This afternoon, I spent some time reviewing the selection criteria for the 2016 Rio Olympics and trying to remain calm. I already knew the basics: the top 3 finishers at the Olympic Trials who have the time standard of 4:06.00 are eligible for selection. For next summer's Olympics, Athletics Canada opened the qualifying window in May of this year. That is much earlier than in previous years, when the only valid qualification times were those achieved during the year of team selection.
I was thrilled with the prospect of knocking out my Olympic standard a year in advance, especially after my experience leading up to the 2012 Olympics. In 2012, the qualifying window opened in April, and closed on June 30th. I hit the standard on June 20th. That 3 month window was the most stressful time of my life - attempting, failing, waiting, and trying again and again - I cried myself to sleep almost every night. My husband is the most patient and calm man. A total saint. How he dealt with me is a mystery.
So of course I knew I would hate to be in this position again, and did everything possible to avoid it. While navigating the twists and turns of last summer’s racing season, my top priority was to emerge with the Olympic standard. Yet here I am. Double Worlds qualifier, double Canadian champion, Pan Am silver medallist… but no standard.
Just yesterday, as two Canadians achieved the Olympic qualifying time in the marathon, I felt a surge of longing to do the same. My next opportunity, though, is a least 5 months away when the 2016 outdoor racing season begins.
Hitting that sub 4:06 this summer would have been the easiest way to side-step the emotional roller-coaster I rode in 2012. But even without the standard, there’s no way I’m getting on that ride again. Even if I have to take the hard way around.
Seven weeks have already passed since I ended the 2015 season sans standard. Every single day during those 7 weeks I have thought about the Olympics. Some days more than others. Some days are filled with hope and excitement and some are spent battling uncertainty and anxiety. Fortunately, the latter kind of day is becoming very rare.
Although stressing about possible outcomes has always been a weakness of mine, for the past couple years I have been learning to turn my focus to the process. My sport psych, Kim, has reminded me many times that I should deal with the outcome when we find out what it actually is. (Admittedly I’ve been through a lot of awful situations… and most of them haven’t ever happened!) It's impossible to solve tomorrow’s problems today when I don’t even know what they are, so why bother trying?
This sounds contradictory, but it’s very freeing to live within the boundaries of TODAY. I’m free to face tomorrow’s challenges later. Free to give up all attempts to predict the future. Free to focus on today, be productive with whatever can be done right now, and enjoy it as much as possible.
A few weeks ago, while working through my thoughts, reading, and praying, God gave me some reassurance. Thankfully, I wrote it down and now often return to it as a reminder to embrace today and leave tomorrow alone. I’ll sign off with a glimpse of those words:
All these thoughts about whether I’m doing things right…
Am I just trying to control more things to get the results I want?
Nonsense! Stop stressing and stop questioning!
God SEES me.
Here I am. I woke up today and I am Nicole Sifuentes. I love God and he knows my heart. He gave me this house, this husband, this job, this body, this mind,
He gave me HIMSELF.