Friday, February 24, 2012

Love the one you're with

Almost four years ago I fell, quite unexpectedly, in love. With a bike. I'd asked for a "good" bike for my 35th birthday, mostly because my brothers kept heaping scorn on department store bikes and I wanted to know what the big deal was. The Giant Cypress they wheeled in replaced my 12-year old Huffy, a "mountain bike" for which the grassy strip between the sidewalk and street was extreme off-road.

At first, we just enjoyed spending time together, but then things changed. What began as a utilitarian partnership blossomed into a something much more. I've pretty much always had a bike, and I rode that Huffy quite a bit when my oldest boys were little. "Riding", at the time, meant pedalling to the nearest playground with my then-husband, each carrying a child in a bike seat. Occasionally we even rode a few extra blocks. Five miles was a long distance.

I didn't expect anything different with my new bike. That April was super rainy, so it took forever before we could go for our maiden voyage around the neighborhood. I felt guilty not using my good bike more, so I took it out on our local bike trails. It's a fantastic system of interconnected paved trails, but it can be a bit confusing if you happen to (ahem) lack map skills. I got lost and accidentally rode 20 miles.  I started riding on a regular basis, the distance depending on how long I could get away.

When my aunt Nancy suggested that I ride a leg of the Katy Trail ride with her: "It's only 50 miles, you could do it", I thought she was crazy, but I kept looking at the website for the Katy Trail ride that the Missouri DNR sponsors each year, got hooked, and signed up for the whole thing. All told, it was about 240 miles of riding over a week, but they're the easiest miles you'll ever ride. It's a flat, crushed limestone trail, and the ride is fully supported. Once I realized I could do it (and my butt got over the shock of the first two 60+ mile days), I was transformed. I was doing something that felt epic.

Before I got my bike, I was a little lost. You couldn't see it from the outside--I couldn't even always see it from the inside--but that's because there wasn't anything to see. Everything I did, my whole identity, was about someone else.  I didn't have a "thing", and cycling filled that void.  I loved it.  I was fulfilled. 



And then, almost accidentally, I started running.  It wasn't as fun as riding my bike, but it was easier to fit into my life.  I could get in a good run in 30 minutes.  It was cool to face a new challenge and have some small measure of success (measured, mostly, by not dying).  Running was there for me when I dislocated my thumb and couldn't ride for 6 weeks.  It was exciting.  We went to fun new places together (lots of races).  I admit it, I was stepping out on cycling.  I tried to pretend nothing had changed ("It was just a 5K...it didn't mean a thing!"), but it knew. But then I learned about adventure racing and got my mountain bike and the cycling spark burned bright again.

If you read back through this blog, one of my hallmarks is difficulty turning down something that sounds fun, even when that something is at cross-purposes with my training plan.  That, in turn, likely limits my performance: if you don't train consistently, how will you see what you're capable of? I thought I had semi-cured my athletic attention deficit disorder when I signed up for the Double Chubb 50K.  It's a distance that was epic enough (especially considering the terrain) that it forced me to shape up and be serious about training.


Double Chubb is basically this...twice
 My plan calls for back to back weekend runs: one long (up to 24 miles), one shorter (up to 10 miles).  With a full-time job and a full-time family, that doesn't leave a lot of time for any extra solo pursuits, so my bike has had to take a back seat once again.  Curiously, it doesn't even matter that most of the trails have been too mushy to ride, anyway. I'm still looking over running's shoulder like a girl staring at her true love while danceing with her date who's "just a friend".

I've made a commitment to this race; I'm going to honor it.  I just don't want to end up resenting it.  As Double Chubb is already costing me something really fun in addition to the hours of training I'll be putting in, I want it to be a good experience (again, probably mostly defined as "not dying").  I'm actually enjoying the training for it quite a bit.  I love trails, and I have some awesome friends sharing in the runs.  I'm going to do my best to love the one I'm with, and if I need to sneak away for a quickie ride...well, I guess I never promised running we'd be exclusive.

15 comments:

Mike said...

Haha, as one of my neighbors would say, running is Mr. Right for now :-). Well she wouldn't actually say that about running because she doesn't exercise, but she sometimes over shares a story about Mr. Right for now :-).

XLMIC said...

So when are we going to be on a relay team together?

Envious of you and your two loves... both of those guys are on my last nerve right now :P

TriMOEngr said...

Just wait until you get in a pool and realize you are a complete bigamist. :) Excited to watch this ultra adventure unfold. You can do it!

Rose @ Eat, Drink, and Be Meiri said...

I firmly believe you can have a polyamourous exercise lifestyle. Though, I know, the more I run the more I punish the strength training side of me, and lessen my muscle gains.

Kathy said...

Funny, I got into all this nonsense the opposite way - running junkie and now bike luv-ah! Good luck with the upcoming longs - it's tough to try to balance all the demands but you CAN do it and the reward is so worth it!

Anonymous said...

Did you do the Castlewood Cup?

Kate said...

Sure did! Race report coming hopefully tomorrow. :) Were you there?

Anonymous said...

Yep! I looked for you but didn't find you. Loved, loved, loved it. Can't wait for your race report.

#1121

Terzah said...

This was a great post, Kate. I've never been "torn between two loves" in this way, but I do often feel inclined to "cheat on" my current steady training when a hot new race appears on the immediate horizon. I've managed to curb that tendency for the BQ goal, but I know if and when that goal is reached, I'll probably return to my old ways for a while. Hey, it's fun that way, and nobody's paying us to do this for a living. We might as well have fun with it, right?

ajh said...

Very funny post. I love some of the analogies you've thrown in here. From the love the one you're with to the glances over your shoulder to your true love. I get it. Biking is so much more fun in the moment than running is. I had a truly fun time running at the ocean but that doesn't happen that often whereas with biking it happens all the time!

Chuck said...

That's gotta be the worst video clip I've ever seen. Ugh.

Kate said...

Lol. Sorry...maybe I should've recreated it with my bike. :)

Patrick Mahoney said...

Bike and people can be quite a symbiotic relationship for sure.

Abby @ Have Dental Floss, Will Travel said...

The beauty of adventure racing is the ability to love both running and biking equally - right? :)

Black Knight said...

Great post, I like it!