Progress..not perfection.

I am very hard on myself. sometimes so hard that it’s a wonder how i actually get anything done. i’ve been trying through meditation and mindfulness to be nicer to myself. and lately being nicer, kinder, more forgiving…of myself has opened me up to more positive interactions and more positive experiences. so this past week i was expecting to be filled exhaustion and emotions. i had my normal schedule – except that my long run was going to be split up with one medium length in the morning and the other half in the evening – 14 miles total. and a maintenance ride of 2:45 – yeah that’s now a maintenance ride, good gracious! i also was looking ahead to my long ride which i wasn’t sure of the time or mileage or if i would be on the road or the trainer until wednesday. with all of these things going on no wonder i was anticipating exhaustion and lots of emotions.

and the week did not hold up to being exhausted. i must have done a better job of fueling and staying focused and getting enough rest because i wasn’t tired. i woke up wednesday morning a little bit lethargic, but then again who isn’t lethargic at 4:00 am? but i was on the road by 4:50 and had a great hilly run. i worked all day and then hit the road at 4:30 pm to complete by last 7 miles. i had read for years about splitting up the long runs but it was amazing! i fully expected that my later run would feel like running through mud – and it was raining and cold …and it felt wonderful. i felt like a runner again. strong and capable. i walked with a purpose up the hills to conserve energy. i fueled properly. i felt great.

i managed to get through the remainder of the week without exhaustion or emotions. things were looking up.

on wednesday i received an email from coach k. with a route for my long ride. as i looked it didn’t look bad at all. it was my very familiar route slightly modified, it was the “barney’s loop” but with a few extra miles added in to make it close to 16. then my stomach flipped. it wasn’t JUST the loop…it was the loop 5 times…FIVE TIMES. it was going to be close to 80 miles when all was said and done. stomach flipped. eyes teared up. then a peace came over me. i only had to ride 16 miles, then i’d be able to do a hard reset at my house. pee, refuel, restock the bike and get back out. i could have folks ride parts of this with me! i could be social-ish for once. and the weather was looking good too.

so sunday finally came. the plan was to start at 8:00. sunshine and jaye would do the first loop with me, sunshine would do the 2nd loop with me, 3rd loop would be solo, 4th loop would be kate and possibly walter and jen, then the final loop sunshine would rejoin me and kate and possibly bettie. it was looking like a decent crowd and a GORGEOUS day. i felt a tiny bit nervous but was able to eat my breakfast. and then, we started riding. the course is gorgeous and peaceful especially because i know it so well. i was a bit uncomfortable being out on keke the first few miles. i had trouble clipping in and clipping out. i felt like i couldn’t get a good push off to get through intersections from a stop. i was concerned about drinking. my brain was a bit messy for a while. then i hit the downhill near the reservoir. i heard jas tell me not to told the brakes and i didn’t. i leaned in and flew. i felt good. i got the bottle out and drank. i climbed. i felt good. i managed to get a good fall in while beginning to ride down salisbury. thank goodness there was no blood or major injuries.  and then flew down salisbury without much fear. as a surprise to sunshine and jaye i didn’t tell them the modification from the normal barney’s loop, so as we turned right to go up (like uphill) pleasant street they weren’t as amused as i was. we returned to my house in a perfect amount of time. and by perfect i mean, coach k had wanted me to aim for a total riding time of 5:45 and with help from s  we figured the average time needed to be around 1:12. and yes, we (me and s) had decided that coach k was again thinking pie in the sky. but that first loop we did in 1:11. and i didn’t even feel like i was pushing it at all.

and so the loops began. the second loop was equally lovely. sunshine started to get all emotional on me near the reservoir saying, “i’m so honored…” and i cut her off rather abruptly and rudely saying stop that right now. i couldn’t start thinking of anything emotional. i needed to keep my head in that ride. and the second loop was wonderful. we finished in 1:06. 5 minutes faster. without much more effort.

hmmm….

this must be a sign that this third loop where i’m going to be alone will be so hard.

but.it.wasn’t!!!!! it wasn’t. it wasn’t any harder or easier than any of the other loops. i felt strong. i was using all of my gears (or so i thought). i even got down into aero. my hips weren’t bothering me. it was too good to be true. i finished the third loop in 1:04. i was getting faster.

coach k was waiting for me at the house. so was jaye and bettie. jaye and bettie decided to ride a bit together. walter and jen were going to meet us on the course. the day was heating up but i was still sort of bundled up. coach k and i rode on and met up with walter and jen. all three of them made it all look so effortless. they floated up hills while talking so easily. my brain started. but then i reminded myself that i had already cycled more than 45 miles and they had just begun. i was able to talk my first and second loops. i climbed the hills and jen rang the bell to remind me to come back to the bike. it all was so amazing. then we turned onto pleasant, jen was yelling she was in her big ring while she flew by me. kate and walter also just pedaled on. i pushed and pulled and tried to breathe my way up. i got up the hill but felt a bit muddier than they looked. walter scolded me for not using all of my gears and i honestly felt i had. he said i had 4 more gears left! what?! that hill could’ve been easier! oh man. the fourth loop was finished in 1:06.

i felt great. everyone begged me to take off some of my layers but i wasn’t ready to take them off. so off we rode. sunshine and bettie joined us. and around the reservoir we went again. the ice that had been at the banks of the reservoir that morning had melted and only ice was in the middle. it truly felt like i had witnessed spring beginning here. as we climbed i took more gear off and discovered a whole layer of more gear! the hills got easier, effortless. i really felt like i was understanding the bike. my legs felt good. my hands and neck were beginning to get sore and i couldn’t figure out how to “get out of them.” i couldn’t not put the pressure into my hands and i couldn’t figure out how to keep my head up without that pressure in my neck. nothing was unbearable but uncomfortable it was. in the final miles walter tried to get me into a pace line with jen and him. i couldn’t get my brain around it. i was fearful of this trust they were putting in me and i couldn’t handle it at mile 75 of this ride at all. jen was so compassionate and told walter to cut it out and let me be. i felt bad but just couldn’t do it. and then we turned onto pleasant. and that hill was still tough but it was easier and i thought to myself it was that climb into lake placid i would have to overcome in order to get back home.

and then i got home. and i had done it. i had actually ridden for 80 miles. my legs had carried me further than ever before. and as i write this i realize not just on a bike..but anywhere. i had done half ironman races…but that’s only 70.3. i moved my body 80 miles. wow.

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