I woke up and rolled myself out of bed, dreading the hour spin class I was about to attend. I threw on my gym clothes and trudged to the car, annoyed by the icy wind that struck my face and made it difficult to breathe. I climbed in the car, “okay Haley, hands on ten and two,” and turned on some pump up music to get myself motivated. I drove to the gym and ran up the stairs to the cycling studio. This would be my first spin class; the beginning of my triathlon training, and next six months.

I was initially intimidated by the sea of people around me. Men and women, of all ages, decked out in fancy gear and shoes that clipped into the pedals. I adjusted my bike seat, nervous that it would take multiple tries to get the perfect setting. I began peddling, tightly gripping the handlebars, in hopes to not falling off and making a fool of myself in front of the room. The instructor entered a wide smile across his face and a booming voice that commanded attention. He turned on flashing lights and loud electronic music and sat on the bike in front of us. “Are you ready?” he began, his feet still against the pedals, “to ride?” His voice was loud, and he instantly took off into a quick sprint. The music gained, and we all began peddling quickly. I could feel my heart racing as my feet spun fast beneath me. Suddenly, I was wide awake; the sleep wiped from my eyes, my tired body, suddenly overcome by an influx of endorphin and adrenaline.

We increased resistance, an attempt to simulate and uphill climb. The music slowed, but its intensity remained strong. I could feel my muscles growing fatigued, as I worked harder every second, to make the pedals turn. I could feel the sweat rolling down the back of my neck and the front of my face. I took a drink of water and continued onward. We reached the last part of the class: the sprint. With low resistance, up-tempo music, and the burning of lactic acid within my quads, I began peddling faster and faster with every second. I listened to the tempo of the music and allowed my repetitions to find pace with the beat. My heart was racing, my adrenaline was surging, and I could feel the excitement in reaching the end. “3, 2, 1,” the instructor shouted, slowly bringing the music down and the lights back up. I grasped at my handlebars and breathed deeply, my feet slowly coming to a stop.

Though exhausted, I felt this incredible sense of accomplishment. I was overwhelmed with excitement and happiness in knowing that I had accomplished something brand new. I began to realize that maybe this triathlon was not as far from my reach, as I had thought it would be. Cycling had restored my faith and assurance in my abilities. “I am strong,” I thought to myself, “and I can do this!”

I walked up to the other side of the gym and hopped onto a treadmill. If I could complete a 16-mile bike ride, I could surely run 3 miles. I began slow, my legs feeling like jello beneath me. I increased my speed, and the pace felt more natural. I turned on the training playlist I had recently made and began to run with the beat of the music. The miles melted away beneath the conveyor belt of the treadmill. Before I had time to process time itself, I had already reached 3 miles. I figured I would continue. If my triathlon would be a full 6-mile run, maybe I could do a full six miles now. I continued to run until the screen read 6.0. I came to a stop and breathed deeply.

There was something about throwing my body into motion for two hours that both exhausted me and empowered me. As I drove home, I was overcome by the overwhelming sense of feeling wild and free. And there was such truth to this feeling. God created me with this incredibly intricate body that allowed me to challenge myself and push my physical limits. I was free to struggle, to ache, to achieve. I was free to accomplish challenges that seemed so far beyond my capabilities and overcome physical limitations that had been previous struggles for me. As I made my drive home, I looked out over the mountains, and was fully assured of my abilities!