Earlier this week a friend commented to me that I looked happy. Without even thinking twice I responded, I am. The smiling version of me in the bathroom mirror is a lighter, calmer, less serious version of me from one year ago. When I reflect back to May of 2015 I am deeply saddened for last years version of myself, for the grief my family was suffering, for the burden I was carrying, for the suffering of Karen herself. While I have thought long – and hard – on the topic of Karen’s illness and death; those are thoughts to share in another moment in time.

While my happiness is buoyed by enjoying my day to day life, and looking forward to a number of personal and professional events, the physical part of me is beginning to tighten up, slow down, feel heavy, weighted. I am surprised by the shortness of my fuse, by how quickly something can irritate me, or how fast I am reduced to tears by an ad for a dog no one wants (more so than usual, those posts *always* make me cry). I wrote to Shannon, friend and coach who helped me with my Dirty Kanza training and I typed in the title line: Tired, cranky, ready.

It’s been a while since I trained myself into a hole like the one I find myself in. This event has been unlike anything I have prepared for, and in that sense I’m learning more about myself than I had prepared for. While I imagined myself showing up to the event in the fittest cycling shape of my life, I hadn’t really given a thought to what that would feel like or be like. Coming down to the final weekend of big training (hello, Golden Triangle) I can’t help but to be a little surprised by my irritability, my temper and crankiness. I also never imagined that my thighs would physically explode out of every pair of pants I own and most cycling shorts, leaving me to skirts, shorts and two kits that still fit. I don’t look lean the way I do pre-marathon or triathlon season, I look more like my former rugby body, thick through the butt and thighs, minus the shoulders. I asked Jon one night while he was massaging the knots out of my legs, hey honey, do my legs look big?, which is probably the worst husband question of all time. Jon, gracious, replied by sticking this thumb into my IT band and pressing down hard while I winced and howled.

Don’t worry babe, he says. You’ll lean out once you start running again.

Fatigue and irritability aside, I find myself finally looking forward to the event. Took me time to get to the place where I felt I could actually tackle what I had set out to do, and now I find myself wondering what the day will be like, how my body will perform, what sort of demons I will have to wrestle with in my mind. Most of my long days on the saddle I have spent doing what friend Ari Sarantis affectionately wrote as “cleaning the rooms of my house” in my mind. Sitting alone on a saddle with nary a car or cyclist or person for hours will mesmerize, enlighten, flatten and suffocate you all over the course of one ride. Or at least that’s what it’s done for me.

Golden Triangle for final miles and one big exciting work deliverable and then off to Kansas, tired, cranky and ready.IMG_7187