Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Nitty Gritty

….I told you I was in hiding.

But I have emerged.

…Unlike spring in Chicago.

(it was 40 with winds gusting to 30 mph and pouring rain today)

That is all I have to say about that.

In bewteen floor installations and bad weather I have been training. Indoors of course. In fact, I’m considering going for the record of most indoor rides in one year. In fact, I think I may attempt the entirely indoor season. I am only going to ride in my basement and see how it goes. I’ve seen nothing on my bike but Berber carpeting for about 5 months now. Please read that sentence again. It cracks me up to read about people that need motivation to get out and ride their bike…uh…..look around. If you are outside and see something blue or green you have no idea how motivating that is. Berber carpeting? Not so motivating. It’s not a matter of which course will I ride today, it’s a matter of which way will I point the fan. Do I want a headwind, tailwind or cross wind. The most exciting thing? We got a new fan this year so that means I can have both head AND tailwind on a ride.

Can you do that outside?

Don’t answer that.

Speaking of headwind, I was riding in the basement on Saturday on the Computrainer. About 2 hours into it, after asking Chris if it was calibrated right, was my rear brake on, is there something wrong with my bike (when a ride goes south it is first best to try to point the blame anywhere but your own legs) – Chris dutifully pulled out the Shepherd’s Hook he keeps in the closet for days when I stubbornly refuse to accept that I am done and said to me “Liz, you are done” and without any protest I dismounted the bike.

Turns out it wasn’t me. Chris later realized that he had the “headwind” turned on with the Computrainer. So, 2 hours into a headwind for real while staring at Berber carpeting. Like I said, looking at blue or green – ZIP IT. As for myself, I am going to hang a piece of carpet in front of my face while racing so I can feel properly motivated and in my zone.

In other weather-related news, on Monday I had a track workout on schedule. I LOVE THE TRACK! Especially when it’s 40 and pouring rain. Seriously this is not a joke. So I took my track workout indoors. It hurts my hamstrings just to say that. I’m motivated but not stupid. Track when it’s cold and raining = stupid. Track indoors = slightly stupid but at least you are warm which counts for heat acclimation useful for races later this year which cancels out stupidity of doing the indoor track. Holy turns! I never want to do that again. But since it didn’t kill me from boredom or turning, I can assume it made me stronger.

And if my calculations are correct, I have about 5 months of stronger in storage and ready to rage on race day.

This just in: I survived Easter without eating chocolate. We did the annual family trip to Easter brunch and I wasn’t feeling right. That is the best way to arrive at Easter brunch if you are hoping to cause the least damage. As Kevin pointed out, there was 500 square feet of dessert table.

I did not even set eyes on any of it.

My mom bought me Peeps, I did not eat them. There were even chocolate bunnies – they got nothing from me. Not even an ear bit off. I am convinced I was sick for 24 hours with a rumble in my tummy and a tired in my head. Then it passed. Then I wanted chocolate. But I gave it up 2 weeks ago because races are getting closer and it’s time to start eating clean again. I’ve spent 5 months eating dirty. Dirty like a sin and I’m trying to clean up my act.

So far, so good except I did eat the marshmellow out of a chocolate egg the other day.

But just one bite.

You may ask why I would do this? For me it’s about sacrifice and getting hungry for something else. When we fill ourselves up with everything we want we feel satiated. When we make a hole in one of our wants it opens us up for something else. I have other wants coming up. I am getting hungry for them. I need a place to put them and it can’t be clogged up with chocolate, know what I mean?

But don’t even think for one minute that after my first race I will not make a beeline to the nearest DQ for a large blizzard crammed with peanut butter cups and cookie dough.

Sacrifice is a good thing. You never get something for nothing. If you do, it’s probably not worth it. The things worth most in life cost the much. I should know we just installed wood floors. NOT CHEAP.

Did you want the coverage of Clearwater the other day? Aside from wanting to buy a pair of new glasses, it made me realize how many sacrifices are made in our sport. Closely I watched the faces and bodies of the top pros move across that course. One thing that stood out was how hungry they looked. Did you see it? I think no one did it better than MB-Ellis. You could see how bad she wanted where she was in that race and how hard she was willing to work to stay there. I have never seen such a death grip on aero bars. Or the look on her face when she crossed the line? It was the look of – all you have to do is go hard for 4 hours and hang on to it, how bad do you want it, are you willing to clench your fists and grit your teeth for it?

I’d say she was, she had her mouth open and eyebrows furrowed even after she crossed the line. I wanted someone to walk up to her and say: you can breathe now, it's ok.

You know what that was there? Grit. The best competitors have grit and know how to use it when the time counts. Grit is that raw animal hunger that makes us impervious to anything else on race day. A result of sacrifice and wanting something so bad. Grit keeps us going towards our goals no matter if it rains on course, we get a flat, or as in Miss Daisy’s case we crap ourselves. Grit is fierce and wanting, grit is tightening your body and narrowing your eyes to really get after it.

Grit is grrr.....

Winter has made us gritty. With spring being washed away and chilled – the grit only builds. The Midwest is not making nice right now. And when we are finally unleashed on a race course, we will take on your sunny days and sandy beaches and raise you a middle finger to what is becoming our life in winter all year 'round. Why? Because we are angry and pent up like caged animals right now. We’re feeling a little gritty here and ready to hang on. We know all it will take is hurting and holding it for 1, 2, 3, 4+ hours. But what’s any of those hours when you’ve spent months in your basement staring at berber carpeting?

Nothing compared to where we've been. And we've got the grit to show.

To get extra gritty I am refusing to shower until race day. That combined with no chocolate makes me an attractive to spend time with right now. Imagine if I also gave up coffee.


Why do I scare myself like that?


D said...

I DEFINITELY have to agree that MB Ellis looked like she was going to tear someone's head off if they got in her way. It was awwwwwesome. I like it!

Jennifer Harrison said...

Hilarious! And, OH SO TRUE. I, of course, read this as I am getting ready to ride my Comptrainer AGAIN after being on yesterday too. Oh well...grit....isn't that the truth? Without it...athletes just go thru the motions and accept the status quo. With it - they can do anything!

And, we have berber (how do you spell that?) carpet in the basement too..and orange walls...

but, I keep my goals on the wall down there and a picture of someone no one will know, and I get to stare at that nearly everyday. Better than the outlet.

PS Yesterday, I watched CSI Miami, Crossing Jordan and another 1 hour show - with one eye on the TV and another on the carpet.

I wish GRIT could be taught - and sometimes it can - but usually it comes from deep within.


Angela and David Kidd said...

I rode outside last Friday and the entire time was cursing all of those people who get to live and train in Hawaii, Florida, California...well, anywhere not the midwest.

And giving up chocolate. That's just crazy talk.

kerri said...

Good one Liz...as I hear the sound of the pouring rain hit the 43 degree pavement and wonder how the heck am I going to get 13 miles of running in??? Sufferin with ya...no more scares with the coffee, eh? Vital component to endurance training and sanity. Cheers.

Wes said...

I subscribe to foodie blogs, and I just had a recipe for deep fried peeps come across my reader. Really!

My condolences to Chris (until race day)!


cheryl said...

Elizabeth - you Chicago girls are so tough! I don't know how you do it. I was happy to read that even you pros have the season of 'I want to eat chocolate' and have to replace it with 'I still want chocolate but I'll give it up because I want to race fast even more'. Its a struggle for me. I'm trying hard. I hope I can do it.

Kim said...

I might be giving you a run for your money with that trainer number for spring. It's raining again, I guess I'll be on it again tonight. You're right about the grit though, I'm ready to tear my own arm off if I have to see it too many more times. Hope the floors are coming out nice! Can't wait to see pics!

Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

If I could make it any easier for you, I would. But I've got a feeling you wouldn't accept it - because you're super hardcore and tough, unwilling to ever take the easy way out. Bravo on the blog and grit thing. Come race time, I'll LAUGH as you raise your middle finger and devour the competition. Bravo!

Charisa said...

Good luck with that computrainer wind - I think it's going to make you STRONG! :)

triEVielon said...

So funny! I can relate to the Computrainer. Sometimes I close my eyes and imagine I'm on my favorite trail or riding on the Eastern Shore on a warm, sunny day.

It's like triathlon purgatory that basement... that which doesn't kill...

Here's hoping spring finally finds you and you decide to bathe ;-)