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Beardcicle Chronicles: Little Goals


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I read a lot about the lessons people learn from running, or cycling, or whatever. Perseverance. Patience. Endurance.

I don’t know how much stock I put into those ideas. I don’t know that running has changed me in that way. Though, maybe.

Saturday evening, I went up to Government Peak to start packing in the single track trails. Somehow, I made it up there without my gloves. There was no way I was going to go back down to my place to get gloves, so I decided to just wear my shell gloves. No insulation, but better than nothing.

I headed to the trailhead and see some good tracks laid on the snow and think to myself, “this could be a darn good ride.” 20 feet later, I was already cursing the snow and the fact I didn’t bring snowshoes.

On Friday, the snow was wet and packable. By Saturday, the moisture had been largely driven out of it, making for ball bearings on top of ball bearings. The snow had no base and every turn and every climb resulted in tires spinning out and momentum lost. Add to that a number of large trees downed by the prior week’s windstorm, and the trails just weren’t right for riding.

What to do. What to do?

My first thought was to head back down the hill, stop by home and grab my gloves, then head over to the college and ride where I knew some of the snow had been compacted while wet, because I had been out there on Friday night running and others had been there skiing.

My second thought was to just go for a trail run. I had some trail shoes, not the ones I prefer, but a serviceable pair and the chamois I was wearing wasn’t too padded. More like a tri-chamois.

So, I hit the trails in my running shoes.

I made it just a touch over 3/4 of a mile before I turned around. The same issues I’d had biking were cropping up running. Sliding all over the place. Running on ball bearings. And the light was fading.

The entire way back to the parking lot I thought to myself I’d make sure I hit a mile and a quarter, then I’d finish out to five miles on the treadmill at home. Running in a chamois was becoming uncomfortable and my hands were freezing.

However, when I got to the parking lot I decided to run down the road a ways – looking to hit two miles total. As I got to two miles, I decided to keep going – might as well go for three, then I can skip the whole treadmill thing.

In the end I did a 3.25 run when everything in my being told me that I’d be lucky to do a mile. I just kept putting out little goals followed by little goals. It wasn’t a huge run by any means. I usually try to get at least five miles in on a run unless I’ve biked that day. I just don’t feel that three or four miles is worth the effort of getting geared up for.

So, I got a brief run in, which is better than what I had expected the outcome to be that day. I got some exercise in, some sweat going. What’s better?

Did I learn anything from persevering when things just seemed stacked against me?

Probably not.

Did I enjoy being out in the winter twilight feeling the cool air all around me? Yes. I’m glad I was able to first get over not being able to ride, or rather not having the riding conditions I wanted. Further I was happy to get a run in even though I wasn’t prepared for or planning to do it. Those little goals – make it a mile and a half. Heck go for two. Try for that next mile. There are times when baby steps are the only way to go.

Now, if I can just apply that to my daily office life, eh?

Phil was born and raised in the Midwest. He moved to Alaska in 2010 and started his bike commuting life then and hasn't looked back yet. He is primarily focused on how bikes can be used to supplant other forms of transportation, when it makes sense to do so, but he is also interested in how to combine different forms of alternative transportation to create a sustainable and enjoyable commute. Besides cycling, Phil works as a business analyst, is a recovering poet, teaches technical writing, and still harbors a dream to write a great novel some day.

What do you think?