Halfway into my cycling hills workout — such as a hills workout can be on Cape Cod — I look down at my Cateye. My average speed: 13.2 mph. I quickly look over my shoulder, to see if George Mutai or any other elite marathoners is gaining on me.
I don’t know why it has taken me so long to realize how fast elite marathoners run. Mutai finished the Boston Marathon earlier this month in 2:03:02.That’s an average speed of 12.78 miles per hour. I bow to that greatness. I am not worthy.
Truthfully, any runner has my respect. I’ve tried adding runs to my workouts any number of times over the years. I’ve never accomplished much more than a mile. Blame it in part on my asthma, though I am sure I could overcome that. I’ve just never felt the running magic.
In my youth, I preferred more competitive sports. Baseball was my original love. Tennis too. Later came weekly pickup football games, until my knee zigged while the rest of me zagged during a muddy contest in my early 30s. Goodbye, ACL. Hello, golf.
The one exception to my love of competition has been cycling. I much prefer it now as my primary mode of exercise. I have always loved long-distance rides, and recently spent a few days as a bike commuter while in Austin for SXSW. I rented a bike instead of a car on that trip, and loved the experience.
My regular 1-hour rides constitute a long moment of solitude, reflection, and peace — save for the podcasts filling my ear when I ride solo. My most regular route along the Cape Cod Canal offers a chance for bird watching, catching
headwinds sea breezes, and racing boats. Thankfully, the boats are supposed to maintain a 10 mph speed limit while in the canal, so I frequently am triumphant. I am not ashamed at being spotted the speed. Now that I have crossed into my 40s, I can use the ego boost.
I don’t often ride with others. I have shied away from committing to regular rides because of my travel schedule, but after speaking recently to a member of the Cape Cod Cycling Club, I may work more social rides into my training repertoire. I completed my first century ride last year, and while the last 25 miles were a struggle I did enjoy the overall experience. This year my goal is to complete two such rides, so any extra training will help.
The cycling club member I spoke to said she is not competitive, and usually rides with a group averaging 16 mph — a C-level rider, she somewhat bashfully admitted.
Guess I better pick up the pace a little.