killer instinct on race day? I dunno. Maybe.

What I do know is that I think it’s good that I’m becoming more aware of this and hopefully, as I get deeper into the training season, I’ll be able to acknowledge when/if I’m being hard on myself and when I just need to suck it up and dig deep. In turn, maybe I’ll find a little bit of that killer instinct that I somehow discarded a decade ago.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

*crickets chirp*

Via UrbanDictionary: Used to point out or emphasize silence. (Well, not precisely silence, since chirping crickets make sound. But you get it.)

So yeah, it’s been a little quiet around the ol’ blog the last few weeks, hasn’t it?

The silence was mainly brought on by the fact that I spent the better part of last week paddling my way through the Sayward Forest Canoe Route with Kirsten, her co-worker Sutty, Tyler, and a plucky bunch of Grade 11 students from her Outdoor Ed. class.

The other reason being partly because as I get back into my regularly scheduled training regime, it is a lot of same-old-same-old. Good same-old-same-old mind you, but same-old-same-old all the same. (Haha, is that a record for the number of times the word ‘same’ has been used in a sentence??)

So, since training has been rolling along nicely (and somewhat uneventfully), let’s talk about Sayward.

Short version...
It was a pretty wicked trip.

Long version...
I’ll admit, there were moments on night one, while lying in the tent, listening to the wind and rain beat down on us (and even feeling the rain splash my face through the tent’s fly), that I questioned my decision to go on the trip. I quickly realized that while I love the outdoors and do spend my fair share of time outside doing fun things, I haven’t really done a lot of overnight backpack camping (or you know, any of it).

I definitely spent the first little while feeling a bit useless. My hands were numb, which made tying knots to hang the tarps difficult (although my general lack of know-how on knot-tying trumped the numb hands). So, I kinda stood around and held up the tarp while Kirsten and Sutty strung it up. After a number of school trips together, they’ve pretty much got things down to a science, so I suppose I shouldn’t feel too bad about my uselessness (cause they really didn’t need me anyway).

Anyhoo, needless to say, night one sucked, but by the time we started paddling again on day two, and the skies [mostly] dried up, it was all good.

Camp on night two was great. It was dry. We had a good fire. The maturity level of 16 year old boys is pretty much the same as the maturity level of the women in my office (whom I think are hilarious), so some laughs were definitely had, and for the most part I felt pretty comfortable and relaxed. The previous night's deluge was a distant memory.

Side Note: Night two introduced me to what I'm pretty sure is the best name ever for an intramural sports team. Alpa-Kenny-Buddy. Say that one fast. Now imagine it being said over your high school loudspeaker announcements. Classic.

For the first two and a half days I spent most of the time paddling at the front of the boat (and essentially being the muscle), but after a few partner changes, I got to try my hand at steering toward the end of the trip as well, and… I didn’t completely suck at it. Woo!

Camp on night three was an absolutely gorgeous setting, and when the rain started to fall overnight, knowing that the following day was our last one on the water, and that warm showers and cozy beds were waiting for us at home once we crossed the final lake, it didn’t even matter.

The final day of paddling wasn’t the fastest for me and my partner, but the lake was so calm and peaceful that I didn’t mind spending a little extra time out there. The clouds hung ‘just so’ over the forest lining the shore and the movement of the paddles was pretty much the only sound around us (aside from the air horn one of the kids smuggled on the trip that is, haha).

So, while night one may have had me questioning my sanity, it turned out to be a really great trip. All the kids were super fun and well behaved and Kirsten and Sutty took care of me and introduced me to a new world of paddling, portaging and camping.

p.s. I did not take my camera, as I don’t have a waterproof one, but once Kirsten posts some photos on Facebook I’ll poach a few and add them.