I began training for my second California Coast Classic a few weeks ago. California Coast Classic is a fundraiser for the Arthritis Foundation in which 200+ bicyclist ride down the coast from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 8 days. In 2011, I rode my first CCC; I had never owned a road bike before then. The first time around I meticulously examined the weekly training recommendations and followed them precisely. It was all about making sure I got in the right amount of milage every week to prepare for something I had never done before. As you can imagine, I was nervous and unsure if I would ever survive to tell about it. In case you're wondering, I did.
But this year's training regiment has been different. I'm way behind on my training schedule. I just started training a few weeks ago and have been inconsistently riding. Yesterday we were set to ride 30 miles. The training route said "Hills" but I thought to myself "How hard could it possibly be?" I knew I could ride 30 miles no problem because I had done it before, but I guess I wasn't quite ready for the hills.
As we took off, I was near the front of the pack. I loved the wind in my hair and at one point I passed one of the elite riders. I mean he was older so I psyched myself out and said, "There is no way I am going to be behind this guy."
But then we approached our first hill. It was hard; it was long. I felt like I was in the Tour de France as we passed through a picturesque valley with orchards and vineyards in the backcountry of San Diego. It was a scene right out of a movie. But with each passing cadence, I began to feel my chest get heavy. I could literally feel the muscles in my legs shredding. We made it to the top of the hill and I thought to myself, "That was a lot harder than I remember three years ago."
But it got worse. As soon as we got to the top I heard someone shout, "We have two more of those." There was no way I was going to make it. I was already near the back of the pack and we were only on the 12th mile. 30 miles didn't seem so short after all.
The hills, however, weren't what bothered me. It was the fact that the other riders were kicking my butt. If I can be honest, a few years ago I secretly enjoyed hills because I was able to race to the top and pass several people along the way. But this year's training has been quite the opposite. I was the last one up.
The sad part is that sometimes we feel like this in life, don't we? We train, we work hard, but it always seems like we're behind somebody else. Here are a few take-aways from my reflections on being behind:
- Ride at your own pace. There is no point in riding faster than you've trained for. There's not point in beating yourself up for not going as fast the other person. We'll all make it to the top, eventually. And even if you don't, your friends will be waiting for you cheering you on.
- Ride in community. One of the best parts about training for the CCC has been the community it has created. Even though getting passed by people "I think I should be faster than" crushes my ego, it's way better to ride together than alone.
- Don't let others' success keep you from training. I've been trying to unlearn the lie that if I'm not the best, I shouldn't even try. The lie says, "If someone is better than you, you might as well try something else." In my experience, the best motivation has been surrounding myself with people I aspire to be like who are further along than I am. It gives me goals to strive for and mentors to help me along the way. Don't let their success keep you from working harder, use it as motivation.
Needless to say I finished the ride, but I've got a lot more work to do. This week what are you training for? What goals are you're willing to discipline your mind, body and soul towards? Trust me, you're closer to the top than you think, just keep pedaling.