Thursday, September 10, 2015

Stress and Stuff I Learned This Summer

I got to travel with, race with and hang with some pretty cool/inspiring people this summer. People who have been doing this whole bike racing thing a lot longer than me, and who taught me a lot while we were on the road. Of the cool kids I spent August with, I think I learned the most from team director/coach/all around rad person Adam Pulford.

Adam's legs, since I don't have any decent real pictures. 
Of all the lessons I learned from coach AP (and am still learning) about being a bike racer, I think the most important is how to deal with stress.

In the past I have let stress consume me. In college I spent quite a few nights crying myself to sleep over the stress of increasing debt, last fall I spent a lot of energy stressed about sponsorship when Marin folded the Pro XC team, and this summer I stressed about results and decisions like whether I should continue teaching.

What Adam told me time and again was that stress is wasted energy. You either can or cannot do something to change the circumstances, and you have to decide to let it go if there is nothing you can do. Although I know I haven't yet mastered the ability to manage stress perfectly, it's amazing how much I have been applying these life lessons in the past few weeks, and how much different my perspective on life is as a result.

Currently I am struggling with the stresses of understanding who I am and what I should be doing in late fall at the very tail end of the season. It's been a roller coaster ride of a year, and although I am very very happy to have the opportunity to focus entirely on racing, there is always the struggle of finding the sponsorship money to pay for the next season of racing, the little nagging feeling that I should be teaching as everyone else posts their first day of school sentiments on social media, and the three races coming up which involve quite a bit of travel. I'm also learning a lot about how to market myself, leading rides and how to be involved in the cycling community outside racing, which means a lot of stress regarding doing things I've never done before. It's easy for me to get overwhelmed by the possibility of things not working out. I get caught up thinking about how hard it will be, or how I may not be able to afford to make this dream work. What's different now is that I've been doing a better job at letting the negative stress wash over the edge of the thoughts waterfall, and replacing them with the idea that things will work out how they are going to work out. Somehow just reminding myself of that helps me overcome the paralyzing doubt, and I am better able to chip away at looking for sponsorship, signing up to be a substitute teacher, and start positively planning out the off season. It also helps to replace the stress and doubt with the knowledge that I am surrounded by amazing friends, family and existing sponsors who want to see me succeed. What's the point in pursuing my dreams if I don't embrace every aspect of it, from finding support of awesome people and companies to crossing the finish line in first and all the nitty gritty details in between?

And a few pictures from this past week...
More road rides on new Oak Tree lined streets, yes please! Today's ride was cool and scenic, with a hint of fall in the leaves. 
And yesterday's failed mountain bike intervals included some of my favorite views of dense evergreens and golden hills. Can you see the ocean out there? Yep, this place is perfection. 
Turned sister's kitchen upside down and heated the house to about 100 degrees this week processing all her tomatoes and jalapenos. Canning is a full time job I tell you!
The fruits of my labor so far (embarrassingly small haul considering how much time I spent canning, but hey, I'm a beginner!). Tomato sauce, the best salsa ever, and blackberry jam. 

This week is speeding by, time to rest up for my favorite race of the year in my favorite park put on by my favorite people, ANNADEL!!! If you are in NorCal this is a race you shouldn't miss!

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