I have this thing: apparently I like to scare myself. I jump into things and then figure out the how. I ran track for 3 weeks in the 8th grade and then decided I hated running. When I signed up for my first running event, it was only because my friend said it was doable and dragged me along. I knew I could walk if we needed to, and we were actually doing this “let’s get fit” thing. Running races wasn’t something I thought I could do, let alone enjoy.
At 33 and post-baby #2 (over the course of 7 months while living in Hawaii) I did things I never thought possible. I ran a mile without stopping. Seems small, but it was big for me because I never thought I could.
Until I did.
It became longer. 5ks, 10ks, and even half-marathons. (That’s 13.1 miles. On feet.) It seemed insane, but when surrounded by others setting and smashing goals, the impossible seemed possible. Like, why couldn’t I do those things, too? At a get together during this time, over wine (back when I still drank), I made the slightly tipsy decision to run a marathon. I had lost weight, was working out (HARD) 5-6 days per week, and oh, why the heck not?! Never mind the fact that only a week before the marathon date, I’d already signed up for the Kualoa ranch Xterra half trail marathon. (Trail running DOES NOT equal a regular road race. At. All. Trail running is WAY, WAY harder.) But someone at the party said ‘It’s really very doable,’ as she explained a run-walk strategy. Impossible….becomes a maybe…becomes possible.
Our time in Hawaii taught me many things, including how to set goals for myself, how to dream big – even if it scares me – and that I can be a determined person when my mind is set. With 2020 being the circus it was, and the world in the chaos that it is, family, sobriety, and the bike in my living room that goes no where have been my outlet and sanity.
I haven’t run races in a few years due to injuries that get aggravated when I run over a 5k. After becoming a certified Spin instructor, my endorphin thirst was quenched on a bike instead of in running shoes. It’s been years since I participated in any events, but I still set goals and earn badges on the bike and through my fitness watch. (Side note: it’s the most trivial things like badges I find highly motivating.) The beauty of training this way is that metrics are measured which gives tangible evidence of improvement. I love improving.
Across the social pages along came the PeloFondo event. Riders set a mileage goal of their choosing, and then have 2 days to complete the miles. Thinking it would be fun and something to challenge myself before the next actual challenge begins in a week, I set my goal of 30 miles. Seemed achievable.
But…it didn’t really scare me. I’ve done 90 minute rides both indoor cycling and outdoor. So then I figured I could leave my goal at 30, but then actually ride 50 (because Garmin badges). That way I could play it safe, have a goal, but not push myself much harder.
A friend from the Hawaii days messaged years ago to say she was doing her first century ride. I remember this conversation vividly. (This was after we had all moved on to our next duty stations, but we still cheer each other on, even from across the globe.) This conversation planted a seed.
I swallowed and upped the mileage to 100.
One of the class instructors, Christine D’Ercole, often says in her classes to get curious. Instead of the mental chatter that tells us we can’t do something, that talks us out of all the things, she has this amazing motto: I am. I can. I will. I do. We change the chatter and get curious. What if I can do this thing? What if I can set a crazy-ass goal and actually achieve it? What if it takes forever? What if?
I knew it would take me forever. I got ready and ordered the padded bike shorts and anti-chafing cream. (Somehow I missed the padded bike seat cover but my amazing husband popped out quick to the store and picked up not one, but two. He graciously fit one on while I was mid class!)
There were lots of stretching breaks between the classes. 2 peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat sammies, 3 apple pie Lara bars, 2 bananas, Nuun hydration tablets, and a LOT of water got me through. Not to mention the randomness of the post-ride feast!
101.19 miles took me 6:30. Six and a half hours. (The marathon time was in this same ridiculous ballpark.) I will never win races or compete competitively, but I race me. (And…. occasionally my friend Bo. He typically creams me.)
3000 calories torched according to the watch. Four Garmin badges were earned:
(Seriously, it’s ridiculous that these little things excite me to the degree that they do.) The very last ride of the 12 completed today happened to be the 200th!
I am…..capable. I can….do hard things. I will….continue to set goals that scare me. I do…finish what I start. Thank you Christine for the words I didn’t know I needed.
It’s been a minute since I set a scary goal, let alone participated in a formal event. I missed it. I missed getting scared and pushing beyond that fear. Because really….why not? And what if?