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 bikingΒ 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 5kΒ seemed really hard and I wasn’t sure I could make it. Then I did. And then I ran an 8k.Β 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!!!


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?


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.

11 Responses

  1. I think one thing (among many) I’ve learned from reading your blog is a. listen to your body b. listen to your doctor. (okay…that was two things) And a whole lot about beer in Portland;) I still think that you are awesomely strong with that clean and press pic of you and the bicycle:)
    Marc recently posted..Limitations and realistic expectations

    1. And I think you should add “question the doctor if you don’t think they are right”. I wish I’d seen a new specialist immediately after that jerk I saw instead of waiting 2 months.

  2. I can relate to the “Why waste my time with a 5k” attitude.. Then I started plotting 10k races that I used as a portion of my weekend long run, for example, if I had to run 10 miles, I’d just run 4 before the 10k. That way I I still got to enjoy some of the shorter races that I once enjoyed.
    I agree that our personal perspective on distances can be wildly different from one year to the next. The best way to think about it is to stay in the present. Don’t compare now-you to last-year you. It’s tough, but it helps keep your head in a good place.

    1. Thanks Steena! I appreciate the advice coming from you and glad to hear you go through something similar. I love your idea of doing the 10k’s as part of your training. I will be VERY happy when I get back to the point I can do a 5k! And yes, I definitely compare myself to the old me and not the current me, which isn’t good…

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