Full Circle

My plan was to ride approximately 100 miles from my house all the way around the island, ending downtown at the bike shop where Coach C would install a speedometer on my bike.

I had a little speech practiced in my head for when I got there. I decided today was the day I was going to tell him how happy I am when I’m with him, that I’m happy in general because I have a good life and I’m really lucky but when I’m with him I’m somehow just even more happy. I was going to tell him I think about him all the time and suggest he strongly consider how awesome it would be to take a flying leap off a giant cliff with me.

It was an ambitious undertaking. I left my driveway before dawn and made my way out to Kalanianaole and through Hawaii Kai. The payoff to climbing the backside of Koko Head was watching the sunrise over Makapu’u as I rode past Sandy’s towards Waimanalo. My mood was stellar as I cycled on.

Kailua… Kaneohe… Kualoa for a quick bathroom break… Hauula where I stayed with my mom… Laie… Kahuku… Pupukea for a blueberry muffin and a Waialua pineapple soda at Ted’s BakeryHaleiwa

I cruised through the North Shore and, 4 hours and more than 60 miles in, accidentally found myself back on Pineapple Hill. I meant to go farther west but turned too soon and just thought Fuck it, why the hell not?

It wasn’t a good idea and the 3-mile incline did a number on me. I was exhausted by the time I reached the top which led to more wrong turns in Wahiawa and almost ten unintentional miles added to my trip. Up to that point it was a beautiful ride and though Kunia was painfully hilly, it was gorgeous as well. Coming down into Waipahu the scenery changed quickly. Industry, potholes, big trucks kicking up dust. The last 16 miles along Farrington Highway to Nimitz pretty much sucked and then about a mile from the bike shop I fell.

It wasn’t serious. I was just tired and came too close to a car. I scraped up my leg but you could hardly tell it was covered with so much dirt by then. All I wanted to do when I finally got to the shop was wash my hands and take a nap but I did my best to stay positive and upbeat.

The mood wasn’t what I expected, or should I say hoped for. It was like he seemed tired of me or something. I think he was impressed by how far I had ridden but there was no “Good job!” or anything of the sort. I sat on the floor and stretched a little, practicing my speech in my head trying not to seem nervous.

After he was finished installing my speedometer we were trying to figure out how the backlight worked to no avail. I was too tired to really care about the answer and said, “It’s OK, I won’t be riding around in the dark much anyway.”

And to my surprise he replied, “You do more than most.”

It hit me like a ton of bricks. It was the first time it ever dawned on me that he thinks I’m stupid. He’s made jokes here and there about my spaciness but for some reason they never bothered me so much as made me think of little boys in grade school who make fun of the girls they like. But this one really got to me. And what’s worse is I hadn’t said anything dumb in that moment. It was just an unprovoked commentary of his general feeling toward me.

I had just ridden over 100 miles for the first time in my life, with 10 more to go just to get myself home and my coach, this man I trust and completely adore, tells me I’m stupid.

So I left without giving my speech. I thanked him for the installation and was on my way. I took a lot of deep breaths but still cried riding through Waikiki, almost hyperventilating up over Diamond Head, my heart not caring at all that my legs were climbing yet another fucking hill. It felt like I would never get home but of course in time I did. I rode into my driveway completing a full 115 mile loop around the island, then I walked inside, fell onto my bed and cried some more.

I’m aware of my overreaction. I’m exhausted, hungry and sad; it’s no surprise that I would blow a flippant comment out of proportion. I’m certain from his perspective it was nothing more than a playful jab that really didn’t mean anything. But I can’t help but also take it for the other thing that it is, a clear indication of something I know but haven’t wanted to deal with just yet.

And so it goes that Coach C will not be falling in love with me. Nor will he be exiting his comfort zone in order to grab my hand and take a flying leap off a giant cliff.

This has to be OK and so, in time, it will be.

Ashes, Ashes, the Boats Burn Down

Here are the thoughts that have been keeping me from getting what I say I want. Here are the boats I burned Saturday night:

~ I would suck at being a mom because I am so selfish

~ I would make a horrendous wife because I’m so impatient and quick to blame

~ I’m not really a team player

~ I focus so much on what I hope for that I never appreciate what I actually have

~ I’m terrified to get into a new relationship because it went so badly last time

~ If I do dare to get into another relationship I will eventually lose myself in it and everything I’ve worked so hard to become

~ I only attract unavailable men

~ No one would want to deal with me anyway

~ I’m better on my own

~ I have trouble trusting people

End Scene.

Going through that exercise while slowly reciting the Om Namo Bhagavate (108 times in the vedic tradition) cleared my focus for the race. Shedding useless weights I’ve carried for years gave me back the energy I needed to say Fuck you! to the fear and keep my emotions in check and on track, away from the belief that I would probably drown out there, away from the shame that maybe I was doing it just for the attention of a man who’s not even interested.

I trusted and leaned on my coaches through training but Sunday morning it was just me. I didn’t get a push from Coach C. I didn’t even see Coach J until after the race and Coach P was busy directing traffic and calling the shots at the starting line. I pushed myself into the water and I did just fine. And afterward we celebrated.

Time to raise the curtain on a new act, start telling the story about how open my heart is, how confident I am in my ability to give love, receive love, push, try, encourage, be present and care, love love love love love and appreciate in the moment.

I’m gonna be a great mom and a fun, enthusiastic, loving, trusting, joyful wife. I won’t suck at either of those things because I will never again lose this version of myself. I understand now how important it is, how beneficial to everything it is, to stay clear and strong.

Dear Universe I’m ready, so let’s go.

Sub Three Baby! Yeow!

KILLED IT! Oh man I did so much better than I thought I would. I was hoping for 3 ½ – 4 hours and I finished in less than three! 2:54:00 to be exact.

I can hardly believe it but I did the swim in 36 minutes. My coaches said I had a strong bike time of 1:10:57. And I ran the 10K in less time (1:01:57) than it took me last year when I did my first race ever. I spent five minutes total in transition.

The swim was much less awful than I expected it to be. There was little pushing or pulling and I didn’t get swam over like I feared. Mostly it was a very large group of people who were just as bad at swimming as I was. The biggest problem was the T-boners with their heads down completely unaware of the fact that they were swimming perpendicular to the rest of the racers. I just treaded water whenever one passed in front of me then got back to swimming.

All in all I only saw one big fish who I imagined was pretty freaked out by the lot of us and I had absolutely no time or energy to devote to worrying. And honestly, swimming back and catching the sunrise over Magic Island really wasn’t that bad. The swim was over before I knew it proving once again that all the dread and anxiety of life exists in the preparation. Rarely does it ever surface in the actual doing.

Cycling was AWESOME! I felt strong the entire way and was only passed by 3 or 4 women. Everyone else who passed me was a man on a suped-up tri bike. I learned long ago not to compare myself to them. But I’ll tell you what else… I passed every kind of person and bike out there. Old, young, male, female, fancy bike with $2,000 wheels on it, you name it I cruised right past it, especially after the first turn around when we had a few small hills to go up. I hauled ass and had fun doing it!

I felt super slow on the run but was happy that I was able to keep going without taking any breaks. And I simply could not believe it when I crossed the finish line and realized I did it all in under three hours. Yaaahhhooooo!

Oh man I can’t wait for whatever is next!

pre-race team in trainingHere’s my Team in Training team before dawn getting ready to dive into the ocean! Gail, to my left, is a lymphoma survivor and simply amazing to watch in action. I have to say that despite my earlier frustrations with the Team in Training experience, it all really turned around for me and I am so glad I participated and got to know such a wonderful group of people.

pre-race 2And of course the obligatory goofy/excited version. These photos were taken by our coordinator. Much love to you all!

Burn the Boats!

Hooray! Coach J is gonna do the race! Coach P is the organizer, Coach C simply claims to not be a triathlete, and Coach J is getting on a plane to Italy at noon and just wasn’t planning to race. But just now at the last minute at packet pick-up he changed his mind. And I’m so glad he did.

Coach J is so good natured and encouraging. Seeing him tomorrow morning will undoubtedly help calm my nerves. Knowing he’s out there in the water with me will help me feel so much less alone. Phew! It doesn’t make exact clear sense, but I feel so much better!

And now, thanks to some much needed pre-race pep talking from the wonderfully inspiring Andy Andrews, I will spend the rest of the evening attempting to burn the boats!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlNngcDNFS0

“What is it in our lives that is still floating the excuses in our minds, that’s keeping us from getting what we say we want? What are the boats in our hearts… that we need to burn?”

~ Andy Andrews

Fraud Alert

There’s something I haven’t told you about all this “swimming” I’ve been doing, something I need to get off my chest before the race…

So far every time I’ve gone swimming at Ala Moana I’ve stayed about ten to fifteen feet from shore in water no more than waist deep. I haven’t been making full strokes with my arms because my hands would scrape along the bottom if I did. Instead I’ve been doing a sort of half stroke that I swing out to the side rather than pull beneath me.

To my physical credit, I don’t stand to take breaks. I “swim” the whole way without stopping. But in terms of my mental state, I’ve done almost nothing to quell my fears of drowning in deep waters or being attacked by the creatures who live out there.

On Sunday the race will take place in water averaging at least 30’ deep and I will have no choice but to circle the buoys and swim far offshore the entire way back.

So that’s keeping me up at night. That and all stuff Coach J told me yesterday about how I’ll probably get kicked in the face and I’ll definitely get “swam over” and pulled down in the frenzy.

My stress level is a lot higher than I’ve realized. It seems I’ve taken a break from my sadness over Coach C in order to concentrate fully on how incredibly scared I am.

One more practice Saturday morning followed by volunteering at packet pick-up and a whole lotta carbo loading. The race starts at 5:45 AM on Sunday. Wish me luck!

Once More Into the Murk

Today I did most of my procrastinating at home so when I finally made it to the beach I only stood knee deep in the water for 3 or 4 minutes before plunging in. I swam the entire length of Ala Moana and back feeling ever so slightly less weary of my surroundings. It was my final swim practice before the race this weekend.

I drove back home, made myself a snack and got on my bike to ride a 25 mile loop out to Waimanalo and back. The wind was so strong it was comical. I down shifted to increase my leg speed and moved my hands to the low part of my handlebars. Using all the techniques my coaches have given me, I stayed pretty strong up over Koko Head and Makapu’u.

Out past Sandy’s I thought about the first time I rode this far on my hybrid with the training group. How they left me in the dust and Coach P sent me home early on my own. I thought about the second time I rode out this way after I got my road bike. On my way home from a long training practice in Waimanalo I had trouble shifting my gears and my chain came off its derailleur. It was the first of many times and I didn’t know how to fix it.

I moved to the side of the road and took out my cell to call Coach J. He’d talk me through it and I’d be on my way in no time. But before the phone was even ringing another cyclist stopped and asked if I needed help. As I was turning off my phone I said, “Yes, thank you. I do.” He then turned to me and yelled with extreme impatience, “DO YOU NEED ANY HELP?!”

Awkward.

I calmly repeated myself. “Yes, thank you. I do. My chain came off and I don’t know how to fix it.”

[Pause. If I were to show you how to fix a chain on a bicycle you, like me, would think something along the lines of “Well that was easy! He could have talked you through it and you would have been just fine!” But no, this man gave me quite a show.]

There was eye rolling, sighing with a little grunting. There was gesturing of greasy hands in an I-hope-you-realize-what-I’ve-sacrificed-to-help-you sort of way. There were glances to his fellow riders so I clearly understood that a) he was losing time and b) he was the only angel willing to stop and help my poor pathetic soul.

Keep in mind, if you will, that I did not flag this man down, nor did I ask for his help. He stopped of his own accord and offered it.

Approximately 14 seconds later, when the chain was back on, there was lecturing about how he’d hoped I’d paid attention in case this happened to me again in the future followed by a swift dramatic wiping of his fingers in the grass.

Confused by the gruffness of this random stranger who stopped to offer help and was now scolding me as if I had ruined his entire ride, I offered little more than an “OK.”

After his hands were sufficiently cleansed he struck his final blow. He got on his bike, looked back at me and asked in the snarkiest tone he could muster, “Do you even know where you’re going?”

Yah jackass because accidentally jamming my chain has anything at all to do with my sense of direction. Never mind the fact that there’s one fucking road that goes around the perimeter of this island! I think I got it A-hole!

So I was peeved as I rode slowly through Kalama Valley, pondering why this facet of the population has such a tendency to be so impatient with newcomers, so holier than thou. But the disgruntled-ness didn’t last long. I cruised right past my savior on the way up the back side of Koko Head, miraculously managing to hold my tongue as well as my finger. Because despite my dad’s near constant insistence to the contrary, my mama taught me to be nice and now after over 30 years of living as a force to be reckoned with, I’ve finally learned how to embrace my softer side.

I had a pretty big grin on my face coasting down into Hawaii Kai though. Mama has a sarcastic bite beneath that smile. Maybe I can’t do bike maintenance on the side of a highway just yet, but I can climb the shit out of any hill you put in front of me.

If that same guy saw me today – decked out in my tri-shorts and jersey, clipless pedals, Giro cycling shoes – and the same incident occurred, I bet he’d be respectful and kind. It doesn’t make any sense to me; I’m the same exact person. But people see what they want to see and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Today I rode strong just like Coach J always says. “So strong! So strong!” I basked in the evidence of how far I’ve come then I ran two miles around my neighborhood to end the day’s work. I can’t believe the race is only four days away.

Thank you Thank you Thank you a million times over to everyone who has donated to my fundraising efforts! You are amazing life saving beautiful wonderful rock stars and I adore the living crap out of each and every one of you!