Training Week 5: Miriam Donohue
~ Bump, Bump Goes the Rabbit ~
One of the real challenges to being a novice cyclist is finding appropriate routes to practice different skills on. My favorite place right now is over in Camillus, but that’s not convenient if I’m trying to sneak in a quick ride. So I decided to stop being such a wuss and actually try out a new route close to home. After work one day, I drove around in circles for about half an hour, trying to assess shoulder conditions, inclines, declines, and general road quality. There was a group of 5 guys out running near Nottingham Rd and I must have passed them about 12 times. They probably thought I was stalking them. Which, in hindsight, might not have been a bad idea… Seriously, what’s happened to me that instead of watching the 5, very physically fit guys running by, I’m looking at potholes?? Stupid triathlon training…
We ended up with 4 of us on the ride (how I managed to convince 3 other women to follow me, I’ll never know). Cresting one of the hills had a breathtaking view and I’d really been looking forward to experiencing that on the bike – it didn’t disappoint. I knew, and had warned “the team” that the last descent was a steep one with a stop sign and a 90-degree turn at the base, so I’d told them to take it slow. My bike apparently didn’t get the message because it simply refused to slow down, no matter how much I cranked on the brakes. Looking ahead, I saw a jackrabbit on the left side of the road. Now, to hear one of my teammates tell it later, this rabbit was roughly the size of a small deer. Like if Thumper and Bambi had a baby…on steroids. (I’m pretty sure the name “Bumper” was tattooed across his haunches and he may have had an eye patch…) I watched him hop across the road and thanked God when he made it all the way to the other side. Unfortunately, Mr. ToughGuy Rabbit seemed to have some kind of an anxiety disorder, because when he realized I was coming, he panicked and bolted BACK across the road, right in front of me.
… My street cred really can’t survive me being taken out by a bunny. Even one with an eye patch.
There was nothing I could do. I was going too fast to stop and there was no telling what he’d do if I swerved. So I took a deep breath and held my course. It took every ounce of willpower I had not to close my eyes. Turns out, I missed that sucker by about 2 inches and it scared the Easter eggs outta me. I don’t know if all rabbit’s feet are lucky, but you better believe his are!
After that adventure, I was grateful for a nice long hill climb up Nottingham Rd. to take my mind off things. It’s funny to me that we’d prefer a steep climb to a fast descent at this point (we’re fine with hard work, but speed still makes us nervous!). So, after finishing that loop, we opted against repeating it. Which means Bumper and I both lucked out that day…
~ Hope from Heartaches ~
We all have our complications. Even Lance Armstrong has to balance 5 kids, a foundation, publicity, and his own training. Life never seems to be as streamlined as sometimes we might hope. Somewhere between our day jobs, cooking, cleaning, laundry, socializing, families, and (if we’re lucky) sleeping, we have to fit in running, biking, and swimming a couple of times each week. Frankly, I don’t know how the coaches do it. Not only are most of them training for their own events, but they’re also out there 3 – 4 times a week, helping us. If this whole cloning thing ever comes to pass, I could see triathletes being first in line.
Most athletes will, at some point, experience an injury. Mine, which is coming up on its 6-year anniversary, has added a seemingly endless slew of (interesting) complications. There can be something very isolating about struggling through, or recovering from, a set back. I think because it exposes everything we don’t know (and, to some extent, everything we fear), it becomes hard to communicate and relate to. I’ve studied my injury relentlessly and still, I’m often left simply to sit back and watch, waiting for patterns to emerge or experimenting through trial and error. Trying to understand it all is like telling a parent to figure out why their 16-year old son came home in a bad mood again. Well, most people would just throw up their hands in frustration and say, “He’s a teenager!!!” (and hope to God if they do nothing, he outgrows it), because there are nine thousand and twelve variables that might be involved in his mood swings. Others will dive right in and try to figure this thing out, come hell or high water. Maybe they can affect change, maybe they can share in the struggle, or maybe they just drive him nuts (he is a teenager…). At the end of the day though, sometimes my body regresses from teen angst-like activities and acts more like a temperamental toddler, just to test my resolve.
Sure enough, it essentially threw a tantrum after swim class this week.
You know when you’re in the grocery store and you see the mom who’s rockin’ the haggard look and crazy hair, while the 2-year old in the cart screams about wanting the candy she just had wrenched of her hand? You try and look away, try to be sympathetic, but you know that mom still kind of just wants to crawl into a hole. There is something about witnessing the raw release of true emotional and physiologic willpower that makes us very uncomfortable. We like to pretend that those types of things can always be controlled, or politely hidden, at least.
I hid for about 4 years and, admittedly, it’s still decidedly difficult for me to have witnesses to the moments in life where I am raw, out of control, and (painfully) self-absorbed.
But, similar to cresting that hill on the bike and having my breath taken away by a spectacular view, there is incredible grace and beauty in looking up, in the midst of a steep physical or emotional descent and having your coach take your hand while your team forms a protective circle around you. Thank God for moments like that; Moments where helplessness loses and hope wins.