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?
This is hysterical!!! I love reading your posts. So impressed by your determination and bravery to venture out. I agree the bike is scary, but so much fun.
I cannot believe you’re going to AZ. Well, I can. You guys are going to have a blast! I’m no big traveler, but AZ is beautiful, especially in the non-summer months. I’d say, “Good luck”, but you don’t need it. Have fun!
Thanks so much Erin! That really means a lot!! I can’t believe we’re going either – it’s crazy!! And I need all the luck I can get so please send it…
Good luck! My husband and I are runners as you know. I never really embraced cycling the way he did. Like you, he likes a challenge and he is king of cross training, compared to me, who is shall we say, less motivated and prefers to run for fun these days. He has done tons of triathlons…his favorites were the Xterra ones. The idea of all those people around me on the bike overwhelms me. I enjoy mountain biking every once in a while and I like our tandem, but I just don’t want (translate: am scared) to bike in the midst of swarms of people. So I am impressed! I am sure you will do great!!
Your husband and I really need to talk! I’m also afraid of the swarms of bikers but less so then swarms of swimmers so… From the videos I was able to watch on-line it looks like they do a really good job of starting everyone is semi-small waves to avoid the crush! I guess I will find out! Thanks for the support Michelle!!
You will rock! I give you a lot of credit for stepping out of your comfort zone! You’ re a great althlete – you’ll be fine!
With your support I can do anything!!! THANK YOU my number one fan:-)!!!!
Love this post & love you! You are so friggin’ hilarious! And a total badass!! Congrats on being invited to the national championship…that’s AMAZING!
For me, cycling is the necessary evil sandwiched between my two favorite disciplines – swimming & running! But, as you know, the only way you’re going to get better in triathlons (and duathlons!) is to spend LOTS of time on your bike and on the road. My time on the bike, especially on the road, has been pretty much nonexistent since my youngest was born. I just don’t have the time or patience for it right now. But I’m hoping to get back into it (maybe next year?) because one of my bucket list items is to do a full IM. And those 112 miles on the bike are going to be awful if I don’t put the time in on the bike. Who am I kidding? They’re going to be awful and I won’t be able to sit for a week after!
And don’t get my started on the uber competitive, often elitist ranks of the cycling world. My husband and I used to do a group pace line ride. Most of the cyclists were really nice and happy to give us newbies pointers on riding in a pack, etc. But some of them, well, let’s just say there was no warm & fuzzy going on!
Can’t wait to read all about your trip to nationals!! How cool is it that you can say that? I’m going to nationals. Total badass!
OMG Nicole – thank you SO So much!! I really appreciate and take to heart everything you say b/c you’re truly a seasoned athlete!! We have a lot of the same goals (IM!!) and same dislikes (elitist cyclists, cycling) that I wish we lived closer and could train together!! You totally “get it” and I will be looking to you for advice and support as the nationals approaches – ahhhhhhh!!! Thanks again!!
It would be SO AWESOME if we lived closer together. Our training runs & rides would be an absolute RIOT!
Seriously! One of us may have to move when we start training for the IM!
I love trying new things! There is a stage for everything. Good luck! I got 99 problems but having a lit fire under my ass is not one.<<<You'e officially locked in a new reader in me with that one! The best thing I've read all week!
Ha ha!!! Thanks so much Joi! I’m a big fan of YOURS!!
YOU FINISHED THIRD IN YOUR AGE GROUP!!! That is beyond AWESOME.
I know, I know…you’re already plotting how to finish 1st in your group at this next event and you’ll be an expert in chain suckage in about 5 minutes (and I know you’ve probably already ordered a pointy helmet–fess up) but I am IMPRESSED with you just as you are right now!! Those other duathloners (duathletes? dualists?) don’t stand a chance!! –Lisa
Ha ha!! I will NEVER buy the pointy helmet!! Ok, maybe someday when I’m a real, true cyclist…if that ever happens?? Thanks so much for the boost!! I can always count on a good DOSE of that from you!! Ok, that was awful but I couldn’t resist:-)
Seriously funny and so honest-love it! As you know I am a serious cyclist…wait sorry I was just laughing out loud…runner-yea that is me. BUT, I know a thing or two about doing scary things and what I do know is you are doing all the right stuff to work through fear! Preparation is key-you got that! Only other thing I would add is ENJOY…sure you will want to pick people off one by one, but you are an amazing athlete and you are racing with the best of the best (because you are) so revel in that-you rock and I couldn’t be an happier for you and this experience! GO YOU!!!
Thanks so much Shannon!!! I wish you were a serious cyclist…wait, no I don’t – I probably wouldn’t see you AT ALL if that were the case. I know I’ve said this before and have not meant it, but I’m truly going out there with the mindset of ENJOY the moment. That will be my mantra!! Thank you, as always, for all your support…and wine:-)
wow how do you do it all. I am so impressed. I am tired just reading all that you have done. You are my inspiration.
I have A LOT of help and sometimes wake-up at 5am. When it’s something you love to do…I guess you just find a way!! Thank you for your comments!!
HA! I’m 10 minutes early to everything too and worry that we are going to be late. We end up waiting on other REAL late people for at least 30 minutes every time! Congrats on your 5K and placing 3rd! I can’t work up the motivation to get on the bike.. one day!
A girl after my own heart!! It’s hard to pick up another discipline when you love running so much AND you have time limitations b/c of certain little people, but it’s great x-training for me.
Congrats on qualifying for the National Championship! That is awesome! I don’t have any advice on how to train for this one because I can’t even tell you the last time I owned a bike! I’m sure you will do well!
Ha ha!! Thanks so much. And, having a bike is overrated!!
I love it. Oh man so two 5ks? I have one tomorrow night and I am NOT looking forward to it 🙂 Being super strong in one area does not mean that you are super strong everywhere but man, you are my shero for signing up for this competition! Chain suck! I like that term.
I love spinning indoors but boy does biking outside terrify me!!
I love “shero” – that is awesome!! Biking outdoors is definitely scary and I feel as though I’m taking my life in my hands each time I head out. I’m super cautious with traffic and always stop if I don’t make eye contact with a driver who is pulling out.
Good luck with your 5K!! You will be great!!
Could I adore you any more than I already do? I’m not that bright either, which I guess is what makes me think I can do anything that I’m not trained or in shape to do. And I 100% understand that running and biking are not the same, nor are running or swimming, which I took up this summer in a very nonchalant way and then was surprised when I thought I was having a heart attack after my third lap in the pool .
I have no doubt that there is a cyclist in you for sure.
You are the sweetest!! Thanks so much. I can SO relate to swimming too! I was shocked to learn that I could only complete about 2 laps before hyperventilating in the pool when I first started!! Ignorance is bliss:-) Thanks Ilene!!
Holy smokes! You rock! Congrats on your 3rd place for your age group (pretty incredible I think) and being invited to the National Championship! Such an inspiration to a little novice like me!
Thank you!!! I still consider myself a wanna be cyclist and being a “novice” has it’s perks – there’s only one place to go from there! Enjoy yourself as you improve:-)
I don’t think I want to picture all the men running in their biker shorts. I’m impressed with your determination- I am just doing the 5k and its enough for me for now 🙂
Trust me, you don’t! Thank you & 5ks are an accomplishment!! Be proud!!