Hard to rely on good intentions
It’s been a pretty rough season of cycling and training for me. I didn’t do enough of either and I always had a great excuse (or 10) why. Usually, those excuses came flying out after I made a public declaration of what I hoped to do on a training ride or at a race the next morning … but failed to actually do.
I made those declarations hoping to create some accountability in my good intentions.
It’s hard to rely on my good intentions, when my head’s full of things that I can’t mention.
Hopefully this blog post comes across as an explanation and not just another excuse.
I began the 2010 season with the grandest of intentions. I hired a coach, I followed his training plans as religiously as possible and I was seeing some legitimate progress and results on the power meter and at a couple of early-season races. But as I trained harder and longer, I noticed some lingering pain in one of my ankles. I felt it especially after long runs.
So, after treating it with Ibuprofen for a month or so with little real improvement, I visited a doctor, had it examined, got some x-rays and the early diagnosis was exactly what I did not want to hear — a possible stress fracture in the bone just above the ankle.
My positive mood immediately went into the crapper as I was told to not train for at least two weeks. That turned into four weeks and then some.
Though I was able to swim, I was not able to run. I didn’t ride big rides much and I quickly got a little depressed and discouraged with the situation.
On top of that, there was a lingering sense of impending doom at the office. We had new management — a crew that made no secret of their plans to reinvent the way we were doing business — and everyone in the building was stressed out about it. The Bobs were watching our production, counting beans and most of us knew there was eventually going to be a very bad day where many of us lost our jobs.
Basically, I spent the prime months of the season injured, stressed out, depressed and struggling to motivate myself to follow through on my good intentions.
And that added to the stress and depression. I’m not going to go so far as to say I was clinically depressed, but it wouldn’t surprise me — especially after I lost my job.
In many ways, I felt — and sometimes still do — that no matter how prepared I thought I was, the crap (whether an injury, a lost job or stress at home) was still going to hit me in the face and there wasn’t anything I could do about it.
I’m not afraid things won’t get better, but it feels like this has gone on forever
you have to cry with your own blue tears, have to laugh with your own good cheer
Last week, a friend called me on it. He said it was time for me to just stop with all the public declarations if I wasn’t actually going to get off my butt and follow through. “When shit happens, we can choose to use it as an excuse or choose to HTFU,” he told me.
Last week, I raced the Utah Cyclocross race at the Weber County Fairgrounds and allowed a couple of mishaps to take me out of the race. Rolling up to the start line, my front tire exploded. I switched it out with a neutral wheel and raced anyway but my head was not in it. With three laps to go, my rear wheel was going flat and didn’t have much air in it. I soft pedaled for a couple of laps after having mentally given up.
At the time, I didn’t think much of it because I was just trying to have fun, right? But in the back of my head I knew I didn’t race hard and didn’t give it my best effort.
And that bugged me.
With two races to chose from this week, I could race up City Creek, hit the UTCX at the State Fairpark or chose to not race and just ride up a canyon or two on my own. Thinking some solitude and lots of miles might be therapeutic, I initially decided to do the long solo ride but was persuaded to race instead and I hit the cyclocross event with two of my daughters as spectators.
It was a wise choice.
I wasn’t close to the front of the race. In fact, after another spectacular flat tire — the rear wheel (recently overhauled with a tubeless set up to hopefully avoid continued flat tire issues) exploded with a loud bang that would have made Rose Park gangsters recoil in fear — I was left running the bike on my shoulder back to the wheel pit where I bummed a wheel off the folks from Canyon Bicycles. I was firmly middle of the pack at the time and when I finally got the wheel changed and jumped back into the race I was just way off the back.
Still, I took the HTFU advice to heart and tried to chase one person down at a time. I passed a few, was passed by a few others and crossed the finish line in (officially) second to last place.
But, for a change, I raced.
I had a half lap of discouragement, as usual, but heard my kids screaming for me from their observation point and looked ahead to find the next racer and I chased him down.
In all objective ways my race was anything but a success. But completing it with a hard effort felt miles better than soft-pedaling for the final lap and getting lapped by the field.
Will my little virtual slap to the face from a friend last through the coming weeks and into the off-season? Hard to tell.
But for today, at least, it was a good day to finish (almost) DFL.