It’s been a long winter. You would be forgiven for thinking I was so badly scarred by Tour de Vic last year that I went and hid under a rock for six months, and you wouldn’t be far wrong. I kind of fell apart after that ride and stopped training much, except for a last fling at the Tour de Foothills with Mom in November. With all the time I recovered from training, I rediscovered the joys of drinking beer with friends. And baking and eating bread. And cookies. And what my scale looks like when it’s begging for mercy. And why you shouldn’t wear argyle cycling shorts that are one size too small. (the warping of the check pattern graphically demonstrates how the shorts are being stretched.)
Anyway, I resolved to pull myself together and started training with Clint Lien and Mercury Rising Triathlon. It’s been great. I’m back to running (slowly), cycling (slowly) and swimming (less slowly, thanks to a great clinic with Clint and Coach Tenille Hoogland). Travel and the usual plague of minor injuries and bugs has punched a few holes in the schedule, but on the whole, I’m back into OK condition.
So, Clint finally noticed that although I was training, I kind of hadn’t registered for any races and I had to admit to him that I’m, um, afraid of racing. I hate racing. But we agreed that I should do the Shawnigan Lake Olympic tri to get back into the swing of things. I knew all the right things to tell myself. “Just getting going again. Just train through it. You won’t be fast, but nobody cares but you.”
Unfortunately, as the day of the race approached, I got hit with a double dose of the old fear, probably because it’s been so long. My last tri was Auckland (achingly cold) in 2012. I became consumed with panic about the cold water at Shawnigan, getting beaten up in the washing machine start, and the inevitable pain of a slow 10k run at the end. A dark cloud descended on Wednesday and the bad dreams started that night. A profound sense of doom settled in and I got more and more tightly wound until Saturday, when an hour before I was supposed to head up to the lake to do a quick tuneup workout and drop off my bike, I found myself in the drive-thru line at McDonalds, weeping.
When I’m in the drive-thru line at McDonalds, I’ve hit rock bottom. I called Clint to say I wasn’t coming. He was great. “I’d usually encourage people to work through things they’re afraid of, but this is clearly not the time,” he said. “So, put the McDonalds down and step back three paces. Go home and pour yourself a glass of wine and calm down. We’ll deal with this in a way that helps you find the joy again.” The cloud instantly dissipated and I had a nice, quiet weekend of weeding and reading.
So, for the next few weeks, I’m going to keep it simple. I’m going to work out consistently and see what we can do to find that joy. “Let’s get back to when you were a kid, kicking stuff around in the street and just having fun,” he said. It isn’t as measurable or impressive a goal as, “develop a Functional Threshold Power of 210 Watts” or “get back to a 1:45 half-marathon,” but I think it’s more important in the long run.