Monday, September 10, 2012

Six Years Later

This weekend, about 894,670,201 of my friends were racing in various places, including the River Run, Ironman Wisconsin, and the Rev3 Half and Full at Cedar Point.

I, on the other hand, did not.

This made me quite sad.  But it was (partly) by choice, as the achilles issue made it really difficult to be able to race my way (hard) in Sandusky.  So I put the money somewhere else.  (Like preschool tuition...ack)

I really wanted to at least get to Sandusky, especially when I found out that my teammate Chris was going to jump in and race it two--TWO!--weeks after his last Iron-distance race in Grand Rapids.  Dude's a machine.

I really tried everything I could.  I wiggled things around.  I tried staying up later to get things done.

In the end, I was defeated.  It looked something like this:

Instead of the 5-6 hours I hoped to have to go down and back to Cedar Point and cheer on my friends for a bit, I had about 1 hour.  Maybe less.  So I did what I always do this weekend.

I ride.

I usually put on my IMW kit that I treated myself to after the race and go for a ride (if I'm not racing) this weekend, on my Iron-iversary.

This weekend, I was so exhausted.  Mentally, physically, the whole nine yards.  This year is looking to be challenging and unconventional, to say the least.  After spending almost 5 hours grading Saturday and still not being even close to done, I was done.  I had to walk away.  Because after 5 hours of grading?  Not much sounds good.  So I had to save it for Sunday.

(and even Monday)

And on Sunday I had a small window to sneak out for a quick ride.  So I figured I'd better make it count.

Every year I remember the race, and how damn cold it was, and how long I was out on that bike course.  If I remember correctly, it was something completely ridiculous like 8 hours and 13 minutes.  Not what I planned for then, and DEFINITELY not what I'd ever plan for now.  But, that was my year, and that's what I got and what I could do with the Iron-hand I was dealt.  But each year I get a little twinge of wonder.  What could I do now?  Now that I'm six years removed and six years better?

(I know I'm still a ways away from finding out, but each year the little wonder voice gets louder.)

I hammered on my bike for all my buddies out there on the courses.  I remembered how hard that ride seemed as I led up to it, and how many, many times that cold and rainy day, I wondered if I'd make it back to the Monona Terrace in time.  How that day, as I spent longer than a workday sitting on that freaking saddle, I felt every emotion, from chilling fear (literally and figuratively!), nausea, and anxiety to elation and joy.  Most of all, I just remember how happy I was to be off that freaking bike.

I rode as hard and as fast as I could, and had the ride of my season yesterday.  The fastest ride with the best power I've put out all year.  Yesterday.  Not in a race.

By myself.

And I came back feeling better.  Still not where I wanted to be since I was hoping to be crossing a finish line yesterday, but better.  Enough that I'm ready to do it next year.  And that I will get through this year somehow, too.

Because if there's one thing that ridiculously slow, freezing cold, embarrassingly long ride taught me?

It's that I'm tough as fricken nails.

I'm going to have to remember that here when the fear creeps in and the doubt comes crashing over me and I wonder how on earth I'm going to make everything happen that needs to happen this year.

That's what I learned that day.  You just have to keep moving forward, that's all.

Congratulations to Sweet and all the finishers yesterday, and a huge, big, bear hug and nice cold one to my friend DaisyDuc, who was the overall amateur female winner at Rev3 in the full distance yesterday.   I really, really wish I could have been there to see it all myself, but I promise you--I was there in spirit.

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