Last week I mentioned that one of the biggest lessons I learned through this training cycle was how important it is for me to train and race alongside other athletes. These people don’t have to be at every workout, don’t have to think or train like me, or have the same “why” as I do. But just knowing that they are experiencing the same joys, struggles, investments, and sacrifices bonds us together in true camaraderie. 

As co-owner and coach of our local team, it is sometimes hard to fully experience community with the members. There are assumptions of who I am or what I want out of endurance sports. Some are true, some are from how I project my own persona outward, and others are created in the individual team members’ minds to define me as the “leader” in their eyes. 

So, I had to do some convincing to get team members to join me on my 100 mile ride. And I am beyond thankful that I persisted in asking, and that ultimately they most definitely showed up.  

The ride started out with what seemed like cold temperatures (35 degrees F) for loop one with three of my newer athletes and friends: Emily, Bonnie, and Sarah. (With Bonnie riding her new bike for the first time outside!)

But, thanks to their excitement for riding outside and just general attitudes of gratitude, I can honestly say that I although I could acknowledge that it was cold, I never felt anything but joyful. 

The power of new friendships with positive people (and barely any wind ;).

On the next loop I picked up a friend and recent Ironman triathlon finisher, Becky. Conversation with Becky is always lively and fun and I just love spending time with her. She has an infectious personality that exudes confidence. And after watching her do so much solo training for her Ironman, she is the one who inspired me to believe that I could do the same (and for the record—she was definitely better at it 😉 

The power of friendship with an inspiring, confident woman. 

When I headed out on loop three with KT and Ty we quickly learned that they were both having different bike issues. Ty had no use of his back brake and little use of the front, and KT couldn’t shift into her bike ring. We stopped, assessed, and laughed it off before heading out to complete our loop. (Well—Ty insisted he was okay, as his coach and friend I suggested the idea that riding a bike without brakes is a bad idea…) 

The power of good friends who can be bad ass, yet also can also go with the flow. 

On my fourth loop Ty and I dropped off KT and picked up Brandy. And along with our friend, we picked up the wind. In addition to her being a close friend of mine, Brandy’s love of riding her bike and appreciation for the open road added a nice boost to my mood. It was much appreciated as the wind started to create wall-like resistance when turning into it, and a lot of shiftiness from the crosswinds. And on the second loop with Brandy I felt I could honestly share my the lulls in my mood in an honest way that helped me discover the peaks again. 

The power of ease and familiarity in a mood-boosting friendship. 

And after a second loop with Brandy I left her to join my husband for the final loop of the morning. The wind was really whipping now and it was not only was making it hard to have a conversation, but the unpredictable strong crosswinds were making it more difficult to grab my bottles. I focused on maintaining kindness to Jamie, who took the time to finish my ride with me (and it happened to be his first workout back since his surgery four months ago!) I appreciated being able to be quieter when it took too much energy to yell through the wind. He knew that I just wanted to be done. And he let me be. 

The power of having my favorite training (and life) partner be so supportive and trustworthy. 

Relationships are certainly not transactional for me, and each of these individuals are so much more than the one or two qualities I mentioned here. I don’t look at people in the “what can you do for me” kind of way. But, I do love to point out how amazing people can make a huge impact doing what might feel like a small gesture. And I wouldn’t have given them the opportunity to join me if I hadn’t asked. 

Surround yourself with fabulous people. Ask for help. Intentionally plan time for community. Contemplate, thank, and celebrate the power of who they are, not just what they can do for you. And then urge them to ask you in their times of need.  

I still feel “powered up” from that ride. And it has nothing to do with conquering 106 miles.