It Wasn’t Supposed to Turn Out Like This …

I was supposed to be driving back home from Masters Nationals with a new jersey on the seat beside me. Or at least with some silver hardware. Instead I was driving up I-71 through pouring rain thinking about how it had gone wrong.

So much was lined up in my favor: Nationals were within driving distance. I moved up an age group, so I was one of the young pups (in a relative sort of way). I’d ridden the course last year so knew exactly what to expect. I hadn’t gotten sick all season. I’d done lots of training — more than in recent years — and had some good early season results.

Two weeks before the event, Thurlow Rogers was not registered.

Then at some point it started to unravel. Struggled at the Tour of Valley. Felt like crap at Westlake. Had trouble finishing a TT workout. Ten days before Nationals rode poorly at the Tour de Bemus. Thurlow appeared on the start list, and I was his 30 second man in the TT. Finally at Nationals, I just felt empty.

The result? 5th in the TT. Respectable, but not what I came to do. In the road race, I made the winning break then got shelled in the oppressive heat.

When you’re focused on day-to-day training unfortunately you can lose sight of the big picture, which seems to be what happened. Too much heavy training and racing without enough recovery. The irony is that all the training and racing that was supposed to prepare me ended up wrecking me.

That is a bitter pill to swallow. But swallowing the disappointment is what I think has to be done. I’m tempted to look for an excuse, look on the bright side, say that it will make me stronger, accept the congrats from those who say 5th is pretty good. But the fact is that I didn’t do well, I’m not happy about it, and there’s nothing I can do about it now.

I’m also tempted say that it was a waste of time — all the training, racing, and focus. But everyone who pins on a number is risking disappointment. There would be no champions otherwise.



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8 responses to “It Wasn’t Supposed to Turn Out Like This …

  1. Jim

    I think that you need to step back and realize there are hundreds or thousands of people for whom a 5th place finish in a national event would have them stupid-happy. I know because I am one of them.
    Sometimes the wheels fall off and we don’t know why. You do know why and I am sure that you will make the proper adjustments.
    I am reminded of the days when my son was wrestling. He did well enough to qualify for the state tournament 4 times. However, placing was another animal. He was one of the top 16 guys in his weight class in the state but the idea is to win it all. There were about 700 kids that would have loved to trade places with him but his objective was to win. When you don’t win, it hurts and you wonder why you do this. I always told him to win with pride and lose with dignity.
    On any given day you may be the best, but you may not. That is the chance you take when you step on the mat or pin on a number.
    Be proud of the success you have had and continue to enjoy the ride.

    • Brian

      I would be stupid-happy if I felt that I had ridden my best and could not have gone any faster. That was the case in ’07, but not the case this year.

      With my daughter’s CC team, her first year they were ecstatic to make it out of the District meet. Next year they were crushed when they just missed going to the State meet. I guess we’re always looking for the challenge of making it to that next level.

  2. Justin

    If each workout or race went perfectly you wouldn’t appreciate it when you won. It’s important to evaluate the effort you put in, sometimes this is the only thing you can control. Thurlow will be waiting for you next year, and my guess is you’ll be more motivated. Keep racing, and nice job.

    • Brian

      I’ve said on many occasions that if you don’t actually like training, then it’s going to be tough being a good bike racer. I like training (too much perhaps) … so regardless of results I don’t feel like it’s wasted effort.

  3. The (in)famous quote by Nietzsche, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” should not be taken altogether literally.

    You are already physically strong. But now, through this experience, you are mentally stronger. Disappointment is a harsh teacher, but now you know to look at the bigger picture of your training, when to rest & recover.

    5th, while certainly respectable, was disappointing to you not only because you wanted to (and really thought you would) do better, but also because your power numbers emphatically told you that you can do better. You have put out bigger numbers during training sessions. That’s the real disappointment – you didn’t actually ride as well as you know you can.

    “Failure” and “victory” have different meanings in amateur athletics. For some, just being able to ride 40km is a victory. For others, only averaging 28mph when you were aiming to average 29mph is a failure.

    It’s all relative. You’re allowed to be disappointed with 5th. But you should also be happy with your other successes this year.

    My guess is that by December, you’ll already be sick of winter and planning out the 2011 season attack strategy.

    Being one of the most feared breakaway riders in the area is a victory in and of itself. You just don’t get any hardware from USAC for that notoriety.

    • Brian

      Right now I wouldn’t necessarily say that it made me mentally stronger. It certainly put a dent in my racing confidence. On the other hand … after dropping out of the break I was ready to drop out of the race but decided to keep pedaling anyway.

      I did at least get some amusement out of hearing the announcers calling my name “… he was in the original break, and he is now SHELLED …” when I came thru the S/F by myself. All I could do was smile and wave …

      • “Mentally stronger” was not the best wording. I guess “smarter” is more appropriate.

        It should not have put a dent in your racing confidence since it was not how you raced that was the problem.

        “Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.”

  4. Pingback: If I don’t race, everyone else will be getting faster | Über die Brücke

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