Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Rise and Fall - aka Groundhog Year

For me, it's always about 'cross. Road season is simply a way to kill time and maintain fitness en route to 'cross season. Every year as 'cross season comes and goes the range of emotions and behaviors are similar. With few exceptions, I finish the season strong and on something of a high. Fitness is high, motivation is high and generally speaking there's a high from hanging out with like minded friends every weekend. Work travel is scheduled around racing and training whenever possible, food choices are generally healthy, and despite the fact that no one pays us to race, we generally lead a better lifestyle because we race.

The end of the season always brings a range of emotions. I remember being a kid at summer camp, and on the last day you were sad to see your friends go, but you were also excited to go home. Pick-up might be from 10am-2pm and as it got closer to 2 and more and more kids were gone, it was sort of a bummer. For me, the 'cross race on the Friday after Thanksgiving was like being picked up at 1:30. Some people's seasons had ended a week or two ago, and although some people were headed to New England or Nationals, for all intents and purposes it was time to go home. I was bummed, but on the other hand, I welcomed a break in structure.

Structure has always played a pivotal role in my life . . . as Mrs. Skinny will tell you. To some extent, I've come to realize that the lows encountered at the end of the season are simply part of the process and as a byproduct, part of the structure. I can try to fight it, I can try to train through it, but ultimately what goes up, must come down and that's part of my baggage in life. In my case, lack of structure tends to ultimately end in a bad food/booze induced bender followed by the realization that I need to promptly get past "that" kind of devolved structure and back to the more conventional structure. Frankly I'm not sure that sentence even makes any sense, but hopefully the two or three people reading this get my point.

At a recent "social mixer" I was talking to a local triathlete that was essentially describing a similar range of emotions and experience after completing a 70.3. You train with your friends, you're hyper-focused and boom it's over. Sure there will be next year, but "summer camp" is over this year. During our discussion it pretty much occurred to me that although the post season low I experience after 'cross season is a downer to say the least, it's simply a means to an end and with winter comes long training rides in the dark and snow with Tim O., and before I know it we will be driving to Albany for the early spring races. Next stop Black Fly on the CX bike, MTBing, TNTS races, rinse, repeat, and back to 'cross season. Did I mention I like structure? I'll keep experimenting with ways to diffuse the post season low, but knowing that the post season high is inevitably going to lead to a post season low is half the battle. It's a merry-go-round that's worth riding.

Now if we could just get some snow on the roads so that the pure roadies will be stuck skiing or on the trainer for fitness, then I'll be truly happy.

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