Although I have raced Trans-Sylvania Epic twice before, this is my first ride here now that I am working as a coach with PLAN7 Endurance Coaching. So today I have the option to be bummed on my own ride, my own luck and my own resulting mental state, or I can choose to be utterly stoked for my teammate who won the stage and for my athletes racing here who had fantastic rides.
three and four minutes down on 1st and 2nd, one second (!) up on fourth and 20 seconds up on my teammate in fifth. So I was feeling the ladies nipping at my heels. I was looking for a little breathing room!
As for my ride today, I had a good ride for the first part of the race until just before aid station #1. I was mixing it up with the other top five ladies and feeling happy and strong. (I even had the honor of riding the wheel of one Mary McConnelog for most of the first singetrack section and that was a thrill I won’t soon forget). I flatted on a super fun rocky descent - perhaps I was having a bit too much fun! It was only about a mile to the first aid station so I decided to just ride and run it in.
Unfortunately, due to some poor planning and follow through on my part, the spare wheel I was counting on when I arrived at the aid - well, it didn’t exist. (Half the battle at these races is execution!) I am lucky enough to have fantastic support from NoTubes here at TransSylvania so even though we weren't able to just swap out the wheel, the guys did a flat change for me and I took the opportunity to drink and eat. According to my Garmin, the stopped time at the aid was 4:44. I’m guessing I lost another minute or two riding the mile into the aid on a flat. But, all in all, not a huge amount of time lost. But the time I lost AFTER the flat, being a head-case, beating myself up and focusing on the time lost, was where the real damage was done.
As a coach, I work with my athletes all the time about staying focused and not letting mishaps like this get in their heads. There are literally millions of articles and resources to improve mental strength and focus. And, go figure, I can give the advice but I’m still working out how to follow it myself.
But back to my original point. Though the stage is over now, the mental battle is still being waged. I don’t know results yet, nor have I seen time gaps. But I still know I lost a lot of time out there. (Frankly, I don’t really want to see results!) I know I suffered and feel dejected and demoralized. In this super strong and close field, where I didn’t want to give an inch, I feel like I have given a mile. But I can choose to focus on that stuff and continue to be in my head or I can take pride in my athletes, who battled through an incredibly difficult stage, slayed challenging climbs, rocky singletrack and stayed focused when the going got tough. The easier option is to continue wallowing. But I choose option 2 - I am beyond excited for my teammate Vicki who always seems to have bum luck here at her hometown throwdown but took a monster victory today. I am proud and happy for my athletes racing here who conquered their own demons and are charging through this monster week.
I may have given the other ladies here a mile but I’m choosing to focus on the good stuff and there is plenty of that.
Sarah Kaufmann (Stan's NoTubes Elite Women's Team) is heading back to central Pennsylvania for the 2014 Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race. Follow Kaufmann's adventures in her blog here as she contends for the overall GC win during the seven-day races in the State College, Pennsylvania area.
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