Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Ideal Ratio of Masochism to Hedonism

This ad was in a recent issue of Bicycling magazine:

The tag line reads: Masochists tend to be more fit than hedonists.

I have no idea what product it's supposed to be selling (I'm a marketing agent's nightmare in that regard), even after going to the Optum website, which is really cool. No matter. I ripped the page out and tacked it to the wall of the pain cave, so I can put all of that indoor training in perspective at the very moment when I need some perspective.

It really makes you wonder why we endure all this suffering, particularly in the off season, when indoor workouts are the only option and why are they so freaking HARD?!

During my high-cadence workout early early one morning last week, in the time-space warp that makes a 5-minute interval feel like a lingering ride through the third circle of Hell and the 1 minute rest in between just enough time to grab a swig of hydration, I thought about the trade-off between pain and pleasure.

I readily admit: my Transition period was all about pleasure. There were tough workout days, of course, but these always came with immediate rewards: morning martinis after the Akron Half Marathon,  expensive cocktails after the Las Vegas Gran Fondo. Obviously, my hedonism mainly takes the form of things that come out of bottles, like a soused Genie.

Anyway, back to the indoor training thing.
My high-cadence drill workout, early season.

Sometime between 'I can do this' and 'WTF?', I started thinking that this masochism thing really isn't so bad. I felt like I was peeling off that layer of alcohol-induced insulation that I was working on over the past month. (I won't need it, no matter how cold Northeast Ohio winter gets. I have Gore-Tex). I was shedding the skin of the just-finished season, ready to begin the transformation into what I'll be next year when I roll up to that first starting line.

The suffering makes me tougher, and stronger. The suffering pushes me to where I used to think my limits were.

When I train, I often think about the reward I've just earned. (Maybe that second bottle of Mission IPA? Gardener martini, anyone?) But as soon as I get off the trainer, I weigh out the balance between that perceived reward and the pain I just put myself through. And you know what? I often find myself walking away from that so-called 'reward'. Because I know that the real reward isn't on that top shelf of immediate gratification.

The real reward is what happens during race season next year.

The real reward comes with strong finishes, podium photos, the satisfaction of a long and strong race season.

That's my kind of hedonism.

Friday, November 1, 2013

2013 season ends, 2014 training is about to start, and all the stuff in between

This season, more than any other since I started racing about 5 years ago, couldn't have ended any sooner. My most awesome season so far - with more racing, more variety, more focus (not to mention a couple of State Championship titles!) - was also the hardest I've ever worked at this sport.

And so it was that I was counting the days to Transition Week, which turned into Transition Month-and-a-Half, so that I could finally -finally! - go do something else for a change. Even if 'something else' maybe every once in a while involved a bike. Which it did, because, hey, after spending THAT much time on a bike all year, you kind of lose any of your other identifying characteristics (that I hope to reclaim between now and spring).

These are just some of the ways I've been occupying my time, now that I don't have to train for 'the next race':

  • Cheer on someone else who's season hasn't quite ended yet
Writing encouraging words to my favorite Furnace Creek 508 contender, in the middle of Death Valley, where he didn't see it anyway because of a re-route caused by some government shut-down thing.

Tim Marks with George Vargas at the end of the 2013 FC508

  • Indulge in something previously off-limits
Pisco Sour at VTR

  • Cross-train!
Akron Half-Marathon, post race with Dave and Beate. I won my age group!

  • Take the time to stop and smell Autumn in the air...
Along the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath

The Headless Rider arrives! OK, not really...

  • Dress up stupid for a ride into town
Me and Angie in Valkyrie attire, at Lily's Chocolates in Tremont.

  • Hang out with teammates without having to wear spandex
Chappy, Russ, and I warming up outside...

    ...ready to feast on THIS amazing seafood spread

Kristen enjoying the benefits of our new 2014 Team Sponsor, Fat Heads Brewery

  • And lastly, dig out the indoor trainer, because before you know it,  training starts up again. Like, tomorrow. Because the 2014 season is gonna be even better than the last...