I am three days shy of being six months post-accident. If you are like “what is she talking about?” you can get the background here. Two weeks ago I officially graduated from Physical Therapy (yay!), so last weekend, I went back to my first spin class. I had spent a few minutes on a stationary bike in Physical Therapy, but hadn’t been back to spin yet. (And no, I’ve not been on a road bike yet). I didn’t think I’d be comfortable standing up out of the saddle and climbing, or being locked into my shoes and pedals. That’s a lot of potential force on your ankle, particularly if you lose the rhythm and the pedal gets away from you.
In August, about six weeks before the accident, my friend Lindsey introduced me to a spin studio in Franklin. It completely consumed us. We were slightly obsessed with the instructors, the room, the bikes…the entire experience. This class is one where your bike is smart and tracks your stats throughout the class, and they are shown on a screen periodically throughout the 50 minute session. Based on your power points (gear + speed), you rank among your classmates. Friendly competition at its finest.
I started in the back row the first few classes. Then, I realized I was pretty friggin’ good at this, and moved to the front row so I could get even more connected to the class and the instructor. In a class of 20 or so people, I wanted to place near the top every time. Especially above the boys. Because when is out-racing boys not fun? I would rank high every class, or kill myself trying.
You get an email report after class saying how many estimated calories you burned, how you stacked up against your classmates, what your average power was, etc. I would compare mine, class to class, to be sure I was improving. It was obsessive, but I loved the competition. I was devastated to miss it after the accident and in denial about how long I’d be out.
10 days ago I went back to my first class. I texted the instructor (who has become a sweet friend) and basically told her not to expect much. I was going to be in the back row, I took my stats off the screen and I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to climb a hill or leave the saddle – but I’d be there and be positive. She said that sounded perfect.
With Lindsey by my side, cheering me on, I rode the entire 50 minute class and covered 14 miles. The first time the instructor said “come to third position” (that’s out of the seat, climbing a hill), I stood up. It felt fine. It felt amazing. I was watching my gear, but pushing myself. What I wasn’t doing was watching the screen. Or other people around me. I was so in tune with how my body felt and how much more I could do and I would push to get there, then listen again, and adjust.
For the first time, it wasn’t about beating everyone in class or riding further than them. It was about beating the girl stuck on the couch for the past 6 months. It was about feeling what it is to have every muscle in your leg fire up at once. And to have sweat running in your eyes. Oh my goodness how I missed a good sweat! I caught myself cheering Lindsey on (she wins every sprint, ever) – previously I would have been tasting my breakfast trying to beat her. I caught myself setting tiny goals along the way – “do this hill one gear higher than the last,” or “you’re almost to 13 miles – you can get 14 in before class is over.”
So you see where I’m going with this, right? What happens when we start focusing on how much we can do compared to the last time? Or how much closer we can get to a goal we thought was out of reach? What happens when we enter every challenge as me vs. me instead of me vs. you? For starters, I’ll like both of us a lot better at the finish line.
Healthy competition is so good, don’t get me wrong – but my perspective about how I’m competing and who I’m competing against and WHY I’m competing has shifted and it feels so much healthier. Maybe that’s just part of getting older. Maybe it’s part of wondering if I’d ever ride again. The list of things to be thankful for grows immensely when they are almost all taken away. I pray this new perspective is here to stay. Check me at the door if I lose it.