Trans Iowa was the most epic race for me this year. I was nervous. What did I get myself into? Would I be prepared? What equipment, tool or nutrition am I missing? Would I be able to hang with people? What should I know that I don’t know yet?
Looking back, I learned that 80% of this race is mental. Yes, it would be a good idea to get a few centuries in before but Trans Iowa was not decided how fit I was (of course, a certain fitness is required) but how I dealt with myself in my darkest moments. I was teaching myself a certain attitude that nothing can stop me – whether it is weather, sleep-deprivation, hunger, thirst or the blister on my pinky.
But to successfully apply this “No obstacle is too big” attitude, I had to train it.
To get ready for the worst, I had to train in the worst. I had to ride when it was the most humbling with no glory or Strava segments to get. Most of those rides were alone. No one else wanted to join. That was the best indicator for a bad ride.
I still remember one particular time that tested whether I stuck to my own philosophy. Every Wednesday I joined a group ride which was 15 miles away from my place. One day in January, I decided to ride to the group ride. On the way it started raining. The group ride was still happening but we shortened it because it got colder, windier and darker. Everyone was shivering. During the last few miles when we were heading towards the end point of the group ride I was debating with myself. I could easily ask one of the riders to drive me home, sitting in a nice warm, dry car, preferably with seat heating. Or I could ride the 15 miles in this wet, cold, and dark condition home.
The car option was winning!
But then my conscience reminded me of Trans Iowa. Would there be an option on the course where I could get a ride? That would be called “giving up.”
I had to ride home!
To avoid someone potentially offering me a ride I didn’t do the usual stop and chit-chat at the end point and just headed towards home. It was cold, wet, windy and dark, but I made it. I realized that more treacherous conditions had to come to make me give up!
Trans Iowa is like an obstacle course with unknown hurdles along the way. Every rider gets their own personal obstacles. It will not be perfect so it’s about how to deal with the imperfection. On a few rides, I simulated running out of water and food. I was thinking of every “worst-case” scenario possible and how I would deal with it. What if I get lost? What if my lights run out of battery? How will I feel at 2 am and how my body will try to convince me to stop and how I will convince my body not to stop. (Cinnamon rolls did the trick for me)
Trans Iowa is an epic event; it is an exciting journey with great people. It is an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment when crossing that finish line! I am very excited for everyone who will race TI 2014!