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 🙂

Intimidation, Life, And Crushing Goals

Intimidation.

 To intimidate implies inducing fear or a sense of inferiority into another, to make timid; fill with fear. 

If we think of this word what usually comes to mind is in regard to people…. one person intimidating another.

That in my opinion, is the lowest form of cowardice however, this isn’t where I’m going in this post.

I want to talk about how we can be intimidated with life or things in life.

Keep in mind part of the definition…. ” to make timid, or fill with fear”

Intimidation is just fear and fear can be crippling to living our life out loud. It can rob us of our potential and the potential for our lives and what we can accomplish.

I contemplated that in a fresh way this past week.

I try not to live my life in an intimidated way on any level. If there’s one thing living an athletic lifestyle has taught me… being intimidated has no place in it. In turn that has carried over into the rest of my life.

Every new challenge or goal has required a level of strength and discipline to stomp down any aspect of fear and intimidation.

The fear of the unknown. Feeling intimidated or inadequate.

Being able to face a physical challenge that ( in the moment) seemed daunting and out of my perceived abilities.

For instance….Learning to run. I know, sounds easy enough, right? But running is hard.

I remember being up to running around 6 miles several days a week when a friend tossed out at me I should run a half marathon.

I laughed. Yet, she had planted a seed. I rolled it over in my head and within a couple weeks I had signed up to run a half marathon a few months later.

Yes, it feels intimidating to look at running a race that’s 13.1 miles. I felt the worry of “what if”.

Yet I toed that line and did my first half in 2:15. I walked away with a new level of confidence and a new awareness that stomping down potential fears would only make me stronger in what I pursued.

It was the beginning for me in my athletic journey… a take no prisoners and don’t even think you can’t do it mentality.

More half marathons, full marathons, a 50K all eventually fell under my feet.

No room for intimidation.

Yet, there I was again facing it this week out on my bike. Ha, cycling has also taken me to a whole new level of finding out what I’m made of.

It’s demanding and requires much strength. Toss in some major hills and it’s even more fun.

For instance, this one particular hill. ( It’s really a mountain they cleared and paved over if we’re being honest) Anyway, it’s a blast flying down it, but it requires a huge amount of strength mental and physical to ride up.

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You want a strong mental game when you see this coming and I’m fairly sure I break the speed limit on the way down 😉

 

 

It was a part of my route the other day. I’ve ridden it before but  it was always in the front of my mind on my ride… it was coming.

That’s when I realized I was allowing it to intimidate me.

Why? well truth be known, I’m fully aware of the physical demands it requires.

It’s freaking hard. It requires a brutal amount of my strength.

But I know I can do it.. that I have done it… and the way to keep crushing it and putting it in place is to well.. just keep doing it.

Keep heading out there, staring it down and using the same strength I’ve used to muscle through every other challenge and conquer it.

I know every time I do it I will become stronger, mentally and physically.

I will always, of course, have a healthy respect for it. How can I not?

But I’m making a choice to not be intimidated of it. How? I will keep intentionally seeking it out until it begins to feel totally natural to me.

Pushing down fears, taking them head on and not being intimidated with hard things in life builds and strengthens us in ways we can never imagine.

What mountains are in your life that intimidate you or leave you feeling fearful?  There’s only one way to overcome it and that’s by facing it and pushing until you have put it under your feet.

Don’t let those things keep you from the potential that lies in you.

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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Obstacles And Opportunities

overcoming obstacles

Have you ever noticed conversation is just better over coffee with a good friend? I had the opportunity recently to have coffee and conversation with one who is special to me and when we get together, well, our conversations last hours. We both have a passion for people and helping them be successful in fitness, health and wellness.  We compare notes and brainstorm ideas off of each other.

It’s a refreshing time to encourage one another in the callings we have.

At one point she told me how I was an encouragement to her. She knew I had been off running due to an injury and she also knew I had picked up other activities to keep me moving.

She was admiring the fact I hadn’t just quit  since I couldn’t run.

Honestly, at this point, I’m so used to some high level of activity it seems crazy to me to not have something to fall back on. Not to mention, I’d totally go crazy not doing anything.  I’m  used to having that physical movement in my life now.. it’s not only a habit, it’s an outlet, and a place that is just for me to go to.

And well… I don’t quit.

My friend had been dealing with an injury herself and was encouraged to try and find other outlets or activities she could pursue while she recovered.

I was thinking about our conversation later that day. Thinking how if I had become discouraged about not running and just did nothing, all I would’ve missed out on.

Before my injury, running was what I primarily did. Oh, I did structure in a few days strength training and I’d toss in an occasional day here and there on my little mountain bike to take the place of an easy run and to give my legs a break from running.

Running was my love. My passion. A place that made me feel strong and powerful.

I eventually started adding a little more cycling in to my routine, but again, nothing serious.

My injury made it a seamless move to more time on the bike. It gave me the mileage, time out on the road,  and being outdoors that I craved.  It filled that hunger in me.

Last year I “upgraded” to a cheap road bike from Walmart. I proceeded to ride the wheels off of it.  It was during this time I realized how much I was really enjoying this other sport, and not just as a supplement to my running.  I realized with the strength I had built running that I had the potential to be good at cycling.

Somehow the obstacles I had encountered actually brought about new opportunities for me.

Opportunities to experience new things, grow, and challenge myself to try things I hadn’t done before.

There’s a lot to learn about cycling! Therefore, I talk to those who are knowledgeable, I read, and most importantly, I’m just out there on my bike doing it.

I can hardly wait to find a race to challenge myself with.

Was my injury something I wanted? No. I can hardly wait to be out on the road really running again like I want to be.

Allowing myself to move in new directions has allowed me to grow more as an athlete, but also it lets me see that I can do anything I set my mind to.

But then I’ve kinda always approached obstacles in this way. I don’t let them stop me from where I’m going. I just look for ways to get around them to keep heading the direction I want to go.

Obstacles are limiting and I don’t want to be limited. Obstacles are simply new opportunities.

What about you? How do you view obstacles that come to you? Do you find ways to get over them to keep pressing on to your goals?

obstacle