Monday, September 6, 2010

Athlete Transformation!

Today I did something brave. Today I sat in the second row during dragon boat practice with a near full boat and our regular coach running practice (I've done it before with about half as many people on board and the captain or one of the leads running practice). It was rather difficult. First of all, the rest of the boat depends on you to keep the timing. If you get off, everyone else does too. Second of all, I was close enough for the coach to actually see my mistakes immediately and close enough that I could hear him tell me what they were.
I really had to push myself. Initially I resented all the feedback. I had the coach telling me to fix one thing like the front of the stroke, and then I'd start to slip on another thing like timing and have someone behind me yelling to watch the timing. I realized about halfway in that it was exactly this feedback that was going to make me better. Even though it was a bit overwhelming, I was focused and working hard the entire time.

At the end of practice we did a race piece (500 meters). It went pretty well actually. I could tell when my timing was off and was able to correct it. My stroke was starting to come together and I was getting my blade in the water without a bunch of noise. We raced right past the dock and I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. Then the coach announced we were going to do another one.

The flood of mental spam starting coming immediately. I thought practice was over and we'd be paddling back to the dock. When he said to give it 100%, I did so believing it would be the last of what I had to push. There was no way I'd be able to get through it!

I caught myself in the act of mental negativity and I remembered a teammate telling me about being somewhere similar during hood to coast. She said that she hit this wall when she was running where she just thought there was no way she'd be able to go on, but she changed her mental state and started to push herself and got through more than she thought she could. I was inspired and I started thinking instead, this is my chance! This is the sort of rare situation where I get to really push myself more than I thought I could. I can really hone my technique to compensate for fatigue. I get another chance to improve my timing. And I managed to make it and push myself just as hard as I did the first time.

I'm proud of myself for this. It's so easy to get into an extremely mental state of mind when I'm doing something that's physically demanding and difficult. I've always had a problem with this with every sport I played. For the first time I was able to pull myself out of my mental funk.

Next weekend is the big Portland Dragon Boat Race. I'm looking forward to ending the race season and making use of everything I've been learning the last few months!

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