You can’t teach heart

Exhausted.  I am utterly exhausted.  My quads are aching, arms burning and head pounding.  The only thing working correctly in this broken body is my heart.  It continues to be filled, more and more each day, in spite of those who try to break it into tiny little pieces.  My heart may be battered and scarred…but it’s full.  You can’t take that away from me.
I’m a feeler.  I feel things.  I feel for others.  I feel hardcore.  I might act like a total hard ass, but what you can’t see is the truth.  My heart secretly sits on my sleeve.  It’s a curse…and a superior blessing.  When other’s feel, I feel it too. 
After today’s race (day 2 of the NCGP in Hendersonville, NC) I had a meltdown.  I hammered through the finish and made my move off the course.  I used my cool down as a moment to gather my thoughts, catch my breath and do a little crying.  Yeah, I know…big surprise.
It wasn’t the race I had hoped for.  I’m not actually sure what I expected after an all-out smash fest on Saturday, combined with over an hour of clinic work.  Doesn’t matter.  My heart always wants more than my legs can give it.  I’m always falling short of what I know I can accomplish.  So I pedaled in the parking lot, far away from the crowds, and cried my eyes out. 
I couldn’t hang on to anyone today.  Not even my own teammate.  I would pass multiple chicks in the turns, run-ups and whiz by them in the woods.  They would always catch me in the flats.  As a friend lovingly joked, “You mean they passed you where you actually had to pedal?”.  Funny, but true.  Even yesterday was a better race in terms of how I felt.  It’s ironic because I moved up one position today.  24/31.  Not the top 50% I had hoped for on either day.  Aaahhh, so is life.
As I was coming back to our pit area from my epic meltdown, I ran into Grace.  This 11 year-old is a serious, serious beast on a bicycle.  She is going to be something special, and actually, already is.  She consistently beats me every single race…it’s all I can do to keep her in my sight.  Apparently, she had been bullied around by a junior boy in front of her.  She felt her effort lacked something and this upset her. 
As she was explaining this to me in tears, I started crying again.  I was right there with her.  I understood her heart and could sympathize with her desire to be competitive.  Being young is hard.  Being a young athlete, in my opinion, is harder.  It’s difficult to make sense of the bad days.  I explained how this was a great learning experience for her and next time she’ll be in a different mindset. 
“Take away everything that happened to you today.  Just you on the course…no one else.  Do you think you rode as hard as you could?  Do you think in spite of all the bad things going on around you, you gave your very best effort?”  Grace answered, “Yeah”. 
That’s all you can ask for, isn’t it?
Children are all HEART.  They lack the hard wiring to be thinkers.  So in a sense, young athletes are organic.  With the exception of a very few, these kids haven’t been tainted.  It’s pure love.
As for me, I’m still working on it.  Luckily, I’ve found a handful of people who really understand me and that’s comforting.  The world is a scary place when you feel like you’re all alone.  As for my bike racing, I’m still working on it.  I have potential.  I may never be on an elite podium, but I can bet your ass I will be taking some chicks to the tape in the near future.
Little “Gracie” way back in the day with my nephew, Nathan.

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