Thursday, September 8, 2011

Forward Progress - the Red Arrows

I was going to right this rant about how I hate taper week, mainly for the mental games my body plays, but that would violate my mantra of positive thoughts that I must maintain this weekend. So, instead, I thought I would tell a slightly embarrassing story from Tuesday night...

Tuesday is my late day at work, meaning, I am required to stay until at least 5:30 in case any deals come in that require manual overrides. The 5:30 exit time bugged me as I had to get a 2 hour ride in that evening, and the sun just keeps setting earlier and earlier. Per usual, a sales person comes over to tell me that a "big customer" is signing a deal, the deal expires today so just a heads up, "you might have to stay later." Ordinarily, I get it that staying past 5:30 is part of the job, but not that day, I just didn't have time for it. This particular sales person tried to make me feel better by saying, "I know, I have class tonight so we are in the same boat." No we aren't! You get paid commission on that deal, I get paid the same amount whether you sign that deal or not! Anyway, I was able to do what I needed to do to get out the door at 5:30, but the near panic of not getting out of work on time spilled into my workout.

So, my ride was dreadful. It was super windy, and I have apparently lost my rain jacket so instead of wearing it on the ride, I had to wear 2 long sleeve shirts on top of my jersey. Despite it being a mainly flat ride, I was just not comfortable in my head, I was shifting gears like an insane person, unable to find the right gear to put forth the effort that I could hear my Mentor telling me I should be putting forth. I love Mentor, but sometimes, he's too cautious, and I think that hearing is overly-cautious voice in my head just made this workout totally blow. I would say, oh well, except I dropped my chain TWICE. WTF??? I know it takes about 30 seconds to flip back on, but I don't want that Sunday, and now it's in my head.

Then, near the end of my ride I had an incident with a driver. After being hit by a car in 2007 and then a couple really bad incidents last year, I have tried to adopt the mantra of just smiling and waving when I have an incident with a driver, but not Tuesday, not in the mental state I was in that evening. To set this up, I was riding on a road in the national park. It was about 7:30 and starting too dark to be comfortable on the road. There were NO cars anywhere near me when I heard someone lay on his horn from a quarter mile back. I was riding about a foot or two in the lane because there was debris on the side and because a friend of mine told me that he read an article that it's safer to ride in the road because drivers are more likely to see you. With that said, this guy continues to lay on his horn then flicks me off when he gets significantly ahead of me. It bothered me mainly because it had nothing to do with me. I didn't slow him down, he didn't get caught behind me unable to pass because of cars coming the other direction, no, the person just apparently hates cyclists. I try to tell myself that something must really be wrong with their lives if seeing a cyclist on the road is more than someone can handle, but I just didn't have that strength in me. I screamed at the car as I considered chasing after it, "WHAT THE HELL DID I DO?"

I tell that long winded story to tell this one. I got back to my car and decided to stop at a gas station to get a recovery drink before making my way home. On the way home, it was now dark, I was driving on Sand Run parkway, where I have been saved by a nice ranger who had told me how closely they look for speeders on this road. Well, still fuming from the stupid driver and needing to get out of the valley to call my sister back who had tried to call me twice. (The valley has lots of dead cell spots so I didn't want to call her back just for the call to get dropped) when I see a ranger's vehicle aimed at the road, and I look down and realize, "there is no way I am not getting pulled over." Sure enough, I got pulled over. While my mother thinks I am a horrible driver, I'm not, I just have bad moments...this being one of them. The ranger asked me how I was doing, and I said, "ahh, I am very sorry I was speeding, I just had an incident with a car... and my mind was still on that." To make a long story short, he was also a cyclist so understands the frustration, and he let me off with a warning, thanks Ranger Travis! I was pretty surprised that I didn't start crying or absolutely lose it, but I think I knew that the Ranger was likely to let me off if I just kept it honest.

So the moral of the story comes from one of my favorite characters from one of favorite book series. There is an author named Robert Crais who wrote a detective series about a guy Elvis Cole and his partner Joe Pike. Both are Vietnam vets, and Joe's a little different, but he has these red arrows pointing forward tattooed on both of this shoulders. Anyway, last year while doing Ironman Louisville, particularly during the run, I focused on those red arrows telling myself I needed to continue to make forward progress, to continue to look forward. The next time something bad happens, I need to remind myself to look forward and let the past go.


  1. I hate that some cars have such a hard time sharing the's making me nervous as it's getting dark earlier and I guess I'll be relegated to running on sidewalks. Boo. I will be thinking of you this weekend - can't wait to read a great race report!

  2. It is hard to let those things go, especially because many drivers are not conscious of their actions.

    "One step in front of the other!" That is what I will be telling myself Sunday too!