It was pretty rare that I heard that command from my coach when I played basketball. Usually when I did, I deserved it. I kept a pretty strict approach to basketball and approached the sport as I was brought up on it: fundamentals first. Since basketball was everything to my area I grew up in and since I was discovered young (about the 2nd grade), ball was one basic drill after another before ever getting to play a real game. And since my Dad was a sports official, and often reffed my games, I had to keep a pretty tight ship. He cut me no slack and actually held me to much higher standards than those playing around me. Those fundamentals and hard work standards made me who I am today and when I start getting a little out of line, I always tell myself I need to sit the bench and think about what it is exactly that I'm doing. Not just in sports, but in all walks of life.
I felt I needed to sit the bench after French Lick.
Of coarse I really wanted to go to the WORS US Cup race in WI last week. At least in my heart of hearts. But I wasn't sure if I should. Did I need to take a break? Of coarse, its hard to bench yourself. Its even harder as a grown up when you think you know what's going on. Its also hard to get benched when all is going the right way. For example. Back in high school, I stole the ball from the the other team, got down court in a clean break all by myself. All my coaching told me I knew I should go in for the easy lay-up and take the sure points, but instead I decided to pull up at the 3 point line and take the shot there. To me, I always felt more comfortable with a outside shot than a lay-up and I didn't see the risk, but it was obvious to the crowd, and the coaching staff, that this was a crazy move, as I felt the entire packed gym hold their breath and stare me down at the moment the ball released my fingertips. The fact that the 4,000 or so people were completely silent, made the swish of the score even more crisp. Swoosh... I slowly turned to my coach and smiled. He was not amused and told me that if I would have missed I would be warming the bench... hard to bench you when all goes right. Of coarse I never doubted that the ball wouldn't go in, and I knew it would the second it left my hand. I was confident. Just like before French Lick (FL)- I had won my last 4 races, but I felt I was getting a little ahead of myself.
I was on a race streak, which was great, but I started to feel I should be winning all those races no matter what. Really, Nicole, Nik, Nicke, nikthesleeper, nickeraecole? Or whatever I want to call myself today... I really had to step back and realize I am still recovering from surgery and if I expected to kill it every weekend, I need to sit my butt down and think about it a little. Get real girl. So I did. I just wasn't benching myself because I felt I was punishing myself for getting 3rd, I was doing it so I could get into a little better focus on training and moving more toward some of my main goals later in the season. I have no doubt that I could have went to WI and claim a podium spot, just like I landed that 3 pointer, but I'm gonna save that shot for another day. A day when I am more confident the shot will go in.
Racing is great, but it limits training, and while I want to do good at mtb, I have bigger plans for cyclocross. By skipping a few races here and there, I can focus on my on the bike and off the bike workouts, and not to mention, get back to a regular calorie by calorie focus on my food, and a good sleep pattern. I am a sucker for a race and would probably do so every day of the week if it were possible, but that makes missing a few here and there even better for me. What hunger I don't full-fill for racing today, only makes me starving for competition later. And when your sitting on that bench all alone, you really want to get out and play the game after watching everyone else out there.
When I was benched in basketball, I would go home, or to the practice gym, late after the game and start doing fundamental drills and free throws under the street lights or until the janitor kicked me out of the gym. And so goes it now for cycling, so it's not like I have been sitting around all week. I have been focusing on the fundamentals of cycling and training hard.
I'll be ready to check in again soon to the game, I've thought about it.