Disclaimer: I’m not saying you should do anything that I have done. I’m just telling you my story.
I ran a 5k yesterday. One would think that 3.1 miles would be enough for one day. But no. I got ambitious and signed up for the 38 mile bike ride as well. I ride 25 miles a few times a week. How much more could 38 be? Turns out… A LOT.
The 5k went well… for me. I knew what I wanted, so when they said go and everyone left me, I felt bad, but not as bad as if it would have been my first race. This was clearly a race for seasoned athletes, not the newbees like me.
I did see some people that have the same personal trainer that I do, which was good. They are always really nice and it’s nice to have people pulling for you and encouraging you, even if you don’t know them at all.
After the run I felt really bad. I strongly considered going home. My tummy was struggling and the only option was a porta potty. I HATE those things with a passion. I would drive an hour for a proper bathroom before I went even close to one of those. But I didn’t have that option and I knew I wouldn’t make it through the ride without a bathroom. I can’t even explain how awful it was. It was all I could do not to throw up. I’ll be shocked if I don’t end up with the plague.
But after that I got some food and water and started feeling better. I got my bike and went and lined up for the ride. There were three rides: 100 miles, 63 miles, and 38 miles. Once I was lined up for the 38 mile ride, which started last, I started looking around. Everyone there had really fancy bikes, like $5,000 to $20,000 fancy. They had all the upgrades: carbon frames, clipless pedals, special seats, aerodynamic helmets, and nice riding kits (outfits with special padding). Then there was me: $600 bike (which is cheap in comparison), aluminum frame (heavier than carbon), regular pedals and tennis shoes, a regular helmet, and riding shorts. Can you say out of place?
I watched the 100 miles riders take off and the 63 mile riders take off, they were fast. Then our group took off. We rounded the first corner and they were all gone… way ahead of me.
“What the hell did I get myself into?”
That was the only thought going through my mind for a while. Well, until the “I can’t do this” started… about mile 8. You see, I like to ride on a greenway, away from cars and away from hills. It’s easier that way. But this course, well, there were cars and there were hills, monster hills. Hills that made grown men cry and give up. To say I was ill prepared would be a massive understatement.
I stopped many times, sometimes many times on one hill. I seriously thought about giving up before I got to the first rest stop, about 10 miles in. I picked up a SAG rider, who’s job was to pick up the stragglers and provide medical and mechanical support. He almost convinced me to quit. But when I got there and got something to eat and drink, I knew I couldn’t give up. It was hard, but I knew it would be hard. That didn’t mean that I couldn’t do it though, right?
I powered on. The road flattened out quite a bit and the going got a lot easier. They scenery was nice and the houses that we passed were old and really cool looking. I was doing ok for a while. The guy that was with me stopped to help someone else. I wasn’t the worst one off at that point. Somehow, knowing that, made me feel better.
I picked up another SAG guy somewhere along the way. He was really nice. It made the miles a bit easier to talk to someone. We made it to the next rest stop with no problems. However, it got exponentially harder from there. As the miles and the hours passed on, my strength and will to keep going diminished. Somehow I kept making circles with my feet. I have an app called Strava that keeps me updated on how far we had gone. I was so happy to hear 25 miles. Massively overjoyed.
The hills came back before the third rest stop. Oh and it was getting pretty damn hot. At this point we were 6 miles from the end. Six miles? That’s nothing! I can do that in my sleep! I ride 75 to 100 miles a week. Oh but the hills and the heat oh and my legs! They were DYING. My knee gets this tightening in it when I overexert it. It was loosing strength.
I kept hearing my app count down the miles, but ever time that I made it up a hill I could see another one. Every time I thought that we HAD to be getting close we would round another corner and there was still nothing familiar. I walked up a couple of hills, as riders from the 100 mile ride came zooming by. I wanted to cry. I stopped in the middle of a hill and couldn’t breathe. My asthma problems turned into a panic attack. I so wanted to give up.
We are TWO MILES from the end! You CAN’T give up now! That would be just pathetic.
On I pedaled. Up that hill, around another corner and another. Finally, finally something looked familiar. It was highway 115. The campus of Lowe’s headquarters, where we had started, was just beyond the stoplight. We were so close to finished. We weaved our way through the campus to the finish. I have NEVER felt so much relief in my life.
The most amazing thing to me about the whole day was the intense feeling of wanting to give up even when I KNEW how close I was to the finish. It was crazy. Even as I was feeling it I knew it was crazy. Maybe it was the heat or the dehydration or the tiredness… whatever it was, it was bad.
I found out what I was made of out there on that course. I realized how tough I really am . I have no idea why I have to keep proving this to myself over and over again. Something in my makeup makes me do it once in a while.
If you have never done anything like this before I would encourage you to. Jump off of a bridge, go out on a limb… way out. Get outside of your comfort zone. That’s the only place that makes you feel alive. The only place.