As you could probably tell I was on cloud 9 last weekend as a result of winning that road race and eating incredible nachos (I have thought about those nachos almost non-stop since last Sat). Then, I had a rest week. A full week of just commuting, core, and work. Sounds nice, right? Post rest week, this morning, coach gave me a pretty tough workout, the kind that I get a little anxious about the day before. I rode out to Harding Truck Trail feeling hopeful that all the rest I have been doing would make me super fast, and then promptly failed epically at meeting my power numbers. By the third 20 minute interval I was in tears. It hurt, I felt weak, I could not for the life of me go hard enough to stay in the right zone, and I basically just felt like a failure. After a little time went by I checked my attitude, put a smile back on my face, descended Harding and headed home. I'm not proud of the fact that I am the kind of person who could possibly cry as a result of failing a workout, but the emotions, they are just there, a bit out of my control sometimes.
One of the craziest things about elite bike racing is the vast range of emotions I experience on a daily/seasonal basis. Winning a race, killing a hard workout, being acknowledged by someone you look up to for your performance all make me smile-till-my-cheeks-hurt happy, that feeling that all the hard work and sacrifice has paid off, and that yes, you really do belong here, and those sacrifices were worth it. I used to be so overwhelmed with these emotions I would cry like a baby at the finish line (collegiate road nats 2009 after the road race I sobbed). Then there's the flip side, the almost crippling doubt, insecurity and disappointment when I finish a race poorly, bomb a workout (like today) or get dropped by a sponsor. These experiences make me wonder what I am doing spending so much time and energy on a hobby, if I should be doing something more meaningful with my life, if I am really good enough to be throwing myself at racing full force.
I know that I am not the slowest human being on the planet, but it can be incredibly frustrating to fail at something you feel should be completely possible. That along with the fact that I have reined myself in all week, gave up Tues and Weds night mountain bike rides and live a life of 8pm bedtimes and countless other sacrifices to do this hobby well, kinda makes the failure sting a little more. The incredible thing about mountain biking though, is that it has taught me to deal with these failures. Pretty soon after my meltdown today I was able to shake it off, to remember that the sun was still out, I was on a bike and that I am healthy. Sure I was bummed for a while, but tomorrow is a new day, and I know that expecting 100% perfection in my riding is a ridiculous thought. Just as the high of winning Boulevard faded as the work week began, and as I can hardly remember the disappointing workouts of the past, this one too will pass.
And that's the story about the steady state intervals from hell, and a sorta crappy start to the weekend.