F.I.N.E.

Everything is going to be fine…eventually.  If I can keep my head out of my ass, feet on the pedals, and heart off my sleeve, all will be well again.  You know what happens when doctors give an emotional female more hormones?  Yep…she loses her shit.  So, yes, I lost my shit last week, but I think I’m on the mend…emotionally anyway…physically might take a while.

 

Double bike race weekend in Boone.  MSG and NCCX.  I don’t feel like I’m ready, but maybe I’m as ready as I’m ever gonna be at this point.  I hope my body decides to show up.

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I’m not sure what’s going on inside my body but I am scared.  Given my family history, it’s hard not to lay in bed at night and worry.  Even now, at the breakfast table drinking my coffee, I can’t help but wonder what’s happening to me.  I know worry only takes you to a dark place of no return, but I don’t want to be sick.  So many things are unknown right now.  I have been assured this will all be ok, but I don’t feel ok.  I’m tired.  My emotions are running high…higher than normal.  It’s affecting my bike riding.  It’s affecting my personal relationships.  It’s affecting that one person I want to hold close…and I want to be closer right now.  I’m afraid it’s going to cause me to ruin it all.  I’m tired.

The Descent

I can’t sit here and conjure up some entertaining story about how disappointed I was after the NCCX opener.  There’s no build up.  No punch line.  No inspirational tale of how amazing bike racing is.  You know why?  Because it can’t be amazing all the time.  That’s just how life works.

So now I am descending.  Not sure for how long.  It’s curvy, and scary, and I’m white-knuckled.  I don’t like it…but it, too, must come to an end.  EVENTUALLY.

I had a pretty rough week leading up to NCCX Charlotte.  I never do well on recovery weeks, mentally OR physically, and the added pressure of racing my first “big girl race” didn’t help.  I’ve also been dealing some pretty serious health issues…so I felt like shit this week.  Not ready to race a bike with a bunch of 1’s and 2’s.

The race.  I had a great start, but fizzled out in the first lap.  My legs never showed up, so I got stuck in my own head.  I crashed 3 or 4 times, mainly because I was rushing myself to make up time.  I felt like a scalded rabbit.  My heart began to break.  I tried to fight for 14th place (out of 16 women), but I didn’t have the legs.  The sand pit was my only saving grace.  I killed that shit.  Fuck you, sand.

I ended up 15/16.  I placed 16/27 in Charlotte last year, granted, that was a CX4.  After watching the 4’s race yesterday, it became very clear to me that I don’t belong there anymore.  But I don’t feel like I belong in the pro 1/2/3 either.

So I have to earn it.  More than that, I have to believe in MYSELF.  I can have all the support in the world (AND I DO!), but until I believe, there’s no point of getting on that bike.

 

I’m Not Going Anywhere

Borrowed parts and pieces from the garage to build my ride.  Old, worn out shorts and jerseys were given to me until I could buy my own.  Suffered through group rides only to find myself the last one on the road.  Spent my first ‘cross season finishing in the bottom half of every field, walking away in tears every other race.  I couldn’t see it.  I didn’t understand.  So I made myself a promise.

I spent days off riding wherever and whenever I could.  No ride scared me.  I was too stupid and too determined to turn down even the gnarliest of rides.  I buried my head into pace lines and shelled myself whenever I could.  “I’m gonna hang on until I pop”.  I fell off the back…a lot.  I became discouraged when I didn’t see results.  I thought about giving up.  I found a way to keep pedaling.

I followed my brother.  I rode with the fast kids.  I chased the boys.  I followed Kyle on his miserable climbs.  I didn’t say no.  I always said yes, no matter how painful it was…no matter how slow I was…no matter how long it took me to get back home.  I never backed down from a ride.

And finally I can see…

The ‘cross season got off to a mellow start, racing AVLCX Women’s A’s.  I didn’t come in last, which was super rad, but I didn’t have a spectacular result.  Obviously, I didn’t expect anything crazy, and it was nice to simply hang on.  And that’s what I did…I hung on.

Last weekend was MSG’s series opener and I felt like I had a lot to prove.  I wasn’t out to show myself to the world, but I did want to reap the benefits of hard work.  I was worried I wouldn’t deliver.  I was worried I wouldn’t be where I thought I should be.  My heart rate on the start line was in the 90s.  I was terrified.

But my legs knew what to do.

I placed 3rd overall and 1st in the women’s CX 4.  I did it again on Sunday.  Who was this person?  Where did these legs come from?  I was in shock…in denial.  I didn’t know how to respond when people congratulated me.  Did I really improve that much in a year?

I must have?!  It happened again this weekend.  I am humbled and excited and shocked and thankful and motivated and moved.  Hard work.  Sweat.  Blood.  A lot of tears.  It’s starting to pay off and show me all the things I’ve wished for.  I am so happy…so emotional…so dedicated to the cause. 

I burst into tears at the finish yesterday…it was just too much to comprehend.  The 87 degrees + lack of oxygen +lack of water + my energy exertion = SO MANY EMOTIONS.  I lost it.  And I was lucky enough to have someone at the finish waiting for me.  Perfect end to a miserably perfect race.  I love cyclocross because it breaks me down and builds me up, all at the same time.

 

Thank you Brian, for making me ride at 9pm, after working a 36 hour shift. 

Thank you, Dwayne and MSG Cyclocross, for lighting the fire.

Thank you, Jamie, Tony, Autumn, Jordan and Jimmy for letting me tag along on rides and ‘cross trips (CXNATS BABY!).

Thank you, TCRC, and The Bike Shop for pushing me on group rides. 

Thank you, AVLCX, for heckling me until I signed up for the Women’s A race.

Thank you, Kyle, for dragging me up 151, Town Mountain, and never letting me give up.

Thanks to all the AVL boys for letting me chase you.  I still can’t catch you, but maybe soon?!

Thank you, Adam, for believing in me.

Thank you, haters, for giving me the fuel to pedal through the tough times. 

Thank you, mom, for always loving me, no matter how well I performed.  You are with me EVERY SINGLE RACE.

 

My ‘cross family, near and far, is so very special to me.  There are simply no words to express my love, gratitude, and respect for each of you.

 

Don’t stop…and never give up.

 

We’re just like anyone else…doing what we love.  Living life to the fullest.  Pedaling away fears.  Pedaling away sadness.  Pedaling for health, joy, competition.  It’s all heart.  It builds us.  Consumes us.  It becomes who we are.  It’s our escape from the ailments of this earth.

Rest in peace, Sweet Amy, and all those taken from us too soon.  It could be any one of us.  Love your friends.  Love your boyfriends…girlfriends.  Love your husbands…wives.   Love your children.  Love each other.  Wrap your arms around your loved ones.  Tell them what they mean to you.  Don’t ever stop doing what you love in fear.  Don’t…EVER…STOP.  We are all in this together.  The bicycle is our common thread.  We are a community.  We are….A FAMILY.

Love to you all.

 

“We’re all going to die. We don’t get much say over how or when. But we do get to decide how we’re going to live. So do it…decide. Is this the life you want to live? Is this the person you want to love? Is this the best you can be? Can you be stronger? Kinder? More compassionate? Decide. Breathe in. Breathe out. And decide.”