Thursday, May 10, 2012

Conquering my Biggest Fear

A couple of exciting things happened today.  One of them is going to change the way things are run around here.  I know y'all are disappointed that there are a lack of pictures of me on the blog (please detect the sarcasm).  Never fear my friends, because today I discovered the iPhone camera self timer app.

So even when no one is around to take my picture, I can now take them myself.    And who doesn't want to see more of me?   Me with my pink bike before an EPIC ride that is!   

Who did I go riding with you ask?  Why let me show you!  But, you wouldn't want to see if I wasn't in the picture would you?  Of course not!  Self Portrait Camera App to the rescue.  Susan and Kelley on the open road.  

Ok enough of that!  Seriously though, self timer app you rock!

Today wasn't about the self timer however, it was about conquering a BIG fear of mine.  If you've been reading the blog for awhile or you know me in real life then you know I had a bicycle accident almost two years ago that left me with a broken shoulder and wrist.  You can read the whole story about how it happened if you want, but basically it was a horrific accident that left me broken (mentally and physically).

It took me awhile to get out there on my bike, but when I did, I was surprisingly not that scared.  I've never been an aggressive rider and generally took it easy on the downhills.  After the crash however, I was terrified of hills.  Luckily where I ride it isn't too hilly.  I mean there are hills but nothing too incredibly significant.  Nothing like the hill I crashed on.

The hill I crashed on.  It doesn't look quite as scary in this picture.  

There is however, ONE hill close to my house (I run it for hill repeats) that is incredibly steep.  Even when I run it and merely think about riding it, my heart sinks to my stomach and I become very anxiety ridden.

I started talking to Kelley about my fears of "the hill" but also about my desire to conquer the fear.  Kelley's approach to the whole situation was to just go out there and do it-- get it over with.  We had been holding off, however, until after the Pittsburgh Marathon.  Kelley said there was no sense taking any chances.  I guess she didn't really trust me to not crash.  Ha!  

Well today was the day folks.  I would conquer my fears and finally ride a significant descent on my bike!

I started getting really nervous approaching the hill and Kelley was talking me through it.  She told me to take it nice and slow and she would stay behind me.  I don't think Kelley realized how slow I would go.  I have no idea how fast I was going, but I can tell you it probably wasn't more than 5 mph.

Kelley was giggling and telling me to ease off the breaks a little.  I know she was joking around and it helped lighten my mood.  I just kept my eyes right in front of me because any time I'd glance to the bottom my anxiety levels would increase.  What if I couldn't make it?  What if I got going too fast?

Pretty soon, I heard Kelley say we were halfway there.  I felt so relieved.  I was going to do it!  I still wasn't able to let up on the breaks a whole lot, but as we got to the bottom I think I might have gotten up to 10 mph.  Woo hoo.

My hope is that each time we do the hill I will be able to gain a little more confidence and hopefully a little more speed.  Like I said, even before my crash, I was never aggressive on hills.  I feel out of control going more than 18 or so mph down a hill.  I'll get there eventually.  For today, I'm just glad I made it.  And you know what?  I'm not scared anymore.  I know I can do it!  I can do that hill and any other hill that comes my way.  I'm back!

The only bad thing about tackling the the downhill was that I had to make the climb back up.  I have to admit I was scared of that too.  That was for a different reason though.  This is a STEEP climb and I haven't ridden a hill like that in 2 years.  I did it though and you know what?  It wasn't the worst hill I've ever climbed.  I was able to stay in my 2nd chain ring (middle gear) for almost half the hill before I had to downshift into the small chain ring (the "granny" gear).

Thank you so much to Kelley for supporting me and helping me to overcome a major hurdle today.  I wouldn't have been brave enough to do it on my own, but today I made this hill my bitch!


Sally said...

I am proud of you Susan, one hill at a time. One of my bosses use to say "inch by inch its a sinch, and yard by yard its hard." so on hill at a time small ones or tall ones youcan do it.

Demanda Pants said...

i start tri training again this month! and now that i have my new road bike to break in i am going to be gripping the handlebars with white knuckles! I am TERRIFIED of hills!!

Christina said...

I'm glad you had a friend to help you conquer the hill. Encouragement and friendly smiles are always helpful. Nice ride!

ron o said...


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