“I would rather experience the lowest low, while chasing the ultimate high, than live a normal life.” Andrew Steele
What an incredibly profound statement. I came across this quote waiting at the airport, leaving Charlotte to start another crazy journey home (I have very little luck when it comes to travel). I read it once. Then twice. Mulled it over. Checked it again. And let it simmer.
I feel these words in my heart. I live them.
I wanted a great final race to my season last weekend at Age Group Nationals. Time and time again, I have felt robbed of that satisfaction; a grand culmination to the sweat and tears poured into hours upon hours of training. For all those times I didn’t want to get out the door, and did. After two seasons (years) of plaguing injuries, I was convinced my number had to be up. I’d had great results throughout my summer races, showing huge improvements in an incredibly short amount of time. So when I fell flat at nationals, I was undoubtedly disappointed.
My last post was just the beginning to my travel woes. I was fortunate enough to make the standby flight to Vermont. Had I not, I would have missed mandatory packet pickup and bike racking, leaving me ineligible to race. I arrived in Burlington around noon, and thank goodness my bike was there, too. But my other bag? Not so lucky. I smelled, had no contacts, and really needed to brush my teeth. But nonetheless, I had sunshine, and I was there. So, I was going to be there.
The rest of the day, and weekend, were an incredible blur. I had packed my wetsuit in my bike box, so was able to get in a swim after 2 days of zero activity (not an ideal taper!). It was hot, sticky, and glorious. Bikes got racket, packets picked up, teeth were brushed, and all I needed was my bag.
By 10pm, I was more than exhausted (1am in California). I was told there was a slim chance my bag would be on the last flight of the night to Burlington, but if it was canceled, my bag would not arrive until noon the next day. I can’t even begin to describe what was going through my mind. I’d just about wrung myself dry of tears the last 24 hours, and knew stressing wouldn’t help. “Maybe I wasn’t supposed to race,” loomed in my head. The most important article in my bag were my cycling shoes. Everything else I could have done without or borrowed (racing suit, helmet, racing flats, race belt). I had just about conceded that I wouldn’t be racing the next day. I was ready to hit the hay and get up for a day of cheering and doing my best not to sulk in my misfortune. After a very friendly slap in the face text, I was reminded how very unlike me my thoughts had become. I was not the person who would let all of this amount to nothing.
So we stuck on my race tattoos, and decided even if I had to race in old trainers on speedplay pedals (they’re small, circular platforms only 1 inch in diameter), that’s what it was going to be. It may not have been the story I myself would have written, but it was a story nonetheless.
5 hours later, alarms were buzzing, and I ran down to the front desk, contemplating my destiny at 4 am–no small task. BAG. Awesome. My luggage had arrived one hour earlier, but the desk attendant so kindly let me sleep in. I was frazzled, but rolled with it, and soon I was headed out the door with my racing crew.
My race, in a nutshell, was like this: Swim-good. Bike-meh. Run-death.
I came in off the bike having just been passed in the last mile. I trailed the leader by maybe 15 seconds out of transition, and desperately wanted to keep her in my sight. I crested the large steep hill about 400meters into the run, and waited for my legs to turn over. But nothing happened. I tried throwing in a stride, but my legs seemed to weigh a million pounds. I yelled at them to shut up, but they just shut down. There was no spring to my step, and my race fell flat as I watched the leader pull ahead.
I finished the race exhausted. Not tired from the race, but just plain tired. Unbelievably frustrated I couldn’t shift to the next gear like I wanted.
I was disappointed in myself, embarrassed, and felt like I had let down countless people. From my new Fast Forward Team, to new sponsors, to friends who selflessly gave up countless hours to keep me company on rides, runs, and swims. I was in another glass case of emotion.
But this is sport. Sure, I hit a low. It’s never fun to end your season like that. I let myself mourn for a minute (or a day) and accept what had happened. Lucky for me, I got to spend the next week and a half on vacation in North Carolina (Virginia, and Kentucky), where it seemed there was no option to be sad or upset. My awesome race is still there. I just have to find it. I will take my experience grow from it. Somehow I feel like there’s something more to be learned than not to pack my cycling shoes in my checked bag.
I’ll write about my vacation time in the next few days. I’m taking a much needed couple weeks off of training. It’s been almost 12 months since I’ve had any sort of break, and my body needs and deserves it. I am back in Santa Barbara for a few days. My birthday is tomorrow, which happily gives me an excuse to run myself into the ground for an epic “birthday challenge”. Now if only US Air would deliver my lost bag…
Overall, I experienced a low, sure. But I’ll continue to chase that high. “Normal” is just really not my style.