...what are these hours, these miles?

I'm awake at 4:00 am,  dressed in my cycling gear, stepping out into the dark.

In these early morning hours, it's clear that the long season has taken its toll on me. Five double centuries, an Ironman, a 2.7 swim, a half marathon, a ten-mile road race... for me, that's a big season. A part of me wonders if there will be a time in my life when I will understand the relationship I have with training—what are these hours, these miles?  I keep training, though, because the season isn’t over yet… not even close. I have one of the biggest challenges in front of me, the Silver State 508 where I will compete a part of a two-man team whose totem is "Sanguine Octopus."

A picture I took on the Silver State 508 last year when I crewed for team Black Angus Cow.

The Silver State 508 is a non-drafting cycling race which begins at the Atlantis Casino in Reno, departs the valley via Geiger Grade and drops down to highway 50 (the loneliest highway) until Eureka (you can read my write-up of the route in the Silver State 508 website HERE.)

So, I’m up early again and feeling more my age than I ever have. It’s another CompuTrainer session to keep my legs in check, only today I’ll be the only one on the platform. I’m shocked that I’m a little bit afraid of this, too—as if everything unknown has become a reason to be afraid.

There are a lot of unknowns facing me in this race. Riding in the dark is a big one. But, so is having a teammate. If there’s one thing I have found that I’m good at, it’s competing solo. If I fail, I only fail myself. With a teammate, I risk letting them down. On top of that, I will have two wonderful crew members there to support me through the miles. This means that if I completely tank, if I start to doubt myself too much, if I stop, I not only let myself down, but everyone else.

Yikes. 

Following our rider in the early light of dawn in the 2014 Silver State 508.

And so, I train, but I question. What are these miles? What have I done with my life that has any meaning at all? How will this race change me? What will I discover out there in the remoteness of my home state- these thoughts circle as my legs literally circle in the quiet dark before the dawn. 

The soundtrack to these thoughts is a song I came across randomly at work one day. It's less about a particular lyric than it is about a feeling-- the endless echo of not-knowing what will happen. Or, it mimics the darkness, perhaps, that sense of what I imagine it will feel like to ride beneath midnight stars, toward a horizon I can't see as the coldness closes in around me.

Maybe much of life is comprised of this blind fumbling, and how lucky we are when we stumble--not to fall-- but into the grips of something other than fear.   

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