The difference between me and someone that is great at doing something is that they have been doing it longer. I read an article a long time ago detailing the real differences between the professionals who are really good at something and those of us who marvel at them. In the end, it comes down to time. They spent a lot of time doing it. As in, tens of thousands of hours of time.
I could go on and on about “talent” and “natural ability” but in the end, those are small things when put next to human elements such as perseverance, courage, will power and some amount of not knowing when it call it quits. I am sure that those who are great at something can all attest to this. What does that mean? How does that relate? What is the point of this ramble?
Well, this morning I rolled out of bed at 7:00AM, dressed wearing layer after layer, ate a bowl of Cheerios, and went for a bike ride. So? It was 21 degrees out. So? Well, you are you right. So what? I met up with a group a few miles away, and around 2:30 this afternoon I slowly rolled back to my apartment. It wasn’t a great ride. It was a cold ride. It was difficult, but not physically. It was difficult to get out of bed, where it was warm and cozy. It was difficult to pile on layer after layer until I felt like the younger brother in “The Christmas Story”. It was difficult to fight against the wind and the cold, my feet frozen numb just to get to the meeting spot, where others like me assembled. It was difficult to come to grasp the fact that I had two full, frozen solid, water bottles that now did me as much good as bricks.
But after all of that, when I was tired, beaten, sore and almost home, there is a climb. It isn’t an enormous, mother of all climbs, but it is long and steady, and as usual, the light at the base of the hill turns red as I reach it. (So much for a running start). But I climb. I keep my head high, I push the pedals over one at the time, focusing on the circles my feet are making, thinking about my breathing, watching my heart rate climb up to 185. At 100 feet from the top I realize that I feel great! The climb was easy. It was no where near as hard as it was to walk away from a warm bed this morning, or to descend the hill at 8:00AM this morning, the icy wind making my eyeballs shrivel up in my head.
By no means does this make me extraordinary. This doesn’t put me on the podium at the Tour De France. It is just one day, that I persevered. I was afraid of the cold, the long hard ride, of getting a flat, of not being able to pull the pace line. I faced those fears. In the end, it all ended up with a climb, alone, where I showed my dignity. I didn’t sprint, I didn’t die at the top with my tongue hanging out. I just rode. I rode on a day when I had a thousand very easy reasons to not ride. I am not a pro, just a little better than I was yesterday.