I say one race; actually we have senior selection a little later this year, in a separate event. This meant that for me, U23 selection felt like a slightly smaller deal than it did last year. This year was a new challenge for me, as I managed to contract pneumonia in the month leading up to the race. It wasn't quite the taper I had planned for, and four weeks off canoeing left me feeling much weaker than I wanted to be. On Saturday I felt as though I was sprinting my hardest the whole way down the course, and while it was technically pretty good, sprinting it most certainly wasn't. Oops. On Sunday I felt a lot better, and began the day with a pretty solid run. Clean and no big mistakes left me third in U23, and also got me a time within 'percentage' - the time that each category is expected to achieve in relation to the fastest K1 man. Considering how ill I had been, I was pretty happy to come away from U23 selection with second reserve, a position that could potentially lead to a couple of races over the summer.
My mental approach this year has felt much stronger than in previous years. I know I have full concentration at races, and while I let it slip on my last run on Sunday (racing a bit too hard = time loss in the form of 50s) I felt good about the way I handled selection this year. Having said that Senior selection is fast approaching, with a double Premier at Grandtully in between! While I haven't had the preparation that I would like to achieve in the next couple of years, there is definitely nothing compared to the feeling of racing. I'm doing some talks at a wee primary school in Dundee at the moment about effort, and being 'your personal best'. It made me reflect on the feeling of self worth, and how you can project your image of success through your effort, and not through your perceived performance. For example, in terms of how I wanted to perform in selection before I got ill, my overall performance didn't reflect my goals. But the effort and mental work I put in were accurate reflections of the kind of paddler I want to be.