The first time I went skydiving, the skies were cloud covered and jump times would be delayed. As a perk for waiting around, they offered for me to go through the solo jump class, the solo jumpers would have priority when the skies cleared. Tandem jumpers would likely not get a jump on that day. It's worth mentioning that I wasn't here to fulfill a lifelong passion of skydiving..actually, I was going trough some heavy shit and seeing the world from a different angle seemed like a great way to get some perspective.
So, in typical fashion I took whatever option would get me out of the plane as soon as possible. This is how I approach anything I am nervous about. The door swung open, they asked me if I was ready and without answering, out I went.
Fast forward to this morning. My first Crit race. I have been very nervous about this race in particular, so as I previously alluded to, you can guess who was first in the parking lot waiting for registration to open. 6am on a Sunday? Yep, that's me. I didn't sleep a wink last night and all I can focus on is getting this behind me.
"That doesn't sound like much fun, Ash?" I know. Just hear me out. Nothing I do, for some reason, is ever easy. I guess it's not my way. Somewhere, deep down I like being scared, I guess. Well today I was definitely scared. Not many women showed up for the USAC Women's Cat 3/4 at GoPro Motorplex (a twisty technical go kart track) so we were added to the Men's Cat 3/4. I felt good by race time but I was definitely ready to get it over with.
Lap one felt great. I was getting myself calmed down and my cornering felt good, so good that I was already telling myself, this is how I'll pass, everyone is over slowing! Or were they? Lap two, I crashed. Turns out they knew something I didn't. Lap 1: I got lucky. Lap 2: I got what I had coming. I gathered myself up, remembered that my boss and his two little boys were there watching and to quit after a crash was not the message I wanted to send them. I rejoined the field and rode scared for the rest of the race. Finishing somewhere near last. Whatever.
I got in my truck and asked myself, why are you doing this to yourself? I felt defeated and in that moment I was completely fine with never racing a bike again. I turn on my phone to look at Facebook, because that's what I do when I can't be alone with my thoughts. And up pops the "Time Hop" of a post I made on this day one year ago. It's a photo of me smiling with my brand new (to me) bike. This day last year, I rode a bike (that didn't have handle bar streamers and cards in the spokes) for the first time. I laid my head back and inhaled a breath perspective. I had just raced my first Crit race. It's behind me. And I remembered why I "do this to myself" because I love to compete and I love to challenge myself.
Moments later I got a call from my coach (she's in Arkansas racing a UCI pro race. She's a boss). "Well I saw your notes, what happened?" I gave her the rundown and she didn't even seem to care. She wasn't even surprised. I was the only one surprised! "Right now you're at that strange place where your strength and fitness are more advanced than your skills for Crit racing. Be glad it's not the other way around! Be patient with yourself, learn and trust the process"
Today, the Lord blessed me with the same perspective I was looking for when I jumped out of that plane. With a Facebook post and a phone call my entire outlook of today turned around. For that I am grateful. Aside from not being able to put on pants due to some road rash, all is good! The first race and the first crash are both behind me! Onward and Upward!
Also, it's pizza time!
"When in doubt, hit the throttle. It may not solve the problem but it will sure end the suspense." -Unknown but I am claiming it as mine