Wow! It's been a LONG time since I've updated! I do apologize for that.
As you might guess, it's been incredibly busy here at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, NY.
This week was the FIBT Driving School, basically a sliding school for any nation. It's an invitation-only camp, and up to four sliders from a nation can attend. Because there are four of us American girls going to compete in America's Cup next week, we were invited to attend FIBT school.
Also because AC is next week, we were told by our coaches to do what we need to do to peak on race day. So, we were given free reign as far as what we wanted to participate in. The school was for beginner sliders to advanced, and would consist of training runs, gym workouts, lifting sessions, video review and track walks, among other things. There was also a bobsled driving school at the same time, so there were a LOT of athletes at the training center and athletes sliding at the track a majority of the day.
I've discovered this season that I am an athlete who experiences peaks and valleys in their performance. I will have a couple great weeks and then have a couple crummy weeks. Beginning National Championships week, I've had several bad weeks in a row. I was putting too much pressure on myself and comparing myself too much to my teammates and competition so much that it was affecting my performance. It's been frustrating and aggrivating, and even made me doubt my abilities in the sport and on the AC team.
Luckily, FIBT school helped. We access to several coaches, some fresh off their careers sliding for the US, others a little longer retired, and I've also had access to several sports psychology books. Overall, my mindset is changing, and it's changing for the better. This week especially I began working on focusing on my own performance, specific curves, or specific notes. I have progressively been pulling my attention away from the track feed in the start house and distracting myself from the audio commentary by our commentator, Kim. I've only looked at my own times, and have had several one-on-one sessions with coaches.
As a result, I'm beginning to think of the competition as me against myself. When it comes down to it, it's just me and my sled on that track, and I'm starting to get that. This week, for the first time since college, I brought my ipod to the track and listened to music while I went through my routine. As a result, I didn't hear anyone's times, nor did I watch their runs on the TV feed so by the time I got to the starting line for my own run, I was only thinking about my run, not the athlete before me.
Because of this change of mind, my times are improving, my sliding is improving, my confidence is slowly building back, and I'm learning the track even more. Thanks in part to my coach, Becca, I figuring out a deal that if my head was up on a run, she would charge me $5). During our FIBT school "race" (not really a competition, kind of like the Lake Placid Cup series) I had a little more difficulty focusing on myself, probably because it was a competition and my mind knew it. But I was able to tune myself into my own goals.
I slid consistently, if not as fast as earlier in the week, but because of that consistency, I captured first place by .43 seconds. It was a surprising coincidence to me, since I wasn't paying attention to who had slid what. So, I'm coming into next week with a little bit more confidence, which is what I need.
It's a big step to compete Internationally, and while America's Cup is primarily for development athletes, there will also be some big names competing (like Amy Williams, 2010 Olympic Gold Medalist) because the 2012 World Championships are here in Lake Placid. But I'm not going in afraid, and I'm going to make sure whoever is there will have a fight. i'm excited, anxious and nervous, but ready!