How do you push through fatigue? How do you keep yourself from getting discouraged when you have a really hard workout? How do you not lose sight of the end goal, while remaining present in what you’re doing right this very minute?
One of my problems is that I’m an over-thinker. I think of all the things that can possibly go wrong – what if this? What if that? How can I (fill in the blank)? It’s constant. I’m a worse case scenario planner. This is sometimes good. But it is a lot of the time bad.
My sister sent me a text the other day to check in with me and see how I was feeling about my Iron Cowboy training. Mostly I feel good. But there are always those nagging things. The “what ifs” that plague my brain. She mentioned that the important part was to go ahead and think about those worst case scenarios like I tend to do and make a plan for how to handle them, then don’t spend any more energy on them.
Well, now. That’s the hard part, isn’t it? The not spending anymore energy on it.
So, here I am. Following my smart sister’s instruction during my workouts. And blogging about it.
Yesterday I left work early because we were having some computer problems. It was a waste of my time and a waste of the company’s money for me to piddle around trying to look busy, so I played hookie for a couple of hours. It was supposed to be a weight training day, but it was far too beautiful outside to be stuck inside. So I went for a bike ride.
I hit the Katy Trail and unloaded my bike. A guy pulled up on his bike next to my truck. He asked if I was just getting on the trail or just getting off. I told him I had just arrived. He asked which direction I was going. I told him West. He said, “Oh, there’s a hell of a headwind coming back from that direction. I was so fatigued on my ride back.”
Because I’m Judgy McJudgerton, I looked at him in his JEANS and thanked him for letting me know. Then I headed West. Just like I had planned. The scenery is WAY better going West than East. It more closely follows the river and I prefer it. It’s worth a little bit of a headwind to be next to the river. As I got my Stingers loaded in my bike pouch and got my garmin ready to track my ride I noticed a curious LACK of a breeze for something that was supposed to be “a hell of a headwind.” The trees weren’t moving at all. So off I went.
I had planned on a twenty mile round trip and settled into a leisurely warmup. Temps in the low 70s. Lots of folks out on the trail. Peaceful. It was shaping up to be a glorious ride. The bike felt good. Of course, I took my comfy bike, not the torture chamber that I’ve been doing my normal training on. The trail flew by.
About six miles in I began to ponder the differences in the two bikes. Why was it that having the comfortable seat made it feel so much easier. I felt like I was flying. I felt like I was barely pedaling. I looked at my Garmin. 15.3 miles per hour. WHAT? It was easy AND I was going 15.3 miles per hour. Something seemed….off.
I got thinking about that headwind that Parking Lot guy had told me about. I went another couple of miles. Still in the 15+ mph range. Still easily. Still feeling like I was flying. So I stopped for water and a snack. I left work so abruptly that I hadn’t had my mid afternoon snack and I was really noticing my hunger. I stood there on the trail eating my Stinger and sipping on water and paying attention to the wind. Or I should say the LACK of wind. The trees were not moving. They were NOT moving! I could feel no breeze on my face. No wind in my hair. Nothing. Nothing but stillness.
I finished off the remaining two miles to my turn around point. Took a potty break. Felt the air – the eerie lack of air. Took another sip of water and headed back down the trail.
Um. What is this? HARD! I wasn’t even a quarter mile into my return trip when the wind hit me in the face like a ton of bricks. It was so bizarre that I stopped my bike. Just stood there straddling my bike to feel NO BREEZE!! There was no breeze! Back on the bike. HEADWIND!
What the fuck, Katy Trail!?!?
I have never experienced something like that. I continued riding along. Changed my gear to make the pedaling easier. Checked my speed. 11.2. And I was pedaling hard, even in the easier gear. I told myself that I wasn’t stopping again until I hit the halfway return point. Raise the gear. Lower the gear. Raise the gear. Lower the gear. Trying to find a place that did not feel brutal. 11.5 miles per hour. Pedaling hard. Feeling VERY thankful to be on the comfy bike. Continue to adjust gears up and down as needed to control my fatigue and weird frustration with the headwind that wasn’t.
I hit my planned stopping spot. Finished the rest of my Stinger. Finished the water in my bottle. Cursed at the ridiculous lack of a breeze. Continued on the last leg of my journey.
A mile and a half away from the parking lot and I commented out loud (to no one there). “Man. I am tired!” Then I responded out loud to myself (a sure sign of senility), “Then pretend you’re not.”
I kicked my gear to a tougher setting, pedaled a little bit harder, fought the non-existent headwind that had been tormenting me, and finished my ride strong. Not 15 mph strong, but not 11 mph strong, either. Somewhere in the middle strong.
Having lived in Utah for a number of years, I know how the winds can be. Thinking of the part of Utah where my bike portion will be, I have a good idea of what I can expect. Having dealt with the stupid headwind yesterday, I know that whatever Utah throws at me probably won’t be much worse.
Am I still a little nervous about my bike leg of my race? Truthfully, yes. But I know how to pretend I’m not.