I started my ride full of self-doubt, and finished it with confidence and satisfaction.
I knew what was waiting for me. A session to dread - when coach writes "It's horrible and I couldn't bare to watch you suffer like this lol" in TrainingPeaks you know it's going to hurt. I wasn't looking forward to it much. For some reason my head was filled with self doubt. With the other day's moment of 'giving up' (and forgetting all the positive things I got out of that session), legs that didn't feel completely fresh, and a not-so-enjoyable day out on the bike the previous day thanks to huge gusts of wind, my head was not in the right place.
The mind plays so many games with you. Gives you ideas of how to make the session easier. Excuses for why you won't hit the targets or why you shouldn't complete it as planned. Reasons for not giving your best today.
And how tempting it was to give into that little voice… But NO, let's just go for it and see what happens - I can always call it quits later on but NOT before even starting!
So here I was, at the bottom of the Femes hill, which was going to give me 20 minutes of suffering as I try to sit on my FTP (Functional Threshold Power - in other words OUCH). I started building up to the required watts and pressed 'lap' on my garmin. No hiding here! The first few minutes weren't actually that bad, and slowly my head starting to come around to doing the session. Okay, at least 5 minutes at this effort and then see where you can hold it. The five minutes passed and I aimed for 10. Okay great, now I can show coach that I sat at my FTP for at least 10 minutes! Then 12, 14… at 15 minutes I reached the roundabout that gives you two options. Option 1: that's it for the climb, relax now :) Option 2: Here comes 1.5km of KILLER climbing, enjoy! :)
I tried not to let my head do too much talking and went for option 2. I had kind of told myself I'd already done well holding my FTP until here - and accepted that it would probably drop a bit now while trying to grind my way up to the top. I watched as my heart rate climbed and climbed, felt my legs burn aggressively, and listened to my loud, desperate breaths. But my power hadn't gone down yet. Okay. Keep it there then. FIGHT for it now, only 3 minutes of suffering left. Stand up. Sit down. STAND UP. GRIND. Sit. 2 minutes. One minute. NEARLY THERE.
Unclip and don't fall……
I had actually made it without letting my power drop. The watts I was afraid I could only hold for 5 minutes were still showing as my average after 20. Already the voice of self-doubt creeped in again. "Well, that was that. You may pat yourseslf on the back but there's no way you're going to do that again." But some voice, a bit further back, but present somewhere, fought back. "You just watch."
I rolled back down and tried to prepare myself for what was to come. I had to fight the urge to ease down and use the excuse of being tired after having done one very hard effort. But I also knew I just had to take it one step at a time, just like I did the first time. And after 20 minutes and 19 seconds, I made it up Femes again. With 3 watts to spare and even a congratulations from my garmin for a new 20' average power and another newly detected VO2 value.
With burning legs and lungs I managed to unclip and collapse onto my bars. Session competed. A victory for my legs, lungs, and brain today - self-doubt has lost the battle yet again.