Despite the oft-posted doom and gloom about feeling tired, I have slotted quite nicely back into the real world. It helps that Real World happenings have been peppered with beautiful holidays, random trips to Toughest Copenhagen, the Red Bull Steeplechase, and of course, the OCR World Champs. I have been tired. Very tired. Exhausted even. But that has been tinged with a quiet air of accomplishment and happiness, and I am just fine with that.
Being at the Champs this year was a rather incredible thing. After my abysmal training record, not to mention my hospital stay, I wasn’t even calling myself a competitor, more of a hopeful completer. Let’s face it, on a world stage, I’m really not a competitor. I am not even on the national radar, and only really place at something if nobody super important is there and the wind is blowing the right way. I feel as though my ‘natural ability plus a bit of tenacity’ can only get me so far, and I’ve been deservedly surpassed by some incredible women that are looking formidable out on the courses. They know who they are, because I always tell them.
Altering my grand aspirations to be bigger, fitter, better, whatever, made for a much less stressful experience. I had a giant toys-from-pram moment earlier in the year, and have point blank refused to register for UK champs, but a tiny fragment of my mind was always dedicated to going to Worlds and being ‘better than last time’. After being in hospital and ending up feeling so incredibly weak, I changed from wanting to hit the second steeple at Red Bull, to only hoping to complete the first. I changed from ‘keeping the band’ to, ‘let’s just get through this’.
It turns out that getting that weight off my shoulders is very good for me, because I did hit the second steeple at RedBull, and I completed the Worlds in a better time, with a much lower fail rate than last year, which is something I feel incredibly proud of. I have some regret that I didn’t go to repeat failed obstacles more than once, but, acutely aware of my tendency towards headaches on course, I just wanted to get to the finish without my brain ricocheting off the sides of my head. Whether this is a lack of commitment or in fact a serious commitment to self preservation, I do not know. I am being kind to myself and leaning towards the latter. Besides, there is always next year.
I have, as you might have realised, found it hard to strike the balance between pushing myself and being too kind to myself – giving myself a get-out because I know I will crash pretty hard after certain periods of exertion, or because I might have to do a surgery at work, and don’t want my hands to be ripped to shreds. I do, however, think I am beginning to get the hang of this, and am simply breaking big tasks or obstacles into smaller chunks, and allowing myself more attempts before really making that final push. To this end, I have only just completed my first flying monkey. I have been building up to it every time I have been climbing with friends, taking tips from pretty much everyone that will stand still long enough for me to harass, and it happened.
Because when you don’t give up, things happen. I’m still not giving up on the idea that I can be much more than I am, and I’m not giving up on the funny shaped, disobedient little body that got me there.
So, here’s to the next year, because I don’t need to wait until January to resolve to be just that little bit better.