Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Embracing My Inner Lance

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!

That said, I'm finding there's some not-so-appealing aspects of biking as I slowly progress from the obvious "I-don't-have-a-clue-of-what-I'm-doing" stage to the "Hey-my-crotch-is-padded-so-I-must-know-a-little-bit" stage.

A few observations, if you will, from a newbie cyclist:
  • 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.

19 comments:

Christie said...

You are so funny! I've thought about biking, but I'm terrified. I can't see riding with traffic without thinking someone is going to plow into me. How do you get over that?

Tall Girl Running said...

Christie,

I just think about rainbows and daffodils and other happy thoughts to distract me from becoming roadkill.

Seriously, though... my experience as a runner has prepared me for biking. I go out with the mindset that I am completely invisible to cars, so my safety is entirely up to ME. I still get passed by a few cars driving way too close, but the majority give me plenty of room. As with running, even when I'm tired, I always have to practice a keen sense of observation and alertness. It's really not so bad once you get used to it.

Alicia said...

You are hilarious! I might have to take up biking someday.
Alicia (a lurker from the Marathon Mommies blog)

tfh said...

20 mile rides? Nice.

As a runner, I always feel I have abnormally strong legs (at least I like to claim that my tree trunks are pure muscle). Biking definitely humbles me. Now I just have to see about those padded shorts. Because thighs hurting is one thing, crotch hurting is another...

Zach said...

As a fellow recent-inner-Lance-embracer, I enjoyed your post. Yes, the bugs are out in full force. The bummer part is that here in the intermountain west, we only have another month or so of cycling, tops, before it just gets too darn cold. You can run when it's in the 30s, but cycling? Hmmm... perhaps no?

And I can totally relate to the humbling aspects of cycling. Being a marathoner does not automatically qualify one to ride up great mountains in a single bound. Bummer.

robison52 said...

I've been seeing more and more runners gradually drifting to triathlons and dualathons lately...makes me wonder if I missed the bus, err, cycle too. Do you have a triathlon in your future too?

*aron* said...

you are brave!!! i am definitely a chicken when it comes to biking (too many crashes when i was a kid!). awesome job on the rides! its such great crosstraining and a fun new hobby... are you thinking of trying a tri?

The Hoyt's said...

Oh my gosh girl you have me in stitches after reading your last 2 posts.. So funny.. Good luck with the biking.. I started doing it this summer but have been procrastinating for a long time now..Im glad to hear Im not the only one with tree stumps however yours is from muscle mine is more like stumps of jelly.

Nikki said...

Good for you for getting out and trying something new to challenge yourself - those thighs won't know what hit them! I think I stay away from cycling because I think I would slack and just coast the whole way! i.e. I wouldn't know what to do!

Laurel said...

OMG!

"Instead of packing water or Gatorade, I'm now carrying a bottle of Heinz 57."

I am DYING over here!

So, I too have recently gotten into biking (after a 25 year hiatus). I got a hybrid because around here the paths are both dirt and paved, but I ride mostly on the road.

I can relate to EVERYTHING in your post: the bugs (I get them in my eyes, even sunglasses don't help), the traffic, the bike gear making you feel like you kind of know what you're doing. And a squirrel almost KILLED me the other day on a ride as he tried to commit suicide by running in front of my speeding (ha) bike!

I can't wait to read more about your new adventures.

chia said...

I thought it was a good idea to take up cycling too. Unfortunately, picked up a new bike just as the high mileage kicked in on the marathon schedule!

Rattlesnake.. oh hells naw. That would so be the deal breaker there!

Nitmos said...

At least He didn't give you thighs of fire hydrants because, with the dogs and all, that would have been really cruel.

See Zanne Run said...

so. i see you've seen the light. welcome to the dark side, old friend. ;)

Laurel said...

Thanks for the photo compliments! I'm honored you would want to use my picture as a screen saver! Enjoy!

Steve Stenzel said...

I hear ya about the "in between races" feeling. It's nice to just run, but it's nice to have a goal too.

And that's too funny about the dogs...

;)

Lili said...

I found your blog on the fly and love it! (actually on a google search for pics of girls running) I hope you don't mind, but I've linked yours on mine. Have a GREAT day!

Look Pretty. Run Nasty. said...

What's funny is I'm training for my first traithlon and am deathly afraid of the bike. For. The. Love.

Love spinning class, hate the road. Thanks for the laughs!

the last spartan said...

Have fun cycling. I love it myself although my knee has kept me off of the bike for a little while

Carolina John said...

Don't write off the triathlon yet! you've got to try one before shunning it. they are really addictive. coolest thing out there.