I just took a very deep breath. This is after I looked at the calendar… Wow, hard to believe that cyclo-cross season really is so very close. Soon enough I’ll be in our trusty Matrix loaded up with Stevens cyclo-cross bikes making the drive down to Pennsylvania for the first race of the season.
What a difference a year makes. This time last year I was sick but I wouldn’t admit it. I tried to get through work-outs and to put in extra time in the woods working on skills. But it seemed with each pedal stroke I was putting myself in a deep hole. Unfortunately it took the first few races with sub-par performances and riding gasping for air that I realized something really was wrong. To be blunt – last season was not fun. But the one thing it did give me was perspective and awareness.
I have a real appreciation for my body and how I need to listen to it. This summer was a real example of this – when I wasn’t able to start formal training until July 1. Yes, July 1! I tried to train earlier but I just couldn’t do it. Now I sit here very thankful that I had the season I did last year – or I very likely wouldn’t have listened to my body, Marc and coach Steve who told me I needed to take a break and get healthy again.
And now today? Today I feel awesome! I’ve had some really top-notch months of training. I’m more focused and driven than I’ve ever been. I’m seeing numbers I haven’t seen before. I feel good. Now I know that numbers on a power meter and training are not the same as racing – but at this time – I’ll take these as indicators of how I’m feeling.
I’ll tell you this – I’m damn nervous. And a touch scared. What if I can’t race like I have before? What if my SRM is miscalibrated and the numbers I’m seeing aren’t real? What if I start racing again and I get sick? What if…? But I suppose it is these questions that get me out there on the start line – I need answers. I need to know. Deep down I know the truth – I’m good. I feel good. But sometimes you just really don’t know until the gun goes off and you hear the bell for the final lap.
All I and you can do is prepare the best we can. Do the work. Have fun. Listen to your body. Line up with an ache to do better than last time. After all, this is why we race isn’t it?