Racing for fun is a new concept for me

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

My cycling season is coming to an end. Our last race is September 29, and I have to admit that I am ready for it to be over. Our racing starts in March, and we race a couple of weekends a month through September. I’ve noticed a trend over the last couple of years…. I always start to burn out around August. My legs lose their spark. My body gets tired. I no longer have that fire in my belly. And traveling every other weekend gets expensive!

Don’t get me wrong….I’ve had a really good season. I am very happy with how I raced this year. I won the Georgia State Road Race and Georgia State Time Trial Championships. And, I am on track to win the Georgia Championship Series so it’s been a great year…..probably one of my best ever. But I’m still glad it’s ending.

Today was Day 1 of my “Start Running Again” Plan. I was a runner long before I was a cyclist. I started running in my mid-twenties. 5k runs were always my specialty….. I even won a few!

My longest run was the Snickers Half Marathon in 2008. I remember a friend of mine, Lindsey, calling me on the Thursday night before the race on Saturday. Our conversation went something like this:

Lindsey: “Michele, registration ends tonight. You should sign up for the half. It will be fun.”

Moulton: “Lindsey, I haven’t run more than four miles at one time….ever”

Lindsey: “You will be fine. Just do it!”

I was intrigued. My competitive tendencies began to rumble. I hung up with Lindsey and called another friend, Amy. Amy was into cycling and running and so was her boyfriend at the time, Josh. I remember asking Josh if he thought I could handle doing 13 miles when I’d had only been running 5k races. Josh’s reply was, “You will be able to handle the distance because you have the endurance. But you will be sore because your muscles aren’t trained for that type of running.”

Whatever. I can handle this. What’s a little soreness? I work out in the gym. I’ve been sore. I signed up for the half marathon three days prior to the race without training for it. And I finished it in just over 1 hour and 50 minutes. I remember the first 6-7 miles were actually fairly easy. No problem. Somewhere between miles 8 and 9 I started rethinking my thoughts. The miles were beginning to wear on me, and my legs were getting numb. By mile 10, I was tired and ready to quit. The last 3 miles were rough, but I made it.

Woohoo! I ran a half marathon. And, Josh didn’t know what he was talking about….or so I thought. Later that day I noticed my legs started tightening up and getting stiff. Before long I was at U Save It Pharmacy visiting my sister, Celia, who happens to be a pharmacist. She loaded me up with ibuprofen and these awesome thermal heat wraps for my legs. I walked around for two days with those heat wraps around my legs. I looked ridiculous, but I did not care.

I could barely walk on Sunday and Monday and Tuesday…. OK, so maybe Josh did know what he was talking about. It took five days for my legs to return to normal. I didn’t feel the urge to run any more half marathons after that. I actually started riding my bike more often that spring.

My first bike race was in August of that same year. I haven’t run competitively since. Until now. It’s time to switch gears for a while. I am going to run in a few 5k races this fall. It’s going to feel strange going back to run in some of these local races just for fun. Rarely are things in my life done just for fun. I usually do things to feed a competitive hunger that I cannot satisfy. Right now, I’m pretty satisfied with my cycling and how competitive I was this season. I’m ready to have fun now.

I can already see it… my first run this fall. I’m going to find myself at the starting line, mentally ready to take off like Usain Bolt in the 100 meters with my tortoise legs somehow missing the memo that they’re supposed to be lightning fast. It’s going to be comical. But, I don’t care. I’m just looking forward to doing something different with no pressure to win.

Maybe I’ll try wrestling next.

Michele Moulton has been a fitness instructor for more than 21 years and is a certified Spinning instructor. She teaches at PT Gym and is an avid cyclist. She is an accountant and a mother of two boys, Austin and Harrison.