Many many years ago, when I was just a wee child, I remember learning that if you work hard, it pays off. Although that really is true to some extent, the other side of the story, which they don't quite tell you in the children's books and fables, is that life isn't fair.
I explain this to students when they complain about having worked really hard and not gotten the grade they wished for.
Disgruntled Student: "but you don't understand, Professor. I spent 20 hours on this assignment"
Me: "I know it seems unfair, but it doesn't actually matter how much time you spent on it. In the real world, if your boss asks you to design a bridge, you have to design a bridge that won't fall down....it doesn't matter if it takes you 2 hours or 20 hours or 2000 hours...although if it takes you 2000 hours you might be looking for a new job..."
As a professional, it is not about the hours you put in, but the output. This concept does not often seem fair, but it is the way it is.
And sadly enough, it is the way it is in athletics as well. I am really frustrated right now with my riding, to the point where I often question why I do it at all. I question everything, from why I ride, to why I train, to why I am slower than I'd like to be. I remember when I was in 5th grade track. I signed up for 'distance running' because it was deemed 'hard'. Why do I always put myself through so darn much pain? I was not good at it...but worked really hard to become mediocre. Same thing in high school cross country. I was not great, but worked really hard, and eventually made one of the all-state honorable mention teams. Every race was torture.
I have been climbing. A lot. The week of Christmas, I did OSM/Painted cave/ECC FOUR times! Well, three-and-a-half. ONe of those times I got to ECC and felt so bad I had a mini meltdown and just came home. I am trying to capture my inner mountain goat, only to find out that there just isn't one! I haven't been putting in as many hours--just not motivated to be in the saddle that much, the rest of life has become more interesting and important. On Saturday, I climbed Refugio, and camino cielo until the road turns into dirt. It was brutal. Even after all of my climbing training, and a bit of a rest while I was in the Bay area, things should have been good....but alas I was as slow as ever. My new Garmin said I was anaerobic for the entire climb. This cannot be right. 1.5 hours of anaerobic? Maybe my LT has shifted since I last tested it... I climbed with friends, and they all kicked my butt. Seriously.
And then, being my competitive self, I looked at the hillclimb results. One of our local superstar runners had dusted off her bike after 18 months (yes, she hadn't ridden in 18 months), and decimated the competition (well, except for Lyne Bessette....but I don't think she counts), posting a time the likes of which I will never see.
Moral of the story? Hmmm. Life is really not fair. I'm not really sure what that means for me, maybe just another point of reflection. The bottom line is that I'm too competitive to play this game when I'm out of my league. I don't like to be the person everyone waits for at the top of each hill, and yet I just don't have enough hours in the day (or the desire) to train 15-20 hours a week right now. I love to race crits because I am a power rider, and I think I can win most of the races I start. But this is because I am tactical, and let's face it, you don't have to be as cardiovascularly gifted to survive a 45 minute crit. And the slow twitch to fast twitch ratio in my body just seems to prefer the power stuff. The flip side is that I just don't want to crash, and a lot more crashes happen in crits than in hilly road races. So what am I left with? Riding for fun and giving up the racing? Hmmm. just more to think about. And I'm not sure I am ready to face the answer.
With that, I will head back to my other domain, where in the graph of time-in, to results-out, I sit on the happier side of the curve.