Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bike Love

Next on my topic list is what I called “Bike Love, of a different sort.”

In an old post, the one about MeMeMe (stop it, I know they’re all about me. I am kind of a big deal) I listed motorcycles as being something I feared. That was left over from another time and another chapter but was a knee-jerk reaction just the same.

Then I met an amazing someone who made me feel safe, on the back of a bike, and I realized it wasn’t the machine I was afraid of. It was the giving up control and trusting the person driving to help me feel comfortable and safe and not forgetting that I was on the back, holding on.

And it hit me; "IT", the bike, is a metaphor for a relationship, if I’ve ever heard one.

I am no expert in that department. But the things I’ve learned and what my heart tells me are important to a successful partnership are very similar to what I’ve been given glimpses of while on the bike with the boy I call My Favorite:

It should be fun. Like playing in the sunshine, wind in my hair, grinning with bugs in my teeth, fun.

The destination should not be important. But the time it takes to get there should always seem just a little too short.

It should be comfortable for a long ride and feel solid underneath when the trip is longer or harder than first planned.

It should be ridden, and not left to get dusty in the garage. I feel a “take your breath away” kind of freedom that must be the secret that all those Harley riders keep in their pockets. I get it now. If it’s something that makes me happy, I will find a way to make time for it.

That it is necessary to ride solo sometimes. There is a lightness that comes with an unscheduled ride and when the bike allows an escape, away from stress and life, it should feel good to return home and know you’ve been missed.

And when riding on the back, I should feel safe. It’s a vulnerable position to be in, to be sure. Believing that it's okay to let go and completely trust someone who won’t forget I’m back there. To be wanted there.

Because that's me... with the helmet hair, grinning like mad but still a little scared sometimes.

I have learned not to worry about love; but to honor its coming with all my heart.
-Alice Walker
US novelist (1944 - )

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Night Flashes

I see them.

How can this be happening?

The Mothers, The Daughters

The first place I read about this was in GLAMOUR magazine. To me, that is shameful. Why am I not aware that in Africa, the fighters (I will not call them soldiers) are using rape against women and children as a weapon in a war.

Today I will run for them.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Shocking...the one where I talk about me...

Well, friends. What an interesting couple of months it’s been and so much has changed since that first post over 16 months ago. Time marches on. There was a time that I felt life was galloping away from me, leaving me stuck between what I knew and what I’d hoped for. But here I am a year and a few months later, shaking my head and smiling because life is just that amazing.[I know...right?] I’ve been trying to find the right words for awhile now; so I’ll just have to start and see what I end up with. Like an old absent *ahem..Ggg* friend is wont to remind me…just write, just write, just write. No epiphanies…just a whole bunch of stuff buzzing around in my head.

As I mention in the earlier teasing posts…there was hardware. My particular brand of courage comes to me in fits and starts; when the well threatens to run dry I’m able to fill it up by sucking it up, answering only to myself and surrendering to the discipline of training [sometimes yielding painfully slow forward progress] and toeing the line at a race.

There were three races this summer. The first, started at a time when I spent at least as much energy holding myself together as I did going through the motions of the short little race. I was overwhelmed and slept for an entire afternoon afterwards, but I did it. The second was a familiar one, this being my third consecutive Alligator Creek Tri which resulted in a PR (personal record) and the best part was my girl PJ was there to cheer me on. I could not think of a better way to spend my 36th birthday. My best girls are runners, rockstars really, and when I made the move over to multisport I lost a little of the camaraderie we shared. They are far from me, but their girl power isn’t diminished by distance and I’m so glad P was there and brought her awesome family along as well. They spoil me and the truest gift is the time we are able to spend in each other's company. The third marked a huge milestone for me. One I didn’t even recognize until a day or two before the race.

One of the favorite and longest running races held in the area is sort of the season ending St. Louis area “Championship” race. 750 participants, it sells out very early in the season and is where a lot of the local speedsters duke it out in a little friendly competition. I got in this race last year, paid the fees, flew through the practice session the weekend before, but then my life as I knew it, imploded the night before the race. To be anywhere but with my babies that next morning would have been unfathomable. I was paralyzed under the weight of their sadness and rightfully so. There would be no refund, no do-over. There would, however, be a moving forward.

So cut to the race morning 2007. Stunning morning. Cool and calm. The realization that I was finally coming full circle and finishing what I didn’t really get to start a year ago was mostly bittersweet but also empowering. Everyone standing out there in the early morning sunshine had a different motivation to be there. Different life experiences that they were carrying with them, just as I was. Met with quiet determination and the knowledge that they had prepared the best they could and would deal with whatever the day threw at them. I didn’t run the race that day in 2006, but it took every bit of preparation and experience and luck and support that I had accumulated all the years prior to soldier on this past year and be able to toe the line in 2007.

Now, instead of quietly deflecting the questions as to why I was a DNS (did not start) at the 2006 race, I can now explain that I took third in my age group and how everything came together at the end of my racing season. My babies didn’t see the smile on my face as I crossed the finish line and accepted my plaque; but it was for them.

And I can't wrap it up without saying something about the determination of the wheelchair athletes I saw during the race. All under the age of 20, they put in the miles just like the rest of us; but with bodies that don't always cooperate. There are times in every race, hell, even most training days where it would be easy to quit. Just walk it in. Those kids are stronger than I can ever hope to be and I find that incredibly motivating. And humbling. And it makes me proud to be competing shoulder to shoulder, on the same playing field.

Part 2: Bike love...of a different sort.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

Still Takes My Breath Away

Took this picture from my bike last night. It's October, but the weather is more like June. And just like I experienced at the end of the season last year, this is the ride that will carry me through those dark, cold winter months.

As a pedaled last night I thought about the long overdue update I've got started. But I was also thinking about how so many of my friends have been diagnosed with cancer this year. Maybe it's my age. Bodies start to show signs of wear and tear. And mostly I'm okay with that, because at this age all the wrinkles and weirdness that has been going on with my skin and bones is somewhat amusing and I've earned it. When I am old, I want to have used up my body and have some great stories to go along with it. So I can tell my audiologist all about it when she's got a waiting room full of patients to see before she can go to lunch. But I digress.

But I'm not okay with the fact that with every one of my friends and acquaintences who get the shocking diagnosis, there will be suffering. Hopefully it's fleeting. It's hard not to know what to do. But I read one plus two: brother can you spare a dime and realized it doesn't really matter what I do when someone is hurting, as long as I respond.

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