Hot Bike for a Snowy Monday
I curl up and moan. It hurts. Everything hurts. My breathing is short, my chest is tight and my gut is in knots. My arm extends and reaches for the pillow; I pull it to me as if my life depended on it. “Get up”, I say out loud, “get the fuck up”.
My first half-ironman was the catalyst for some of the biggest change in my life. It came on the heels of positive self-discovery, unprecedented focus and was born from pure joy. I had a great swim, a really decent ride and a slow, sloppy run, but I finished with a big fat smile and loads of pride. What that race did for me I could never repay.
Almost a year and half later, I am 5 days away from racing my second 70.3. This is a very different challenge and my life is in a very different place. This race could break me, or it could finally convince me that I’m tougher, stronger and braver than I ever thought possible.
My mind is in no state at all to be racing. It’s in pyjamas –red wine-ice cream -deep in my sofa- mode, but I’ve pushed and pushed and pushed and kept training. Physically, I know I can finish. Though I know I’d like to finish faster than my first, I accept that for this specific race, just showing up to the swim start in one piece, will have to be a small victory. I’ve focused on my run, my hip is doing well. I know I’ll be carried by the atmosphere of it all and supported by my friend A., who by the grace of all things holy will be there to catch me at the finish line.
“This too shall pass, this too shall pass”, tears stream down my face, as I try to convince myself that this moment in time will not define me. I defiantly stare myself down in the mirror, “Get a grip”, I scold, “Enough”.
A few people have told me to cancel, “be kind to yourself”, they’ve said. They might be right; I don’t have to do this. I don’t have to put myself through this grinder. Most have said, focus on your race, it will get you through to the other side. The process has kept me afloat, even though there is a good amount of water in the boat, it hasn’t sunk.
I’m going to do this. And I’m going to be OK. I won’t be the fastest and I won’t be the happiest, but I’ll be my bravest on that day. If it breaks me, than I am meant to break and will build again. But I don’t think it will. I don’t think anything can…
365 days of wondering what’s wrong with me. 365 of wondering if I’m really that difficult to love. 365 days of looking inwards and really not finding much there. No truth or epiphany reveling itself. Sinister milestones shouldn’t be dwelled upon, yet I find myself needing some sort of cathartic release. How do you mark this kind of non-occasion?
A year. 54 weeks. 365 days. Usually people think about this at New Years. For me, it’s today. Time, sometimes, is achingly slow. Mostly, it just slips between our fingers. It taunts you with dates and numbers flying off the calendar. It stares deep into your soul, grabs your deepest desires and screams at you with fierce urgency: YOU’RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME.
The trend right now is Mindfulness. Being in the moment. Living in the NOW. A kind of variation on the good old Carpe Diem. I actually really like the idea of mindfulness. I try to practice it when I’m doing something specific, like training or yoga or even cooking… just enjoying letting my body go through motions and not thinking about past or future. But I have a past (although I have developed a nifty little memory deficiency which has enabled me to forget loads of crap and therefore have an innate inability to not hold grudges…) and I have (hopefully) a future…
We’re all working back from a collective death sentence. Grim, I know. Yet, this makes it our duty to live. Through peaks and valleys we can’t forget this one duty we owe to ourselves. I don’t always know what that means. None of us really do. So I think non-occasion milestones are a good time as any to think about what it means for me. So all day I asked myself “what the hell does seizing the day mean”? Not a very scientific exercise but I did come up with a few things, probably influenced by things I’ve read when I’ve gone looking for myself in other people’s words…
It means I have to speak my truth no matter what. Integrity is not always easy, but it’s essential. I won’t succumb to someone else’s idea of how I should think or act. Even if the waters are murky, I have to fight to find my own truth.
It means I have to clearly communicate this truth. “You don’t know what you don’t know” and if I don’t tell you, well then you’re really shit out of luck aren’t you. People assume, they always assume, so I can’t let them assume what is, most likely, the worst. Which of course I do as well…
It means being satisfied with what I have, while still finding space for healthy ambition. We are meant to move forward, to want better, to evolve and to grow. Innovation, inventions, evolution are all the result of this. It’s not about wanting more stuff… it’s about wanting better for myself and the people around me, a Tribe that can expand as close and as far as I want it to. I will never ever again apologize for this. Ever.
It means accepting who I am and letting go of who I thought I would be at this point. Coming back full circle to “time”. Fifty years ago I would really be up shit’s creek without a paddle. Spinster, way past last call, with really nothing to offer except my sewing skills (insert joke about me not being able to sew even a miserable button, making analogy even more pathetic). I went to a party the other day and I was Brigitte Jones. No, seriously, it was tragic. But I got out alive.
Look, I’m here. I’ve made choices. I’ve taken wrong and right turns. But I’m me, here, now. In all my glorious imperfection, desperately trying to seize the fucking day. Marilyn said it best: “I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” I do have a best. And it’s good. I just need to believe it more.
Today has turned into tomorrow. Or today. Whatever, you get the point. Once again, I’ve been outplayed by time. It keeps moving forward… Robert Frost says the only thing he’s learned about life is that it goes on. It does, because I blinked and there went 365 days.
Carpe Diem Bitches…