Learning Every Minute

Last Friday I decided to try my first brick. I was introduced to this practice by a friend, who asked if I had done my first brick yet, and of course, I had no idea what she was talking about. So I googled feverishly. A brick is stacking two disciplines during a single workout session. So you might bike for ten miles and then try to run for a mile. Of course you should only choose distances you know you can do. I thought I would bike for twelve miles, which I know I can do, and then run for a mile. Yeah, a little shakier on that last one. I had previously run for a mile, but had also had a lot of trouble with it as well. This of course, didn’t stop me at all from planning to run a mile after biking twelve.

Was I successful? Well, sort of. I did bike a little more than thirteen miles around beautiful Lake Galena at Peace Valley Nature Center. If you enjoy biking and are looking for an interesting ride, I highly recommend it. There aren’t many hard hills, one fairly steep one for a beginner like me, but it is short enough to not be a real bother. I did it twice and was surprised the second time by how short it actually was. Also, at the top there is a beautiful meadow of wildflowers and then you have the joy of coming down the hill. The constantly changing scenery is part of the fun of biking through Peace Valley. Sometimes you are biking by the lake, sometimes you are cruising past a meadow, and sometimes you are enjoying the cover of trees and feeling as though you found an enchanted forest. There is plenty that is out in the open sun, which I don’t really notice when I bike since I create my own breeze. This is one of the reasons I love biking.

Lake Galena 2 Lake Galena bike trail

And then there was another learning moment. My friend who was biking with me taught me how to really use and understand my gears. HOLY SHIT!!!!  Seriously? For the past almost five weeks I have kept my gears exactly where they were when I first got on the bike. This means I have kept the left gear on two and the right either at four or five. I have thought about them, but wasn’t sure exactly which direction meant what, so I just left them where they were. When I hit a hill, I simply compensated by pedaling harder. I never really figured gears out and never really had the time or inclination to try. Let’s just say, knowing how to work the gears on your bike opens up a whole new world. Suddenly I am itching to take on hills. Wow, what a difference.

So,  feeling very successful I was ready to try running. Somewhere I read that brick stands for bike, run, ick. The ick is about the way your legs feel when you try to run. My legs felt like big balloons I was pushing through hot thick soup. Ick indeed. I made a half mile before I had to stop. I continued to walk run for another mile and a half, but needless to say, I was feeling pretty downhearted. The same terrain that I had so joyfully biked, now seemed so much hotter and hillier. How had that happened? I felt as though I was melting. What happened to the shade? The flat ground? It was like I was warped into hell.

I have to say that I was starting to feel as though I would never ever be able to really run. The act that so many people seemed able to do so easily, was just a genetic impossibility for me. So last Saturday, when I was at a party, I shared this with two of my family members. “You run too fast.” Came back both replies. Well, that and my sister said, “You give up too easy. You have to push through that feeling or you will never get anywhere.” Since I have been feeling pretty good about myself and my workouts, that one hurt. But I heard her. At least my pride did.

So this morning, with their words in my head, and after quite a bit of online reading about beginning runners, I took to the track. And I ran, s-l-o-w-l-y! At first, my legs were still stiff, and I thought it was hopeless. But then, they loosened up. I sang Happy Birthday to myself to make sure I could “hold a conversation” and I just kept running. I made a little over three miles. I was at about two and a half miles before I really wanted to stop. “You give up to easy.” Yeah, I don’t think so. I pushed forward and made it a little past three miles. And guess what! I didn’t feel as though I was going to die!!! As a matter of fact, about a little past the first mile I was a little bored. I am so accustomed to pushing myself and feeling as though I am going to keel over, that just chugging around the track actually left me a lot of room to think. How bizarre. And as I previously stated, tracks are kind of boring.

So, tomorrow is another bike day. I am excited to try the hills around my neighborhood with some new gear changing power. And I am cautiously optimistic that I can run, really run, on Wednesday.