unfinished business (part 3)

so after not completing the course on saturday i was in a state. my brain was spiraling out of control. my thoughts were incredibly negative. and i was beyond disappointed in myself. i went into the shower to rinse the day off. while in there i began to get angry. i was angry with myself for stopping even as my feet were burning from the inside with the hot water reviving them. i thought to myself maybe i should get back out there tonight and finish the course. then i started thinking of the dropping temperature and my now wet head. i vowed to finish the course in the morning. i figured i could just get up early before anyone else woke up, ride down to the bottom and climb my way back up. i didn’t need to have anyone else’s blessing, i needed to finish what i started. as i dried off, i was a bit happier in my brain that i wasn’t allowing this to completely destroy me.

coach k came in and talked to me. she still had that face and tone in her voice that i had never heard before. this was serious and i knew it without her face and tone, but it helped cement it in my mind and gut. she told me i needed to find the positives within the ride – that although the most obvious negative was staring me in the face and weighing me down – the amount of positives outweighed the negative. we discussed my mismanaged fueling – nothing in depth but enough to make sure i noted how my bottles looked. and then she suggested gently that i finish the course in the morning. i told her that i had decided to do just that. we both knew i couldn’t have any unfinished business leaving lake placid.

we all had a lovely, enjoyable evening – eating, talking, laughing. the ride that was to come was weighing on my mind still. everyone was supportive and kind about me finishing the following day – but i do think that sunshine and coach k were a bit annoyed that i stopped and they didn’t. they weren’t the ones doing this race and they completed the course and i couldn’t.

so after a night of restless sleep the alarm went off and i promptly started packing and cleaning up. i wasn’t totally sure how long the ride would take and coach k hadn’t given me a timeframe to aim for. my hope was for under an hour but i was also just needing to finish. after eating and cleaning up finally 8 am came. i set up my bike and noticed my bottles. my aero water bottle had a little bit left and my back bottle was still filled. not ideal for sure. i refilled the bottles and was ready to fuel on the hills and to take the final hills.

as i turned out of the driveway and down the street, a group of runners came out of the school parking lot. my stomach was in knots and i was feeling uncomfortable and disjointed on the bike already. the runners seemed so happy while i just needed to get lost in this ride. i needed to find peace within this course. i wasn’t sure if i could find it but i was hoping.

i turned out onto the road and went down the hill. i started my watch in the driveway but somehow managed to turn it off somewhere heading down the hill. i was focusing on fueling and getting comfortable. i couldn’t remember EXACTLY where jas and i had stopped but once i saw the ski club i knew i had gone too far. i very nervously turned around – the cars were driving very fast and i felt invisible out there.

i struggled to get going up the hill. but then i thought of walter. channeled his peace. thought of the circles needed to get me up the hills. as i rode i thought to myself that i was still cheating myself since my legs were fresher. that i didn’t actually know how hard these hills were since i hadn’t ridden 50 miles beforehand. i had to shush these thoughts away and just breathe. these thoughts weren’t helpful in this moment.

and i climbed. and i fueled. i focused on the timing and where i could safely fuel. i couldn’t abandon fueling just because i was on a hill. and i knew that i needed more time on this bike. on the road. i couldn’t avoid it. i couldn’t fake being comfortable. i needed to be so comfortable on keke. i vowed to hide or something my trainer so i wouldn’t be compelled to chicken out on a rainy day. no more. i needed to face it all ON the bike.

then came the bears. as i climbed the first bear (momma bear) i thought of my mom and the challenges we had faced as i grew up. those challenges didn’t kill me and neither would this hill. then came the next bear (baby bear) and i thought of my baby brother (ok ok he’s not a baby…but i still think of him like that) and how we can get through any hardship. and i climbed that hill. then i saw the big one. or at least what seemed like the big one. as i approached i knew this was papa bear. and i thought to myself that as ominous as it appeared that i could face this just as i faced so many other challenges with my father. as i turned the corner i was relieved to have climbed the bears but that hill after turning the corner was the most devious! i dug deep to get into the neighborhood. and i knew i was close to home. and i knew that finishing the bike in the neighborhood and going past the house we stayed in would be perfect to get me through.

as i pulled into the driveway i was pleased that i finished. it wasn’t joyous or celebratory and it didn’t need to be. i needed to get that ride done and it got done. it didn’t change me too much. the ride the day before had done some pretty significant damage and just completing a measly 14 mile ride didn’t seem that momentous.

so we all packed up and went to lunch at the green goddess.

on the ride home, coach k and i had a very frank honest discussion. she laid it all out to me. that the next 90 days are game time. every workout needs to be me pushing myself to the wall and through the wall. i should want to quit every run, ride, swim and not quit but push myself harder. my fueling and eating needs to be on point because i don’t have time to mess around. my brain needs to be on board and if i for one second doubt that i can finish this race, then i won’t be able to.

this was an intense conversation because coach k is not normally as blunt. she’s clear but not normally like this. and it’s what i needed.

i will finish imlp. i will finish within the time period. i know that the next 90 days are going to be hard but i also know that hard is where the transformation happens. and hard is where i can become an ironman.

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