Saturday, August 30, 2008

"I Can't" by Tracy Catlin, DE Client

After eight weeks of training and mental endurance training, along with healthy doses of glutamine and glycine, I survived my first 50k biking event: Pedalfest, Wichita, KS. It wasn't without it's bumps and almost one big hiccup, however, especially when I became sick two days before the adventure.

There was a lesson to be learned here. I became sick on Friday--you know--it's that little tickle in the back of the throat and then a few sneezes. The few sneezes turned into a hacking cough by Saturday and by Saturday night, I had developed a low-grade fever of 99.7 degrees. What timing! Eight weeks of training and now this? Sunday morning, the day of Pedalfest, I went downstairs at around 6 a.m. to get some water and Dale the Husband comes down, too. Instead of doing anything else, I have to sit. Holding my head in my hands, I told him, "I don't think I can do this." Then things start going a little gray and fuzzy with the room suddenly turning slantways. I asked Dale if he could get me some ice water, and I head to the couch in the family room to lie down. I fainted before I had the ice water and he had to put some cold wash cloths on me. Later, I asked him what happened because my knee hurt. He fixed me some toast and half a bagel and some ice water and I felt better. That, and some Dayquil, too. I was up half an hour later, and he looked at me funny as I packed up my food to go to my bike ride.

"I can't let this go," I said. "I have to do this. I've worked so hard."

He thought I was crazy, but he really wasn't surprised. Afterall, my word for Dictionary Day at the school where I teach was "tenacious."

The second half of the bike trip and on one of the long stretches of Butler Road, which happens to be farm country of beautiful fields, streams and chestnut colored horses, I was riding alone. The road and I had a few discussions. My bike and I had a few words, and my legs and I were at battle. I wanted to see the Pedalfest truck so that I could wave him down. I had promised my husband that if I started to feel bad that I'd pull the support truck over to give me a ride back. On Butler Rd., the truck passed me twice. I thought about it; my legs burned so badly and the next stop wasn't for miles.

The truck came along again, and I looked him right in the eyes. A quiver shot up through my fatigued shoulders. I could have stopped him and said, "I can't do this anymore, please take me back."

How bad did I really feel to give it up?

There wouldn't have been shame in it; afterall, I had ridden over 20 miles which wasn't bad for a first timer. But I didn't. I waved and watched a bit as he drove on past. I don't think I'd really give up--"I can't" isn't in my vocabulary. But when my lungs were burning and my legs were cramping, I could understand why a person would want to give up when things became difficult. The thought is--how can we ease the pain when learning or doing something new? We don't give up. We don't make it easier, but we shake it out, we rest, we stretch, we carb-load, we sing funny songs on Butler Rd that make us laugh out loud; we pray that the fat tires suddenly turn into easy-to-turn skinny ones, and we do the things that we need to do to make us carry on for the rest of the way. But we don't give up. Anyone can do that. And I certainly wasn't just anyone anymore.

I did it--all 31.07 miles/50K of me, nature and the road--my time was horrible, but I don't care about that. I care about my legs, about what I had done and my transformation. I care about making it through when I could have given in when things got rough. I didn't. I pedaled through. I earned every carb I ate--which happened to be pizza. I hadn't had any bread for eight weeks.

Dealing with what we deal with on an individual level isn't any different than a first-timer on a bike. We still have to get from point A to point B. It can be a tough road, but we get there, and it's the journey that we endure that shapes us. It's what we do to get the "I can't" out of our vocabulary and get our ass on the bike that makes us who we are.



We are ultra proud of you. You have now joined an elite and somewhat small percentage of the population that pushes ahead regardless of what is going on physuically or mentally. You accomplished the goal and THAT is what matters. You know my motto "Aspire. Act. Acheive!"

Now you can move forward and take that experience with you. You have reached the next level on the personal betterment journey. Again, real proud!


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