100 miles

Going the Distance

The other day I went to visit my friend Star, who used to be my neighbor before I moved in with Michael (about 4 years ago). On the way home I stopped by the nearby library to return some books and I had a very distinct memory about when I used to live in that neighborhood and I went to the library all the time. My apartment was about a mile away from the library and when I was 250 pounds I always drove. I could have walked but never did. It seemed so far away.

I remember when I started losing weight and getting more active, I decided I was going to ride my bike to the library. It was my old childhood mountain bike (that was all I had) and I remember the feeling of nervousness and anxiety I had about biking all the way to the library to return my books. It was only a mile but it still seemed far away. Once I got on the bike and did it, it wasn’t that far and I realized how perspective changes.

Once I got more active, distance didn’t seem so overwhelming. Running my first 5k seemed really hard and I wasn’t sure I could make it. Then I did. And then I ran an 8k. Once I got into cycling with Michael and started doing longer distances, I biked the Reach the Beach ride (55 miles) and then there was a dramatic shift. Instead of being intimidated and overwhelmed by big numbers, I flipped to the complete opposite and had a feeling of being INVINCIBLE! I could do anything!!!

yay

So I signed up to run Hood to Coast (just a little 197 mile race) and to bike the Portland Century (100 miles). It was crazy! I thought I could totally do humongous distances like that. And in a way I could. I trained really hard all summer long and once the Century came to be, I successfully biked 72 miles (wasn’t quite ready for the 100) and recovered beautifully. Isn’t it funny how that changes?

hoodtocoastrun

Doing those two long distance events changed my mindset. I started looking at other events with disdain–why would I go back and run a 5k when I did Hood to Coast? Why would I sign up to bike a 40 mile event when I already did 72 miles? It felt like a step backwards and I kept setting my sights on bigger and better things. Despite an injury that set me back (IT Band), I never felt discouraged or like I wouldn’t be back to doing long distance events. Well, long distance for me.

Last summer I was biking to work a lot and my weekly mileage was up to 60-80 miles depending on whether or not my stupid bike tires got a flat (I was cursed last year). Whenever coworkers found out my roundtrip bike ride to work was 25 miles their eyes always widened in shock and dismay. “WOW! That’s so far!” It didn’t feel far. It seemed small to me.

Now? Now that I’ve been dealing with my stupid knee issues since October, I am back to feeling like distances are really far away. The first few months of the bad knee flare-ups, I was wary about whether I could walk two blocks without being in pain and not being able to get back. Whenever I have good weeks with my injury, I try and bike or run. The other day at the gym I ran almost 3/4 of a mile and I was so happy! It was a short distance but it was SOMETHING. When I was able to do that 12 mile bike ride, I was ecstatic! It was better than nothing!

It’s crazy how perspective changes and evolves. I hope that someday soon I can get back to striving for bigger and better things and not feel as restricted as I do now.

7 Things I Learned Training for a Century

7 Things I Learned Training for a Century 

Things didn’t necessarily go as planned this summer. Despite that, I am happy to say I did my first Metric Century, the Salem Peach of a Century ride, and I’m happy I was able to end the summer with a biking event. I learned a lot of things this summer and wanted to share them with you.

1. Sign up for the event as soon as possible.

The last year or so I’ve been wishy-washy about my goals. I wanted to do the Hood River bike ride last spring and drug my feet until it was too late to sign up. I wanted to swim across the Columbia River in the Roy Webster Channel Swim and I’ve worked myself up into a panic over open-water swimming to the point where I don’t want to do it anymore and I have anxiety about doing a sprint-tri. This year, Michael and I planned on doing the Covered Bridges Century ride and I procrastinated signing up for it all summer long. This did NOT help my motivation for training.

Having a specific date on the calendar, paid for, registered for, and planning for has helped me train for so many events. I realized I NEED THAT. I need it written in stone otherwise I flake out. The fire I need to fuel my training is “I’ve signed up for this and I need to be ready by this date.”

2. Life WILL get in the way.

The weather, summer plans, busy schedules, equipment malfunctions…life will always get in the way of training. The trick is to figure out how to get around the crap life hands you. This summer was fraught with jam packed weekends, family events, and flat tires. It also seemed that the weather would not cooperate with my riding schedule early in the summer. Too many rainy days discouraged me from getting out there. As a result, my mileage was not great.

If you want it badly enough, you’ll find the time to fit in training.

3. It WILL be hard.

Training for a Century ride is a difficult thing because it’s easy to talk yourself out of it, or psych yourself out. It’s the same reason that I vowed to lose 50 pounds instead of 100 when I first started my journey. 100 pounds was really overwhelming, yet 50 seemed doable. The same goes for mileage. Start planning for 50, 60, 70, and stop getting freaked out about the number 100!!

4. You need to know how to change a flat tire.

I wish I could say that I can successfully do this. I’ve only done it once and it was in my kitchen after I took a class on bike maintenance–where there was no pressure or stress. I’ve had many, many flat tires and it’s so frustrating, especially when you feel incompetent. Note to self:  take another hands-on class and practice, practice, practice.

5. Food and Rest make a difference.

I can tell when I didn’t eat the right food the night before I ride my bike into work, or when I haven’t given my body enough rest. My body lets me know on those hills I have to bike up to get to work. My heart will be pounding, my legs will feel like they are on fire and I will feel like I won’t make it up that hill.

Like with anything (weight loss, running, etc), exercise is only one part of the equation. The food part is probably even more important. Eating shitty junk food will not get me to my goal.

6. The clothes make the (wo)man.

Having good gear makes a huge difference. If you are planning on riding your bike more than 20 miles at any time in your life, invest in some bike shorts or bib shorts. Seriously. Your butt will thank you. Cycling clothes may be unflattering spandex, but they also serve a purpose. They are skintight to prevent drag and they are made of material to wick moisture from your body and keep you comfortable and cool.

Speaking of gear, take your bike to a professional to get a once-over and make sure you are properly fitted. It makes a world of difference when it’s adjusted correctly and will prevent injuries.

7. The challenge is so worth the sweat, tears, pain, suffering, sore muscles and fatigue.

Seriously–it’s so worth it. Doing things like Reach the Beach, Hood to Coast and the Portland Century have made me a stronger, healthier person and I’ve never regretted challenging myself.

Challenging myself to fitness goals makes me happy. There will always be set-backs, things will rarely go as planned, but that won’t keep me from trying.

QUESTION: What have you learned from training for big fitness events?