I looked back quickly to check if there would be a white or red flag raised. Instead, I saw the official bending over the takeoff area to check and see if there was a mark in the plasticene. Obviously, it had been close. But as the saying goes…no mark, no foul. The plasticene was mark-less and so he raised the white flag. I let out a huge sigh of relief. This jump was better, I just knew it. And after my first two mediocre jumps, I pretty much needed it to be so that I could ensure myself a spot in the top six and gain another three jumps. Once my mark flashed on the board I could once again breath easily. That’s more like it. 6.78 moved me into first place and I once again had found my mojo.
I can’t remember the last time I won a major competition. Sure, I have accomplished some of my goals and competed well, but being the winner??! Well, let’s just say me and the blue ribbon have not been pals in quite some time. The taste of victory has not been on my pallete since it was cool to communicate in pager codes. Ok…I exaggerate only slightly. When I first became a professional athlete, I had to learn to evaluate my performances by something other than “Did I win?” In high school and college, that was really all that mattered to me. If I won, I was happy, and if I lost, don’t talk to me for at least 48 hours. But sometimes victories come without the W, and in order for me to grow I needed to accept that (or just be in a state of perpetual grumpiness).
But winning this meet came at a time when a victory was just what the doctor ordered. More than just being satisfied with my performance, I felt giddy with excitement being able to answer the million dollar after competition question: “How did you do?” with I won. I haven’t said that very often in the last 8 years…definitely not as often as I would have hoped to. I needed that change in momentum and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Bouncing back from my worst competitions of the season to have my best one a few days later is a testimony to how I’ve grown as an athlete. Bad performances don’t define you, they teach you.
I’m learning a lot this year as I do my best to continue to believe in myself and my abilities. I have to have confidence in myself and in my coach…which is also me. 🙂 I like winning. I want to do more of it this year and in the years to come. Maybe I’ll even get a blue ribbon out of it one of these times.