What the hell was I thinking?

What the hell was I thinking?

Pretty sure that would be the title of my memoir, though I don’t presume anyone would care enough to read mine. This phrase runs through my brain about a million times a week.

Gotta get up and train? What the hell was I thinking, signing up for yet another race?

Gotta go to work? What the hell was I thinking, going to grad school just to write about fancy dirt?

Gotta get dressed to leave the house to see other humans? What the hell was I thinking, making plans when I have a perfectly good couch to sit on at home?

As I sit here writing this, I am dreading a 4-hour ride tomorrow on my own. I am terrified of riding open roads, so each week, my long ride proves to be the hardest workout for me as it brings so much additional fear. I normally have at least one buddy, but schedules were tough this week and I have to hit it on my own. Riding alone on open roads is a thought that brings tears to my eyes and a pit of dread to my stomach. WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING, ASSUMING I COULD TRAIN FOR AN IRONMAN????

Here is what my anxiety-ridden mind is telling me:
– You’re going to fizzle out and not be able to get back to the car, then no one will come help you and you’ll get stuck alone out there.
– It might be super trafficky for once and a car might clip you and you’ll die in a ditch and no one will know.
– You might get TWO flats and you can only carry enough stuff to fix one.
– Four hours is too much for you. You’ve done well up to 3.5. That’s your limit. You can’t do this. Doesn’t matter that you’ve done it before, and more. This is now, and now you can’t do it.
– This might be the day you can’t check a workout off your list at 100%. And when you get to Louisville, if you have a bad ride, it’ll be due to f&$king this training ride up. Every.workout.matters.
– You’ve been doing too well. You are bound to start failing any second now. This is not you. This is just a streak of luck.

Here are some facts I can identify and try to cling to:
– Yes, it’s my longest ride yet this year, but I’ve done a century. I can do 4 hours.
– It’s zone 1 work. I do not have to kill the hills, I just have to spin up them.
– Being alone means I don’t have to worry about anyone getting lost or holding anyone back. I only have to worry about myself, and getting myself safely through intersections.
– Every workout counts, and I’m not taking it “easy” (haha, like any of this is easy) and riding alone on flat paths. I am challenging myself and my limits by riding roads and hills. This is good for me.
– I.don’t.miss.sh*t. I will not miss this. I will start pedaling, and keep pedaling for 4 hours, and then I will run 30 minutes. And then the most stressful workout of the weekend will be done.
– I will get to the start line in Louisville and know I have absolutely done everything in my power to be as ready as possible. I will know I have pushed beyond my comfort zone, not taken the easy way out, and not made excuses.

My reality is often one where I struggle to parse fact from fiction, paranoia from perception, assumption from authenticity. My mind attempts to control my actions, and I find myself constantly second guessing my thoughts and trying to realign them closer to what I believe is true. It’s just so natural to believe the worst about myself and my abilities, and even though I prove myself wrong regularly, I still somehow have not yet managed to stop this anxiety-induced cycle of constant self-doubt and worry. It’s exhausting, and makes every training session harder, but also more gratifying.

So as tomorrow approaches and I prepare my bike, my nutrition, my gear and my mind, I will try to answer “What the hell was I thinking??” with “I was thinking I can do this.” FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT.

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