During my high school basketball days, my team had an intense rivalry with another powerhouse. We didn’t play in the same league, so we only faced each other during sectionals—and the other team always won. As an eighth grader, I remember watching my future varsity team face this Goliath during sectional finals. We lost, and two of my teammates and I made a pact that we would overthrow the powerhouse.
Fast-forward to senior year; we won our bracket.
The powerhouse Spartans won theirs, and this match-up would determine which of us would advance to state competition.
The week before this battle was extremely intense both physically and mentally. We listed to Tom Petty constantly during practice: “Well I won’t back down …”
To this day, whenever I hear “I Won’t Back Down,” I’m transported back to my crackerbox gym. There’s the Hello Kitty radio, the blocking pads that smell like 300-pound wrestlers (no offense to the 300-pound wrestlers out there), and of course, my coach hooting, hollering, and occasionally swearing. Dammit, Red! Finish strong!
During this build-up, one of my assistant coaches told us the bulldog story: a scrappy, undersized bulldog keeps trying to fight another bigger dog, and even though it loses every time, the bulldog proves relentless and keeps coming back. And one day, the bulldog wins. “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.”
And who would’ve thought the basketball bulldog story would prove relevant six years later? And to biking of all things.
Toward the end of last season, I finally realized the bike needed to become a priority, so I logged more time in the saddle and did my best to hang with my team’s all-girl group during our Central Park rides. At first, I got dropped. All. The. Time. But I kept going back. Thanks to these outings–plus lots of indoor trainer time and CompuTrainer classes at Tailwind Endurance–I’m now one of the fastest girls on the team.
But that isn’t enough. As a “biking bulldog,” I want to hang with the boys (and pass them if possible!).
Yeah, this t-shirt will probably happen. #chicking
A few weeks ago, one of the Full Throttle Endurance coaches invited me to ride with his group. Was I intimidated? Oh yeah. Two of these guys went to London for the World Championships. Did they push me? Yes. I was working well above my threshold when we hammered on 9W. Did I get dropped? You bet. Will I ride with them again? Absolutely.
It’s all about taking the good and the bad from each workout—and trying your best to apply it to the next one. Case in point: The next time I “broed out” and rode with the guys in Central Park, I remembered my 9W sufferfest, knew I had the strength and power to push through, and stayed with them for 24 brutal miles. That was good.
But today was bad. My Race of Truth time barely placed me in my current group. Basically, I’d either be the “captain” of the next group down, or I’ll have to work to stick with these guys; and I want to get better, so that means working. And I put in major work today. I was so close to hanging on during our extended hill attack around mile 15-16, but I couldn’t close the gap. You win some, you lose some—but that’s how you get better: training hard, training smart, and trusting the process.
Are you a “bulldog” when it comes to your workouts, occupation, or other obligations?