Coaches note…In my experience it’s the mental grit that drives the physical. It’s a rarity we toe the start line and feel physically invincible the entire race. Endurance events are mental gymnastics, with highs and lows. We fight mentally to pull ourselves up from the low points. I think the races where we mentally have to fight for it, are empowering and provide invaluable confidence. To me they are the most gratifying!
Enjoy the recount and read from Brian…
Wow what a day and race. Overall I really feel good about the race. I found a way to hang in there and put my head down and just keep the pedals turning that last lap which was brutal in the heat. I am super satisfied about being able to grind it out that last lap.
I approached the race just like you recommended by breaking down each segment, and moving on to the next segment. It was easy the first lap. The first lap obviously felt great, it was fun, flowy, fast single track.
The 2nd lap is where I needed to really break it down like you recommended. I know the area and trail system well and broke down the climb into a couple of sections with my eye on the tree line, because that was the mark of the decent. I held back on the intensity and stayed within myself. I felt great!
The start of the 3rd lap, I felt like i was quickly slapped in the face! The heat and sun were tough at this point. I felt strong on most of the first section of the climb through the switchbacks. I was able to gap the group I was with, and they never caught me the rest of the day! I was passing a lot of people at this point – it was carnage everywhere. Any spot of shade there were people lying down, collecting themselves.
I have to admit, it was hard to keep grinding when you are at this point and you see so many people in the shade lying down. I made it to the aid station and was really feeling pretty rough. My heart rate was through the roof and I took in a lot of fluids. I forced myself to sit on my bike in the shade for five minutes to get my heart rate down. During this break I mentally went through the remaining climb, my heart rate came down and I knew I could just keep turning the pedals, repeating, “Don’t stop, I will get to the trees shortly.” Once I got on my bike, I broke down the remaining climb in to sections – 1) Get to the single track, 2) Get to the next ridge 3) Then the next ridge 4) Then one more ridge to the tree line! Mentally it was great for me to do this and I did not have to stop.
I finished strong and had legs to push to the end.
During a race like this, you end up riding with a lot of the same people, they pass you here, you pass them there, you see each other at the aid stations. Well the start of the third lap, I have to tell you I felt great gapping the group with I was riding. I only saw them again in the finish while sharing stories over a beer! I looked at my lap times and my third lap was only 18 minutes slower than my second, which surprised me, I thought I was much slower.
It was gratifying for me to mentally stick with it, and keep grinding. Looking back I am really happy with how I did!
Thanks again Julie, This is fun and I love seeing and feeling the progress, Talk soon