A Note from Fatty: Today’s post seems like it’s about running. Trust me, though, it’s about biking. Eventually.
Yesterday I talked a little bit about the run The Hammer and I went on last Saturday. I believe I may have mentioned what a miserable experience that was for me.
Well, honestly, “miserable” isn’t the right word. “Horrible” might be a better word for how I felt (and ran). Or perhaps “catastrophically bad.” Or if I were to be completely candid, maybe I would not have described it as a fifteen-mile run at all, but instead called it a “halting fifteen mile shuffle-jog, interspersed with increasingly long walking breaks and no small amount of whining, permeated with an unprecedented amount of whining.”
Yes, that would about describe it.
I tried to see it as a wake up call of sorts: that I need to halt and reverse my annual slide into pudginess. But the truth is I saw it as more of a different kind of wake up call: that I had no business running and should just give up. Maybe try to persuade The Hammer that for both the Death Valley Marathon and the Boston Marathon, what she really needs is someone cheering for her at the finish line, not someone slowing her down during the run.
Seriously, it was that bad.
I had even started preparing my case on why I shouldn’t be running at all. My points included:
- I haven’t been doing it anywhere near as long as her and just can’t keep up; I’m just slowing her down.
- I’m a cyclist, pure and simple. And cyclists don’t like to run. For example, during Levi’s Granfondo, I asked Levi if he ever does Xterra or road Tri events. “No way,” replied Levi. “I hate running.” And as you can see by our builds, Levi and I are very similar indeed:
- I just wasn’t having any fun. Truly, during that run, I did not have a single moment of happiness.
But I never got to make those arguments, because yesterday morning, The Hammer said, “Suit up; we’re going on a six-mile run.”
My speeches were not well-enough honed. I needed more time to craft them to perfection. So, just this one more time, I suited up. Knowing that the awfulness of the experience would add substance to my arguments.
And then I had the second best run of my life (the AF Canyon Half Marathon was the best). I felt like I had a deep well (as opposed to Saturday’s shallow puddle) of strength to draw from. I felt like I could power up hills. I felt like I could manage–and maybe even ignore–the pain of running on the flats.
And at the end of the run, The Hammer did something she has never done before: she gave me a high-five. “You just took four minutes off your previous fastest time for that run.”
That kind of experience isn’t actually all that new to me. Well, it’s new to me in running, but I’ve had a similar experience several times when biking.
It happens like this.
First, I do a ride, and it completely slaughters me. Leaves me destroyed. I hold up my friends and I don’t have any fun whatsoever. The ride goes so badly, in fact, that I question whether I should give up cycling altogether.
The example I remember most clearly is the first time I rode Amasa Back, in Moab. I simply could not keep up. I could barely turn the cranks. It wasn’t even so much that the intensity of the ride was too much, it was more like I was simply powerless. I for sure wasn’t having fun.
As near as I could tell, Amasa Back was the longest, most technical, most awful trail in the whole world.
Second, I fret. I wonder why I suck so bad, and whether I will ever be good enough to ride with my friends. I look for all kinds of possible reasons of what went wrong. Or more specifically, what’s wrong with me.
Third, I do it again. For whatever reason–usually through some prodding on someone else’s part–I find myself doing that ride again. And I realize that in fact the ride is much better, easier, and more fun than I remembered. A bad experience magnified the difficulty of the ride, and obscured the fun parts.
Which is exactly what I discovered the next time–and every other time–I’ve been on Amasa Back. The truth is, it’s one of the most fun trails there is in Moab. It’s technical, for sure, but it’s not the most technical. And it’s not a very long ride. And it’s got a view to die for. By the time I finished doing Amasa Back the second time, I wondered why I ever thought it was a hard trail.
So. Little by little, I’m beginning to realize how much of a part your head plays in whether a ride (or run) is difficult. Or brutal. Or flat-out miserable.
If a ride’s goes really bad, maybe I (and maybe you, too) need to consider the possibility that the road or trail or course itself isn’t bad. Maybe it’s that I was tired. Or getting sick (or getting over being sick).
Or maybe I was just having a bad day.
Whatever the reason, the misery of being completely beaten by a workout is nowhere near as bad as the elation of going back and discovering you’re not as much of a tub of goo as previously thought. Of finding redemption.
So, yeah. It’s worth it to get back up on the horse.