Let the countdown begin. Three hundred and sixty five days until the ITU Age Group World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
I'm not quite sure what to make of it at this point. Don't get me wrong- I know it will be a great trip and a rush to race with some of the best in the world. But to be honest, I feel a bit like a dog that just caught what it was chasing after. The chase was to qualify.....now what?
I guess this is all a good sign. A sign that my priorities are where they should be, especially at this point. I have purposely tried to detach myself from the intensities of the sport for a while. I need to direct energies to family and work. And after Nationals, I was mentally exhausted from the pursuit. I also had no desire to turn myself inside out again.
Back in the fall of 1990, I was sailing for Tufts. I wasn't nearly good enough to compete with the multiple All Americans on the team in dinghys, for various reasons, but I did find a spot on the "Sloop" team. For you sailors out there, we were in J-22s and 24s. My size helped instead of hurt, and my experience was also a plus. We qualified for the National Champioships on the equivalent of a three-point basketball heave as the clock expired. No exaggeration. And it was my call in the last race that made the difference. To qualify for the National Collegiate Championship was a big deal. As it turned out, the trip to Navy for Nationals was a huge disappointment, something that still eats away at me. Largely because of, shall we say, extracurricular activities by a few on the team, we ended up 9th out of 10.
This time around, I am the one in control. I won't let the the same thing happen. I'll go to Budapest, wear the uniform with pride and perform well. Obviously, I won't be in the running for a podium spot. I'm not quite sure how I will judge my performance, but there is plenty of time for that.
It wasn't until a couple of days ago when I started to draw some broad outlines for next year. I can feel some of the excitement for the sport and Worlds beginning to creep back into my bones. This is an opportunity of a lifetime- the race, event, and travel with the family.
At some point I'll take a retrospective look back at 2009 and figure out what lessons should be learned, thereby shaping a plan for 2010.