Monday, August 15, 2011

@shaunasmash shares her take on (Riding to remember & Riding to forget)

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There was a recent Twitter bet between @ShaunaSmash and @rutgers79 about the Yanks vs Socks.  Shauna won the bet and a guest blogger spot with us:  Hope you enjoy!



The concept of “Sometimes I ride to remember, Sometimes I ride to forget,”
appears to be universal to anyone that loves to pedal on two wheels.
However, what is remembered and what is forgotten is the unique aspect,
and it took me a while to discover that riding a bike was a better fit for
my therapeutic needs than running.
I’ve spent four years discovering myself after losing 80 pounds. Part of
that discovery was figuring out what exercise best fit for a lifestyle.
I went from 200+ pounds and unable to jog more than five minutes to a
distance runner. I ran three half marathons and a marathon after two
years of hard work. Running became a reminder of the path I was taking.
Every step was a reminder of the effort I put into changing my entire
life. Every completed run was a triumph. People don’t quite understand
the shock of losing a lot of weight and suddenly becoming athletic. I
looked in the mirror and it was like I was a different person. I’d run
10 miles and just stop and ask myself “how did I get here?” Exercise was
the path to my physical and emotional transformation, and running was
the easiest, most effective method. I bought some running shoes and all
I had to do was step out the door. I was fit, I was happy — and I could
be alone for hours. That’s the joy of being an endurance athlete. If
there was ever a time to clear the mind in a healthy manner, endurance
sports is the way to go. It was just me and the road.
Unfortunately, my body broke down. I kept giving myself new challenges
with running and decided to run a marathon. Slight problem: I increased
volume and intensity at the same time. That’s a major no-no of training,
FYI! What was once therapeutic and empowering became painful and
intimidating. By the time I ran my marathon, I was so severely
overtrained I got sick. I couldn’t walk up steps for a week after my
first 26.2 miles (the ING Hartford Marathon). Earning a marathon finisher
medal remains my most proud accomplishment. However, I lost the true joy
of what got me running in the first place. Pain is one thing. Injury is
another. I had to walk away from running and let my body heal.
Cycling is different. It’s still a test of the human will, but the impact
of the exercise is not the same. I can stay healthy and fit. I can go on
my own for hours. Yet, I can still walk once I’m done. I lost my own
personal therapy once I stopped running. I found it again on the bike.
It’s important to note, though, that I couldn’t even leave a parking lot
on a bike when I first started. It was scary! Skinny little tires felt
like nothing compared to the four wheels of several ton cars everywhere.
I felt so vulnerable. Some of you are so lucky. You rode all your lives,
so the bike is second nature. I still have issues clipping in and out at
traffic lights. Regardless, I didn’t give up on my passion. I knew right
away I loved cycling the first time I watched a women’s bike race.
Slowly, but surely, riding replaced running as a spiritual, physical, and
emotional remedy.
I ride to remember that feeling I had at my first bike race. I loved
running, but it didn’t give me the same rush as watching a bunch of
awesome women climbing mountains and flying effortlessly around tight
corners in a criterium. I also ride to remember how far I’ve come in just
a few years time. Riding 50-60 miles with any kind of speed might be easy
for some of you — but just know that this would have been impossible, or
perhaps laughable, not too long ago for me. I also ride to forget
everything except me and the road. It used to be me and my running shoes.
It’s now me and my bicycle. There’s something to be said about feeling
like your mind, body and spirit are finally balanced. I keep my balance
by riding.

  Bike riding, oddly enough, got me fit enough to slowly build back
running into my life. I thought I would never run again once I stopped
and my aerobic fitness returned to baseline. I just ran five miles for
the first time in two years on Sunday. However, it’s merely something I
do for fun, whereas cycling is now a HUGE part of my life. This time,
I’m taking the endurance base building slowly. Here’s the kicker: I
used to have to throw on music during my long runs to keep from getting
bored. I have yet to need music for a single bike ride, and I’ve been
by myself for four and five hour rides. All I need is the fresh air and
some beautiful surroundings. I think that says a lot for how much
riding is a joy of mine. Also, riding helps me remember that the person
I see in the mirror, who used to be the “new” me, is now simply the
“real” me. I ride to remember my happiness and health, and ride to
forget everything that tries to get in the way of that.


by Shauna Staveley

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