I am moments away from taking flight.
First let me clarify the bittersweet title. I have been training for this adventure since last October, nothing is wrong right now, but thats what makes it so sad. A lot of people have been asking me through this last week if I am excited/nervous/scared and the general answer to all is no. I have been taking each day individually, so there was a surprising lack of anticipation here. I keep so busy focusing on what I need to do every minute, hour, and day, there isn’t a lot of sitting around thinking “OMG in X days im going to be there!” So that dulled my excitement a bit, and helped stave off nervousness.
As for the full answer to the fear question and the explanation of that bittersweet comment, my fears are not in the physical, or even in the race itself, it’s in the after. I have had such brilliant rides on Bentley recently, I would yo-yo through happiness and sadness. Each ride would bring elation, but afterward sorry. The bittersweet knowing that I have a horse, who is giving it his all and nailing every ride, who is ready to do big things, but I am running away for at least 3 weeks – plus who knows how long after I return. I feel selfish. I am afraid of burnout, coming back and not wanting to ride, and not living up to what my horse expects from me whether it be mentally or physically- more trails and tougher challenges, what if I hold him back? What if I return, and no longer experience joy in riding the same way? I think its harder to come down after a challenge, than the work up to the challenge.
I ease my mind a little on the Bentley progress question, knowing that training for the Derby offered him experiences alongside me, that I could have never equaled simply training him. A huge focus on education – weekly riding lessons, reading constantly, clinics, where two tangoed. I may have done this before, but with a goal in mind, it sinks in with a better attitude. Increasing my own fitness greatly affected us, if I hadn’t signed up for the Derby, I would never have met Heather who has gotten me into the best shape of my life. I feel straight and evenly balanced, and going out for a fun short ride of 5-6 hours really does feel fun and short. I am physically unintimidated. With a physically better rider aboard, Bentley can shine. For those of you out there who just ride for exercise, take my experience into consideration… cross training has rocketed us into another level altogether! Being able to try out new products – whether it be safety gear, supplements, or other miscellaneous products – has helped us along greatly too, and is something that never would have been afforded to us if I didn’t reach for the stars. I am so thankful to all my sponsors and team-mates for helping me get here, whether I complete the derby or not (ok I sincerely hope and will try my best to complete!) I have already had the riding experience of a lifetime and I am so grateful to my whole community for this.
So there you go, my fears revealed. Not fear of falling, not fear of the great outdoors, its far deeper and emotional.
I am going to miss everyone at home greatly throughout this journey. I will carry you all with me in my thoughts – with no other Canadian riders, your spirits will be my team! Thank you so much for all the overwhelming support you have shown me. I will do my best to keep you all in the loop, at least when I land into my hotel safely on both ends, and have wifi!
And now… off I go to meet the clouds.
PS. You won’t be hearing much here while I am riding the derby. Why dont you check out the following links for updates from the organizers?