Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Waiting for the race

It’s 10 days until the Ultimate Graperide and I can’t think of anything else.  In fact, it’s been a while since I have been thinking of anything but the Graperide.

And my thoughts?  Basically, they are very positive.  Most of it is trying to imagine what it will be like, leg by leg.  Whenever I feel a bit tired or have even the slightest bit of negative feeling about anything, I seize on that and use it to visualise tiredness and negativity on the ride.  Having put myself in that dark place, I then experiment and test myself.  I work out ways that I can either overcome or just cope with the feelings.  I also grab the negative feelings and work to turn them into something more positive.  It will be interesting to see how this all works in practice.

Actually, that’s one of the things that dominates how I’m feeling at the moment – intense curiosity!  I’ve done very little training for this event (one ride a week), that so much of the ride will come down to good planning and strategy and a really sound mental approach.  Just how will it all go?  Just how well have I prepared myself?  I can’t wait to find out.

Another thing that I’m curious about is what my fellow riders will be like.  Will there be much cameradie or will they just be a bunch of individuals doing their own thing?  Although I’m a shy and introverted individual, I quite enjoy moments of fellowship with my fellow beings.  It will be nice to get some of it with people who do what I so much like doing – pushing themselves hard and enjoying the outdoors.  Of course, most will be ahead of me, so there probably will be little chance of fellowship on the road.

The other thing that I feel is a lot of determination.  My training might be limited, but I’m really determined and focussing on going as fast as I can.  I won’t be dawdling.  A key mental message I have in my imaginings is to just keep the pedals turning, and turning at a good, rapid rate.  My focus is always on the road ahead, the destination, the goal.

Another interesting thing I’ve worked out is that, although very long, the ride is actually a series of many short rides.  Furthermore, I’m not doing the ride all in an instance.  At any time, I’ll only be doing the ride at the point that I’m doing it.  So, when I set out, no point in thinking that there’s still 505 km to go; I’ll just enjoy the moments of freshness.  And when it’s the middle of the night and I’m tired, no point fretting about the distance still to go.  I’ve also tried to set my mind to focussing on short-term goals, such as getting to the end of each leg.  And, in each case, there will be something to look forward to, such as: hills to follow boring flats; flats to follow tough hills; furthering the longest distance I’ve already done; greeting the dawn; stopping at the start/go station each round to sign in; joining the crowds in the morning; and always getting one step closer to the finish line.  And the thing I’ll be looking forward to the most each time – the few seconds I’ll have with Helen as I stop by her to grab more fuel.

But in the end, there's going to be a lot of suffering and there are limitations to what mental games will do.  Another trick may be to acknowledge that there are both ups and downs, and any down will not last forever.  But basically it will finally be a case of remembering to follow Racing Rule No. 5 - "Harden the fuck up!"

But all in all, while I realise that I’m probably going to be terrified in the hours leading up to the event, at the moment I’m feeling bloody positive and excited!

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