We’ve all been here. That moment when you care so much about something and you attempt to hold on to every thing you have left, so you can maintain total control of your emotional stability…and then it somehow all falls apart.
My world cup tour has ended this past week, with 4 new World Cups under my belt representing my home country of Romania. We started in Harbin, China in November and then travelled to the Olympic City of Nagano, Japan for the second one. We skipped the one after, in Astana, Kazakhstan so that I could get two solid weeks of training in before racing in the skating capital of the world, Heerenveen, Holland. I had also qualified for the first ever European Sprint Championships in History, and made the smart yet tough decision to stay at home in Calgary and train through the 6 weeks leading into the last Berlin World Cup. This was by far the most important race for me, as it was the qualifier for World Sprint Championships which are held in Calgary at the end of the month.
I started the year racing internationally with some high expectations but now that it is all over I can sit back and reflect on the entire process. Aside from the political aspect of the game, and the total lack of support from the federation, all else was in my control. It is funny how things can change so quickly, be deceiving, or turn on you 180 degrees when you least expect it. This year has definitely been a year of mental training, if anything! The highs and the lows definitely define who you are as a person as well as an athlete, and I am grateful to learn these lessons, even though when it is in the moment, it is the hardest thing. My performances on ice have not only disappointed me, but have left me sometimes questioning a lot of things, including the golden question – why do I keep skating? But then I snap out of it within 30 seconds and remind myself that this is just one year of many, and we have a main goal, the 2018 Olympics, and by the time I get there, I will be back to where I need to be. But oh man, it can be awful.
If I learned anything this year, it is that you have to be nice to yourself, and love yourself, because you are all you have. When you sink into a dark place, ask yourself strategic questions instead of feeding yourself negative thoughts that only drag you deeper.
I am lucky to be surrounded by an incredible team of individuals who have believed in me when I did not, but also encouraged me to push myself even more when I was comfortable. (Both on ice, and at home) You always have to raise the bar; I live by that. They have truly helped me work through things in my head and keep it straight on. I did achieve a lot of the short term goals I set out for myself at the beginning of the year, including improving a little every time I went out there, which I did. Whether it was in rankings, or time…regardless of coming in dead last, or top 10, I know I gave it my absolute best and fought until the end. So I have no regrets, although I was totally embarrassed at certain moments but that just proved that I wanted more and knew I was capable of SO much more.
I was happy to have decent performances this year at home in Calgary, setting a national record in the 500m, and also finishing the world cup with a top 8 finish in the 1000m which scored me points for next year’s rankings. I have 4 or 5 more competitions here in Calgary left this season, and I feel like I am still moving upwards so I look forward to finish the season strong, relatively speaking.
Thanks for reading, and believing in me.
(Picture credit: Schaatsfotos and 小笠原昇)