Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Fear is a Four Letter Word

I have a confession to make.  I had not gotten on my bike for a ride since July of 2014.  The last ride I did was the Tour de Cure where I rode 43 miles through the hilly countryside around Hillsboro.  And then I didn't ride again.

Partly because I was busy.  I was taking classes for my Masters.  School started so then I was taking classes and working.  There was a lot going on.

Fall came and went.  Winter arrived and who wants to go ride in the winter?  Only crazy people training for an Ironman do that.  Spring came and the weather got warmer but I still didn't get a ride in.  Finishing up my practicum for my Masters was a lot of work and very stressful.  I barely managed to balance work and school and family at that point.  All of this sounds very reasonable.

Summer arrived and my husband asked occasionally when I was going to go for a ride.  I would tell him soon and then just not get to it.

The reality was I was scared.  I knew I had waited to long to ride again and had probably forgotten my already shaky skills of starting and stopping.  I hate look dumb.  I hate not being good at something or at least good enough that I don't embarrass myself.  I also was afraid of falling down.  Seems silly but it was a very real fear.  I knew getting back on the bike was going to be ugly so I was just avoiding it all together.

I want to do an Olympic Triathlon.

But I was letting fear get in the way of even the possibility of trying it.  One of many "F" words that I have let in lately.

Joe and I had a very long and tearful (on my part) conversation about it a couple of weeks ago when he finally really got on my case about not riding.

Not only do I hate looking dumb doing something I'm not good at, I really hate admitting that I'm scared of something.  We had a good talk about it and what my goals are.

First hurdle, admitting that I'm a big chicken to ride my bike.

Second hurdle, actually going for a bike ride.

This week Joe texted me and said that when I got home we were going for a ride.  Crap!  I knew he wasn't going to let me avoid it any longer.

I got home and changed into my riding clothes and got ready.  Joe took Meighan to church for Youth Group and then came back.

We got all situated and started in the driveway.  Sure enough, trying to get on the bike was not easy.  I was all wobbly and dropped an F bomb when I almost crashed into the mailbox.  I was so frustrated!  (Another F word!)  I couldn't even get out of my own driveway without it being a big deal.  Finally got going and we headed out.  We basically went in a big loop around the local area so that I would have to stop at stop signs.

At one point Joe told me to be careful when I stopped to lean to the side that I put my foot down because if my other foot was in the cage and I leaned that way I would tip over.  I wouldn't be able to get my foot down to catch myself because it would still be in the cage.  Sounds like good advice.

What do I do at the very next stop sign?  Tip over on the side that my foot was still in the cage.  Skinned my knee and my elbow and somehow crushed my boob (handlebars maybe?).  It had frightened me (yet another F word) and it hurt and I was SO frustrated.  I wanted to just quit and go home.  Who needs to do a stupid Olympic triathlon anyway.  I'm an idiot for even thinking I could.  My husband asks me if I want to just go home.

For a split second I wanted to say yes.  But then I got furious (yet another F word) with myself and the whole stupid situation.  I was not going to go to school and tell my students to keep trying, even when they are really frustrated if I wasn't willing to keep trying when I'm really frustrated.  (Joe is the one that pointed that out earlier, I hate it when he's right!)  lol

I got back on my bike and kept going.  Still crying from falling down but I was on my bike and moving.  I don't know how many laps we did but we ended up with 3.89 miles.  Every time I stopped and started it got a little better.

Saturday morning I got up and made cookies for my good friend that is doing a 100 mile trail run in Southern Oregon.  Anybody who runs that far has more than earned cookies.  He requested Peanut Butter Cookies with chocolate chips in them.  That's what I made him.  :-)

After that I decided to go for a short run and a short bike ride.  It would have been easy to use the drive down to Ashland as an excuse not to do either but I figured a short run and bike would not take forever and would give me a chance to practice on the bike.  I didn't want to wait to long or I would start letting the fear get to me again.

Since I was only going to go 2 miles for my run I decided to try and go faster than I normally do and see if I could maintain it over the whole two miles.

This is a fantastic pace for me!  Especially since it had already warmed up quite a bit.  I tend to do my fastest running in the cooler temperatures, anything under 60 degrees.  It was already close to 70 degrees when I started.  Not super hot but enough that I can feel it.  Not only did I keep the pace at a low 11 minute mile, I never went over 12 minute mile pace during the entire run.  A lot of the run I was actually under 11 minute mile pace.  Short runs are fun that way because I don't feel like I have to save energy because I'm going farther, I can just go for it and see what happens.

When I got home I changed into my riding shorts and took off on the bike.  I decided to do a short loop out into the countryside a bit because I wanted to remember how much I love just going on a bike but I would still have lots of places I would have to stop and i could practice my starts and stops.

I left the house and was a bit wobbly but it was better than earlier in the week.  I got onto 34th Ave which is a main road near my house and headed towards Waverly.  I had to stop at a red light and that went well.  However, in the car next to me a woman in the passenger seat was smoking and holding her cigarette out the window.  The light turned green and I took off, as the car passed me she flicked the ashes off of her cigarette and the ashes landed on my leg!  Seriously?!!!  I don't think she did it on purpose (at least I hope not) and she didn't seem to realize I was there.  That was definitely a first.  Next time I will be watching for flicking ash when someone is driving by with a cigarette hanging out the window.

I got to the corner of 34th Ave and Waverly and had to stop again for a red light.  So far so good.  There were a lot of cars, it's a pretty busy intersection so that had me a little freaked out (another F word) because I didn't want to wobble a start right into a car.  I was standing by the curb and decided to use it to help me start since I could sit on my bike and my foot could reach the curb.  The light turned green and I got started but began to wobble, there was a car next to me so I decided to put my foot back on the curb and wait for the car to go by and then go.

That was not a good plan.

I had moved forward enough that I was where the curb goes down for the crosswalk.  I put my foot down and there was no curb so lost my balance.  It was like that weird feeling you get when you think you've reached the last step and there's one more.  Your brain can't quite register that the ground isn't where it should be.  I almost caught myself.


Down I went.  Right there on a busy corner with lots of cars around.  Because I had tipped to my right I went down on the sidewalk.  That was good, no cars.  But my left leg landed on my pedal.  Ouch.

For the second time, on my second ride in over a year, I fell down.  So now I have fallen down twice in a row.  I have some lovely scrapes and bruises to prove it.  I don't like falling down.  I am pretty sure nobody likes falling down.  But I'm not all twisted up with fear about falling like I was before.  I've done it twice and have lived to tell the tale.  Probably will fall down more if/when I switch to clip on shoes.  I will have to work on not being afraid of that as well.
The second day, it's turning lovely colors.
Day 5, it's even more colorful now!  :-)
I had a good ride and enjoyed being out in the country and just being able to go.  The breeze felt good and my legs did pretty well considering the fact that I had run as well.

My speed was decent and other than the epic fail at the beginning I did pretty good at stopping and starting.  Still not very smooth and still not very confident but I did it.

This weekend I had two friends doing epic events.

Chad did his first Half Ironman distance triathlon.  It was a hot day for it but he did awesome.  Doing a Half Ironman triathlon is hard.  Doing one where the weather gets in the upper 90's just makes it harder.  I'm very proud of Chad and how he did.  He has worked very hard to get to this milestone.

My friend Josh did the Pine to Palm 100 Mile Endurance Trail Run.  A year ago he had to pull out of the race about half way through.  I know this was not easy for him.  He had worked really hard for that race and I can't imagine how hard it would be to not be able to finish.

This year was his do over year.  He learned a lot last year, figured out some new things for training and nutrition, did a long training run with us at the Cascade Lakes Relay and was dialed in and ready to go.

My husband was part of his support crew and left Friday night with Josh and the rest of the troops.  The race started at 6:00 a.m. Saturday morning.  I was able to track his progress online which is the only way I knew how he was doing since the support crew.  They were out in the middle of nowhere and had no service.  I think we were lucky to get updates on the internet!  Sunday afternoon at 1:11 p.m., after running and walking and pushing through to the finish my friend Josh finished his first 100 mile trail run.  It took him 31 hours 11 minutes and 6 seconds.  WOW!!

The whole day was amazing and inspiring and full of things that I will remember for a very long time.  I feel very blessed to be a part of this event, even if it was just hooting and hollering my friend across the finish line.  :-)

Glad this guy is my friend!  
Later when we were getting ready to leave I went into the house to say goodbye to Josh.  I got all mushy (surprise, surprise!) telling him how proud of him I was.  He grabbed my hand and told me that I needed to just keep being me.  My buddy Josh knows my struggles with self-image and not feeling like I can keep up.  This just made me even more weepy.  I'm so very glad that I have him and his wife in my life.  I have a funny feeling that there was a lot of deep thought thinking going on during his 100 miles.  :-)

So the last couple of weeks having about confronting my fears, which has been a four letter word in my life since I was a kid.  Always having to work through fear and moving forward.  I do well for a long time and then find myself down that road before I even realize it for awhile.  Most of the time the fear has been unfounded.  At 45 years old you would think I would be better at not going down that road.  But I am a work in progress so I'll just keep working on progressing.  :-)

Love this!
I'm may not be able to get rid of the fear completely but I'm going to be working on saying "What the hell!" more often!  Fear probably won't go away but I will continue to work on facing it instead of ignoring.