Tuesday, March 8, 2011

National XCO 2011 - Adelaide

Well I can’t say I’m happy about my performance at Nationals this year (6th place). In the post-race analysis there’s no one thing I can pinpoint to say “oh that’s what went wrong”, although I am now host to a most unwelcome virus so I can’t discount that as an underlying cause. The prerace week was fine although trying to squeeze 3 days of work in to one Monday was sub-optimal. I arrived in Adelaide a day earlier than usual to avoid the rush of assembling bikes and doing practice laps on the same day. Ok, so I came early for the awesome weather and riding…so shoot me.

Unfortunately, its becoming apparent which areas of my life which don’t support an elite training regime – a physical job, single parenthood. But the biggest difference has been brought to my attention by my new flatmate. At 18 years of age he is a clergyman of cycling – up at 4.30am, riding until lunch, eating, working, sleeping. I calculated he is getting at least a solid 9 hours sleep every night. I’d say I’m averaging about 6…maybe. How do I find an extra three hours in my day? What do I sacrifice? These are all good questions and after two glasses of a surprisingly good merlot, I still have no answers.

Success in anything, I believe, is about balance. Yes an elite cyclists’ life is heavily tilted towards training, but often it’s the other joys in life which give you the drive to keep going when the odds are stacked against you. I once read a journal outlining the psychological differences between male and female athletes. The bottom line was that men derive their sense of self-worth from their athletic performances. In contrast, women needed to feel good about themselves FIRST, then the good performances flowed.

It’s difficult to ride at max-intensity during a race if your head is cataloging all the ways you fell down in your role as a parent, a business owner and a friend. To devote so many resources to an activity you feel a need to justify it to the people who depend on you. To be able to point to a goal and say “that’s where I’m headed” is a way to make sense of the sometimes blinding obsession that is training. When these goals fail to be attained it calls for a reassessment – why am I doing this? Is this worth it? Is this making me a better person?

One of the things which keeps me going is the mornings I drop my daughter to school. I’m always in cycling kit, either post-ergo or pre-ride. They probably assume I don’t own any ‘real’ clothes. Her friends are very quick to ask where I’ve been racing and where I will be riding next. Before I can answer my daughter is already listing my schedule and accolades. She knows her mum is a bit ‘different’ (frequently tired and moody, certainly!), but for her different is a normal way of life and it will hopefully make her world a bit bigger in terms of possibilities.

I also have to mention the messages I receive in response to my blog or facebook. Knowing that what I do or write can have a positive impact on someone is the best thing I could hope for. Thank you for the emails and comments and thanks for reading!