Friday, April 22, 2011


 Rudyard Kipling's If serves as a mantra to Chrissie Wellington.  I recently read an interview from Chrissie.  According to that interview, she writes the first few lines of If on her water bottles.

"If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,"

I read the poem today, briefly, before meeting Lana for lunch.  Later on, while I was swimming, my mind wandered back to it.   I've had a string of bad workouts.  I thought I was perhaps over trained.  Maybe, but more than that, I think I've been letting some negative stuff that has been thrown at me creep into my efforts. 

It was, to an extent, easier when I was alone in my basement in the winter.  Now there are suddenly eyes on me, eager to reward my efforts with criticism and negativity.  There are people that want to see me fail, and there are people jealous of my success in transforming my life. 

In a way, I suppose I should be happy that I have critics present.  It means I'm doing something worthy of the effort of criticism.  It also means I have to learn to be confident enough in myself to let that negativity roll off me.  If I let those thoughts in my head, I can't perform at 100% of my ability. 

This is something I've experienced in my professional life, and dealt with well, because there I am sure of myself and my abilities professionally.  Not so in athletics.  I'm very much just "finding my legs" in the athletic world, and learning my way around.  That's going to have to change, there is no room for that uncertainty in what I am about to attempt this year.  I'm going to have to bring my 'A' game mentally as well as physically.  


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream–and not make dreams your master,
If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!

–Rudyard Kipling

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Walking Away From a Bad Day

It wasn't an A Race.   It wasn't a race at all in fact, but it was a key workout for me.  Tonight was my Triathlon Club's weekly 20k time trial.  It was also time for me to retest my threshold power to see how much I've improved.  

I got my bike ready the night before and attended to every detail I could think of.  I got my clothes ready, my flat kit, my race wheels, everything.

In fact, here's a new picture of Karma (my P3) with her race wheels.

Things were going well for the first three miles.  I was holding back at my threshold, ready to start hammering when I turned into the wind at about 3 miles in.  I turned, I hammered, things got bad quick.  I know my breath at threshold really well, as an endurance nation athlete I spend alot of time there.  This wasn't normal threshold breathing.  About 5 miles in my lungs were burning, my throat was closing, I was coughing.  Bad news.  My exercise induced asthma was flaring up.  I forgot my inhaler amongst the 1000 details I did remember.  Not good.  I've never had an issue with asthma on the bike before, but I woke up with a cold last night, and perhaps that kicked it off.  Next thing I knew, I was bleeding off Watts and struggling to breath.  I did my best to stay in the box and calm myself, but I finished the race 9 Watts under FTP.

So, I had a bad day, but it wasn't all bad.  I learned some stuff today.  Here is what I learned:
  1.  Racing is about execution.  In training you build your vehicle.  In racing you drive it.  You can only race the vehicle you've got that day.  I did the best I could with what I had today, and that's all I can ask for. 
  2. A bad day doesn't mean I'm a bad athlete.  It's just a bad day.  A series of bad days means I'm screwing something up.  A single day is an outlier.
  3. I can improve my execution by making a to do list for myself and a plan, like I would for a large race.  I forgot to bring my inhaler and take it before I rode.  I forgot to eat my pre-race banana 30 minutes prior to start.  Things that start with "I forgot" can be handled with better execution.
So there it is.  My day didn't go like I wanted...but I'll be back for more.  Until then, the things I learned today will make me faster every time I race.  Hard earned lessons for sure.  Experience is expensive, but it's also priceless.