First Successful Brick (Almost)


wissahickon-valley-park

This week I tried to do a brick. Again.  Compared to my last brick, I think I was definitely more successful. I wasn’t thrilled with what I accomplished, since I didn’t meet my goals. These are the goals I think up the night before. You know, when I see myself charging through fields on feet that never get tired, dry, obviously, not the sweat ball I normally become. Cue music and the joy and rapture in myself, the awe in all that see me. Yeah, well, you motivate you and I’ll motivate me. Anyway, the last time I tried this, three weeks ago to the day, I biked twelve miles at Peace Valley Park and had a total fail at running. I ran only one half mile and then puttered out. Since then, I have adjusted my run and been able to run four and half miles, and three miles on demand. Today I biked a little over ten miles and I ran just a little over two. And it was hard. And within about three hours of finishing, I was seriously tired. And then the pain  set in. And I was totally unprepared.

At this point, almost eight weeks into working out, ten miles of biking is basically no big deal. Biking back Valley Green was amazing, but still a little daunting. As I rode from Paper Mill Road towards Valley Green, I couldn’t help but think that it felt very downhill. About twenty minutes into the ride, I became nervous. Because, well, I had to bike back. And if this was all down hill, going back would be all up hill. Even though I love biking,  there are times when I feel tired. There are times when I feel as though it is hard, especially in the beginning of any bike ride. It often takes me time before the joy and even glee takes hold. At the beginning of bike riding, like the beginning of almost any physical activity is the initial shock that this is hard work. And then I remember, as I push through, I like this. No, I love this. And then, it all becomes not hard work but something I love to do. And that is the memory that continues to come through and what keeps me coming back.

But still, in the beginning of this ride, it all seemed too easy. Since I knew I was planning on trying to run after the ride, I was worried about fatigue, so after three and a half miles one way, I turned around. What I thought was that when I crossed Paper Mill there would be another at least mile and a half one way on the other side, so I could round up to ten miles. See, my original plan was to bike at least twelve to fourteen miles and then run one to three. That’s where I unexpectedly met my first real hill. Well hello, Ms. Northwestern Avenue.  I wish I would have taken a picture but I was too busy telling it no. When I first saw it, seven miles into my ride, I was all about not doing that hill. After all, this was my first brick, I should take it easy. But then I just kept going. Slowly, painfully. Not wiggle wagging, yet. I kept going. What the hell was I doing? Why was I doing this? Why? Because I was only just past eight miles and I realized the path back was only a third of a mile at most. If I was ever going to get even close to ten miles, I needed to keep going. No music, no awe, no glee, but at least, at the very least ten miles.  So it was me and the hill. I could see what I thought was the top. I would just get to there and turn around. There was a women running up the hill just ahead of me. She stayed to the left and I stayed to the right. It was a slow, steady, steep incline. I kept switching gears down. lower then I ever needed for hill. I don’t like to switch gears too low when going up hills because it is like biking air. I want to feel the as though I am pushing forward. But for this hill I was two on the left and three on the right, lower than I have ever been. When I got to what I thought was the crest I realized I was only at the top of my vision. There was more of the same behind it. But I was at about eight and a half miles and feeling spent. I turned around. The joy of coming down the hill was tempered only by the knowledge that I hadn’t conquered it.  As I soared down the hill, clicking my gears in what I knew was a futile effort to to gain traction, I came face to face with the runner. She was easily twenty years my senior and pushing along up the hill. I was humbled. Not enough to turn around, I’ll leave that for another day. I still had running to do.

The running was not the hardest run of my life, but I was definitely feeling the tightness in my quads and hips. I brought my water bottle with me and slowly started down the trail. Even though it was the same trail I had biked before, the sensation of going down hill was strong .Biking back had not been difficult at all. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that running it would be harder than I wanted to do.  Also, it was the first time I ran on gravel. Maybe it was because of the bike ride, maybe it was just being tired, but it was hard for me to find my stride. Other runners passed me and I wanted to say, “You know I just biked ten and a half miles!”  Of course that wouldn’t have mattered, I wasn’t going any slower than normal.

I made it to Valley Green and stopped just past it. That was a little over two miles. Not three but more than one. As I started to walk back the pain set in. My right leg felt as though it had an iron stick from hip to ankle. I was really surprised. It wasn’t a localized throbbing but a full leg scream. Thankfully it only lasted for a short time. And then my inner thighs were pulsing. Normally if I run or bike, I feel it in my quads, my hips and sometimes my knees. Up until now my inner thighs had been silent. Certain movements the rest of the day, anything that put pressure on the back of my thighs caused pain. Like getting in and out of cars. About three hours after I crashed and luckily was able to sleep for about an hour. I still felt tired when I woke but at least I was functional.

As I was walking back, a couple of things crossed my mind. First, there is going to be some pain, whether it is when I am running or biking up a hill, or just the aches from tired and pushing myself. I can’t work towards getting healthy without some hurting. I know that sounds obvious, but in the beginning I was very hesitant to take on something that would hurt. And I tried to avoid it by backing away from doing too much.

It also occurred to me that I a may not be able to finish this challenge the way I want, meaning I may not be able to run the whole time, I might have to get off my bike and push it up a hill. Before, this really bothered me, but for some reason yesterday it didn’t seem important. I would go and do the best I could and that would be that. The Challenge is no longer the reason I am doing this, but has become just another part of the journey.

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