Somebody told me I couldn't.
And so I believed it...
And I know that sounds really super lame, right? But it's the truth. I was in the best shape of my life, was down nearly 70 pounds, could rival a grown man in strength and stamina, and yet there I was---defeated. Feeling pathetic. Drinking the proverbial Kool-aid and literally choking on every drop. Didn't matter that I could ride a hundred miles in an afternoon. Didn't matter that I could leg press 900 pounds. Didn't matter that I could finally run and jump and enjoy my body.
That is why you stopped hearing from me. That is why I stopped cycling- and writing here. That is why I stopped hitting the gym. That is why I stopped doing everything that I loved and cared about that had benefited my life in such a positive way. Because somebody acted like a total douchebag and I let it get to me. And isn't that sad?
The truth is, I was in too deep. I was reading blogs incessantly and then comparing myself to the authors! I was reading cycling books and magazines like a champ! Somebody was always faster/thinner/stronger than me- and it drove me NUTS- so I HAD to catch them! I was hanging out with more of a 'cycling' crowd who was happy to boast about how much faster they were than me and how I'd never hang with them on the bikes, and it fueled my fire to get faster and faster and faster! Push, push, push! And it was great! I had surrounded myself with competition and I was pushing myself harder than ever before---and I thrived! ....Until I didn't. Until I came unglued. Until it became a slippery slope and somebody told me I'd never been good enough anyway.
That's right. It took somebody close to me, who I thought really had my back, to tell me I'd never be good enough to be able to ride with the really GREAT cyclists in our area, to make it all come apart on me. It shattered my determination and take-no-prisoners attitude and sent me spiraling into a tail spin. Here I was comparing and fighting to be LIKE THEM and was literally tearing my muscles down day-in and day-out to earn the stripes it would take to be a part of thejr community- and I suddenly couldn't even earn that right. I couldn't be a part of that club. Just like that... The person who'd been part of the solution, who I really looked up to and trusted and who had even taught me much of what I knew, became, literally, the problem.
I was broken. I started second guessing. Every ride I took after that felt like torture. A waste of time. I started hating on myself in my head "What are you even doing out here?" "You're a hobbyist. Nothing more." "You aren't dedicated enough." "You can never do what they do." "You'll never be as good as those people." "You look like a stupid poser out here on an expensive road bike that wasn't meant for you." And unfortunately all of that negative self talk boiled over into my working out too. I hated going to the gym all the sudden because of what people might think. Why did I CARE? Since when?
And isn't that awful? All because some arrogant ass felt threatened because somebody might be as good or better than him at "his" sport... (And that, I realized a LONG time later, was the problem. Not me.)
But the bigger issue really wasn't in what I had been told and in how I'd been treated, but instead it was in how I had sabotaged myself... It should have NEVER been about THEM. But I had made it that way. I was out on my bike because I LOVED it. I loved how free and strong and relaxed I felt. I loved how my body looked thanks to it. I loved how I saw things that nobody else saw because I was out there in nature, at peace. And it was ruined because I got competitive. I lost all of my grace and fell on my ass.
And so here we are, an entire summer practically wasted with only a few real workouts to show for it, because I was busy feeling sorry for myself... I hadn't even taken the bike outside since last fall, because I was just too embarrassed that everyone else was looking at me the way this single individual did. Lame- I know. But my Trek had stayed on it's stand, where I would occasionally ride it in the house just to break the cobwebs off. But you and I know that that is NOT what road bikes are meant for...
I took my bike out of the basement late last week. On a whim. The tires got filled. The computers got reset. The frame got dusted. And although the butterflies flew hard and fast against the pits in my stomach, I jumped on and I rode. Because I missed it. Because it had become part of me and I so desperately wanted to fill that void.
And do you know what? ........... It felt amazing. It was seven miles of fresh air, and quiet roads, and bliss before sundown... Yes, it was harder than I remembered. Yes, I had to remind myself of the right way to do things. Yes, I had to work diligently to quiet the demons that seemed to creep in only as I was climbing a hill or fighting to negotiate a tricky turn. But I did it. I got out of my head- and my way- and I did it.
I'm working hard to figure out where I go from here, but the first thing I did last week was delete almost every blog I've ever read from my reader. 320 of them. Gone. I'm sorry, but I'm starting over fresh. I realize I've likely lost a good number of followers here because of not writing regularly anyway, so it's a fine time for a clean up. If someone pops by here, leaves a comment, and is positive, I'm in. If it's all about competitiveness and racing and being 'better' than someone else, I'm not. That's the way it has to be for now.
Second, I'm going to be very selective in who I share my sport with in my private life. I just don't need the chatter and input. I like cycling- without anyone else's approval. I love to talk about it, but in a positive way without competitive innuendo. You can think you're better than me and that's cool, but you best keep that little secret in your pocket.
Aside from that, I need to get my diet back under control and build my confidence back up... I'll figure it out. One day at a time.