Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Girl Picked Last

In front of the Massachusetts State House after the Ride to Remember, 2015.
My journey began on January 1, 2014 when I set out to lose weight and regain control of my life.  In February, 2015 I started this blog, where I have shared with you my story along the way.  Key to my fitness journey has been setting concrete goals.  Goal 1:  Lose weight - check.  Goal 2:  Rugged Maniac (2014) - check.  Goal 3:  Push-ups - check.  Goal 4:  Riding 100 miles on the Ride to Remember.
Brian and I at the State House in Boston.
My journey has been long and difficult at times.  I have had to overcome so many obstacles, I can't even begin to tell you.  The biggest obstacle I have had to conquer has been me.  My fears.  My insecurities.  My lack of confidence.  My anxiety.  Me.  As I've lost weight and people have seen me and said, "Tracey, you look amazing.  What did you do?" or "Tracey, you are such an inspiration." or "Tracey, how did you do it?  Can you help me?"  Despite this, inside of me, I have always doubted that I had it in me.

When I was a kid growing up, I didn't play organized sports.  I played outside with my friends.  We ran and played tag and hide and seek.  We made forts in the woods.  Went sledding until our fingers were frost bit.  We played.  And we played hard.  I had virtually no hand-eye coordination.  I could never throw a frisbee straight.  In school, whenever we had a school yard pick, I was always the last one picked.  Always.  It didn't matter what game we were playing, if it was kickball or something else, the team captains knew they couldn't rely on me because I was awful.  I always kicked the ball straight into the pitcher's arms or was too slow to make it to base.  In junior high, my dear friend played softball and her father was the coach.  He wanted me to learn how to play and encouraged me to join the team.  He practiced with me and spent time with me one on one to help me improve.  But I wasn't good.  I couldn't hit the ball and I couldn't catch either.  Out of pity, he put me in right field and played me the minimum he had to.  The team could count on me being out at bat because I was sure to strike out.  No matter what I did, I just was not good.

When I got to high school, I gave up on softball.  I tried out for cheerleading and didn't even make first cuts.  I practiced in March for track, but couldn't run more than a couple miles without stopping, so I never even tried out for the team.  I realized organized sports was not for me.

As an adult, I didn't really have any outdoor hobbies or interests.  If I was a member of a gym, I would go for a short while after we joined the gym or after New Years, or after one of the kids was born.  But I never stuck with it because I was too busy, too tired, or ...  I had one excuse or another.

When Joey was in Cub Scouts, my Assistant Den Leader brought us to various different hiking locations, where I developed an interest in hiking.  I never was fond of camping, but I did enjoy bringing my den on hikes (as long as Mr. Parent was leading the way).  Today, I continue to hike in some of the places he brought us.
The view from Peaked Mountain (My favorite hiking location!)  This was taken 9/12/2015.
When Mike died last year, I told Dmitriy that I wanted to do the Ride to Remember this year, but that I didn't think I could do it.  With arthritis in my knee, I physically did not think I was up for it.  Not to mention, I was fat and had little endurance or stamina.

I started riding in March.  My first two rides were horrible.  I went once on my old rickety bike and a second time on my son, Joey's bike.  Neither bike is a special road bike.  My old bike squeaked the entire time.  I was not in shape (for riding, anyway) and could not make it up one hill without pushing the bike up.  When I got my new bike in April, I started riding a little more often.  But work and school demands kept me from serious training.  In June, I started riding occasionally with the Competitive Edge group on Monday nights.  The first ride was grueling.  Our leader took us up Pease Road in East Longmeadow first and then Mountain Road a ladder type climb up Wilbraham Mountain.  It sucked.
1st ride of the season:  It was freezing and I couldn't even climb the hill near my house.  
Over the summer, I increased my riding.  I was averaging between 60 and 100 miles per week.  I was determined to meet my goal to do the Ride to Remember.  My husband told me how bad the hills were, so I tried to include as much climbing in my own training rides as I felt I could handle.  Some of my training rides were grueling.  One night I had such a bad head ache and felt so horrible that I thought I wasn't going to make it to the end of the ride.  I imagined what it would be like on R2R and I was afraid.  I begged my husband to come with me on this year's ride.  I told him I couldn't do it without him.  Who would be there for me if I failed?  In late July, I had to learn how to eat again.  I wasn't eating enough to fuel my rides.  I had no energy, my brain was in a fog.  I wanted to quit.  In August, I fell on one of my rides.  I hurt my tail bone and ended up with a concussion.  I was gripped with fear.  What if I fall on R2R?  What if I can't finish the ride?

During my concussion recovery, I couldn't function at all.  I went to see my chiropractor, who fixed me up quickly.  I swear by chiropractic care.  Dr. Brian Dixon is fantastic!
I desperately tried to put these negative thoughts out of my mind.  When they crept in, I said, "Stop."  I tried to put them in a box.  I kept riding.  I was counting down to the ride.  The excitement kept me going until the week before.  I realized, "Ok, the ride is in less than a week.  Counting down is only increasing your anxiety.  Just stop.  Look at today and get through today.  Don't think about the ride."

And then Thursday came.  My last class for my CAGS is on school finance.  I sat in class, listening to the professor talk about finance, listening to my classmates talk about different safety and security plans in their schools and how their schools use their resources to support the plan.  Repeatedly listening to the same story with a twist made my mind start to think about the ride.  I had a panic attack.  I texted Erica.  "I'm having a panic attack.  I'm trying not to cry."  She replied, "I will be there.  I'm dragging Billy out of bed too...what time do I have to be there and where can I park."  I love her.  Breathe.  Ok, It's going to be ok.

Then Friday came and this:  Feeling Loved.
She re-posted Liz's picture on Facebook Feeling loved!
The love I got from everyone at work helped tremendously.  I didn't cry for the rest of the day.  I felt pretty good too.  I even had a horrible phone call from someone in the afternoon.  It was a mean call from someone I love.  I was like, "Yeah.  Okay."  I hung up and thought to myself, "Bleep Bleep."  Don't let it get to you.

So Saturday came.  I slept through the night, no problem.  When craziness hit before the about that here:  Sneak Peek, it was my husband that was upset and I was the calm one.

Saturday was amazing.  It was just incredible.  Erica and Billy and my father came down to send us off.  Our friend Joe came to cheer for us when we were going up Boston Road.  My friend Katherine came and took pictures of us from the Eastfield Mall.   I can never fully express how much that said to me that they were there.  Their support gave me the extra boost of confidence to keep going all day.  It meant the world to me.
Erica took all these awesome pictures!!!  I love her!

Team Coleman:  Katherine grabbed this awesome picture of me and Brian riding by on Boston Road.  I love you, Katherine!
I did well all day.  I felt great.  I handled the hills just fine. I ate and drank at every rest stop to keep my nutrition up, so I did not grow tired.  I hate to say it, but it was easy.  My training rides were harder than the Ride to Remember.

Riding into Boston, going by the Citgo sign near Fenway, heading up the hill by the State House...I was overwhelmed with emotion.  I wanted to enjoy these moments and kept myself from crying.  I couldn't believe I did it.  I did it.  And it was easy.  When I saw my kids and David and Maria at the end, I felt so much pride and love.  I did it!  The girl picked last accomplished an impossible dream.

Here's an AWESOME YouTube video of this year's ride.  (I think you can see me in it a couple times, but it's hard to tell because it's either from the side or taken behind me.  We were all wearing the same clothes!)

Thanks to Mike for giving me the self-confidence to get started and keep going.  I hope you can see me.  I hope you are proud.  You made me do it!

Thanks to Dmitriy for helping me at every speed bump.  Without you, I would never have been able to do it.  You believed in me when I didn't believe in myself.  You made it happen.

Do you not know?  Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:28-31

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