OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE
You've heard the phrase "white knuckle flyer"? Well today, I was a white knuckle biker. Today was a big step for me, riding on the actual road, rather than a bike trail. This weekend, the Sunday before Labor Day, in 2006, I was hit by a car while on a training ride.
I pretty much realized when the actual anniversary date arrived (9/3/06) and I couldn't remember the actual date, that I was finally able to put that behind me.
I had vowed after my accident to NEVER ride on the road again. While I did a few times in the year following the accident, I was so paranoid, I was a complete wreck. It totally held me back, and I was not able to go on any more rides because of total fear. The few races I did that following year did not go well because of this fear. Yet, there was nothing I could do about it. It was still too fresh. Not that I remembered the pain of the hit--I just remember to this day the explosion in my head when I was hit--I still remembered clearly the weeks and then months of pain and recovery. It was serious. And, while I don't consider myself a superhero, I have to wonder how many people would have recovered and fought back from serious injuries at my age.
Yet, despite this, I was determined to get back my triathlon life. I tried very hard for the next 2 years, with limited success. Then, earlier this year, I decided I was ready to try an Ironman, yet didn't know until recently that my fear was restricting me, holding me back. I knew I had to let it go but was afraid to try. And I didn't want to put my family through this all again.
I was having extreme difficulty and frustration meeting my biking goals, and I knew it was because of being unable to take to the open road and get off the bike trail. Training for Muncie, I barely squeaked by on my biking goals, and after another month, I could see that squeaking by was not going to cut in for Ironman. Not only was the out and back and out and back again on the bike path so incredibly boring I wanted to scream, I could see I was making little to no real progress on my pacing or mileage goals.
So, today, for the first time in many years for me, Don and I set out for a route that he loved and trained on for years, to Spring Lake and back. I have to admit, it was not without some anxiety and apprehension, but I knew I had to do this. This is an incredibly hilly route, and it is not without its share of traffic, yet I did not resist or complain. For one thing, I could see how happy he was to be out on the road again, mentoring me through the biking miles. I could tell when we rode on the trails that while he did it, he was pretty bored too. And he, of course, knew better, having done several Ironmans himself, that I was not going to make it if I didn't get over my fear and get out on the road.
This ride was pretty hard for me, 74 miles of hills, hills, and more hills. Fortunately, most of the roads had been recently resurfaced, making the miles fly by fairly effortlessly, despite the hills. By the end, while I was glad to see the end of hills, I still had enough left to go out and do another 10 miles. I had done what I set out to do.
We also had incredibly perfect weather today, and I know we have limited weeks to get this biking thing accomplished, so I still have some work to do, but am finally feeling more confident of making my goal.