Another summer passes, like the water I try to hold in my cupped hands, somehow finding the cracks, going the way it must go in spite of my wishing it to stay.
There were more victories I can tell you about. At the end of July I participated in the Harlem Valley Rail Ride. I rode by myself, but met lots of friendly people and even found some fine riders to draft on occasionally, as you can see in the video. It was a perfect summer morning to ride through the country. The wildflowers were spectacular and the cicadas were making that warm buzzing sound that always reminds me of the long summers of childhood. After 75 miles I got to the Hill Climb Time Trial. Basically, you start at the bottom of a hill 1.2 miles long with a 7% average grade and they time you to see how long it takes to get to the top. I had been practicing riding hills all summer and I wanted to see how well I could do, so I hammered as hard as I could. At the top, I could barely breathe and my muscles were screaming with pain, but I knew I had done my best. This time, my best was… the best. I won the time trial- overall and not just my age group! They gave me a medal and $100! How about that? I was pretty proud of myself.
August brought even more good things. My kids and I took a rafting trip in the Adirondacks. Our friends from Topanga joined us. Our families have always been close, but several months ago they lost their 16-year-old son. There were many times we felt the hole he left. But, we also felt the joy in being together again and it brought some healing for all of us. We sat up, two moms and five kids, wearing silly hats and playing poker late into the night. Then we woke up and faced down category 4 and 5 rapids in the upper Hudson River. There was one place, a big hole in the river the guide kept telling us about, named Big Nasty. When we got there we were met with a wall of water that forced its way into my nasal passages and would have knocked me out of the raft had I not been holding onto the straps so tightly. As the water smoothed out and the kids took turns pushing each other into the water, we decided that life is like a river. There can be long stretches of calm and sometimes things get rough. Sometimes there might be a Big Nasty, but you can hang on tight and find joy again with those you love.
Finally, as part of training for the Toughman Half Iron I am doing in September, Eve and I decided to do the Harriman Sprint. The day was sunny, warm and dry. I was feeling really good and just wanted to have a great day. You know what? I did have a great day. I won second in my age group! I was so surprised when they called my name that I whooped with joy. So, now it’s back to work. The tapering starts next week by necessity. I am really looking forward to my first long course triathlon. I’ll let you know how it goes.