There he is again. I slowly focus on the noise that I am now very accustomed to hearing day-in and day-out. I know what that sound means for me. It means constant pain and struggle in order to beat him. My muscles ache down to the bone from our training the previous day but I know that he won’t leave me alone if I just try to ignore him. Maybe that is exactly what I should do. Just ignore him and get on with my day. When I look at the calendar I have plenty to do. Whether it is meetings, chores, or things I’ve been putting off, I know that there is plenty that I could focus my energy on and still feel like I’ve accomplished a lot today. Without fail I slowly start moving in order to appease him. Joints ache and muscles still burn but slowly as I am moving I realize that I am also feeling better. Like motor oil coating valuable engine parts, my body comes alive. At first the task at hand seems unrealistic and daunting but slowly minute-by-minute it is becoming clearer. As I decide to go with the full finger bike gloves due to the colder temperatures outside he mocks me one more time just to make sure I know who is the boss.
Once outside the world becomes more and more clear. My mind opens up to the environment around me and with the first stroke of the pedal I realize that I am slowly opening up distance between me and my nemesis. I continue to pedal on and as I warm up more, I start crushing through the gears opening up more and more distance. Once a comfortable distance has been opened, I am able to ponder many things alone on the bike. One thing that crosses my mind is why I do this. Why do we all do this? Who in their right mind thinks that putting on an overly tight outfit and sitting on a tiny seat alone for miles and miles is a good idea? Well we all do because day after day and week and week we press on. Whether the goal is a sprint triathlon or competing at Kona it doesn’t matter. We constantly track and record all of our data looking for the slightest thing that shows that we are improving. We become slaves to our computers, heart rate monitors and GPS devices.
None of that matters right now though. Halfway through the ride that previously I thought was unattainable, thanks to the nagging of my nemesis, I realize that I can do this. I also realize why I do this. It may sound simple but I have always believed that life is short and I want to make the most out of every day. So that is why I do this to my body week-in and week-out. I know that while I am out here, cranking the pedals mile after mile, I am constantly moving. Life is just that simple. If I can keep moving I am still alive. No matter what pain I have from yesterday’s workout or what I have ahead of me at the office, I am still alive and moving forward. I come to this realization approaching my last turn before heading home and it lifts me up. I suddenly have the energy to press harder. The road feels smoother or the bike is lighter or my legs are stronger, but it doesn’t matter because I am alive. I crank harder now for the last mile, half mile, and hundred yards until I turn into the driveway exhausted.
The pain sets in and the muscles slowly begin to cramp but there is one feeling that doesn’t change. I am alive! I have now accomplished something this morning that only my fellow athletes could understand. I could try to tell my folks or co-workers or dog but I would get the same strange look in return. I know, as I open the front door that no matter what happens today I have already pushed myself and proven to myself that I am still alive. I will, undoubtedly face trials and setbacks in the hours to come but my mind will drift back to that moment on the bike.
As I sit down to stretch and wait for my workout data to download to my computer so I can analyze it over a cup of coffee I hear him again. Faintly echoing from the distance it’s my nemesis, except this time he sounds different. The noise sounds much more like triumph now then before because I have beaten him once again. No matter how much he tries to bring me down and cause me to want to quit I know now that I have beaten him once again and nothing can take that away. A smile slowly creeps across my face as I stand up and walk to the bedroom to confront him in victory. Of course as I address his noise I have to wonder if I will ever remember to just shut off the snooze on him before my ride so that I don’t wake up everyone in the house.