First High School Track Meet!

Coming into high school means I’ll be competing in high school track, which subsequently means that I’ll be competing against kids one, two or three years older than me. Which is the reason I’m attributing my results at my first meet to. Overall, the meet went exactly how I thought it would – with me in the starting blocks, preparing to race competitors that had at least a year, not to mention a foot of height, on me.

Basically, I got destroyed. Some of that was because I was one of the youngest ones, and the other bit was the fact that I just didn’t run well. In the long jump, I placed 23rd out of 67, jumping 17’6″ (which is not a bad jump, I have to say). Now, this was one of those situations where I was simply competing against older competitors. I had the best result of any freshman competing that day, and not only that, but I beat out the next best scored freshman by a little over 8 inches. When I put it in a perspective like that, I don’t feel so bad with my result. But being the best out of all the freshmen competing doesn’t mean anything. I need that top 8 finish. And that’s what I’m striving to do and will continue to attempt to achieve throughout the season. I figure I need an additional 10 inches to have a chance at placing top 8, and I’m definitely placing long jump as one of my stronger suits in track for now, seeing as people are jumping at least a foot higher than my PR in high jump.

Now, the 200m was a different story. I honestly have no idea what I did wrong. Maybe I was just tired from all my previous events? Maybe I saw I was in the lead and was content with that? I have no idea. Anyways, what happened was that I got placed in the first heat because I had no prior result to seed me into the competition (which is where the slowest people compete). I ended up winning my heat, but I also ran my slowest time in the 200 since early 7th grade. I definitely need to improve on that, so I’ll definitely put in some time into sprinting endurance.

I’m just going to skip over the two relays I ran, as we got disqualified in the 4×200, and placed last in the 4×100. As a whole (I say overall way too much, so I need to change it up), it was a good first experience, and gave me a good place to work off of. My next meet is this Saturday, and hopefully I can do a bit better. That’s also on top of preparing for Snowboarding Nationals, which happens in just TWO weeks! It’s going to be a crazy next few weeks… but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to be fun.

Overlap

I seem to find myself in this position every year… Finishing up one sport while just starting another. It’s a hectic time, but it’s pretty fun to be doing two sports at once! One day I’m training for USASA Boardercross Nationals, and the next I’m running and jumping, preparing for the next track meet (which is tomorrow, in this case).

Around this time last year, I was in the same position – getting ready to race on both snowboards and the track. But this year is slightly different – Different, because I’m now in high school and running track for Summit High School, and preparing for boardercross planning to advance out of a few heats.

The biggest part of managing two major sports at a time is definitely time management, and that’s one area where I’m improving in, but I still need to work on. I occasionally work on homework until well past 10 PM, having only previously completed only a bit of the work. I’m attempting to limit distractions and complete some of my homework earlier than a day or two before the due date to account for sleep. However, after a long, quotidian day of school, it’s hard to come home and continue working. It’s much easier to just go to Woodward with friends, watch a movie with family or simply sleep. But that’s where I’m working to force myself just to do the work, and then backflip/watch a movie/sleep afterwards.

Tomorrow I will race in the first track meet of the high school season, and I’m both nervous and excited. It will be the first meet where I won’t be competing in my main event (high jump), not to mention the first meet where I will race people older than me with far superior skills. But, you never know, I still could somehow finish in the top 8, earning me a podium and earning the team a couple of points. I’ll be competing in the 4×100, 4×200, 200m and Long Jump, which are all events I’ve run before in meets (minus long jump, but I’ve done that plenty of times). If I had to guess, I’d say I have the best shot in either the 4×100 or the Long Jump, where I think I at least have a shot at making the top 8.

And then, of course, I return to snowboard training the day after. Coming from sprinting and jumping all day, I just hope I’ll have enough energy to get down the mountain awake. In other news, I threw some backflips the other day at copper, and I was fortunate enough to have my coach film me, and you can view it below.

Nationals is only 16 days away, which is still crazy. It feels like the season has flown by, and it’s almost time to start editing together a season edit! Although it feels to me that the season has gone so quickly, I feel like I’ve accomplished almost everything I wanted to this season (except, however, for landing a 720. Well, after nationals is over, I’m going to attempt a few). I’ve landed 540’s, backflips, slopestyle runs, and four top 5 competition finishes, with three of them getting me onto the podium. What’s left? A good result at the National Championships. And then it’s off to the races, swapping out my snowboard for a pair of spikes.

Second Round of Boardercross

Just last weekend, I competed in another set of boardercross events, both at Ski Cooper once again, and as I said I would do before, I improved. The first weekend, I took two 9th places, not even making it out of my heat once. But the second weekend, things changed. First, there were only 9 competitors the second weekend, compared to the 16 that raced on the first weekend. So I don’t think that 100% of the improvement in ranking was based on skill. Just wanting to put that out there. Anyways, onto the retelling.

Last Saturday, I took third in my first heat, but since there were only 9 people, and my first heat was technically the semifinal, I got to race in another round, the consolation final. In the consolation final, I took second place after two riders fell, and placed 6th overall. You can watch the video below (I’m in gate 1, closest to the camera).

Jadyn’s heat, which was just a final because there were only 4 girls, was extremely fun to watch. She tried a type of start called the pressure-start (where your board is pushed up against the start gate so that your board gets out of the starting gate as quickly as possible), which she had only practiced once, and it payed off. She took the lead right out of the gate, and held it until the second turn, where her friend Anika passed her. You can view that video below (Jadyn’s the one in the blue)

Sunday turned out even better. In the first heat, I took second place, which put me in finals. During finals, we all started super close to each other, with all four of us battling for position around the first turn. I moved into third place, and stayed that way until the end of the race, where I skidded out over the third to last turn, and ended up taking 4th, both in the heat and overall. If there’s one thing that I’m striving for in boardercross, it’s a top-3 finish on the podium. Unfortunately, that was the last Ski Cooper boardercross event, so I’m going to have to wait until next month to attempt to take a medal again. On a higher note, with that fourth place finish I am now ranked #40 in the country, and hopefully I can improve that ranking at Crested Butte later this season. But for now, it’s back to trying to land some 540’s in the park!

Mini Snowboard Edit!

Yesterday I decided to put together a small video comprising of a few of my favorite tricks of the season, and publish it to YouTube. You can view it below:

Tomorrow I return to Ski Cooper for the second round of boardercross. Hopefully I can do better than last week, and I’m confident that I’ll compete better this weekend.

First races of the season!

Well, it’s Monday, and more specifically, the Monday after the first two boardercross races. It went… not as planned. I never made it out of a heat, and took 9th out of 16 on both days. On both days of racing, my heats were the exact same. The first day, I discovered that since I had the sixth seed (because I went to last year’s Nationals, I was ranked sixth at the start of the day), I got second gate choice in my heat, which was pretty cool. I also discovered that my friend Benny was racing against me in what was his very first competition ever, and he did well (even though he got last). The entire race, I was literally battling for second place against a guy I had met before the race named Lachlan, from New Zealand. He initially took the lead against me, but I passed him around the second corner. By the time we were around the third corner, he had caught up and we were basically holding onto each other while maneuvering the tight turns in an attempt to stay on our feet. On the sixth turn, we both slipped out and fell, but he got up faster and won the race against me, which was extremely disappointing. You can view the video of our start and the first turn below (I’m the one in the blue).

The first day went well for Isaac and Jadyn, with Jadyn taking the bronze medal, and Isaac beating out our friend JR to take second and make it out of the quarterfinals into semis. He lost in the semifinal, but due to an extremely weird complication where a rider raced in the semifinal where he shouldn’t have been (and that resulted in our friend Bodie not qualifying for the finals after he had qualified before), the race was re-run, but nothing changed, and he still got last. In the consolation final, the other two riders had left, so it was a 1-on-1 race between Bodie and Isaac, where Isaac lost (it was a really exciting race to watch, though). Overall, Isaac took 6th place out of 15.

The second day, I got my race board, which I had got in the mail the day before, set up and ready to go, albeit without ANY wax on it, and raced on that. The day went noticeably worse for me, taking the same placing again, but losing the race to Lachlan by a lot farther this time. Isaac didn’t make it out of his first heat and took 11th, but on two high notes, Jadyn and Bodie both took second place and got the silver medal.

Overall, it was a fun time, getting back into the swing of racing and prepared for next week’s races, in which I am sure I’ll be prepared and ready to go. My goal is to make it into the finals of a competition, and I’m going to keep racing until I do.

 

Pressure in Competition

Pressure – it’s always there, in every competition. I’ve felt it many times, right before I get put in during a soccer game, when I’m taking that third attempt in high jump, hearing “Runners, take your marks” before the start of the 100m dash, listening to a starter tell me “Racer ready” before a boardercross race, when I’m in the start gate for a slopestyle competition, or setting up to serve during a tennis tournament.

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Preparing to drop in at a Slopestyle event at the beginning of this year

It’s the same feeling every time – breathing hard, muscles tightening, mind in overdrive. I love it. Well, that’s not completely true. I love situations where I am forced to deal with pressure. It helps me train to deal with it. Sometimes, like earlier this year in track, I fail, not being able to clear the bar after tripping and hurting my leg. Other times I overcome, like yesterday during my slopestyle competition, when I fell hard before and during my first run, hurting myself all over, but still managed to pull it together and put down a good second run.

It’s not just me who’s had to deal with pressure, though. Last year, I watched my brother play in a tennis tournament against an obviously better player, but as I saw that day, skill isn’t everything. Isaac’s opponent had him 3-0 in a 4 game set, and was closing in on victory. Although his skill seemed superior, Isaac still kept fighting, mentally staying in the game, and began to work his way back, winning three straight games, making the score 3-3. It was amazing to watch Isaac, who pushed himself to his limit, muscles completely locking up to the point where he’d periodically fall over, take over the match. His opponent was obviously mentally breaking down, crying and screaming on the court when he lost 3 straight games. His mom complained to the head pro running the tournament that Isaac was making bad calls, and the pro (who was actually Isaac’s opponent’s coach), came onto the court, stopping play, and acted as a line judge. To no surprise, Isaac never made a single call that was contradicted. Isaac persevered until the end that day, but after stopping the play, he was completely spent, and unfortunately lost the match. I think we were all a bit surprised at Isaac’s mental game that day, and he definitely gained my respect.

Jadyn seems to automatically step up to the call of competition. Before every recent snowboard competition, she seems to just get in the zone, blocking out all thoughts of failure. As I watch her at every snowboard competition, I see her look at the course (the halfpipe, the slopestyle course, or the boardercross track), take a deep breath, exhale, and then perform. She’s honestly probably the most calm and consistent out of the three of us. She never complains at a failed run, or a bad fall, and if she ever does say something, she always just tells us later.

Every competition, every jump, every race, every serve. Pressure will always be there, and I know I’ll continue to get better at dealing with it. There’s many different ways that people deal with pressure, and I know that Isaac, Jadyn and I all prepare for it in different ways. Isaac listens to his playlist to get him hyped up. Jadyn hangs out with her friends, talking to them, seemingly keeping her mind off the competition. And me? I like to be alone, watch and analyze other competitors, and mentally tell myself exactly what is going to happen in the competition, visualize it, and then visualize backup plans.

I write this as I prepare for the first boardercross competitions, because firstly, writing my thoughts out on my blog somehow puts them in a place I can see and reflect on them, and secondly, I love writing. My coaches and family expect me to do well in boardercross, probably because of the fact that I love to go fast (even when I’m in the park… :P) and race. Looking forward, I hope to take home a medal sometime or another during these first four races at Ski Cooper, and if not, I’ll have more chances to take one home in the three after in Crested Butte. I know I’ll have many chances to deal with pressure in the future, and my hope for my future self is that I’ll be able to step up to the challenge.

 

Freedom to Learn

If you have read any of my past blog posts, you’ve noticed that I mention one reason that I don’t particularly like going to school is the whole freedom-limiting aspect. But what do I mean by that? Let me articulate and expand upon one aspect this vague idea that I refer to over and over again – Freedom to Learn.

Working at a coffee shop two years ago with Isaac and Jadyn while my parents attended an event.
Working at a coffee shop two years ago with Isaac and Jadyn while my parents attended an event.

In my mind, homeschooling was a synonym for freedom. I could look up anything I wanted, any time of the day. I’d take breaks every once in a while to research a topic or an idea that I had wanted to know about, and occasionally write about them, such as this post from a while ago that I wrote about various phobias. I simply was interested in the hilarious and unique names for different phobias that I didn’t even know existed. As a result, I discovered the name of the one phobia I had and currently have: Ichthyophobia, or the irrational fear of fish. It’s always been a weird aspect of myself, as I’m not irrationally scared of anything else, and I’d rather have spiders crawl over me than jump into a lake with a fish. Anyways, back to the topic at hand.

I learned a lot more than just that, though. Every once in a while, I’d randomly stop my work and go learn something, some of which turned out to be beneficial to me later in life. Once, when I was learning Pre-Algebra through Khan Academy, I decided I wanted to learn basic trigonometry. So, I switched out of the Pre-Algebra tab and selected the Trig course. After an hour of work, I ingrained in my brain the trig functions and their uses. At the time, mom thought that although I was learning, I should be getting back to my actual work. Turns out, all that work wasn’t for nothing… Recently, in my Geometry class, we’ve been learning the basics of Trig, and my prior knowledge of the subject allowed me to drift off and rest in class for a few days and not miss anything I didn’t already know.

As I learned new things, I found myself memorizing things with only a few minutes of practice, which helped my acquisition of knowledge greatly. I can still recite 40 digits of Pi after not practicing for over a year (3.14159265358979323846… I’m not going to continue that), remember exactly what pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is and how to pronounce it, and list off my favorite cryptids (I did a two part post about this in 2014, which you can read here).

My point is, while school provides many new ideas to ponder and write about, it’s limited in that the teachers and administration choose what I learn, rather than myself. I learned so much from homeschooling that wasn’t actually part of my curriculum, such as how to make money from YouTube, the best buying and selling prices of various iPhones on eBay, or how to create my own non-electric, non-steerable and wood-made go-cart (Yes, I did that, and it was extremely fun being pulled by a friend on a bike down the street, racing against other kids).