Hate to Exercise, Love to Train

That’s what I’ve learned about myself in the past several months.  Really, I don’t HATE exercise, but it is just so different to be working toward a goal.  Or, at least a goal that is not, “I hope I stay on this machine long enough to not be such a gross slob one day.”  Somehow, that doesn’t really count as motivation.
Also, for someone like me, who thinks nothing but ugly and demeaning thoughts about myself all day (and has done so for the past 30ish years), something about the phrase, “I did it!”  just melts away some of that yuckiness and makes me feel–what is that feeling?–happy?  Wow, so that’s what it feels like.
So, Tour de Cure was on Saturday and it was my first real sporting event ever.  I felt that happy, “I did it!” feeling when I first rode to work (turned out to be 18.2 miles in my attempt to avoid traffic), and the next time when I just took the main road and did it in 15 (took 1 hr, 40 min, though).  I felt it this morning when I rode to work in only an hour and fifteen minutes (thanks in great part to the new slick tires my coworker Jesse lent me for TdC through Spudman).  But, I got to feel that “I did it!” feeling at a real sporting event, crossing a real finish line, and I had a smile on my face I couldn’t take off.  I looked at the sky that miraculously had blue in it (despite days of threatening clouds and showers) and listened to the live music and wandered over to the free massage tables exploring this strange new feeling of spontaneous happiness.  I hate to admit it, but most of my happiness is cerebral, wherein my brain explains to me, “Good things are happening, you are to feel happy now.”  But this was very, very different.
It was a beautiful day, with a ride through rural Northern Utah, cloudy skies with occassional drizzle, and occassional sunny blue.  As always, the saddlesoreness was worst the first 5 miles, but then I guess it goes numb or something and gets better.  I biked the first half on my own out to the halfway rest station, and there met up with a few of my team.  There were a couple of people from the company there only to take pictures and film us, so I’ll hopefully post pictures soon. 
Cris, another writer who works right here in my dept., rode with me on the way back, and the chatting made such a difference I’m sure, because I never really once thought, “Are we there yet?”  Cris and I got back to the park, crossed the finish line and I honestly felt like I could keep going.  Still, thanks to that saddle issue, I really never want to do more than a 25, even though the guys insist I should do the 60 next year.  It just doesn’t even appeal to me, let alone the century (100 miles).  Maybe next year I would consider the Little Red Riding Hood ride for breast cancer, that’s 40 miles, but there is a chocolate fountain, virgin mai tais and more massage tables at the end of that one. 
Anyway, as Cris and I waited for our massages I asked him, “Where is everyone?” And he said, “They’re not here yet–we’re first.”  I was just shocked.  Not only did I do it, feel fine, felt like I could keep going, I got there before the rest of my team!   Needless to say, my inner child basked in an onslaught of rare friendly words from my typically abusive brain.
At church yesterday one of the youth speakers talked about physical fitness, and how essential it is to our spiritual and emotional health.  He talked about how important oxygen is to our mind, and how physical exertion oxygenates our mind to give us the strength to be spiritually and emotionally strong.  I gave him a big AMEN.  I have noticed that almost like clockwork, I start feeling down on about the fourth day after not exercising (training)–as apparently mild depression is my natural state.
This same boy read a quote from a psychiatrist that said that he had never once treated in his practice a patient who regularly participated in exercise that worked major muscle groups.  When I’m out from under that mental cloud, I feel like I really could accomplish the things I always meant to do in my life, from being a nice mom to pursuing my creative interests.  I’ve found my panacea–my magic pill–it’s just that, unlike every promise out there for things like this, it’s not easy.  Instead, it’s the hardness that makes it work. 
It’s the same as that happiness study I mentioned–somehow it really is the hardness that makes us ultimately happy–or at least the most fulfilled.
I have pictures from Lucy’s birthday and other things to share, but it will have to wait.  Here’s to training!  And, now that my runner has had to drop out of the Spudman, here’s to training to do a 10K in 6 weeks (along with my mile swim and 25 mile ride)!  And, here’s to Wade who did a sprint tri at the Utah games in his best time ever, 1:34!  You the man!
6 replies
  1. dcr
    dcr says:

    congratulations, val! it is indeed a great feeling when you finish something that’s more than you imagined you might be able to do! i agree with whomever suggested you do the 60 next year. if you can ride 30, you can ride 60. and bike shorts will help with saddle-soreness. if your backside is still sore, go to a local bike shop for a “fitting” on your bike. it will make a TREMENDOUS difference!

  2. Yuk
    Yuk says:

    I’m really proud of you Val and I’m so happy that the exertion made you so happy. My best “oxygenated” experience? Swimming at the Rose Bowl on a sunny day, the combo of light and deep breathing gave me a serious endorphin high, I’d like to feel that again… again, I’m really happy for you.

  3. Mocktalk
    Mocktalk says:

    I remember learning in grad school that exercise was found to have the same mood enhancement as an SSRI. But if the drug companies had their way… Anyways, I am proud of the effort you’re putting in and the accomplishments you achieved – way to go!


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