In the short time that I've been a runner, I have accomplished so much - my first half marathon, my first ultra on a trail, my first marathon, and countless other shorter races! I worked hard to become an athlete and was proud of myself and the incredible things I have achieved. However, in these short 19 months, I grew tired and lost the passion and drive for training.
Just the thought of HAVING to run one more mile drained me. My body could physically go on, but my mind was not having it. I didn’t want to wake up and HAVE to run that day, or any day for that matter. I needed a vacation … So I did the most logical thing I could think of: I bought a bike.
I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was a teenager, but I wanted a fresh activity to keep me active and to get me excited about movement and training again. I heard about the Five Boro Bike Tour that takes place in May so I decided to sign up and spend the beginning of the year training to ride 40 miles through the city, instead of running.
After shopping for a bike, I was accepted into a free Group Bike Leader training program in East Harlem which was a tremendous boost to my confidence in my riding ability. In the course of five 3-hour training sessions, we learned about traffic laws, the rules of the road, riding with traffic, proper hand signaling, how to fix a flat, gear shifting, creating routes and cue cards, and public speaking tips. When it was over, I was definitely prepared to take on the road.
With the help of some lovely ladies in an informal Sunday Long Ride group that Alicia and I started, on Sundays we practiced riding long until we were up to 30 miles before the big day. The morning of the bike tour Alicia, Lisa, Nana & I set out on a new adventure proudly reppin’ Harlem Run. It was a well organized event, and perfect cloudy day for a ride.
At the first big aide station in East Harlem around Mile 11, JD and Darresa came out to cheer for us. We got our hugs, smiles & mimosas but JD's speaker saved the day. From that point on we were rolling along the route, blasting tunes and just having fun. Somewhere on the Gowanus Expressway in Brooklyn, around mile 30, all of us were ready to be done.
Saddle-sore and hungry, we pushed ourselves up and over the Verrazano Bridge - a challenge I can’t believe I managed to do because running over it during the NYC marathon was hard enough ... but this was harder still. We finished strong in Strong Island (aka Staten Island) and got our medals with the bridge as a backdrop. What a day, but what a thrill! It was a great experience that I was glad to have shared with these girls.
Now that the tour is over, these days I’m just riding for fun. We’re keeping our Girl Gang Group Ride going on Sundays and I’m putting my leader training to good use by leading and assisting with free community rides for all abilities out of East Harlem. I’ve grown to love biking and the electric feeling of the wind on my face when I go fast. I’m even trying to teach myself to ride with no hands , but my balance is work in progress lol.
The break from running reset my mind & it turns out that trying a new sport was just what I needed. I can finally say that now I’m ready to run!