Wednesday, July 22, 2015

On the Tour little things add up…..

At times I felt busted, broke down and sort of lost in the desert.....
Disclaimer Time: I have been seeing some thoughtful comments on my ideas/posts, both here and on Facebook. 

So it’s time for the ol disclaimers:
  • If it doesn’t fit don’t wear it.
  • If there truly was one best way everyone would be using the same exact gear and following the same exact race strategies etc etc.
  • Just because it’s used by some fast racers doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you.(see #1)
  • Lots of great ideas come from newbies, veterans, and other venues, if it fits wear it…..
  • Ha, I reserve the right to change my mind about what’s good or not, what works or doesn’t with regards to the TDR and life in general…..

My 2015 TDR is quickly fading into the past.  Now my ribs barely hurt when I take a deep deep breath, I can sleep on both sides, hard upper body moves on single track don’t hurt and I no longer wake up from TDR dreams……..

And I want to start writing a more traditional ‘day by day’, blow by blow description of my TDR before my memories fade much more.  But before I go there I want to finish my thoughts on mental aspects of the TDR.

First I suspect many will approach the mental aspects of the TDR from a totally different angle.  Others will think along the same lines I do but substitute key words or have slightly different emphasis.  Hence my disclaimer #1—if it doesn’t fit don’t wear it…..

My experience tells me the truly ‘hard’ mental part of the TDR is being disciplined or consistent in these four areas:

  1. Don’t over or under sleep
  2. Don’t stop more than absolutely necessary
  3. When stopped don’t waste time
  4. When riding maintain appropriate pace
For me personally, the biggest ‘fail’ I dealt with was #4.  There were several days were I lost my drive to ‘race’ and fought hard just to keep going. 
sometimes, no matter how hard you press on the gas you don't seem to get anywhere
There were several factors that came into play with regards to failing at maintaining the best pace for my current situation.  Several factors that contributed to my complete loss of motivation to keep pedaling at my best pace, to race vs just ride……. 

a) I overextended myself sleep wise on one occasion.  I had stopped at a rest stop but couldn’t sleep well and pressed on.  In about an hour I was so ready to quit and pack it in when it finally dawned on me that most of my despondent attitude was a result of too little recovery sleep.  It was a minor ‘eureka’ moment.  This particular issue was easily put behind me with 3 unplanned hours of sleep in the teepee at Atlantic City.  In hind sight this occurred the day after I crashed hard and hurt my rib cage, at the time it didn’t seem that bad but now I think it may have affected me more than I realized.

b) I had several physical issues to deal with. 
            From about Butte MT to Wamsutter WY I dealt with a grapefruit inside my left knee.  The right knee bothered me on and off but only the left one became swollen and felt at times like it was ‘serious’.  With strategic stops and soaks in ice cold streams and rivers it eventually deflated to normal size settled down to a dull background issue.

From day 2 till the finish I dealt with a swollen, creaky right achilles.  By Wamsutter it was quite painful and I was making bailout plans in a cheap hotel room.  That night it was way to a creaky, almost ‘locked’ but almost magically 5+ hours of ice and elevation released the pain, the lock and most of the ‘creaking’.  I knew I would be quitting in the morning when I went to sleep that night but set my alarm for 5 hours anyway.  I was sort of laughing at myself at 4:30am when I discovered I could flex my right ankle without pain and just the slightest creaking, well Marshal I guess now you can’t quit….. it did get worse again but then got better and simply faded into the background by NM.  I will detail later my thinking on ‘why’ my knees and Achilles went south on me.  Some of it was just the typical long hard TDR stress but the root cause was actually a bike/mechanical related issue.

And the fore mentioned cracked ribs.  I went down hard in the dark in WY while descending the dirt section of Togwotee pass.  To be honest I should have gone to a clinic and gotten checked out.  Earlier in the day I had called ahead and reserved a room at Lava Mtn Lodge, with arrangements for an after-hours arrival and the door to be left unlocked with key inside, so I had a nice safe retreat to recover in.  When I got to my room and looked at my chest in the mirror I could see my right side was no longer symmetrical with my left side.  I was slightly ‘bent’ on the right side, I softly pressed my ribs back into place and felt a lot better when they mostly stayed where they belonged.  The pain was not bad, fairly mild actually and I told myself I would self-monitor as best I could thru the night and see how I felt in the morning.  For the remainder of the race the ribs were a low level issue, I couldn’t pull or push very much with my right arm and deep breaths were noticeable but not that bad.  Riding wise I only noticed my ribs when standing and pulling back on the bars—ie: only in technical sections.

To fight back against these various injuries I used kinsio tape, ice, cold flowing water, rubs and a max of four 200mg Aleve’s (per 24 hr period).  Two Aleve's at bed time and 1 to 2 during the day.  None of these physical issues completely stopped me.  I do remember telling my wife that if I started taking too many Aleve pain pills I was going to pull the plug.

c) In addition to overextending ride time, low to mid-level physical issues there were several bike related issues that dragged and sapped at me.  Most notably my poor drivetrain selection and yet to be discussed fully rigid vs front or full suspension.  I am going to save my thoughts on suspension vs rigid  for another  post. 

d) But next up on the list of de-motivating ‘factors’ is one that’s all mental, self-pity.  Basically I got off to a pretty good start and when I realized I would not be able to keep my current race position I just lost it.  
by WY I was already in a mental funk about falling back.....
Hard to admit but in the end I had a hard time manning up and dealing efficiently with all my individually minor issues, at the time they seemed to add up to an insurmountable wall .  They seemed like a ball and chain slowing me down.  Then I lost my focus, motivation went away and hence I slowed way way down.  And this is key---I slowed down Much Much more than the circumstances actually warranted.  IE: I was trapped in a closed loop that spiraled down and down with me eventually moving along at what felt like a crawl. And once I slowed down the inevitable happened, time and time again.  I would be passed. And each time I was passed I would drop a little deeper into my self-pity hole. 

So added up I was de-motivated by both external (under sleep, assorted nagging injuries and poor gear choices) and internal issues.  The external issues eventual got worked out or just ignored. 

The internal or mental problem was a more difficult nut to crack.  Eventually I did crack the nut and broke free from the destructive self-pity loop I had trapped myself in. 
by here I was 100% back in the game....
And it’s interesting to me that it was accomplished in two totally different ways, one from within, one from without.   I will talk about this once I get into my ‘day by day’ posts.  But for now what I can say is once your motivation lags you are toast, as far as racing anyway. 

Call it what you will but I think the most descriptive word is 'motivation' and for several days mine was burnt to a crisp………..hey, just put it all into your own words, change it around till it ‘fits’ you ---but in the end------
  • Above all else to race your best personal TDR you have to be disciplined. 
  • To be disciplined you have to stay motivated.

1 comment:

  1. Amen to that Marshal, you summed up a couple of my event mindsets very nicely there. Discipline and Motivation, go hand in hand, they seem to have a symbiotic relationship. I hope you are going to tell me how to stay on top of both now? ;-)
    Once again, thanks for sharing, Scott