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Who ever said life was supposed to be easy? People always take the easy route and that is why our world has become so lazy. I don’t think we were put here to struggle for our entire lives, but we also weren’t meant to just breeze right through either. What would life be without challenges? What would we learn? There are always going to be challenges that are out of our hands, but then there are some that we can choose to take head on. I don’t want to live easy, I have worked hard to get where I am now and I will never stop; relationships, job, health, etc. I will take the hard route to make my own food instead of picking up something “easy” or pre-packaged and unhealthy, I will move my body and be active instead of taking a magic pill or surgery to look how I want. I will feel good about myself because I earned it, not because I bought it. I choose to make my life “harder” by preparing my own foods, being active and always working hard for what I want.

Talking about the challenges we choose…I chose to enter the Shiner G.A.S.P. ride that was this past Saturday. About 2 months ago, I was out to brunch with the Wellness Director from a company I still sub at every once in awhile and she mentioned this 100 mile ride and that they had a team of about 80 people doing it. She asked if I was interested and I said, sure! I got a bike the next weekend and started training. I rode the stationary bike a few times a week and then rode my hybrid bike on Saturdays…I rode it a total of 5 times before the 100 mile ride. I have never been a huge spin class/cyclist type of person but I felt like I needed a new type of challenge to work for.

Saturday, May 5th, 2012. I ate my homemade Peanut Butter Banana Streusel Muffins to fuel me for the race and packed Lemon “Larabar” Balls to have every hour and a peanut butter, banana and honey sandwich for lunch.

I showed up at the beginning of the ride (by the Austin airport) not really knowing what to expect. Josh helped me get set up and then I met up with my group. I was excited, nervous and ready to go! I had never done this type of a thing before (I have only been involved in running races). At 7am, we were off! A friend from the company caught up with me and stayed with me until the first rest stop. Since we were talking the time seemed to fly by and we were at the first rest stop (mile 17) before I knew it. My butt was sore and my legs were feeling pretty tired already by that point though because I was on my hybrid with running shoes, trying to keep up with a guy on a road bike with clip-in shoes. I had decided at the beginning of the race that I didn’t want to waste too much time at the rest stations, just use them as a small goal to stretch, get more water and eat my snacks. I sipped some water, ate my lemon ball and was off again. I felt pretty fresh after that stop and started riding at my own pace. Throughout the entire ride I would ride with a few people here or there but I was mainly on my own. Around mile 20 I saw an ambulance for 2 people who must have crashed into each other and were now laying on the ground getting help. All along the course I saw people sitting or laying down, stretching, injured, tired or fixing a flat. It was a good thing they had vans going up and down the roads watching out for people like that and attending to them all! I started contemplating stopping at the halfway point by the time I got to mile 30 but I knew there had to be a rest station coming up soon so I decided to wait and see how I felt after that. The second stop was at mile 33. Looking back at my texts to Josh I saw that I had said “this is the hilliest road I have ever seen in my entire life.” This was true for the entire ride….I would say to myself, “just get to the top of this hill and then you get to cruise down” (I knew this was a lie) but then I would start coming down and the head wind would hit me and I would have to actually pedal down, sometimes at only 9mph going downhill! Then, as soon as I reached the bottom, the rolling hills began again….it was tough and never ending for the entire ride. I made it to mile 50 in 4 hours. I ate my lunch, walked around put on some sunscreen and set off again for the second half. As soon as I started, the wind picked up and the roads got even hillier! I contemplated just turning around and saying I completed 50 miles but no, I knew I must keep venturing on! By mile 63 my butt was killing me and I really thought about getting the van to the end but I got back on my bike and started going again. At rest stop mile 75 I texted Josh asking why were bikes even ever invented? My neck was hurting pretty bad so a nice guy gave me some advil and that kept me powering on. I didn’t think I was going to make it but I kept talking to myself saying that I could do it, I didn’t have any other choice. Mile 85 rest stop I geared myself up for the end. I told myself I was almost there. I wanted to stop so bad but I kept going, sometimes only 3mph uphill into the wind, but I didn’t stop. The last 10 miles were horrible, they were all uphill and very windy….but I made it to Shiner! 8.5 hours of cycling.

The only thing that kept me going during the moments I was feeling weak and defeated was the thought of how I would feel after if I stopped. I knew I would be so mad if I didn’t make it and embarrassed to tell people I didn’t finish. It turned into a huge mental battle and I won! I reached my goal: I only stopped at the rest stops and for 5 minutes or less, and I finished the whole thing. I also tried to keep my mind occupied by enjoying the lovely scenery. The wildflowers were gorgeous! I enjoyed hanging out at the group tent after, trying some shiner beers, eating bratwurst and pretzels and then had an interesting van ride home with some people from the company and also a few randoms. I ended the night with a Cinco de Mayo celebration at Chuy’s with Josh….perfect!

Things I learned on my 100 mile adventure:

  1. Don’t ever ride a hybrid bike for 100 miles
  2. Wear clip-in shoes…especially on a 100 mile ride
  3. Don’t give up because it is hard, you will feel much better if you stick it through…pain is temporary, pride is forever
  4. Use glide and sunscreen at EVERY rest stop or you will be burnt and your butt will be rubbed raw
  5. You can use your Iphone to play music loudly without using headphones, which creates a more fun environment to ride in
  6. Eating the lemon balls was a perfect, natural supplement to GU’s and energy gels or drinks
  7. Ride your bike more than 5 times before such a long ride so you can adjust it more to your liking (Josh pointed out my tire was on slightly crooked for the whole ride)
  8. Measure the ride in rest stops, just get to the next one!
  9. It will NOT be easy
  10. Enjoy the ride 🙂