August 24, 2009: In the Moment

Mt. Hutt, New Zealand – I didn’t sleep very well last night, and neither did my roommates. It could have been the late afternoon nap we took yesterday or just restlessness from our much needed three days off. So when the alarm woke me up at 5:40am I was less than excited to get out of bed.

We had a pretty leisure three day break. It was welcomed because my body was fatigued and my focus was waning. The highlight of the break was our trip to Christchurch where we surfed 55 degree water at Sumner Beach. The waves weren’t the cleanest, but just being in the water again (even with booties, gloves, kidney belt, full wetsuit and hoodie) was wonderful. Really cleared my head and refreshed my spirit. Definitely felt renewed after.

But this morning was a bit of a struggle. I was groggy and basically on autopilot, but miraculously when I got on the lift my tiredness went away and I felt amazingly relaxed. Insanely relaxed. And I know I’ve said I’ve been relaxed before, but this was eerie. I wasn’t stressed about how my times would compare to others, I felt no fear or apprehension, absolutely no negativity. I was confident and in the moment. I was having fun (even though I hadn’t taken a run yet) and I was happy. And I have no idea how it happened or what I did differently, but it was incredible.

I’ve been reading this book entitled “Finding Your Zone: Ten Core Lessons for Achieving Peak Performance in Sports and Life” by Michael Lardon, MD, and it’s making a world of difference even though I’m just a quarter way through it. The gist of what I’m getting from it is that I need to have fun and trust myself and my body that they know what they’re doing. Of course I’m still going to focus and work on certain things, but some of the lessons of the book are to keep things simple, not get frustrated or negative, and have fun. I think that’s been the difference.

So being super relaxed I had my first run off the middle section of the mountain where the course goes from flat and then over a knoll to a steepish section. We’ve trained here before and I felt really good on the steeps. Same focus as before: get forward, forward, forward. The flat section felt sooooo good! As soon as I felt I could trust the snow (which was awesome and not too soft), I just put it in the fall line and let the board run. I felt I pressured at the right time and not too long so I had time in between gates to collect myself, stand and get forward before initiating the next turn (the ‘float-whoosh-float’ feeling that I see the guys do). It was solid and easy. But I was going too fast and straight over the knoll and got in the backseat on my heelside and washed out on my heelside and missed a gate. But up until then it was a good run. Coach Mark said he liked that I was going for it, and Ekat later told me it looked fast.

Unfortunately I did the same thing for the next run: Good top section but I made it one more gate down the steep section before DQing. By the third run I finally got my act together and made it through the course. My strategy coming over the knoll was to bring my line really wide then dive forward and slide out the beginning of the turn and get horizontal distance. After getting the one trick gate, the rest was fine.

I did 8 runs: I DQed three of them, almost hit Coach Mark on one of them (thankfully he hopped out of the way – bad thing to hit your coach), and the rest were pretty solid. I didn’t check my times during the day; I just wanted to focus on riding and not get consumed by comparing times, and I was pleasantly surprised when I looked long after we got off snow. Overall my average top three runs were 4% off the average top three runs of the fastest girl, about a second and a half out. A few days ago my percentage was 2% so that’s what I’m striving for, but I’m happy with less than 5%. And my consistency was 0.58%, meaning the difference between my fastest run and third fastest run was less than 1%, the lowest of the girls. That’s important when you have to put several runs together in a race. Coach Mark said that’s good since I’ve been focusing on one thing and it’s working. The crazy thing is that my fastest runs came at the end of the day when the course is usually more difficult and I’m tired. An even more crazy thing is that those fast runs felt easy.

So great day today! Coach Mark said my riding was good and he seemed pretty happy about it. I still need to work on getting forward because he said I was getting forward for the first four gates and then slowly I’d be ticking backwards and that messed me up for the knoll, but by the end of the day I got it and was able to ride the steeps. I actually had a really fun training day and got the love for snowboarding racing back. Yay!

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