I had an opportunity recently to attend Wanderlust Squaw Valley on behalf of Fordcares.com Warriors in Pink. I wasn’t sure what to expect — I don’t do a lot of yoga, I’m not a really introspective person, but I was up for talking at a couple of yoga classes about my experience and how they could help others facing cancer.
My second day at the festival I came across some bracelets. Each had a charm with a word stamped on it. I picked up the first one I saw. Badass. I put it back and continued to look. Then I came back. Badass. I’d been hearing that word used to describe me recently. I’d been avoiding it. But there it is again. I realize that while I may not be a TOTAL badass, I can be a badass. I’m courageous, strong, smart, a role model. So I embrace the badass side of myself. I love wearing that bracelet. It reminds me to not let myself get in my own way.
Later I attend a class about meditation. The master speaks about letting go about what others think, and I realize how tightly I hold on to what I perceive others thinking about me or how they see me. I make up stories that others must be thinking — “how can she be an athlete – look at her body!” But, dammit, I am a badass. And I need to allow that to carry me. I also made a talisman to remind me to trust myself. Trust my instincts, my body and my strength. Geez. I just rode 203 miles. I must be able to do something!
So a major learning for me that weekend: trust myself, I am more than I give myself credit for.
Would you do it again? That seems to be the first question people ask. Then they ask if I’m sore. What hurts? I finished, upright on my bike on my own power. That was my goal. 10 hours on a bike seat on Saturday and 7 on Sunday. Would I do it again? I don’t know. I put a lot of hours into training. Many Saturdays I’d leave the house at 7 or 730 and not get home until 4pm. As it got closer to the event, I’d often go out on Sundays too. And at least a couple nights during the week. Leave work at 4, head to Log Boom Park, get on my bike and do 30-40 miles, and then head home. Some nights that was fun. Some nights it was hard.
I read recently about perceived effort. It was an interesting article. It was talking about how hard to push yourself to make a difference. The upshot was if it feels hard, don’t push. Do what you can and call it good. But if it feels easy, push. You can go harder. I have to say STP felt easier mentally and physically on Saturday than on Sunday. Sunday I was trying to change my inner voice, and get comfortable on my bike seat. Crossing over the bridge into Oregon meant only 30 more miles. But those were, mentally, the toughest miles I’ve done. But I couldn’t quit. How can you quit when you’re so close. And I hate to quit.
Training for an endurance bike ride is so different from the training I was used to. When you train to walk a half marathon, you know you’ll be done in 3-4 hours. You subsist mainly on gels and chewy blocks; maybe an energy bar. But your body doesn’t crave as much fuel. When you do a duathlon, each section is short – run 3.5, bike 12.5, run 3.5. I would eat half a banana as I ran out the chute for my second run, or eat part of a protein bar as I changed shoes and got my gear for the bike ride. But, again, my body didn’t need as much fuel. I fueled up after the event. But distance biking? Figuring out how to fuel my body before, during and after was a challenge. I realized halfway into my training that the reason my legs were giving out was that I wasn’t getting enough protein. So I started trying to eat more lean protein and added a protein shake on training days. That helped. But I need to start that fueling process earlier in my training. Now I know. And it will make a difference for my next adventure.
So would I do it again? Maybe. I know I’d train a lot differently. More hills. More back to back days. Figure out my fuel needs earlier. And get out of my head. Way out. So maybe not STP. But I will do another endurance event … just not sure what the next adventure will be. For now, I’m scheduled to do a triathlon relay in Vancouver WA in August and then Cycle the Wave in September. I might throw a couple more in there. And I’ll be back on my bike next week.
That’s it. 203 miles. Too many hills, busy highways, rude drivers, and stupid riders. A lot of it was fun. A lot of it was a slog. What I’m proud of? Maintaining a strong pace. Making it up almost all the hills. Powering through when I wanted to quit. Crossing the finish line. As soon as I’m able to walk normally I’ll get back on my bike. Bit not for a couple of days. More musings and photos to post. For now, rest.
There were times I wanted to quit and parts where I flew. I tried to remind myself to stop and enjoy the ride. My body gave out before my energy. And I added and extra 4 miles and a couple of hills when I overshot our stop. So spending the night in winlock. Final 83 miles tomorrow.
This wasn’t supposed to be how my night before was supposed to go. I was going to get on a 330 pm flight back from Spokane. Instead the flight was cancelled, and I embarked on a 4 hour road trip with a co-worker down I-90. It was better than the alternative — the 5am flight they offered me for Saturday morning. So instead of a relaxing few hours checking over my packing and loading my bike, I’m scurrying around. Oh well.
Do I have everything? Am I ready? I’ve trained. I’ve made lists. I’ve studied the route. If I forgot something, I’ll get it on the road. I might be making a stop at a Starbucks down the road for more caffeine, but I think I’m set.
I have everything staged in a corner of my living room. I have my luggage tags set. I have my STP numbers in place. My bike is on my car.
My strategy? 25 miles at a time. The rest stops are strategically every 25 miles. I may only stop long enough to get more water or hit the rest room. But it’s a mental game. So 25 miles at a time.
I’m nervous. But I usually am before a race. So, yes, I’m ready. Now off to set my alarm for 430. We’re going to be on the road before 6am.
I’ll post pictures and notes as I can. See you soon …
What do you say when everyone asks “are you excited, are you ready, how are you?” I’ve tried responding about how I really feel – nervous, excited, ready, not ready, not sure – and people look at me like I’m nuts. I was actually told that I need to sound more confident about my bike ride this weekend. Of course, it’s not just a bike ride. It’s the STP – Seattle to Portland on a bike. 203 miles over two days on city and county roads. With 10,000 other riders.
I know I’m ready. I’ve done the seat miles. I’ve done the hills. I tested out more hills this last weekend just to be sure. I’m mostly packed and have my snacks and food set-up. I’ve looked at the course. But it’s still a big unknown.
How do you deal with the unknown? I’ve recently taken to visualization. When I was doing a ride with 2800 feet of elevation gain recently, I visualized myself riding up the hill. I was panting. But in my mind, I made it to the top. So when I did the actual ride, I knew I could make it to the top. Why? I had pictured it in my mind. Athletes do this all the time. They visualize throwing a perfect pass, making a perfect basket, hitting the ball. For the STP, I’m visualizing riding up the hills; stopping at the rest stops; cruising into Winlock on Day 1 after completing 120 miles and being tired, but happy. I’m visualizing 25 miles at a time. That’s how far apart the rest stops are. I know I can do 25 miles at a time. And I know I can do these hills. I’m visualizing success each mile.
So if you ask me how I’m doing, I still might say I’m nervous. But I know I can do this. And I’ll finish in Portland on Sunday upright on my own power.
I had an opportunity to be on King5 and talk about diagnosis, cancer, and exercise. Taking advantage of opportunities wherever I can to promote and educate.