Have to admit that I am often a mess. I am full of anxiety and so much of it. I am stressed out and in general doing a poor job of processing my stress. Being a parent and husband is by far the hardest thing I have done and I do it everyday. All the adventures, races, all those cold, dark, scary epics seem easy in comparison. Partially because those were mostly dealing with me, and once I dwelled deep into my head, that wasn’t so bad.
I have also been in this head space of hurry up and get er done. Most of my racing was done with this mindset and it works well for getting from point A to B quickly. Still I wasn’t always “there”, in that I was looking for the next checkpoint, the next top of the climb, the next time split. Always hurrying along in racing, adventures, and in life too. This mindset has made life in many ways more difficult.
Right now I am training, or trying to train, for winter ultra’s on a bike. I have been captivated by winter travel for decades and the bike has lead me to wanting to take it to another level. The ultimate goal is the ITI in Alaska. I have been mildly obsessed with this ride for way too long and I am working on getting there next year. The path to this has been so long and I am now feeling glad that it is Now that I am getting close. In some ways this sounds silly, I was so much stronger in past years. I hiked, skied, and biked so much more, I was fit and strong, but I was still rushing through it all. One thing I kept reading about in doing winter ultras was folks saying don’t sweat. Don’t work so hard that you soak yourself, and stop as needed to adjust layers. As simple as it sounds it went against my entire racing experience of grit your teeth, deal with the discomfort and get er done. While there is still plenty of grit and determination needed, there is also this primary need to listen and be smart.
Thank goodness we can always evolve! It is hard, but I am rewiring myself in this process to be more attentive to my body, to listen to the winds, and to take action. Through the simple act of stopping to take off a layer before it is too late, or the reverse, I am changing my ways on and off the bike.
The other morning I was out for a quick ride while the girls slept. The stars were out and shining strong and bright. The air was cold, but my systems were working and I was warm, and dry! Normally my head is filled with disquiet for the first hour or so of a ride, all the noisy demands of life still intruding on my headspace till the meditative settles in. This morning it felt so great to be pedaling. Still I stopped for second to look at the sky, as it was calling to me. The stars were just amazing, it seemed like complete silence took over, I swear I wasn’t even breathing as I took it all in. It felt different out there that morning, I felt different. I didn’t want this short ride to end, I didn’t want to stop, and I somehow wanted to take my family along with me to experience this. I wanted to take the whole world with me to feel this. It really is impossible to explain how important and fulfilling it is to be out there, taking in this amazing beautiful world we all share, all while traveling along on a personal journey that means so much to me. Powerful indeed.
I have been reflecting on this and all the rest of my life, it is all rolled up into a huge ball! There are so many times when I feel desperate and feel like this path I am on is too much. I can feel the stress I cause my family. I need to be working more. It is so hard to balance it all and often I fail, but I don’t want to give up on this crazy dream. Moments like the one I had the other morning remind me that maybe it is worth the struggle, the problem is, is it worth the stress to my family? Hard to answer that honestly, and wish they knew how much it means to me. I really wish I could share the immense feelings I get while out there sometimes, I am hoping to find a way to do so in the future. Always more work to do, but we can make magic out of our messes if we focus and keep trying.
Lesson I didn’t learn until my late 40’s…live in the moment. Yesterday is over and tomorrow isn’t here yet.
Take it from me (turned 56 last October), when one rushes through life, they miss out what’s in front of them right now.
As for anxiety, you’re preaching to the choir. I’ve been diagnosed with anxiety (GAD), depression, and complex PTSD. For me, cycling is a form of EMDR. I ride my ride, taking in nature and sights as I pedal. I’m not a racer and will not ever be a racer (big rides with a lot of riders causes me deep anxiety, to the point of being nauseated).
Hang tough, man. You’re not alone dealing with anxiety.
Good words, Thanks for sharing your wisdom. Keep on pedaling.
Thanks for reading too!