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June 23, 2005

The body and spirit are weak

This morning I got up at 4:30am to ride with a group of guys at 5am. I got to the start point and met 4 other guys. We took off and were going at a pretty good pace and I felt ok. Until about 7 miles into the ride when we hit the first of two big hills in a row. I fell back because I couldn't maintain their pace up the hill and my lungs were working hard and my legs had no energy. Then one guy dropped backed and helped me catch up to the group. Then we hit the second big hill and I looked down at my speedometer. It read 15mph. I was dying. I kept that pace and they still flew up the hill, increasing the gap between us. When I got to the top, my lungs were heaving and my legs were jello. Nine miles into the ride at an average speed of 19.5mph, I called it quits for the morning.
Do you know what was going through my mind? I didn't want to quit. but I didn't want to keep going. Then I wanted to quit but then I told myself, 'no pain no gain.' I didn't feel like a cyclist this morning. I felt like a quitter.
My wife was surprised I was home so soon, and I told her all about the ride. She asked me what I was going to do about it. After thinking about it, my answer wasnt' to quit training, but to do more hill training and throw in more sprinting training, and change my sleep patterns to get up earlier in the morning and go to bed earlier.
I dropped out of the ride this morning feeling a little critical of myself, but for me this doesn't mean give up, it means retreat, regroup and attack at dawn.

Posted by carl1236 at June 23, 2005 6:50 AM | Attitude

Comments

Don't sweat it, John. Bodies go through cycles and you're probably just on a down one right now. Tomorrow or the next day you'll be right back up there.

If it lasts a while you might check with the doctor, but...

In the meantime, how's your bike? Is it all tuned up?

Posted by: nathan at June 23, 2005 9:23 AM

19.5 MPH? For nine miles? That's nothing to sneeze at right there. Some of us just ain't genetically capable of certain athletic achievements.

Posted by: Michael at June 23, 2005 9:58 AM

Thanks Nathan. Michael I totally hear what you are saying, which was actually two things: 1. I've come a LONG way from the inactive person I was just over a year ago. I recognize this and appreciate the distance I've already come. It's totally cool and feels good! I remember last June when I was just breaking through the 16-18mph barrier. I thought that was fast for me. It was. My goals keep getting higher, but I still remember where I started. 2. 'genetically capable' I've thought about this a lot over the last year. How tied are we to our genetics? I don't know. I may never have the oxygen processing capabilities of an olympic athlete or Tour de France rider. But how far can I go? I don't know. I seem to be hitting a limit now and unless I change what I'm doing I may be stuck at this level. I've also thought about what it means if I admit that my body is not cut out for bike racing. Would I stop trying to push my boundaries? Over this past year of cycling, I've been battling with my lungs to keep up with my legs. That still seems to be an issue. But I know that at one time when I was 18 I was able to run a 10:24 two mile. That's still not olympic quality or even fast enough to win some of the local running races here, but it's pretty fast in my eyes. But then I smoked for 15 plus years and drank too much alcohol and coffee and had a crappy diet. What did that do to my natural genetic abilities? Probably wasted whatever gifts I've been given. So I don't know, I've already told myself that one year is not enough to know what I'm capable of. I think a few more years of athletics should be a better indicator. Then what does it mean? My purpose really isn't to compete with other people, but with myself. So how can I do that if I tell myself I don't have the genetic makeup for higher levels of performance? I really am wishy-washy about all of this and often run the risk of being too critical of myself. What I'm trying to do at age 42 is something I never would have dreamed about when I was younger. It's a total lifestyle change, which includes much more than bike racing. Now that I've given up my car, I also deal with issues related to energy and advanced planning and preparation. I don't know if I have the genetic makeup for going beyond any certain measure with athleticism. I'm willing to admit that I have limits, but I don't want to let myself think that genetic ability or lack of it should limit my efforts to push my boundaries.
I might start focusing more on hill climbing and increasing my running to improve my lung capacity and oxygen processing.
Well, that is if I don't demoralize myself in the process, haha. That's another risk. And why I have to re-evaluate how I'm training, sleeping and eating.
I remember when I was 18 and in the army, making fun of this one guy who was a little older, heavier and shorter than me because he was out working his butt off trying to prepare for some running races. He was really into it, yet I hardly worked at it and still ran faster times than he did. I regret how I felt about him now. I should have honored him for what he was going through instead of mocking him. Now I'm experiencing what he was going through and understand.
Tomorrow morning I'm skipping the group ride and doing hills!

Posted by: John at June 23, 2005 11:52 AM

Youth is wasted on the young.

Posted by: nathan at June 23, 2005 1:03 PM

John, I certainly wouldn't use genetics as an excuse not to keep pushing, just as an excuse not to feel bad if some group of guys is able to drop you. They may have also been riding steady and hard for years... how we live does affect our ongoing development, after all--and that's very true when it comes to training the muscles to do the right thing around metabolizing energy sources and the like. Still, I'm impressed. I wish I could hammer that fast. :)

Posted by: Michael at June 23, 2005 1:35 PM