Time trials on the bike are called The Race of Truth for a reason. There's no hiding out there. It's you with your wheels against the wind and the clock. No drafting, no strategy, no cat and mouse games with other competitors... just as fast as you can go from start to finish.
For that reason, TT's are scary to enter and race. It's the ultimate in the game of How do I measure up?
And this morning was a tough one. The weatherman wasn't kidding when he predicted rain and high winds. We all gathered at the race start while it was still dark for pre-race instructions from the race director. The wind was whipping through the trees and we were all dressed like Eskimos in our coats and hats. I had my hands crossed across my chest and a scowl on my face as I shivered to keep warm. Then it started raining.
Lovely. Let's all get on our bikes and race now, ok?
Lots of people brought their trainers to warm up with. I didn't. I just rode around in wet circles with my teeth chattering for about a half hour and tried to force myself to let go of the pissy feelings I was having. Time for an attitude adjustment, mama.
The good news is that typically, once the gun goes off, I'm able to put all the elements behind me and just race. In this case, there was no gun that went off- they sent us off every 30 seconds individually. I got in line like a good little racer and took off sprinting when I was told to GO.
And then immediately the wind and the rain and the wet and the cold just completely left my mind. My goal today was to ride hard. The whole time. I wanted to focus- to not let my mind wander onto random topics. Push the whole way. Teach my body to push through fatigue barriers. This was a good course on which to do that because there are a couple of good solid climbs right at the end. So, I wanted to push myself to the limit before the climbs and then hammer up them with any scrap of energy I could muster up.
I looked at the start list for women and saw that just about all the fastest girls were starting ahead of me. So I wasn't worried at all about being passed- instead today, I was The Hunter. That's a new and different role for me b/c usually in triathlons (coming from a swimming background) I am the one being hunted. But you know what? I sort of like being The Hunter. I caught a bunch of women who started ahead of me... picked 'em off one by one.. I was looking for Nalani who started 60 seconds ahead of me... she was riding very well! It took me a long time just to get her within sight, and then even when I did, it took me a while longer to actually catch her. As I went by, I told her, "Don't get complacent! We have less than 10 minutes left!" (Afterward, she told me she was impressed that I could conjure up the use of a word like 'complacent' under those circumstances. Ha!)
I guess I said that about not getting complacent because it was really my goal for myself... the ride hard the whole time thing is easy to throw out the window once you've reached a goal, and one of my goals was to catch Nalani, so once I did that I didn't want to just sit up and cruise in. I pushed as hard as I could up the final climb to the finish... felt a bout of nausea coming on for sure... and congratulated myself on a very solid effort today. I was happy when I crossed the finish line... looked at my watch and saw that I finished the 12.8 mile course in 29:57, which was cool I guess, though it would only matter in the context of what the other fast gals did. In the end it didn't really matter- since my goal was to focus and ride hard for the entirety of the race- and I did that- but yet I still wanted to know how I measured up.
Turns out, two women rode faster than me today. They are both really strong cyclists so I was not surprised. So what did the Race of Truth tell me today? It told me that my cycling is right on track with where I want it to be right now. It told me that I'm getting better at maintaining focus for extended periods of time. It told me that weather elements cannot bog me down or deter me from my goals. The truth is, I'm right where I want to be right now! :)