I have never thought of myself as an athlete.
Earlier this year I was rocking a full blown crush on a serious triathlete. I regaled my friend Nikki with awesome stories of said crush….a sample for y’all of what my darling friends put up with EVERY time there is a new crush “and then he said that the color of my eyes was his favorite color; only it wasn’t a line…he really meant that blue was his favorite color…I don’t know if he actually likes my exact color. Do you think he meant my exact color? What do you think that meant? Because after he said that, he ate a green olive and not a black olive and I know that green olives are his favorite.” Oh my god, so obnoxious!
During a break in the eye color debate, I mentioned that I thought that he probably wasn’t attracted to me because I wasn’t an athlete. I meant that because I don’t have an athlete’s body, I was sure he wasn’t attracted to me. She promptly put me in my place and reminded me that I’ve finished a full marathon, a half marathon, a ten miler, a handful of 5Ks, and an olympic and a sprint distance triathlon. I sheepishly admitted that “well, I guess those count”, but I didn’t mean it. I have battled with that feeling during training for the past 4 years. I think that because I walked so much, because I was so slow, because I didn’t lose weight, somehow that means that those distances, those events, they do not count. Which we all know is bullshit, but sometimes that voice is hard to quiet. So yeah, that is why I do not think of myself as an athlete.
However, what I do know and firmly believe is that I am on a journey to become an athlete. I know that for every event in which I train I learn something new. I go further. I make new friends. I learn more about what I am capable of doing. With that in mind, I joined Team Z to start the next step in the journey. My goal is to train consistently (four sessions a week). I ultimately want to do a half iron man (maybe a full iron…we’ll see). The first step for me is that I need to train consistently. It is my hope that little by little, bit by bit, I’ll start to feel like an athlete.
Last nights ride “Tuesday night bike ride” from Conte’s was certainly a trial by fire of this new plan. The schedule called for the new Zers to go to a workshop on running shoes or do the bike ride. I already have running shoes and I’ve cycled some…so I thought I’d just join the ride. Bless my heart! I would not suggest anyone go for a ride with a group of people that have been training all summer for the Savage Man Half Iron. It’s named Savage Man because the hills of the course are …you guessed it….SAVAGE.
I arrived on time (yay me!) and joined the C group for a police escort of the whole group to the ride site. I’m sure in the future that will seem REALLY cool. Tonight, it freaked my shiz out! I was scrambling to keep up with the group. It didn’t take long for them to lose me. The cool thing about tonight’s ride was that the Sweeper was awesome. He didn’t seem put out that he had to stick back with me. Of course, he’s on a single gear bike in his street clothes, so he wasn’t out for a serious training ride! I always hated have a sweep in Team in Training, because I felt like I was messing up their workouts.
I did catch up with the group in time to hear about the next stage of the ride…loops on a massive hill with an 18% grade. SO NOT AWESOME. I hate hills. They are something that I have not mastered just yet. I hit the downhill for my first lap. That part went great! When I came to the uphill, I had been braking for the turn potion before it, so I started with barely any momentum. I made it up a smidge, before getting off my bike. I was breathing pretty hard and my heart rate was in the 170’s. I like to keep it around 150. As I was weighing my options…walk a bit and then get on or just get back on for a bit before resting again…when another awesome Team Zer stopped to help me formulate a plan. For the rest of the ride I had amazing support from Matt W. I’m always amazed how it’s the guys that seem to be so helpful in these endurance things. With the rare exceptions (Jenni B, Casey, Team Luna lady) the women are mostly indifferent. Although, now I should say that the Team Luna lady (Sarah???) made a point to talk to me before the ride and she was pretty awesome as well. She could tell that I was with Team Z, but I’m pretty sure she would have rode with me if I was checking out the ride on my own.
So, back to the monster hill. Matt had me walk up to a flat cul de sac so I could get up some momentum. About this time, I would have been more than happy to just ride that loop for the rest of the ride! But Jay, (Casey’s boyfriend) convinced me to hit the last of that mountain! I did. And then Matt rode with me on Military while we practiced shifting gears on rolling hills.
I’ve been told how to shift on hills, had people tell me about rubbing the gum off your shoe on the bottom stroke, know to think “PULL” on the upstroke, but somehow today, with Matt it all started to click! He told me how to use my hip flexors (I think that’s right…the muscles on the outside of my thigh) on the upstroke. I get now the circular motion of the pedal stroke while going uphill. YAY! I’m stoked to try it out again, but perhaps not on an 18% grade!
Ride Distance: 7 miles at about 10 MPHs.