|Photo by Paul Phillips|
"It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure. But
there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful.
There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement
there is life, and in change there is power"
After getting 35th in Hamburg, Germany my coach Melissa Mantak sent me the above quote. For me it was a perfect description not only of racing in Germany at the WTS level but also of my entire European adventure. When I was given the opportunity to train and race in Europe for five weeks there was no way I was going to turn down the invitation. That being said there were also parts of the trip that I found intimidating and definitely placed me out of my comfort zone. Having never traveled off the continent the European way of life was something I would need some getting used to. All of a sudden I was wishing I had kept up with my español, knew more about the Euro currency and had somehow prepared myself for late schedules of Spain (dinners at 7:30, oh boy).
However, as Cohen suggests I have found that every time I have wandered out of the seemingly secure I have been presented with a multitude of opportunities to better myself as an athlete and human-being. In Hamburg I competed in one of the most competitive draft-legal races of the season. I swam in a ravenous pack of girls where I came closer to drowning than I've ever experienced (that is only a small dramatization). Then biked a hard technical course, though missed the front pack and finally completed the race with the 11th fastest run of the day. What did I learn? That complacency is not an option, besides knowing that I want to work to be stronger and faster in each portion of the race. I learned that there are things I need to change in order to reach my goals of being competitive with the top girls. It is when I make these changes that I will be able to race on the level that I know I am capable of. It means taking the time to work on skills on the bike so that when a race is technical (like Hamburg) I will be able to hang with the girls and put myself into good position throughout the corners to prevent myself from yo-yoing off the back. As Jono (one of the coaches here) puts it, it is building my racing vocabulary so that no matter the course, no matter the weather, no matter the competition I am able to respond to the elements in order to succeed.
In traveling to Europe and racing on the European circuit which offers a higher level of competitive races I am building this vocabulary. My race in Hamburg was one that I finished feeling pretty neutral. I wasn't necessarily disappointed with my result but I wasn't happy with it either. I wanted to be better and I knew there were plenty of places to improve. Had I not accepted the invitation to come to Europe I would not have had the opportunity to win a world cup only to be followed with a performance in Hamburg that left me feeling unfulfilled. By traveling to Europe my eyes have been opened to where I am at, and where I need to be thereby driving a hunger to continue to improve and succeed. It is in making these changes that I will be able to consistently have the results that I desire leaving me with the power that Cohen describes. A perfect equation for success.