Here I am, on the eve of my very first cycling race. I am prepared as I will ever be; I even took the aerobars off Ruby so she will look like a real road bike and not a tri-bike.
I have little idea of what to expect tomorrow, but I do know that I am going into this with rested legs and MORE endurance than I need, and a good tolerance for racing in the red (Remember, I'm Only Getting Started, Go Hard or Go Home, and Pain Cave?) My coach(es) (yes, I annoyed the hell out of my friend who has raced P1/2 for tips) told me specifically not to get too feisty with the attacking.
Road racing is different than anything I've ever done before. You don't have to get up at ass'o'clock, for one thing: you don't even race until 8:30am, and that's only if you're racing Pro 1/2 and you're a man. Us Cat 3/4 ladies go at 11:30 and the Pro 1/2 ladies and Cat 4 men go out around 1. (Tell me THAT isn't awesome). Race fees are a good bit cheaper. You get to draft. You only do one sport. The races are considerably shorter (1-2 hours in most cases until you start getting Pro.)
Road races are definitely not as popular as the other stuff I've done; I hardly know anyone doing this race, and many of the people I know doing it are way more experienced and even race on legit teams and the whole 9. It really is MY DAY. (With all the other crap flying around me, I could use a ME day.)
In any case, both coaches gave me the following advice.
Important Rule for Cycle Racing Virgins: Your first and most important objective is to have fun, followed by this: be safe and try not to get shaken from the pack.
Okie dokie. Now we know what my goal is for tomorrow.
By now we know that racing (and life) don't always present us with the best of circumstances on the eve of a big event. I'd like to be well-rested, massaged, and pumped. But I don't feel good and I've had a hard training week. I've spent the past month planning special events at work to try to shake up (and hopefully improve?) campus life. I'm trying to concentrate on the Fourth Discipline, I have major research deadlines, and am currently sifting through thousands of pieces of data as well as dozens of student assignments. (I'm surprised I'm even taking the time to write this, but if I didn't take a break for awhile, I'd probably suffer even further sanity loss.)
The funeral was way harder than I expected. I was severely depressed, and I am still recovering from what was my first real funk since before my thryoidectomy. My toe arthritis is acting up thanks to all the standing (especially in grass, in high heels) at the burial and wake. I am overwhelmed with the mental and emotional strain.
But I've done a marathon feeling like this before, and that lasted 5.5 hours; this is less than half that. And tomorrow I don't have to be up at 3 or 4 a.m. like I do on a Marathon or Triathlon Eve.
Still, with all this going on, I found myself thinking how the hell did I get here?
The answer is that I got here, not just to the eve of my first road race, but into everything I've been doing the past few months, the fundraising, the knee-deep work and projects and research and special events - all of it - because I never stop challenging myself. Yeah, maybe I am a bit overwhlemed. And yeah, sometimes I bite off more than I can chew. And (at least in the case of this road race) sometimes I may very well suck at something and wear myself out, but I will be able to rest soon enough.
I knew that cycling was my strength, and that I wanted to explore it more, and that I wanted to get even stronger. And I kept saying some day I will do a century, some day I will be an A rider, some day I will do cycling races. Some day, some day, some day.
Well, some day may never come.
I got a taste this week of the bitter reality that life really can end at any moment. It doesn't matter if you're young, healthy, or cancer-free, or aging, frail, and brittle. It can happen at any time, to anyone. Knowing that, I feel like I owe it to myself to live outside my comfort zone.
I feel like we all owe it to ourselves to n