- A lot of my self-criticism on the blog is pretty tongue-in-cheek. I mean, it's accurate, but I'm not at home crying over being the worst swimmer or the slowest runner. I'm pretty comfortable with laughing at myself. It comes from having three brothers, I think. :)
- I think maybe it's a girl thing to not really toot your own horn (you know, other than referring to myself as SuperKate. lol)
- I want to give an accurate description of myself. I'd rather play down my abilities and pleasantly surprise people than talk myself up and then be unable to live up to that.
- When I am at the level I want to be (does that ever happen?), I want to be able to look back and see how far I've come.
- I'm lucky enough to have some pretty amazing athletes and kickass people who let me tag along with them. I'm comparing myself to them, not me.
On Saturday, I ran 5 miles, outside without stopping. I was really proud I could do it. It has been a long time since I have gone that far without walking. I did not want to write that because I was getting caught up in where I have been previously with running. Didn't I run a 50K last October? Who gives a shit about 5 miles?
I have always believed you have to take your wins where you can get them. You start from where you are, not where you were, or where you want to be. I have done some pretty cool (and frankly shocking) long distance running. Does that mean I do not get to be proud of myself again until I run 35 miles? Fuck that. I am more of an instant gratification girl. I would rather be proud now.
Isn't that something?
And you know what? I would rather be proud now. Instead of being almost at the point of tears once today because I could not keep up and everyone had to keep waiting on me, I'm going to stop comparing myself with all of the experienced riders (and with the braver newer ones) and just remember where I started and be proud of where I am now. Am I where I want to be? No, but I'm moving in the right direction. And luckily, I have friends who are helping me get there.
My friend Robin is sponsored by Trek and part of that involves leading some rides. She and Patrick both made sure I knew about it, and she even picked me up for the drive this morning. I had a long day and a late night last night, so I was really glad to just be able to ride along. After the obligatory Quik Trip stop to feed our soda addictions, we headed to meet the others at Lost Valley.
I've run a couple of times at Lost Valley, and today was the third time I've ridden there. It was actually the site of my first mountain bike ride (well, my first one on a mountain bike, anyway) back in January, as well as a ride with my friend Wendy in April, so I guess it provides a good opportunity to measure progress. (I'm dying to add "or lack thereof", but that wouldn't be kind or gentle.)
|Patrick, Bill, Chuck, Robin, Mark|
The day started off a little cool. Temperatures in the 60's? What's that? Once we were riding, though, it was perfect. The trails are in FANTASTIC shape. The dirt was packed so well that it was almost like riding on the road. There's a mile or so of crushed limestone doubletrack from the parking lot to the beginning of the Lost Valley trails. I can cruise on the flats. One thing that riding my hybrid for two years did for me was give me strong legs (that, and a level of comfort being in the back of any cycling group). I imagine the lifting I've been doing helps, too.
The first big hill down, though, still scares the heck out of me. It's gravel, bigger gravel, and rutted. I was holding onto my brakes all of the way down. Just like last time, I got to the bottom of the hill, didn't see anyone, and turned. Pretty quickly, though, I realized that they'd all probably headed up the next hill, so I turned around and had to start up it with almost no momentum. In the future, if we're starting at the top of a hill, I just need to make sure and establish which way the group will go at the bottom, because otherwise I'm doomed to wander the trails alone.
Well, at least until the group finds me. I had just finished slogging up the next hill when Robin and Patrick found me and we rode to catch up with the rest of the group. I could keep up just fine on the doubletrack, but it was a different story on the singletrack. Until I build more confidence, I'm just going to be slower.
|This dip is bigger than it looks. |
The bottom of the picture is the beginning of the downhill, and the other side rises fairly steeply.
Patrick kind of hung back with me for quite a while. It was nice of him to keep me company and push me to be a little braver. Of course, I heard the same refrain from him that all of my bike friends tell me: That would be easier if you kept more speed going into it. I know they're right. I guess it's just a matter of building confidence in myself and my bike. I definitely spent a lot of time on the brakes that first lap, and they were squealing again today so a) the lousy traitors informed on me every time I used them and b) everyone within earshot of me today probably is still hearing that terrible sound.
I noticed today that I definitely do better on gentle uphills because I can just ride without feeling the need to brake so much. Going downhill still makes me really nervous, as does building up much speed at all. Since I'm fairly strong on flat sections, I just need to work on climbing hills, too, and then maybe I can at least make up a little of the time that I lose on twisty or downhill sections.
Our second loop today started with another climb. The climb that seemed like it would never end. For close to the first half, I was able to stay up with some of the guys, but eventually I dropped behind them, I think when I downshifted. I definitely spent a lot of that time in my granny gears. Towards the top of the hill, Patrick rode up next to me and I tried to beat him to catching up with the forward group but I couldn't drp him. :)
I spent more of the second loop by myself, but that was fine. I was pretty comfortable with the trail and felt better not dragging everybody else back. You don't know how hard it was to not keep apologizing nonstop to them about making them wait so much. I just kept thinking about a line that Robin wrote in her report last year about Conquer Castlewood, something like "She should never apologize, she's out there trying" or something like that. Of course, that lady wasn't holding a whole group of people back.
|Foggy lens from being in the back pocket of my jersey. Hopefully you can still see how pretty the trails are.|
And the last hill is a doozy. It's not quite as long as the other hill, but it's still long, and the very top is steep. Riding up to it, I was already in my smallest chainring in front and wondering