The Relationship Between Coach and Athlete

“One who goes before and shows the way. Coaches point out the sharp turns, potholes, perils, and pitfalls of the road being traveled. They steer clear of dead-end streets and unnecessary detours as they safely navigate us to our desired destinations. Whether they are leading or teaching or showing or guiding or mentoring, they are coaches. And they are indispensable in helping us find our path and purpose.” – Kevin Hall, Aspire: Discovering Your Purpose Through the Power of Words

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The relationship between my coach and I is one that means so much more than most other relationships in my life will ever mean. He holds a special place in my heart that will forever have such a deep significance that words may not adequately describe it (but I will try). I, honestly, don’t even think he knows the importance of his role in my life…

When I started cycling religiously, my life was in a very dark place and I believe I was cycling to gain meaning. I needed something to hold on to and cycling gave me an arena to feel free and happy.

I’ve known Steve for the majority of my life (his sister, Guiselle, is my best friend of 29 years) but we didn’t really socialize with each other because our only connection had really been his sister and my connection to her. From what I knew about him, he had always been athletic (running, playing basketball, and cycling) but it wasn’t really until MY journey with cycling that our friendship, and eventually him becoming my pseudo coach, began…

I knew the passion Steve had for cycling and I started reaching out to him for help with everything cycling, especially things I felt too dumb to ask other people. He answered anything I asked, despite some things probably ACTUALLY being dumb questions. He was very patient with my nonsense and began subtly giving me pointers and goals to work towards. He had become my coach inadvertently but very much on purpose at the same time.

EVERYTHING in life happens for a reason…

Early on in my cycling youth Steve crashed, and he crashed bad… He crashed, flipped his bike, landed on his back, broke the transverse process of T1, T2, and T3, and nearly shredded his Assault on Mt. Mitchell jersey. I wanted to make him feel better so I searched for the jersey online to buy him a replacement (I knew by then what an awesome feat it had been for him to ride up that mountain). Once I saw the prices of the jersey online, I retreated from that decision but declared that I would one day do Assault on Mt. Mitchell with him so that we could have the chance to get one. I’m pretty sure that my verbal filter was broken that day and that is why I even thought to utter such a ridiculous statement in the first place…

**SPOILER ALERT!! That was the moment when things started changing…

“You know the great thing, though, is that change can be so constant you don’t even feel the difference until there is one. It can be so slow that you don’t even notice that your life is better or worse, until it is. Or it can just blow you away, make you something different in an instant. It happened to me.” –from the movie Life as a House

I began riding more and more and more.

He convinced me to sign up for mountain ride after mountain ride, each harder than its predecessor finally culminating in the Assault on Mt. Mitchell (each of which I described in earlier blog posts The Journey Towards a Century Ride and The quest towards a century ride, REALIZED.).

I am not sure if he believed in me, liked having someone that faithfully gave into his torture (although I rarely did what he told me to when he told me to do it, I’m hard headed like that), or liked having someone to ride with. Whatever his reason was for helping me, this usually very quiet man took me under his wing and changed my life forever.

He gifted me cycling, and yet he gifted me so much more…

He taught me pretty much everything I know about cycling and cycling essentially save my life. Cycling gave me a purpose. Cycling gave me light and smiles again. Cycling gave me confidence. Steve pushed me and forced me to find the confident women that I had hidden for entirely too long. I am not sure if that was his intention but it was certainly what he did.

I can pinpoint moments on all the big rides I have done with him where I wanted to give up and throw in the towel and he wouldn’t let me. The weird thing is that he didn’t force me to do things or ridicule me into doing them; he just had a way about him that made me want to push just a little bit harder and NOT give up. His quiet, yet very obvious presence demanded a level of hard work from me that I am not sure I had ever doled out before. He helped me, knowingly or unknowingly, complete some of the biggest achievements of my life.

Earlier this year when I decided that I wanted to begin training for Ironman, Steve began coaching me about running. He gave me pointers on running, training, and told me what books to get. When I decided to sign up for my first half marathon in Miami, he signed up soon thereafter and, although we didn’t run together, I was able to know that somewhere on that course was my coach cheering on my finish.

His voice is a constant in my head when I am training whether it’s in the gym, in the pool, out on the bike, or out on a run. He is always there telling me what to do and the right way to do it. I am not saying that I always listen, but I certainly know how he would have me do whatever I am doing. As I mentioned before, I am a hard headed person and it often takes me a while to give in to whatever thing he wants me to do but eventually I do and I always end up with my tail between my legs admitting I was wrong and should’ve done it sooner.

I should point out here that Steve is no saintly, kind man… He can be very sarcastic, grumpy, ornery, and standoffish but the great thing about him is that once you squirm your way into his life you see past that. His way of being is what makes him unique and what made it so that he could teach me as he has done. He never spoon fed me anything and certainly never made things easy for me. But what he also did was that he never left me behind and he never gave me more than I could handle, even when I didn’t think I could handle it. He put thoughts out into the universe of what he wanted me to do knowing that eventually I would give in and do them. He saw potential that I didn’t know existed…

There will never be a way to repay the service that he has done for me so the only thing I can do is continue chasing my dreams and showing him how good I can be.

Doubt and fear enter my mind a lot when I think about the athletic feats that I want to accomplish in my life but every time “I can’t” slips into my mind, Steve saying “why can’t you” is never far behind.

This past Saturday, Steve and another friend were trying to get me to get up to go eat breakfast and we all sat there looking at my wall of race bibs and medals. Steve quietly mumbled “do you remember when there were only 2 or 3 up there? Now they don’t even fit.” I have a lot of angels that I race for and that are my constant motivation when I am out there running or cycling and, lucky for me, I have an angel right here on Earth that pushes me just as much…

On Sunday night, Steve and I were hanging out with two of our friends when they began asking us about whether we had ever “hooked up” and why we hadn’t. I tried to explain but I think that my explanation just made our friends believe me even less.

You see, we haven’t ever and we wouldn’t ever for probably a multitude of reasons. It is not to say that there hasn’t been ample opportunity for such a thing to happen, it just isn’t something that is in the cards.

We live in a society where the thought of a woman and a man being friends, especially close ones, is something that is marred by the belief that if a woman and a man are friends they must have 1. slept together in the past, 2. be sleeping with each other now, or 3. want to sleep together at some point. Lucky for everyone, I often like to go against the norms that society has created for me…

So when you hear me call him my “cycling husband,” know that I don’t mean that in the carnal sense, he is everything that is supposed to be good about a husband with none of the extra drama.

Thank you Steve for everything you have given me and all the gifts you have bestowed upon me. There is so much more that I would say but I truly can’t find the words to describe how thankful I am. No matter how many times I have read through this post, I still don’t feel like it has adequately expressed the gratitude and love that I have for everything you have done for me. You are one of the most special people in my life and, no matter how much you aggravate the hell out of me, your opinion is always one of the first that I ask for.

I look forward to crossing the finish line of Ironman Florida 70.3 on April 10, 2016, a race dedicated to you. Without your push and the faith you’ve had in me, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone

I miss my long morning rides… Terribly.

There was something about waking up and going for a long, refreshing ride in the morning that just set the tone for the remainder of the day. Even if the day turned out to be not so good, I could always fall back on the fact that it had started out amazingly.

I am a cyclist, it’s just who I am. It’s ingrained in me to want to be on my bike, all the time. Having recently bought a new bike (to be discussed in a future post) makes the fact that I can’t ride in the morning that much more difficult to wrap my mind around.

There used to be mornings where I would roll around in bed and whine and beg myself for just one more hour of sleep instead of getting up to ride. But, 9 times out of 10, I got up and went riding and would feel amazing. Now that I can’t really do it, I wish it had been 10 times out of 10 that I had gotten up to ride.

It seems cliché to say “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” but it’s the damn truth. They say that hindsight is 20/20 but I am a firm believer that sometimes foresight is too, we just choose to ignore what we know because we think we know better even when we know we don’t know better. (say that 20 times fast)

Life is often filled with crazy twists and turns, most of those twists and turns by our own creation. I just prefer my twists and turns to be out on a road… while I am on a bike…

Life as a runner

“It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.” – George Sheehan

 

I’ve been struggling with finding the right words to use to write about completing my biggest running accomplishment thus far… a half marathon. This post was written over several sittings and even after having finished my SECOND half marathon.

I’m not sure I ever could’ve pictured myself  running 13.1 miles but I did. Thinking back, I’m not exactly sure how I even got to that point, to be honest.

I know that it began when I printed out a schedule for half marathon training and then just kinda started following it and running.

And then I ran some more and some more and some more…

And somewhere in there I stopped disliking running as much as I once had. I stopped dreading it… I stopped having to make bargains with myself to “just run a little further.”

It’s weird, looking back, how uneventful the process seems to have been yet how eventful it actually really was.

This year’s Miami Turkey Trot was my first 10k race and I was happy with how I did, 56:48. It was also the first race I got to do with my brother which made it that much better.


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After the 10k, I just kinda kept running… And then randomly decided one Wednesday, in the middle of the work day, that I should leave early and try running the half marathon distance for the first time.

So I did… And I ended up running 14 miles… And it sucked and it was absolutely glorious all at the same time. That day showed me that I had what it took to run that distance so all I had left to do was to get it done on race day.

I had planned it all out, I had chosen my first half marathon based on where it was being held… In Miami, my hometown, the city that still owns my heart. It seemed only right that the place that held my heart should be the city that watched me achieve a huge step towards my bigger goal of becoming an Ironman.

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Found my name on the “A” on the Miami Marathon sign

But Miami, in all its glorious unpredictability, had some tricks up its sleeve for my first half marathon. Race day was freezing, especially for a born and raised Floridian. I woke up at 230am on race day to find that the temperature was 50 degrees and dropping coupled with insane wind. I still thought I would be fine in a tank top and running shorts because I was sure that my body would warm up when I started running, boy was I mistaken.

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Pre-race metro ride
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Just a little cold…

The race start temperature was in the low 40s and I had turned into an ice cube. Nothing I did while running managed to warm me up, yet I still ran. My hands burned from the cold, my feet were numb, my nose was bright red and a complete running faucet… and yet I ran.

I ran and I kept running and I kept running.

My headphones started REPEATEDLY warning me that they were about to die around mile 6 and then finally did die around mile 8 or 9. Now I was faced with only having my thoughts as a distraction for the toughest part of the race. Everything hurt. The joy that was the beginning of the race had faded long before my headphones did.

I wanted to stop. To stop being cold. To stop the pain. To stop running. To stop the madness.

Who’s damn idea was this anyways??

Oh yeah, mine. (insert dramatic eye roll here)

I reminded myself… “You want to be an Ironman. Toughen up. This is nothing. This will be a walk in the park compared to THAT race day.”

And so I ran.

I ran up that last bridge, mile 10, pushing through pain and doubt (the only mile I dropped over 10 minutes at 10:08).

I ran those last few miles with a hip that felt like it was going to give out at any minute. Despite the pain, despite the cold, despite the overwhelming exhaustion, my last 2 miles were two of my three fastest miles.

I was able to overcome my most powerful enemy, my own mind.

I did what many didn’t think I could do, what I didn’t think I could do once upon a time…

I crossed that finish line with my arms raised high, I felt like I was on top of the world. Every inch of my being wanted to breakdown and cry tears of joy. But I didn’t. I maintained my composure (mostly because I wasn’t sure I could stop and also because the lady next to me was crying and, boy, was it not very cute).

Truth be told, I was a damn Popsicle when I finished even having to go as far as to ask a volunteer to open my water because my fingers were so frozen and numb that they couldn’t bend. It took me a good 3 hours to finally warm up, but it was still one of the greatest moments of my life to date.

I am so proud of my time and what I accomplished that day. I finished my first half marathon in 2:08:23, a PR for me.

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The half marathon crew

Since that day, I ran a 15k six days later in 1:22:49

and my second half marathon four weeks after my first finishing with a new PR of 2:04:09 (both in my current hometown of Gainesville). I can feel myself getting better and my time improvements mirror that feeling.

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There are so many things that led up to my decision to set out on this journey that I am on and, although they were painful experiences, I wouldn’t change a thing. Those experiences molded me and shaped me into this new fierce version of myself that won’t give up, that won’t back down…

I have a feeling that this new version of me is going to come in handy when I venture to that Ironman 70.3 start line on April 10, 2016 and even more so in that full Ironman I’m planning to do in 2017.

The story is just getting good so stay tuned for what’s coming…

 

Fear is a liar

“Fear is a liar.”

We hear this statement all the time.

I say this statement all the time.

I truly believe this statement to be true.

But… when fear sneaks in through the window that you forgot you left cracked open it has the ability to infiltrate every single corner of your mind.

I equate it to having a flea problem in your house… you can wash everything, spray your house, and treat your pets but somehow fleas always seem to appear here or there from time to time.

“The enemy is fear. We think it is hate, but it is fear.” – Gandhi

Fear can paralyze you, it can make you believe that you are incapable of doing something that you are certainly capable of doing. Fear can negate days, months, years, or even a lifetime of hard work.

So, when fear sneaks in, what do we do? Where do we go? How do we overcome?

I battle these questions EVERY TIME I enter the pool.

I have an intense fear of drowning but even bigger than that is the intense fear I have of not being good at something, of failing at something.

I want to be an Ironman probably more that I could ever adequately express in words. I can’t even tell you why I want it so bad, I just know that I do. One might think this desire would far outweigh any fear that might enter my mind… But, alas, it does not.

Whenever I am getting ready to go swim my anxiety levels begin to rise… My heart rate starts to increase, my breathing becomes irregular, and my thoughts start to race. I start to make bargains with myself about how much I am going to swim. When I get in the pool, all my symptoms become that much worse. When I go underwater, the panic becomes palpable. I start to feel as if I am going to run out of breath, like I have forgotten how to do what I have to do. I find myself stopping after every lap to catch my breath, to give myself a pep talk, to convince myself to keep going.

Swimming is my Achilles heel.

But, sometimes, there is this strange thing that happens while I am swimming… Sometimes when I am swimming there is a strange sense of peace that comes over me. The panic falls away, I feel calm, I do what I have to do without overthinking it… It actually feels natural.

So, when fear sneaks in, what do I do? Where do I go? How do I overcome?

I keep going. I keep pushing. I go to that place within my heart, within my soul, where my confidence and drive live. The place where I know that I can conquer the world and anything that comes between me achieving my dreams. I overcome by pushing past the fear and continuing to get in the pool until swimming becomes second nature to me because…

Fear IS a liar.

Fear WILL NOT win.

Fear WILL NOT conquer me.

Fear WILL NOT steal my dreams.

The Hunt For My New Whip

I am a woman on a mission… It’s time for a new bike, it’s actually been time for quite a while. Unfortunately, this process is turning out to be much harder than the one I engaged in to buy a new car.

Maybe it’s because you know you’re going to spend a lot when you buy a car so you’re most likely prepared with a large down payment. Maybe it’s because cars are much easier to understand. Maybe it’s because when you find the car you like, you simply tell them what color you want and what bells and whistles to include…

Whatever the case may be, for me, this process has turned into a quite laborious one.

I decided, pre-Thanksgiving, that I would leave Miami with a new bike. The universe, on the other hand, had a different idea for me (as it quite often does). In test riding bikes, I fell in love. Like actual love… The kind where the tiny hearts float away from your head and pop in the air, your eyes get all googly, your heart flutters, and you want to devote every last minute to your new love. You know… That kinda love.

The problem? The hefty price tag.

Unfortunately, my new love was no cheap hooker… She was a high class, high price, fancy, classy escort. Maybe the kind you find out on some ranch in Vegas. A siren of sorts that whispers sweet nothings into your ear convincing you that you aren’t about to sail over a cliff to your impending death.

Her name? Specialized Venge Pro.

She is a fantastically neon orange. A full carbon aerodynamic frame. Shimano Dura-Ace components. Carbon wheel set. Lighter than a feather. A click click sound as you ride that could lull a colicky baby to sleep. A glittery, rainbowy, flying unicorn of sorts if you will.

This is when the mental wheeling and dealing begins. This is the problem with buying a car versus a bike. When I bought my car, I went in with an idea in my head with how much I wanted to spend and I did not veer away from my plan. I did the same when I set out to buy a bike but that idea quickly crumbled when I fell in love…

Love has a way of breaking the boundaries that you set for yourself and causing you to WANT to push your limit. Love truly is blind sometimes… Even to price tags.

Cycling is my passion, my one true love… I want to ride this bike into the sunset (probably because it looks like a fiery skied sunset) over and over and over again…

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So what did I do? I gave myself a reality check and decided that the girl for me was the intermediate, working her way towards that big money ranch, showgirl… Specialized Venge Elite.

Don’t get me wrong… She is a beauty in her own right with her carbon frame and Shimano 105 components but she will NEVER be the Venge Pro.

**SPOILER ALERT** This is where the universe comes in and kicks the bottom out from under me…

I got measured for size, smiling the whole time from ear to ear knowing that soon I would be united with my noble steed.

Wrong!

The words still cycle through my head in my nightmares while I sleep… “The color you want is on back order until March but this other color is only on back order until early December.”

Defeat.

I was already “settling” and leaving my love in my rearview mirror, could I settle yet again?

No.

I began a mission to call EVERY SINGLE authorized Specialized dealer in the ENTIRE state of Florida in hopes that SOMEONE may have the charcoal Venge Elite in a size 52 in stock.

Fail.

Fail. Over. And. Over. And. Over. Again.

Not one store in the ENTIRE state had the color/size combination that I was looking for, NOT ONE.

Now what? Do I go back to the drawing board? Do I I surrender to the siren and let her lead me off the cliff into the beautiful, fiery orange colored sunset?

What. Do. I. Do.

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To be continued…

Leaving My Comfort Zone Behind in My Rearview Mirror

“A comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows there.”

I often talk to my clients about comfort being the enemy of change. I find myself reminding them that if they are comfortable in my office during therapy, they probably aren’t doing the hard work necessary to achieve the positive change they want.

It’s strange how the lessons we most often teach others are the ones we tend to forget when it comes to our own lives.

I wouldn’t say that I have been “comfortable” in my life by any means but I think it’s safe to say that I have found a place where the discomfort I feel has become routine and comfortable in its own right. I have definitely become complacent. I have found myself putting things off that I have dreamed of in order to keep living my “routine” life.

Life has a way of shaking things up, usually when you least expect it. I have found that when the universe decides to upend my life, I tend to make big decisions and big changes. Most people would probably steer clear of making big decisions during rough patches but I find that they bring me solace and a goal to work towards so that I don’t get swallowed up by whatever nonsense is going on.

Recently, I once again found myself at a crossroads in my life… Change or stay where it was “comfortable”

Most people that know me or have read my first couple blog posts know that my love of cycling was born from a disastrous break up and that the strength I had to persevere to the top of Mt. Mitchell came from the sudden death of someone very close to me. Now, at this tough juncture in my life, I have made yet another decision… To chase my Ironman dreams.

I found myself in bed for 24 hours on Labor Day, an emotional wreck. I could not even muster the strength to go ride which I knew was a very bad thing for me. The next day, I knew that I had to do something or the hole would just grow and end up swallowing me whole. I made a decision, a very scary decision for me…

I have dreamt of doing an Ironman from the first moment I learned of its existence. Back then I was not a cyclist, probably couldn’t have run around the block, and certainly wouldn’t be caught swimming with any type of “form” other than that which resembles how a dog would swim and, yet, I still vowed to one day cross that finish line and be announced as an Ironman. I made that promise to myself a long time ago when I had a much younger body…

I have since been living life while still holding that dream in the back of my head. Three years ago, I completed a sprint triathlon but came very close to drowning during it. I have an intense fear of drowning most of which I know is mental but is quite real to me nonetheless. My fear of drowning coupled with my complete disdain of running had made it very easy to avoid considering what it would take to be an Ironman finisher. Until September 8, 2015 that is…

I knew that I needed something big to move me, to motivate me, to lift me up…

I researched the Miami Half Ironman and reached out to a close friend who used to swim competitively as well as used to coach swimming. Every fiber in my body told me that it was time… I made the decision to actively begin training for the Miami Half Ironman in 2016.

Since I began actively training for this crazy big dream, I’ve become more comfortable swimming (I don’t panic as much) and I have become a better runner. I even registered myself for the Miami Half Marathon on January 24, 2016 to give me something to work towards in the meantime.

I can feel a change happening within me…

I can even honestly say that I have developed a love for running that I never would’ve thought would happen. I can’t say that I love swimming just yet but I do believe my biggest personal growth has come from becoming better at that discipline. It is quite an amazing thing to feel as if you are overcoming a fear, overcoming something that you never thought you would overcome, and actually feeling like you are kind of good at doing it.

My first love is and will always be cycling but I am learning that I have room in my life, and can make space for, other things too.

Even within my love of cycling there are areas of discomfort which I try to avoid such as riding in groups… I recently conquered this area of discomfort by stepping out of my comfort zone and venturing out to do a big ride without my coach. I finished my first century ride in which I didn’t have him (my friend, my lucky charm) by my side. I was terrified of not having him with me to coach me and lead me. I was able to conquer my fears and actually joined a few groups of strangers on the ride, I got dropped by the first group before ending up with the group that I stayed with to finish out the last 50 miles. I was even able to make a few friends on this journey and look forward to expanding my horizons even in the sport that I love so much.

Life really is full of twists and turns and sometimes you have no choice but to roll with the punches. But there are other times where change is necessary, you have to make yourself uncomfortable, and you have to punch life right back in the teeth.

Here’s to punching life in the teeth and becoming the Ironman that I know I am!!

When in doubt, pedal it out.

Lately I have been struggling with coming up with any ideas that I felt were worthy of developing into a blog post. I have no big events coming up that I am training for and am really just riding to maintain my sanity. I began writing this post several days ago and then life hopped in and I “forgot” about it and put it to the side. Last night something happened that triggered me to want to continue this particular post.


“When in doubt, pedal it out.” I am more than certain that I should be crediting that fantastic one liner to someone brilliant but I have no clue who first said it so I’ll just go with that it wasn’t me that came up with it…

I found myself driving in the car the other day when it felt as if a proverbial brick hit me in the face… I had the sudden realization that I am 36 (even though I’ve been 36 since June). I started to panic thinking that I was now closer to 40 than I was to 20 or even 30. I began to ask myself (literally out loud) what the hell I had to show for it. My life had not gone as I had planned it to… EVER. I was able to calm myself and stuff down the emotions associated with this horrendous realization simply by telling myself that I would consider this in more depth on my next ride. Riding is, of course, where I ponder life’s great mysteries or where I decide what I am doing for dinner… whatever.

The next ride came and think about it, I surely did. I began to think about all the things that I DO have in my life for which I have to be thankful rather than dwelling on those that I don’t have. I thought about my kids, my good health, the fact that I have the ability to ride as much as I do, my home which I own, the wonderful support system that I have built around me, and my amazing family. Thing is, I know all those things and yet I still experienced the anxiety that I had felt in the car the other day. I began to think about the things I had planned for myself in my life and the way life had instead dealt me its own version of a plan for me. I decided to focus on the saying that “everything happens in its own due time.” I also started to consider that, I am exactly where I should be at this exact moment in time.


That is where I left off writing and actually the same line of thinking is what brings me back to finish writing this specific post.

Recently, I have been struggling with managing my anxiety, whether it be in direct relation to something going on in my life or even in relation to absolutely nothing that I could pinpoint at all. Riding is my natural outlet to manage all sorts of emotions and the way that I keep myself level and grounded. I have learned to lean heavily on my riding over the last two years but I have also been actively working on making changes to the baseline thoughts that drive the anxiety I experience. One would assume that this would be a simple process for someone whose entire career is dedicated to teaching others to do this very thing. It is, in fact, one of the most difficult feats to accomplish. Our thoughts are truly the beginning to everything we are and I know that if I can focus on changing them then I can change so many pertinent things in my life.

There is a quote that I often refer to when talking to the kids I work with about how to make changes in their lives:

“Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become your character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”

I think I have reached a point in my life where I have finally realized that I don’t have control over much and that I need to relinquish my desire to control the uncontrollable (shocking, I know). Something happened last night that was once again a stark reminder that,

I am exactly where I should be at this exact moment in time.

That, most of my anxiety is driven by fear that is unfounded and by my propensity to overthink things. I am working on focusing myself in the ‘here and now’ and living the life that I have in the precise moment in which I am. There is something truly freeing in this way of thinking, similar to the freedom that I feel while I am out on the road. I find that I have to actively tell myself this and sometimes work even harder to believe it. But, I know that the brain needs to be exercised just like the body that I use to power my bike. The more I exercise all of me, the happier, healthier, and more grounded I will feel. So here’s to exercising all of me all the way closer to 40 and then waaaaaay beyond that. Oh Lord, here comes the anxiety again… I really don’t wanna be 40 and, at this moment, I don’t even wanna adult anymore. 🙂

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

Home

I’m back…
The sound of the wind rushing through my ears.
The sound of the road crunching under my spinning tires.
The sound of the creaks and cracks that let me know that it’s my bike.
The sound of the chain going round and round as I pedal.
The sound of the cars whizzing by.
The sound of the birds chirping in the trees.
The sound of other animals moving deeper into the woods as I pass by.
The sound of the tall grass swishing in the wind.
The sound of my breath as it comes and goes.
The sound of silence in my mind.
The sound of the peace that has once again returned to my soul.
I’m back home.

When heartbreak wrecks the soul…

“The problem with communication is the illusion that it has occurred.” –George Bernard Shaw

 

For the last two years of my life I have dealt with a crazy series of ups and downs in all facets of my life (relationships, family, health, work, etc). However, no matter what was going on in my life, the one constant that always brought me solace and peace was cycling. It didn’t matter what up or down I was going through, the road was my sanctuary and free from anything external. It was as if, for the most part, the emotions of my everyday life just had no place out on the rides with me. Cycling truly was my heaven on Earth, until recently that is…

For the last week I have been dealing with something in my personal life that made me feel as if the air was sucked out of me. I am not even 100% sure why this situation hit me so hard but it did and my heart feels like it is quite literally broken into tiny pieces. I have racked my brain to try and process what made this hit me the way it did and I haven’t come up with much of an answer. I kept thinking that, if I keep riding, at least that time would be free from the emotional pain that has lodged itself deep into my being. I was wrong; boy was I ever wrong… The pain and the heartache have followed me right on to the road and infiltrated my safe place in a big way.

It is such a disheartening feeling to wake up on ride days and not want to get up and ride… Cycling was the one thing out of everything in my life that I always woke up looking forward to doing. I still make myself get up (earlier than usual) and I have been making myself ride further even on weekdays hoping that something will click into place but it hasn’t. There is this terror inside of me that the joy that I felt on my bike is gone. I can’t bring myself to believe that it’s gone; actually I won’t allow myself to believe that. My whole 30 mile ride this morning was full of a blankness of feeling of some sort, not the good kind of peaceful blankness but a sort of confused and lost blankness.

Those who know me know that I don’t do well with not knowing things but, unfortunately, that is all that I am left with. I keep hoping that it was all a nightmare that I will soon wake from and that I will go back to feeling good and happy but I know that isn’t the case. I find myself praying a whole lot more these days too… There is a constant repetition of Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” in my head. Logically I know that I have overcome so many bigger things and so much emotional pain to rise above but the emotions I feel now are fresh and the wounds are wide open and trying to tell myself logical things doesn’t help heal/close up those wounds any quicker. Apparently, not even riding can do that right now…

But still I ride… I ride in hopes that I will feel better or that I will feel anything other than lost and confused really. I ride continuing to hope that eventually clarity will strike or that eventually the pain will lift off my heart and once again allow me to be free, to be the me I had come to be. I ride to be one with the thing that had become my passion, my soul’s savior. Instinctively I know that the storm does not last forever and that eventually the rainbow will appear in the sky but, for right now, only clouds are visible in the distance. I may have lost my mojo for a moment but I know that it is not gone forever and that I will overcome and persevere as I have always done in life.

Rain

“Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.” -Langston Hughes

There’s something special about riding in the rain… Even when the rain is aggravatingly pelting your eyes, it still isn’t aggravating for some reason. The rain is peaceful and serene and calming and cleansing. The rain feels like it’s washing me clean of all my transgressions while simultaneously kicking up dirt to make my body filthy. The rain makes me remember things and simultaneously forget them. It is such a strange sensation. I seem to forget that I am soaked and dripping and miserable and just keep pedaling and feeling free…

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