Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Season Wrap Up

I was in full on catch-up mode after the London race. I felt motivated and confident that I could be back to my old self by Beijing, but I knew it would be hard work. I jammed in as much training as possible, ignoring that I was feeling tired and slow at every workout, and thinking that it was just part of getting fit again. I had a very disappointing race at nationals in Kelowna where my running just didn’t feel normal. My injury was under control, although I knew that it wasn’t completely healed. Still, I put my head down for 2 more weeks before our departure for Beijing, hoping that somehow everything would come together in time.

Our set up in Beijing was absolutely perfect, and we had an awesome group of staff helping us with everything we needed. Still, I was stressing all week about not being ready, and I really wasn’t excited to race. Our group had a big crash while riding the bike course a few days before the race, leaving me with a giant bruise on my hip and a sore shoulder. I tried to be optimistic and positive all week as that was all I could do at that point, but in the back of my mind I was terrified. Not the nervous-excited that I usually feel, but actually scared of racing.

The race itself was a disaster from the start. No energy, sore shoulder, and tired. Just like in training for the past 4 weeks. I was about a minute back out of the water, but I reminded myself how many times packs come together on the bike, so I started chasing hard. I got to the giant hill and had ZERO energy. I was getting dropped by the girls around me and I couldn’t do anything about it. Frustrating! As I came in around the first lap I couldn’t even fathom getting up the hill again. I actually would have tipped over. So I made the awful and embarrassing decision to pull over. Rode back to the hotel, called my mom, and cried for about 10 hours. I changed my flight from Yokohama to Edmonton, and came home to decide if I had the energy or desire to train for 5 more weeks for the Pan Am games. This situation looked very familiar to my panic catch-up after London, which clearly did not work out well for me. I decided that it was not worth the risk of failing again, I couldn’t mentally deal with another bad race, and my body was telling me that it needed a break.

I did have some great races this season and next year is much more important, but I’m still really sad about such a disappointing finish to my season. At one point I had a realistic chance of finishing on the podium at the World Championships, and I slowly slid down the rankings after every race. I received a really nice message from Malindi Elmore, an Olympic track athlete in Canada who I’ve always looked up to. You have proven you can be the best in the world and you need to believe that every day now. Every champion has setbacks, raising from them is what makes your successes even more meaningful.” I haven’t won anything for a while, but I’ll appreciate it so much more now, if I ever win anything again! Despite the disappointments, I’ve learned so much in these past few months and I think that it has left me even better prepared for 2012. Plus, it has taken some of the media pressure and attention away. No one wants to interview a DNF ;)

Not to make it sound like I just won an Oscar, but there are some very important people that I’d like to thank. My wonderful therapists who I’ve worked with this year, Kim, Sam, Joelle and Marilyn, thank you for working hard to keep me moving! Michelle, I couldn’t have gone through this year without you. Linda, my strength coach, Bill, my swim coach at U of A, and of course Patrick, my patient and understanding coach who deals with my grumpiness every day. My sponsors, family and friends, you are all awesome. Triathlon Canada, thanks for supporting me and believing in my potential. There is a big team behind me and I know don’t always give them the credit they deserve.

I’m off to Kona in a few weeks to hang out with the Specialized crew at the Ironman World Championships, which I’m excited about! After that, I’m back in Victoria to start getting ready for next year.

Through the ups and the downs, thanks to everyone who has been a part of my rollercoaster year. Actually, it was more like a water slide. Started off high and ended low. But anyways, I appreciate the support through it all.



Nick Gottfried said...

You are a champ and have proven you can beat the best in the world. Look forward to watching you smash it in 2012.

Valerie said...

Paula, you're an inspiration to me and I love watching you race. Take care of yourself and you'll be back on top in no time! Can't wait to watch you next season!

@mountainCLYDE said...

Good call for wrapping up your season. WCSs happen every year, but next year will be something special. Have a relaxing & recuperative off-season and I'll be cheering for you at WCS San Diego! (p.s. make certain Sweetland recuperates this off-season as well!)

Norma Lachance said...

You are a champ! It is as clear to me now as it was when I chaperoned you at AGN 100 years ago. Rest Up and take care of yourself. All of Edmonton and the swim community believe in you.

AlbertaSkygirl said...

It takes more courage to pull out than it does to soldier on...Great season, eagerly awaiting following your races next year!

Kent Weare said...

You will win again. You know what it takes to get to the top and I have no doubts that you will get there again..shortly

Laura said...

Smart athletes listen to their bodies. You are every bit the champion triathlete you've exhibited in racing. I look forward to seeing you at the start of next season Paula.

Liz said...

The best athletes know when to take a break....You did the right thing and we all know how amazing you are! GOod luck next year. Enjoy some time off.

cordar said...

You have shown patience young grasshopper:) All the best for your long and rewarding career.

Benoit said...

Dear Paula,
I understand it is very frustrating not being able to race at your level but you have proven everybody how fast you can be. I follow ITU racing and enjoyed see you competing. You are still young and learning,so once you will know what works for you better you will win everything!And like you've said, what matters is the 2012 season. You have plenty of time to win :o)
ps: you are very lucky to go seeing the race in Kona!for me that will be in front of my computer.

Gregwh said...

Without setbacks there can be no successes. A frustrating but true principle. "Every adversity contains a seed of equal or greater opportunity" We all know you are equal to the best the world has seen and you will do it again. Get that rest and huge base to support next years push!

Emily Cocks said...

eat at Da Poke Shack on Alii Drive. So good! I was out for the race last year and ate there 5 days in a row. Ahi poke is the bomb! You will have so much fun experiencing a race week without the pressure of racing. Hopefully you will get a chance to swim with some dolphins.

Richard C. said...

For next year, you're my first pick for my fantasy triathlete team. And remember . . . As Pat Summit once said, "It is what it is, but it will become what you make it,"


Paul C. said...

It was sad to see you so distraught at Beijing. You're already a winner at the elite level and so young! Get healthy and enjoy years of competing.

Anthony Frost said...

You're the champ .

small private flight injuries

B Payne said...

Good to hear such a positive attitude. There may be a couple of supplements you might want to try and probably already have but Green Lipped Oyster oil is one that is not as common. Its supposed to help greatly with inflammation.
I'm really excited to see your race. Best of luck.
Brad P

Anonymous said...

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I am a Canadian also.

But I visit your blog to inform you of something that may disturb you.

There is a serious risk that the London 2012 Olympic Games will be the stage for something terrible. There is copious evidence that a FALSE FLAG terrorist attack will occur. I strongly urge you, from the bottom of my heart, to do some light research on this issue. I am a proud Canadian and I care deeply for all of our people.

May the presence of God guide you.


A brother or yours.