So I have to say that in case you didn't notice (or weren't one of the handful of people to whom I endlessly whined on the topic), I have been really down on this endeavor, as a whole. In fact just about a week or two ago, I wrote an email to a friend in which I told her never to let me sign up for anything like this again, because, and I quote myself: I am just really not used to being humiliated on a regular basis like this. And even though there are nice triumphant moments, there is far more personal humiliation. It is making me miserable.
Because, I confess it: I have been miserable far more often than not, the last couple of months. I have hated training, and I've hated how my legs are always hurting somewhere, somehow, and I've suffered through way too much horrid spin class than anyone should ever have to suffer, unless it's like part of their prison sentence or something. I've hated the feeling of dread as I go to every team ride, which is exactly the same feeling terror/nerves/guilt that appears in the pit of your stomach when the principal calls you to the office and you know you're going to get in Big Trouble and it will go on your Permanent Record and your mom will cry and it'll be just awful and it's ALL YOUR FAULT. (No clue why I have that feeling as I head to every ride, but there it is.)I've hated that I get along okay, but I don't excel at this. I am used to excelling without much effort, so to be unable to excel even when maxed out on effort? It's a bad, bad feeling. And most of all - more than anything else - I've hated being so much slower than everyone else on the team, and how utterly miserably lonely and isolating that feels.
But just since Saturday, the misery is easing off. And I thought it was because it was all almost finally over, but now I know it's not that. It can't be just that, because I keep getting little pangs at the thought that I won't get to go for long rides on Saturdays with this nutty group of people. I already miss them, and the summer already feels a little empty without the prospect of riding on the weekends.
Instead, the things that are making me stop hating it all are - well there are a few. The first is just hanging out with the team Saturday. It really is a great group, not competitive or snobby or bullying or any number of other awful things I hear about cyclists-in-groups. That awful feeling of dread on the way to the ride just disappeared the second I saw the team. It always does, because all the expectations and disappointment and judgment of me - that's not them. It's all in my own damn head. It's all my own disappointment and expectations and judgment, and my imagination just decided to make other people the monsters. When really it's all just me.
It also really, really helps that I stopped expecting myself to go above and beyond, always, with the training. Allowing myself to stop spin class and swapping out the afternoon gym sessions in favor of the bike commute removed the majority of my daily unhappiness. It all felt like a relentless series of chores, and I finally gave myself permission to slack off. I also stopped expecting myself to go to every ride, to go faster and be better and always under any and all circumstance finish every mile. Of course all of that would be nice, but I just decided that I didn't care enough to beat myself up about it if I didn't pull it off every week. In general, I just stopped being so damn uptight and anxious about all of it. And voilà - misery is replaced with general satisfaction.
The other most recent factor, though, is seeing the really wonderful rush of donations from family, friends, and total strangers the last few days. I mean, hey: Anonymous Person who donated $300 and didn't even leave an email so I could say thanks? You are so generous and terrific and thank you so so so much. And look what the Zapinskis sent:
(The entire Zapinski family is internationally renown for their ability to always find the perfect card.)
And everyone who's donated and sent such encouraging words - you all know who you are, and all I can say is that it works: I feel very cared for, and believed in. Even the number of people who have said to me in that offhanded way that "Oh, you'll do all 100 miles, I know you will. Of course you will, I have no doubt" - it's really an amazing thing, to realize how many people have confidence in me. It doesn't really matter if I have confidence in myself, because everyone else seems to have oodles of it for me. There's no lack of confidence in Beth, it seems.
So I can't really tell you how much that means to me, except to say that it took me from a This All Sucks I Am Full Of Regret attitude to a Oh Well Heck This Is The Best Thing I've Ever Done attitude in just a handful of days.
So thanks. :-)