Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A window into my mind

If there was a window into my mind, would you look?
Is that a scary thought?

I'm not saying that I've got a beautiful mind. Have you seen the movie? I'm just saying I relate to the voices going on in Russel Crowes character's mind.

I've got this cycling-related-voice in my head that likes to visit me sometimes, especially so in the past when I raced O-cups. It was a voice that reminded me constantly that I had a race coming up and that I sucked ass. It would tell me things that made me question my ability, it would me make me lose sleep a night or two before an event worrying about it, I'd have a tough time getting any food into me before a race, I'd get so nervous prior to the start of a race that I'd be at the point of almost throwing up anything I had managed to eat. If I had a good race it'd find fault with it, if I had a bad race it'd beat me up for a week and tell me to never riding a bike again.

Needless to say I didn't enjoy my experiences racing O-Cups a few years ago and stopped doing it. It was a self-inflicted thing. I was racing for all the wrong reasons and none of the right ones.

The voice is there, but it's a lot quieter the past couple years. Three seasons ago I decided to try racing again, but this time I was only going to do it for fun.

How do I know the voice has pretty much left me? I haven't been nervous on the line for a race this year. I also don't lose sleep worrying about them. I look forward to a race, traveling to the race, the excitement and adventure of the race, the people I'm going to meet there, the new trails I'll ride, seeing if I've improved or gotten faster, and seeing how much fun I can have. All the right reasons.

I had a long drive home back to Ottawa Sunday evening with lots of time to think and feel how disappointed I am at myself and my effort (or lack there of) in the race on Sunday. I don't care who you are or what you say, coming in second last in a race would make you feel a bit down too. So, an old friend came to visit.

Burn down the city! Burn it all down!?
Okay, you're the boss.

The voice was my little leprechaun friend from the past - Irish accent and all. I'd be lying if I said that I didn't care what people thought about how I did. There's a little part of me (which sometimes makes a lot of noise in my head) that worries about how I look. Say what you like. I could give a rat's ass about what people think of me as a person, as an employee, a family member, husband, father, what I look like or how I act . . . . I'm comfortable, happy and have accepted myself a long time ago - flaws and good points. If you don't like me, go pound rocks - I don't care.

But when it comes to the bike, I've got this gwalky teenage attention seeking, "won't the cool kids accept me" kind of personality. It rears it's ugly head in me from time to time (seemingly at times when I’ll be tested, i.e. races) making me question myself and my ability and can take away the fun of just riding. I didn't notice it before, during or immediately after the race - I had fun. But it was this personality sitting next to me in the passenger seat all the way home Sunday and it wouldn't shut up.

Caring too much about what others think comes from the phenomenon called social approval. Social approval is the need to be validated by other people. Let's face it, we all want the respect from our peers. But at what price? Do we allow it to rob us of the enjoyment of the experience? Do we let it control us?

After my race experiences from a few years ago I had to be taught to focus on what's important, and not focusing too much on the fear of failure. I needed to ask myself, “Do you compete for yourself *or* do you compete to gain respect or approval of people around you?”

I knew the answer then, and that's why I stopped racing. The answer today is entirely different, and that's why I choose to keep on racing whether I come in
3rd place (yeah baby!) or second last (booooooo!).

Woody Allen says, "If you're not failing, you're not trying anything."
Didn't Woody Allen have some sort of weird sexual relationship with his step-daughter?
Great guy to take advice from.

*in an attempt not to be outdone by Dicky and the number of blog posts that one person can do based on a single cycling event, I'll be posting about this O-cup for the next nine days.


dicky said...

Then I shall post about DSG for the next month (not to be outdone by the OBR).

Anonymous said...

Wait until you try the W101 then. That's a real race.
Some really good people.
Some really good eats.
The organizer really kicks azz and goes all out to ensure the event is worth its weight in gold.
Some good FREE beer!!!
And, a party that lasts till all hours of the morning!!!

Love those races.