Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Polar Opposites

Unlike swimming, I have no natural ability on the bike. Everything that I do on the bike is the result of hard work and stupidity.

I don't know where I am on the learning curve, but I still refer to my chainring as "y'know the big circle in the front" and I could never intelligently discuss the benefits of carbon over steel, unless maybe you're a clydesdale. BUT, I can tell you what the BEST girl-seat around is and where to put those much needed femine products when you have a long ride (cough...saltstick...cough).

I'm not fast, but I'm not slow either. This year I finally made the move into the upper 30% of my age group after floundering around in the bottom 20% for awhile.

In the begining of my tri "career", I made progress quickly. I learned that there is a big difference between riding your bike out to the lake and home and training.


My first years, I spent "reading" about training more than actually doing it, but I didn't understand the language. ILTs? high cadence? grinding? I didn't know WHY those things were important. I mean, really, don't I just get on the bike and go as hard as I can?

After two years of poor showings on the bike, I came to the painful realization that I couldn't become a better cyclist by osmosis.

It was hard. Cycling is still hard. I sweat. My legs burn. Sometimes I go really far and want to take a cab home. Sometimes I spent a stupid amount of time on the trainer. I've fallen over sideways. I've crashed. I've dropped my chain. I've dropped my water bottle...and watched it go bouncing....bouncing....bouncing....down the side of a mountain. I've gotten saddlesores (once). I've gotten chafed. I've peed myself. I've miscalculated nutrition. I've dressed inappropriately. I've put my helmet on backward, and I've jammed my aero-waterbottle up my nostril so hard I thought it would come out my eyes.

Sometimes I think....I just can't pedal anymore.

Then, something else happens.....and I just keep going.


in the pool, I stare at the stripe along the bottom of the pool...while running I see pretty much the same 50 square miles.

On the bike, I see the most beautiful landscapes that I could never run to. I can ride through counties, over mountains, around lakes. I can stop at coffee shops that give out free snacks to cyclists.

And I meet other cyclists.

I couldn't do that if I didn't face my bike-demons: those voices that want to tell me "the hill is too big" or "that's too far" or "your legs are too tired." or "maybe you should just swim today."

Fortunately for me, I've got my girlfriends "Grit" and "Determination" on my side. It might not be pretty, but I'm not a quitter. Work ethic. I got a wholelotta that. Again unlike the swim, I don't miss a bike workout. Every time I get in the saddle, I am reminded of how much work I have to do to get where I want to be.

But I don't mind. I like it. When I look back over the past few years, I have a sense of accomplishment. Sure the accomplishment is only about 1mph per year over the course of the race, but each year new people join the sport. Each year, I begin passing others. Each year, I can climb better and manage my heart rate, cadence, and power better than previous years.

The gains may be small, but they are all mine.

Not a darn person can take that away from me.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It's knowing what you are capable of

I had a moment the other day.

I went swimming for the first time in months. Then, I did it again.

This rather odd behavior went on for two weeks.

Then, I had longer swim to do...3800m. The workout took me roughly 1:20 to complete, including break times inbetween intervals.

I feel good about swimming. Of the three events, it's the one that I feel I have natural ability. In June, several people asked me what my goal time was for Ironman. I said that I knew I could hit 1:20 easily. 1:15 on a good day. 1:10 with adrenaline.

Of course, they rolled their eyes at me.

After almost 6 months off of no swimming, I jump back into the pool with a 1:20 time.

Let's just keep that our little secret.