Amazing! That’s all I can say. A week or so ago I realized that I had to put a LOT of miles on my body in a very short amount of time (for me at least). I attacked it with an optimistic hope and view. I could do this. 12 miles a day wasn’t that bad….right? Not a problem! I started….riding daily, trying to knock in a few extra miles here and there with walks and runs. I started to chip away at the mountain that I found before me. I saw the miles that I still needed to drop away. Yet on Monday I allowed doubt to fill me. I was ready to quit. I didn’t quit and I’m happy to say that I have completed my mileage. In fact I completed it with two days to spare!!!!!!
A week or so my brother was talking to me. I made a comment about hills being my nemesis. I HATE hills. SERIOUSLY! I mentioned a ride a few weeks back. In this ride I attacked the hilly section of the battlefield. I made if up the worst hills and was just attacking the gently (ha…nothing is ‘gently rolling’ on a bike) rolling hills that cropped up every time I blinked. I mentioned my need to stop half way up the hill due to the fact that I was struggling to carry enough speed to stay upright (yes, I started to fall). My brother had one comment for me. “I bet you would have flown up that hill if a dog was chasing you!”
That comment made me think. Yes, if my options were to ride like the wind up a hill or be bitten by a dog, I’d have to say that my adrenaline and body would not even think about how tired I was and I’d be FLYING. (On the other hand, maybe I’d just lay there and let the dog maul me…ha ha ha….JUST JOKING) So these thoughts were floating through my mind for a few days.
Then I read a book called Finding Ultra by Rich Roll. In this book Rich tells the story about how he had abused his body for years and on the eve of his 40th birthday he had an epiphany and realized that he had to change his life….drastically and without delay. He changed his diet and while the book does expound on the benefits of his chosen diet, it was the exercise that touched me. You see, he dreamt big. REALLY big. He started riding and running and picked back up swimming (a sport from his youth). He bypassed the marathons and century rides. He bypassed the triathlons and even the Ironman competitions. He attacked an ultraman race. Haven’t heard of this race? Well, lets start by saying it is an unsupported race. You don’t have hydration stations. You have to provide your own crew. Not a biggie right? This is a three day race. Day one is 6.2 mile swim in the open water followed by a 90 mile bike ride (including 6000 feet of climbing). That about sums up day one. Day two is a simple leisurely bike ride of …ohhh nothing short of 171.4 miles (including 4000 feet of climbing). Ready to quit yet? Day three is the running portion. It’s a pretty much a double marathon…don’t know how many miles that is? 52.4 miles. This was the premiere one of a kind, invitation only event that offered no prize money, only personal satisfaction. (they have since added a few ‘qualifying ultraman events’).
This race really isn’t about the numbers (although I know that people give heir eyeteeth to win it). It really is about beating yourself. It’s about persevering through personal pain and the mental challenges.
So anyway, this guy Rich did it. He pushed through odds and pain that the average person can’t even begin to think about. He ran that race not once, but twice. He also talks about completing 5 Ironman courses in a week. This guy was in great shape, but what spoke to me most was that he also had the mental fortitude that is needed to push through the pain.
“When you believe you've reached your absolute limit, you've only tapped into about 40 percent of what your truly capable of. The barrier isn't the body. It's the mind.” David Goggins
So reading this book on the heels of my brothers comment really hit me squarely in the forehead. It reminded me that this battle to get better at running and on my bike is a fight not in my body…but rather in my head….it’s not my body giving out, it’s my head!