Every year I set two personal fitness goals; something “fun” and something “difficult”..both of which I’ve never tried before. I find it keeps me learning, inspired and engaged in my fitness. These activities vary in different sports year to year. My difficult goal for 2015 was cycling an event called “The Shasta Summit”. It’s held in August and involves over 10,000 feet of vertical climbing (on your bike) in the course of 100 miles.
All was set back in April. My husband Brad, and our two friends decided to rent a house near the route start and make it a “fun” weekend away with the highlight being the ride. We signed up for the event, cleared our calendars and were on a mission to train for it. Our friends are much faster riders than me, but I was ok with that since my husband and I ride together nicely. You see, I’m a very social rider and I can ride twice the speed and twice the distance if I have someone with me. I was good to go!
Then Brad got sick about 2 weeks ago…that would be 2 weeks before the event. He had the worse cold I’ve ever seen. He was coughing so badly he couldn’t sleep more than 10 minutes before he’d wake himself up. He was weak and sleep deprived. We knew he wouldn’t be riding…in fact he wasn’t even going to go in fear he might get someone else sick. At that point, our friends reminded me that although they love having me around, they would be riding faster than me shortly after we started and I’d need to be prepared to ride alone. ALONE! No one to chat with on the long stretches…no one to help inspire me (and visa versa) for 100 miles! Ghads! How was I going to get through it?
This is when the drama began. I spent about 48 hours bouncing around whether or not I should go. I wondered if I would be safe, I wondered if I was strong enough to finish it, I wondered if Brad needed me at home, maybe my clients would miss me and I should stay in town…but the root of it all was I simply knew it would be extremely hard mentally to do the ride without a buddy. I proceeded to contact about 8 cycling friends who I thought might (at the last minute) want to do this with me…no luck (no surprise there!). Finally, 3 days before the ride, I had an honest talk with myself. I knew I was strong enough. I knew I would be safe. I knew I would finish. I just knew it would be 10-12 hours of hard work mentally and physically and I wasn’t looking forward to that and truly wondered if I had it in me. Once I decided to be truly honest with myself, I realized even more importantly, I made a commitment to myself to do this ride. I needed to have integrity with my word to myself. I had been talking about it since 2013. I knew if I bailed, I would be disappointed in myself and I knew if I tried, I would feel very proud.
So, I made a decision on Thursday 100% in…I would drive 5 1/2 hours on Saturday to do a ride on Sunday and whatever happened was ok, but I would give it my all.
The gift happened then. Once I decided and didn’t look back, I felt liberated. I was strong, focused and determined. I was excited to see what I was made of. I asked advise from my trainers at Body Firm how to get through a long event solo and received exceptional advise and tips. I drove up knowing it would be the only time I’d try this ride and I was happy.
On Sunday our friends were supportive, inspiring and wonderful. In the pitch black of 5 am, they stayed with me until it was light enough to see well. I saw them periodically on the ride (passing one way or the other) and they were yelling out to me and encouraging. At mile 50 or so, I met a gal who was the same speed and we finished the last 50 miles together. It was GREAT! The scenery was beautiful. The accomplishment of achieving a goal set nearly 2 years ago happened. What was most powerful to me though was realizing that the hardest part of the entire journey wasn’t the long 20 mile climbs, the slight uphill at the very end, the 11 hours on a bike seat or the parts where I rode by myself…it was the indecision a few days prior of not following my intention. The pain of wondering if I “should” or “could”. THAT was the difficult part. That was torture.
My lesson is one to be used daily. When we waver back and forth, deciding then changing our minds, then wondering if we made a mistake, over and over, that takes up space in our minds and our hearts that are completely unnecessary and will cause more fatigue than any race event.
My tip…be safe and go for what you set out to do. Don’t look back once you decide something you want to accomplish. Trust yourself and your coaches and go out and climb your own mountain. Then let go and be happy about it!
Tammy Parkinson CNC CPT CLC
Body Firm Personal Training and Nutritional Consulting