The Beginner's Mind

Change. Some people fear it, many avoid it, and others thrive in it. Often it means leaving something behind as one steps into the unknown. Just over two weeks ago I made official what was perhaps the most difficult decision in my sporting life: to leave cycling for good.

For three years I have juggled an insane schedule of competing at the highest level in two sports, cycling and speed skating. As I look back at this period of continuous transition, I wonder how I survived. What I feel inside is a sense of peace and quiet determination at this new beginning. The beginning of my life as a speed skater, that is.

Ten days ago I stepped on the ice for the first time since March. The last time I glided was around the oval in Berlin after finishing second in the World Championships. As I struggled to find my equilibrium while shuffling along, standing straight up, it was difficult to fathom that skater was me. Yet, as I think in terms of timing, this is virtually the same day that I returned to the ice the year prior. The first weekend of November is round one of the three autumn World Cups. A lot can happen from now until then, and it is with patience and prudence that I find my footing so as not to rush the delicate process.

Many people think I am returning to fill the void that I left. I see it differently: I am here to earn back the spot that I created by my results last season. Not only do I have to work to become the skater I was, I must also find new ways to become better. Nothing is static, in sport or in life. The moment one believes that it is, marks the moment of stagnation.

I have never been the kind of person to look into the past for validation. Instead I look to the future, to the horizon, and see the vast potential it offers. The most beautiful thing about a beginning is the open nature of the 'Beginner's Mind'. Because I realize I have so much to learn, and so far to go, I feel open and willing to work,to listen, and to dream.

As the aches and pains of waking my dormant skating muscles subside, I feel like a kid again. It is a joy to skate. The ability to glide is one I have often described as the most glorious of ways to move as a human being. That I am one of the few able to do it with relative ease is a gift I do not take for granted.

I feel fortunate to have made the return I have. As I look to the future I see the sport changing in terms of depth, speed, and power. That I am here to be one of the instigators in this progression is something which fills me with motivation.

Instead of being afraid of what I have left behind, or fearing the unknown the future may hold, I have exactly what I want: opportunity. The opportunity to over the next three years focus specifically on honing my technical, physical and emotional abilities in the attempt to skate faster than the world of distance skating has ever seen.

That I am living my dream which began fifteen years ago is a sweet bonus I remember every day I step onto the ice with my Beginner's Mind, open and free.

Thank you everyone for your support,

Clara