The time was 6:30am. I am tired of course. In a way I always am. It’s an exhausting world we live in. But I’m up and at ‘em and ready for the 40-mile bike ride with my dad. All the things that seem painful before you start it are the most rewarding after it. Plus, as my dad gets old and is willing to take on these types of physical endeavors, it inspires me. I’m someone who appreciates all the natural inspiration I can get. Inspiration is amazing when you don’t have to look for it. I’m grateful to have that in front me in the form of a father. As I’ve gotten older, more and more people I know die. And I’m not even old. So I try to take every opportunity I can to spend time with my father and mother because I know that time spent with them is never something that I would regret, no matter what life has on the agenda for me.
As we begin the bike journey, not only am I tired from just waking up, I feel an outrageous tightness in my quads. I had run on the beach the day before for about a mile and followed it up with a paddle boarding session. At the time of the work out, I had considered it to be a light one. That next morning proved to me that it was not light at all. I was stiff, tight, in pain, tired, and uncomfortable from the moment I hopped on the bike. But at the beginning of a long ride was not the time to think about that. We had 40 miles to go. My father set a grueling pace from the start, at least relative to what I had been used to when I bike with him. It had me questioning whether he was setting a brutal pace or was I just that tired and sore? Those were the thoughts that unavoidably remained in my brain as I peddled the first 20 miles.
Once we hit the 20-mile checkpoint we took a short break, drank some water, and chatted a bit. I felt rejuvenated. It felt like my legs, body, and mind were finally awake. It only took 20 miles to wake me up. Furthermore, instead of my legs being tighter, they felt looser and stronger. After my dad had set the pace, and I dragged behind the first 20 miles wondering why I couldn’t keep up and dodging the type of thoughts that make someone want to quit, I was determined to set the pace on the way back.
As I peddled off, my dad was more than ready to match that pace, which only made me quickly realize I was going to have to push harder than I had mentally prepared for. There is nothing like someone riding right on your tail to give you that extra motivation. I needed a little separation. As I created that, I was blatantly aware of how sore my quadriceps were. Instead of gritting my teeth, I let out a slight groan. It was a way to acknowledge and vocalize the pain, while continuing to push through it. If that is why tennis players let out groans during matches, I finally understood why. I got into a rhythm with my breathing and these quiet groans as I pedalled hard. Each groan fed into my mindset of accepting the pain but knowing that it was only temporary. I was always able to keep reiterating that now “I am only 15 miles away…10 miles away…5 miles away…1 mile….almost there. Don’t slow down now.”
For the final 3 miles instead of letting out groans, in a rhythmic mantra form, I stated “Thank you God.” For me, it carried multiple meanings. I was thanking God for the ability, strength, commitment, determination, and will to keep pushing even though some would maybe slow down. I felt an overload of gratitude that I was able to do what I was doing, while some people's pain and abilities may restrict them from that type of activity all together. Furthermore, I was thanking God with a sense of apologizing for all the times I had been an ungrateful, or an out of touch prick. For all the times I had cursed God, when in reality things were my fault. Blaming God: what a way to not take ownership of the things you wish to change in your life. So instead, I thanked God that I was alive and well with a beautiful family. I thanked him so much that I hoped God heard it. I was willing my way into gratitude and drive and it was working.
I never let up the pace and made it home with a higher sense of gratitude and understanding of some important universal concepts, one being that we cannot escape the pain of doing something. The pain is there and unrelenting in life no matter how recreational and fun an activity is supposed to be. But it is that pain that we learn the most. Also, everyone experiences certain levels of pain. That will always be true. The people I admire the most are people that are so light and kind, that you would never know what they are going through. Although it is brave to share your pain and story, it is also highly admirable to take responsibility for your pain, work out ways to manage it, and then do your best to alleviate the pain of others.
All these thoughts arising from pushing myself externally and internally. This is what I love about endurance training. This is what I love about cycling.
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