Like clockwork every year around this time (late October, early November) I start to get that feeling of slipping. The legs get mushy, the motivation wanes a bit and what should be a normal upward trajectory starts to slip. This year, the pattern is back but there's a slight irony....I feel really pretty good!
The last few weekends (week 6, 7 and 8 of racing for me) had some fantastic races and classic venues: Cross of the North, Without Limits Xilinx, Schoolyard Cross, Feedback Cup, Interlocken and Blue Sky Cup Xilinx. Also, the 35 Open men this part of the schedule are racing combined with the Elite men for 60 min which has been interesting (in a good way).
My pattern over these races was like Agon Interruptus:
Cross of the North: Felt great top 10
Xilinx 1: DNF slashed sidewall
Schoolyard: DNF slashed sidewall
Feedback: Felt great top 10
Interlocken: Taken out at start DNF
Blue Sky: Took myself out at start DNF
The monkey has its claws deeply dug in my back. My tendency is to get heady, depressed, unfulfilled, pissed and questioning everything. I'm pretty good at not casting blame, but still get overly emotional and bitter that I could not represent. And so, maybe it's a function of me finally maturing as I'm seeing some grey hairs: I fight those instincts and if I can grab another bike and stay in the race, I stay in...and train, represent myself as best as I possibly can and show my Boulder Junior Cycling kids I coach that the sport is bigger than me and us...
So, to this hard re-boot. I consider it like a mental enema. I am going to take the time to purge the bad thoughts and go enjoy this crazy good weather we have here. My early mornings now that the sun is up at 5:45 are spectacular. Peaceful. Battery-recharging. We have November and December to push, show results and prepare for Nationals. Something I am incredibly excited about as I'm playing a role helping the committee here in town dial in all the preparations. We want this to be like the '99 Nationals (combined with a Super Cup that year!) in San Francisco which if you were there, was an all time favorite. This will be better!
On to my Juniors. What to say???! They are true students of the sport. Hungry for more info on what goes down in Belgium every weekend. Who the riders are, the bikes they ride the courses they ride on. Having the internet is an amazing thing at this time period of our sport. In the 80's and 90's, we had to wait for our magazine subscriptions to show up to look at the still pictures of our (then) helmet-less heroes. By the late 90's we could get VCR tapes, in the 00's bootlegged DVDs of cross races and now, absolutely clear, HD images LIVE of the races in Belgium as they're happening. Insane. Real-time education for our kids.
Aiden and Seamus have been rock solid. Loving the game. Great results for their little growing selves. They love their teammates and it's like seeing a tribe grow and gel together. They love it and it's extremely satisfying to see. Tempering ALL of this though...results, training, racing, competition, is very hard. We all play a role in helping the kids STEP BACK and away from the variables that can cause them to start to become disheartened or, even worse, regretting they are in the sport. Their bodies are changing fast. We're seeing kids...and I mean VISUALLY seeing kids...grow and go through these radical growth spurts. Shin-bones, hands, arms, feet all growing. Moodiness, etc. It all can effect their minds, performance and moods. We as coaches need to keep them focused on the prize. No, not Nationals, no not racing...it's their fun, flow and individual 'success'.
Re-set, re-focus. On to the rest of November.