Its no secret to anyone that has read this blog, follows me on twitter, is Facebook friends with me, or has talked to me for even 5 minutes, that my bike and I have had a rough go of things so far. We haven't been friends, and for a while I was convinced it was trying to kill me. Seriously. I thought the bike might be possessed. But, alas, I realized, it was never actually the bike's fault. I was having some issues of my own that were preventing me from really becoming friends with my bike. (Read this post to find out more.) So, I'm back on all my medication and I had a bike ride on the schedule for this past Saturday. I was nervous, but never felt the extreme anxiety that I've been feeling recently. I prepared everything for the ride, took two tylenol PM (to ensure I wouldn't wake up at 3:30am again) and went to bed. I woke up in the morning and felt good, calm, ready.
I ate my breakfast and headed out to Zuma Beach to meet the team for practice. I got set up and was still feeling fairly calm. A little nervous, but not anxious at all. We had 56 miles on the schedule. I was ready. I knew there would be some climbing, which made me nervous - because if you go up you have to go down and the down scares me. But, I was given a modified route, eliminating the climb up Temescal Canyon and John Tyler - the two biggest climbs (because of my previous groin pull, don't want to aggravate it). I had to add in an extra Malibu Canyon loop, but I've been up that hill before (although not successfully).
Off I went. My friend Amy offered to ride with me, to help make the ride more fun and less scary, but we lost each other pretty quick. As I was headed south on PCH I started to realize I wasn't nervous, I was feeling good. I passed my pothole, actually, I went straight through it, the paint marking it has worn off, but it didn't take me out this time (this is the pothole I hit that caused my concussion, and yes, I claim it as mine, I deserve to, it did try to kill me). I was doing great. I got to Temescal, the turnaround point, and while I was stopped at the light, I managed to tip over, and my left shoe popped off. So ridiculous. A couple in a Range Rover next to me were hysterically laughing, it was pretty funny, I was actually laughing too. I got myself back together and headed north.
I got to the hill leading up to Malibu Canyon and got about a third of the way up, then I had to get off and walk my bike. It was not a good moment. The first time I tried climbing this hill was a few weeks ago (maybe a month?) on a 25 mile ride, and I only made it halfway before I got off. As I was pushing my bike up the hill I saw a familiar figure. Crap. Coach Brad. And, he made me get back on the bike - with his help, I couldn't get on it alone going uphill. But, I rode the last third (also with some help). As I was going up, I said, "I have to do this two more times? Seriously?" His answer was yes, of course. And then I said something along the lines of, "This shit is hard." I'm so clever, aren't I?
I got to the downhill portion and was gripping my brakes so hard my hands hurt. Actually, I got off my bike again, and walked part of it. Hm. That's not good. I got around to our SAG stop, where one of the Ironteam alumni was with Gatorade and water and stopped for a moment. I tried eating something solid and felt like I was going to throw up (that had been happening all morning, but I thought maybe if I stopped it would be better, nope). I collected myself, refilled a couple of bottles, and went back out on to PCH to conquer the hill again. This time, I made a bargain with myself, I had to make it to beyond the halfway point before I could get off the bike, that's as far as I made it before, and I needed to get beyond that. Then, I kept making new bargains, make it to that tree, that sign, that call box, I did this all the way to the top and SUCCESS! I rode all the way up. Then I went back to the downhill and, out of fear, I got off my bike, again. I got back on quicker, realizing it was going to be a long day if I kept that up. I passed the SAG stop one more time and then conquered that hill for a second time (third time up for the day), without getting off the bike. I was amazed that I did it.
As I was headed back north I caught up with a couple of my teammates, we stopped at the top of a hill, I was feeling very nauseated. I told them to keep going and took a couple of minutes to pull myself together. Well, instead of pulling myself together, I threw up, twice. There wasn't much to throw up, mostly liquid. This would normally send me in to a small panic attack (I hate throwing up more than anything - I'm actually scared of throwing up). But, I realized I had to get back on the bike and keep going. I got going again and then, just as I was getting to Zuma a car pulled in front of me and Coach Brad jumped out to ask me how I was doing. I told him about the throwing up. He was concerned about that and me being dehydrated. He told me to ride up to the next light and then head back in to the parking lot, I was done for the day. I actually wanted to finish the ride, but he said no. So, I ended my ride after 43 miles.
Then, I did a short, and VERY slow, 2.5 mile run. I realized on the run how wiped out I was. I was very dehydrated and hadn't realized it before. But, on the run I thought about the day and what I could do to be more successful next time. I have a whole new plan worked out, it involves more water/electrolytes and a different electrolyte choice. I had forgotten how much my medication can affect my training. Where a bottle an hour worked for me before it doesn't now, I need more. But, now I know.
But this day had a huge success to it, I stopped being filled with anxiety on the bike - WIN! This was a MAJOR breakthrough for me. I think my bike and I are going to start being friends now, we actually had a couple of conversations throughout the morning and we have come to an understanding, I won't be as scared and it won't try to kill me. I had a bunch of failures as well - being scared on the downhills (and having a death grip on the brakes), getting off the bike, not drinking enough fluids, not finishing the mileage, going super slow, etc. But, all of that is out-weighed in a BIG way by the HUGE breakthrough I had on the bike. I learned a lot from what went wrong on Saturday. But, I learned even more from what went right. I don't have to be filled with anxiety and scared of my bike. I can enjoy riding and actually improve. And, I will. I'm actually thinking I might be looking forward to my next ride. Bet you never thought I'd say that, did you? Next step - stop being scared of the downhills and get faster.
Thank you so much to Amy, Tara, Brad, Jason and the entire Ironteam. Your support and dedication helped me through this bike ride and helped me find some success on my bike. I couldn't have done this without each and every one of you. So, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.