The last two posts on this blog have been negative. That's because I think I spent most of my summer in an overtrained slump and was generally in a bad mood. Things are better now though.
Tomorrow is LOTOJA. I've told friends that I look forward to the second Saturday in September more than any other day of the year. It represents the end of a season and, hopefully, a pinnacle of achievement. It represents a culmination of a full year's worth of training and practice. It presents an opportunity to learn about myself (and others) and perhaps to prove something to myself (and others); it also presents a risk of disappointment, e.g. hypothermia at LOTOJA 2005. I suppose it represents a tangible point in time where I get to experience all the reasons I am a cyclist.
1. The People: Starting in a few minutes, I will see and socialize with my training partners and reunite with people I haven't seen for a long time. It's enjoyable to be friends with people who share common interests and have common goals.
2. The Preparation: Training for LOTOJA begins the day after LOTOJA. From the day after LOTOJA, my mind refocuses on next year. New commitments and goals are made. New strategies are formed. It's like being born anew and given a new life. Though it sounds somewhat pathetic, the day after LOTOJA, I have a new purpose in life.
3. The Pain: Pain is supposed to be good for you. I suppose it is. I can guarantee that tomorrow, when I am in pain -- when my legs are filled with lactic acid, when my feet hurt, when I'm dehydrated and on the verge of cramping -- I may ask myself what the point of it all is. And I will tell myself that the point of it all is that I am able to endure it. One of the reasons I like cycling is that -- like life -- it presents a challenge to push through and to endure. You have to figure out creative ways to "get through it." Like life, sometimes you have to rely on others to get you through it. And like all achievements, once you get through it, you not only feel a sense of satisfaction, but you learn something about yourself. That something often can be drawn upon to get you through the next challenge -- whether it is on or off the bike.
I need to go and pack now, but I wanted to put something positive up -- just in case I return from LOTOJA in a bad mood. Perhaps when I return I may have additional reasons for why I like LOTOJA and why I keep coming back.