"How much have YOU done?"

The Ride to Conquer Cancer is now just a few days away! At some ungodly time on Saturday morning I will be off and pedalling on the first of two consecutive 130 km days! Erm, yay?

The last few weeks have felt much like the run-up to exams at high school and in university. But instead of comparing how much revision everyone’s done, we’re all discussing how many kilometres we’ve done on our training rides.

Now, if there’s one thing I have ever truly excelled at in my life, it’s passing exams. I was really, really good at it. But I worked my arse off for it, putting in hours and hours of revision. Probably too many hours; I think I was the only one of my high school friends whose parents (teachers both) told me to study less, rather than more. The problem was that no matter how much I did, I still felt underprepared.

And so it is with this ride. I lost two weekends due to my parents being here, and us all going out of town together – and because I’ve done less training than I’d originally planned, I feel completely underprepared, underconfident, and overintimidated.

People have tried to reassure me – Ironman triathlete Mermaid (my training guru) in particular has been awesome, and even encouraged me to “taper” this past weekend by keeping up the intensity but reducing the distance. I felt really blah this weekend (I had a slightly upset stomach and a slight temperature from Friday lunchtime until Monday morning), but I did manage to get 55 km in before the England game on Saturday. (I knew I wasn’t well when I couldn’t even finish one pint during the game). On Sunday I just could not work up the energy, so I cleaned and tuned my bike* instead of riding it. I’d originally planned to do at least 100 km on Saturday and then another 60-70 on Sunday, but Mermaid made me feel better about my failings by saying that long rides this close to the event wouldn’t help my muscle tone or cardio, and might just get me injured!

Mermaid and others have also pointed out that most (i.e. all but one) of my long training rides were done by myself, and that the distance feels easier when you’re part of an event and surrounded by other people. The ride’s supposed to be really fun, positive and social, and I’m really looking forward to that aspect of it.

Other people have tried to reassure me, too. Someone told me that they know a woman who did last year’s ride on a folding bicycle. I know who this person is (but don’t know her well), and she’s not the fittest-looking person in the world, so that did help. Also, I work with a PI who will be riding for the second time, and when he heard I’d done one 95 km ride, he said “you can stop worrying. You’ve got it”.

But still my brain cries “but that was only one day**! I have to do 130 km! Two days in a row! I caaaaaaaaan’t dooooooo iiiiiiiiiiit!!!!”

I’m trying to remind myself that I always did well in exams, even when I felt like this. But of course it’s different; I’m used to mental exertion, but have never done anything this physical before. I have nothing with which to compare my current level of fitness and readiness.

Despite the differences between mental and physical training, I’m hoping that the familiar “this is what I prepared for so I’m just gonna do it” exam day feeling will kick in once I get my feet moving on Saturday morning!


I’m also going to carry with me a list of everyone who’s donated to my campaign, to look at for inspiration if I get tired. I am ridiculously grateful to everyone who contributed, and I’ll be thinking of you all often.


*to the best of my ability. It’s in getting a thorough professional tune-up at the moment.
**I did 38km the day before, too, but that kind of distance barely feels like a training ride any more. Which I guess is a good thing.

About Cath@VWXYNot?

"one of the sillier science bloggers [...] I thought I should give a warning to the more staid members of the community." - Bob O'Hara, December 2010
This entry was posted in cycling, education, exercise, fund raising, personal. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to "How much have YOU done?"

  1. Alyssa says:

    Good luck! I'm sure you'll kick serious butt!

  2. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Thanks!But let's please not discuss butts! That's the scariest bit! Sore legs I can cope with…

  3. EcoGeoFemme says:

    But you *can* rely on your mental training to some extent, right? Surely there must be a big psychological component to something like this?I'm so impressed that you're doing this! I like seeing "non-athletes" do athletic things. 🙂

  4. chall says:

    I'm in awe of you. You are so cool!! Ok.the butt thing, I understand, remember my comment about the paddled saddle (or however it is called but you know what I mean?). In any event, I've done some things in my life that I am proud of but never ever ridden a bike that long…. and I am proud to know someone not professional bike rider (anyone whose main income doens't revolve around riding a bike) to do this bike ride. And if you need something to drive you alone the last leg (haha) of the ride, we are most likely a lot in cyber space thinking "that God, Cath is riding since we can't" :)you'll do great! And I am happy I donated so I can at least say I did something… (even if it wasn't my butt on the line this time).GO CATH!! 😀

  5. ScientistMother says:

    Oh I am so cheering you on! I couldn't donate to you, because my brother is doing the ride as well and I kinda had to choose family with my limited funds. But i'm supporting you in spirit. You are so amazing for doing this!

  6. Nina says:

    Go Cath go! Wooohoooo! You can totaly do this! I'm really happy I lost that bet and you made me the video that I "paid" for by a donation, however small it was … I will be thinking of you!

  7. pika says:

    You can do it!!!Here in Ireland there is a similar fundraising student bike ride every year from Dublin to Galway and back, which is about 180km each way (so similar to yours). Friday biking there, Saturday fundraising & party all night in Galway, Sunday biking back. My point is, this year, a group of PhD students from my deparment did this – for charity and for fun. I am sure most of them haven't trained half as much as you did. So if they can do it, I am sure you can do it too! :-)Good luck!

  8. pika says:

    Btw, I am late to this – can I still donate something or is it closed already?

  9. Mermaid says:

    I think this commment is the most telling of your post "**I did 38km the day before, too, but that kind of distance barely feels like a training ride any more." Yeah, you are ready. If you can say that, remembering that 38km is pretty much 1/4 of what you have to ride in a day, then you will finish just fine. Not pretty, perhaps (who does?) but fine. If it helps, I have not yet met ONE triathlete who ever felt ready before a race. Everyone feels they could have trained longer, harder, better. And, well, some of these people have actually gone on to win. I train with some amazing people, obviously, but they are just as nervous as the rest of us.If you have some space, along with a list of people who donated or who motivate you, you might want to add in some pictures or messages that make you smile. When you get tired, you can stop at an aid station, eat something that is appealing and pull out something to make you smile or motivate you. I had a crazy happy face sticker on my bike in Ironaman – when I looked at it, it reminded me that what I was doing was FUN (ha!) and then I remembered my goal of 'finish smiling'. Silly thing, but worked for me.

  10. Sonja says:

    Oh Cath! You are going to do amazing! Just think, you've been managing to slot really awesomely long training rides in between all your other activities, whereas the only thing on your agenda this weekend will be to have lots of fun on your bike :). My point is, biking long distances is a lot easier if you're not worried about being home in time for XYZ. Thank you for posting this — all your comments about overpreparing but never feeling quite prepared enough ring so true in my heart :). Good luck this weekend, and have a great time!

  11. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Thanks all – and sorry for not responding to your comments sooner. Unbloggables are happening.Eco, I hope so! Like I said, I have nothing to compare this to… maybe I'll feel a wee bit more like an actual athlete at the end of the ride…?Chall, thank you again for your donation! Yes, I will be thinking of all my bloggy and real-life friends cheering me on while I'm riding! I actually ended up with a better quality but firmer saddle than I had to start with. Mermaid pointed out that with softer saddles, the more you sink into them, the more friction you create. And with the new one being leather rather than synthetic, it breathes more, too. And I always have my padded shorts… I'll have a spare pair in the bag that will be waiting for me at the halfway campsite on the first night, and I may end up wearing both pairs at the same time on the second day!ScientistMother, no worries at all, I totally understand. These events are so popular now! And you moral support really means a lot!Nina, I did quite well out of my bets and videos!Pika, thanks for that – it does make me feel better that other "normal" people can do this kind of thing! (The 3rd day – after the party – sounds rough… I don't think I'll be drinking alcohol at the campsite on Saturday night, just Gatorade!)Thank you so much for your offer to donate! Here's the link – I've already met the minimum amount you need in order to ride, and so have all my riding buddies, but any extras would be greatly appreciated!Mermaid, that's a good point! That is, let's see, 29% of the distance done with no worries! (I'm actually expecting everything after the 90 km mark each day to be the worst). And thanks for the reassurance about the triathletes you know!I've just finalised plans to meet up with an old friend at the end of the ride. We grew up around the corner from each other, and now she lives just a few miles from the finish line of the ride! I haven't met her baby son yet, and I'm sooooo excited to see him – so maybe I'll carry a photo of mum & baby to motivate me!Sonja, another great point! (Although "oh my god I'm going to miss kick-off" was a great motivation on Saturday – I've never made it up the big hill from Clark to Fraser on West 10th that fast before!)I think a lot of people feel this way about exams and stuff – Google "imposter syndrome" some time if you haven't already read about it!Thanks again to everyone for the encouragement and good wishes! I probably won't carry my camera with me on the ride, but I might grab a shot or two on my phone, and I'll put my camera in my bag so I have it at the halfway point and at the end of the ride. Expect a blog post, oh, Thursday or Friday of next week?

  12. pika says:

    Cath – no problem with contributing (just did it)! Good luck and have fun! We're all cheering for you.Oooh and I just saw I have bragging rights! How cool! 🙂

  13. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Thanks Pika! You rock!

  14. Lisbeth says:

    Go, Cath, go! Will cheer for you telepathically while being "busy" watching the royal wedding from my couch over here 🙂

  15. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Thanks Lisbeth!

  16. Bob O'H says:

    Ooops, shitshitshit.OK, the moths in my wallet can go back to sleep now.

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