Friday, 22 February 2013

Pain = Victory

Ok, so I have been tossing up what I wanted to blog about this week. I was going to write about nutrition but then I realized that nutrition is over rated. Yes, its important but there's one little thing that trumps it. You can have the best nutrition in the world and not perform. In fact, a couch potato on a diet playing Xbox could have better nutrition than you. But, they are not on the bike or running.

So what makes you different? The pain factor. Bicycling magazine recently had an article on pain and how one can push through pain. Its a great article so if you have the Jan issue, read it. If you don't then read on.. So, I read it and decided to do a teeny tiny experiment. I set off to hit the hills to see just how much pain I could inflict on myself and to see if I could switch off the pain receptors in my brain. I cruised to the base of the hill at an easy pace, then I hit the climb with everything I had and more! My legs seared with pain, my lungs ran out of air. I thought I was going to pass out and die. But, I didn't. Rather, I got a new personal best on the hill and did not die. I felt amazing. The rest of the ride was uneventful but I had proved my point - you can oush beyond what you think you can.

My next race was ok, I tried to push but did not succeed as I had hoped. Still got an awesome time and result but knew I could do better. So, my next race was the Dis-Chem Ride for Sight and this time I had a plan: I was going to rock this race. I headed out the start and was with the front guys but within 800m, I knew their pace was too insane so I sat up and waited for the bunch. (Interestingly I hold the Strava QOM for the start so I know I went all out.) I stuck to the front of F batch, helping when I felt like it but I worked on conserving energy. The bunch was going at a crazy pace!! I was really really scared that I could hang on. Someone in the batch said we covered the 1st 44km in 1hour. It was sore!!!! But, I somehow transferred the eina to energy and kept going. Then came the hills and i switched my Bryton to Heart Rate view and saw how much I could suffer. I set a goal of where I wanted my HR to be and i kept it there. I also marked a stronger climber and tried to stick on their wheel or ahead of them. Up the big Heidelberg climb, I tried to see how many people I could pass. One person commented that we were almost at the top.  In a psychopathic moment, I looked back at the hill we had just been up, looked down at my gearing and went "um, hill? I am still in my big blade!" Ja, I got chirped and told to go away... so I did I dropped a gear and cruised up the hill. The rest of the ride was the same: keep near the front of the batch. Then came the last 1km. I attacked. The bunch came with so it didn't work. I kept trying to get away to no avail. In the last 800m, I got boxed in, so dropped back and at 500m I attacked again, this time giving it all! I am not a sprinter but I went all out, and so did everyone else. It was so cool! A bunch of us in full Tour de France style sprinting mode. It was amazing and it didn't hurt. I had switched off pain and was fully focussed.

So, for 116km, I had managed to ignore pain and actually make myself suffer. Best part was that I have always worried about bonking if i went all out but I didn't. Instead, I learnt a valuable lesson: one can switch off the pain part of the brain and perform. New records, new feelings. At times I felt the pain, at other times my stats said I should be in pain but I wasn't. Weird.

Want proof I pushed harder than ever? Well, my time of 3:25 speaks for itself. Add the fact that I was 13th in my group and 1st lady in my group, I think I set a new level for, myself. I felt amazing!!

So, next time you are running or riding and you feel that feeling of pain, go harder. When the pain is intense,  up the pace, when you feel like you are going to die, just remember that those around you feel the same then keep going. Its not always the fittest who wins, its the one who can push harder and suffer longer.

Now: go out there and experiment in your own push pain to the back game!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

The "I" in Team work

So recently at work the topic of team work has come up repeatedly so it was no surprise when I found myself in a breakaway at the start of the Value Logistics Fast One Cycle Race and observing how a few of us worked together to get a gap on the peleton, then observing the fine art of how the peleton reeled us in with their mighty power of team work.

Here we were just a handfull of cyclists versus the mamoth peleton. The few of us were probably equivalent in number or even more than the lead riders of the peleton but their sheer volume and team work creamed us and before we knew it we were spat out the back and scrambling to hang on to the back. Joke is, that from the looks of it the peleton fell apart along the road because after we were blown to shreds and the group I was in was blown, I kept passing members of the peleton, including the leading lady of the group. Now imagine if us as a breakaway had teamed up with the workers of the peleton! We would have been amazing. But no, although we were working together we were in silos because we were working for ourselves. At first, it was us in the breakaway, each only helping so we could help ourselves, then the peleton workers so they could catch us so they could individually gain advantage.

So I found myself in no mans land, alone, miserable but trying to hang on when a smiling biker came up and blocked the wind for me - shows what happens when its a former team mate from the Rangers. Oom Johan, you rock! (Sorry, special mention to Skewies who gave my peleton an escort through her zone - friend, having you lead us gave me goose bumps. You and Oom are sterling examples of what real Road Rangers are.)

I then started picking up cyclists from Cycle Lab I knew and before long EPO Lance and I were the 2 workers on a bunch. We hammered the bunch and had fun so I stopped racing and decided to form a team. We had Claudia and 2 other Lab members (so sorry I cant remember your names) and we as a team decided to stop for water, we then continued with me on the front and Lance and Claudia alternating who helped on my right. Was so awesome having a Cycle Lab peleton!! We had a bunch of fellow club members join as we picked them up and many other suffering riders. I rode out front as training but also cause I felt strong and felt it was my duty to help my fellow riders - I now know how Froome Dog felt!!

I didnt do a great time for the race but I had fun being part of a real team that epitomised TEAM work. There was no "I".

The following weekend I raced again and found lots of "I". Up the first hill, I got in a break but the egos were running and the group was shelled. I ended up riding a good 20 to 25km solo, just trying to catch and overtake other riders. Then I heard "Hi Diane". Fellow Cycle Lab member Sam Laidlaw was part of a bunch that was about to overtake me. He gently eased back so I could join the front end of the group and suddenly I was no longer alone. I had a team. It was a bit of a stop start bunch but it was nonetheless a good bunch of people where we had a few of us stronger riders working and the rest of the bunch cruising. We even had Indiana Jones! This guy was wise because he would cream us in the front then drop to the back and rest. Then bolt to the front and repeat. This guy made us all HURT!! Thanks Indiana Jones. Was good fun racing with you. When we hit the Cradle of Mankind it became an all for one and a one for one ride again with a breakaway of us worker bees getting away and riding our own races.

Its amazing how racing really personifies team work. None of us can succeed without the bunch. Now, lets bring this into a work environment. Personally, I find work very solo. Everyone wants glory and are scared to help or too proud to help. Imagine if in a work environment we could work like a peleton: the strong domestiques pulling hard through the race, the climbers working on the climbs and the sprinters sprinting at the finish for the glory of the team. Recently at work we had an expo and we had our yellow jersey worker who obviously worked her butt off but we worked to assist and as a team we gained glory but, we know who was the leader, we know who won. Now imagine every work task had the same....

Special mention from the Berge en Dale race to some awesome folks from Hammond Pole attorneys and Cycle Nation for their hospitality after the race. Guys, thank you! Oh and well done on your race results. I had some really interesting and inspirational discussions at the tent. Was told I am fat, and was encouraged to race elite next year (am looking for a bike sponsor so offers welcome. hint hint..).

Next race is the Dis-Chem Ride for Sight and I am almost scared what thoughts I am going to have on that one!

Rambing over.