Sport has the beauty of bringing people the highest of highs...the same as it brings people the lowest of lows. Gold Coast WTS did just this for a number of people. With the Gold Coast WTS race doubling as RIO Olympics selection race for the Australians, (the first Aussie in the top ten gained automatic selection) Both Emma Moffat and Ryan Bailie, both achieved their dreams. Congrats to the both.
Myself however probably just hit the lowest and most disheartening race of my career :(
My race was basically a disaster, and couldn't have gone a whole pile worse than it did really. I knew prior to racing that I had had one of the bumpiest roads I've ever had in regards to preparation, and it was going to be an extremely tough day out, and I would ultimately need a bit of luck on my side, which I don't usually like to rely on! However extreme circumstance called for extreme hope, and luck is what I was preying for, because it had sure been sparse in my lead up!
With the pressure on, only one chance, and dreams of Olympics on the line, I had no option but to shut out those thoughts, stay positive and do the best with whatever my body had to give....which turns out was not a hell of a lot. I exited the water having my worst swim I've ever had, 1 minute back of the main pack, which put me wellll down on the leaders. From there on it was basically a solo time trial, picking up one other girl for a couple of laps. Nothing is so disheartening being so far back, so early on in a race, and knowing not only is that race over, but dreams, goals and everything you have worked for, for so many years. However, I have always been of the mentality that you never give up, no matter how bad things look, it's not over until the finish line. Plus I had worked sooo hard, and jumped so many hurdles just to even make it to that start line. I came to finish....But I didn't even manage that. With a break away of the lead girls with a few laps to go I new I was in trouble of being lapped out from behind! I took off and dropped my cycling buddy and worked hard to keep the chasers at bay, only to be forced to pull out a couple of hundred meters short. Ouch!
I was absolutely gutted. I have never felt so miserable, and disheartened or even come remotely close to that emotion after a race before. Rio dreams were shattered, I'de had probably the worst race of my career, at home, at the most important moment of my career.
The hardest part was so much was out of my control, all I had asked for was a shot, a chance, and standing on that startline, I had worked endlessly and followed a long plan to hit that startline, and we got there. And I had done everything I possibly could in my various circumstances to get up...However, it was just not sufficient at this level, I was underdone, I knew it, I could not help it, fate would win out, and I would not be able to showcase my worth on this day.
My lead up had been challenging to say the least. It all started back in October when I tore my hamstring in two spots. Worse than I had originally thought, that was the first challenge from way back. Straight away I knew I would be on a super tight timeline to get myself ready where I wanted to be, in time for Goldcoast, but it would not be the be all end all or limiting factor, just a speed bump...'literally' I did the best rehab I've ever done, and did absolutely everything I could to maximise my healing, Though it took quite a while and I grew anxious, It was healing as quick as I think it possibly could, and held up sufficiently, when I asked it to! Ok! Stay positive and keep your head in the game! We still got this! That was my mantra.
Next came an emotional curveball. Nothing punches you to the ground more than one of these. Everyone goes through periods in their life where, well life just decides to happen, and it just feels like the world is out get you. Everyone can be tough, but we are only human. Things happen that rock you to the core, and you can only deal with them like a human, and its bloody hard. You can't control it, but if your not careful it can easily control you. The wind was kicked out of me, and the bounce from my stride temporarily stolen, shattered, upset, and exhausted on all levels, I was left staring blankly wondering why? and why did it have to be now!? What had I done wrong. But once again time was not a friend, and there was no point continuing to ask the question "why?', feeling sorry for myself. It just was, I couldn't change it, I had to find a way move forward straight away. Sport and Rio will not wait for anyone, it does not care who you are, or if someone gets injured, hurt, heartbroken, sick. I made a decision to move forward that day. I did the 'healthy thing' and would push it aside, to deal with that at a later date haha. With the help of some amazing friends they took some load off my back, and we got back out there and one way or another, if I wanted to succeed, the work, the training, just had to be done.
And it got done...but not without a price.
Things started to pick up. I was doing a huge amount of training, a big load, times were dropping, and the leg, though not perfect was holding up. :) Yey! ...but all the time there was the steady drip, drip, of energy leaking into places it shouldn't have been, to keep my head afloat...and unbeknown to me those stores were almost empty.
I did my first race back, a local race in Perth, to prep for Mooloolaba World cup. This would be my teaser to ramp up for the big one on Goldy. Unfortunately this was also my undoing. I picked up 'Influenza A' at Mooloolaba. Not my best race and now in hindsight I know why. 2 days after this race I got crushed by the flu. "You have got to be kidding!!!"
Baring in mind these next 3 weeks were vital for my form to race well at Goldcoast. I was bed ridden a week, and beginning to stress. I got myself up and going the following week, sleeping to train..only to do one hard session that sent me back in to round 2 of the flu. Back to bed and a week from flying out.
:( About now, I just had to have a sit down and a good old fashioned girly cry. I had done everything I could, but the sum of circumstances beat down on my body. I was still sick, feeling terrible, and caught between a rock and a hard place. I'de needed the sessions so desperately to perform, but I just had to rest. I had no choice. To race at all, I had to rest. I tried to stay positive, and trick myself into believing,... but I was so, so, disheartened. The writing was basically on the wall. I had busted my ass to earn that spot, I had busted my ass to hold together to make that start line, but I had missed so much, was walking on egg shells, and I had no other chance. If there was another way, I would have pulled out. But this was a lotto ticket shot for me. As long as I could make the start line a chance existed...no matter how slim, that chance was there. I rolled a dice anyway. This is what I had strived for and just gave it my best.
No surprises,...it wasn't enough.
Fate tested me on almost every level leading into this. Emotionally, physically, mentally, my health, and resilience was pushed to a new boundry yet again, but I lost, The decision was taken from my hands in the end. I had asked too much of my body before it was ready. I was never a favourite for Rio. But I had been working to my plan in the background, and it had been my focus and goal for a long time. Unfortunately, things went pear shaped. I'm still coming to terms with the disappointment, it's larger and more debilitating than I ever imagined, wondering why? Why so many road blocks!? But then again, they happen to everyone. Had I been able to be fit and healthy, I think the disappointment is more acceptable when you peform poorly. When you are beaten, you are beaten, someone better goes.
But that is the beauty of raw competition, it brings out your best and worst and tests you to new levels continuously, and its part of the parcel. My parcel freaking sucked in this case! Others get bad parcels too. But sometimes you get good ones! It's sport, it's dreams, it's passion. it's your life.
When you love something, want something, strive for something, put your heart and soul and work into something, it's gonna hurt when it's taken away. And it does. But it will always hurt more if you didn't fight for it, or gave up on it.
This sport has given me sooo many good memories, this may not be one of them, but im sure there will be many more good ones when the time is right.
Thanks to those patient friends of mine who stepped up when I needed it, and to the lovely messages of support I received. I've taken a lot more than I've given back in regards to this. You always appreciate it. Every single one.