This past weekend I did my last mountain bike race of the season. I have talked about my races a lot and let me be clear here -- I am not actually racing in hopes of winning anything. My only goal is to go out and stay positive and cross the finish line with a smile on my face. My last race, a 67km mountain bike race called the Test of Metal was an amazing experience. I felt strong and I remained positive from the start of the race to finish. I was just happy to be there.
But…this weekend was a different story. I went to the start line not respecting the race and what I was about to encounter. In my mind I had completed the training and I had just raced the Test of Metal. How hard could this be, right? Well, 30 minutes into the race I realized that this would not be a “ride” in the park and I was about to suffer for 4 hours and 45 minutes.
I have completed harder events in the past and I have had to push through more challenges but the difference is that usually I am mentally prepared for what I am about to attempt. I went into this race thinking it would be easy and I was so wrong.
I push people for a living. I challenge people to accomplish more than they think possible. I help people believe in themselves but this weekend I needed someone to do that for me. A client of mine, Chris Carter, who is a phenomenal rider, did not leave my side and every moment I wanted to stop he kept me going and told me that I could do it. I cannot tell you how hard it was for me to accept someone else having to push me through something.
Over 45 km in plus 30-degree heat we climbed a steep single track then descended down single-track trails, which were well above my ability. There were moments when I could not even hike my bike up the mountain because I was so exhausted. And because I did not respect the difficulty of this race, every time I was tired or I could not ride something I told myself that I sucked. For over 4 hours I had to listen to my own voice in my head telling myself that I was useless and I should just give up.
I could have given up a hundred times and had I had known where I was and where a road out could be found I would have been on it. But somehow, with help, I found a way to battle every negative thought that came into my mind with the words “you can do this”.
I cried (many times), I fell, I lacked confidence and I stopped believing in myself but I did not give up. I came in nearly last and I wanted to sell my bike as I crossed the finish line. I vowed that I would never do this race again. But today, I got back on my bike and I went back into the trails that knocked me down so hard and I tried again. I have a lot of work to do and who knows if I will ever achieve the results that I am striving for, but if we are not being challenged then what is the point?
When something is tough, respect the difficulty of it and give yourself credit for trying. Giving up is the easy way out and it ends the struggle instantaneously, but you spend the rest of your life wondering what if I had just tried a little bit more? Next time you are attempting something that kicks your ass, try again. Do not allow yourself to become intimidated with the fact that so many people are better than you because at one point they were just like you and if they had given up too they would not be where they are now.
We are not perfect and sometimes we need others to show us that I can do it. But the beauty of it is that every time you do not believe you can do it and you do, you start to believe in yourself a little bit more. Do not be afraid to fail, do not be afraid to seek out new challenges and do not be afraid to ask for help – it is only going to make you stronger.
In 13 years of competing in individual sports, not once have I ever given up or pulled myself out of a race. Somehow, somewhere I have always managed to find the inner strength to persevere and finish whatever it was that I started. You don’t have to give up either.