Events like Nationals and World Masters can have a magnifying glass effect. You know the one, where you intensify the sun’s heat to burn a piece of paper, or torture an insect. I was the insect to National’s magnifying glass. All the training and preparation you have, and have not done, is on display, and manifested in one’s performance. Or lack of.
It can be joyous, it can be shattering. It can itch like sunburn, or soothe the ache of swollen glands, a viralled body.
Three key moments stand out for me from this year’s Nationals.
1. Finishing the 500m TT, thinking it felt slow, and looking up to see I had finally broken a 3 year mental time block. It wasn’t a brilliant time, but it’s the fastest I have gone in competition since Nationals 2007, where I was 0.2 sec faster. I may not have medalled, but for me, looking up at the scoreboard to see my time was the sweetest moment, better than any gold medal.
2. 5 laps into the scratch race, I swung up after my turn on the front and there was no one on my wheel. After having been boxed in for a few laps, the bunch then let me slide forward. I hung for a bit, with 15 laps to go, thinking what the hell do I do now? Do I wait for them, or have a crack at this gap they are giving me. So I did what any panicking, unfit track rider would do, I took off. And blew up. Game over for me. Sometimes I wonder where I leave my brain.
3. Flying 200. I felt good. Until I stood up to launch the bike off the bank, and my left leg didn’t engage with my body or the bike. Was I undergeared? Probably. Did I overwork my brain and my emotions? Probably. My time was the slowest I’ve done on paper. Although I hit one of the fastest max speeds I’ve done in training. Go figure. It was crap. I was devastated. And then I had to watch someone else ride in the heats, who needs much more experience to do justice to being out there. I was deeply disappointed that in her opportunity to shine, she sat up (literally) and rolled over. Bitter? Yes. My fault? Yes. I need to get faster to make it into the heats so I can race. Upside? I realised I actually do want to race. Tell me I can’t race, not "good enough" to race, I get sulky, very sulky.
I asked Leanne Cole to do a special sequence for me: race face. That’s what Nationals was all about. You can see it in these photos: anticipation, aspiration, expectations, nerves, effort, more effort, pain, relief.