WeAreAC: A Look into the Canadian Triple Jump Standard

A couple of weeks ago I posted the following on Facebook:

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After posting it, I was encouraged to forward my concerns to the Athletics Canada athlete representatives so that the right people can answer my questions and address my concerns. Over the past few weeks, I’ve done a lot of research regarding event standards vs. competition results. As I continue to do research, I grow increasingly frustrated as it doesn’t make sense to me where these standards are coming from. I do not feel as though the triple jump standard for various teams is comparable to the standards for some other events. In the same way that actions speak louder than words, I think facts speak louder than opinions. Am I frustrated? Yes – but that of course isn’t a reason to warrant change. Statistics, on the other hand, should be. I’m no expert on the way things should be run but after doing some research, it’s clear by looking at the numbers that something is not right, and this of course should be something that is of importance to the national governing body for our sport. That is why I took the time to collect this information and send it their way.

I want to start off by saying that I know Athletics Canada is on our – the athletes – side. I know that Athletics Canada is not the enemy, but the solution. They have a difficult job – I know standards are meant to be tough. I also want to say that I understand that there may be a few other events where if the same comparisons were done that standard would seem unfair. I’m just looking at the women’s triple jump standard as this alone was a ton of work.I hope this doesn’t come off as some woe-is-me-my-life-is-so-hard-as-a-triple-jumper pity seeking type thing. My objective is really just to get some facts out there so I can bring some obvious issues regarding women’s triple jump standards for various teams to light. My ultimate goal is that these matters will be discussed, changes will be made and eventually, the state of the event will be improved.

My focus this year was making the NACAC U23 team. The Canadian women’s triple jump standard for the NACAC U23 Championships was 13.20m. This is surprising given the fact that at the 2012 NACAC U23 Championships, a jump of 13.14m won the competition. Meaning, the standard to make the team was higher than that which actually won the competition at the last championships. As my coach Vickie Croley worded it in an email to Athletics Canada after making an appeal, “It’s tough for us to accept how a National Champion with a performance (13.06m) that would have won a medal in 2012 (gold was 13.14m, silver was 13.12m and 12.62m was bronze) was not selected. All of these performances and the bronze medal performance from 2010 (13.14m) is still less than our standard of 13.20m. If we want to win medals I don’t understand where this standard came from”.

I wanted to see if this was the case in any other events or if this situation is unique to women’s triple jump. I compared the qualifying standard to get onto the team to what performance actually medalled at the 2012 NACAC championships. I looked at multiple events, but I excluded distance events for the fact that these races are sometimes tactical at the championships and thus slower.

2012 NACAC U23 Championships

Event 2014 Qualifying Standard Performance of 2012 Bronze Medallist
Men’s 110mH 14.35 13.54
Women’s Heptathlon 5150pts 5522
Men’s Javelin 69m 70.17m
Women’s 400mH 59.00 58.23
Men’s High Jump 2.15m 2.19m
Women’s Shot Put 15.20m 16.22m
Men’s 200m 21.40 20.50
Women’s 100m 11.80 11.43
Men’s Discus 55m 57.98m
Women’s Triple Jump 13.20m  12.62m

Evidently, there is a simple pattern. In the events that I looked at, the standard to get onto the team is less than what was required to earn a medal at the 2012 championships. This however, is not the case for triple jump. The argument can of course be made that 2012 happened to be a weak year in women’s triple jump at NACAC. In order to determine this, I looked at the results over a longer duration of time:

What it took to win a bronze medal at NACAC 2006 – 2012 vs. event standards in various events

EVENT
YEAR Women’s Triple Jump Men’s High Jump Women’s Long Jump Women’s Heptathlon Men’s Shot Put
2006 13.62m 2.19m 6.43m 5570 pts 18.41m
2008 13.11m 2.23m 6.37m 5509 pts 16.95m
2010 13.14m 2.13m 6.33m 5172 pts 18.03m
2012 12.62m 2.19m 6.04m 5522 pts 19.21m
Average Bronze Medal Performance: 13.12m 2.19m  6.29m 5443 pts 18.15m
Canadian Standard 2014 13.20m  2.15m  6.10m 5150 pts 16.80m
PERCENT OF AVERAGE BRONZE MEDAL PEFORMANCE REQUIRED TO = QUALIFYING STANDARD 100.6% 98.1%   96.9%  94.6%  92.6%

Again, it becomes evident that there is a pattern. The standard of these events is never more than 100% of the performance that is required in order to obtain a bronze medal. Once again, this is not true for triple jump, as the standard of 13.20m is further than the average bronze medal performance of 13.12m.

I also decided to calculate how many points the NACAC standards from various events obtain using a Mercier table – a method of comparing track and field events at an equal level. I wasn’t sure which one was most suitable so I used both. I also used the IAAF Scoring Table (2014).

Event 2014 NACAC Qualifying Standard Mercier Table 2009 Mercier Table 1999 IAAF Scoring Table 2014
Women’s Triple Jump 13.20m 839 850 1021
Women’s 400mH 59.00 822 827 1052
Women’s Javelin 51.20m 816 800 898
Men’s Discus 55m 809 816 969
Women’s Shot Put 15.20m 803 799 884
Men’s 110mH 14.35 800 804 1004
Women’s 100m 11.80 795 798 1032
Men’s 200m 21.40 794 799 1009
Women’s Heptathlon 5150pts 748 801 909
Men’s Javelin 69m 696 795 938
Men’s High Jump 2.15m n/a 819 1046

Regardless of what Mercier table is used, the NACAC women’s triple jump standard obtains more points than the standards of other events. Using the IAAF Scoring Table, it ranks fourth compared to the other event standards.

The fact that NACAC does not set guidelines for standards and each country is free to determine their own selection criteria only makes this all the more frustrating, because I’m not sure what this 13.20m mark is based off of. For example, The United States was fully represented with 2 athletes in all 40 events, as they did not have qualification standards to get onto the team. They simply selected the top 2 ranked athletes in each event who were the required age (born in 1992, 1993, or 1994). I believe that it would have added to the competitive experience if the host country (us) did the same thing. This also would have helped with the fact that in some events at this years championships, there were as few as two athletes competing.

Note: I wrote this before the 2014 NACAC Championships which were held this past weekend in Kamloops. I wanted to add that at this competition, only the winner surpassed that 13.20m mark. A jump of 13.19m was silver, and 12.80m was bronze. There were only four females in the competition.

My frustration continues with the conclusion of women’s triple jump at the Commonwealth Games. As stated in my initial Facebook post above, the B standard to get onto the team was 14.20m while the A standard was 14.40m. A jump of 13.07m was required to make the finals and a jump of 14.21m ended up winning. Once again, someone’s initial thought may be that perhaps it was just a weak year of competition. However, at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, a jump of 14.19m won the competition. Meaning once again, the B standard to even get onto the team was further than what it took to win gold (let alone a medal at all). Even going back to the 2006 Commonwealth Games, although a jump of 14.39m won the competition, 13.53m came second and 13.42m was third.

Out of all eighteen female triple jumpers competing at the Commonwealth Games in 2014, leading into the games none had even surpassed the mark of 14.20m in 2014. Even when looking at lifetime bests, only one of the athletes competing at the Games has jumped further than 14.20m before. So again I ask, why is this the decided upon standard? Why are female triple jumpers required to be better than literally everyone else in the competition in order to even have the chance to compete?

Evidently, the standards for these two highlighted competitions alone need to be reconsidered, but how do the standards line up in a more general sense? Here is how the B standards from the 2013 World Championships compare to where that mark would actually rank an athlete achieving that mark in the world these past few years. I stuck with field and hurdle events as I realize that there are more athletes participating in the sprinting and distance events to begin with, and I left out the multi-events as I also realize there are fewer people competing in these events. Finally, I also excluded pole vault and high jump as there are often 20+ different athletes jumping the same distance so the rankings can become a little messy. I know it is difficult to compare across different events, but the results are rather interesting.

Event B Standard for 2013 World Championships World Ranking 2012 World Ranking 2013 World Ranking 2014
Womens Triple Jump 14.20m 40th 28th 15th
Mens Javelin 81.00m 51st 43rd 31st
Womens 400mH 56.55 73rd 60th 48th
Mens 110mH 13.50 61st 52nd 45th
Womens Shot Put 17.20m 68th 59th 53rd
Mens Hammer Throw 76.00m 49th 39th 20th
Womens 100mH 13.10 98th 81st 75th
Men’s Shot Put 20.10m 52nd 47th 49th
Womens Long Jump 6.65m 48th 39th 27th
Women’s Hammer Throw 69.50m 52nd 40th 39th

Here is the same information on a graph.

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Regardless of whether or not these differences are anything of significance, it becomes clear that the women’s B standard in triple jump consistently ranks higher in the world than the B standard of the other events that were looked at.

The Canadian record in triple jump is 13.99m, held by Tabia Charles. Women’s triple jump, along with men’s long jump, are the only two events in which the standard to compete at a major international event (14.20m) surpasses the Canadian Record (13.99m). What this screams to athletes is, “If you want to ever represent Canada at a Commonwealth, World Championships or Olympics, you need to be better than anyone has ever been in the history of that event in this country”. I understand that these standards should be difficult in order to form a competitive team, but when it’s something that has never been done before, it really just makes the standard seem all the more impossible. When the women’s triple jump standard is compared to standards in other events that 14.20m standard already seems unreasonable.

I really hope that with the Pan Am Games being held in Toronto next year, the points that I bring up in this piece are considered. At the last Pan Am Games in 2011, a jump of 13.06m made the finals in women’s triple jump. There are currently two women in Canada jumping that distance. Yet, the B standard to be on the team was 14.00m in 2011. For the 2014 Commonwealth team, exceptions were made in order to have two different athletes on the team. They did not have standard but because of their high rankings within the Commonwealth, they were named to the team. This proved to be a good decision as both went on to win medals for Canada. Two medallists who otherwise, without exceptions being made, would’ve been left at home. What does this really say about the standards in the first place? I hope that leading into the Pan Am Games, rankings will be closely monitored in all events in a similar manner in order to ensure that we aren’t leaving possible finalists and medallists behind – especially with the event being held in Canada.

In 2001, Michelle Hastick was selected to represent Canada in triple jump at the World Championships as the event was being held in Edmonton. That was the first and last time that Canada was represented at a World Championship or Olympic Games in women’s triple jump. I imagine this drought will continue if this standard is not more closely monitored and seriously re-evaluated. Women’s triple jump is probably one of the weakest events in Canada right now – but in no way should this mean that it is completely overlooked. Just like in every other event, the athletes are working tirelessly to try to make it to the international level to represent Canada. If we continue to be held to a standard that is higher than other events and higher than what is even required to win the entire competition at hand, I’m not sure that we will see improvements in this event anytime soon. With every competition that goes by with a standard that isn’t realistic or fair, athletes are losing more and more vital experience on the world stage. It should also be noted that Canada’s non-existent presence in triple jump at the international level does not help promote the event to youth and junior aged athletes, certainly not helping the case and thus creating a catch 22 scenario.

I realize that it isn’t always feasible to have a team in with representation in every event. I am aware there are often team-size and funding limitations. I’m not saying that Canada should have a triple jumper at every major international competition or that we should lower the standard just for the sake of a triple jumper making a team and gaining some experience. What I am saying is that these standards should be fair. Right now, after learning everything that I have through intensive research, I can say with confidence that this not is the case. Standards should be the same across the board for all events, whether that means they are a percentage of world ranking from the previous year, what it takes to medal based on history over a certain period of time, or a combination of both. Regardless of how these standards are determined, I just think they need to be fair and completely transparent through all events. In the future, it might be helpful to state in the selection criteria where the standards come from so that athletes and coaches can see that those selected to the team are determined in a fair manor across all events.

I didn’t do this research and take the time to write this because I want to make a team and I think that a lower standard is the only way for me to achieve that. This isn’t about me. I am doing this for the sake of the event as a whole in this country. I am a very passionate person who loves this sport an awful lot. I also hope that this piece will open up the lines of communication and that athletes in other events who have questions or concerns about their own standards can feel comfortable bringing those issues to light. I said I was going to try to leave my feelings and opinions out of it, but I want to conclude by saying this: as someone in the event, I can’t quite put into words how dejecting it is to be jumping a full meter less than what is required to ever be on a team. As I struggle to improve centimeter by centimeter, I can’t help but wonder some days what on earth I’m doing to myself. There is of course onus on me – I can work harder, I can be better, I can jump further. I certainly don’t expect anything to be handed to me. But, I would really like for this number – this seemingly unreachable number that I am committing my entire life to attaining – to make sense to me.

Thank you for reading some of my findings. I trust that Athletics Canada will provide an answer to how these standards are established, consider my research and make appropriate changes for fair qualifying procedures for all events for future National teams.

-Caroline Ehrhardt

PS. Special thanks to my coach Vickie Croley who helped me with this piece.

Better Late Than Never

Better late than never. Even if you do something much later than planned, that is better than not doing it at all. This phrase applies my belated timing of this post-nationals blog post. As excited as I was to write about my positive experience in Moncton, I just haven’t gotten around to it! I enjoyed a week away from training after returning home from nationals which included a much-needed relaxing weekend at a cottage. Now that I’m reimmersed into the swing of things and back into training, I decided enough is enough and it is time to write a blogpost.

Better late than never also applies to my experience in Moncton. Finally, I achieved the breakthrough I have been patiently, yet desperately, waiting for. Last May, I broke 13 meters in triple jump for the first time. At the time, I thought that was my breakthrough. Well, it was more of a short glimpse of “the other side” than a full-fledged breakthrough because up until nationals, I had not surpassed that 13 meter mark since.

This year I had my best indoor season yet, consistently jumping in the 12.70s and 12.80s. Despite my confidence and successful training sessions, things took a weird turn once I moved outdoors when I opened up my season with 12.45m and then was idle in the 12.60s. For as good as I felt, I knew it was really strange that I was only jumping as far as I was. But a funny thing happened- I didn’t panic and I didn’t let myself feel dejected. My old self would have went to town with thoughts like “Oh my gosh, I was jumping this far when I was 17!”. But to be honest, not once did I have a thought like that. Heck, one week before nationals I sextuple faulted (meaning yes, I faulted 6 jumps in a row), and even then, I was relatively calm and still more confident than ever. My mind was fixated on Moncton and I knew that being the competiter that I am, everything would be okay when it really mattered.

My confidence through the lackluster performances and “keep calm and jump on” attitude turned out to work out pretty well for me, as I walked away from Moncton one very happy camper (er, fishermen rather, in reference to my last blog post). I would say in the past few years, this sport has been 95% disappointment, 5% satisfaction. This sport is tough because a win is never enough – you always want a faster time or further distance. Like Einstien once said, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. Although I work hard and know that the 5% satisfaction isn’t a matter of luck, anytime a competition goes well, I can’t help be feel grateful and blessed because I know these moments are fleetingly rare. That 5% makes the other 95% worth it. Without a doubt, I would endure all my athletic heartbreaks over again just to experience the joy I did at nationals once again. That’s the beauty of sport.

Two jumps over thirteen meters, both coming in the final two rounds when I was in the silver-medal position, walking away with my fourth consecutive national championship, a new personal best jump, but you know what the best thing that I walked away from nationals with is?

Hope. It may not always happen for me when I want it to or how I want it to, but provided I keep working away at it, persevering, and believing in myself, I know the distances I am working towards on the measuring tape will always appear eventually. Better late than never.

For the full story of how things played out in Moncton, check out these articles below.
-Ehrhardt Reputation Grows as a Fierce Competitor – Sudbury Sports
-Ehrhardt Golden Again – Sudbury Star

Thanks everyone positive vibes heading into nationals and the kind words now that it is over! I truly couldn’t have done it without the amazing support that I am oh so lucky to receive! As always, thanks for reading.

-CARO

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Off to Nationals

Well, it’s that wonderful time of year again! It feels like Deja vu as I pack my bags and prepare to fly to Moncton tomorrow afternoon for the 2014 Canadian Track and Field Championships. It really doesn’t feel like it has been a whole year since the last time I did this, but at the same time, I know I’m a much different person this year as I board my flight.

Last year I didn’t go to Moncton to win, I went to Moncton to not lose. The fear of receiving a medal that was anything but gold crippled me. I was feeling a lot of pressure being the defending champion, and this pressure came from no one but myself. “Three-peat”, I kept telling myself, “I have to get the three-peat”. Have to. Talk about a negative head space. In the end I got what I wanted, but I knew that my performance was subpar and tremendously affected by the pressure that I put on myself. Lesson learnt: it’s hard to fly with a bag full of cinderblocks on your back.

This year, I know I am in the perfect headspace heading into Moncton. All I want to do is get on the runway on Saturday afternoon and have some fun. I know what happens when I simply enjoy myself in competitions. I trust that if I do everything out of love and enjoyment this weekend, and not out of fear or pressure or urgency, good things are going to happen – big things are going to happen. I have that competitive killer-instinct, but I have learnt that I am more effective when I let that side of me be unleashed naturally, rather than trying to force myself into that role from the get-go.

I was going to post some cliché picture of a fierce lion roaring or angry shark showing his teeth, but then I caught a glimpse of myself in the reflection of my computer and thought people may appreciate a picture of my current head piece (that I’m wearing indoors at 9pm..) instead.

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Gone fishin’ for a wonderful 2014 national championships! Have a great week everyone and thanks for reading!
-CARO

 

Some OFSAAme Memories

The first weekend in June always has me feeling very nostalgic – OFSAA weekend! A time when the best of the best high school track and field athletes from every corner of Ontario come together and battle it out. I’ve had some pretty amazing experiences in sport; representing Canada, representing my university, but my OFSAA memories are the ones I cherish most, and this time of year always has me remembering those times fondly.

My first OFSAA in grade 9 was held in Ottawa. I can still remember our first drive from the hotel to the track like it was yesterday. The song “Time of Your Life” by Green Day came on the radio, and my coach turned around to face me in the van with a very serious but excited look in his eyes. “Here we go. Let’s have the time of our life,” he said. I was ridiculously nervous, but I was very intent on winning. I was determined to start my OFSAA career off with a bang and let everyone know who Caroline Ehrhardt from Espanola was. Despite setting a personal best of over 50cm in triple jump, I was disappointed to come away from the meet without finishing on the podium in any of my events. I felt dejected, yet I knew in my heart that next year would be a much different story.

OFSAA in my grade 10 year was held in Hamilton. I won gold in both long and triple jump and set a new OFSAA record in triple jump. I still remember a reporter asking me if I was shocked. I surprised even myself, as a timid 16 year old kid when I said, “Nope. I’ve played this moment over in my mind every day for a year now.” I finally had a taste of success at the elite level, and the taste only made me that much hungrier.

I was in Toronto at Varsity Stadium for OFSAA in grade 11. I had my eye on the Canadian Interscholastic triple jump record which I had actually surpassed at meets in the past. By simply doing it at OFSAA, I would put my name in the record books once again. My competition got off to a shaky start, and not only had I not broken the record by round 4 of the competition, but I wasn’t even winning. Sitting in second place, I remember saying to myself “Stop it! You’re overthinking this. Just do what you know how to do”. On my next jump, my butt flew out of the sand as quickly as it landed in it – I leaped up in celebration with my fists in the air because I knew what I had just done. I broke the national record and just established myself as the best triple jumper in Canadian high school history.

And finally, the culminating event. OFSAA was held in London in my grade 12 year, at TD Waterhouse Stadium, the facility that would later (unknowingly at the time) become my home. On my sixth and final jump, the announcer brought the entire stadium’s attention to me. The crowd clapped in unison as I sprinted down the runway for my final jump of my highschool career, and on this jump I broke my own Canadian interscholastic record. I saluted the crowd, smiled, and took off my Espanola singlet for the last time.

Just like that, four OFSAAs had come and gone. Green Day was right from the very start, I truly did have the time of my life. Six OFSAA gold medals, 3 broken records, countless personal bests, but you know what my favourite OFSAA memory is? The fact that the smile on my dad’s face when he watched my receive my 5th place ribbon in grade 9 was just as big as it was when he watched me win golds and break records in the years that followed. “We’ll have to frame this or something!” he said excitedly as he looked proudly at my ribbon. My coach’s high five was just as hard when I missed the podium than it was when I stood on top of it – his hugs were just as tight. It is because of those actions by them that I learned this: OFSAA wasn’t about winning or losing. OFSAA was about giving it all I had. It was about putting on a performance that I could walk away proud of. OFSAA was about setting goals and maintaining a never-say-die attitude until the very last jump. OFSAA was about having fun and doing my absolute best, because at the end of the day, my loved ones were proud no matter what.

Now that I think about it, it’s not just OFSAA that’s like that, is it? Ah, I continue to learn!

Wishing the very best of luck to all OFSAA competitors this year! Have a blast because I promise you that these will be the days you wish you could get back!

Have an OFSAAme time (I can’t stop),
-CARO

What I Learned From Cirque Du Soleil

Average. This is the word I would use to describe how my competitions have been going. They haven’t been going terrible, but they haven’t been going amazing either. It could be worse, but it most definitely could be much better, too. Average – I cringe as I type that word.

It gets a little discouraging. Athletes and people in any pursuit know how difficult it can be to be stagnant. When all you desire to see is improvement and change, the same result over and over again can be very disheartening and exhausting. I just finished up two back to back competitions this weekend where I had, here we go, average results. Following the completion of my competition yesterday, my boyfriend and his mother surprised me with a ticket to Cirque Du Soleil which was being held here in London that night. I was excited because like most, I’ve heard amazing things about the show. I knew I would find it entertaining, but because I’m not a very artsy person I don’t think I expected to fall in love with it quite as much as I did.

At first I was just awe-struck. I gasped in horror and wiped my clammy hands on my pants as the performers did absolutely unthinkable feats. “How are they doing that? Why are they doing that? Oh God be careful up there, ma’am. WOW SHE IS SUPER HIGH! Okay that was cool. Where did that guy come from? HE’S HANGING ON BY HIS FOOT!” These were the spastic thoughts going through my head – superficial wow-that’s-friggen-awesome types of thoughts. But a little later into the show, I wiped my face to find that I had shed a tear. “Wow, what the heck,” I thought to myself, “Why on earth am I crying”.

I envied the performers with everything in me. They were so beautifully athletic. They looked so passionate. They looked so free. Free – a sharp contrast to how I’ve felt on the runway lately. While the performers flipped, leaped and danced across the stage it appeared as though they didn’t have a care in the world – they were completely entranced in their own performance and executing it as perfectly and elegantly as they could. I thought about my own performances lately. I’m tense and restricted, chasing numbers on a measuring tape. I thought to myself, “I wonder what it must feel like to just be focused on performing the motions how they are supposed to be performed – focusing on being one with what you’re doing and not worrying about things that are seemingly out of your control – rankings or distances.” Then I realized there is nothing stopping me from focusing on those very things, too.

Although I don’t have the flexibility, fluidity or elegance (emphasis on the elegance part) of the Cirque Du Soleil performers, watching them made me realize that I can strive be more like them in the way that I approach my own performances. I can focus on the motions, on performing what I do as beautifully and as close to perfect as I can. I can focus on being free and just 100% connected to the movements. Numbers are secondary. Numbers are secondary. I tell myself that all the time, but it seems like every once in a while I just need a reminder. The numbers I am searching for are the mere result of something more important I need to strive for my performances – absolute freedom.

“Love What You Do & Do What You Love”: The Myth

“Love what you do and do what you love”.

This is advice we have learned to live by. Spend your time doing what makes you happy, because that’s what is most important. I have always abided by this, and I’m sure we’ve all made at least a couple decisions with this mantra in mind. Whatever we choose to pursue in life, we should enjoy doing – we should do the things we love. Simple enough, right? Wrong. There’s more to it than that, and we have been slightly misled.

A couple of weeks ago I had a few training sessions that I hated every second of. I wished I could be anywhere else doing anything else. I felt sore and tired and frustrated and I just simply did not feel like training. It felt like a monotonous chore. As my coach instructed me, I felt agitated. I couldn’t wait to just take off my spikes and go home, curl up into bed and go on a Netflix marathon. Throughout my decade-long participation in this sport, I’ve definitely experienced practices of this nature before, but never this intensely and never this many in a row. In turn, my training was not productive and this only fuelled my bad attitude. On top of everything, I felt an incredible amount of guilt for not enjoying what I was doing. It was a strange internal conflict that sat uncomfortably and heavily on my heart and mind. “I do this because I love it,” I told myself, “So why do I absolutely hate it right now?”.

After that string of I-would-literally-rather-do-anything-other-than-this training sessions, I had a practice (ironically enough, in a torrential downpour) that completely shifted my attitude. The love that has fuelled me thus far was suddenly rushing through me once again. “I FRIGGEN LOVE THIS BEAUTIFUL SPORT! I WANT TO DO THIS FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE!”. My heart fluttered and danced with joy as I did the motions that just one day prior I loathed. Since then, I have pondered.

Is it okay to sometimes hate what we love?

My conclusion: Yes. Absolutely. When what you’re pursuing – a career, a hobby, academics, an ideal self, an athletic goal – takes up the majority of your time and energy, it only makes sense that sometimes you will get frustrated and have a severe distaste for it. Hard work is.. hard. The road to success is never smooth so it’s absolutely ridiculous to think you should have a smile on your face as you get stuck at detours, rocked by road bumps, and tired of the same, long drive. Passion is defined in the dictionary as, “a strong and barely controllable emotion”. It doesn’t specify that this emotion is necessarily a positive one – it’s just overwhelmingly present. Passion involves both love and hate. Never feel guilty or wrong for periodically experiencing the hate while pursuing what you love. Embrace the hate-days as part of the process.

So, let’s revise that opening quote: “Love what you do and do what you love, but it’s also okay to sometimes hate its guts, too.” Er, something like that.

Happy Friday!
-CARO

The Universe Is Out to Get You

The universe is out to get you – but not in the way you might think. The universe is out to get you to be more grateful, more resilient, more patient, and more understanding. The universe is out to make you a better person. When it seems like the universe is really going out of its way to wreak havoc on you, it’s only because it believes you have a lesson to learn or a realization to come to. We (myself included) often are too stuck holding the cynical thought of, “why me?” to do any learning from unfortunate situations – but after a recent experience I have had, I encourage you to trust in the workings of the universe and always search for the silver lining.

A couple weeks ago my boyfriend and I returned to his car after attending Western’s Athletic Awards Gala to find that all my belongings had been stolen. My backpack containing my laptop, my binder of school notes, some of my Team Canada gear, my glasses, some jewellery. Any other day I wouldn’t of had so much stuff in the car, but I had to rush from class straight to the banquet and therefore had many belongings with me. Of course, I was distraught. I sobbed and cursed and wondered what the hell was wrong with people in this world – how can people have the audacity to break into someone else’s car and take their belongings? With my trip to California one week away and exams around the corner, I wasn’t sure how I was going to replace everything in time to prepare for my trip and my finals. Furthermore, I had a paper on my laptop that was due in three days time which I ultimately had to take the time and rewrite, but that first involved buying a brand new laptop. Overall, I was crippled with bitterness. Although I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone, I thought, “of all the cars in the parking lot, in all the parking lots in London, why me? And why right NOW?”.

But then something wonderful happened. As everyone around me selflessly helped me replace all my belongings and school notes, I came to a realization that completely changed my attitude. It’s just stuff. Everything in that bag was replaceable, and for that reason I should be grateful. I realized I was lucky that my loss included only things that I could easily replace. What’s not replaceable are the people who helped me put all the pieces back together – my coach who literally gave me her Team Canada jacket off of her back, my boyfriend who took me everywhere replacing my belongings, my dad who helped me buy a new laptop, my classmates who happily sent me their school notes, my friends who consoled me as I dramatically complained for days straight about how wicked the world is – none of these people were taken from me. Everything that I need to be happy and complete, I still have. It didn’t take them helping me through that chaotic situation for me to realize how important these people are to me, but it was certainly a nice reminder that helped the loss of my belongings suddenly seem very trivial.

I carried this mentality with me into my training these past couple of weeks, and rather than self-destructing when I have a sub-par training session or competition, I tell myself, “well, at least I’m healthy and able to train in the first place”. It often sounds so insensitive when you’re dealing with an unfortunate circumstance and someone says, “It could always be worse”. But it’s true, it could always be worse. Because of that, there is gratitude to be given in every situation life throws at us – no matter how negative you perceive it to be.

If this post sounds familiar its probably because 6 months ago I wrote a post called “4 Things My Week Without a Cellphone Taught Me” after I had my cell-phone stolen. Clearly there is a theme to my lessons and it seems to be the loss of expensive belongings. With great appreciation, universe, I get it! No more thefts please.

Did you thank your universe today?

-[CROOK-PRONE] CARO