Originally last weekend was supposed to be a catch-up of sorts. Catch up on housework. Catch up on emails. Catch up on blogs. Catch up on my own writing. Catch up on revising the year’s goals (yet again).
Somehow, however, all that catch-up went out the window. I DID manage to pare down the email inbox and get a lot of responses in. I was also able to meet with my friend and cycling coach Tim to discuss what the rest of the year might look like. It was *so* helpful. He said “so, Sarah. What ARE your goals for the rest of the year?”
Lately I’ve been avoiding that question. After my first few races a lot of confusion ensued. Racing is stressful. Difficult. Challenging. It also has a way of either making you feel like you’re on top of the world or like complete crap. How badly did I want to do this?
In complete honesty – racing bikes is harder than any triathlon I’ve ever done. Well, sort of. It is important to remember that triathlons – especially the longer ones – have definitely had their moments. If I go to the memory bank and look in the dark corner underneath all of the other, happier, prettier moments, I can start to remember some of the not-so-happy times. Ones where I felt like quitting. Where my body just couldn’t go. When I had tears coming down my face because of cramping. When five more miles of running seemed like a near-impossible feat and it was all I could do just to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Yeah, it’s been pretty tough at times.
But with bike racing, there’s something else that can hurt besides the body that never seemed to phase me in triathlon. It’s called my ego.
(My race report from my first crit is still in editing phases. I’m working on not just unleashing the first draft of race reports onto my readers but rather, revising and making each one more of a writing project.)
Part of the reason I did not finish was not due to my screaming quad pain or my heart rate blowing up beyond my wildest dreams, but because my ego got the better of me. It’s completely embarrassing to admit, but it’s true. More on that in the race report.
Bike racing has made me push and suffer harder than I ever did in triathlon (at least on the bike, anyway). It’s made me pick up the (very fast) pace before I was ready to. It’s made me dig, dig, DIG down HARD and ignore the pain and pure shock my muscles felt and instead try to find a little more to give.
Yet, the road races were kind of fun. Fun in that “wow this is SO hard but maybe if I just work a little harder and train a little better and seriously work on selling my bike and buying a better one and if I just commit a little more and focus a little better…maybe I will get better” sort of way.
With the crit, however, it was all just hard. My body hurt and my ego was bruised. It wasn’t really that fun. In fact, after the race, I was downright miserable. And then the “Uncle Rico Effect” began to set in.
Remember Uncle Rico from “Napoleon Dynamite?”
Ahhh, visions of past grandeur. Or should we say, delusions of past grandeur?
As the going gets tough, my mind begins to wander this path over the last four years. “You know…I was pretty good. For training at the level I was training (in other words, working full-time and putting in 12-15 hrs/week), I was pretty strong and competitive. I took THIRD OVERALL AT THE UKIAH TRI (reality check: uh, small local race, hello!)! Damn straight! I came close to a sub 5 half-ironman. HELL YEAH!”
This kind of thinking makes me laugh at myself. Somehow my mind begins to delude itself into thinking that I did it all effortlessly and in fact, I was pretty competitive and maybe, in fact, I should just go back to tri because I’m better at it. Yeah. Oh and that even though I’m kind of sucking at bike racing, you people should all know what an amazing triathlete I was, and that, you know, if I actually decide to really train for bike racing I will be amazing at that, too.
WTF? Go away, Uncle Rico Effect!
Let’s get it straight. Triathlon helped me to see that:
I am a good athlete (especially when I train well).
That I can complete goals.
That I can accomplish whatever I put my mind to.
That no matter how much I run, I will never enjoy it the way I do swimming and cycling.
That I am not as Type A as I thought I was.
…and a few other things. But those are some of the big take-away things. What I’ve realized is that I need to be more confident in myself and my abilities and in the end, nobody gives a damn how ‘good’ you really are unless you’re going pro or whatnot.
What matters the most is that you’re having fun and you enjoy the challenge you’ve set out for yourself. I chose to race bikes this year because I wanted a NEW challenge for myself. Something different. Something centered around what I love most.
Now, just because I’ve realized this is quite possibly the hardest athletic endeavor I’ve ever undertaken, I want to backpedal? No. Not an option.
It’s time to stop being a baby and suck it up and throw the ego out the window. Triathlon came somewhat easily to me and now I’m faced with doing something I know nothing about and it’s time to put on the big girl pants and just get out there and race. Again and again. With experience comes knowledge and also more know-how when it comes to surging and digging REALLY deep!
So, that’s that. I’m getting it together. The race schedule is just about set. I’ll post soon – a mix of crits and road races for the rest of the year. Instead of running back to triathlon and being comfortable, I’m going to stick with the challenge and go for it.