Getting Better: Can It Happen?

P1070499

Tonight I was talking to my girlfriend and she said to me “I’m tired of you not doing better in your races.”

Now before you say anything nasty, understand this:  I was not in the least bit offended.  I quickly agreed with her.  “Yeah,” I said.  “I’m tired of not doing better too.”

We talked a bit about being an older athlete, and what that means. Adjusting your expectations. Squeezing in training. Training smart vs. training hard. I asked her for some help. She asked what she could do. I really didn’t know what she could do. We both admitted that we needed to believe that even as we age, we can still ‘get better’ at whatever it is we are trying to do out there. It may be in vain but here we are, still trying to get better in our 40’s or 50’s. So I have to ask myself, what does “better” mean?

It may seem like an easy question but I’m not sure that the answer is easy to articulate. Better doesn’t always mean faster, or a higher placing, or a lower crossresults point average. I have had races where I placed in the lower 1/3 or even 1/4 where I felt completely thrilled with the effort I put out. I’m thinking specifically of KMC Providence last year, when I finished 86 out of 114 racers. No one would look at that and say, “wow Karen, way to kill it out there!” No one would say that. But I did kill it out there! I had a blast. I put it all out there. That was my version of “better.”

And then there are the races from a couple of years ago, when I had more saddle time and my performance was, in fact, getting “better.” I was placing higher, I was feeling like I still had some room to improve. It was an upward trajectory I was feeling, and that continuous improvement made me feel like I was, in fact, “getting better.”

Lately, and I mean the second half of cyclocross season in 2014 and in my first race of 2015, I have felt pretty off. There’s always a problem that snarls my ability to have a good race. Bouts of sports-induced asthma by the second lap. Crashing and cracking a rib, or gashing my leg, or getting a shitty start, or suffering from heat exhaustion, or getting my handlebar caught on the course tape. (Geez, I read this list and I sound like a menace out there! I swear the only trouble I cause is my own).

My point is, I know when I’m doing better. I feel happy with the effort I put out. I feel satisfied and fulfilled with how hard the course was and what I did out there on that course. If I put a little pressure on a competitor, or if I pass a competitor or two (or ten), that’s a lot better. Bottom line is I need some “better” moments out there. Just like intervals, if I can string enough better moments together, I can pull off a downright good race.

-Karen

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

About Karen

Mid-life female amateur athlete focused on cyclocross, mountain biking, and road cycling. Always looking to see what is around the next bend in the road.

3 responses to “Getting Better: Can It Happen?”

  1. bgddyjim says :

    Karen, I can so relate, and getting to the upper crust of the guys road cycling at 45 is so ridiculously fast, it’s hard to put into words (26 mph in a crit, with a good climb each lap – I mean FAST)… In the end, the owner of our local shop set me straight on racing… He said, “Jim, you could race if you really wanted to. You could do it, but to be competitive, you have to be REALLY dedicated. The truth is, you have a really good thing going right now. Just enjoy it.”

    Sounds like your actually in the same place. You have fun racing, but if you want to be more competitive, you have to be more dedicated. You don’t want that though, because other things are more important.

    It is a pickle, I know. Good luck, sincerely… and if you figure it out, please let me know how you do it!

    • Karen says :

      I think the challenge is me accepting what I cannot control and being ok with it, and still trying to influence positively what I am able to. At the end of the day, I just want to be satisfied. Tall order!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: