2 years ago I ended a bike ride by tossing my Lemond Alpe D’Huez in the garage, uttering a curse or two and leaving my gear in the corner to tarnish and collect dust. I was done with that bike. We were not friends.
I had been running marathons for about 5 years at this point, and I had decided it was time to branch out in to the wide world of triathlons. The influence to start Tri’s came from an incredible triathlete, Meg. Without going in to a long emotional story, I’ll just explain that Meg was a Marine Major who also doubled as my training partner in Fallujah, Iraq in 2006. She organized a marathon out there and decided that I was ready for a BQ. Meg’s confidence in me is probably what sparked the internal competitive nature that I now possess. She competed professionally at the Ironman distance for the Marine Corps, finishing on the podium multiple times. Fast forward to the hard stuff….After my BQ in Iraq, Meg was killed by an i.e.d. (improvised explosive device). I was distraught at having lost such a wonderful person. A few months went by, and I found a rather large rubber looking container delivered to my doorstep in our home in NC. It was Meg’s training bike. Her parents wanted me to have it, to carry on the torch.
About a year after getting the bike in the mail, I finally decided it was time to give the triathlon world a spin. It turns out I’m a good swimmer, and definitely have an edge on the run. Unfortunately I have just about the worst luck on the bike. It seemed like every ride I went out on something would happen…flat tire, some valuable piece of equipment would become disassembled, my chain would play a fun game of catch and release, it just never ended. In the middle of my first sprint-tri, something broke and I ended up running my bike in for the last 2 miles. At this point, I gave up on myself, my bike, and triathlons.
Fast forward to April, 2010….
I’m tapering for the Boston Marathon. I found myself struggling somewhat with an aggravated groin injury that creeped up after spending entirely way too much time and energy gardening (tip: don’t unload 3600 lbs of soil by yourself). I know that I can’t run, at least not for a few days. As I tossed my gardening gloves in the garage one day I looked at my bike—that evil bike—and knew it was time to give it a whirl. I had the local bike shop fix it up for me ($250 out the window), and was almost nervous when I picked it up and brought it home. She looked good, her royal blue and bright orange boasting loudly that she was a Lemond and proud of it. I took her out for a test ride, 20 miles on a beautiful spring day. I kept waiting and waiting…but nothing bad happened. I felt myself relax and get comfortable I the seat, and bit my lip in concentration when I approached hills. We made it home safely, a little sore…but no worse for the wear.
Today I decided to take her out again. I really wasn’t sure how I felt about the ride yesterday. Was I back in the game? Or was it a stroke of luck that nothing bad happened? I shot out of my driveway with more confidence than I’ve ever had on the bike. Perhaps it was my “don’t care” attitude, or my desperation for not ruining my chances of a PR at Boston. As I pulled out on to the main road where cars buzz right by you going entirely too fast, I realized that for the first time ever I wasn’t intimidated. I attacked the first hill that I came upon, and knew that I was back. Right before I turned around to head back home I saw the monster…a hill that I’d never made it all the way up without having to get off and walk up. It’s set up fairly difficult because there is a slow, gradual climb before the crazy steep part. I can’t get any momentum approaching it because of the slow climb, so I usually end up toppling over. Today I pounded through the pedals and grunted my way to the top without stopping. I couldn’t believe that I had made it all the way up. It made coasting at 30mph back down it all the more sweat J
Since I’m being silly and trying to run 10 marathons this year, culminating with a 50 miler in November, I realized that I’m going to need to cross train as much as possible. I feel good knowing that I’m going to be ok. While my bike shoes may not be as comfortable as my running shoes, for the first time ever I don’t think I’ll be getting blisters.