New Zealand Nationals were 2 weeks ago at Full James Rapid outside of Taupo.
I have competed here numerous times, but was still nervous as it was selections to go to the World Championships and I needed to make the NZ Team. Also, I had retired from competition 5 years ago, and have been mostly training by myself for the past year so had no idea what to expect from my paddling.
We had all day Saturday to practice. I had a great time and felt like my old paddling self. Light years better than this time last year when I was basically off the couch. I felt fit and strong and the wave tricks were coming back to me. I definatly paddled too long and was pretty tired after a full day on the wave.
The competition was the next day and I woke up feeling a bit sore but felt ok. I was nervous though and way too serious. In the prelims we got 3 rides and two counted. I had one ride that was decent but felt pretty average. Not my best, but was enough to put me in second behind Martina Wegman going into the finals. I REALLY wanted to paddle well in the finals, but never felt in the zone. I paddled well enough to finish second and be the first on the NZ Freestyle Kayak Team, but I didn’t feel good about my competition rides at all.
Even though I placed ok and achieved my goal of making the team I didn’t feel satisfied. I did alot of thinking afterwards to evaluate what I can do better and why I didn’t feel good in the competition. For one thing I didn’t have fun. I was WAY to serious, and felt like I was stifled. My energy never flowed and I felt like I was holding myself back the entire time. Also my old way of getting me in that “zone” head space didn’t work.
I used to pretend like I was a warrior about to go into battle before a competition. I would get so amped up. It would work, and I could get into that focused zone. This time I couldn’t. I told this to a friend who said “Polly you are no longer the warrior, you are the dancer” and he is right. I feel like my whole brain make up is different and I can’t approach competition the same way any more.
I also had to love myself anyway. Even tho I didn’t paddle my best and didn’t win. I thought about it for a day or two after the competition and then was able to let it go which is progress. I am also realizing it is so much more about doing my best for me and that is why I wasn’t satisfied, because I never felt good on the wave. (Of course after the comp I went out and had three good rides.)
The good news is I am learning, and this is all about self discovery and the process. Not a medal around my neck. And even tho I wasn’t happy with my performance I achieved my goal of making the NZ Team and am one step closer to the World Champs in June.
So today I am grateful for change.
I am changing, and would way rather be a dancer than a warrior.
Luckily I have 2 more months to find my dancing shoes.