On Sunday I woke up with a hangover. I opened my eyes, and the first thing I felt (besides the tell-tale signs of overconsumption: headache, nausea, dizziness) was anger. I knew I’d blown the chance to start early on my four hour long gravel ride, and I lay for a while feeling sorry for myself. (Cue father’s voice in my head: self pity stinks, Holly). I fell back asleep and two hours later when the morning was about to turn into the afternoon I finally got myself up and ready for the ride. Pulled together what I have come to think of my “gravel package”: my cross bike, hydration pack, snacks, salt, helmet, glasses and kit. I outfitted myself while simultaneously swallowing my smoothie, coffee and water, praying that the sick feeling in my guts would pass as soon as I started pedalling. Walked out to the bike shed: no lock key. Jingled the lock like it might magically pop open, despite key. No luck.

Damnit.

Knowing Jon had the key I needed, I texted him and went back inside. I felt so physically lousy I considered laying back down, but instead decided that a little self-punishment would be more suitable. Took Pal up to the dog park, started the laundry, swept the floor and then Jon came home. I shoved my bike in the back of the jeep, sped out to the mountains and parked in my usual location off of RR 40 and pulled out my bike. I zipped up my jersey, pulled on my pack, and realized that I didn’t have my shoes.  I DIDN’T HAVE MY BIKE SHOES! DAMNIT, HOLLY!image1-8

I decided to use my anger to kick my own car tire and I stomped around for a few minutes, wanting very much to throw a punch at something. But there was nothing to punch and my anger was only for myself. For sleeping in, for being hungover, for not being organized. It was the weekend that marked one month to go until Dirty Kanza  and I blew the chance to ride big on back-to-back days. Curses.

I’ve spent so much time on the saddle the last six weeks I have wondered, almost endlessly, why I chose to do this.  After watching (and reading) Simon Sinek’s Start with Why last year, I’ve tried to apply this astonishingly easy principle I apply to pretty much everything. Standing somewhere in rural Alberta, kicking my own car tire, I am trying to remember why. WHY I chose this event, WHY I wanted to complete this task, WHY I was training.

Training for DK 200 has gone like this: for the last two months of 2015 and the first three months of 2016 I carried a load that was triathlon based but slightly bike-heavy; continuing to swim, bike and run (and base build) with business as usual.  Most weeks I trained around ten hours a week. In early March I cut out running and everywhere there was usually a run workout I added a bike workout, striving to ride ten hours a week and swim a couple hours (bump up to around twelve to thirteen hours a week). According to The Strava group of Dirty Kanza, I am pretty average in my training load, although I am unsure how I stack up against other women because the group is mostly men. In April I went to Mallorca for 17 days, first balancing training and work and then just training. Mallorca was a huge confidence builder for both fitness and volume, and I managed to put back around twenty five hours a week. Somewhere in Spain was the first tell-tale sign I was training for a big event: I started to get cranky. image1-9

Return to Calgary and I dialled up the gravel bike, steeling myself for only gravel riding until the event. My goal was to hold around twelve to fifteen hours a week of riding, with two twenty hour weeks in there before the event. Much like training for a marathon and staring longly at my bikes, I am now training for a long distance cycling event and staring longingly at my sneakers. I ground my teeth as I read about the “near perfect single track conditions” in Bragg Creek, and I started to get antsy to get back on the mountain bike. This week I cut out swimming, my final triathlon related event, from now until taper. I woke up this morning and was unsure what to do with myself, because for the last four years I’ve swam just about every Tuesday and Thursday morning with Triathlon Club, week in, week out. I miss running, I miss swimming. I miss weight training and yoga and patio beer with friends. I have relinquished almost every household duty to Jon. Every spare minute is filled with riding and now I am tired. It’s not surprising why I’ve gotten a little cranky.

I am having a tough time setting expectations for the ride, and choosing a goal for the event. Given the time I’ve spent on the Alberta gravel, I understand it behaves differently based on a number of factors: if it’s wet or dry, if the gravel is larger rock or smaller, if the gravel is littered with grit, dust and farm debris, if it’s been packed down by cars or cattle. Some gravel it would be possible to ride between 20km-23km an hour, some gravel it’s hardly possible to ride 15km an hour. Depends on the gravel. Depends on the rider. Depends, depends, ugh. Dirty Kanza just shared a blog on twitter where a rider shared he rides 300 miles every week. Let that sink in for a minute: three hundred MILES every week. At first I thought, oh, this must be a pro. No. Surely he’s single with no kids. No. Surely he doesn’t work. Nope. Despite all of his commitments he’s still riding three hundred miles a week and to this I say, DAMN.

I’ve read that comparison is the thief of joy, and for athletics I think comparison is the thief of confidence. It’s like finding out that you and Princess Kate are the same height but she weighs 20 pounds less than you or that you’re happy with your prep for Dirty Kanza until you find out some yahoo is riding double your mileage every week.

At this point in time, three and a half weeks out from the event, I won’t gain any more fitness but I can put in more time. Finish the month with high volume of rides. Extend the mental capacity I will require to finish a very long day in early June. This is the best I can do for now and the best I can do for June, is believe in myself. Even though I’m no Princess Kate.