Monday, July 1, 2013

Nerves of Iron?

Once again, its been a few weeks and I haven't posted anything.  Well, I haven't had much to say, I'm sure you haven't missed me much.  Training takes a lot out of you.  Physically of course, waking up at 5:00am or earlier is not easy.   I actually found myself secretly hoping Sunday I would wake at 4:45 am to a torrential downpour, so I could email the crew, and say:  "Hey, bad weather, today's run is canceled" but it was not to be.  The sky was relatively clear, the radar maps were absent any red yellow or white over the area we were to be running, so off we went!

More than the physical toll, its the mental toll of training.  It can be quite difficult to stay focused 7 days a week no matter how determined you are.  I find myself watching videos and YouTube clips of past Kona races, or one of my favorite movies, "Miracle" about the 1980 USA Hockey team that beat the Soviet team and probably the best team in the world at that time.  (Sorry if I spoiled the movie for you).

Nerves... nerves can be a good thing.  Sometimes being nervous makes us perform better, but they can also hurt us.  Two weeks ago, most of you know I was in a nasty bike wreck while training.  Now, I am a fairly good bike handler and I don't get nervous in the pack.  I've been riding for years, and go out of my way to teach and protect our newbie riders in our small but courageous peloton.  The accident wasn't my fault, but that doesn't matter when you are lying on the ground and looking up at your friends, not sure what hurts most.  The looks on the faces of my closest friends, were scary.  Jamie and Kat got to me first, I just motioned that I was OK and to check on the other guy.  When Brad got to me, I could tell he was shaken up too, so I just looked at him and said, "Dude, how's my bike?"  He shook his head as if to say:  "You f@#$%^ lunatic".  Lying on the ground on the Suncoast Trail, a few people stopped to help, or just see if there was anything they could do.  Funny thing I knew them, I'm sure you're not surprised.

Yes I rode in a race the next day, but had to DNF, as my back just tightened up too much to continue after the bike.  I trained the following weekend, but still not 100 percent physically.  This past Saturday, we set out on the Suncoast Trail once again.  We had a great group, and the usual suspects were there and the weather seemed cooperative.  I did find myself a little gun-shy in the pack.  Sure I jumped up to the front, and slid all the way back checking on everyone as I always do.  I did everything I'm supposed to do, but I have to admit the nerves were just a little frayed.  Its not a bad thing, being 110% alert is important when riding in a pace line.  I had a few moments where I reached for the brakes a little too quickly, I didn't ride quite as tight as I normally do.  I was thinking, and yes my mind wandered a few times to the feeling of flying over the handlebars and bouncing off the asphalt.

If I needed anything else to worry about, sure let's add some real nasty weather to this ride.  Thunder lightning, steady downpour, sure why not, we can handle this.  Our fifty-six mile ride took a lot longer than we anticipated.  We stopped to help a fellow cyclist who was stranded without a tube or repair kit.  (OK that is not smart, but I digress) The last eleven miles, something clicked, I was ready to hit hard again.  My back felt good, the weather dried a bit and the crew was ready for action.  We picked up the pace, I just wanted to get back to the car!  As we passed the site of the accident, I have to admit I felt a strange chill, but it was game on.  I got the front at that point, and I was determined to take us home.  I was never so glad as to see that damn parking lot.

When I got to my car, I looked at my phone.  I guess Kari, expected us back a lot earlier too, and with the rain she was worried.  My phone had a few texts, the last one simply said:  "call me".  I wasn't the only one who had some nerves that day.  She's been my medic, my massage therapist, my sherpa, my biggest support.  Have I said how terrific she is?  She's pretty tough too, she has to be to deal with me.  We'll be racing Augusta 70.3 together.  That will prove to be interesting, aside from my own race nerves I will have a few extra that day racing with her, and not being able to see or know where she is.

Nerves of IRON, oh yeah!