Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Reverse Dumpster Phil Effect

I did not go to the road race today after all. When I woke up, the sore throat that I've had for two days, but ignored so that I could race yesterday, was significantly worse and I felt like the scratchy feeling might be migrating to my chest. I didn't want to do another hard effort and push myself into full sickness. Plus, the whole right side of my body was super sore, which I often try to make myself HTFU and push through, but I just didn't feel like it today.

The interesting thing is why my body was sore. The obvious answer was because I road a really hard race yesterday, and quasi crashing when I tried to ride off of the tread of a bench-cut trail, grab a tree, and get going again so the guy behind could get through did not help. However, the worst part is the pain in my butt from falling down the basement stairs yesterday. My slipper slipped off the tread 3-4 steps from the bottom and I hit my butt, elbow, and upper back on all of them on the way down.

So that, getting lost, and other vague nuisances were what I meant when I said that I horrible morning trying to get to the race yesterday. I also skipped my openers the day before in hopes of not aggravating the sore throat, and I had fish and chips at Upland Brewery for dinner the night before. Then I got 6 hours of sleep. Basically, it was the most imperfectly executed few days leading up to a race possible. Then I rode one of my best races ever.

A couple of years ago I wrote about how I sometimes succumb to the Dumpster Phil Effect, which is giving yourself a prepared excuse for a bad effort through either purposeful self-sabotage, subconscious self-sabotage, or conveniently writing things off to bad luck before you actually even know if they'll end badly. The Dumpster Phil part mostly focuses on purposeful and subconscious self-sabotage, but I've expanded the definition to include all of the negative pre-race thoughts/ behaviors that I've been guilty of in the past. (Seeing as it is my own layperson definition that I made up and not a documented sports psychology phenomenon.)

Paul Harvey: And now the rest of the story...

Perhaps the most important part of my Ouachita Challenge race report from a couple of weeks ago was what I didn't say say. While my mom and I were driving from my parents' house in Oklahoma to the hotel where we would stay the night before the race, the battery on my car suddenly went out. Luckily, we were only 10 or so miles from where we were supposed meet my mom's cousin for a late lunch/ early dinner. She and her husband came and picked us up and took us out to eat, but at a different restaurant than we had planned. The BBQ beef and French fries were delicious but not the best thing to eat the evening before and important race. Then we addressed the battery situation, which turned out to be an alternator situation, which meant that we had to borrow their van if we wanted to make it on to Arkansas. We made it, but it was much later, much more stressful, and my GI tract was worse for the wear by the time we did.

That night, as I lay tossing and turning my hotel bed probably four hours before I had to get up, I was thinking about how the long awaited race was actually happening in a few short hours. I thought about how nothing had gone right that day, and wondered if I would be able to hold it together when I was already worn down from the stress (my major issue with traveling to races). Then I told myself that whatever happened the next day, I was not allowed to blame in on what happened the day before. I swore that the story would not make it to my blog, no matter what.

And it didn't. At least not in the context in which I forswore it. The reason I'm telling it now is because once the race went off, it no longer mattered. Unfortunately, I still had some excuse making to be made when the race was over, but the two goods hours of racing that I had proved that the previous day's events had nothing to do with it. Nor did the events of Friday and Saturday morning have anything to do with how I raced yesterday. I actually remember thinking in the middle of the race yesterday, "Dang, I need screw-ups and bad luck become me." Really, I don't like racing sleep deprivation and an unpredictable stomach, but apparently I can do it just fine.


Emily said...

That's weird, because one of the best races I had, my first collegiate race that I won ever which was in 2008, I had no sleep, forgot to bring my normal breakfast stuff, forgot something else, and then totally won.

The sleep is weird though, because it's not the night before that matters so much as the night before that.

Wait wait, did I read this fell down all the basement stairs? From the top? WTF? Are you alright? And then you raced after that? Seriously? Is your body crazy bruised. I kind of want to make you something LIKE CUPCAKES!!!!..but i don't have any cupcake papers. =(

Lindsay said...

I didn't fall from the top, only the bottom 3-4 steps. I do have a pretty large ugly bruise on my butt, which did hurt pretty bad because it's right on the muscle that hurts during hard efforts. Definitely contributed to my not wanting to ride on Sunday.

Emily said...

Well, I'm glad it wasn't the top...but still, the bottom few would suck also. =( I hope your butt muscles get better soon. Maybe foam roll your butt so you don't get crazy knots as it heals?

I bought cupcake ingredients. Also, the word I have to put in the box to post this comment is "foodmati" I wish it said cupcakemati instead of food...but still...that's creepy.