I may be biking across the country come May, but the fact of the matter is that I'll always be a runner at heart. I ran cross country in my last two years of high school, but was not yet ready to part from the sport that had gotten me through all of my teenage angst. After our last season, my friend Claire and I spontaneously entered a trail half-marathon that left us covered in mud and dripping with satisfaction afterwards. When we got to college, Claire and I decided that we were going to enter the Vermont City Marathon together. The brutality of it was satisfying enough to convince us to enter the Philadelphia Marathon (Claire) and Half-Marathon (myself) with our friend Judy, who ran the marathon as well.
I never had a problem just getting my butt out there and running, no matter what the weather was like. We used to live in Connecticut and if you've ever been, the winter last from October until April. (Note: Don't plan on moving there if you have Seasonal Affective Disorder.) If I could see ahead of me through the snow, I'd throw on an extra pair of socks and out I went. My family pegged me as "crazy" and "irresponsible" to run outside when the temperature was below 20 degrees. One time, I took a detour- of course knowing where I was all along- and came back home to find that my mom had gotten in the car to search for me. She had this constant fear that I'd be abducted in our small suburban neighborhood by a puppy-luring loony in a minivan...at the age of 17. (Of course, mothers are allowed to have that fear and I'm sure it comes with the child-rearing territory, so I don't blame her.)
Basically, I had no fear when it came to running.
Now that I find myself strapped to this foreign object that keeps my body detached from the ground at all times, I'm experiencing this fledgling fear that I can't quite rid myself of yet. Maybe it's due to the fact that my own dad is in better cycling shape than I can ever imagine for myself. Maybe it's the idea that I feel people see me with my bike and matching blue helmet and somehow know that I'm a beginner at all of this. One time I was stopped at a light and another cyclist rode up behind me while we waited for the light to turn green. I realized my outfit matched the bike all too well, and all I could see going through this guy's mind was, "this girl's going to ride into a parked car...she doesn't know what she's doing." Of course, this almost happened...not a parked car, but a slowly moving car (that story is for another day.)
Winter is almost passed, and soon the weather will give me no excuse to stay inside on the trainer staring at myself in the gym's mirrored walls for an hour. I have no doubt that I'll get back in the saddle and realize the freedom that comes with gasoline-free transportation and a pair of healthier quads. My dad may intimidate me every now and then, but he's also a helluva role model. If I can be where he is when I'm 50 years old, then I'll consider that a great achievement.
...I also know that running 4,000 miles, instead of cycling, is just out of the question at this point.