I'm climbing out of my hole and getting over myself... trying to figure out what I learned from that experience. The only thing I've come up with so far is that I'm a head case. :) Interestingly, when I look back, I've had some of my most disappointing races when I've been the most confident about my training leading up to the event. What is up with that?? Must be something about expectations being high... Too high to be reasonable? And when I (even subconsciously) realize I'm not meeting them I become some sort of mental basket case and melt down? I don't really know but that's kind of been my experience in the last few years.
When my approach going into a race has been more laid back and relaxed and I have some questions about how it's all going to go down, that's when I've come away with more satisfying end results. So of course that makes me think I should go into all my races with a whatever type attitude and maybe that's just what works for me? So then how do I adopt that relaxed attitude if I actually DO care about the race outcome? Inquiring minds want to know...
One of coach's suggestions has been to ditch my power meter. He thinks it's screwing with my head. He's actually been giving me this advice all year but I've over-ruled him and used it on all my key rides anyway, swearing that I don't really look at it unless I like the numbers... And I did ride without it a lot- on all my easy rides! But that race in Vegas was bad enough to allow me to really open my mind and agree that clearly I am doing something wrong so I finally felt willing to just do whatever coach suggested.
Today my ride was a progression where the instructions said to just feel my way through it, and that it was okay if I blew up. Hmmm. Interestingly, I felt a bit paralyzed to start... like how was I going to know if I was progressing if I didn't have wattage numbers to prove it to myself?? Usually on these progression rides I start off with my own power goals... the numbers I expect to see based on past experience and what I know I can do... and sometimes I adjust those mid-ride depending on whether legs are there or not. Today, without the black and white feedback, I realized that I did not really know how to push HARD without numbers to shoot for. Since all my rides without power have been the easy ones, riding at my limit felt totally foreign to me. But I kept pushing and trying to blow up, which I never really did, but came away feeling like I met the objective of the session anyway because for once I paid attention to what my LEGS felt like instead of what the power numbers were saying on my garmin. It was weird to try to log the w/o too b/c I couldn't say that I nailed it b/c I hit 220W or whatever... I don't know how many watts I was pushing... and I'll never know... but whatever I did was right for today and you know what? I'm not able to judge myself about it.
So there you go. I think that's the big A-HA for me... Since I know what power I have been able to hit in the past on a ride like that, whether I hit it or not today would be something on which I would judge myself. Hit the numbers would make me think I'M ON. Going to have great race! (This is what happened the week before Vegas and we know how that turned out.) If I miss the numbers, I think I SUCK. Neither of those head spaces is one that works for me going into a race. But without the power meter, I can put the work in without judging myself... therefore de-cluttering my head... which (in theory) would put me on a start line with a mindset of not being really sure how it's going to go, which is where I think I want my head to be when the gun goes off. Leave open the possibility that the day is going to go well but not be so overly confident in it that I melt if it turns out I'm not actually on fire like maybe I anticipated.
I've been aware of all this clutter in my head more than ever this past week. Yesterday I was climbing Tantalus and listening to the recent Endurance Planet podcast on HRV (Heart Rate Variability) which is apparently an ap that measures data around how your heart is beating that tells you how stressed out you are and whether or not you're really ready for big training that day or whatever. And no offense Tawnee if you're reading this, but all I could think the whole time I was listening to that was OMG that is exactly the type of head-clutter I'm trying to avoid right now! Too much information can just be stifling. Listen to your body and when you're tired, you're tired and you'll know it without an ap spewing out a highly variable number telling you how you should be feeling. Yikes.
Anyway, I don't want this to come across like now I'm all anti-power meter or whatever. I see a ton of value in riding with/by power! Honestly, as a coach, I love it when my athletes use power because it tells me a lot about how they're actually doing when I'm not there riding beside them and watching... Makes it easier for me to coach them! BUT, if