For this month’s blog post, I’m returning to an oldie-but-goodie. I posted this a few years ago on my old website, but it's really resonating with me again. I like its message of persistence and determination. (It’s also clicking on a personal level about facing some old fears as I prepare to move myself and my associates to a new office suite.)
So, without further ado . .
62 miles of vineyards, farmland, and rivers—doesn’t sound too bad, right? Oh wait, did I mention 62 miles of cycling? Until a month ago, I would have said that was completely insane. However, my significant other has had a goal for years of riding a century—a full 100 miles of cycling. He’d talked about it before but hadn't gotten around to it. So, this year when the topic came up, I decided not only would I be supportive, but I would also set some cycling goals with him. I like the idea of having fitness-oriented goals, and we both love being outdoors, so what did I have to lose? I even registered with him for some upcoming centuries, knowing that we could do shorter rides on the day of, if necessary.
Mind you, I was still entirely freaked out by the idea of a century. But, I figured I’d take some baby steps and see how it went. Unfortunately, we managed to sign up for these rides the day before weeks of rain began. By the time the first ride arrived, we had not done nearly as much training as we had anticipated because, let’s face it, I am nowhere near hardcore enough to go cycling in the rain. So, weeks of rain=little practice for Ivy. I’ll admit—I was pleasantly surprised by the first couple of longer rides we did together (40 and 50 miles). They were in beautiful areas, I enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment, and although I was exhausted afterwards, it was a satisfying type of fatigue.
Then, came the Delta Metric Century. While I was nervous about completing more mileage than ever before, I was excited about starting and ending at a winery and spending the ride meandering through a beautiful agricultural region. And, so, the ride began. The first 13 miles were grueling for me. It was a bright, sunny morning, but the headwinds were already blowing against us. I was pedaling too hard and could barely keep up. I was already tired. My knees hurt, my thighs hurt, and my hands hurt. I was not happy. I quickly became miserable. The options were: 1.) Turn around and go back, or 2.) Keep going.
I didn’t like either choice. Turning around would’ve meant quitting and ending up back at the starting point—it would’ve been like I went nowhere. But, continuing on also sucked. In fact, Ihated both options. However, I couldn’t stand the thought of having put so much effort in to get to that point and just throwing it away. So, I grudgingly kept going. There were points when I felt like I was pedaling through mud, there were points when I continued to feel completely miserable, and there were actually some moments that I enjoyed.
Throughout the ride, I noticed that I kept telling myself, “Just get to the end. If you finish this, you don’t ever have to do it again. You have to keep pedaling to make this stop.”
And, would you believe--I did eventually finish!
Later, I couldn’t help but think how this same mentality is necessary to push our way through emotional pain and difficulties in life. Sometimes all the options suck. Sometimes the only way to make something painful end is to keep going—to push and fight and claw your way through it, knowing that, eventually, it will stop. The pain will not continue forever. Even when you’re exhausted and want to give up, if you can lean in and keep pedaling—no matter how slow—you will reach the end. Sometimes, that’s just the hope we need to hold on to—that there is a finish line and that we will reach it by continuing forward. And, you know what? Often, the finish line offers rest, relaxation, and nourishment—just what we need to refuel and come back stronger than before.