Any racer knows we all have levels. Easy, medium, hard. Those are easy to differentiate. Then there are the levels that only we know exist and how deep they go. We've all seen athletes pull off a perfect race, get up from a mistake and soldier on, admiring their determination. My shirt from Leadville last year reads "Dig deep" and the race director has a famous saying "You're stronger than you think you are, you can go further than you think you can." Last year, despite my DNF, I feel like I held true to that message during the race. I was woefully unprepared but I pushed my body and mind very far nonetheless. Scott likes to remind me of my wonderful slurring speach and how I could barely put one foot in front of the other up any hill.
Right now my training is serving two purposes. One is to make my body stronger and capable of riding and racing long distances fast. It's going well and I fear no distance. The miles tick by easily now, unlike last year. The other more important reason is to strengthen my mind or "fill the tank" as many endurance athletes say. As stated in the NYT article in yesterday's blog, the mind truely controls our fatigue level. While I'm not going to push myself to stay awake for days, I do push myself on another level. I dip into the tank to find more strength when the going gets tough.
In a short race it may be a decisive move. The pace may already be high yet when someone rattles off an attack there is power inside to follow and if you dig deep enough, to counter attack. I was reminding of this yesterday riding up a climb at lunch. It's not terribly long but pretty steep. I often sit and spin up it in my 39x27 when I'm tired. Yesterday I attacked it hard at the bottom and halfway up when I wanted to downshift and sit down I looked inside, found another level and stomped away harder than before. I better get used to that. I'm going to need it a lot this season.
On a less intense note, I'm starting to put together a playlist of songs that I'm always in the mood for. I'm going to take Marni's iPod shuffle on 18 Hours of Fruita if I go and I need some good music for it. Listening to my iPod at work today I heard a new song (most of my music comes from my brother-in-law Jim) that's very applicable to anyone who really takes time to perfect our "extreme" hobbies. The song is "Make it Look Easy" by David Wilcox. It's definitely on my playlist so expect to hear me delusional and singing it in the early morning hours of the race. I'll leave you today with a quick taste of the lyrics.
"Really it's driving long distance
Dialing in the gear
Studying the balance
Quieting the fear
All the hard landings
All the tough breaks
Learning all of your lessons
Making all the mistakes
That's how you make it look easy
You make it look easy, easy.
Make it look easy
Make it look easy, easy"