Monday, May 10, 2010

Above all, challenge yourself

I like to challenge myself. I think it's what leads to growth. I also think that as we age, there fewer and fewer opportunities to practice setting a goal and achieving it. I think that sometimes just getting back to the basics of achieving a difficult goal can do wonders for making everything else in life make sense.

The first time I thought this, I challenged myself to train and finish the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon. Having never fun farther than a 5K before, I thought it was a new, fun, exciting thing to try. And it was. But it was also very very difficult. So difficult, in fact, that when something completely out of my control kept me from finishing my goal (I found out the week before the mini) I never attempted it again.

See, when I commit to something, it's no longer negotiable. It's either succeed, or die trying. (I still drink between 40-60 ounces of water per day and I never officially committed to that...) The first time I trained for the mini, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Now? I know. Oh yes, I know. And I'm not quite sure I want to put myself through that again.

That seems to be a theme in my life, because the Inca Trail? Yeah, I'm never going to do that again either.

I have a feeling that my latest challenge might be a bit like that.

My friend Candy loves biking. So much so that she challenged herself to ride 1000 miles this summer. After much consideration, I think I might join her in her challenge. Not all of it, mind you. There's no way I want to ride more than 50 miles in one day. But 1000 miles by the end of the summer? Sure. I'll try that. After all, last summer I rode 200 miles. This can't be that different.


My plan of attack is similar to Candy's. I need to hit around 50 miles a week to be successful. And if I ride my bike to work everyday, that's between 30-35 miles per week. If I add in one decent group ride (which we were good about doing last year) then I should be okay.

The plan looks good on paper, right?

Riding to work is proving to be no small feat. It's not the riding, per se. (Although let me tell you - it is now obvious to me that I haven't ridden since last summer. Yikes.) It's the, "What do I wear?" "What do I eat for lunch?" "Do I shower at work or at home?" "What about rain?" It's also the "remembering to check the weather each morning." This is something at which I am woefully inadequate. (But given Indiana's unpredictable weather, something I should work on anyway.)

I rode in this morning and it wasn't terrible. I packed my outfit for the day in a backpack and decided that I would indeed shower at work. Since the shower at work is AWESOME, I think I can get over the weirdness of being naked in my office pretty easily. And now that all the shower necessities are already at the office, my backpack won't be as full in the future. Besides, if I leave my house at 7:00am, I can probably shower before anyone else shows up.

Today I only thought as far as getting dressed. I didn't think about lunch or breakfast. (Or filling up my water bottle for the ride. Suck.) Luckily, my boss brought in some breakfast today. But given how ravenous I was when I got to work this morning, that's something I'm definitely going to have to consider. Maybe oatmeal at the office? I don't know if a power bar will be enough. Suggestions? As for lunch, I can either brown-bag, or there's a Subway within easy walking distance. But brown-bagging it isn't something that I've ever been good at. And walking to Subway? What about the weather? What about the shoes I wore to work that day?

Why not ride my bike to get lunch? That's what I thought. But in reality, if you're in work clothes, how does that work? Do you change back into biking clothes for lunch? After that, do you change back?

I'm not throwing in the towel, but it's a bigger task than I originally thought it would be. Instead of incorporating something new into my life, this is seeming to require many small changes all at once. I'm posting here so I'm accountable because the small changes CAN NOT WIN! I WILL PREVAIL! Besides, short of getting hit by a car whilst on my bike (and really, how much different can that be than getting hit by a car whilst on rollerblades?) I don't really see a downside to taking on this challenge...even if I fail.

So wish me luck! By the end of the summer, that odometer that you see should say at least 1228 miles. (Oh, and cross your fingers that the thunderstorms will hold off until 7:00pm like the weather forecasters said. No one wants to see how angry Emily will be while riding her bike in the rain.)


zlionsfan said...

After all, last summer I rode 200 miles. This can't be that different.

1000 = 200 * 5.

yes it can.

It doesn't mean you can't do it, but it means you will, well, have to put in 5 times the effort you did last summer. That can be a challenge when you talk about physical goals ... sometimes there is only so much your body is willing to do.

Having said that, I believe you can do it, as long as you are careful. If your body tells you that you need to cut back, you need to listen. If it doesn't complain, ride away!

Candace said...

I can't believe you only got in 200 miles last summer. Perhaps you forgot your odometer often?

Maybe you can start with only biking to work 3 times per week. Ease into this new regime slowly. On your driving days bring in a bag full of frozen dinners and breakfast items so you don't have to worry about food each day.

I KNOW we both can do this. Do we need to make a bet to give each of us more incentive. Orrrr the bet can be who reaches 1000 miles first. Of course the winner of that bet is most likely the person with no life (me).

zlionsfan said...

The problem with bringing perishable stuff is that the boss' wife eats everything and only replaces it at her convenience. If you bring shelf-stable meals, that's not bad, because at least you can keep those hidden.

Candace said...

Damn inconsiderate people. I guess you will have to turn yourself into a pack mule.

The Carrels said...

you can come to my house for lunch! :)

punkinmama said...

If you want a real challenge, I suggest you have a kid. Hardest challenge you'll ever have.

But seriously, you and your stubborn determination are an inspiration!

ems said...

z - duh! I was being facetious. I know it's going to be much harder this year. But I confirmed that it is 7 miles round trip to work each day, so that's 35 miles per week down. As long as it doesn't rain. Stupid rain.

Candy - I'm taking the rain today as an opportunity to run out and buy a bunch of frozen meals and breakfast items so that I'm ready when the weather clears up. I've already got my post it notes that say "DO NOT TOUCH" ready :-)

Jill - Be careful! I would TOTALLY take you up on that. It's about a two minute ride from my office to your house... You might be seeing me more than you bargained for :-)

punkinmama - Thanks! Since your son is awesome, I think you're handling your "hardest challenge" incredibly well.