Training for big races means a big shift in priorities. Luckily, lots of our friends are cycling fanatics like us, so it almost feels normal now. However, it can also be tough to juggle the to-do list of everyday life when you are putting your body through so much physical effort. It is important for us to remind ourselves from time to time that we are not pro athletes and both have full-time jobs as well as other competing priorities and stressors. And therefore, we need to cut ourselves some slack when things pile up and the to-do list feels never ending.
This morning, we were up by 4:30AM. Today, Friday, is the first day of the weekend here in the Middle East. John was off to an MTB race in Al Khor, while I was meeting Nats again for some more endurance base building in Dukhan - an area of Qatar with some rolling hills that provide what little elevation we can find for road rides.
John is just getting back from a hectic trip to the UK and a long flight with little sleep before heading straight to work on Wednesday morning. If it were me, I think I would have stayed in bed this morning to catch up on sleep, but he is dedicated and didn't want to miss the race. His result was decent, all considered. Results are forthcoming, but he finished in around ninth place in a strong men's field.
I won the women's category of this race last year, and really enjoyed the short but challenging course, so I was on two minds about missing it. But due to my long break this summer, and my more endurance-focused goals, I knew (and more importantly, my coach knows!) that I need to be putting in some kilometres. I did have some FOMO over missing out not only on the opportunity to race, but also on the social aspect of it. The Filipino MTB community are very enthusiastic about organizing races, and put a lot of effort into making every event feel like a special occasion. So, it's sad to miss out on it, but I am trying to be intentional about my goals and listen to my coach more.
Nats and I managed 72km before the heat became too much for us, and it was a great way to start the weekend. However, I needn't point out the obvious fact that 72km is a far cry from the 200+ I will need to cover for five days straight in Oman. Bikingman Oman is a race that has 9000m of climbing, 2000m of which are covered on one intimidating mountain - Jebal Shams - the highest peak in Oman and part of the Hajar mountain range.
Granted, in February the heat won't be such an issue, and I will have 17 more weeks of training under my belt than I do at the moment. After all, I am just starting my training again. I must remind myself that I've only been back with my coach for two weeks (feels much longer - thanks, Szymon!! ;)
Image: Jenn's Strava mileage from 27 October 2017
And these are not excuses. I'll get there and I'm committed to the training plan. I'm just wrestling with my own harsh self-criticism, and facing questions like, "Will I be able to do it?" and my inner critic mocking me, "You're this tired and hurting after only 72kms?? How will you manage 200 a day for five days in a row?" It's a cruel and nasty voice, but I know it serves a purpose. It drives me, it makes me stronger, and it helps me acknowledge where I can grow.
In the meantime, laundry is piling up, and I still haven't found the will to get to the supermarket. The to-do list is growing, but I am guided by clear priorities and not beating myself up about the things that are getting put off until tomorrow. I like to ask myself, in a year or five years from now, will this matter? As long as I'm prepared for my training, have enough healthy meals for the week, and my bike is ready to go, I'm halfway there already!