So this is a blog about fitness…kind of. If you really do a deep dive with this writing, it is really a blog about life’s challenges. With this the fundamental question is…How to you deal with challenges? Do you turn away and hide, do you simply survive, or do you attack the challenge head-on with purpose and with all you have? Depending on circumstance the last two options are appropriate…the first option should never come into play unless we are talking about a senseless fight, in which case the greater challenge may be in not turning away when it is best that you do.
Life brings us many challenges, with our families and friends, with our jobs and career paths, with coworkers, with illness, and ultimately with our own mortality. I’ll not go too deep with this but if you’d like to comment on this blog please do so via our blog page at http://lifesdirection.fitness/author/lifes/ . What I will do is reflect on the Sweet Corn Challenge that I took on this last Sunday. A challenging 100 mile bicycle ride.
This was my second Century ride (100 miler) and previously I’d done two of the ride’s 50 mile courses, each time I got too the last hill and I cramped up badly and was forced to walk the last hill of each ride. Failure in my mind even though I completed the course each time. These two rides setup the challenge for my 1st century ride, two summers ago. With this ride looming I knew I had to train, and train I did. I put some interesting routes together to push myself (some I’ve tried to simulate in our Spinning® classes for fun). I pushes myself up hills and over miles on the road like I never had before. I knew going in that I would have to prepare and I would have to make certain I properly hydrated and continued to fuel my muscles throughout the ride.
When the first century ride race-day was upon me it was my goal to make it up every hill on my bike…unlike the 50 mile rides, complete the ride, and basically survive. What was interesting is how challenging the ride got after about mile 60, at the 3rd water stop. From that point forward it was truly a ride of survival. When we got to the last water stop, around mile 80, and I felt the end was finally in sight. I looked over at my riding partner who’d done this ride previously and said “well, at least the big hills are behind us…right”? Oh contraire he said, in fact at mile 98 there is a last killer hill, but don’t worry “we’ll just walk up it”.
With this I immediately started planning my move. I’d been basically following him as the “experienced one” for the entire ride but I knew that if I was to meet my goal I’d have to jump out in front of him at the hill so that I’d not be tempted to walk the hill…just in case he really meant it. As the hill approached I did as I planned and I jumped out in front of him and never looked back. It was definitely a killer hill and to this date I have no idea whether he walked any of the hill, or if perhaps I inspired him to stay on his bike, or perhaps he didn’t really have an intention of walking but maybe he just said that wanting to give me an out. Either way I got up well in advance of him and it took him a while to catch back up to me. For that ride I achieved the goals I set, one of which was to simply survive, with the other to ride up every hill. As a bonus I felt I did well with approximately 6,000 feet of elevation gain to achieve approximately 12 mph in “moving speed”. For me, considering the hills and distance, this was all good enough…I survived.
Although in the ride above I simply survived, the reality is that at the last-hill juncture I actually found it in myself to attack the challenge and to this day I remember that moment and that ride. That ride also serves as a constant reminder of what it means to properly train and to properly plan, and what a positive attitude adjustment can do for you. This brings me to this year’s ride. With the gym and Wine Room this year my outdoor cycling was at an absolute minimum. In fact prior to race day I’d only been on my road bike three times, once to get my cycle to the gym and then two 50 mile rides. I did those rides to make sure all my Spinning® was adequate to get me through the Sweet Corn Challenge this year.
In those two 50 mile rides I pushed myself in ways I was not certain I could and my body responded delivering confidence going into race day. I remembered the physical wall that I ran into at about mile 60 in my first century ride though and I knew that would be a challenge going into this year’s ride. So with race day upon me my goal going in was to complete the ride and to do it within a certain timeframe and with an average moving speed of 13 mph…one mile per hour better than my last century ride.
As ride day approached I knew I had to mostly watch my diet and make sure I properly carb’d up the night before and pre-race and I needed to make sure I did not partake in eating/drinking that would aid in any dehydration, which for me is a challenge in and of itself since we have our Wine Room tastings every Friday and Saturday night over at The Wine Room (https://www.avonswineroom.com).
So Sunday morning “race day” arrives and as I’m heading towards the race’s starting point in Richfield town center I notice my adrenalin starting to kick in…I actually find myself needlessly putting the pedal to the metal in my SUV in order to get there faster so I can get riding. I get a grip on myself and I realize I’ve shifted into “attack” mode. I was no longer thinking about surviving but now I was thinking about attacking with purpose. My goal changed from one of mere survival to attacking…like a conqueror. With this change in mindset I can tell you that the ride transformed and at that moment I became an aggressor. I got of the starting line and immediately started passing riders…in many cases riders I could tell were more than just casual road riders. I flew up hills at speeds I never had previously, passing riders along the way…I had great confidence in my ability, and in my preparation for this race day…I would not be denied!!!
I continued a torrid pace throughout the ride and certainly I tired…after all, it is 100 miles…but relatively speaking I never got out of my attack mode. I could talk about the ride for many more pages but in the end I beat my goals, completed the very challenging ride with a 13.6 mph moving average speed, and felt euphoric when I finished. This challenge will forever remind me about preparation, planning, and attacking a challenge with Goals and Attitude, and not allowing myself to get distracted, or conjure up excuses about why I could not. An attitude of “I Can” and “I Will”, will serve as a forever reminder about ATTITUDE and the powerful force it brings with it!
So…How do you take on your challenges…in life and in fitness? What is your attitude? What are your goals?
Again, since this blog is ultimately about fitness, let me take this moment to re-iterate that in preparation for this “road” ride I was only on my “road bike” three times prior to the race day ride. Most all of my training was done on our Spinning® bikes at the club. Much safer and I’d argue much more effective than burning up all the road miles and road hours trying to get prepared. So next year I welcome you to join me at the Sweet Corn Challenge…if you’re up for such a challenge. And if there is another fitness challenge that you are up for I’d be happy to help you get there in mind, body, and soul…just give me a shout.