Sunday, December 22, 2013

Standing at the Turning Point

Here I am, yet again. The turning point. A position I've found myself numerous times during the past several years.  My toes are poised on the edge of the jump zone, the cliff if you will...yet an unseen force is holding me back. My arms are outstretched with hope...yet I remain frozen in fear. What the hell am I really afraid of?  Success?  Happiness?  Living my dreams?  What really is to fear in these options?

Realistically, there is nothing to fear.  There is only potential fulfillment in the path of happy destiny.  Yet, up until today I've chosen the path of least resistance. If I were to be brutally honest, I've been making this choice my entire life.  Don't ruffle any feathers....don't upset the apple cart...keep everyone happy.  My M.O.D. has been to be the good girl.  The one who smoothes things over.

It's time for me to break out of the shackles.  Here I find myself back on the edge of the cliff.

For my loyal readers...this is not a surprise.  I've been here for some time now.  The girl who cried "wolf!!" has seemed ready to move forward, then as she is about to make her move she falls back yet again. Those who know me well are holding their breath...expecting me to jump...yet here I have remained.  There is egotism there. What will people think?  If the caterpillar becomes the butterfly?  Change.... In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't really matter who I please.  It matters that my actions reflect my own next right action.  To do "the next right thing." For myself.  Ultimately, if I am not acting in my own interests, what the hell am I doing?  Who's life am I really living if I care only about what others might think, or how my actions might impact others while thinking nothing of myself?

The cliff has seemed to be a safe haven.  Yet at the same time a stagnant place.  The strength within me yearns to leap into the unknown freedom, and meanwhile the fear keeps it's stronghold.  Deep rooted, as my feet seem to be in the rocky ground of the cliff.

Pain, frustration, stunted growth.  This is where I have sat, almost comfortably.  Just existing.  Allowing life to flourish around me, yet not completely free to join in myself.

For a year now I've been writing about facing my fears.  Through baby steps, similar to my athletic training, I've gotten stronger.  Comfortable in my own skin.

To thine own self be true.  Live honestly, nobly and remain open and in complete willingness to embrace life's challenges.  This is the only way I can grow.

Fear No More...

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Journey Continues

My eyes opened on day two of our journey.  Thursday, December 12, 2013. We had arrived long after sunset the night before so I was anxious to see my outdoor surroundings. It seemed we had driven through emptiness arriving in the middle of nowhere. I was imagining beauty, from the description I had been given by Becky, our hostess.  I was not disappointed. The morning light peeking through the window displayed a spectacular view of the pristine landscape of the back of the home, which had been hidden in the thick darkness of the night. It was remote and breathtakingly beautiful.  There was not a sound.  It was as if time stood still and I was the only person present. I had been given a room all to myself, probably for the last time on this trip. I stretched, like one of Becky's cats, and remained in bed for a few more minutes lost in my thoughts. This was a rare luxury and I was taking full advantage.

As I relaxed, I closed my eyes and reflected on the sense of peace I was feeling.  Our slow progress toward Florida was another luxury I appreciated. This trip means more to me than a simple vacation and cycling training. It is a catalyst to an even deeper level of spirituality. A much needed battery recharge. 

I was in perfect company. The three amigas, as we have dubbed ourselves, have different personality traits, yet we blend well together. Balance each other.  Compliment each other. Athletes, women and friends on a common journey.  There are times in life where one must put the hustle and bustle behind and return to simplicity.  We had no particular agenda other than to arrive at athlete check-in in Mt. Dora, FL at 6:30pm Friday evening, and the big training ride on Saturday.  Otherwise we were winding our way slowly to the sunshine state.

I am not spontaneous.  Or, at least I haven't been.  Recently I have been consciously letting go of a lot of my old ideas, habits and character flaws which have been holding me back from achieving balance.  On this trip I have learned spontaneity, patience and tolerance.  So far.  Ha Ha.

We had a lovely breakfast with Becky and Fatty the cat, reloaded the car and hit the open road. Destination: Chattenooga, TN. The only plan was to ride our bikes when we arrived. Hopefully part of the Ironman Chattenooga course, if we could locate it.  Basically, however we had no idea where, when or how long the ride would be, and I let go of the control.  I was along for the ride, so to speak, in more ways than one.  And that's huge progress for me.

We arrived in Chattenooga around 11am, and scoped out a good place to start. We parked in an open lot and unloaded the bikes.  It was colder than we anticipated and we needed our cold weather gear.  We laughed, bundled up (understatement) and set out.  We were going to attempt an out and back, as we were unfamiliar with the town and surrounding mountains.  Yes.  Mountains.  We started out, and Catherine stopped to request some sort of directional advice from a local Salvation Army bell ringer.  He seemed to know what he was talking about, and once again the urge to act spontaneity struck and we decided to throw caution to the wind and set out in the direction he pointed.  Our plan was to make as few turns as possible.

After taking an eternity to get changed, fill our water bottles, use the restroom and set out amidst much laughter, it was close to 2:00pm.  The ride was hard.  The elements and the terrain worked against us, but we persevered!  It felt bitterly cold, there was a fair amount of wind, and we faced challenging climbs.  (I happen to love riding in the wind and I embrace climbing, so the ride was so much fun.)  The girls had a blast as well.

Downtown Chattenooga was beautiful and the perfect spot to break up our trip to do what we love.  

We returned to the car, locked our gear and our bikes and had an early dinner. Ben and Jerry's ice cream for dessert. We justified the calories with the exertion we had put forth on our bikes. We got back on the road at 6pm, laughing and chatting as we replayed the day. We stopped for the night (spontaneously) in Valdosta, GA.  

Next destination: Mt. Dora, FL  A three hour drive....

To be continued....

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Journey to La Vuelta MotionFit Training Camp

Day One
Indiana to Rutledge TN
Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The adventure begins. Michelle Atkins, Brenda Juarbe-Pearson and coach extraordinaire Catherine Lacrosse. Amazing cyclists and very good friends setting forth on a cycling vacation. 

Three girls, three bikes and too many bags. In pre-trip discussions, we all vowed not to overpack. That being said, we over packed. I mean, let's be honest, a girl just never knows what shoes to wear with a given outfit until she's getting dressed. It's best to have options. Additionally, five days of cycling in various climates requires a fair amount of gear. However, we managed to squeeze the luggage, bikes and ouselves into one car. We are at maximum capacity.  And loving every second. 

In preparation for The Big Event, La Vuelta Puerto Rico in January, we are attending a weekend training camp presented by Motionfit. Kameel Abdurraman is Motionfit and is a road captain for the peloton style La Vuelta. It promises to be a fantastic weekend of solid cycling. Saturday we will ride 141 miles, and a short 40 mile wrap up ride Sunday.

Obsessed with cycling as we are, a few extra days of riding have been added to spice up the adventure. 

We are traveling by car from bitterly cold Indiana to sunny, warm Florida.  Tonight we will stay with friends in Tennessee. Becky Gillum and her husband Don are our hosts. Becky is a fellow Ironman and it will be fun to add a fourth lady to the group for the night. 

The six hour drive was filled with laughter and much-needed girl talk. We arrived in Tennessee feeling refreshed and joyous. Becky had advised us that her house had "exploded with Christmas" and we were not disappointed. Decorating is evidently Becky's gift. The lovely house was tastefully "Christmas-ed". Every room appeared to be an exhibit in a fine art museum with over 500 Santas, mostly antique, artfully displayed. A beautiful home and a perfect sanctuary for the night. 

It was a wonderful, relaxed evening. Just what I needed. 

My life has been quite turbulent recently. This first day of our trip, surrounded with love and laughter, has renewed my spirit.  As I stretch in the big, comfortable bed ending the day with evening meditation, I am at peace. 

Day Two...driving to Chattenooga, TN to tackle the Ironman bike course. 

To be continued...