In my bathroom right now there is a giant mass of sports gear, gels, and plastic baggies.
Tomorrow I am heading to St. Croix.
I can’t wait.
Just in time because winter has returned to Illinois (it was 36 this morning) and even if I did want to ride outside the only season that has arrived other than winter is construction (meaning everything is a mess or orange cones and merge into one lane) so most of the roads are a crowded mess. Rather than weave in and out of orange construction cones, I choose to race. Hence the trip. And the bathroom mess.
Something is different about this trip. You see, I am traveling solo. Husband has better things to do. Not really but he does have a list of about 20 things I am demanding that he do when I’m gone (lightbulbs, screen doors, take Boss to dog park, clean up pile on closet floor of clothes too clean to be dirty and too dirty to be clean).
I found out that Bree Wee is also traveling alone. Depending on how this clash of caffeinated vs. decaffeinated goes – this may or may not be a good thing. For her, not me. What she needs to know is that my decaffeinated bark is worse than my bite. And generally I don’t bite unless I don’t have coffee.
I’ve already warned Bree that on Friday morning I will be calling her and I will be looking for coffee. I have already checked into the coffee situation on St. Croix and I am sad to report that it is – in a word – grim. So, I am bringing my own. And bringing my own French press mug. You can see that I have been in a grim situation before, learned my lesson (actually the mug was a gift from Chris, poor guy had to put up with years of I CANNOT DRINK GAS STATION COFFEE on the road tantrums) so I’m bringing my mug along – just in case.
Little does Bree know that I also plan to cling to her like her evil twin at the pro meeting because if they found out I don’t flip turn and still swim in the 1:25 lane – they will probably put me in a special wave. By myself. In the shallow pool. With swimmies.
As I was packing today I realized I had no idea where St. Croix even was. But then I realized that was also part of the fun of it. All that I know is I board a plan at 1:55 pm CST and arrive 8:55 EST. I am not sure what that equates to in miles and time zones and hours but does one really need to know? It’s like a choose your own adventure and as I sit on the plan to San Juan (also don’t know where that is) I can turn the page and arrive in St. Croix. How I got there? Don’t know. Don’t need to know. Only thing important is (a) is it warmer than 36 degrees, (2) is there a beast around because I have been looking for him, and (c) where is the coffee.
I have something else very exciting to report other than my confession that I am not a good student in world geography: I fit everything into a carry on suitcase. Oh no? Oh yes. EVERYTHING. You don’t believe me. But believe you me. It’s all in one tiny bag. No extra baggage fees for me.
Of course this means I’ll be wearing the same clothes for three days straight.
This will also be my first time driving on the left side of the road. I have rented a car and Bree warned me that I will be driving. I am sure there is some great story of Bree driving on the wrong side of the road somewhere and when I hear it I will definitely share.
If I could fit Boss I would bring him. But my carry on is already stuffed and I’m trying to keep my bike box under 50 lbs. But I am bringing along smaller lucky trinkets. The bracelet that my sister in law gave me last weekend to bring me good karma, positive energies and protect me from the evil eye. The band identical to the one Marit has. The notes, the e-mails, the quotes. All of these pieces remind and inspire me of the power of things bigger than me.
I did a little brick tonight and I was thinking about the race. Then my thoughts drifted to my athletes and their races. Many of them are racing this weekend. I reminded myself of what I had been telling them about their races. That their legs are ready for their best race. That the only thing standing in their way is what is in their head. So they must be 100 percent ready to overcome themselves and their head to get to their best race. Reminding them that they have choices. That they write their own ending – always. No excuses, no holding out when it counts. Arrival at a goal is entirely a choice you make.
These are the same things I tell myself. The legs are there. The training is done. Between me and the finish line are 70.3 miles that will hurt more in my head. Doubts will try to rush their way in during moments of weakness and pain. But I have to push them out. Close the door and run my own race. Be confident in my preparations. Follow my plan. And chase towards my goal with tunnel vision for the ending I create.
And as I pedaled into the wind tonight riding the bumpy rough roads of Fermilab, thinking about the wind on the island and the rough roads on the course, I thought to myself for this race, in my head, this is what it takes:
Courage to let your hard work pay off
Patience with yourself and the race
Vision to see it through to the end
As long as I keep repeating that in my head there will be room for nothing else.
But I sure wish I had room for Boss!