It really is amazing to see what a little dose of confidence can do. Some people just get into a rut and let their confidence and self image slip. In normal everyday life that self perception has certain connotations but in the world of athletics and competition it can have far more dramatic and damaging consequences. After all, the difference between a good and bad performance is often 100% mental and having a negative self perception or lack of confidence in your ability will inevitably become a self fulfilling prophecy. I know. Like most of us, I've certainly been there, though quietly I probably suffer from this complex less that most. I'm one of those people (fools) that chooses to ignore reality and regularly overestimate my athletic ability.
Last week we did our normal Tuesday night training ride. The ride, as I have mentioned before, is a road ride consisting of about a dozen sprint intervals, primarily on up-slopes. We regroup and recover in between the sprint intervals, each of which is between 20 seconds and a couple minutes long. This past week we had a feisty group and things got hot as soon as we hit the open road. The hammer-fest kicked in and soon we forgot about the recover portion of the show. It was pretty much just game on the whole night. Good stuff for sure.
I mention this ride for one reason. Cathy decided to join, which she has in the past. She had been a little down on her results and her abilities, at least that was my take from the outside based on what I was seeing. In reality, I could see that she was not racing anywhere near her potential. When she wants to go, she can go. There are few women I know that can pull through at 25mph and bump the pace up, but she is one of them. If we get her climbing ability under control she would be deadly. I believe that is an easy fix as well, she just needs to want it and believe it; believing or more, knowing that she can climb. I honestly wish that I had half of the potential and natural ability that she does.
Anyhow, on the Tuesday training ride last week Cathy made a dramatic transformation. She got angry and she dug her heels in and she rode to her potential. What happened next was that she had no problems hanging on all but the longest and steepest sprints but she also started dropping some of the guys (no names mentioned). I could literally see her getting more and more confident as the ride went on. We had a great ride and the more important part was what happened this past weekend when it came time to race.
That renewed confidence gained on Tuesday evening was still there come Saturday morning. Cathy raced better and stronger than she had all cyclocross season. She wasn't just sitting back and letting the competition dictate her race, she was driving her race. This resulted in a great result on Saturday. Sunday was looking even better, with a really strong performance going in a much tougher field. Unfortunately while sprinting hard to get on a wheel coming through for the lap she pulled out of her pedal and nearly crashed. The violent weight shift ended up tweaking the front wheel pretty badly, unbeknown to her at the time. Fortunately she managed to keep it upright and finished the race without loosing position but lost the other racer that she had been working together with all day.
This is one of the times where a carbon-fiber rimmed front wheel paid off as the incident simply stressed a bunch of the spokes causing the wheel to come out of true. However, the rim was rigid enough that it didn't collapse. An alloy rimmed wheel would have likely taco'd and collapsed, causing a catastrophic crash. Last night when we got home, I pulled the tubular tire off and trued the wheel up (internal spoke nipples) without issue. I glued the tire back on and all is set.
The point here is that racing is largely a mental game. Much of competition deals with your minds ability to get your body to suffer. If your head isn't in it, your body never will be either. Believe in yourself and the ability that you've shown to have. It's there, you just need to realize it and take advantage. How's that for motivation.