June 5, 2013

Big Bear Shootout. Sufferfest.

Big Bear Lake.  Pretty appealing after 8,500 ft of climbing.
I suffered.  I suffered like I have not suffered before.  It wasn't the competitive suffering I am well acquainted with; the suffering that propels you forward and lets you fly; it was a suffering of survival.

At mile 35, when I took a gel, my throat closed up.  I couldn't get in a breath; I was running low on water. Come on Bishop, you can do this.  I made some audible grunting sounds and kept on going.  I kept on pushing forward, but it was about survival, not racing.

Big Bear Two-Wheeled Adventuring
Knowing Papa was along the course, ready to support me, kept me going.  Knowing I would see him, excited and anxious and full of energy, helped me climb over the roots and rocks; and decent the loose, soft switchbacks, carrying more speed that I otherwise would have.  A number of times, I had to tell myself, aloud, to believe; to believe that you can continue turning over the legs, inhaling, exhaling.

I had prepared for this race, the 50-mile distance being my focus this season.  For some reason, my body didn't get the memo.

As the miles ticked by, I would get bouts of energy, charge forward, only to be reacquainted with the wall of pain in my back, and a little voice telling me to let up. More grunting, more forward motion.

I am not accustomed to this type of suffering.  I am accustoming to racing.  I prefer to race, to fight, to test myself and go to the well.  At Big Bear, I went to the well, but in a totally different fashion, I went to the well, found it void of water and just starting drinking the mud.  And let me tell you, it didn't taste good.

I can think of a whole handful of excuses to explain the way I felt on Sunday.  I have been traveling a lot, I have been away more than I have been home over the last three weeks, work travel has taken its toll, my diet hasn’t been as balanced as I would like, my training has been upended and not as consistent as normal.  Blah. Blah. Blah.

The truth of the matter is that I didn’t race like I wanted to race.  I didn’t race like I am capable of racing.
So, what can I take away from this experience?  What did I learn and how can I apply it? How can I take the lessons learned and use them to become a better racer and a strong competitor?  

With four weeks until Marathon Nationals in Idaho, I am fired up and ready to get in some solid training in preparation to compete.  I am ready for awesome.

Playing with big cats at the Discovery Center