Thursday, December 27, 2012

An Athletes Christmas

With all the serious racing done and dusted by early December one would think the festive season would be a time we can let our hair down a little.  Well yes…and no.  The powers-that-be have deemed the first two months of the new year appropriate to hold the most important races on the domestic calendar – the National MTB and Road Race titles. 

This effectively kills any plans of a no-holds-barred assault on the liquor cabinet and for this I am thankful, eventually.  Having had, shall we say, an interesting relationship with booze in a previous life I’ve been super-sensitive to my drinking habits and the habits of those surrounding me.  The best on-bike performance of my career was preceded by 3 alcohol-free months.  In retrospect I can’t say if it was the physical effects of abstaining that improved performance or that I was obviously highly motivated to take such a vow and this was reflected in my training.  My attitude over the last couple of years has mellowed and I have adopted the maxim that if there are more alcohol-free days in my week than days of indulgence, I’m all good.  Health guidelines advise that any more than 4 standard drinks is officially a binge and let me tell you that’s not nearly as much red wine as you would think!  A recent article I read in a reputable newspaper (is there any such thing any more??) said doctors do not know of a more beneficial medicine than red wine in terms of antioxidants, but more importantly it is the social act of drinking with friends that also affords a benefit to a person’s mental health.  So don’t drink alone okay?  And no, the dog doesn’t count as company.

The upside to doing a bazillion training miles as part of my ‘base building’ phase is the inability to put on weight or to even maintain what I have.  In the last month I’ve watched the small suggestion of cleavage I had disappear to leave me with the chest of a 10 year old boy.  Nicely balanced with the fact my ass has gone the other way due to muscles accumulated from many mountain ascents and I am reminded that I don’t do this sport for the stunning physique it affords.  Suffering eating-fatigue I was relieved to see a notable absence of bananas, gluten free bread and spinach at the Christmas spread.  As my ex-husband and his brother are chefs I have never been expected to hold the festive banquet but am allowed to bring a salad which everyone pretends to enjoy.  This year involved the consumption of seven different animals: chicken, turkey, duck, beef, octopus, scallops and prawns.  Not bad for a former vegetarian.

For the first time in many years I gave myself Christmas Day off training.  I hope none of my coaching clients are reading this after my “it’s just another day” speech!  The reason for doing this is for the sake of my long-suffering family who put up with my fatigue and grumpiness for 364 days of the year.  I just wanted to wake up on Christmas Day and be able to spend every hour with family and friends and reflecting on how much they mean to me and how much less my life would be without them.  And I wanted to do this while NOT wearing lycra.  Sponsors are great and all, but it’s friends and family that really make all my adventures possible.

After turning it over in my mind I really couldn’t find a great reason to do Road Nationals in Ballarat so my next big race will be the Australian MTB Championships in Canberra, late February.  I also decided against the ‘new and improved – mark 2’ MTB National Series for many reasons which I won’t go in to here but if anyone would like my honest opinion I will certainly give it, as always.

Have a safe and happy New Year!