Conquering Your Mountains

Conquer: to successfully overcome, to climb ( a mountain successfully).

I had just returned recently from one of my long rides out on the bike when I got a message from my daughter in law. Actually, it was a photo of my new granddaughter, wrapped snuggly in a towel after her bath.

Her big eyes wide open and alert, her tiny nose peeking through, she looked quite content and comfy.

After responding with the usual… ” eek I love her, she’s so cute”… I tell her that’s what I need…

A shower.

I’m in desperate need of it as I’m now sweat dried and dirty from the road.  I told her I had finished up 32 miles to which I get this response…

“you crazy woman!” ( this is a high compliment indeed haha)

It was followed by… “I’m so proud of you for conquering the bike while you can’t run!”

I really don’t think she knew how much those words meant to me.

I had certainly been on a bike in the previous year, but it was a cheap little bike I had picked up from the local Wal-mart and certainly not designed for the things I had been doing to it. I thought the  guy at the first bike shop I went to was simply trying to sell me something pricier when I told him what my riding goals were. I was kind of ( ignorant) to some aspects of cycling at that time… now I know…

I should’ve caught on when during a longer ride the handlebars had come loose and I had to physically manhandle them into place to finish the last 5 miles of my ride.

Cheap bikes aren’t meant to have the life ridden out of them 😛

It was June of this year when I got my first, real, professional road bike. A hot little black and red Cannondale. I found another bike shop where the guys there have taken me in and taught me essential things, and also challenged me on another level as well. It’s also kinda cool to have a place to land where you can talk about your athletic goals and they listen, offer encouragement and suggestions.

So, since June, I’ve been out on the road a lot more. I’ve added more miles, and learned to not be intimidated by crazy monster hills that make me think they’re gonna eat my lunch.

I’ve sharpened my mental muscle a lot more…and I thought it was pretty tough from all that marathon training…but like any muscle…. there’s always room for growth.

Cycling is work. Often hard and demanding work.  You learn to enjoy the downhill moments ’cause you know more hard stuff is coming at you.

Not only that, there is learning about your bike, all that shifting stuff (gah) and also learning how to push yourself more. It’s easy to sometimes stay in your comfort zone, it takes work to get out of it.

So I thought about that whole “conquering the bike” thing.

Being an endurance runner, I will admit, the move to cycling was rather seamless for me. I already had a lot of strength and discipline from distance running so physically it fit me well.

 But It’s not just that…it was learning to conquer:

perceived limitations, my assessment of my abilities, getting out of (yet) another comfort zone, mountains, hills, and more mountains to take on, conquering the mechanics of the bike and riding in a different way,  conquering self-doubt when the next step seems to taunt me that (what if) I don’t have what it takes? It’s also new skills and having an open mind to be taught and learn.

Conquering a new sport when running has been my “baby” for the past couple years.  Hey, at this point, why settle for one sport ? 😛

So I reflected on those simple words she spoke to me and soaked them in… they have come during rides to remind me what I’m capable of, what I’ve learned, and more importantly how I’ve grown and learned.

I’m not done yet. I have so much room to grow, learn, get stronger and better and what I’m doing. But I am confident, I will continue to conquer it.

So I’ll leave these words with you, my faithful readers.

What have you conquered? What seems bigger than you and you find yourself digging deeper to overcome and conquer something you previously didn’t think you could do ? It’s in the journey that we learn and grow but if we are strong and persevere we find we have everything we need in us to conquer and overcome, no matter what it is.

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On top of one of the mountains that challenge me 🙂

F.E.A.R.

fear

 

Growing up I was an avid reader. I still enjoy reading and I like reading on a wide variety of things only now I can do it on my phone, my computer or in book form ( ok I’m still really old school and love nothing more than going to the library and picking out some books, call me a nerd)

One author I readily devoured, was Stephen King. Why?? Why? I’d ask myself when half way through I realized I was terrified. It had crept up on me as subtle as the morning dawn… fear. It gripped my heart and made me drop the book and go find something wholesome and distracting to do so those feelings would subside.

I swear Pet Cemetery left me jumping at every random scratching sound and had me sleeping with one eye open and I couldn’t blame that on Metallica’s music 😉

Geez. He’s so good at scaring you and making you fearful.

Yet, what was scaring me was nothing more than the extreme and deep mind of a gifted writer.  I really had nothing to fear.

Yet how often in life can fear grip us when we really have nothing to fear? Fears of the unknown, of “what if”, of what would I do, what if this happen? etc. etc.

Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger—if we didn’t feel it, we couldn’t protect ourselves from legitimate threats. But often we fear situations that are far from life-or-death, and thus hang back for no good reason.

Look at that last part again…. hang back for no good reason.

What fear causes you to hang back from something or leaves you worried or causes you anxiety for no good reason?

I was thinking this past week (one night when I was supposed to be falling asleep) about a long ride I was going to do the next morning.  The long ride wasn’t what was troubling me. I knew I could handle the mileage. What I was feeling a little fearful about was what I’d encounter on my long ride.

A hill that twisted and turned, which I guess you could say, led up to the top of the mountain it actually was. There was also another significant hill on my route, I felt fairly confident I’d nail that ok.

But this other one, that was troubling me. Ok, if I’m honest with you, my readers all over the world, I was a bit fearful.

discard fear

Why??? That next morning with the miles building under me and settling into the rhythm of the road, it was in my head, a presence almost taunting me.

It left me fearing my abilities, or perhaps, lack thereof to take on something so formidable.  I’m fairly new to the world of cycling and I was riding on terrain where they run one of the toughest cycling races in our state.

Did I have what it would take? I knew I was strong but was I strong enough to muscle that hill ?

What I knew I had to get on top of long before I got there, was my mental game. I couldn’t go into that without my mind firmly being in place. If there’s one thing I’ve learned as an athlete, my mental game has to be as strong, if not stronger, than my body.

Fears, will cripple your mental game.

So I began to mentally talk to myself what was I afraid of?  Really?

I was afraid of not being able to do it, of failing.

I then asked myself, and what if I couldn’t, what was the worst that could happen?

EEK.. get off and push it up the hill??

I was afraid I wouldn’t have the physical strength to do it, that somehow , I’d be lacking.

Fear can cripple us from moving forward, no matter what it is in our life we want to take on.

I didn’t want to “hang back for no good reason”. I wanted to face what it was head on and know that I could do it. I knew once I tackled it, it would not seem as insurmountable as next time.

The sun was out high in the sky although it was still morning. Sweat had already soaked me and was running down my legs and arms, my gloves were wet under my hands. I felt my legs respond to the incline. I tried to make my breathing as focused and even as when I was in childbirth, slow, steady and measured. My heart, it let me know if was doing it’s job 😉

I took that hill, I focused on each pedal stroke, tried to keep my breathing even ( which was pretty hard!), and knew that when I got to the top I’d be back on my “regular” training ground again.

I was so afraid that thing was gonna eat my lunch.

It didn’t.

I did it. I never let that fear come back that I couldn’t.  I felt victorious.

You know what? I just did that hill again yesterday. I have a very healthy respect for it. But you wanna know something?

I improved my time from my first attempt….so there’s that…. I went up it faster.

Fears can cripple us. They can hold us back and keep us from new victories, in all areas of our lives.

I love this quote from Zig Ziglar…

“F-E-A-R has two meanings: ‘Forget everything and run” or ” Face everything and rise” the choice, is yours”

I’ve heard this before, and well for me, face everything and rise is where I’m at.

Now, what about you? Do you have fears that hinder you or cause you to hang back from living?  What will you choose? to rise? or to run?

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