Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cycling: Twice the Fun, Half the Effort?

Just wrapped up an absolutely breathtaking hour plus ride along the river.  The setting sun created an ever changing hue in the sky.  Heron fished in a pond then swooped up right above my head towards their nests where their chicks awaited their dinner.  Purple lupine swayed in the gentle breeze and added a vibrant splash of color to the landscape.  I didn't want to be anywhere else, doing anything else.  Right then, right there on my solo ride was where I was meant to be.  I climbed Skinner's Butte to catch a glimpse of what I thought would be the best vantage point for the sunset.  Admired it from atop then decided to fly down the hill and chase the setting sun around the river.  As I did, I stopped at many places along the path to see what the sky, my beloved town and the bright sun had on display for me.  It was exquisite.

 While I was riding alone, I never felt alone.  There were couples arm in arm strolling along the path or at an embrace on the bridge.  There were smiling, waving fellow cyclists.  Pedestrians took the time to watch the ducks, geese, heron, turtles, birds and even an odd looking bug.  A few commented as I passed or snapped pictures on what a spectacular night it was.  I wholeheartedly agreed and felt a deep sense of appreciation that I wasn't the only one to bear witness to it.  I was alone in my thoughts though.

My mind marveled at the glorious sights and how I nearly missed them.  It was a long day, I haven't been feeling well, the kids were finally asleep and the couch seemed like a much easier place to be than on a bike ride.  I thought about my upcoming triathlon.  I also thought about how I entered the world of cycling as result of an injury that prevented me from running, my preferred form of exercise.  I thought I was going to die when I wasn't able to run.  Then Princess came along.  I begrudgingly started riding and much to my surprise fell in love with cycling! Bring on the bike touring, metric centuries, heck, bring on the century!

Runner turned biker chick

Tonight I had a revelation.  I almost feel guilty writing it and like a two-timer for thinking it.  Well, here it is.  I have come to the conclusion that compared to running, cycling is twice the fun and half the effort.  No, no, wait a minute.  That's not true.  I love running!  Really I do!  It's work though and I tend to get a little nutty about it.  Thinking back I realize that I drove myself right into running-burn-out.  A couple silly races, a coveted sub 4 hr marathon PR and a 50K trail race sucked all the joy out of running.  I was driven.  I was determined.  I was training and I was training hard.  So hard in fact that it sucked the joy out of running and drove me straight into injury.  I don't want to do that again.  Ever.  No coveted time, PR,  or race registration is worth that.  I needed the distance and time away from the sport to recognize this.
What do I love about running?  Why is it that I'm feeling like I like cycling better?  Why do I feel compelled to compare the two?  These thoughts ran through my mind on the last portion of my blissful ride.  I thought back to the many times I used to escape from my crazy-busy life full of wifely, motherly, teacherly, homeownerly, housekeeping, cooking, book clubbing responsibilities and disappear for hours on serene trails.  I'd lose myself out there.  When I returned, I was a calmer, more centered person ready to be with her family.  The trails were my sanctuary, my therapists' couch and my playground.  They were places to tell or listen to secrets, share hopes, plans,  random thoughts, and off-color jokes.  They were a place to connect with nature, play in the mud, jump over streams, breathe in the smells of the forest, take in the colors and sights.  That's what I love about running.  That's where I want to be again.  No Garmin.  No dictated speed work out.  No training plan, race registration, coveted BQ or sub 4 marathon training, mileage, speed or time requirement.  Just me, the trails and maybe a friend or two and a bag of Lays potato chips waiting for me at the finish.


How interesting it is that a city ride on my bike would remind me how much undue pressure I put on my running and how I much prefer trail running just for the joy of it.  So don't tell running what I told you about cycling being twice the fun and half the effort just yet.  It might not be true.  I'll let you know after my trail run this weekend.

My happy place

Trail Bliss

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