Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Racing to finish

Amazing how fast the downward spiral can arrive. One minute I am taking a solid and earned 2nd place.....the next.... I am taking a DNF and feeling like I never want to ride again. To describe my last 4 races as an emotional roller coaster would be an understatement.

This past Sunday I was ready to throw in the towel. Done. No more races. Because while I love to ride, I don't like feeling miserable while I am riding. To make things worse....toss in the face that I was feeling miserable during a race...while getting crushed....and the mind starts spinning out of control. I have experienced this spiral in my last three races. Not so much at Glacial Hills, but surely at the Big M race (where I bailed after 1 lap) and then again Sunday at Maybury. Done. Mentally being done is harder than physically being done. If you are physically done you can convince yourself to keep pedaling. You can focus on the positives and just keep the drive to get across that finish line. If you mentally check out.....you suffer more. The more you suffer and the more you struggle the worse it gets until you find yourself talking about picking up yard darts and corn hole as your favorite sport.

At Big M, I physically felt awful. I was making the grind up a long climb and my legs just quit. I mentally could not tell them to "shut up" or to "just keep spinning" because mentally I wasn't really there. So when my legs left on vacation, my mind was on the next flight. I was so checked out that I was ready to bail about 3 miles in. Maybe sooner. Normally I have the ability to block that out...ride past the legs quitting....and end up finishing the race. At the TK Lawless race I felt good. No doubt. That race went well. At Big M I didn't feel great....and the race ended with a DNF. Mentally, I checked out...so physically I had to be done.

At Glacial Hills I was doing alright at the start. As a mental boost I was able to keep riders in sight on the initial climb. That boost kept me going for the most part, but I do remember getting that "checked out" feeling about 7 miles in. Then I reached the end of the first lap and mentally I was doing better. The hills still hurt, but I was able to power up more of them and I was able to keep going the entire race. Mental win.

At Maybury it was humid...and mentally....I was already fading. Then less than a few miles in and the train of guys passing....mentally I started to question everything again. The course at Maybury isn't hard. It is a solid course. But when you start to check out....the course is instantly harder. I know I had some lingering thoughts about KC's crash. But I did my best to squash those thoughts because they can actually cause a crash. I just finished. Crushed by a field of stronger riders...but blaming myself. Why....well....here is the truth.....it is my fault.

Mentally I may be checking out....but there is a reason I am checking out. Last year I was a stronger rider. I weighed less. I was mentally tough. I am still that person, but I am heavier and haven't put as many miles in so I am not as strong. Weaker+heaver= lower mental toughness. These things are all part of the same equation. The variable....is me. That old adage of "I am my own worst enemy" or "i see my enemy every time I look in the mirror" holds true. I am truly my own worst enemy. I started to think about what I ate before each of these last 4 races. Eating clean before TK I felt good. Eating not clean before Big M and Maybury. Huge difference in how I felt on the bike. Hands down, I don't take very good care of myself. I know I need to. I know how to. I know what I need to do to be healthy. I am not really content with being a DFL finisher and getting crushed by people I used to compete with.

I either invest in myself....or I just race to finish.

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