I'm hovering aimlessly in the dead space between races right now and I can't decide if I'm okay with that or not. On one hand, it's been rather liberating to be able to run whenever I want and whatever I want, not holding myself slave to some sadistic training program. But on the other hand, I'm a masochist when it comes to running, so I'm kind of craving a little old-fashioned pain and suffering. Time will tell if I give into the temptation anytime soon by signing up for another race.
In the meantime, I've been testing out some new ways to torture myself... namely, road cycling. Two months ago, I dug an old road bike out of the Dungeon of Doom (otherwise known as my garage) and had it tuned up. I got my hands on a sweet helmet, some padded biking shorts and a pair of cycling gloves... if for no other reason than to at least look like I knew what I was doing. To date, I've managed a few 20+ mile rides along with a whole smattering of shorter ones and I'm finding myself quite enamored with the whole concept of cyling. What other mode of transportation enables one to travel long distances in a very short amount of time? Okay... besides planes, trains and automobiles, what other mode of transportation? Yeah, see?? Biking rocks!
- No matter what the wind speed is-- whether it's a slight breeze or a hurricane force gale-- it feels like I'm riding against it in EVERY SINGLE DIRECTION I go. There is no "just get to the corner where I can change direction and have the wind at my back for awhile" reprieve like there is with running. No. It's in my face all the time. Maybe sometimes not whipping the skin of my cheeks against my ears as much as others, but it's always there.
- There are a lot of bugs to be eaten during a bike ride. A smorgasboard of them. I no longer need to concern myself with getting my daily allowance of protein as I will easily surpass that amount on any given 14-mile bike ride. Instead of packing water or Gatorade, I'm now carrying a bottle of Heinz 57. One good squirt onto my tongue then all I have to do to enjoy a good chunk of bug steak slathered in fifty-seven is open my mouth and ride.
- If the aforementioned bugs don't actually make it into my mouth for tasty consumption, they are certain to hit me somewhere else in the face. I've come home with welts the size of silver dollars on my forehead because of errant grasshoppers, beetles or dragonflies clocking me upside the head at 20mph. I keep having to convince police authority that my husband is not beating me on a regular basis. Just the local gnats are. Bunch of punks.
- Cycling HURTS. It's like dousing my thighs in gasoline and throwing them into a raging bonfire (which would make sense since my thighs are the size of tree trunks and would probably burn very easily, but that's certainly not the point). I'm a marathoner three times over, for crying out loud! Shouldn't I have legs of steel that are no more affected by a measly 20-mile bike ride than they are by an hour-long couch potato session watching America's Got Talent? (If anything's getting a workout then, it's my eyeballs, what with all that rolling.)
- Dogs were put on this earth to annoy me. I know this. I'm convinced God giggled with glee as he created them, thinking it would be a delightful little trick to play on me. And then, just to top things off, He gave me tree trunks for thighs.
- I'm getting more confident about it, but it took awhile to get used to riding with traffic buzzing past me at 55 miles per hour. Now, instead of praying out loud every time I hear an approaching car that the driver will see me and won't run me down, I just relish in the fact that when I do get hit and lose my arms and legs, I'll be able to run a lot faster with those cool prosthetic limbs than I do now. That's progress, I think.
- You come up a lot faster on things while biking than you do while running. I know this because of all the small critters I've either narrowly dodged or seen scurrying away in the wake of my passing that I'm sure I would have never seen had I been trudging along at my typical molassesly slow running pace. Cats, birds, bunny rabbits... even a big (possibly dead, but does it matter?) rattlesnake. Let's just say I'm really glad I was wearing padded shorts then.
Despite the minor nuisances of cycling, I still think this could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. I've been asked if this means I'll soon be competing in triathlons. The answer to that is a definitive "no". Besides the fact I swim as well as a rhinocerus, I'm pretty sure they don't make a wetsuit that could support my thighs enough to keep me afloat.
I think I'll just stick to running, biking and, of course, skull crushing.