Wednesday, May 2, 2007

My love-hate relationship with racing

I'm a little over half way through my first full season of racing, and it's been almost exactly a year since my first race ever (Wente Road Race). I have the first little pause in my schedule and time to evaluate how I feel about the whole thing. This season is really about learning to race for me and trying different things. I've decided at this point I have a love-hate relationship with the racing. Of course, I'm a woman, so I reserve the right to change my opinions at any time.

1. Racing is a huge time commitment - unless you're genetically gifted with lots of fast-twitch muscle (I'm not), becoming competitive requires that you make cycling a second full time job.

The love: I love spending lots of hours on my bike.
The hate: I miss hiking with my non-cycling friends and riding with my non-racing friends.

2. Gaining fitness requires a much stricter attention to diet and rest.

The love: I love that I am gradually weeding out vices from my life and becoming more disciplined.
The hate: I miss the occasional weekend night staying up late watching movies with my honey or with girlfriends and binging on good wine and candy and sleeping in late the next morning.

3. Racing brings you into a whole new community of racers.

The love: It's a great community. There are lots of cool people that I see myself becoming better friends with. It is encouraging and supportive.
The hate: I've semi-abandoned some of my other communities (see observation #1)

4. Being on a team, you get to share success with your teammates

The love: I love it when our team is successful - when a teammate wins. I love it when I'm able to contribute to the success.
The hate: I'm jealous of those who are successful and disappointed when I'm not fit enough to contribute. I hate being jealous and disappointed in myself.

5. Racing is a thrill. Being in the pack or off the front when things are going well and you are in control is like no other feeling in the world.

The love: I love the adrenaline rush, the thrill, the challenge and the competition.
The hate: I hate the nerves and the fear - the fear that I may end up permanently injured or dead for a silly thrill. And, being off the back can be the loneliest feeling in the world.

6. Racing requires a whole new level of fitness - beyond anything I've ever tried to attain. I've been successful in several sports over the years and none of them has required the fitness level of bicycle racing (track and field, basketball, triathlon, distance running).

The love: I love that I am fitter than I've ever been. I love that I can push my body to the limits and it comes back each time a little stronger and with a little less pain.
The hate: I hate that despite how far I've come, my fitness level isn't even up to where I need to be to be competitive in Cat 4. I fear that with my strong, amazonian body, I will never be the kind of cyclist I want to be - maybe a crit monster, but I'm not even sure I like crits yet.

I'm looking forward to the next part of the season - to trying more road races - to learning new things and discovering new strengths and minimizing my weaknesses. I look forward to working together with my teammates and watching them struggle and grow as racers, too.

On to the next adventures in racing! See you all at Mt. Hamilton!

22 comments:

CyclistRick said...

You need to make your hubby do more to help you free up the time you need :-) On a more serious note, some time will free up when you finish up your degree at the end of the year; until then, just keep things real and we can work it out.

Things will work out. For now, be safe, have fun, enjoy. The rest of us can help you get there, and mix racing in with the rest of life.

bbElf (a.k.a. panda) said...

That really well sums it up -- and seems to me that's a lot of learning for one year! Hell, I'm still trying to figure out half of that stuff...

Oh, and I wish I'd been able to recognize you at Madera! I'll keep an eye next time, & if you see a short, loud, brawny girl with fuzzball hair wearing a Metromint kit, that's probably me, feel free to say hi...:)

chatterbox said...

c-rick - thanks for the support, as always.

panda! I saw/heard you having your madera meltdown out the corner of my eye while I was having my meltdown. We'll have to meet under better circumstances when we're both not on the verge of puking!

Chris said...

I didn't realize this was your first full season of racing. To me, it seems that you are doing fantastic. I remember seeing a 5th a few weeks ago in a TTT. That is solid.

Kimberly Turner said...

hi there--loved your post...same way I feel. This is my first season of racing so far, and all I have to show for it is a few upgrade points and a lot of hard work! :-)

bbElf (a.k.a. panda) said...

Was that after the road race? Sounds right in line with my standard first impression...here's hoping we meet for real under better circumstances than simultaneous meltdowns!

CyclistRick said...

As Flip Wilson used to say, "the devil made me do it." Time to tell tales out of school ...

Chris, not only is this Chatterbox's first full year of racing, it almost did not happen. After her first road race last year, Wente Vineyards, she was so beaten down that she was ready to quit. [Shameless plug mode on]Then she found out about the Tri-Flow Women's Development Racing Program. [/shameless plug mode off]. One 'team' was starting at a time that fit in her schedule, her and I went out to check out the course for the intended race, and she signed up. In the process she met a lot of great folks, regained her confidence, and decided not to throw in the towel.

chatterbox said...

chris - thanks!

kimberly - welcome! I enjoyed your stage race and devil's punchbowl report.

panda - yeah, after the road race. Blech!

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

all i know is,
you went out there and did it!


and it was so cool to watch. the suffering, the determination, the wrecked satisfaction afterwards.

oy ... we're crazy.


see you at the next one!

chatterbox said...

ov - thanks for the encouragement! I'll get out there and keep doing it over and over, I'm sure (hopefully with gradually better result).

i'll miss seeing ya'll at Kern. a good friend scheduled her wedding that weekend. maybe i'll forgive her someday....

Chris said...

Rick - keep her on track. I foresee a lot of podiums in Ms. Chatterbox's future.

velogirl said...

ah, little grasshopper! such deep thoughts -- you're such a smart girl. remember, this is a process, and the learning comes through the type of experiences you're having this season. you are still very much a novice. be patient with the process. give yourself permission to be a beginner and to learn (and fail and succeed).

you are such an asset to the team in so many ways. thank you for being who you are. and trying. and learning. a giving of yourself.

I think it's a good thing we've got a little break in your schedule. maybe I need to prescribe a weekend of hiking, movies, pizza, cuddling on the couch, and sleeping late!!!

marscat said...

i'm not sure if i know your or not, but liked this. it sums it up perfectly...i think the key is moderation.

and never, ever give up "good wine and candy"...

chatterbox said...

marscat - i don't think we've met, officially. welcome, and thanks!

i'm the only velogirl that looks like a misplaced WNBA power forward, so say hi some time if you see me. i'll be at mt. hamilton, dunlap tt and pescadero in cat 4.

velogirl - thanks! yes, let's put me down for a slacker weekend some time.

Flandria said...

savor every moment of it...

lauren said...

maybe I need to prescribe a weekend of hiking, movies, pizza, cuddling on the couch, and sleeping late

hey cool! i have that same plan!

Velo Bella said...

we're supposed to be moderating wine and debauchery while racing?

oh

Kimberly Turner said...

Thanks! I added some photos from CtC stage race--doesn't sound as brutal as your Madera. I have a weekend with no racing and instead of being happy about it I am having withdrawal! Ack!! Wish you were going to Kern--im going solo to that one--no teammies!

chatterbox said...

wow - velogirl, marscat, velo bella, flandria and lauren - all these experienced racers are endorsing some form of debauchery. perhaps i should re-think my strategy.

kimberly - i'll check out the photogs. have fun at kern!

Kimberly Turner said...

debauchery--thumbs up!

Velo Bella said...

its all about expressing the passions.

I love racing my bike
but i also love chocolate, wine, beer, mischief, lazy mornings with my love, and sketchy tacquierias

I have made room for all of them...

cyclistmom said...

With cyclistrick in your corner, I think you can do anything you want to do. He sounds like your biggest fan--especially if he gets some of that couch time!