Sunday, March 8, 2009

Mental Callouses

I learned a new term on Friday: "Mental Callous." I don't know if it was coined by my friend Julie or if she had heard it before. Either way, she used it on me when I suggested bagging my long ride because of the wind. She said: "What if it's windy in Idaho? ... You need to be ready for anything."

Julie always gives the best advice. (And, besides my husband Jim, she's the best person I could ever ask to have at my side the morning of an Ironman.) So I took the advice. I dismissed my wind concerns, prepped my bike and headed out the door for a 5-hour ride, deciding to do loops, just in case my mental state failed me and I needed to throw in the towel.

I wanted to throw in the towel. Twice. My ride out was south into a 20 mph south wind. This was my first ride outside this year, having conquered three rides over 4 hours on the trainer (if that doesn't build up mental callouses...). But my trainer doesn't give speed/distance readings, and my slowness on Friday was disheartening to say the least. Although I tried to convince myself I was riding against the wind, I was miserable. Thus, with misery, what does a masochist do? (1) never look at the spedometer or odometer, and (2) make the ride infinitely more difficult by throwing in the worst hills you can find. Why is it that riding slow on hills is easier to shrug off than riding slow against the wind? (Does anyone else have this problem?)

Long story short: 80 miles in under 5 hours. First loop, out south and back north, including the nastiest hill I know of and a quick glimpse at the intersection of my 2003 bike vs. truck accident (for exorcising demons). Second loop, big hills at the start and finish. When I turned onto the second loop, I wanted to give up and ride the 15 minutes home. But I reminded myself of what Julie said and forged west into a southwest wind. After 3 hours, over halfway to my goal, something unexpected happened. I started to enjoy it. Partly because of the accomplishment, partly because I got in a rhythm, and partly because I am, still, a masochist.

One of these days, I want to be able to say "I love biking" the way I love running and swimming, but I think I'll have to wait a little longer for that. Until then, I'll accept the newest mental callous.

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