I’ve been preparing for this race since last Thanksgiving when the idea was hatched at the dinner table over turkey and pumpkin pie. Step one of my training was simply uttering the words ‘I’m in!’. Knowing full well that bike racing is very different from the road racing (running) I’ve been doing for years, I realized I had a learning curve ahead of me.
My winter training looked a lot like it normally would have. I rode the stationary bike, kept up with yoga, strength training and dance and threw in a few runs for good measure. With spring refusing to commit this year, it was May before I was able to get my road bike out and dusted off. My first ride was not pretty. I did not feel strong, I did not feel confident and I wasn’t sure what a training program should even look like. The only thing I had to draw on was marathon training. This, I knew, involved a long run every week, and other shorter runs in between. With nothing else to guide me, I decided to apply this same strategy to biking.
Recognizing my lack of confidence, I wondered if having a training partner might help. Scrolling through the rolodex of my family and friends in mind, I thought of my friend Rhonda. We had never done any training for anything together. But I knew she had a bike; she and I had completed one ride together earlier in the year; a 17km ride around the Glenmore Reservoir, followed by a stop at a coffee shop.
I agonized about whether to ask her. Most people think these endurance adventures of mine are crazy. I know this because they tell me. I wondered what Rhonda would think. She had been on a few adventures of her own, but not on a bike race. Back and forth I went in my mind. My saboteur was having a ball with this one. Finally, I sent her a text, telling her what I was doing and asking if she would like to join me in a ride once each week to help me train.
Rhonda’s response was quick and sure. ‘Yes!’, was her reply. Only later would she confess that when I mentioned that we would start ‘short’, perhaps a 60km ride, she began to wonder what she had signed up for. Sixty turned to seventy. Seventy to eighty. Eighty to ninety. Ninety turned to a double summit of the Highwood Pass.
We clicked right away. Our riding compatibility just worked. After a few weeks I dared to suggest that since Rhonda was doing all the same training as me, she might consider registering for the race too. This time her response was less quick. I suppose I wasn’t using my saboteur as much by then so she had started paying rent in Rhonda’s head. It took a few weeks, but eventually the response came, ‘I’m in!’
Many times, as we trained, we wondered if we were crazy. Neither of us slept well on Monday nights, anticipating our early morning Tuesday rides. The mountains at Whistler, already big in real life, grew in our minds.
This past week, on September 8th, our big day arrived. We lined up in Stanley Park, in the dark, with Vancouver’s beautiful skyline at our back, along with some 4700 other riders. The rain clouds loomed and we debated, ‘Rain coats on or off?’, ‘Full gloves or half?’, ‘Foot booties or not?’, ‘Crazy or not?’
The race couldn’t get started quickly enough for me. As usual, I felt the sting of tears as O Canada was sung pre-race. And then, finally, we were off. For seven hours we pounded up those mountains, through cloud, and rain, and cold and even a flash of sunlight. We stopped at aid stations for fuel and to wait for slower members of our little group. We laughed as we passed the ‘Bacon Station’, where, you guessed it, they were grilling and handing out bacon! With one kilometer to go, Rhonda and I waited on the side of the road for the rest of our group to join us so we could cross the finish line together. I smiled the whole way.
In Colin Kaepernick’s Nike video, he says, ‘Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy. Ask if they are crazy enough.’ When he first took a knee two years ago, Colin Kaepernick likely wondered if he was crazy. He also likely could not have imagined what his ‘crazy’ would bring to his life.
This line from the ad kept running through my head as I rode. I know I am doing things that are just crazy enough when I feel alive doing them. I felt alive when we first talked about this race last Thanksgiving. I felt alive when first invited Rhonda to join me. At that time, I could not imagine everything that invitation would bring to my life; a wonderful training partner, an incredible friend, a dream-sharer. And I felt VERY alive last Saturday.
In any good life there needs to be some crazy; something that makes us feel alive. It will be different for each of us. For some it will mean taking a course, for others it means leaving or staying in a job or a relationship. Some will find crazy in a new hobby or skill. Each of us knows what is crazy for us.
My friend, Chad, and his sister Carena, just finished the seven-day, Trans Alpine Run across the alps through Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. Crazy? Maybe. But I’m looking into it.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘What is ‘Crazy for You?’
Elizabeth is a life and leadership coach in Calgary, AB. She provides leadership coaching for individuals and groups and she creates and facilitates custom workshops for corporate, public and private groups. Contact Elizabeth to help you or your organization figure out how to bring the right kind of crazy into your life.