Thursday, April 2, 2009

One way ticket to Bonktown, puh-lease!

Better preface this post explaining a term well known to most endurance athletes, the dreaded bonk.
Runners World website has a great bonk article here,  and the Urban Dictionary touches on it too (NOT talking about definition 1).
There are many versions of bonking and many levels, but they all have a similar end to the story: public embarrassment as you stumble off the course barely in control of your limbs or body, but your brain is still with it enough for you feel every painful moment in astounding clarity.
Or so I'm told.  See, I have never bonked, or really come that close.  And this has been my Achilles heel in races & competition, I hit the course so bent on conserving energy for what is to come that I move like an 80 year old on a walker (a feisty 80 year old though).  And as a result, I have had some of the must humiliating race passes in history.  Once there was an 11 year old kid that skipped past me (that was my first tri), then there was the 72 year old woman that I finally passed on the last meters because she had to stoop down to tie her shoe laces.  The list goes on, but to preserve some of my dignity I'm going to stop here.

At the Miami Int tri the other day, my friend and training buddy Sue beat me on the bike.  Not by much, handful of seconds, but still - she beat me.  The funny thing is that I am a stronger cyclist (not to mention 10-15 years younger), so I should have beat her. Right?  Wrong, she proceeded to whoop my ass.  Granted Sue is a phenomenal runner, but I should be able to at least keep up on the friggin bike.  I did good on the swim, and then for reasons unbeknownst to me, I sat back on my bike and watched all the other pretty bikes, the nice scenery, the friendly volunteers - basically did whatever I could to distract myself from actually pushing it.
I don't know why, but this time around being passed got under my skin.  I stewed on it for a couple of weeks and ended on having a bit of a "come to jesus" talk with myself last Thursday. 
A talk about goals, commitment, racing truly, about finding my fighting spirit and bringing the heat.
On Friday I had my last class of the Taste of Vision Quest coaching on the bike.  The classes have been awesome - the goal was to come out of there with more power, upping our wattage.
I tested in at measly 137 watts (average over a 40 min time trial hilly course) - and as usual had plenty left by the time it was over.  I didn't bonk, but I didn't do what I was capable of either.
So on Friday morning, when it was time to test out, I came to class with a new found resolution in my belly.  I was going to race this test, and I was going to give it all I had. Sue was in that same class, and there was no chance in hell I was going to let the woman whoop my ass once again (I could really learn from her when it comes to racing).
We set up the bikes, warmed up, and then I popped my Gu and toed the line. 
Off we went, straight up the first steep virtual hill.  Caution to the wind, I hit it hard.  The downhill came, I popped in the big ring and raced my ass off down that hill too.  For the first time, I was completely focused on the bike, in the zone.  For the first time, mind wasn't monkeying all over.  It was just me, my Orbea bike, the music and the course ahead of me.  Zen.
At the end of the time trial, my heart rate was starting to hit the red zone, slight tunnel vision setting in, the chilly goosebumps made an appearance - and I was happier than pig in shit.
I had upped my watts average to 160.  The coach was blown away, said it was one of the biggest jumps they had seen and was really happy that I had stayed strong the whole way through.
I smiled big as I walked over to Starbucks to claim my reward latte - I smiled big the entire day.
I smiled even bigger the following Monday when we tested into another round of VQ - this time coach said I was allowed to recover some on the downhills - and I ended up with an average of 168 watts.

I found the fire within.

So now I have a new policy.  Every workout I do, I do to the fullest. No more tooling around the block or the loop, no more junk yards in the pool.  Each workout is a sacred privilege and will be treated that way.  I'm on a mission to reach my potential.  
I just bought a whole block of tickets to Bonktown.....


SunnyD said...

Holy crap girl....LOVE LOVE LOVE this post! You don't even know at what a perfect time it has come. WHy today, why today did I opt to put off work and stop for a visit....maybe because I too feel like I am not working to my potential and have too many excuses that are purely LAME. Really wish we could get together and push each other a little. Let's plan something. bonking!

Maggs said...

Great post. That is a serious problem of mine, giving all in each workout.

The razor blade is to cut the tire off the wheel (I use tubular tires) if you flat, or to slit your wrist if the wind is too much to handle...or you have a 2nd flat.