Roberta talks how to develop as a bike racer and a professional in the workforce. Read more about just how intense studying can be and also how very similar it is to bike racing.
For many of us who race our bikes, we need to hold day jobs as well. In my quest to develop myself professionally, I set goals that are very similar to those in bike racing. As with bike racing, you need to deal with defeat and how to you recover when you do not meet your goal. Several years ago, a colleague suggested that I pursue receiving my Certification in Industrial Hygiene (CIH). My background was Environmental Health and in my nursing career I was dealing with Industrial Hygiene/ Occupational Health issues. I know many of you at this point are asking what Industrial Hygiene is. The simplest explanation is that Industrial Hygiene is what keeps workers safe from noise exposures, biological hazards, ergonomics , indoor air quality, just to name a few of the areas. So within the past three years I have taken review courses and studied several Engineering and Industrial Hygiene texts to pass the test. The test has a touted pass rate of around 42%. So I knew that my goal to pass was going to take dedication and practice. Just like cycling.
When training for cycling we lay down a foundation that we can build on over the season. This is what I did with my studying, I laid the foundation with reading, watching lectures, and having a dedicated study times. The test is only offered 2 times a year, Spring and Fall. I was scheduled to take my test in November 2013 the Wednesday just before Thanksgiving. Since August, I had dedicated every weekend to studying, doing equations and memorizing ventilation data and tables. When I went into the test, I treated it like “race day”. I even ate my typical “pre-race meal” to prepare myself. I visualized myself even taking the test, just like I do for bike racing. The test is a 5.5 hour exam with 1 hour break for lunch. When you are done with the test, you hit submit and you immediately know your preliminary results. Well unfortunately I did not pass. I was in tears and sunk into a depression. All of that studying and time invested I felt just so defeated.
A few weeks later I received my detailed results of the exam and realized that I was going to have to plan a comeback. Just like in cycling, when you have a bad race that you know you have trained for, your comeback will be stronger and more motivated. So I took a month off then it was back to studying again. Although instead of having to develop a base all over again, I needed to focus on my “sprinting”. Looking at the areas I was not as strong in and honing that skill. I found an online course that helped me to design my own focused area of study and I was actually excited to take the test again. When I failed the first time, it was hard to tell people. A lot of people knew of my goal of passing and it was a hit to the ego when I had to let people know that I had not met my goal. The second time around, I didn’t publicize it a lot for that reason. This is the same feeling that I have had before training for long endurance races and they don’t go as well as expected. I knew I would pass but just wanted a few people knowing what I was up to. So the test came around last Monday. I did my whole pre-race routine. Did some “openers” the day before the exam, hydrated well the night before, dressed comfortably and went into the test the next morning feeling confident that I was going to nail it. I took my time during the exam, even stopped to tell myself “good job” and to “ hang in there”. When I hit the submit button this time around it replied back with a “Congratulations”! This is a preliminary result until I get the final paperwork but it looks like my dedicated training paid off. I know have the credential of CIH and have hit an awesome milestone in my career. Much of which I can thank my participation on a cycling team for!