October 21, 2013

Cross Crusade #3: Life Lessons on an Empty Tank

Whether it was a stomach bug or food poisoning, I won’t ever know.  It doesn't really matter.  I spent the better part of two days flat on my back, in a state somewhere between sleep and wake.

You have a key workout on the schedule, get up.

A short walk to the kitchen for a glass of water had me lightheaded and I had to return to my nest on the couch, quickly falling back to sleep.

I guess getting on the bike is out of the question.

The phone rang and I could see it was Ben – with all the strength I could muster, I answered.

"Hi Birdie, how are doing?"

"I’m still sleeping; I’m okay."

"You’re still sleeping? Have you eaten anything? Did you drink your smoothie?"

"I need to go back to sleep."

Every two hours, on the hour, Ben called.  He was just checking in on me, to make sure I was drinking and at least attempting to eat.

Every two hours, on the hour, I was roused from my state of delirium with a reminder to take care of myself. It was a long day. And no matter how much I tried to gather the energy, I was not going to ride my bike.  I couldn't even sit at the table to eat my soup.

Being sick sucks.  Period.  I was over it.  But the bug wasn't over me and I didn't have any fight left so I went back to sleep.

When morning came again, I knew instantly that things were on the up and up.  I was going to be okay.  I was hungry and thirsty and standing up without feeling like I was about to fall over.  It was going to be a good day.  I went to work, I pedaled by bike (very slowly), I ate some food.

I am going to be okay. 

And then it was Friday and it was time to pack up to go to Portland for the Cross Crusade Race at PIR.
Whether or not to race didn't cross my mind; of course I would race. Racing is what I love to do.

But then the questions began to creep in. My legs still ached a bit and my confidence was soft.  I tried to push the last few days out of my head, to focus on all the work I had done leading up to being sick, to remember the power of the mind and its ability to push through. I was diligent in my hydration and tried to get in as many calories as possible, I went through my normal pre-race routine.  I went in search of my fire, the feeling I get right before a race when I am ready to win.  It was nowhere to be found.

On the starting line, I looked at Tina.  We where both in the Power Posture, but hers was real and mine was fake.  I was doing everything I could to make it real.  I was fighting to fight.  I was on the line. It was go time.

After an hour of racing, I crossed the line in 3rd place, after Beth Ann and Alice.  They both rode well and determined and focused.  I dangled behind, fighting to fight.  Digging deep, but there was nothing there.

It is hard to not be at your best; whether because of sickness or training, or other life stresses.  It is difficult to expect something of yourself that is not realistic.  And it is difficult to realize that those expectations are self imposed.  I always want to race well.  I want to make my sponsors and my family and my community proud.

When it comes down to it, I race my bike because I love it and no one will love me any more or less if I finish 1st or 10th.  For me, this is a tough lesson to get my head around, yet a necessary one.

One’s life is not remembered by the number of races you win or levels you reach or dollars you make. One’s life is remembered by the lives touched, the smiles shared and the brightness one adds to the world.

My nephews, riding bikes.  Nothing Better.