I have a recurring nightmare where I die and my last thought is: "Wait!! I did it ALL WRONG!! Give me another chance!" It is a horrifying feeling to regret your entire life, and having experienced that in my nightmares, I do not want that to be my actual dying thought. So, I try to do things that will challenge me, and hopefully make my life more meaningful (a whole other post).
Last April 28th, the night of John's near-death accident, I thought I would turn a corner and make my life worth something. I wouldn't take anything for granted, and we would pursue the life we really wanted.
Together, we decided to register as a team for JoBerg2C as a meaningful event that we could do together. A big accomplishment. Wanting to achieve something together. And a way to focus on John's recovery - he is an optimist and he never doubted he would be back on the bike in no time.
If you had asked me last year where I would be now - two weeks out from the big race - I would have told you I'd be super healthy, eating like an athlete, confident, and fitting into smaller kit. But as most of us come to learn, the dream is often starkly different from the reality.
Screenshot from Training Peaks showing the de facto decline of my fitness.
I've had a good run - the month of January, I didn't miss a workout from my coach, I logged over one-quarter of last year's total kilometers in just one month; I cut out sugar, wheat, and dairy; and I felt in control, on track, and all those good feelings that come with "mastery."
By February, I was almost there! Still posting positive messages on FaceBook about my progress, and adding a few podiums for an added boost of confidence and kudos (also see previous posts). So close, and yet so far.
Since then, there has been a steady decline in my enthusiasm for cycling, my commitment to the training plan, and my nutrition plan has literally been a dog's breakfast. Over the past month, I've reached an all-time low. I'm not exactly sure what has happened, but I am probably the unhealthiest I have been since last summer; I've stuffed myself with nutritionally void foods, and have gained so much weight, I no longer fit into my work trousers. And the race is here. And I have that nightmarish feeling - the regret, the shame, the worthlessness, and all that comes with it.
Is it stress? Self-sabotage? Fear? All of the above?
Either way, what am I going to do? I have to deal with this setback and try to get a handle on the self-shaming negative thoughts that are swirling around in my head as I skip workouts and gorge myself on cakes and potato chips.
John is frustrated with me. "Just get on the bike! Just follow the plan! Stop overthinking it!", he says. That's similar to the things I am telling myself in my own head. But the inner pep talks (more like self abuse!) translate into more of the same. And the results are predictable. Part of me just wants to crawl under the covers and wave the white flag. But part of me is still that same person who diligently adhered to each interval, paid attention to cadence and speed, practiced mindfulness and positive thoughts on the bike, and trained like she'd never trained before!! The same person who was so looking forward to seeing what she could do over 900km! Where is she???
Am I stupid? Lazy? Negative? Maybe. That's what my inner critic says ALL THE TIME. But what would a more compassionate view look like? Am I afraid of success? Afraid of failure? Afraid that despite all my previous efforts (let's not lose sight of the fact I have trained harder than ever this year), I may not be able to finish the race, so I might as well have an excuse as to why not?
I saw this online today:
I'd be lying if I said I knew the answer as to how to get out of this rut just a mere 14 days from the event. But I know what I don't need - more pressure. I need to be at peace with where I am. This is the only body I have to get me to South Africa and across those 900km; I better give it the credit it deserves.