Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Five weeks to go. NO pressure!

When Casey Parks of the Orgonian intereviewed me a couple of weeks ago, she told me her editor had voiced some concern that
I might feel too much pressure as a result of the publicity. I told her I didn't think I would, because I believed I was doing it more out of a sense of curiosity than out of a need to prove anything: I really just wanted to see if I could do it. That, and the conviction that I would feel better physically as a result of the continuous workouts. The 80-80-8 was not so much a goal as a mnemonic; something to help me focus.

Last week, though, I felt some pressure from time to time, as I recognized the inflexibility of the deadline, and the lack of progress I was making. For all my rationalizations, I knew I would feel a lot better of I met the goal (okay, I said it wasn't a goal; so sue me!) than if I didn't. A couple of nights I didn't sleep too well, thinking about it. Especially the nights before the Banks-Vernonia ride, and before yesterday's ride. Too much uncertainty about my performance.

But after yesterday's successful ride and the training plan that came out of, it, my confidence zoomed. Sure, lots can still go wrong between now and Sept 28, but for the first time the goal seems eminently within my reach.

I've learned so much in the past months, thanks largely to the incredibly valuable and generous suggestions and coaching from friends, family, and strangers. Thanks to them I realize the importance of -- and a good deal about the management of -- hydration, fueling, replenishment nourishment, rest and recovery, and pacing, just to mention the areas that come to mind.

And from my own experience I have learned that every ride is different, and every part of every ride is different, so the whole time I'm riding I have to be tuned into my body at the same time as I am browsing through my data bank of experience. Yesterday, for instance, it took me ten miles -- about an hour -- to warm up; before that I didn't know whether I was going to have the stamina to finish strong. But after ten miles I began to feel like I was cruising -- like I could do it all day. When I stopped after 20.6 miles I felt a little tired, and when I climbed on my bike after my nine-minute rest, I felt a bit stiff, and anxious about the 7 or 8 miles that lay ahead of me. But 3 or 4 miles further in, I felt positively frisky. Remembering that Leslie had coached me to let it all hang out in the final stretch, I started pouring it on, and, to my surprise, felt stronger and stronger as I approached the finish line. At each stage of the ride, I compared my sensations to my earlier experiences, and acted accordingly.

So, going forward, I'm going to look at each ride as an exploration of a new experience. And that attitude, I believe, is going to keep the pressure at bay.

Yes, plenty can still go wrong, but lots will clearly go right. The odds, for the first time, feel like they are heavily in my favor.

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