There is something to be said about getting back on a horse after getting bucked off. We have all had let downs. We have all encountered unexpected situations. Cliché perhaps, but the best way to describe my most recent competition at the Canadian National Team Trials, held east of Whistler, B.C. on the artificial whitewater park of Rutherford Creek. This technical channel is the only man made white water course in Canada.
I have trained extremely hard preparing for the 2014 competition season. I was in peak physical condition heading into National Team Trials. Unfortunately, due to several factors, I felt mentally overloaded.
Prior to the race we had a full week of training. This is the most critical time where there is a sequential build up preparing us to be mentally and physically ready for this important competition.
At the beginning of the week things were going really well until the Wednesday before the race I flipped over and scraped large chunks of skin off my knuckles on my left hand. On that same day I began to experience pain in my right shoulder, which traveled down my right arm and into the right side of my back. These factors started to impact my mental preparation to the upcoming team trials. In addition I purchased an airline ticket to Europe in anticipation I would make the national team, which added extra stress prior to the race.
On Saturday, the first race day, neither of my two races were sufficient to make the required criteria for the national team. This meant that the following day of racing I would have to have two clean and fast runs the following day. That night I felt the pressure, I felt scared, but I was determined.
On Sunday my two runs were not good enough and completely below my capability. I did not make the National Team. This statement echoed in my head like a broken record.
I felt lost, defeated, and unsure how to move forward.
During the fall and winter I prepared diligently for the upcoming racing season, where I attended winter training camps, raised funds, attended university, and worked part time with the plan of competing internationally this summer.
I have been extremely fortunate to have amazing support from my family. Each time I have encountered an obstacle standing in my way, my family has helped me through it. My mom loves to quote the famous words of Aldous Huxley, “Experience is not what happens to you; experience is what you do with what happens to you.”
My grandfather who played for the Toronto Argonauts football team when they won the Grey Cup always said "you have to want it so bad you can taste it”. My dad asked me post racing in Rutherford “do you want to keep on going?” I replied, “Dad, I want it so bad that I can taste it”.
So, I want to take this experience and learn from it. This obstacle has allowed me to reflect on why I am competing. The simple answer to the question is because I love doing it. I am more determined than ever. I need to heal my shoulder and gear up for the next opportunity to make the national team in August at Canadian National Championships. This will determine if I will be able to get back on track finishing the season at World Championships in Deep, Creek Maryland.
I will remember this setback for the rest of my life. The journey will not be easy, but I am up for the challenge. I am motivated, excited, and driven to get back on the horse and reclaim a place on the Canadian National Team.
I pondered for some time on how I should write my blog post. I felt embarrassed and wondered what others might think. Fortunately, I have learned through this and other experiences that the people who know me also know of my capabilities and support me both in defeat and in celebration of the struggle to be a high performance athlete. My teammates, coaches, friends, and family have been sharing their stories of disappointments where they have encouraged me to reflect and develop a revised plan to move forward.
I would like to thank everyone who has given me positive advice, emotional support, and financial assistance to continue on my quest. Thank you to the group I often refer to as “Team Haley” who consists of family, friends, coaches, teammates, sports psychologists, massage therapists, physiotherapists, and doctors, who enable me to train and represent Canada on the world stage.
I now have a revised game plan to train in Canada and USA this summer with the goal to compete in the Canadian National Championships and the 2014 World Championships.
Bring on a fun summer full of new challenges and exciting adventures!