What a Difference a Year Makes...


A year ago tonight, I was walking around the neighborhood with Stephanie checking out Trick-or-Treaters' costumes after my final Build phase workout leading to Ironman Arizona taper.

Tonight, it's an off-day of training and recovery from a hard 40-mile ride yesterday.

A year ago this past weekend, I completed nine hours of training in two days back-to-back.

This weekend, I completed less than half.  Though it's far more intense with back-to-back track workouts and a 4,500 foot climb at the Malibu Gran Fondo yesterday (benefiting the Livestrong Foundation).  A year ago, I learned the lessons of someone trying to figure out why I was so exhausted heading into the taper phase.  A year later, I'm missing the naivete that comes with the wonderment associated with "Can I do it?"  Yep, I miss the nerves from a year ago. The giddy sensation.  The fear of the unknown. But what I'm learning now is that my fitness level isn't really that far removed from my Ironman race shape.

Take yesterday's ride.  I started off slowly amidst a large group of cyclists doing the medium (Medio) range ride instead of the Grande 65 miler (7,000 feet of climbing).  I simply didn't think I had that kind of climbing in my legs nor was I in shape to even try.  My early performance validated my thoughts.  Cyclists of varying shapes and sizes passed me on the first couple hills, which used to be my specialty.  Even though the event wasn't a race, I couldn't help myself when I felt that telltale shock to my pride being passed by.  By the time we began our second loop of the course, I was in the middle/front of the pack and wondering where my speed and power had gone.

Then, we began a seven-mile climb up Mulholland Drive at the base of PCH.  Again. a couple cyclists started passing me.  My morale dropped further, which is never a good thing when all you're looking at is a LONG climb upwards while the temperature rises with it. I knew from experience that if I just kept focus on pedaling that I'd simply get through the ride.

But a funny thing happened.  All the riders in front of me must have started bonking.  Slowly, steadily, I started passing people.  Each time, I felt a little stronger as, if my confidence rose while others' bodies faltered.  I know it's bad to admit that probably, but screw it I'm competitive.  I like beating people down on the bike. Especially on climbs.  I enjoy it.  I enjoy torturing myself to see if I my punishment will lead me past more polished, less disciplined riders. And so it went, right until the end of the ride when another soul into self-torture and I crossed into the finisher's picnic area ahead of everyone else who had completed the course according to the map specifications.

I needed that.  And after reading last year's blog post I realized that it's just as rewarding to be reminded that you've still got "it" as it is to wonder excitedly what the biggest sporting moment of your life will feel like.

Knowing can be just as satisfying as wondering.