Meet Mackenzie from Atlanta Georgia. Mackenzie is a mother, a wife, a full-time employee at Wahoo, and a newbie cyclist. She is taking on one of the hardest endurance events in the world, Dirty Kanza 100. Follow along with Mackenzie’s journey through her eyes as she goes from Desk to Dirty Kanza.
I knew taking on Dirty Kanza was going to be a challenge. Having participated in competitive sports previously, I was prepared for the physical challenge ahead. What has hit me the hardest over the past couple of months has been the emotional and mental challenge associated with training for DK.
Truthfully, when I started this journey, the plan was for me to do the 200-mile distance. To go from my longest ride being 20 miles to 200 is almost too hard to imagine. I know what you are thinking – It’s crazy. She’s crazy. There’s no way she could do that. – and in a way, you are right. Life has a way of proving you wrong (for the better), pointing you in the right direction, and re-focusing you when necessary. And man, let me tell you, life has had a big ‘ole lesson for me as a part of this journey.
For 2 months, the thought of doing the 200 was a burden. I felt physically weighed down by the decision. It was daunting. I knew how much I had to work for it with no cycling experience, and even then, there was no guarantee that I physically could finish the 200 miles. I constantly felt behind in my training. I kept getting sick with colds and the flu as the stress and guilt of not riding piled up. I had a family emergency take time away from my training, yet, despite this, I kept thinking about my training when that’s the ABSOLUTE LAST thing I needed to be worried about. I was taking time away from my family in the morning and at night as I desperately tried to find time to ride. My husband was doing more than his fair share of “daddy duty” and we were missing out on quality time together. Something had to change. I was in really poor headspace and it was bleeding into all areas of my life.
“…one of the most difficult challenges I have taken on – aside from birthing a child.”
(let’s be honest!)
It was really hard for me to come to terms with the fact that I could not do the 200 this year. I HATE backing down from a challenge. At times I can be too competitive and stubborn – this was one of those times. I put the decision off as long as possible. But let me tell you, when I did make the decision to drop down and commit to the 100 instead – it was SO FREEING! Not to be all cheezy, but it was really like the fog cleared. I finally felt excited and confident.
The difference is that the 100-mile distance is a manageable challenge. The goal is achievable for me at this time in my life while still being one of the most difficult challenges I have taken on – aside from birthing a child (let’s be honest!). Hell, it’s my first race and my first century all at once. The training is still intense, but not as lengthy – at least not yet. My husband and I were able to work together to find a time during the weekdays that I can ride, but not detract from spending time with my son and him in the mornings and evenings. I found AccountabiliBuddies (say that 10 times fast!) and training partners in my co-workers who are doing the 100. I was 1 out of 2 people in the whole company who received an entry after entering the lottery for the 200, and it was really lonely.
I’ve known how much your mental state can have an impact on reaching goals, but it took a challenge like DK for it to finally come to fruition for me. Switching to the 100 from the 200 has taught me to be honest with myself – about my abilities but more importantly about how I FEEL inside. There was a vulnerability with the decision to bump down that I did not initially want to expose. In the end, life showed me that by opening myself up, I’m opening my heart and mind to all sorts of new possibilities.