Monday, May 7, 2007

Slogging in The Miles

Yesterday I went for a long ride – just shy of 40 miles. I got up early (5:30 a.m. on a Sunday. WTF is this sport doing to me?!?!) and drove out to Columbia, Illinois, a place heralded for miles and miles of flat, trafficless roads and fresh green fields of corn and soy. It’s quite picturesque. My last ride in that area was so idyllic, I was foolish enough to anticipate a similar experience, just longer.

I arrived to foggy, windy conditions – the flag pole in the parking lot was noisily whipping away. I hoped for mostly headwind on the way out and tailwind on the way back. I got a mix both ways, including a nice crosswind, but the headwind was mostly on the way back. In fact, I did the first 17 plus miles in an hour, even with a few miles of headwind, the remainder took me an hour and a half. It was brutal. But I learned a few things, as I often do when I let go of my brain and go with the flow. As I was battling the headwind, the following mantra came to mind:

Without a headwind, there would be no tailwind.
Without uphill, there would be no downhill.
Without discomfort, there would be no relief.
Without work, there would be no rest.
Without thirst, there would be no quenching.
Without hunger, there would be no satiety.
Without want, there would be no gratitude.

I won’t pretend it kept me sane the entire way. I won’t pretend that I didn’t have moments when I just wanted to quit working so hard, when I wanted to stop the bike and lay on the grass beside the road. Another day that might have been called for, but resting was not what yesterday was about for me. I also won’t pretend that I wasn’t near tears when I realized I had missed a turn off just a few miles short of the end of the ride and that I would have to back track for who knows how many miles to get to my starting point. And I can’t pretend that I did the intended brick when I finally reached my longed-for car. But, I made it. I put in the miles, though I didn’t do them as quickly or as gracefully as I had envisioned. Sometimes, that’s how it is. You imagine yourself completing a goal heroically, beaming, arms overhead as you cross the real or imagined finish line. You imagine crowds applauding your mind boggling efforts and walking away a stronger, better person. But often the reality is that you just slog it out and get it done. It’s not pretty and it’s not heroic and nobody cheers. But you did it anyway. And maybe you’re not as proud as you would have liked to have been, but you took something away anyway. Without disappointment, there would be no accomplishment.


Danielle in Iowa said...

Yay for toughing it out! I hate the wind. I never really experienced wind until moving to the midwest...

teacherwoman said...

Great post! 5:30 on a sunday is kind of crazy! But, a girls gotta do, what a girls gotta do. Especially to get those miles in!

Anonymous said...

Nice mantra! I will have to remember that one.

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Anonymous said...

Nice post, but I’m rather disappointed. I thought this might be in reference to the 4th discipline. Given my family name and how this day started out!

I love you honey!

the Dread Pirate Rackham said...

dude - you never know what you're gonna get on race day, so riding in crappy weather will prepare you for anything. even wind.

wind is not my favourite either.

I too was up at 5:30 on Saturday. WTF?!

Bolder said...

you are doin' stellah!

i like your weekly totals thingy.

and, the weather is turning in our favor -- race season is upon us!

jeanne said...

you are quite the philosopher in the midst of all that!! good work!

Vickie said...

One thing about triathlon is you learn something new every time you go out to train. You either learn new limits or new tricks to keep you going. So chalk it up to a good learning experience if nothing more! Just sticking it out and not turning back early is progress.