Me and Dzangel

Me and Dzangel
RMC 5K 2007

Monday, June 13, 2011

Hard enough?

It's been a couple weeks, so it's time for some fresh rambling. I've got some thoughts rambling around in my tiny brain and a fresh pot of coffee. Don't worry, it's decaf, so this shouldn't be too long or disconnected.
I did the Big Ring Classic yesterday, June 12, at Nine Mile Forest. I had a pretty good race. Great start, rode the single track well and pushed hard up the hills. I finished well, 4th in my age class and 88 out of 222 overall. Not too bad for an old guy. Maybe went out a bit hard, but that's not unusual.
On the ride home, Tammy and I were talking about our races. She was saying how the hills kicked her butt and that she needs to work on that. I mentioned that I was mostly pleased with my race. But I wondered, did I give it all I had? Did I push hard enough? I was a little beat at the end but I'm pretty sure I could have done another lap.
I've been thinking about this for the better part of a week. What got me thinking about this is some blog and social media postings about people being injured during/because of their training.
One of our sons has called me a "genetic freak". As weird as that sounds I take it as a compliment. At least I think that's how he meant it. Okay, barely started and already it seems I'm rambling. Believe me, I'm going somewhere with this!
I turned 50 years old earlier this year. I've been running, cycling, cross country skiing and other silent sports since I was in junior high school. Throw in mostly consistent weight training once or twice per week. I've been competing since I was 25. Holy crap, it doesn't seem like I've been racing 25 years. I've had a little local success. I've done 5K's to a marathon, road and trail races, road and mountain biking, cross country ski ultras. I'm not good but I'm a multi-sport threat. I'm no elite/pro racer but I have raced one level below (comp in the WORS series) some years back.
Through all of this training and racing and just enjoying my outdoor sports I've never really been injured. I had achilles tendinitis (okay, self diagnosed) one spring when I tried piling on the bike miles too quick. I've had the occasional ache and twinge. During racing or training I've never crashed my bike bad. The odd unplanned dismount here and there but nothing serious. Although if you look at my left elbow you might wonder otherwise. No real overuse injuries. No torn muscles, ligaments or tendons. No dislocated shoulders or even serious road rash. No ITB or PF. I better shut up or I may tempting the wrath of the deities.
This is what has me wondering, am I pushing hard enough? I've never finished a race or workout and wanted to throw up. To me that's a good thing. But am I leaving it all out there? Believe me, I want to do my best. I am competitive. My last two races have involved pretty hard sprints for the line. One of them was for a placing in my age group and a podium spot. If I see a runner/biker ahead of me on a training ride it turns into a personal race to see if I can catch him. I'm serious in my training. It may not be very structured but I usually have a plan, at least in my head. I have followed training plans. Tweaked for my weird work schedule, but they were training plans. I do tempo runs, intervals, track work, long rides and I commute by bike. I've trained/raced when it was 100 degrees and when it was well below zero. I do this while working rotating shift work six days per week. Sorry if this sounds like I'm tooting my own horn, just trying to make that elusive point.
All this, and like I stated no injuries. So that's where I come up with this question. Am I pushing hard enough? Maybe I just don't have that killer instinct. I don't think that's it. I may not run people over to pass during a race, but believe me, I'll do almost anything else to get by. Maybe I just need to turn it up a notch. Maybe I need to find that fine line and see how close I can get. Maybe when it starts to hurt a little in that next 5K I need to suck it up instead of letting up. I'd like to do well at my next WORS race, not that I don't want to do well at them all. Maybe I need to push until it hurts and then push just a little harder? When that lead group starts to get away I guess I need to put my head down and find another gear. But hey, check out the photo, I am pushing and trying to pass that rider in front of me!
I wonder if my bike commuting takes just a little away from my training. It is time intensive. Leave for work an hour or more early, drive part way, get on the bike and then repeat on the way back. My eight hour day ends up being more like almost twelve hours. Plus, it's hard to do sprints or a hard tempo ride on the bike wearing that big backpack. But, I don't plan on giving it up. It is miles, it makes me feel good and I'm polluting the air a little less and using less gas.
I'm going to start to push the training little harder, or at least try. See just how much more I can squeeze out of this tired old body. I'll let you know how it goes.
Thanks for suffering through this disjointed ramble today.
Gotta run.........harder.........