Laatste blog Maaike Caelers. Time for something else…

Hello World,

Honestly, I wrote this blog over and over and over again… and I guess when I finished this one, I probably want to skip or add another thing to it. But I guess all the skips and adds lead to the same story end.

Oke, let’s start my story.

As a triathlete running has always been my favourite of all 3. Especially running in a cool environment like Hills or a forest. It might sound stupid but I think the forest taught me a lesson. I have had a ‘endless summer’ for quite a bit of years.

When the trees start to loss there leaves I flew to warmer places where the summer started. And came back when the leaves where back on the trees. I will come back later in this blog about what the trees have taught me. Maybe a couple of you have missed me around the tri circuit. Maybe a couple didn’t even notice that I was not there… I flew home. Okay, you might take a seat now, because it is probably a longer blog then before and you might read some unexpected things… So, sit down, relax and take a couple of minutes.

I will take you guys back in time starting last year.

After being away for a while and getting myself back healthy after coping with a bacterium I had some unexpected awesome results. I made decisions myself with some input of my support team and I enjoyed getting back into it. After a while I had the feeling it was time for a new challenging step. I had a chat with Jono Hall and made the move to join him with his squad in America. First for a trail period in Colorado Springs (here I stayed with the lovely McDowells, thanks so much!). After I joined them in Phoenix I started to feel fitter and more comfortable on my bike while we did some crossbiking. I suffered a bit because of the higher intensity that he did, while I was more used to making longer hours. You probably feel that here is a BUT.

There were some things going on in the squad where I was not aware of at first, the only thing I started to feel stressed and more stressed. I thought it would get better. But all this came to an acceleration after the first WTS in Abu Dhabi where the most people from the squad crashed, including me. We went over to Australia where I felt unhappier and unhappier. I knew I had to do something about it because if I continued like this it would be a disaster. Meanwhile I felt my stress levels where rising and rising.

I pulled the plug and went over to Christchurch after the World cup in New-Plymouth. Where I stayed with a lovely host family Julie and Gary, thanks so much. It was a warm and relaxed family with the support of Vanessa. I felt a relieve and relaxed. I flew over to Christchurch where my old flat mates still had a spear room and where I was very welcome. And where John Hellemans, the silver fox, my old coach and friend, helped me out getting myself organized again. It took me a while before I got the fully rested again and started to feel that training was improving me. After a couple of weeks I didn’t feel as tired anymore and started to react on all the effort I had put into myself.

Till one morning,

There were some situations popping up at home, then I start to realize I was missing a lot… Besides that, I was not sure if I was allowed to start the races coming up… It was 10 o’clock in the morning what meant that my parents were still awake so I made a long emotional call with the realization that the only thing I wanted to do was go back home! I had a long conversation with John, who supported my decision. After I said goodbye to my friends and second family on the other side off the world I flew home. 

Home to a lovely warm nest. Where being happy yourself is the main thing. And there was support of whatever decision I would make. I started a process with my support team around me and had a lot of conversations with multiple people, like my parents, the sport psychologist, sports doctor but friend, family and people who have supported me in good and in bad times as well.

After all these conversations I was hungry to see what a ‘normal life’ without living out of your suitcase and traveling around the world, running around in your tri-suit looks like. So, I sent a message to my old school teacher to ask if I could help. Her answer was short but lovely; Yes, you can and you are more than very welcome!!

So on a monday I biked with my normal bike (a typical Dutch bike, who has been to the Netherlands knows what I am taking about) to school. A special school, it’s a primary school where the kids go to school who are not Dutch citizens yet. They come from situations of war and hope to stay in our safe country and to start a new peaceful life.It was new, very exciting and when I biked home my heart was full of warmness, happiness and love!!!

That made me realize that my time has come, has come to start a new exciting and more peaceful life then the high performance sport.Don’t get me wrong, I have loved that I was able to do what my passion was. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss it at all!!! But It’s time for something new!! Honestly I am a few weeks in and it is not all happiness. Making decisions but saying goodbye to the high performance sport is a process as well. The goosebumps when you take the tape, step on the highest place on the podium, those memories and feeling are incredible strong. But those feelings had a other side as well.

A hard determent world. Where you always have to put yourself in first position. This goes with respect and no respect. I often felt no respect. I qualify myself as a spot on the ITU list and made the criteria from the Olympic games in London. And still people told me I was not allowed there. I got left behind in training and people drunk a present (a 6-pack of Heineken) that I had bought for a person to say thank you. It was empty before I was even able to give it. The feeling that they don’t believe you that there is something wrong with your body, and tell you the problem is in between your ears(mental).

The high-performance sport can be awesome but has a very dark side as well. As a person I always struggled with the fact that I want to take care of people as well. But the high-performance sport is just a world of taking care of yourself.Is it worth it to never ever give up? To lose your happiness (please take a write of my friend and old-coach John Hellemans book, never ever give up?)

Obviously, there is a very pretty side as well. I was able to experience the Olympic games, I was the FIRST Dutchie who had a WTS podium, and still the most as well!! I med some awesome people as well, my host families, Mc Dowells in Colorado Springs and Julie& Gary in New Plymouth! I had some good and lovely friends on the other side of the world as well Mike, Ollie, Emily, Katie & James, Megan, Roly. I had an awesome support team, Team New Balance, Team ParketReus, MAKO, Gaan voor Goud, Guido Vroemen & for sure the BEST PARENTS in the world!!!! And last but not least John Hellemans and Andrea Hewitt. As we in Dutch say ‘twee handen op een buik’. Two hands on one belly. I going to miss you, but for sure see you again!

I started a process to build up my new life. I didn’t finish my degree in school. I didn’t have much friends in the Netherlands and I am back living home with my parents. All not very easy and where to start to build this new life. First of all, I made new friends. Thanks so much to these awesome people who welcome me in my new world. I am still waiting if I can finish my degree. If yes, I, am busy with that for about 1,5/2 years. I start working as a waitress in a hotel-restaurant in my home town in a very nice team. So, let me know if you need a cool, small hometown hotel in Weert.

And in the meantime, I am doing a course about all the basics of the human body. But part of me I want to help people with the expertise that I have. And how warm and lovely my family is, I hope I can earn a bit more money so I can rent an apartment and make my own Home-sweet-home. To come back to the trees and their leaves, some time you have to let go, before you can flourish again!! The last thing I want to tell is going to be in dutch, the people who know me, know that I like to write poems so here we go:

Hier zit ik dan,
Wat een leven niet veranderen kan.
Ik heb het afgelopen jaar veel mee gemaakt.
En daardoor mijn triatlon carrière gestaakt.
Een aantal keuzes bleken niet zo uit te pakken als gedacht.
Er bleek een ander cultuur te zijn als verwacht.
Medailles en euforie is super mooi.
Maar de andere kant is soms een klote zooi.
Aan de andere kant van de wereld helemaal alleen.
Ook ik bleek niet van steen.
Ik voelde het geluk niet meer.
Training werd een opgave keer op keer.
Een warm gezelschap en stabiliteit daar verlangde ik naar.
Dit kreeg ik in mijn topsport carrière niet meer voor elkaar.
In april ben ik naar huis gekomen.
Het vliegtuig naar huis genomen.
Een tijdje het normale leven mogen ervaren.
Met veel liefde en gebaren.
Ik hoop mijn school af te kunnen ronden.
Met stabiliteit en hierdoor blijf ik toch met sport verbonden.
Ik ben aan het werk om mensen een beetje te verwennen.
En leer een hele nieuwe kant van mij kennen.
Uiteindelijk hoop ik straks mensen te mogen begeleiden.
En van een burn-out te mogen bevrijden.
In een sportieve setting dan wel.
Dus trek dan vooral bij mij aan de bel!
I haven’t started yet, but please keep an eye out in the future on The Happymiss, life is too short to be unhappy.


Maaike x. 

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