Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Suppressing the critics

The pressure is mounting. This is day ten of my August pledge. I have written two other blog entries tonight but I am not satisfied with either one. It isn’t a lack of ideas (see “Coming up blank”) that is slowing me down this time; the problem is that my internal critics are complaining about the quality (or lack thereof) of the writing.

Damn those internal critics anyway! They just don’t like anything I do today. They are shouting, “You moron! You told too many people about this blog and now some of them are actually reading it. Whatever made you think that you could come up with 31 different posts and have them be at all interesting?"

I guess I should have done this in February. Then I’d only need 28.

What makes me think I can do this?  What makes anyone feel like they can do anything?

Recently, Al and I rode in the Michigan Breakaway, a bike ride to raise money for multiple sclerosis.  We rode 150 miles spread out over two days. We really didn't train much for this event; we went for just three practice rides-20, 30, and 60 miles. As it turned out, the MS ride was held on a very hot weekend in mid-July. Saturday was in the 90’s and very humid by Michigan standards. We were riding all day long into a head wind. Hot, humid, head wind —pretty miserable conditions. Added to that, I was riding a heavy, wide-tired hybrid bike while Al was zipping along on his very light, skinny-tired road bike. Added to that, although I didn’t realize it, my tires were very soft. Did I mention it was windy? That is was hot? That it was humid? I was a hurting puppy. Al was doing much better and kept circling back to see if I was ok. Finally I snapped at him, complaining about the heat, the humidity, and the headwinds. I told him that I was never going to do this STUPID ride again and to please leave me alone! (Ok, I probably did not say please.) This was only about 30 miles into the ride. I still had 45 miles to go that day and 75 more the next. I was reduced to tears and I simply did not know how I would get through the day.

But I did.

Part of it is that I am one stubborn woman. But a bigger part of it is that I had done longer, hotter, steeper, windier rides before (long before!)  I had the knowledge that somewhere inside me was the strength to finish this ride. I knew that I could do it, and just had to stop fighting with myself and get the job done.

I struggled for a few more miles until the next rest stop. I rode straight to the bike repair guys and told them that there was something wrong with my bike. They checked it over and the only problem was that my tires desperately needed air. If I had been thinking instead of fighting with myself, I might have thought of that. In any case, they pumped up the tires, I drank lots of water and Gatorade and things got a little better.

Not great, but better.

I would love to say that the rest of the ride was easy but that wasn’t the case. Later in the afternoon, I had a full-fledged flat, and since the MS Society normally provides outstanding support, we were not carrying a spare or any tools. Usually, a repair vehicle would have been along within a few minutes, but there was some problem and I had to wait well over an hour for assistance.  The heat, humidity and headwinds did not abate. It was, very simply, a long hard day.

But I made it. I finished that ride. My internal critics tried to shut me down, but I knew I could do it, that I had done it in the past, and that I would be able to do it again.

Just like tonight. I know I can write a short piece for my blog, I have done ten in a row, and I will be able to write another.

There. See? I did it.

Today I am grateful for summer food. There is nothing as tasty as fresh corn from Hemmeter’s market, home grown tomatoes and summer fruits. Ah, summertime… and the cooking is easy….. Summertime and the eating  is good……Oh, and yes, we will be doing the bike ride again next year.

1 comment:

  1. Of course you'll do it again. It's a tradition! And this reminds me I need to send in my pledge. And tell the internal critics to pipe down. Just write:)