This year, Iâ€™ve been exploring the concept of Grace. Not so much in the spiritual sense, and certainly not in the â€œpoise and balanceâ€ sensibility, though I suppose those are both relevant and present as well. Iâ€™m talking about the â€œgiving myself graceâ€ sort of practiceâ€”the practice of permission and forgiveness.
You see, as a mom, Iâ€™m plagued with a perpetual sense of guiltâ€”am I spending enough time with my kids? What was the last kind thing I said to my husband? I should have drafted that last email before leaving work for the week. Why didnâ€™t I get my butt out of bed for that early-morning mountain bike ride?
Of course, this transcends to my trainingâ€”but also it all sort of flies in the face of my previous yearâ€™s mission of investing mightily in myself to make me a better mom, wife, co-workerâ€”or does it?
Life is such a tight rope, like the lines I hope to ride at my first Wausau 24 [www.wausau24.com] next weekend. Of course, in my typical â€œgo big or go home,â€ â€œunattainable attainable goalâ€ style, my first-ever mountain bike race will be the double trail half-marathon Friday, followed by the 12-hour solo ride Saturday. Twelve hours seemed like enough.
So how have I trained for this endeavor, one that scares me beyond belief? Not as much as Iâ€™d like, letâ€™s start with that. Compared to last yearâ€™s Race Calendar, I feel sorely out of practice, if not out of shape. But thatâ€™s by design. You see, after an amazing season of gravel, one I will never forget, this spring I recommitted to giving some backâ€”paying it forward, so to speak. The one gravel ride I did, I committed to sticking with my girlfriends, so that it was a good training experience for one prepping for her first DK, the other just completing her first 100. Instead of sitting on Salsaâ€™s chaise lounge [link: www.chasethechaise.com], Iâ€™ve been supporting by volunteering at it. But most important of all, Iâ€™m intentionally trying to be more present at home, which has meant not riding some days, or not getting in as long of a run.
It was this recommitment that drew me to the Wausau 24 eventâ€”what Adam Schmidt has going on in the rolling hills of central Wisconsin is the embodiment of what weâ€™ve been trying to do with our kids and family. There are literally options for everyone, and in its 10th year, the atmosphere looked like th kind of combination of camping and biking.
But I also did buckle down:
- Since March, Iâ€™ve been running weekly on local trail, doing a combination of hill repeats and fartleks, sprints and longer distances.
- Two months out, I joined a small group of coworkers also doing the ride for Monday Morning Dirt sessionsâ€”weather allowing, of course.
- Also maintained a cross-training, high-intensity workout schedule at least five times a week, that have ranged from plyometric cardio work to weight training to hot yoga.
The plan going in was to camp together at Wausauâ€”maybe that means longer breaks here or there on Saturday, but hopefully it does what Iâ€™m always striving to doâ€”set an example for my children by way of an active, outdoor lifestyle. That said, a week beforehand, we lost our dog-sittersâ€”and it was just a lot to ask my husband to watch four kids under 10, support me and keep track of two marginally behaved lab-mixes.
So this weekend becomes, for me, a whole new level of soul-searching, of coming to terms with my training and giving myself that grace. Iâ€™ll be truly â€œsoloâ€ for this tripâ€”the first bike race Iâ€™ll ride without my husband running emotional (and technical) support. Weâ€™ll see if the â€œbalance and poiseâ€ somehow â€œspirituallyâ€ emerge day-ofâ€”but if not, Iâ€™m giving myself that grace, acknowledging my preparation (and its limitations) and having fun with it all just the same. Iâ€™ll let you know how it goes.