This week I am noticing that there are more times that I am being too cautious and not enough instances of me taking the risks I need to improve. For example, my new bike is very different than the heavy mountain bike I had been riding. The gears are very different and have been taking a lot of getting used to. There is nothing like pushing hard up a steep hill only to accidentally put yourself into a gear that nearly stops you still. Once I even accidentally tapped my brakes instead of changing gears--that was quite a shock, but luckily I was able to stay on my bike. But the thing that worries me most about my bike is how light it is. It is this lightness that allows the bike to speed down hills at speeds that make me a little uncomfortable. I guess it doesn't help that in the last few months my husband fell off his bike and broke his shoulder, a fellow biker in our area was killed when he slipped on a patch of sand and hit a tree, and even my bike shop owner recently fell and ended up with quite a few stitches in his leg.
So today I was riding up a steep mountain road. We had to share this road with cars, and I was thinking how much more difficult it was going to be heading down the hill trying to keep my speeds at a comfortable level with vehicles whizzing by me. As I turned my head I saw a rider on the other side of the road headed down without a helmet. The first thought that popped into my head was, "What an idiot," but it also reminded me that I am taking every precaution to keep myself safe. I have all the necessary safety equipment, and I checked my tires and other bike parts before I left for my ride to ensure my bike was in tip top shape. I also think that the more I ride my new bike, the experience will make me more confident in my abilities in and in my bike's capabilities.
Another area where I think my fear sometimes keeps me from improving is in my swimming. I have shared how a panic attack at my first triathlon cause me to doggie paddle 800m in my ocean swim, but I think these attacks are also occurring in my practice swims as well. At first I thought I just needed work on my breathing techniques, but the more I practice, the more I am thinking that my uncomfortableness in the water is a contributing factor to my breathing difficulties. Again, I think the more time I spend in the water, the more comfortable I will be, and this will regulate my breathing so I can become a stronger swimmer.
One thing I have learned, especially from my friend Kay lately, is that you can't let fear keep you from doing the things in life that you are passionate about. I have not let my fears keep me from my new activities, but I know that if I push myself a little harder and get more swimming and biking miles under my belt, I will have a healthier balance between my courage and my fear. I will complete this Ironman and prove to myself that I am a lot braver woman than I ever thought I could be, but I will still keeping a healthy dose of fear so I can return to my family at the end of this experience in one piece. I think they might appreciate that.
You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look
fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.