Well, I return from Moncton with mixed emotions. A part of me is very disappointed because I jumped no where near what I am capable of. I am frustrated because I felt amazing physically, but I was so terribly nervous that my performance really suffered. I really don’t think I have ever been as nervous as I was that day. I was scared to lose rather than determined to win, and I think my distances are a testament of that.
Here is why track and field is a tough sport. A win is never good enough. You evaluate your performance based on how you did personally (what I jumped), rather than how you managed against the other competitors (how I placed). At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter that I won. If I’m not jumping certain distances, then I will never get to represent Canada at the Olympics no matter how I’m placing in the competition. If you’re the best hockey player, wrestler, soccer player, skier, etc. in Canada, there’s a pretty good chance that you will get to represent your country on the world stage. This is not the case in track and field, and that’s why it is hard to be 100% happy with results.
On the other hand, I am very proud of myself. If I was evaluating my performance based on the way I competed alone (mind my lapse in humility for a second here), I did an excellent job. I faulted my first 2 jumps, which meant if I faulted my next jump I would be eliminated from the competition. With how much I have been faulting this season, this situation has grown to be my biggest nightmare – faulting out at nationals. I heard that nightmare knocking on the door, but I simply refused to answer. After faulting the second jump, I grabbed my stuff and sat away from the other competitors. I sat on the runway that we weren’t using and looked into the pit. I thought about how almost 3 years ago now, I was jumping into this pit at World Juniors in Moncton. I thought, “wow, I am such a better, stronger athlete than I was back then. There’s no way I could’ve came back from 2 faults back then. I would have crumbled. Lots of people might crumble in this situation, but I will thrive. I have experienced so much and it has prepared me to prevail right here and right now, in this situation that is not ideal but hell, it’s my reality right now so I gotta deal with it.” That is what I said to myself, and I remember it perfectly because I was shocked by my composure as these thoughts ran through my head. I simply trusted myself. I stood on the runway for my third attempt and literally didn’t think about a single thing – my mind was completely blank. A minute later, I got out of the pit and let out a sigh of relief as a white flag was raised, indicating a legal jump.
The fight didn’t end there. I was sitting in second place with 3 jumps left. I was so high strung emotionally from what had ALMOST happened, that it was hard for me to just relax again and let the jumps come naturally. I was trying to force things. I wasn’t smooth or crisp like I have been these past couple of months. Before I knew it I only had 1 jump left and I was still in second place. Again, I stood on the runway and thought about nothing. My final jump just barely won me the competition, and I was crowned the Canadian triple jump champion for the third year in a row.
I envisioned nationals to be nothing short of spectacular. I saw myself having a great 6 jumps and jumping distances I’ve always dreamed about. I saw myself smiling throughout the whole competition. It was a wonderful vision. Nobody envisions almost failing entirely. But just because it wasn’t what I had hoped doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. I learned a lot. It was a real confidence boost to overcome what I did. I put a real exclamation mark on my nickname of “CLUTCH CARO” (speaking of which, I’m tired of being Clutch Caro.. it’s way too stressful and dramatic. Why can’t I be Consistent Caro?). I see now that I really can do anything. I can overcome anything. I have that competitive killer instinct, and that’s not something that can be developed in practice. As for my jumps themselves, I have some work to do, but don’t we always? There’s always room to improve and I guess that’s one of the few beautiful things about striving for perfection.
Thank you everyone for your kind words and support! I really appreciate it.