First night of racing, first race, 2013. What you can’t see is that I’m so scared that my legs are shaking.
Race License: check
Track Pass: check
Velodrome Bike Parking: check
Sweet bike: check
I have all the gear I’ll need for the season. My bike is good to go. I have lycra for days and a brand new pair of track gloves that I’m in love with.
I’m an hour away from being picked up to go to my first night of structured training for the season, and I’m so nervous I can’t sit down. My palms ache. I had to force some food into my stomach so I won’t get lightheaded at practice… I’ve been so nervous, I haven’t eaten all day.
It’s funny. This will be my fourth season racing, I’m captain of a team, and I’m still nervous.
I am telling myself now that I’m nervous because I didn’t train enough (I’ve been traveling and working a lot). I’m going to embarrass myself. All the new women are going to be so much faster than I am. It’s going to be me off the back, all alone, looking stupid. I’m listing excuses to not go.
It’s funny because I remember that one season where all I did was train and I was a total beast… and I sold myself the same negativity and excuses then as I am now.
When other people say these things, I have a pep talk for them. When it comes to myself, I just pace and worry. The koolaid hasn’t been self-serve.
But today, for some reason, I really need it. So here goes:
Anna, girl, you just need to get out there.
Every season has a first training session. Every season has a first race. They are always terrifying- you just need to jump in and get started.
You only get faster and better from here.
Racing is so good for you, and you know it. It makes you stronger, physically and mentally. It makes those around you stronger, too, which is why you’re always dragging your friends into it. Best of all, it gives you a way of appreciating and respecting strength in yourself and others. And you love that. It makes you so happy.
First criterium, 2014. I got lapped twice and was so sick that I was puking on the course… I still had a blast and learned a ton from it.
Remember that in those races where you’re falling off the back, being lapped like crazy, that you’re still having fun. You’re cheering yourself on in your head, thinking of ways to get better for next time. You’re cheering on your friends lapping you because, goddamn, they are so much faster than last season. And that’s so awesome.
Remember every race where you’ve surprised yourself. Remember when you held on longer than you thought you could and how awesome that felt.
First day of track practice, 2015. We blasted Prince over the speakers at NSC and tore up our legs. It was so wonderful.
You have waited all winter for today. Rubber is finally meeting boards. Last year, entering turn one for the first time that season felt like coming home again. That’s what you get to do today, and that’s pretty cool.
Girl, this season is going to be so rad. You’re going to have so much fun. You always do. You love it.
Get out there and make those legs burn. Turn yourself inside out. And do it all with a smile. You deserve it.
Eat those vegetables. Try really hard. Get it, girl.
Anna “Mama Duck” Schwinn