Sigh.....The picture says it all. Fall has hit hard in Chicago and my riding has moved indoors (for the most part). Boo. I am hoping for a slight warm up and then I can enjoy some riding outdoors before December when it becomes virtually impossible to ride outside. I have begun training a bit again and it nice to be back at it. I even raced last weekend in a cyclocross race and while it was fun, my performance was not good. My race brain had laid dormant for about a month and that coupled with my inability to get my heartrate up made for some comical moments, although I did not think they were too funny at the time. But, after remembering how to mount and dismount, carry my bike and having to fix my chain which fell off during the first lap I got into a bit of a rhythm and passed some people on the last few laps so I did not finish in last place. The next one will be better, that's a guarantee.
I also have to admit I was seriously jealous of all the people out in Hawaii smashing themselves. First, they were in Hawaii and since I was sitting at home with the heat on that irritated me and second, they were very fit and getting to test themselves out there on the course. I know that course is super tough---my husband and I got married in Kauai and then spent time in Kona after the wedding and I remember running down Alii Drive, it was hot! I also swam at the local pool. I remember seeing it as we arrived in town and of course, we had to pull over so I could figure out if I could swim there and what it would cost. I was shocked to be told that it did not cost anything, just show up. I was in heaven! Our 5 year anniversary is this year so Andy and I are heading back to Hawaii for a vacation and I can't wait. Sometime during the summer I'll take a mini break and we'll go out and have some non-triathlon fun.
My swim team has their intrasquad meet tomorrow so we will finally get to see them race. They have been working hard and have spent the last 6 weeks starring at the black line with no racing so I think they are ready to go. We shall see...at this point in the year I always tell them "you can swim fast when you are tired, it just hurts more." I don't think they like that answer but deep down they know it is true.
On a related note, I had a conversation with RV on Tuesday about what it takes to get the best out of yourself, especially when racing as a pro. He did quite a bit of cycling at a very high level so I respect his opinion on this topic. He said you have to "hard." You have to grit your teeth and just get it done, no matter what. He cycled hard because it was a way for him to create the lifestyle that he wanted for not only himself, but his family. You have to teach yourself how to suffer and keep going even when you think you cannot go anymore. There are no easy ways to becoming the best athlete you can be---you have to fight. I am still learning to suffer. Each year I dig deeper and find more inside of myself. The first time I really suffered on the bike was at Alcatraz in 2006. I knew it was hilly but coming from Chicago I really had no idea that the course was up and down the entire time. At points I was sure I was going to fall over. And, it did not end with the bike; the run was hilly single track with tons of stairs. I remember being on the course willing myself to keep going and to make to the finish line. This girl from the flat land was getting a real lesson that day.
RV emailed me on Wednesday worried that he had been too harsh with me. He wanted to make sure that I was inspired to become better and not defeated as in "you are not hard enough to make it." I told him I knew exactly what he was getting at and if the blunt conversation about what it takes defeated me I have got problems. So, I am heading into a winter of training inside (for the most part) and I am just going to have to grit my teeth and get the work done because I am fully aware that no one is going to take it easy on me while I am racing. There are no head starts given to those who train in the cold or on the flats, everyone is equal on the starting line.