I rode up some very steep hills on Saturday morning. I have pedaled thousands of miles the past twelve years across southern California living as a triathlete, especially the last three while training with fellow Team HPB athletes, but I had never ridden up Potrero and Westlake/23. If you know, you know, those are tough climbs, probably the toughest within the legendary Santa Monica Mountains, but with the guidance of my steely teammate, Lynne Fiedler, I finally did.
Honestly, there were a couple of scary moments. After we passed the first harry pitch, the road leveled out along the valley floor and all was well, for a few minutes, but then the real work began. We were nowhere near the top, and there was only one way to get there, up.
Suddenly my hands were sopping wet, barely able to grip the handle bars, drenched with sweat, I thought I might stop and tip over, not being able to push the pedals another rotation because the road was too steep, and the turns too sharp, but then I caught a few yards of momentum, (not flat road, but flatter), and my mind shifted from panic to repeating the mantra, this is it, just be here, your legs are strong enough, your arms and shoulders are strong enough, enjoy it, drink it up, keep going.
And I did.
I made it to the top of Potrero and then to the top of Westlake, and felt stronger and lighter every inch I moved upward, shocked and proud that my big ole’ bod powered up both ascents just fine. Yep, my large frame is not ideal for ripping up steep climbs, but rather much better suited for long straight-away stretches where I can hammer for hours. However, while working hard, and then working smart from the bottom to the top of each climb, I let go of that story I had always told myself, and invited my inner climber, the muscly-masochistic part of my personality that I had never truly believed in, to take the lead.
I am so glad I did, she's a beast.
I am always grateful to indulge that part of myself that wants to hurt. I appreciate that feeling. I know the value of it, and thrive on it, because I accepted a long time ago, (either on a bike or off), life will hurt; and it doesn’t matter if I am prepared or not, it all comes down to how I can handle it when it does.
Therefore, while entrenched in those hot climbs on Saturday morning, I realized two very important things, my lungs can handle this round of training, (Hallelujah), and I am able to stay present and accept painful moments as opportunities to build me up, rather than hold me down.
I also had a great run on Sunday. I ran twenty miles at a decent clip on a treadmill on what might be a broken pinky toe, (the one a few toes down from my hammer toe), whatever… I felt GREAT!
Next up, I get to race at the Santa Barbara Triathlon this Saturday!!
The song choice this week is one of my all-time favorite tune's, with a very Summertime-esque video that may inspire you to hop on the next plane to Lake Como, No Doubt's "Cool."