Sunday, May 1, 2011

Another Athlete Allegory

... or "Oh, Yeah. Now I Remember Why I Do This."

I should have posted a Horsetooth Half race report, but I have not gotten around to downloading my pictures, so that is going to have to wait. I just had a mountain bike induced revelation that I thought I would share.

Don't know how many of you know this about me, but I am no stranger to anxiety. Mostly I manage it by running, biking, swimming or doing feats of insanity that prevent my brain from getting carried away. It works pretty well most of the time.

I went for a short mountain bike ride today after having worked on papers and presentations since yesterday afternoon. I decided on the Pineridge Trails (right near my house) because time was short and, since I was alone, I wanted to be within hobbling distance of my house. I am not highly coordinated on the bike.

I am just getting back into mountain biking after not going out much at all last year. I need to build confidence and strength, so I went out with the intent of just making it around the loop and being alive at the end. I didn't need to go fast, and I would not beat myself up for putting a foot down here and there.

I had run the trails enough that I knew where the tougher spots would be. Let me say that I am aware that none of Pineridge is exactly hard, but I am super chicken when it comes to the mountain bike. Don't judge.

I started down the mellow part of the loop. I was amused by the heron I startled 3 times before he let me pass about 20 feet away from him. And I saw a flock of pelicans. As I started up the far end of the loop, leaving the really easy part... the part that I knew that I could handle... my anxiety started to grow.

I got a bit shaky in spots. I freaked myself out on stuff that I probably could have handled. I kept thinking about the upcoming steep part. I knew that there were big rocks and a pretty steep drop off the side of the narrow trail. The more I thought about it, the worse I handled what was right in front of me. At one point, I pulled over to allow a paceline of young men by. I took the opportunity to remind myself, in the words of a new friend, "You are okay where you are." And then I carried on a little calmer and with, literally, a lot more balance.

I began to enjoy the ups and downs, twists and turns, and before I knew it, I was through the section that I had feared. I even chose to take a more technical route to the end of the loop.

It occurred to me that I needed to take a lesson from this ride. There is something in my personal life that is going to come to a sad end. It is out of my control, but I have time before that happens. Rather than being nervous about how badly it will hurt when that happens, I should choose to enjoy the ride I am having right now. If I do that, I will probably handle the bumps along the way better, and I know that I will spend more time enjoying and less time fearing.

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