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I am a woman with a fibro body and this past Sunday I rode twenty-five miles in a formal bike event. Three years ago I struggled to ride even three miles. Three years ago I would have told you that I would hit my body’s limit long before twenty-five miles; thirteen or fifteen surely would have been all I could manage to do. Five years ago, before I had fibro, I could never even have ridden a mile without complaining (I was more of an inside girl, but fibro has forced me to exercise).

I’ve been slowly training, so that now I can ride ride 25 miles. The ride this past weekend was in Santa Fe, 2500 to 3000 feet above the altitude in which I usually ride. There were more inclines and hill climbs than I am used to confronting when I ride, so I spent more time going only 8 mph than I wanted, but I pushed on and did it. It’s not a ride I can do every week, and I’ve had to to take it easy in these few days after doing it (an hour and a half nap in the afternoon after the ride, plus extra rest, extra hot showers, and extra pain killers), but I can do it. I can do it with my fibro body.

I was jealous of the people whizzing by me who had already ridden fifty miles. I wanted to tell them “But I have fibromyalgia; that’s why I can’t go as fast as you.” I know it wouldn’t matter to them, and I don’t need to make excuses for myself, but I feel like this was an achievement that someone without fibromyalgia, or who isn’t close to someone with fibromyalgia, wouldn’t understand. They’d just think you train for it and it’s no big deal. But when you have fibromyalgia, you can’t just train—you have to plan and prepare and then deal with the after effects of the training you do. And you could end up reaching your limit before a normal bodied person might. I doubt that I could ever do 100 miles, no matter how much training I put into it.

I rode a bike for 25 miles, and it was so difficult I would have stopped if I hadn’t had my husband riding next to me and pushing me on. That’s enough to make me feel better about my body than I have in a long time.