What happens when a running addict starts cycling? Probably not what you think. And definitely not what I thought would happen…but, I’m not that bright. This is a story about getting uncomfortable and doing something that scares you and will potentially embarrass the hell out of you.
I’m a competitor. I view everything as a competition, even if I vehemently deny doing so to my husband. I see everyday tasks as items that need to be competed quickly and efficiently – the faster, the better. I’m 10 minutes early to almost everything and will have a conniption as I’m leaving that we’re going to be late. Yes, I have a lot of issues. I got 99 problems but having a lit fire under my ass is not one.
Some would say I have the perfect personality for racing. I’ve been competing since I was four when I had my first gymnastics meet. And, for most of my competitive career, I had complete and total confidence. I could look at a task and just know I could do it if I trained hard enough. I could look at my competition and know I could beat them. Did it matter what they were wearing or what they looked like or that they were under the tutelage of Bela Karolyi? Hells noooooo. That’s a trait I carried with me right up until I did my first duathlon.
I mentioned I’m a runner, right? So I decided to sign up for a duathlon since my first TRI went so well, and now that I actually had a road bike, I thought I would be completely prepared…and I needed to justify the money I spent on the road bike. This duathlon consisted of an 18 mile bike sandwiched in between two 5Ks. Sounds like a blast, where do I start? Apparently I needed to start training on the bike a few months before I did! There were many, many things I didn’t realize but one of them is that indoor spinning on a stationary bike vs. riding out on the roads is comparative to treadmill running vs. running outside. No comparison really. One is a hell of a lot easier…and guess which one I mostly did? Right. So I show up to this race and it’s obviously dominated by real, live cyclists. I had never really seen one up close, in the wild, but they look a lot like this…
Um, what the hell am I doing here? I have the most basic road bike imaginable, lycra is not covering 90% of my body and my helmet doesn’t have that pointy thing in the back that makes you 3 tenths of a second faster per mile. I am screwed!
I remain calm at the start, and by “calm” I mean I didn’t run back to my car, get in it and go home. There was only one thing I could do – run like a bat outta hell in the 5Ks and pray my way through the bike. Obviously the run went well since I’m surrounded by cyclists! Does anyone remember how banged up Lance Armstrong was after running his first marathon? And he was one of the fittest guys in the world – ON THE BIKE. My point is that running and biking are as different as Kim Kardashian and basically any decent human being on the planet. No comparison.
So we get to the bike portion and people are flying by me. And really, if you’re going to have your wheels encapsulated, be wearing the pointy helmet and have aero bars with your water bottle straw positioned so you need only purse your lips to drink it, then you had better pass my ass! Under my breath I start chanting a la the wicked witch of the west “I’ll get you (on the run!) my pretty!”
During the second 5K I passed a few people and finished completely depleted but not dead last. In fact, I came in third in my age group by shear determination and heart. Remember the constant fire under my ass? It has its perks.
Each year since that first one I have become less intimidated by the “real” cyclists (by trying to sort of become one in a half-assed kinda way) and this past March I won my age group and came in seventh overall for the women. This is where the ass fire becomes sort of a curse rather then a blessing. I was perfectly happy with my finish. I still have the same road bike (and helmet), I’ve just been training harder, stronger, smarter, etc. A few weeks pass and I get an email with an invitation to the Duathlon National Championship in Tucson, AZ “based on your finish at the Shamrock Duathlon this past March in CT.” WTF?
So of course I have registered and now I’m pooping my pants! I’ve had aero bars put on my bike, I’m on the damn thing three to four times a week and I’m learning cycling terms like “chain suck.” Who am I? I feel like an impostor! I’m a runner. Why can’t I just stay with my own kind? Well, because I want to challenge myself. Because I want to get out of my comfort zone. Because I can dammit!!! Did I also mention I’m not that bright?
I’ve purchased two tickets to Tucson for Oct 26th and I’m equal parts psyched and terrified. Yes, I’m dragging the hubs with me and he’s pretty much viewing it as a vacation with some wacky thing I’ll be doing for a few hours on a Saturday morning. Now, all you real cyclists out there, please tell me everything I need to know about racing this duathlon and also, what I can do in Tucson because it looks amazing! What? You have other things to do? Come on…help a sista out!
What do you do that scares you? How do you scout out a new city? Cycling tips? Arizona advice?