"Failure is the key to success, each mistake teaches us something."
That was my mantra during several moments of todays' race. Not that I was throwing in the towel by any means. Even after having a strange mechanical where our brakes engaged and felt like someone threw on the emergency brake, seeing the pack get a little too far away and then chasing with everything we had, every ounce of fiber, as the men's and two women's tandems went up the road. But we just couldn't close the gap, and they galloped away. The National Championship Title just rode away.
This can't be happening, I thought. Oh shit, Shawn. I'm so sorry.
My mind turned a switch. It went from savvy, confident racer to being off the back. My heart grew heavy, my demeanor changed. Shawn could feel it, she told me afterward. I knew the exact moment it happened. That little voice of self doubt creeped in... and I tried pushing it out. I tried shutting it down. Tried telling it to "SHUT UP LEGS!" But the move went up the road. And my head hung heavy.
Tandem racing is unlike any other thing I've done athletically. It pushes you in so many ways. It demands strength, skill, speed, legs, grit and hard work. It requires 100% trust in your partner. It's an equal effort, we both want it bad so we train hard to get there. Individually, I work on all of those things. I practice and cycle, go to sleep and then repeat. My life is built around doing just that. So when you're tested, truly tested to the core and that foundation gets raddled by a poor performance, it makes you think. It makes you re-evaluate things. It makes you try to figure out what, when, why and how.
Regardless of what exactly happened today, I know I have some things to work on. Yes, I would have loved for a perfect performance today, especially for us and for Shawn. I would have loved to be zipping up that National Championship jersey up to our chinney chin chins. I would love to be looking at Shawn while standing atop the podium and celebrating our success. But today was not the day.
Today was not the day.
But tomorrow is another opportunity, another chance to get stronger. We have a world championship to crush. That will be our day.
(PS - We did get selected the world championship team yesterday!!!)