My Wish For You in 2014: May You Always Bite Off (Just a Little) More Than You Can Chew

Here in the Flatlands of Florida, we have a cycling event called the Horrible Hundred.  "The Horrible," as I like to call it, is a ride through the highest points in peninsular Florida (and second highest in all of Florida) including a 35-mile, 70-mile, and 100-mile route (hence the "Hundred.") 
For all you out there in the Real World, these hills would be nothing.  But to us Flatlanders, they're . . . . well . . . . Horrible.
I haven't been on my bike in months thanks to Marathon Season.  Last weekend I did go out and throw in an easy solo 20-miler, but other than that, it's been running, running, running.  (Oh, and there's that whole marathon thing I just did two weekends ago.) So I did NOT ride the Hundred.  Plus, after my last terrible experience at Tour de Cure, I have retired from century rides. Granted, I tend to bite off a little more than I can chew - I inevitably train for 50 to 70 and then end up riding the full century.  
So this time I switched it up. I trained for nothing and rode 38.
It was 38 (not 35) because we decided that our route wasn't "hard" enough, so even though The Loaf wasn't included, several of us added in a few extra miles and did it too.  "The Loaf" is what I call Sugarloaf Mountain - the single highest point in peninsular Florida.  A whopping 312ish feet.
Ha, ha, ha.  Let's all laugh at a anything in Florida being called a "mountain."
Did I say that I hadn't ridden in months?

Nothing like biting off a little more than you can chew.
The ladies after the ride. Not so Horrible with friends.
The ride went great.  I had a blast.  I saw a bunch of people I hadn't seen in months - some of my favorite cycling people.  I did not pressure myself to go fast or hard and no one else pressured me to do that, either.  That's exactly what I needed to build my confidence enough to get me back on the bike.  More importantly, to remind me of how much I love the bike.
Man, I love the bike.
It occurred to me today that it's almost the end of 2013Lucky 13, as I named it in January, has been a year full of both bad and good.  In fact, I like to think of 2013 as the year I finally learned that life could be both really good and really bad at the same time
This week I blogged about how my parents raised me a certain way, but that still didn't prevent me from having my own thoughts and views.  Psychologists have argued this very idea for years - they call it nature versus nurture. "Are we products of our environment, or of our own innate characteristics?"  I personally believe we are a combination of the two.  I think of it as chance+choice.  Of course, if you've read any of my other posts you know my dad and I have this saying there are no victims, only volunteers - so you already know I believe that the most of it is choice. A lot of Shit Happens, but still - even with the chanceyour choice is how you handle it.

In my life - not just with centuries, or the Horrible - I have a habit of Biting Off More Than I Can Chew. 

There have been times when this has ended terribly for me.   I never ended up in a rehab center or living in a ditch, but making Choices to take Great Big Chances has not always been ideal. Whether that means the small company that promised you ultimate opportunity folds and leaves you jobless, or you hurt like hell riding the last 25+ miles of a century alone into a headwind - neither one of those things is fun.  But both are good examples of chance+choice. You chose the company . . . chance that it folded.  You chose to ride the last 25 alone . . . chance that it was also windy.

In 2009/10, I took on 60-80 hours worth of work a week. I wanted to find out what it was like being a doctoral student. I was grading exams and papers and discussions and working full-time and training and doing my own research projects plus a research assistant project and not feeling so great a lot of the time.  Then this year happened, and my parents fell ill and I was working and going to grad school and training and I thought I'd fall apart - and, by most people's standards, it would have been okay if I had.  But I kept going, and I even got straight A's.  And it was all because, the year prior, I had learned to handle so damn much at one time. 

Did I mention I had some friends this year that decided to do their first Ironman - at around 50? It was big.  It was scary.  And THEY DID IT. That's the kinda stuff I'm talkin' bout.

When you Bite Off More Than You Can Chew, you can only digest so much.  So you learn to spit out the unimportant crap to make room for the good stuff.

Biting Off More Than I Can Chew has meant that, even if I didn't land exactly where expected, I either learned something really important about how much I really could chew - or, I landed somewhere I Probably Ought to Have Been to Begin With.

It pushed me to be better. It pushed me to handle more.  It pushed me to be less dramatic about things that weren't real crises.  Because of it, I became a happier, more confident person.

So, although I haven't had much time to really recap all of the cray cray that I've encountered during Lucky '13, or to give 2014 a fun nickname like I usually do, I've had enough time to reflect on my wish for you this upcoming year. 

During 2014, may you always bite off (just a little) more than you can chew.  

That way, you can spit out the unimportant crap and really enjoy what's left behind.

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