One of the big breakthroughs for me was learning to relax on race day. I don't mean like mentally relax; but forcing myself to leave the slalom course to go back to the hotel between runs, having a late breakfast on Sunday instead of relentlessly pacing up and down the gates whilst exhausting my mind and body. Its hard not to - the emotional part of my brain is firmly convinced that the more I stare at the gates, the better I will do. But it all comes down to preparation, and sometimes the best preparation is just resting!
So having had a fun week on a great course with awesome people in one of my favourite cities, I felt pretty chilled coming into the weekend. Admittedly the mental failure of senior selection was weighing on my mind, but keeping a clean mind is an exercise that you can only get better at by practising. After the semi finals, I was sitting third, behind a super fast time by Hannah Bailey and Alice Haining. Every other time I have paddled the finals at this race, I've got over excited and tried too hard - blown out in the first half of the run. But this time felt different. I've practised keeping a level head so often now, I felt like I was answering every uncertainty in my head with a tactical thought change, and it wasn't hard. I didn't feel like I was labouring to keep a positive mind. I know every race is different, but for this finals run I was purely in the water. My time wasn't spectacular, only a second faster than my semis run. But it was solid, and good for me. While slower than the fastest time in the semis, it was the fastest time on the run that mattered.
What was especially awesome was how happy everyone else seemed to be - I've never really thought of my racing career as anything other than my own individual journey. But at prize giving and for the last few days, so many people have just said lovely things, or expressed being happy for me. Its awesome when someone else recognises the work you've put in, and celebrates with you when it pays off :)