“The only limits in life are those you impose on yourself.”
It’s official! I’ve taken the plunge and signed up for the Ironman 70.3 Timberman!
There was a time after my surgery when I thought (and feared!) I would miss out on my dream of taking on a half ironman this season. With the setback in training, I just didn’t think I would get where I needed to be with the bike in time. However, after spending some quality time cycling with my hubby on our vacation (ie. chasing after him…), I started making some serious progress. We even did my first half century ride together!
The real turning point, though, came when we got back from our trip, and I was invited on a road trip to the Timberman course. One of our fellow tri club buddies was signed up and looking for company on his preview ride. I thought it would be a good opportunity to get another long ride in and see what the course was like for possible future reference. Plus, I figured any time I could spend on the bike will bring me that much closer to really getting the hang of it.
As it turned out the ride went really well. Better than I had expected, in fact. Doing all that cycling with the hubs helped tremendously in building my skill level, even if I never had a chance to notice while I was working so hard to keep up with him! This was my first opportunity to actually see all my hard work pay off.
Going into it I was worried about keeping up because I have historically been slow on my bike… and clumsy… My nerves were somewhat alleviated by the fact that my riding companion for the day was the mild mannered minister I had ridden with (behind) on the Daffodil Ride a few months back. I knew that he wouldn’t mind waiting up or stopping for me, which was a good thing given I am not coordinated enough to drink/eat and ride at the same time.
To both of our surprise, however, it ended up that I was the one slowing down and waiting on him! He said he couldn’t believe how much I had improved since we last road together. The truth is, neither could I! I was especially pumped because he had done the course last year and whole heartedly encouraged me to do it with him this year. Given that this is a man who knows what it takes to finish the Timberman, who I am to argue with his faith in me?
I’m not going to lie, it felt really good to get a nod from a more experienced rider, but it was even more amazing that I did the whole course loop and still felt great at the end. It was the longest ride I had ever done, and I finished it feeling better than I did on the half century just a week prior. Better still, despite all the stopping and waiting, we still finished in under 4 hours. It felt pretty darn awesome to know that even if I road at a comfortable, easy pace that I could finish well within the time cut off, not to mention have an opportunity to go into the run feeling strong instead of drained. It was honestly the first time since before my surgery and the dreaded 6 weeks of restriction that this dream I’ve been carrying around for over a year seemed possible again.
That little nudge was all I needed. I texted the hubs to let him know I was in on the way home.
To celebrate, he took me for a particularly brutal ride the following day. (Side note: He and I have slightly different ideas about what a “fun” ride entails… mostly because he’s a sadist on the bike.) While I take full responsibility for suggesting we take on the REV3 again together, I never expected him to pick the day after my 56 mile ride AND that he would add an extra 16 miles of hills! As much as I hated him for most of it, I was happy to finally conquer the course that had defeated me a few months back. I may have had to stop 56 miles in at a gas station to get food and ibuprofen, but I finished; and, more importantly, I finished strong. We covered over 72 miles and 5500 ft of elevation gain in just over 5 hours. It was absolutely brutal, but it was also the first time I’ve ever felt like an actual cyclist.
It only took conquering TWO half ironman courses in one weekend (plus some extra)!
It’s actually kind of amazing when you consider that less than a year ago I didn’t even own a road bike or know how to ride one.
Can you believe I also didn’t know how to swim yet a year ago? Now I am signed up for my first half ironman! It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you simply refuse to give up.
Little by little, this dream is becoming a reality, and what seemed impossible is suddenly more than just possible- it’s within reach!
So that is my big news. I’ll have to save the rest, including our awesome Michigan road trip, for another post. I hope you all are having a terrific week full of adventures!