I thought I'd be tagging some of my training posts under "Challenges", but the actual training hasn't really posed the biggest challenges for me (yet). I'm finding the time to train between both jobs, and I have a training schedule that is not entirely too grueling (although my 7:30am cycling lesson in Brooklyn on Sundays is rough after leaving job #2 at 4:30am). I guess I've often personally defined challenges in more of an emotional category rather than physical.
And what I have found the most emotionally challenging are the sacrifices I've had to make in pursuit of my 30th year goal. I recently watched Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek describe his training days to Ellen DeGeneres (8-10am: core training, cardio, stretching; 11am-2pm: on the ice; 3-4pm: on the ice; 5-7pm: weight training, calisthenics, more core training):
"My philosophy going into Vancouver after Torino was just that no one would outwork me. And, you know, it was easy for me, actually, to get into that mentality because I enjoy working hard, and nothing makes me happier than knowing that I've given 150% at the end of the day. And, like, I was willing to sacrifice everything. And really that's what it took, was to sacrifice everything in my life. Every holiday. Every birthday. Every party. Every night out. And nothing made me more happy than to be able to do that and get home at night, and all I could think is that I had nothing left. I never wanted to get home and feel like I hadn't given everything that I had in my body that day."
I am not like Lysacek, who trains for the glory of victory, or like Georgian luge sleder Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died in Vancouver and was described as one of the more than 2,500 athletes who participate in the Olympics with no realistic expectation of winning a medal, but simply train for the thrill of competition and passion for sport.
My passion for this cycling journey across North America is not driven by victory, competition or acclaim ... but not unlike many others, my passion is rooted in the desire to live and live well. Since losing Rickey, I have been driven by my own personal mantra that we must be grateful to be given the years of which others are denied so that the few they might have been granted were not lived in vain.
But passion for anything does not come without sacrifice of something. To pay for my trip and the necessary equipment and other associated expenses, I've had to sacrifice time with family and friends in order to work a second job. Even as paid holiday leave at job #1 freed up time, job #2 consumed it. I had limited time with my family in Syracuse because I worked during the Thanksgiving holiday. I removed a trip to visit my boyfriend during this year's bj League season in Japan from my list of "priorities" because I wanted to earn more money through Christmas and New Year's. And I didn't want to lose my second job; as one of the managers at the Midtown Manhattan lounge once said: "We are in the food and service industry, people. We don't get holidays."
And rather than use all the extra money I've been earning to go see my brother in Shanghai, I'm now counting nearly four years that he has lived in China without a visit from his big sister. I would not have made it to my godson's christening in Durham if my best friend had not been so flexible with the date that he was baptized nearly six months later. I've declined invitations from friends for dinners, brunches, bridal and baby showers, and girls' night-outs. I've done quick drive-throughs at birthday parties in Manhattan and fell asleep before midnight at a friend's informal soiree at her Bronx apartment. I've been poor about returning phone calls, emails and text messages. There are at least four weddings that I won't be attending this spring and summer. And then, yesterday afternoon, after I returned from my cycling lesson in Brooklyn, I crashed in my bed and slept through a dear friend's birthday dinner that was taking place on the Lower East Side. And what's worse, I didn't even remember it was her birthday.
My goal for this cycling trip was to celebrate my 30th year and embrace the latest milestone in my life with "a personally challenging and fulfilling, health and wellness-enhancing, eco-friendly, extraordinary, cross-country adventure."
I suppose that I, like Lysacek, want to feel like I have given everything I have in whatever fulfills some sort of passion in this life. But giving everything I have for one moment also takes a lot of other moments away.
“For many of the competitors, this is really the moment. Most of them arrive with no realistic expectation of winning a medal. They’re just trying to do a personal best and soak in the entire experience.”
- Bob Costas, NBC Sportscaster