There is no perfect race. There is the best you do when you step on the ice, on that day. Whatever you have done before, is irrelevant, and whatever you say you’re going to do in the future, also is.
That is one of the many things I have learned in my career skating. I learned a valuable lesson last season, during the first World Cup, in Harbin; only you know how happy or disappointed you are about your results. Everyone else focuses on their own skating and business. Hearing that relieved so much ‘pressure’ I had set onto myself, to perform. A year passed. Had an unreal summer training with Xiuli Wang, Team China, and my coach Gregg Planert. I got strong, confident, and I had a team to look forward to training with every day. I had no expectations going into the season.
The beginning of the season started off well. A few national records which, to me, are totally irrelevant as my main goals are to better myself and my personal best times set at Olympic Trials in 2013 and early 2014. Yes, they have been around for that long. Time for an upgrade.
I’m sitting in my hotel room, writing this, because maybe I need a self pep-talk. So I am thinking out loud. I skated a less than average race today. Yes; it happens to everyone, and again, only you feel the good feels, or the disappointments. There are so many outside factors that can affect your performance, but it is so crucial to only focus on those you can control. Today, I showed up on that start line, more relaxed than ever, calm, collected, and all was going according to plan. The rest, I barely remember. I won’t write about what I truly feel inside because it will only come across as an excuse.
Let me back up a little. This Calgary World Cup, and next week’s Salt Lake World Cup, are my last chances to qualify my spot for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. I have one more shot in the 1000 next week, and three more in the 500, combined with tomorrow’s 500m race. Listen to that! Gawd, even I feel the pressure just writing this! This is just the complete opposite of how things should be.
The best part about today thought, is that I am now at the complete edge, instead of being up there where I know I belong. This is now the perfect opportunity to either shut it all down and give up, or shut down on everything else, even though I have shut everything and everyone out of my bubble, to push even harder. Thanks Tony Robbins.
It isn’t over. And if the end result, in a couple of weeks, is not what I have worked for, then so be it. I’m not giving up but I know there are some crucial things I have to change in my lifestyle that will only elevate my performances, and in good time, I will do that.
I look back at races like the Canadian Trials, or Canada Cup’s and hear the girls in my locker room stressing about that, and I love it! It means you actually care about what you’re doing. Looking at this from the outside, I absolutely love what I do and not to sound cocky, but I know I am good at it too. I work my A$$ off every day and I am strong and powerful. I would love to write you the perfect blog post and tell you I am all okay up in my head and that I am staying positive and that life is so darn wonderful, but guess what, it is not that way. Another Alex shows up on the line, and that has been my biggest challenge since I was 10 years old. I can still qualify for the Olympics and have my demons. The unnecessary pressure we put on ourselves. Ha. Yes I have the World’s Best life mentor and sport psych, and I still struggle. It is not him, it’s not my parents, not Gregg, but the lack of self belief. The lack of self belief literally since I was young and defeated myself before races even started. I got better at it as the years went on, and I kept improving but fell into the darkness pretty damn hard two years ago. So, I should be happy right? Skating better than ever this year, and improving, and actually smiling, but is that actually what is going on? I don’t know, you tell me…because I’m sick of always pretending that everything is alright, and things are going well, when they are not.
If there is anything I can teach you, from what I have come across in sport, is to not let others’ results affect your happiness. I used to do that when I was younger, and it played a huge part in how I have grown up. Be happy with the improvements you make, daily, the small victories, because that is what truly matters. Some days are better than others, and you skip a few steps. Take it, feel it, and enjoy it. Some days aren’t so good, but that’s when you need to push. Push through the hard days because that is when you make gains. It is how you act and react on the bad days, that bring you out in front the next day. What is done, is done, and you move on. Always look at what you did well, before you criticize yourself for your performance.
Most importantly, remember, it’s just a damn sport, and life goes on after this.
Sorry, The Ramble is Over.
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