Pretending to be a cyclist

2013 has certainly been an interesting and very busy year – I could bore you with all of the ups and the downs, but right now my eyes are on the prize: Successfully finishing the Timberman Half Ironman with a smile on my face on August 18th! 

So far, training has been great. I’ve been nursing my hip injury from Boston training and the running portion of my training plan is definitely behind, but I’m not nervous. Strengthening and avoiding future issues is definitely my #1 goal. 

To compensate, I have been swimming at higher volume than in my prescribed training plan.  Swimming is my strongest leg and where I feel the most confident. I am extremely grateful that I started the sport at such a young age and my swim club had such heavy emphasis on stroke and technique. I listen to fellow triathletes complain about the swim portion of the race constantly. As they talk, I nod my head and usually insert a quip about what a novice I am in the sport of cycling, but silently I am thanking all of my swim coaches over the years. Imagine if I had anxiety about swimming AND cycling? I think this whole Half Ironman game would most certainly be over if that was the case. I’ve adjusted my training plan as follows: when my plan calls for 1,000-1,500 I am traditionally swimming anywhere from 1,650-3,000. Part of this is to try to over compensate for lack of running, and the other part is: 1,000 yards swimming is a joke for me! In order to feel like I have done anything at all, I really need to swim at least a mile. 

The other part, is aggressively trying to wrap my head around the sport of cycling. I have been slow to get started with my new “hobby”, but luckily I have some really patient cycling friends. They are willing to give me parking lot tutorials on how to clip in and out, proper technique for starting and stopping and generally avoiding getting killed by crazy Boston motorists. They will even wait for me at the top of a hill when I’m too nervous to go up clipped in and half to walk my bike up to the top (this has happened on multiple occasions) and of course they are always willing to smile for a photo as I constantly need to document every single aspect of training. 

Here are such a few of my cycling sensi’s & myself in Lexington a few weeks ago – Proof I can do this!

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And, cycling is VERY hard, especially on Boston’s first warm weekend of the year. #unattractiveselfies

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All in all, I know this will pay off in a big way at Timberman, but I’m TERRIFIED. I looked at the elevation chart and HOT DAMN, there are some crazy, crazy elevation grades. If you don’t believe me, just check out this course map here. I just feel like there is so much to learn, and so much strategy behind it! Luckily the internet has a breadth of cycling and triathlon tips, tricks, videos and articles. Thank you, internet!

The other source of cycling anxiety is my general “fraidy cat” ways when driving a car with an engine, let alone a road bike with tiny wheels sharing the road with crazy Boston motorists. I’m hoping this pays off since I am overly cautious, but I definitely have a tendency to psyche myself out in a big way. I just need to repeat to myself “keep calm and pedal on.” (Side note, I need this shirt!)

I know in order to succeed, I need to stay calm and focus, so here are my goals over this next month of training:

  • Get increasingly more comfortable on the bike
  • Tackle as many challenging hills as humanly possible (without having a total mental breakdown)
  • Amp up running mileage once I get the OK that my hip is cleared to run longer than 3-4 miles (hopefully this news will come very soon)
  • Practice transitions. Luckily I have a triple brick work out planned on Cape Cod with friends on June 15th followed by the Oh My Goddard Olympic Triathlon June 23rd and the Cohasset Sprint Triathlon June 30th

So there we have it friends, someday soon perhaps I can remove “pretending” and instead shout from the roof tops about how much I love cycling. Something tells me it will be awhile before I get to that point, but I am certainly in it for the long haul to give this new sport the good old college try. It also wouldn’t hurt if I took a step back and reminded myself of this…

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Do you have fears of cycling? What steps have you taken to help ease your fears and build up confidence?