December 7, 2009: Reflection

Somewhere Over the Atlantic On My Way To Colorado – These two past days have been such an emotional roller coaster that I wasn’t even able to write in a timely matter. Not because of time constraints or tight travel schedules, but because I needed time to breathe and reflect on what exactly is going in my head. I also didn’t want to write something so rash and overemotional that I might regret publishing it. There is a delicate balance when I’m writing this blog; while I want to be as truthful and open as possible, particularly about the downside of being an athlete (which you rarely hear about in a public forum), I don’t want to appear that I’m losing faith or giving up, which unfortunately is how I do feel some days. Admitting weakness and doubt is so frowned upon in the world of sports, and while even the best may feel it at some point, there’s an unspoken rule that you never say it out loud lest it might become a reality. The mental alone can make a good athlete great, but it could also cause a great athlete to fail.

So to be honest, there are some days where I feel so beat down that I don’t want to get up anymore. But I do, with the incredible help and encouragement from my coach, family, friends and teammates. It still surprises me to this day, even after ten years, how much of an emotional drag race this can be. Two days ago at the Europa Cup parallel giant slalom, I was so far out of the fastest time that I broke down and became an emotional disaster – uncontrollable sobs, a barrage of negative thoughts that I wallowed in deeply, the desperate urge to walk away from it all. I had similar feelings four years ago at the last Olympic qualifying race when I crossed the finish line knowing I didn’t make it. I can’t even articulate that inner pain, and the thought of ever having to repeat that is completely unbearable. But then the next day for the parallel slalom I had a decent day and was back up mentally and focused again. It’s exhausting to feel the whole spectrum of emotions within a 24 hour period.

I often wonder how athletes who don’t achieve their dreams and goals go on. After years of nothing but complete dedication, commitment and hard work and effort beyond the norm towards one goal, what do you do if you don’t make it?

My answer: Make it.

While the Europe trip didn’t yield the results I needed or wanted, it certainly was a reality check of where I am and gave me a renewed commitment and determination to get to where I need to go. Looking back I can appreciate the down days because they not only show me how much I want it, but they also make the good days that much better. Can’t have the sweet without the sour.

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