I have taken some serious down time this week, and most of last. It was needed. I am a professional at stretching myself too thin, over committing and leaving little time for myself. Call the Vatican and suggest I become a saint please! I KNOW!!! RIGHT??
With my new faculty position beginning at the end of August, I knew something had to give. I retired from teaching cycling and yoga at the beginning of the month, which as much as I miss it…. has made all the difference in the world. I desperately miss my students, and seeing what they achieve day after day. But I am home a lot more. I can turn off in the evenings, disconnect and just have family time. I can’t tell you how much that has meant to all of us here.
I have had the ability to focus on my training, and as I did I found myself a new wingman. I do best with guidance and truthfully, I have been looking for the past several months. I finally gutted up and reached out to someone I know and trust. The first goal he set for me was that training time is Mary time. And Mary time only. I decided to keep that true about all of my training. Don’t worry about who it is, know that I found a great wingman and that’s where we will leave it. I need it to be mine.
I have a hard time letting things be mine. Again, call the Vatican.
I got worried that I would one day be 45-50 years old, look back and say…. mary you never really reached your potential because you didn’t have that self focus. So self focus is the priority.
Yesterday I hopped on my bike for a bike test. I have done tests of all kind and flavors and this was one I have cycled through a million times. Tests are hard for so many reasons. Yesterday I turned the computer around and the garmin over. All I knew was time. And I went for it.
I have never done that before, turned the data around. As a coach I know what I do….. I know the targets I need to aim for. I don’t want my testing to be dictated by anything but my intuition. Intuition is what I have always raced best with and I have become seperated from that over the years o heart rate monitoring and power. I have both, I use both, but at the end of the day it comes down to intuition.
In Pete Jacobs Ironman Hawaii victory speech (click here for it, it’s amazing) he talks about how we are always faster on race day, than the numbers say. He had found himself in a position to go for the win. He took the oppertunity, rode well above what his power should have been and raced on heart.
No one…. NO ONE…. in the history of Kona victories got up on that podium and said “I’d like to thank my heart rate, my power and my lettuce.” That doesn’t mean those weren’t important in how they got there…. but race day is an entirely different beast.
Intuition is what I believe these devices can teach you, and also pull you away from. And they have pulled me away from mine. I have been working tirelessly over the past few months to gain it back. Yesterday I realized it’s coming.
I imagined during the longer section of the test that I was riding in a race. And I was on the prowl. The roads were smooth and I envisioned athletes ahead of me. I imagined a female who was riding strong. I should have given her an identity now that I think about it. My goal was to catch her. In my mind the catch took the length of the test.
I didn’t need the computrainer screen with a rider just far enough ahead. No virtual partner. Nothing. Just my mind, my imagination. The strongest tool that we as athletes have. I could feel the wind on my face, I could feel the road beneath me, and I was completely imagining that. I was on the trainer in my garage. Wearing an iPod.
I got closer to her inch by inch. With 9 minutes to go I ripped off the iPod and threw it on the floor. I do my best imagery when it’s quiet. Forget the TV, forget the music, I need to be in my own head, in my own spirit and riding with my heart absent of all of that.
With 3 minutes to go I pushed. I imagined getting close, passing the back wheel, passing the middle section of her bike and then taking her completely. When you pass you have to pass with great authority. That matters. So I did that. I passed like I meant it because I meant it with everything I had.
Then it was done. I thought to myself…. whoa…. what just happened. It was like a crazy dream but I was totally awake and orchestrating it. I have been doing a lot of work on guided imagery these past few weeks, specific to sport. Right there was proof to myself of how powerful it can be, and how it can connect me back to me.
Whoa… I thought. If I was a smoking kind of a girl, I’d smoke right now.
As I scrolled through the data I stopped myself. Send it to your wingman. You know what it means, but let him do it. Don’t interpret, don’t analyze. That was a little tough for me to do but I do best when my wingman comes back with it. He came back with what I suspected he would, what I knew my program would call for.
It was so awesome to get to that place again. That place where you feel like you may bleed out of your ears but it feels so entirely great. Last week one of my athletes, Ericka (she just qualified for 70.3 Worlds!!!) said to me something to the effect of: “Pain is like a hill, you just have to lean into it. You will get to the top.” She actually said it better than I did, but you get the point. I love what I can learn from the athletes I coach, and it was what I thought about in those final moments of my bike test. Dive in, lean in, feel it because it shows you that you are alive.
So here is to disconnecting. Turning off and tuning in. Redeveloping intuition. Feeling what we need to feel. And allowing that journey to lead…. wherever it does!