Motivation can come from a variety of - sometimes surprising - sources. Motivation for training - even in the depths of winter - comes from knowing I'll hurt so much more during races - or, worse, not even finish - if I don't train. Even if I could accept the pain or the personal embarassment, I wouldn't want to let down my teammates. So, pretty much without fail, I've gotten up early before work every winter for the past 8(!) seasons and got on the trainer.
Things are much different this year. Where in past years we'd be able to count on a core of 5-6 EXPO guys for Bethel, this year it's pretty much just Aki and Joel. "Real Life" has diverted a few, "Other Interests," a few others, and a couple more just want/need to take a break for a bit. I'm in a couple of those categories myself - things have gotten especially nuts at work and I've discovered running. I haven't been on the trainer but a few times in the past two months and the last time I was out on the road was December 6th. So I'm not exactly ready for Bethel. Or all that motivated for it, honestly.
So where's the motivation for training, then? Well, in one sense, it's the same as always - just in a different sport. I have a program I'm following, and my first (running) race is March 15. I don't have to worry about letting down teammates, but I'd like to at least finish the race and have a decent time. So I follow the program faithfully.
But this morning I discovered that curiosity can be just as motivating as having a race to train for.
The Polar Vortex came back yesterday afternoon and the forecast for this morning called for single digit temps with windchills below zero. I've mentioned before that one of the reasons I'm enjoying running is that it lets me get outdoors in temperatures I'd never even consider on a bike. This morning, I decided to see how low I could go.
As usual, I donned my Le Carbons, a baselayer, long-sleeved jersey, jacket, gloves and hat. But this time, the baselayer had a hood attached, and I added a "Le Carbon" balaclava too.
Eight degrees at the start, down to 7 degrees at one point, with a little wind - and I was just fine. Surprisingly so.
So I concluded the 4th week of my Couch-to-5k program with a warm-up coffee at the "Farm" - the coldest part of the run being the walk home from the coffee shop. I actually deviated from my program to run a bit of it just to warm up.
When I got home, I saw my bike on the trainer and wondered when I'd get back on the saddle. It was at the shop for a couple of weeks and when I picked it up Tuesday and loaded it into the car, I got that old feeling of excitement for racing again. I do miss riding. But the forecast for my first race is deteriorating by the day and as much as I enjoyed running in the cold this morning, I am not at all jazzed about racing a bike in the cold (and possible snow) this Sunday. Especially in a crit. Most especially when I haven't turned a pedal in so long.
And, in what may turn out to be the final nail in the coffin of my early-season bike racing, I just discovered that I'll probably have to miss the first Ninigret race of the season. Turns out I have a railroad rules class and exam that morning for my other job. If I get out of that in time, maybe I can make the 40+ race at 1:55. But I'm not too optimistic.
While motivation for spring bike racing is waning, at least I'm still motivated for my first 5k. And that's much more consolation than cold comfort. There are many unknowns and I have no idea how I'll do, but that doesn't really matter. I'm just curious to see how it will all turn out - and that provides quite a bit of motivation all by itself.