After what felt like years, but was actually weeks (or maybe just hours, once I was honest with myself) I made the decision not to continue to train for the Portland Marathon. I knew in my heart from that first disjointed post that it was the right decision to make. But, we are endurance athletes. We don't quit when the going gets tough. We don't back down from a challenge. We push through a lot to reach our goals. It was a battle of wills in my head. The runner who didn't want to be seen as a quitter, to feel like a quitter. Who didn't want to give up an entry fee, a marathon, a training cycle. For once though, the smarter part of my brain won out. I talked through the decision with several other people, all of whom offered support and encouragement to my ability to run the marathon, but also those who could see it more clearly, and who told me it was okay not to race. It was okay to step back. It was okay. After waffling through all the possible outcomes, I knew I wouldn't race. 3.5-4 hours is a loooooooooong morning when your heart isn't in it. Mine wouldn't be. I struggled even to get out the door and run. The apathy was all consuming while the decision hung over my head.
Now that the decision is made, I'm sort of at the mercy of my training whims right now. Which is interesting. I've always been a runner, always. I have my lovely little road bike, but rarely, if ever, do I see cyclists out on the road and think "I want to be riding!". When I see runners, I always want to be running.
This year though, things have changed (and oh Thank God!) and I constantly want to be out on my bike. Every day I think "I want to ride!!" even if I don't get a chance. I say Thank God because I have an infinitely increasing amount of bike bonding coming my way the next several months. So, it's a relief to have that passion to be on the bike growing.
Running has always been my haven. It still is, but lately, my haven has been infiltrated by external goals. Every run, no matter how good or inspiring or bad, felt like it was measured for it's value. It was no longer a place where I could clear my head, and zone out. Then, slowly, the bike has become that haven. Before this year I could count the number of rides I did in any given calendar year on one, maybe two hands. It was never many. I assumed I wasn't a good cyclist because I didn't improve. Oh, really? If I only ran 5-10 times a year, what kind of runner would I be?! Then it clicked. Right now though, it's just about bike joy.
It's not about improving just yet. Some days, it's about 'how low can I keep my HR' just for fun. But mostly, it's just about riding! I LOVE tucking down into aero position, and just cruising! I have found that rhythm with pedaling where it feels like I'm really riding instead of dawdling and forgetting to keep pedaling. My cadence sensor is dead, so I really have no idea what I'm doing. I rarely look at my Garmin until it's all over. I just ride. And ride. And daydream about IMCDA. About the long rides. I drink my Osmo every ride to practice, and I think it might be the magic elixir, every ride seems to be infinitely better with that in the bottle (and faster! Science?). I purchased my first ever actual triathlon apparel from Coeur Sports so every time I get on the bike, I feel like a legit triathlete (with no angry kitty) in the most comfortable tri clothing I've ever put on. Sometimes I visualize racing. But mostly, I just stay in the moment, the mile. It feels like freedom. Like peace. I don't stop smiling (and have inhaled the bugs to prove it-protein?) and sometimes, I'm ashamed to admit I hang my tongue out of my mouth like a puppy with her head out the window. Or like Miley Cyrus. Either way I'm sure the other riders are not amused by my antics. I sing out loud to whatever song I'm listening to. Free concert folks, you're welcome.
I wasn't sure I'd see the day where I evolved from the runner who wanted to do triathlon, but wasn't willing to sacrifice the weekly mileage, or all the running PR goals I held so dear, into the athlete who was eager to saddle up and ride, mileage be damned. I might be in love with my bike.
I'm so ready for this journey! Except I need to get a few (dozen) more pairs of Coeur shorts...