Thursday, November 13, 2008

I need a hug

It's been an odd week. I'm in a strange place right now. With Taupo so close, and with my thoughts already turning to other goals (Rotorua marathon, Rotorua half-ironman), I'm feeling a little emotional.

I'm not sure what's going on. I'm not scared, although I will admit to being a little overwhelmed. I'm feeling very proud of what I have already achieved and dazzled by what I have come to accept I am capable of. I don't know what my limits are. Am I playing around the edges or am I nowhere near the finishline?

I took a rest on Monday after the 115km race, but was then back into it on Tuesday, fitting in a Balance class and two very intense RPM classes. I was up and out of bed on Wednesday morning and cycled through light drizzle to the gym for an upper body workout. I'm not doing any lower body weights at the moment - leaving them until after Taupo.

Wednesday turned into a stunning spring day and after work I cycled through rush hour traffic and then home around the Bays. The Southern coast was bathed in light and swimmers bobbed around in the flat waters of Houghton Bay. Families clustered in Island Bay with parcels of fish and chips. Unlike the time trial morning I was able to comfortably keep my speedo up around 33 to 35km per hour, even hitting 40kmph around Pt Jerningham. It was only riding up Happy Valley into a soul-destroying Northerly that I finally slowed. I could feel how much stronger I was and felt very happy with what was supposed to be a recovery ride.

On top of all of the riding this week I was competing in an office stairclimb challenge, climbing over 100 flights of stairs each day. By today I was starting to think that the challenge was an incredibly stupid idea so close to the race, and my knee was agreeing with me. I wanted to ride today, I really did. It's as lovely out there today as it was yesterday, but with slightly less wind. However something pulled me back. The best indicator (other than my aching legs) that I needed a break was my increasingly heightened emotional state. I ask so much of myself and I've been meeting my own expectations, but tonight just being in this beautiful evening seemed enough. I had to accept that I wouldn't be wasting the evening if I didn't ride. Sure, last night's golden light on the Southern Coast was special and was out there again waiting for me. However I was walking through a disconcerting fog of exhaustion. I was up, I was down. I was all over the place.

Even I can tell that I'm in need of a rest. I don't think I'm particularly overtrained but I think that the emotional toll of so much time on my bike, repeatedly facing my fears and demanding mental strength and the simple lack of weekend days off and sleep-ins is starting to weigh in. The scales were nice to me this morning, gifting me the exact number of I wanted to see at this point in my training so tonight I'm treating myself to pasta, wine, cider, fruit and chocolate. I'm looking out at the beautiful view and watching crappy television. I'm enjoying some time on my own while Hamish is working late.

This has been the most mentally demanding training programme I've undertaken to date. Sure, training for my first duathlon and for the half-marathons required toughness and a facing of fears, but there's nothing like facing the prospect of sitting on a bike for over six hours at this point in my life to force me to back myself.

The night before Taupo, when I'm doing my usual freakout in our room at the YWCA I will have to back myself. When I clip in at the mass start, I will have to back myself. When we hit that very first hill, I will have to back myself. When I've been on my bike for three hours, I will have to back myself. Each time I reach for my drink bottle or swallow some of my power bar, each time I overtake another rider, each time I am overtaken, each time we hit a headwind, each time I crest a hill and reach down to the drops, and when, around the four hour mark, I reach for and swallow some booster Hydrocortisone, I will have to back myself.

When Hatepe comes I want to stare it in the face and laugh, then possibly sing. And when (not if), I reach the finishline I will damn well have the biggest smile on my face the world has ever seen. And then, damn it all, I'll probably immediately start thinking about running a marathon. Because that's the way I roll.

I'm riding to work tomorrow and will ride home around the Bays again after work, then we're riding 100km on Saturday (including Paekakariki Hill), and racing 100km in Masterton on Sunday. I don't want to panic anyone with this rather overwrought post (and I'm also painfully aware that for some people riding Taupo is a walk in the park). It's just where I am right now. I'm engaging fully in this journey and I'm perfectly ok. Give me one good night's sleep and then let's bring it on.


Marshmallow said...

Oh Pip, I hear you on the heightened emotionalness. You've worked so hard and there is no doubt in my mind that not only will you kick arse in the race, but that as soon as you hit the finish line, the firsty words in your mind will be "Now for next time I'll..."

You've come really far in training for Taupo - both physically and emotionally. Back yourself, girlie. I certainly do :-)


Anonymous said...

At this point, maybe it would help to know that I read your blog religously - like a stalker, but not a nasty one.

Having started my running journey many times you are now the thing that keeps me plodding on. When I am struggling into the wind, or up the hill, or dying slowly in the heat and I want to stop I repeat quietly to myself 'Pip wouldn't stop', and keep plodding on.

You can do it, whatever happens what you have acheived on your bike so far is a whole new source of inspiration and envy for me. You should be very proud of what you have done - and what you will do next. You know its gonna be good.

Kate said...

Hope the pasta, chocolate and cider helped :) Take care of yourself and just enjoy the next few weeks as much as possible!

Pip said...

To anonymous: Thanks for your wonderful words. It's been a bit of a rough day here today and you have no idea how much they have helped! I'm always amazed to think that I might be anyone else's inspiration, but I'm honoured to be of assistance.

Kate: The cider etc (and chat to Leonie on the phone from London) certainly did help, or so I thought, until a little meltdown just before we were supposed to leave for our ride out to Whitemans Valley this morning. Somehow I just could not face another four hours on my bike today and one of the trainers sent me home (where of course I got on the trainer and watched a girly movie instead). I had some bad news today and am likely going to have to spend next week in Taranaki taking care of family stuff, but at least Cleo will be going with me and I can bike the Taranaki race routes I guess.

Kate said...

Oh no! So sorry to hear that, and about the Whitemans ride. I can't comment on the family stuff, but the race-overload stuff will get better, and if you had to go out of town, the Naki is one of the best places to be for riding.

Try to chill out for a bit between Taupo and the rush towards Graperide, Rotorua and Rotorua! While I do regret gaining 5+ kg last summer, I don't regret taking a training holiday after the Akl marathon.

Sass said...

Aw honey I hope things aren't too rough with the family stuff! And you know being tired will play round with your emotions.

I have absolutely no doubt that you will meet this challenge head on and totally cane it before you move on to the next big challenge. And if you're ever freaking out, I'm just a text away to remind you that there's the MAD DOG chomping at the bit, ready to be unleashed on the world (and boy they better look out!!)