Let's be clear: I love my bike. Seriously. Not in a materialistic way, but in a best friend way. My bike, my silver Specialized Allez, was my first adult bike. Bought in the fall of 2005, it has been my constant side kick as I vastly improved my fitness level. My bike has been to Italy and see me through my very first triathlon.
My bike and I, we have a bond.
But I also know that when I purchased my bike I didn't exactly go about it the right way. I bought it with the thought of trying some duathlons (where you run-bike-run since at this point in my life story I didn't swim) but the shop I bought it from at the time did not do a bike fitting. I simply road around the neighborhood on a few different sized bikes, decided which felt best and went with that.
So I ended up with an "extra-small" men's bike.
Which didn't fit me.
Over the summer, a friend's husband, with intimate knowledge of bike fitting, helped me adjust my bike. I looked like Wonder Woman on the bike, not because I was a superhero but because I was too outstretched. He changed my seat post and handlebar stem, both of which served to shorten the length of the bike for me (since, like a Smurf, I am only about three apples high) and adjusted the seat height so that my pedal stroke was more productive.
Last week was the final piece of tweaking to retrofit my bike.
I got aerobars.
It was almost mandatory by my coach and while the thought of "aerobars" momentarily put me in a haze of thinking about the chocolate bar, sadly this had nothing to do with great Canadian candy.
Aerobars are the part of the handlebar that lay out in front of you. Think of time trials or pretty much any professional triathlete you've ever seen. The idea of the aerobar is that it puts you in a more aerodynamic position. You are resting forward and tucked in and frankly, it can be pretty darn comfortable.
In addition to the aerobars I also had brand new regular handlebars installed on my bike -- ones that were women specific. The other ones were too big for me, which is probably why my shoulders could feel sore after getting off the bike or why my wrists hurt when I went down in the drops. (Hey, I never said I was all that bright.)
To try out my new setup, I hopped on the trainer to turn my road bike into a stationary one. While not as good as chocolate candy bar from Canada, the aerobars felt good. Granted I didn't have to do anything -- like turn, shift or brake -- but getting accustomed to the position is the first step.
I did my first aerobar workout in front of the television, watching NBC's packaged presentation of the Ironman World Championships, which were held in Kona back in October.
Talk about a motivating distraction.
I have to say my wish is that I can train and compete like two-time women's winner Chrissie Wellington -- always with that broad smile on her face. In fact, smile may be one of my new happy places.
And then there were the motivational stories -- the ones of people who had to overcome childhood illness or the loss of legs. There were stories of the navy seals and of a 70-some year-old woman who was the oldest competitor to start, and the oldest to finish, the Hawaii Ironman.
By the time NBC was showing the age-group (read: non-professional) finishers, I was off my bike, on my exercise ball and crying.
Seriously, look at these people. Look at what they've just accomplished.
In sport, particularly endurance sport, the physical preparation is just one part of the equation. The majority of it is mental. And perhaps an even bigger part of it is spiritual.
What do you know, in your soul, that you can do?
What is it that you want to become?
What kind of person do you want to be?
That's what triathlon and endurance sport has begun to reveal for me. The answers are different for each person, which is what makes the community of runners and triathletes so special. And what turns the journey into the destination.