Archive for August, 2011

Pelotonia 11

August 25th, 2011

I cried four times this year at Pelotonia.

The first came Friday night at the opening ceremony. The video was beginning to play. I was excited since I knew I was going to be in the video and was looking forward to seeing myself on the big screen. How exciting! There I was with my friends and teammates looking up in to the camera all serious. They made us look that way. Our natural banter produces much more genuine smiles than what the they were able to get out of us with the camera rolling. The whole team cheered when we came on the screen! And then…well you need to take the three minutes to watch the video. It explains exactly why I’ve become so passionate about this.

The second came Saturday morning. We were riding out of Columbus in a huge crowd. Five thousand strong to be exact. Police officers, volunteers, and people lining the street kept thanking me. Thanking me for what? I’m just out riding my bike on a beautiful morning. No. I’m showing that together we are stronger. Together we can move forward. Together we can work to end cancer. I was pulling my friends out of Columbus. Many of my team mates were nervous about reaching their goals for the day. I was nervous about letting everyone down. What if I’m not strong enough? I cried. I can’t fail today. There is too much at stake, too many people counting on me.

The third time came in Athens. I was in my hotel room. I was suppose to be showering so I could go out to dinner with the team. Instead I was on the floor with my head in my knees. I was so happy for my team mates. They had worked so hard to reach for their goals and had performed flawlessly. I watched my team mates push all year with their training and how much it paid off for them. I watched my team mates struggle with their doubt all year, only to replace it with success at the perfect time. How could I not cry tears of joy for them? It was a good night.

The fourth time came Sunday morning. Approximately mile 44. About halfway up the climb from the Logan rest stop I started having a very painful sensation in my quad. It felt like it was tearing in half. I figured it would go away once I reached the top and could recover. It didn’t. Even with a soft spin it was there. I kept going. This has to go away right? It wouldn’t. I started going slower and slower. The team was long gone. Dustin stuck with me giving encouragement through each climb. But he noticed I kept getting slower. He noticed my posture. He noticed the sound in my voice. That only made it worse. At some point we passed an older man taking a break on the side of the road. I was so focused on trying to will the pain away I didn’t notice he had latched on to us. At about mile 39 Dustin went ahead to let the rest of the team know what had happened. It was just me and the old man now. He would say something every now and then, trying to help me push through. I didn’t hear what he said and I don’t think I responded. I finally heard him the last time. “Are you sure you can make it on those legs?” To hell with you! I’m stronger than you know. These legs will do whatever I decide! “They’ll get me to the rest stop” I said. I kicked up at that point and gave everything I could. I saw I got my speed back up to 14 miles an hour. But the pain only grew. I’m not sure if he was still there with me or not. Tunnel vision is an understatement. I was crying. As I pulled up to the unofficial rest stop I saw Dustin and the rest of the team standing about. The tears got worse. I kicked my pedals as hard as I could in frustration. My ride was done. Head between my knees again sobbing. “I want to finish so bad” I told Dustin. He said he understood but told me it takes a stronger man to stop with an injury. He’s wrong. The stronger man is John from the video. The stronger man is the child that fights Leukemia. I am weak. I should be stronger, strong enough to prevent this injury, strong enough to finish.

I got a ride back to the finish line. Everyone there said I did enough, said I did great, said I went farther than last year. They’re wrong. I failed. I felt terrible. The team is taking a photo after they cross the finish line. They tell me to get in the picture. I don’t deserve this. The photo eats at me, it is going to haunt me for a long, long time. I get home. I’m tired. More from the mental boxing match I’ve had with myself over the past few hours than from the ride. I shower and unpack. Sit down at my computer. The first website I pull up is BikeCrave, not normally the first website I pull up. I’ll be honest I haven’t been there in some time. The post “Fail Better” is the first thing that comes up on the site.

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett

I read this quote, the first line of the post. My head gets rocked back from the sheer force of the quote. I read the next three paragraphs and stop, going back to the quote. This is what is important. I force myself to read the rest of the post. It’s just in the background though, my mind focused on this quote. This is all that is important. I’m no longer upset at not finishing. I tried. I failed. No matter. I’ll try again. I’ll fail again. I’ll fail better.

I look forward to failing better in Pelotonia 12.