Thursday, January 5, 2012

Two Days to Stay Calm

Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012

I'm trying to stay calm.

In two days, I'll race my first nationals cross race. I have zero chance of winning, but I have, if everything goes perfectly, a decent chance of finishing in the top 20.

I've been doing everything I can this week to rest, recover, and mentally prepare.

And while I've been telling myself and anyone who would listen that it's just another race, I'm lying. It's nationals.

It's a bit of a circus now in Verona, right outside Madison, and I wish I was there. I check my twitter feed constantly between classes, and I keep the tab open at all times.

mwi cross teammate Patti Kaufmann, who does have a legitimate shot at winning a jersey today, goes off this afternoon.

Her 15-year-old son Ian Haupt, The Talent, rides tomorrow afternoon in the 15-16 junior category. He too has a legitimate shot at winning a jersey.

Me? I'm an old guy who has never been terribly fast, and who now has a gimpy leg as an excuse. But I still want to ride my brains and guts out. I want to leave nothing out on the course Saturday morning.

So today I'm spending as much time as possible visualizing me racing Saturday morning. I'm rehearsing what I'll say to myself if things are going really well, and I'm rehearsing what I'll say if the race is a disaster.

In the past, when I've trained for a peak, the race has been awful. The nervous energy and self-pressure added 30 pounds to my bike.

I'm physically ready, and I'll be rested and recovered by Saturday. I'm going to wear out the recovery tights, wearing them constantly at school and traveling. I have a bed set up for Friday night in Fergie's basement. He's racing at the same time, so I won't wake anyone with coffee and breakfast.

I'm planning the warmup routine on Saturday morning. What time I'll get there, what time to start warming up on the trainer. I'll pack all my clothing tonight so it's ready. I want to do this race as well as I possibly can.

Yesterday, I visited Dr. Matt, my chiropractor. I'll visit him again tomorrow morning.

Today, though, is all about mental rest and rehearsal. Visualizing smiling with righteous anger when I'm climbing that hill in the mud, visualizing picking off one guy after another in a slow progression to the front.

Truly, I will be satisfied with 50th if I race as hard as I can. If I'm slow, I'm slow. If I finish 14th, that's great too.

So be it.

Just so you know, I'm adding a little snarl and anger into the mental rehearsal, though. Get out of my way because I'm not using those brakes much, and I'll be taking a lot of risks, especially in that downhill section.

Behind that smile, then, will be one fired-up, old, gimpy-legged, angry dude, who knows this is the last race of the year, and I've got nothing to lose.

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