Sunday, December 7, 2008

And Just Like That....

Cross Season is officially over. O.V.E.R.

I still haven't figured out why, for the life of me, racing yesterday morning was a good idea. I was calorie deficient, sleep deprived and completely lacking grrrrrrr. In fact, I was in a state of negative grrrrr. Rrrrrg. Wah-wahhhhhhh.

But I was awake, I was packed and I really didn't want to spend the morning alone.

It was freezing out at PIR. I half-heartedly sat on the trainer for about 20 minutes, listening to Sleater-Kinney at full volume and hoping that some girl rock spirit would override my melancholy. It didn't really work. In fact, it was an epic fail. I would find myself playing Friday night's conversation in my head and tears would start to slowly leak down my cheeks.

Heidi rung her bell badly during the warm-up and when I went to check on her one last time before the race started, I looked at her and tearfully muttered, "No matter what, make me start and don't let me quit."

One out of two ain't bad, all things considered.

I knew 30 seconds in that I wouldn't finish the race. My hands and feet were blocks of ice and my legs and heart were lead. I just rode along, not paying attention to anything going on around me. Rode through a puddle and my feet started to burn with cold pain. Lost focus on a slick downhill and came dangerously close to taking a header into a tree.

Once a junior passed me on a mountain bike, it was time to admit that I wasn't going to gain anything from finishing other than an injury or busted bike. I passed through the finish area at the end of the first lap, pulled off of the course and put my forehead down on my handlebars. I felt hollowed out and exhausted and so disappointed. I just couldn't out-race my grief.

I cruised slowly back to the tent and sat quietly for a few minutes in a sopping wet foldup chair, my head in my hands. We were sharing space with the PV folks again, and I didn't want to draw any attention to my failure.

I decided to flake on responsibility and spent the rest of the day out at PIR, drinking good beer and mingling with my fellow crossers. My eyes would well up once in a while, but there always seemed to be a well timed joke, or friend racing by, to chase the tears away. I laughed. A lot. And got hugged. A lot. My smile felt drunk and unnaturally big and bright, but every time it came to my face, a tiny bit of the dark cloud over my head lifted a tiny bit.

Getting on a bike today was not even an option. Went out today and cheered for my girlfriends. Drank coffee spiked with irish creme and rung a bell for Beth, Heidi and Sage until my wrists ached. Beth and I roamed the course afterwards, drinking beer and gossiping until the weather went south and we all decided to go home.

For the second straight year, the cyclocross season brought with it a lot of extracurricular drama and heartache. I went through another breakup at this exact same time last year, of a relationship that ended had been struggling for months. But it still hurt. Right now it is hard not to associate cross with the kind of tears and pain that are not caused by 45 minutes of gut wrenching effort on a bike.

But there are certain signs that, in the end, all is right in the world--and what is not right will be so in time. Winter has finally started here. It might be miserable outside--but at least its normal. There is a warm cat curled at my feet, purring and chewing on my toes when quit wiggling them up against her chin. There is basketball on TV. I haven't cried today. I am hungry--again.

There is a party tonight, to celebrate the end of the racing season in Oregon. Its a prom, with the theme "I believe." Earlier this week, my thought was this, "I believe I will use bourbon to drown my sorrows."

But I'm thinking that I'm going to instead go with "I believe that the winter will be my season for renewal." It has to be. There is no other option.


(0v0) said...

And in the midst of all of this, you write SO well. Funny what resilience something horrible like this can reveal.

Hope you have a great night tonight.

mikey said...

Big congrats on what you have to admit was a wildly successful 'cross season! xoxo