I’m racing in a Metric Century (100K) bike race right now, but I wanted to share an e-mail Jenny sent me. I thought it was interesting and inspirational!
About 5 years ago I was in this period of my life where I wasn’t going anywhere. I wasn’t moving forward and I wasn’t going backwards… I was just stagnant.
One day I saw Lance Armstrong on Oprah. I was moved by his story, his drive, and determination. Right after I walked down the the local hardware store for work and a huge pile of brochures fell on me-literally attacked me. I bent down to pick them up and they were all for the MS Bike tour. I put them back and kept one to take with me. When I was looking it over I felt like it was a sign or something. I had been searching for some purpose, some way for me to be a part of something far away from myself. The next day I decided I needed to participate. I recruited a team of 5 people and started raising money.
We had originally planned on doing the 30 mile tour. I had never owned a bike in my life, not even as a child. I went to a local bike shop and bought a Giant mountain bike. They told me that I should get a road bike if I was going to be riding long distances. I blew them off and kept my mountain bike. After all, I had wanted a real mountain bike since I was a kid! The people on my team ranged from 2 fifteen year olds, a 35 year old man, a 50 year old man, and myself. I had been working on losing weight and had lost about 40lbs by the event day. I still had another 50-60lbs to lose. I had been training on flat ground and was averaging maybe 30 miles a week.
The day of the event we drove the 2 hours to the start line and biked. We were having a great time and were feeling good when we hit the halfway point to turn back and pedal home. Everyone on my team decided we could do the 60 miles, no problem. I didn’t want to be the one that didn’t do it, so I went along. I realized about mile 25 that I was WAY in over my head!!! The older gentleman on my team had road bikes and we would ride next to each other and coast down hills. I would make it about 5 seconds down the hill before my tires would slow me down and I would have to start pedaling again, while the guys would coast what seemed like forever!!
I was biking so slow and my team was trying to be nice and hang back with me, but at some point I got frustrated and told them to go ahead. They would all bike ahead and would meet me at the next rest stop. I was so angry, tired hurt and frustrated. I mentally beat myself up for bring so slow and fat. For not being as good as everyone else. After a while I realized that I would never make it if I kept talking so mean to myself! I had to be my own side! I started telling myself I could do it and tried to be nice to myself.
After hours of biking I realized that they car that follows the last biker was behind me. I was pissed about that too. I got so exhausted that several times I got off my bike and went into the ditch and puked–with the people in the car watching. They asked if I wanted a ride and I refused. I would finish the race if it killed me.
At the last check point they had cleaned everything up and gave me a water. Asked again if I wanted a ride and I said no way, but thanks. The sweet volunteers at the rest stop took it upon themselves to drive ahead a few miles and wait for me. When they saw me they yelled and cheered!! Then they would drive ahead a few more miles and wait and do it again! It gave me a burst of energy and eventually I made it to the finish line. I was the last person. It took me 7.5 hours and by the time I finished, everyone had packed up and had eaten lunch. There were the 3 random rest stop people there to cheer for my plus my team. I crossed feeling relieved, disappointed and embarrassed.
It took me a day or so to really realized what I had accomplished. Also, how stupid it was to take on such a big venture without proper training and equipment. But in the BIG picture I learned what I was truly capable of.
It’s been a few years since then and I’ve fallen back into floating through life. I have no real goals or direction and I’ve been in a funk. I forgot what I had learned during that experience and started putting mental and physical limitations on myself because of how much I weigh and what I do or don’t look like. I’m haven’t been living my life to it’s fullest.
Then, I found healthy living blogs and the Operation Beautiful website. I was so inspired!! Caitlin’s racing recaps compelled me to start moving and start living life again. So, I have once again signed up for the MS Bike Tour in New Bern, NC. This time it will be the 30 miles. 🙂 Also, I am participating in my first 5K. I will walk probably half of it since I am not a runner (yet!) I just want to put myself out there and see how well I can do while supporting a good cause. 🙂
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You are awesome! This was way more impressive than anything I’ve ever done!