Somewhere, in the middle of today’s National Championship race, humility and gratitude sprouted from my heart harder than any other point since I started this sport 14 months ago.
Sometime near the middle point of the cycling portion of the race, I found myself riding with a group of great riders, all of us strong and fit. We were pushing ourselves through a forest, knowing we were 30 minutes from going back to the run. We were moving quickly, and we were all in a rhythm of sorts, sitting low on our bikes and enjoying the beauty of the early morning weather. I identified with their spirit. We often passed each other and exchanged playful words, and sometimes we would challenge each other to go harder. At one point, I asked how fast we were going. Our average mph was over 23. I was in shock. This was personal record speeds for me.
My mind wandered to all sorts of things. Only 90 minutes earlier, I started a competitive run. Three weeks earlier, I was wearing a walking boot to avoid the pain. Two weeks ago, I couldn’t walk across the hardwood floors in my home. Last week, I couldn’t walk on my tip toes, even on carpeting.
I had some stinking thinking, too. Thoughts like, “I shouldn’t be up here, with this group,” went through my mind.
I know those thoughts were untrue, but they rolled in my head, nonetheless.
As I left transition 2, I looked up at the clock. At my current pace, I was going to finish 10 minutes ahead of my dreamtime. How is this happening? Three weeks ago, I wondered if I could get a refund for my entry fee.
When I crossed the finish line, I had taken another 3 minutes from that time. I ended thirteen minutes ahead of my dreamtime.
There was a crowd, all talking and joking, and I jumped right in with them to savor the moment. For those moments that we chatted, I felt that time had just stood still. I greeted my friends and peers, and we shared opinions of the course, our own performance and what was next.
I went to the portajon, and stepped out into a small place of quiet. All of the social groups appeared much more distant than they really were. For the first time since seeing that clock, I was alone, but not at all lonely, and I finally let the joy overcome me. I raised my hand to the sky and let the tears flow.
I didn’t deserve this level of success. All I could muster was a Thank You to my Creator and just linger in the tears.
These last three months have laid heavily on my heart. As you readers may have noticed, my blogging frequency has dropped and my commentary has been shallow, comparatively. MY physical injury affected my mind, and I was bummed.
As such, I have created a series of new commands, and I hope to add to them, over time.
1) Do not take your fitness for granted. It is as fragile as confidence. Be glad to be able to walk.
2) Do not judge oneself based on performance. Either end of this spectrum is false
3) Gratitude for the moment is NEVER inappropriate. This includes crying while wearing a TeamUSA uniform.
I have a moment to thank all those who helped me prepare for today to make it special.
Susan Kitchen She gave me a hydration and fuel plan for today. I never had any issues with energy or thirst.
Sharon Koontz, my coach, for the intelligence and wisdom to stop me from running during these last few weeks, when healing has been occurring at a rapid pace. Had I tried to run hard before this last week, I might have gotten re-injured.
Isabel Calkins for her guidance with nutrition. Just today, after today’s race, I called her, and she told me what to have for a post meal, considering I was driving home….
Lastly, thanks to Barracuda Networks, for choosing to sponsor me for the ITU World Championships in two weeks. Better late than never. Look for the Barracuda logo on my uniform.
Finally, my original finishing time was good enough to get on the list to go to Switzerland. Unfortunately, I got a 4 minute penalty for getting caught drafting (I was not the only one who got caught), and this dropped me below the cutoff. There will be a next time!
Like….in two weeks!