To sum up the last couple months: disappointment, frustration, reflection, eureka, acceptance, change, patience and hunger.
Those that know me and my ability will have likely noticed a disparity between my performance in training and minor events compared to my performance at pinnacle events. You will also know that I pride my independence and rarely admit a need for help. So much so that just writing this makes me uncomfortable. However, the whole point of this blog and website is to share the lows as well as the highs. After all, what makes the elation so much greater is the obstacles overcome along the way.
My summer season did not turn out how I had hoped with a result at nationals that fell short of my goals and of the path in which my progress was tracking. After some very successful early season performances in the single, a big improvement in my 2km erg and lactate testing, and numerous personal bests throughout the summer months of training, 5th in the lightweight single, although no mean feat, was still a result that left me struggling to hold my head high in front of those that have offered me unconditional guidance and support.
After my return home I decided, with the guidance of confidants, to take a break from the sport and evaluate my options. No rowing or erging for a month. I couldn't tell you how many years it has been since I took that amount of time away from rowing and in fear of highlighting an addiction, that is probably a good thing.
It wasn't long before the emotional disappointment began to be replaced by a longing to be back in the boat. I couldn't stop myself from attending the 2015 Elite/U23 team naming and watching as number of my peers gained selection. That was hard to watch. Not because I was angry, I had nothing but joy and respect for my peers, but because I harbored great jealousy I wasn't among them. I truly am a child of the sport. I'm surprised I wasn't born with calluses on my hands ready to pick up an oar. But the status quo was not enough. I needed to make a change if I wanted to achieve my dreams and use my passion to help drive that change.
To an outsider it would seem very obvious but when you strongly dismiss an idea, it is very difficult to recognize. Why, when I know from training performances that I possess the ability, do I struggle to put it on the course when the pressure is on. Mental state, psychology, nut job, whatever you want to call it. Having accepted it now I feel like an idiot for not doing so earlier. Fortunately, being an athlete of High Performance Sport New Zealand, I have access to a number of world class support services, including the one no one likes to admit needing, the psychologist. It's not so hard to work out why our great nation is doing so well in sport at the moment with HPSNZ leading the system.
Rod Corban, headcase fixer (my words, not his), and myself have been banging heads for the last 5 weeks, proposing and trialing different mental processes for me to implement in not just my rowing but general shenanigans. Having spent a bit of time with him, I'm not too sure how sane he is himself but credit to him, I am noticing improvements. Changes that contributed to performances that just this weekend, earned me a position with the team that will wear the silver fern at the 2015 Gwangju Universiade! (World University Games - Gwangju, South Korea). Fair to say I am in a very good place, not just because I am still in the mix, but also because I am making the changes that I believe will help me earn the right to fight for a seat to the 2016 Rio Olympics. It is going to be far from easy but hey, it is up to me and I am definitely up for the challenge.