All was on the upswing...until it wasn't.
I walked 14 miles, one day, rode 30 minutes another, etc. etc. I was positive and just kept working at it. The Ricky Gervais podcasts helped. Brilliant! Amasing! as he might say. I also read the first chapters of several books on Amazon--read the first chapter for free!
(Oh and speaking of products, Google cancelled my advertising campaign. Apparently, there have been invalid clicks. There's no detail--just form letters. Ok. So now you'll just have to come to my blog for the great posts rather than the GREAT ads. But really, how many times can you read about hernia repairs when all we really wanted were ads about Pajama Jeans and Tajazzles.)
So, on Saturday the process continued and I hiked 7 miles (roundtrip) to bring a bottle of tequilla to the Tequilla Tree at Single Speed Arizona--all the while enjoying my podcasts. Then I went home and went for a ride with my roommate. We spun easy and I felt good so I decided to commit to a loop. Bad idea. After 49 minutes exactly I started to have pain--like worse than I had had. So, I just sat up and rode home as slow as I could. It ended up being a little over an hour and 20 miles. More than I had gone. It felt so good before that. I was euphoric! I didn't do anything crazy and my watts stayed low and my hands up high, etc.
Since then my stomach has hurt when I sit. But it's more pain in my back. I'm worried that all this pain in the left might actually be my kidneys so I've been drinking a ton of water...starting today.
Anyway, since then I've also had really really low moments--you know the crying, the curling up in bed, hating the bike, wanting to quit it all so I didn't have any pressure to heal. I wanted to go back to my other job, I wanted to take the safe route, and quit trying to accomplish tasks of such epic proportion. I was tired of having to call Regence every day to see if my application had been processed after 45 days. I was tired of waking up with a new pain and wondering what I'll have to deal with next. Depressed about watching my body become soft as if all my hard work was just disappearing a day at a time. My mood was up, down, up, down, and honestly, I hadn't felt so depressed in so long. This huge opportunity for me, one that I had earned and worked hard for, just taken. it felt unfair and hopeless. Dramatic? Sure. But it's how I felt. I was just tired of being strong.
But today, after having a terrible day with bad pain in my back, internet researching, water drinking, etc. and general fatigue, I decided to get up and go on a spin. And during the 37-minute sunset spin, I listened to some music that reminded me of 1996 when I was in Kentucky training for my junior year of my high school running career. I trained harder that summer than I had ever trained. Running 50+ miles a week on hills, watching my diet (probably obsessively since I didn't eat anything past 4:00 p.m. and did hours of step aerobics in the evening if I did). I worked on a tobacco farm with my brother during the day and then would come home exhausted but still go run into the sunset because I was determined.
Everything I did that summer was about trying to be a better runner. I felt like deep inside I knew I could do it. Before that summer I was the 5th or 6th runner on the varsity squad and I was determined to be the best possible. All the sacrifice and workouts, which seemed huge to me at the time, paid off. I had a breakthrough and was the best runner on the team that year. I made it to state and placed in the top 20. I medaled in the mile in track at state and qualified for three events. That was a huge deal to me because our state was all divisions so it was the cream of the crop of Indiana. After that summer I got calls from colleges, Brown, Purdue, IU, and Eastern Kentucky where I ended up going because of the scholarship opportunities.
Anyway, when I trained in the summer of '96, I remember listening to Sarah McLachlan's "Fumbling towards Ecstasy" album over and over and over again. So, on my sunset ride tonight, when I listened to songs from that album today (I had one of the songs in my head for some reason), it brought me back to that summer. I felt an overwhelming sense of strength and release on the ride as I was just flopping over the pedals. I thought about why all of this was impacting me so much when after all it was just bicycling. But I realized that it's the process of all of it that feels so impactful. It's the process of sacrificing so much to chase something with an unknown outcome. It's the discipline and drive that goes into every day where you make hundreds of decisions to try to improve yourself, never letting yourself say, I think I'll just sit around today and maybe tomorrow. Or maybe I'll take up that offer to go camping for a few days. Every conscious action revolves around your ultimate goal without rest. And when you do rest, it is planned and an intentional part of improvement.
So when your life is consumed by this fight for something big, when the process is delayed, or taken away, the feeling of hopelessness and loss is HUGE. And that's why I feel so terrible and i can't say, well it's "just cycling" because I have made it who I am, so that's like saying, well it's just my life.
And that's why for the past couple of days, defeat has been creeping in. I have been snubbing the bike, saying what's the point--it only brings me pain. Woopie. I get to flop at 70 watts for a few minutes. Blech, take me to my safe place. My boyfriend said my bike situation was like if I were a commercial farmer who was limited to growing a lima bean science project in a pot on a kitchen counter.
But today on the bike, I felt better mentally. The music took me back to my place of strength and I felt motivated in that instant to keep pressing, feel the process, and find the mental toughness to pick myself up again--even if I am suffocating in my girdle as I type this. I think every day, I have to just look to find this place and keep having the hope that it will pass. You can say that it will pass, but when you get knocked down enough with problem after problem, it's easy to let that hopelessness creep in. I realized that this is all part of that other side of training of great athletes--the one about taking a beating and getting up again, pushing through a different type of pain.
I'll end with my favorite pep talk. It nailed my feelings and I felt comforted, so I want to thank my friend for this:
"I'm sorry this is so hard on you. I know how hard you have been working towards it, how much has been put aside and/or sacrificed for cycling. To have this setback has got to feel like that sacrifice was wasted, and that has got to feel beyond shitty. The only comfort I can offer is that it is a setback from your goals, not a nullification of your efforts. You will achieve your goals, it will just take longer than you wanted. Doesn't it always?"
And here were my 1996 favorites. Yes, I'm admitting that I listened to Sarah McLachlan. I know I'm supposed to be all cool and stuff--well, at least in my mind--but now you know why these songs hold a dear place in my heart.