Tag Archives: endurance

Tales From the Trails

This past weekend, I participated in my fourth Club Scrub Growler—a grueling yet extremely scenic off-road ride that takes place annually here in South Florida. This was the first year my other half wasn’t able to join me. My plan was to hook up with someone, as I knew many friends would be riding. As fate would have it, that didn’t pan out, and I was okay with that. I’m accustomed to being a lone wolf.

I started the ride feeling great. The morning was beautiful and the pace moderate. At just under ten miles we encountered a friend of mine who was having a major mechanical problem. He is someone who has always encouraged me as a rider, so it was important to me to see if he needed assistance. His problem was far above my knowledge, but I was happy to hold his bike for him while he bypassed his derailleur and reset his chain. Once that was accomplished, I continued on my way.

The route eventually took us through miles of South Florida sugar sand, several inches deep in stretches. By 10:30AM the sun was high overhead and the glare and heat were reflecting off the white sand. At this point, the miles began to tick by slowly and my energy started to lag. All I could think of was the next SAG stop. By mile 32 or so I was ready to call it quits. I had zero energy left in my tank. I estimated the next SAG stop to be about five miles away. I was seriously thinking about calling my husband to come and pick me up. I had water, but the lack of food had derailed me. I ate some PROBAR energy chews—my go-to energy source on the trail—but they had absolutely zero discernable effect.

So. Much. Sand.

I reached the second SAG stop at about mile 37. I ate half a peanut butter sandwich, a banana and some watermelon and immediately felt markedly better. I refilled my water bottles and spent about 10 minutes stretching, as my left calf and right inner thigh were just starting to cramp slightly. After a 20-minute respite I felt much better and got back on the saddle to finish the ride. Back spasms aside, I finished the ride strong after about 7.5 hours (5:42 moving time).  

Don’t mind me. I’m just gonna lay here and stretch my back out for a minute or two.

As I reflect back on Sunday’s ride, it’s clear to me that finishing the ride wasn’t my greatest accomplishment. Showing up was my accomplishment. Committing to ride 60 miles despite not having a partner to ride with was my accomplishment. Giving myself a rest and a little selfcare when I needed it was my accomplishment. Getting back in the saddle when I felt well enough to ride was my accomplishment. Riding across the “finish line” was just the cherry on the sundae.

Note the calories burned. #gimmealltheicecream

If you ride and are ever in South Florida the first weekend in April, I urge you to participate in a Growler. You will have the time of your life. There is something for everyone—a short and extremely scenic 20-mile route, a more challenging 40-mile route, and the super challenging (in my estimation) 60-mile route. The sights alone are worth it. Afterward, you can enjoy a meal and cold beverage while you sit back and reflect on your myriad accomplishments.

Best finish line greeting ever.

A huge thank you to Juliana Catalfumo and Rob Rutstein for organizing this crazy event. And special thanks to the over-75 volunteers who gave countless hours in the days leading up to and after the event to make sure all 775 riders were fed, watered and knew exactly where to go. Y’all are rock stars.

The Sweet Smell of Rain

I took a gamble this morning in trying to beat the rain for a morning run. I figured I had a 50-50 chance of making it home without being caught in a downpour. There’s a reason I’m not a betting woman. I didn’t make it to the entrance of our development before it began to pour. I could have easily turned around, but I thought, what’s the worst that could happen? I’ll get wet? (Turns out that was a gross understatement.)

While running, I couldn’t help but think of the downpour as a metaphor for life. When you’re stuck in a storm, how great does it feel when you finally reach a safe/dry shelter? My desire to return to dry sanctuary was motivation to run. Fast! But for that brief period of time while I was slogging along, I was on sensory overload. I was overwhelmed by the sweet yet earthy smell of the rain itself. I was aware of the cold, hard rain pelting my skin. As alive as I felt while running, I couldn’t help but focus on getting back to a warm safe place. As much as I loved experiencing these sensations (I felt alive!), I was uncomfortable. And I thought—this is a lot like life!

Sometimes we’re most alive when we’re in the midst of a personal storm. A storm forces us out of our complacency.   It makes us face our surroundings and situations head-on. Our days unfold in sharper focus and we tend to feel things much more acutely when life is raining down on us. And when we’re in the midst of a storm, we naturally want nothing more than to get back to safety and security.

I experienced something else too. I increased my pace (9:08 mile!) in order to get home quickly. Isn’t that something else we tend to experience in life’s storms as well? Storms tend to kick us in the butt, sending us into overdrive in an effort to rectify all that’s wrong with our life/world.

Whatever storm you’re facing, keep your head down and keep moving forward.   Use the instinctive momentum to carry you forward to safe shelter. Hopefully it’ll be a good bit of time before you’re caught in the rain again, so take time while you’re in the midst of the current storm to feel the rain on your skin and take in your surroundings. Your life will be richer for it.

Home Safe

Rain! whose soft architectural hands have power to cut stones, and chisel to shapes of grandeur the very mountains, as no artist could ever do! ~Henry Ward Beecher, Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit