Thursday, December 11, 2008

Duality of a compeditor, sir or...:How I learned to stop racing and love the ride

(first off, if you got that double movie quote in my title, congrats we are both nerds and yippee)

I am writing about the awfully wonderful duality complex I have in me with regards to working out. There are tons of things that in my athletic world that create a push-pull in my brain- want to be stronger but need to rest, want to do everything but have to give some things up, I obsessively watch my calories but need energy for workouts, I'm excited by the big picture but need to focus on the small things. AAHHHH! Why cant I do it all?
This post is more of a physiological acceptance session for me than informational. Maybe you can get something out of it...I hope I can.

Tuesday night was my return to the dirt derby. I said going in to it I was going to ride and not race. I'm pretty good at saying things like this but not really great at following through. I know my evil competitor side. I know that when they say "go", my pedal will be pushed down hard and I will explode to get to the front of the pack. I know that if someone passes me, my mouth will water, my hands will sweat, and I will subconsciously increase my power. I know how I am and I don't make apologies for it- honestly, I cant help it most of the time.

Tuesday night I did not need to release any demons. It was my first time back on the bike for a real ride and if I fell, I could be back on the injured list, sporting my sling for another month or more. The course was crumbly from lack of rain and the winds were willing to make me take flight whether I wanted to or not. I rode a short little bit in the parking lot to make sure that bumps and turns would not hurt my shoulder. It was fine so I paid my $5 and bundled up against the increasingly cold weather. I did a bit of riding around to warm up and tried to convince myself to "just ride...just ride" but when my practical side fights against my competitor side, the outcome isn't always pretty.

I finished watching Greg rip up his cyclocross race and began to feel my blood pumping for mine. Seriously, I think I'm worse than a crack addict at times with this. I rolled to the line, joked with the other women, but when Stack called us to the front for the start, a switch in my head was turned on that I had little control over. "Go"- I was out in front, pushing it hard because that is my favorite part of the race, up and over the hills, around the dirt, a little too fast at some places, a little too shaky at other. Then my back tire fish tailed a bit and I was jolted back to reality of being in injury recovery. Good brain won out for a bit here- I held up and let the girl behind me pass. I figured that would do it and I'd be good but no go- my perfect angle halo was no where to be found- I felt myself start to race again after a few miliseconds. I fishtailed again. I took a deep breath and accepted what I was about to do the best I could- I let the other girls go past me. Racer Me was not happy at all- Smart Me understood what I needed to do. Racer Me was pissed, really pissed at the situation and fought Smart Me most of the rest of the race. Those two just cant see to get along some times!

I beat myself up for it at times when I'd see the girls in front of me because I knew I should be up there easily then I'd feel ok for a few seconds and accept why I was back of the pack. It still made me mad. I'm stubborn. I thought about stopping after the first lap and then again after the second. I would be stopping for the wrong reasons though. Stopping because of injury or a technical is one thing, stopping just because I'm not doing as well as I think I should is not my style. The pissy party was joyfully ended when Greg rolled up to the side of the course and aksed how I was doing. When I answered, "I'm slow and this sucks!". He reminded me that I was on the bike- a position I had worked hard to get back to after my crash. His words reminded me how I love the feel of the pedals and everything else that goes along with riding. He reminded me that I was lucky to even be able to get back on the bike after such a short time. I smiled and enjoyed the ride.

The wind picked up and there were a couple of moments I didnt feel secure in the dirt. I slowed it down and decided to work on some of my technical skills in turning and holding my line. When the race ended, I made 3rd out of 4 women but I did the whole race and stuck it out, even when there were arguments in my head.

Most people bailed after my race ended. The wind got even harsher and the dust was wicked. The temp also dropped really quickly and moisture was in the air. Greg went to the line with 4 other guys. I stayed outside for the first two laps to cheer him on and he was killing it but his race was cut short by rain/sleet coming down from the Texas sky. We're not use to that much here in the Lone Star State. He wanted to keep racing and make it more epic than it had already been. I loaded up the truck with my bike and we made it back to home as quickly and safely as possible.

So to end this post, I'll say I'm trying. I'm trying to take it slow, to respect the injury, and to take a deep breath when Racer Me yells a bit too loudly. I'm trying....


texastutt said...

Oh, man I just stayed away from the racing, I knew my "just ride" would have lost real bad. I think in order to race well you have to be wired the way you are. Be careful, second injuries sometimes are worse than the first if you don't let it heal. My orthopedic surgeon is giving me heck and I'm taking it sort of easy.

Triguru said...

Wow Colleen, I think you and I stand to learn a lot from each other! We are so much alike in our need/desire to constantly push harder and faster, we seem to be fighting the same demons. I would have been feeling much the same way out there! Good luck with your continued recovery and thanks for sharing!!