Over the past few weeks I've noticed a change in my motivations, which has led to a change in my focus.
A few months ago I was CHARGED up over the possibility of finishing this 73 mile bike race in under three hours. That's still my goal, but it feels a lot different. Let me explain.
Last year, that same race was the first athletic endeavor I'd done since my early 20's. When I signed up for it, my longest ride was 33 miles, and it nearly killed me. In the next four months I prepared and smashed my goal time of averaging 15 mph on the ride (I averaged 19.5).
What pushed me then, kept me working hard when hurting, was the idea that I was doing it, and that I hadn't done it, or, anything, except waste my gift of good health over the past 15 years or so. I deserved the pain. It was taxed owed on a time poorly spent.
The other major motivation was fear of failure. It's one thing to lose some weight and gain it back. But to completely transform your body and then slip back would be an embarrassment I don't know I could handle.
I still have some of those two motivations, but not nearly as raw. I think that I've forgiven myself, for the most part. I also have kept the weight off without issue and have a new, automatic lifestyle, so I'm not as fearful of gaining the weight back.
Now, when I'm hurting on a ride or a run, I look at my Road ID. I had two things beyond personal information written on it. First is, "Race 4 Those That Can't." I have a laundry list of people that come to mind (some very close to me). Sometimes this leads me to thinking I deserve the pain for wasting opportunities in the past. The second is, "2 Suffer = 2 Appreciate."
(I won the Road ID as an honorable-mention in a Motivational Athlete contest at a duathalon. My wife nominated me. Pretty sweet prize, eh?)
Also, when I join races, the social aspect is a huge enticement. At my first bike race, and my first few running races, I was very uneasy, not sure what to do, where to be, how to behave. I didn't like the people in front of me, didn't want to talk to people (I'm NOT shy) because ... well, I didn't feel like I belonged there.
I wonder, am I wimping out? Or has my fear of failing, or my interpretation of failure changed?
To answer: I really doubt I'll meet my goal on 4/28 this year, though I think I'll be close. But it won't be due to laziness. It won't be a manifestation of slothfulness. I'm confident and satisfied with my efforts. I'm in a much better place now than 6 months ago.
Will I be angry if I under perform? You bet! I can feel my blood pressure rising now thinking about it. But where I'll assign that failure is much different now than a year ago. Then if I failed to meet my goal it would've been because I was a failure. Now it will be a learning experience, one which I will use to do better next time.
On my ride yesterday, I thought about all of these things. I came home and realized that it would be okay to sign up for some races between now and 4/28 (the big bike race). I'll do like a lot of people do and use those races as training.
That means that I've got three 5K's (one local, one a family outing for my dad's birthday), and a duathalon between now and the bike race. I'm excited.
So if you've read this far, perhaps you deserve some pictures. I took these on my ride yesterday.
The first is of the mission in Tumacacori, Arizona,built in 1691. In the background is Mt. Wrightson, which climbs about 7,000 feet above the desert floor, the peak around 10,000 feet. (My brother-in-law and I will be climbing it on May 5th).