My Transformation from Runner to Cyclist

by Diana Toche-Velez

My cycling started upon my return to beautiful Fresno from a marathon in 2002, my friends Scott and Jean said, “Let’s go out for a bike ride.” and I thought why not since I now had multiple stress fractures from running. So I broke out my old Cannondale, which weighed about 30 pounds (we named it “The Anchor) and we were off.

This turned out to be about a 50 miler a few days after the marathon, not exactly the greatest start to cycling. But since I couldn’t do anything else, I was back at it again and knew if this was going to continue, a new bike was definitely in order. I bought a Giant TCR, which I still have and ride today up here in Sacramento!

I rode and rode, but longingly looked at runners running wishing I was there instead of the bike.

About three months after riding the bike, I did the Climb to Kaiser Century ride, not the whole Climb, and was counting the days until I could run again.

Finally!!! The green light arrives for running and I am off and running literally, but still cycling as well. A few months later, I decide to stop cycling and focus on running only. I run the California International Marathon (CIM) the first week-end in December in respectable time and the next week-end run the Honolulu Marathon with a friend who wanted someone to run with so she could break five hours.

I think that I feel great and all is going well. I run the Napa Valley Marathon at 3 hours and 39 minutes, qualifying for Boston and all is well. I run Boston and this is the end; I end up injured again. I cycle a bit, try to run a bit, get a stress fracture in my foot, and can’t seem to get it together. Bad eating and some drinking ensues. I have also hurt my hip and I can’t run, I can’t cycle, I am kind of depressed about the whole situation.

I decide to buy a new bicycle, the Ridley, and think I will ride again. This bike was all wrong for me and this increased the hate part of cycling. So I tried running again. I trained and ran the California International Marathon for the sixth time and thought that running may be for me again. While training for CIM, I meet John (my husband now) and started riding again, on the Ridley. That bike is all wrong!! I hate cycling!! I can’t keep up with anyone. I keep getting dropped. I am definitely not good at this cycling stuff. Why did I stop running?

Back to running but it is different this time. I am out there running and I am looking at the people on bikes and I am thinking that I want to be on a bicycle, not running. I run the Long Beach Marathon, cross the finish line and that is it! 21 marathons completed and that seems like a good number to stop.

I decide to buy a new bike, the Scott I am riding now, and get a professional fit. The bike fits and I immediately feel like this seems right. I start riding again, and I get dropped over and over again. I show up for the NOW ride. First time out, dropped before PCH – ugh!! Nichols – First time out I had to stop about three or four times, thinking I would never make it! Improvement is coming and I can tell I am getting stronger! YEAH!! I crash on the Nichols ride and break my elbow. The improvement slips away as the recovery and healing occurs. I am allowed to run, but no cycling. Running is still out for me and I can’t wait to get back on the bike.

I start cycling again and have a great NOW ride in mid July. I hang on and keep up with the group! This feels great!! Another set back, I get pneumonia. A month off of the bike does nothing for me, but makes all the improvement slip away again. But again, I can’t wait to get back on the bike! I decide, it is time to get serious. I drop about fifteen pounds and kick the training up a notch. I talk to Chria Hazlitt and Richard Kim, along with constant support and advice from John, and try to improve, improve, improve! Nichols, I am back again. Riding, riding, riding! When will I ever make the group up at Skirball? Will I ever make the group up at Skirball? Christmas day – what a glorious day!

Nichols – I round the corner and look at the spot – I can see everyone there waiting! Today is going to be the day! I make the group up and I could cry. One year ago, it would have been 25 more minutes until I arrived there. But now I question, was this a Christmas gift or did I really make it? So, New Year’s Day, back out there again!! I round the corner and look for the group up spot and I see everyone there!! I make it again!! And then again the following week-end! This is great!

John and Scott decide to race, and I don’t want to sit around for two hours waiting and race as well; sixth place for me! They decide to race again and so do I. 5th place and $20 bucks! I never got any money for running! So in this tale of transformation, it has been a long and winding road between cycling and running that has ended with cycling being it for me. I can’t wait to get on the bike for a ride! Feel the wind and sun on my face and ride, ride, ride! What a great sport! So glad I found the right equipment and such wonderful people to ride with, not to mention my wonderful husband as well!!

Diana Toche-Velez

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