A year is a long time to be working towards a goal - espcially when there’s so many individual milestones to be met along the way. In 2018, ...

Oct 25, 2016

Regaining my mojo

I'll be honest. The two months between the middle of July and middle of September just about crushed me. Tired all the time, unable to muster more then a slug pace for most rides, and shuffling my way through my runs. It was the worst two month I've had - made worse by my continuing to try to push through the fatigue. So after Vapor I made sure that I would listen to my body and not pressure myself into training until I felt ready. No matter how long it would take, I would take the recovery I needed. Two weeks of minimal activity - short swims that were mostly just paddling around, very short runs where I didn't look at my watch at all and the easiest of rides imaginable. After those two weeks, I was still tired, but feeling better. Getting more like myself again, with a little more energy. That meant I needed at least another week of easy recovery! It was not the time to succumb to FOMO and start up with the big rides and hard runs again. So I behaved even more, knowing every easy day and rest day would reward me later.

Finally. Just over a month after Vapor and I was feeling ready. One hard run as a test to see what happens. No deep fatigue. Time to try some bike intervals - just a couple and see how I felt. Success! The intervals hurt as they were supposed to, but I was still feeling good the next day and then the next. Perhaps I was back? Fully recovered from the deep hole I'd dug between Sheep Mountain and Vapor. The real test would be when I headed out for my second set of intervals the day following a track workout. And another success - although I could tell that I hadn't done a lick of VO2 max in forever. Ouch. That hurt!

But back to my mojo and the dreaded FOMO. Strava is both a blessing and a curse - feeding into the self pity of recovery when everyone else is doing huge rides and getting in the last alpine adventures before winter. Videos of big days on big lines, photos of stunning terrain, trails I'd never even heard of! I was missing out - I was recovering, but I was missing out. I wanted to be there - enjoying the trail and the company. So when Amber texted me and asked if I wanted to ride up to Barr Camp and back down with here, of course I said yes. Something new and different!
Looking back at COS from Barr Trail above No-name creek
It was chilly in the morning, but the climbing quickly warmed us up. Because the incline is closed, the trail was mostly empty - which was awesome. We set a comfortable pace, just grinding up the trail. Since I haven't' been on Barr in over 4 years, it was like riding a new trail all over again - and I was pretty happy with how much I was able to ride. The three groups of hikers we passed were all cool and seemed  astonished that we were actually riding! Finally, just shy of two and a half hours from leaving our cars, we rolling into Barr Camp.

Bikes parked - we were the only other people at Barr Camp during our short stay

Time for a snack and a coke! Nate, the caretaker asked if we'd ridden down from the top. Nope - up from the bottom! We chatted for a while, warming up before starting the plunge back to Manitou Springs. I actually changed into my long sleeved shirt - my jersey was soaked with sweat from the pedal up.

Ready to go down! Hoping the sun would warm things up a little...
The descent was fun - worth the pedal up. Chunky in spots, wide open in others and the occasional gravel pit. We were both bundled up - and it was still pretty chilly! We just came straight down Barr, bouncing off the stairs at the end with a giggle. I know there's other ways down, but I'm always more interested in playing it safe - the other trials can wait.

Amber with the mountain in the background - finally, the clouds were lifting!
After the ride, I realized something. It's easy to minimize your achievements when surrounded by everyone else's big days, epic rides and such. I'm as guilty as the next person on both accounts - posting photos of expansive vistas from midride, but then watching the video of someone riding a line I haven't made yet and thinking "I should be able to do that, I'm not as good a rider as I think." Even that day - sure we rode up to Barr Camp, but we didn't do Hiezer. We took the "easy way" down. So what? In the end, it really doesn't matter - we did what we set out to do - what for most people is a burly day and an epic ride. And it was our ride, our day. We had nothing to prove - we just wanted to do it. That's how it should be. Rides and races - especially ones like Vapor Trail 125 or the Breck Epic - shouldn't be approached as trying to prove something. That will only lead to mental stress and burn out. They should be approached as achieving a goal - doing what you set out to do because you want to do it. There will always be doubters and demons - but being strong in your convictions and your intrinsic motivation "This is what I want to do..." will provide the commitment to look through the clutter and focus. If the rides, photos or videos surrounding you tempt you to minimize or back away from the goal, the best reminders are to look back at your own rides and photos and say "I did that. This is my goal and I will own it." Chances are, those rides that you discount would make someone else jealous....

And then there was this little guy....