Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Second helpings

The thing about going back for seconds is they're never quite as good as the first serving.  The first time round has a reason; the need for a bit more isn't really defined.  Seconds never hit the spot in the way the first portion did.  And there's the risk that it's cold and congealed, stale and old.  At best you're underwhelmed, at worse you feel a sick and wish you hadn't bothered.
I've told you, you'll wish you hadn't
My first helping of 24hr solo racing was the 2012 Exposure National 24hr MTB Championship.  I had a couple of aims.  Firstly, could I do the training I needed to do get to the start line and to give myself a realistic chance of being able to complete a 24hr race? Number two, could I actually 'complete' a 24hr race without having to walk entire laps or have several hours kip mid-way through?  

And I did them both.  My first helping of a 24hr solo race achived everything I wanted to achieve.  What's more I won the race.  It was tasty, I was full and it had even had sprinkles on the top.  So, despite my tendancy to reach for the serving spoon for a bit more, this time I was done. 

Exposure 2013 - done and done
But that seemed a shame.  Surely it couldn't have been that good, surely I wanted a bit more, surely having seconds could achieve something that the firsts did not?  But no.  I'd done that before and going back had never been as good.  I remained satisfied with what I'd done as I embarked on this winter's base training to achieve some yet un-defined goal.  But the question of what I was hungry for remained unanswered.  And despite my reticence to any further 24hr racing, the thought wouldn't quite go away.

Then I saw it all a bit differently.  This wasn't about having seconds, this was a whole new dinner.  I didn't want to go back for more because I couldn't achieve my first 24hr race again.  I needed new goals, not a new event.  Working out what my goals has proved much harder than before.  It's obvious to say that I want to be stronger and improve on how I did last year but working out how I can measure this has been tricky.   Comparing numbers of laps and distance to last year doesn't work as it's a new course and different conditions. Other obvious things like retaining my title, getting on the podium or achieving a certain percentage of the male winner's laps are all relative; they have more to do with other people's performance than my own.  This is about what I can achieve, not how well I do compared to others.  

With less than a week to go to this year's Exposure I've finally worked out what my goals are - I have my new recipe.  I may not achieve them, my dinner might taste awful, but at least I've resisted that second helping. 


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