Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Marathon Nationals and Disappointment

I couldn't sleep last night. Every time I shut my eyes my mind fixated on Sunday's marathon nationals race, what I did wrong, what I could have done differently and how bitter the disappointment of coming home without a jersey and title felt. My heart was pounding like it does during intense workouts and races, and at one point I felt like I was having a panic attack. As hard as I tried to think about something else my stubborn mind kept coming back to the details of the race.
I've dealt with disappointment before, with sub excellent race results or failed workouts, and I know there will be many more disappointments in the future, but this one has been especially hard to swallow.
Arkansas is beautiful, I can see why they call it the natural state. 

I flew to Arkansas on Friday morning feeling confident, calm, relaxed. I knew the course wasn't the best relative to my strengths, but I had faith in the training I had done, in the plan my coach laid out and in the fitness we had built. On Saturday morning I pre-rode the course, a 21 mile 'loop' of mostly narrow, rocky, flowy fun singletrack with a few short climbs. I felt good about the terrain, comfortable on my bike and confident that I could make the course work to my advantage.
Sunday morning Menso and I rolled to the course early, I did my warm up and arrived at the start still feeling good.

Lots of rocks in Arkansas. I loved it. The trails were pure mtb bliss. 
Here's where I get weird. I wrote a whole big thing, a play by play of the race. And sitting here looking at it I feel confused. I am frustrated and angry and bummed, but I don't know if saying the things about the people involved is the right thing to do. Long story short, instead of getting to race my own race, to go as fast as I am personally capable, another racer decided that blocking me (riding me off the trail, into trees and rocks, over and over) was a better strategy than just being faster than me. I don't know if that's just life, or a shitty approach to racing, or reasonable since she wanted to win too. All I know is that it sucked. It really fucking sucked and as a result of spending the whole second lap trying in vain to pass, and thinking about how I could pass her, I wasn't eating or drinking. All the accelerations from failed passes and 2 hours of racing with no food and very little to drink did me in, and 5 miles before the finish I came unglued emotionally and physically. I cracked so hard I almost quit (if it wasn't for sponsors and Brendan I would have ridden off the course and never looked back).

And that's the scenario keeping me up at night. If I had just sat in and drank/eaten a bunch I could have stayed with her and tried to out-sprint her. I should have been smarter. I should have thought it through. If I had only...
It sucks so bad to feel so confident about something, to feel like the race is yours, and then to come home empty handed. To think about how things would have played out if there had been a fire road to pass on, or someone had seen the shady behavior to corroborate what I experienced (I think the technical rule is you aren't supposed to block others).
But a wise woman once told me that you will have more losses than wins in your career, so knowing how to deal with defeat is far greater than knowing how to deal with a win. I'm still processing it all, feeling the emotions, letting myself feel the pain and disappointment, and hoping that I learn something from this that makes all this unhappiness meaningful.
In the mean time, I'm on a rest week, licking my wounds and doing my best to keep looking forward.

We flew home so fast after the race that I had to get on the plane still dirty from racing :)


  1. Ugh! That sucks!! Sounds like you are handling it the only healthy way; trying to grow and learn from the experience. Still sucks though😖.

  2. Chinup! There will be time to pay it back by crushing her legs. Lesson well learned I suspect. Thanks for the stories.

  3. Larissa,
    I'm sorry you had a disappointing race. I know what that feels like. I also know what it feels like to finish the first race of the season with a broken leg; and to be without the opportunity to race a large portion of the season or defend a title that I have earned for the past 4 years. Wounds sting and it's ok to lick them as much as is needed; but in the end it can usually be worse, and we can't often be grateful enough. These lessons are tough, and it seems life never gets easier. My hope is that we can gain something to make us better in whatever way possible, and use it as tool to navigate the next blow. All my best to you the rest of the year. Just remember, no one else remembers the result...results are not why you are so loved by everyone!

  4. There's no such thing as failure, only learning. It sucks to learn things that hard way. It sounds like you learned a valuable lesson, that you might not have learned any other way. Take this time to put life back into perspective. And, remember, we don't love you because you win, we all love you because you're a winner!

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