I was alive with blood and sweat
I was burning up inside
I was over everything
The dust of my life
I was alive with blood and sweat
My head was in the clouds
No water left to tread
Your best self. It is what we all strive for. Being the best version of ourselves, however that may manifest.
It is funny how we define what makes us our best. For years I let Strava define my best self on my bike. For the last year, I gave my time and heart to someone who I felt made me my best self in many ways. All of this can be great until it fails you.
Sometimes I am slow on my bike. My log of miles and time and elevation only tells a small story of who I was on that day. Today, I rode slowly up the hills of my hometown trails. Trails I haven’t ridden since I tackled the first annual race on them, riding 30 miles and climbing almost 4,000 feet of elevation under cooking sun while dust blew all around me. Today was only my second day back on those trails, and also my second day on any trails since the metaphorical rug was pulled out from under me.
After a year, the man I had grown to love and who I felt brought out my best qualities left, with no warning or reason. He left so unexpectedly that my bike gear remained in his car as he departed. It arrived less than a week later, also with no apology or explanation. The box holding my helmet, gloves and glasses sat untouched on my counter for days. Finally one morning, I woke early, took out my new puppy, and decided to ride. As I donned my helmet, tears began to run from my eyes. I don’t know when cycling became intertwined into my relationship, maybe it was that I had finally met a man who enjoyed riding with me, maybe it was that the last time I had worn that helmet was on vacation with him. Maybe it was just simply that I had spent the last year sharing my rides with him, sending him pictures and Strava results. Whatever it was, going through the motions was the hardest thing I had done in quite a while. But once I was out on the road, as I watched the sun rise over the mountains, I began to feel myself again. The air was cold, the chill from the nights’ rain was cold against my bare arms. My legs ached and my lungs burned. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t pretty. It just was me at my basic level, alive with blood and sweat, burning from the inside out. It was me learning to be me again. the girl who existed before I let others define who I was.
Sometimes the outside validation of who are at a certain time in our life is inaccurate. Sometimes we have to be able to look into ourselves and know that who we are in the most intrinsic sense. Sometimes we have to put all of those exterior results to the side and know the truth that lies deep within us, know all the struggles we took out on the road or the trails that day, and know we conquered something just by being out there. Sometimes our best, our best self, is the not the side that gets up and rides when the sun is shining and all is well, or the side of us that conquers a race after months of training and preparation, but it is the most broken side of ourselves that picks up the pieces and rides in the rain, low on sleep and all cried out, suffering just for the sake of knowing you are alive and living.