While a fantastic goal to set for oneself, it’s no easy feat to avoid drama at all costs. But I did this, a few years back; after tiring of the extreme highs and lows that come with work environments, relationships, and hobbies you and those around you sometimes overlook reason to be overly passionate about. My program, Zero D? That is where the name comes from.
Racing itself is drama, the collective of athletes going head to head sets the stage regardless of any emotional dialog from the competitors. Cyclocross is even more so with the weather and terrain putting forward it’s best effort at adding difficulty. The most dramatic courses are the ones that wow you with the need for skill and smoothness dry and become an incomprehensible spectacle with the addition of unpredictable elements of nature.
I have a certain amount of pride that came from eliminating the unnecessary drama around me, with exceptions of helping friends try to see a bigger picture or going from a fairly consistent relationship dry spell to speaking to more guys in one week than I would usually in a year, I’m able to maintain a positive and happy outlook where problems are dealt with in a mature manner and the path of least resistance is encouraged.
I get my fix on fall and winter weekends, usually enough that it leaves me mentally as well as physically exhausted come Mondays. The preparations all leading up to toeing the line for that final minute countdown, the intensity of the start and all the ways it can go right or horribly sideways, then keeping your mind sharpened and determined to chase down all in front of you while keeping clear of those hunting from behind.
Over time I’ve come to realize that the drama in my surroundings, the ones that are there from the beginning, like sunrises and mountain top views are the ones that really matter. The more severe the nature that surrounds us, the more insignificant anything we as people seem. Those rocks and trees were there long before us and (hopefully) will be there long after.
Many of us don’t get too far away from what we grow up with, a few towns, a few states over. While rewarding, travel is not easy and the further away you get from what you know, the more the challenge increases.
I am in no way immune to a fear of the unknown, in some regards I fear it as much as others, in some ways more so. I do try my best to not let that define me, although there are certainly times when besides my best efforts I feel as though it does.
There are moments; driving through the fierce morning sunlight in a car I still can’t pronounce the name of, overlooking the beach to a sea I can’t identify from memory, in a country I know so very little about with no ability whatsoever to speak the language, not quite sure of where I’m heading will look like -- that I feel at peace.
The peace comes from putting myself out there, from the growth and self-awareness that I gain, the realization that I can make my way through what it takes to get by. Getting by develops into comfort, comfort allows me to open up and see more of what is around me, and in turn I find myself glowing from the friendly smile some random person gave me who probably had no idea the inner me is completely wide eyed with that fear of the unknown.
I guess I don’t appear that way from the outside, I catch a glimpse in the mirror and do a double take, “is that me?” an old boyfriend used to say when he saw himself, "I don’t feel like that’s what I look like." I glance again and see a beautiful, self-assured middle-aged girl who looks confident and comfortable and younger than her years.
I know I am capable of more than a few 30th place results, sitting a few rows back from the start line and admiring how young and athletic my competitors are. I’m up there now, amongst the oldest in the race more often than not. I’m busy creating my own drama, just this particular conflict is in my head. It’s enough to slow me down though, to have me second guess my abilities, my drive, my desire to leave everything I have out there on the course.
“You are better than you give yourself credit” was recently said to me in response to how my racing is going. I chose this path, to race against the best of the best on the worlds hardest courses in the motherland of the sport. It’s every bit of amazing as it is humbling, though as is human nature, I tend to weigh a little heavier on the beatings I take than the accomplishments I achieve.
I want to do better, to feel satisfaction that I gave all I have to give.
But first, believing that I can is the trick.