Friday, September 13, 2013

Calm Before The Storm

Team H-Burg - Waite, Bishop, and Rugg

There's never a dull moment with my new lifestyle of cycling, trumpeting, and soul-searching.  Rather, there's never a moment where I don't have something I could be doing.  I'm not saying "I'm busy", nor complaining, because I've realized the negative connotation that reflects after reading the Harvard Business Review blog post "Please Stop Complaining About How Busy You Are" by Meredith Fineman.  The humble-brag of being busy can often be interpreted as "I’m busier, more in-demand, more successful."  I'm not busy.  I have just been aware of how much time I have and that there are so many things I can do to fill my time, and me being terrible at being lazy I resort to doing different things almost constantly.  That's what I mean.

Another good read this morning when you are done reading that HBR article... Wait,  let me say one more thing about that before I move on.  The article misses a notion I think is relative to a lot of people I know.  I believe a lot of people say they are busy because they realize what they can't do, what they want to do, because of what they are currently doing.  So really these people should just be saying, "I'm distracted right now."  In the realm of training to be a world-class athlete, it's very easy to get distracted since everything you do, absolutely everything, has to be considered.  In the pursuit of fractional gains and small percentage improvements of fitness and growing more importantly every day, social media presence - everything has to be considered.  I just got overwhelmed with thoughts of the meals I need to eat for the rest of the day, the training I need to complete, the overdue blogpost, the bike maintenance I need to perform before this weekend's cyclocross races, the outreach to pro teams I need to make, the medical bills I need to manage, the trumpet practice schedule I need to write to optimize my training on the horn when I'm not training on the bike.  There's more.  There's always more.  I'm not busy, but it's very easy to get distracted.

That other good read I was talking about, right.  Over on Kevin Cross's blog he writes about the uncontrollable desire to ride hard, even when you don't have to.  To clarify, I don't mean he feels like he has to train.  But he rides hard because he wants to feel the effort that takes him to that familiar place. Sure, the setting sunset, deer that line rock creek park, and the summer fleeting breeze are all things that we tell ourselves are what we ride for.  But it's not.  Those things are fine and all but we really only use these experiences to explain to "non-cyclists" why we ride so much to excuse ourselves from being masochists or suffering from addiction.  I ride, and Kevin rides, for the effort.  We ride for that feeling that makes us feel everything.  We ride hard to remember where we've been, where we are, and where we want to be.  The effort makes us feel like we are home and completely in control.  It's actually pretty simple and only something that "cyclists" understand.

I got on my bike for the first time in ten days after feeling the wrath of Campylobacter Jejuni in my GI tract.  Food poisoning.  Doing my own detective work I imagine I contracted this bacteria while training in the rain on one of the farm roads around Harrisonburg.  This kind of food poisoning is usually contracted from animal feces.  So my breakdown has me riding in the rain, kicking up some cow poop run-off from my tires onto my water bottle nipple, and then taking a swig unknowingly while training, ending five weeks of intense training and not having a result to show for the effort.  Today's my last day of a 5-day probiotic pill regimen and although my insides are still in a twist, the realization I won't get another chance to prove myself on the road for 5-6 months is the hardest pill to swallow and is causing me the most discomfort.

But like Kevin, I found comfort in the effort when I rode Wednesday with Jeremiah Bishop and Nick Waite.  Despite not riding in some time, the 10 pound lighter and super rested (muscularly at least) version of me, made for a day of proving to myself and reminding myself where I had was, where I am now, and where I am going.  I'm not good at easing into anything and went for it on the 211 climb from New Market named "Super Lee".  I surprised myself and set the Strava KOM with a vertical ascent measure above 1400 and a climb averaging 6.9% gradient and 5.9km in distance.  Season is already over and that effort to most seems pointless giving that I'm not even supposed to be training yet.  It's the off-season!  But I needed that effort.  I needed to know I was okay and that my mind was strong and could handle it.  Sometimes the efforts that don't matter or lead to a goal, the ones you can't quantify or qualify, are the ones that matter the most.  With all the distractions I have going on I couldn't be more ready to focus on the training and goals that take me from the coffee shop I am sitting in write now, to the top step of the podium at an NRC race next year.

Calm before the storm.

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