QOM = Queen Of The Mountain = fastest female on a Strava segment = most epic day of my life = get in here and pull up a chair because we must talk about this for like a quick minute, YOU FEEL?
See, I haven’t been first in awhile. In sport, at least.
I don’t think I have ever thought about the last time I was first in anything because, for most of my life, I’ve had a shot at it. A healthy combination of naturally gifted, obsessively driven, and fiercely supported set me up pretty nicely to excel at whatever I tried. (Save for ball sports. Your girl’s hand eye coordination hovers around zero.)
First used to be a big deal to me. In middle school I practiced gymnastics routines in my living room, and skipped the Friday night 5th grade dances so I could learn new tricks during open workouts. One time in high school, I pushed myself so hard during swim practice I puked in the gutter. My track and field background landed me as my university’s only 3000m steepler. By default, I was first. And when I earned a scholarship, my job of just finishing morphed into finishing first.
Until 2012, my suffer always had a purpose. But that year I started suffering in a new way: Dystonia. It’s a real mean neurological disease that makes running…difficult. And near impossible when it really flares up. It came out of nowhere, and hasn’t left yet.
Then, biking happened. And it happened a lot.
Six (seven?) years, and three road bikes later, I joined a group and made this riding thing a bigger part of my everyday. I grew a pair, as some say, and traded more weekend runs for 40-milers and 50-milers and—this past weekend—a 70-miler.
Ever since my running career slowly evaporated, I forgot what it felt like to be good at something—to be FIRST at something.
It was Tuesday morning, stupid early as usual. And I felt terrible, to be honest. Too many 4:20 a.m. wake-ups in a row was making me feel sick and worn out. But these rides are the highlight of my week, and I wanted to show up for myself and the group. I can only imagine it makes the dudes work harder when they know a chick is on their tail. I didn’t expect anything from that ride; I just wanted to finish with my lungs still inside my body.
Laps 1-3 were an absolute suffer fest. I took rotations when I should’ve stayed in the back, and didn’t draft close enough so my legs took a beating.
Laps 4-7 were better, but not by much. I rounded the last corner, thanked the sweet lord I didn’t bail, and slow pedaled to coffee before heading home.
We finish before the sun rises. What’s more satisfying than that?
A couple hours later I heard a *piiing* on my phone; a Strava notification. A follower had given me kudos for—GETTING QOM ON THREE LAPS.
Not only did I scream out loud in the middle of the parking lot at work, but I almost puked and then dropped my phone.
ME?! QOM?! ARE YOU SURE, STRAVA?! DOUBLE CHECK YOUR DATA, PLZ & THANK U.
A triple confirmation and two more freak-outs later…I did the damn thing. I was crowned QOM of three laps around Davis Islands. So I stood and soaked it in and checked again and then re-checked a fourth time. First. First place. It had been awhile.
POST IT TO INSTA OR IT DIDN’T HAPPEN.
I deserved it. After the shit I’ve been through, and the shit I worked through, and the shit I am still going through, damn, I deserved it.
There’s a but. Ten minutes later, another badass lady rider uploaded her data to Strava…and she took my QOM by 5 SECONDS. First was fun while it lasted, but the great part is I know it won’t be my last.
Push on, PUSH ANIMALS >>>