The Home Stretch
I hear a faint noise that is becoming annoyingly louder. Struggling to get my bearings, I realize it is my alarm clock piercing one of the rare nights I am in a deep sleep. Rolling over I eyeball the clock – 3:30am. It’s a typical start to my weekdays, but it’s not as easy to leap out of bed this week as it has been all winter.
Competing is not for the faint of heart (and I’m not talking about the stage itself). Every contest preparation is different, and while this one has been very positive and fun, the hardest part is always the home stretch. Ironically, as your body leans out and you get closer to your “stage look,” you reach your weakest point.
One of the people I admire most in life is my brother Mark (yes, little bro it’s true). Of course like most siblings, we have had our moments, but it was actually through hockey in which we bonded. Throughout the years I have not only watched him play, but ridden the highs and lows of the game. I sat in the stands when he lost a minor hockey championship in triple overtime; stood proudly beaming when he was introduced for his first Ontario Hockey League game; jumped over the glass the night his team won the OHL Championship and felt his anguish when his shot hit the goal post at the Memorial Cup, CHL Championships (sorry to bring that up but it was a great TSN highlight that night).
Injured or healthy, leading a game or trailing badly, he would never give up and play with the passion of fresh legs on ice. I would listen to he and his teammates talking about “time to dig deep and play with heart.” Enviable, yes? Understandable, no.
But now I finally get it. For sixteen weeks my daily ritual has been a 3:30am wake-up, hours of training, followed by a full day of work, physical therapy, posing, eating and leaving time to ice my leg nightly before praying for sleep. At this stage of the game I have no fruit, dairy and limited starchy carbs in my diet. There are days I am overwhelmed and feel as if I can’t possibly walk one more step or eat one more piece of broccoli but then I remember my brother and how he would fight till the end and I find the fire in my gut to power through.
You may wonder why anyone would subject herself to this life? The answer is simple. I am about to do something that I never dreamed would be possible. For years I happily watched from the glass, but I always wanted a chance to be on that ice (figuratively speaking), in pursuit of that goal.
Tomorrow I leave for my first national figure competition following 18 months of training and fair share of ups and downs. Nervous? You bet. Excited? Absolutely.
But I have now discovered what my brother knew all these years – what it takes to dig deep and find your heart.
Thanks dear brother – this one’s for you.