The last step

April 7, 2013 § 5 Comments

As a friend of mine from Texas told me many years ago, “It’s not the flop on the bed, it’s the walk up the stairs.”

How right he was, and now that it’s the morning of the day, all that’s left is anticipation. What a delicious sensation is anticipation, mixed as it is with hope and fear, confidence and anxiety.

Anticipation has been raging through me nonstop since last night. It was the difficulty in falling asleep.

It was the reverse trickle of mole, ice cream, and birthday cake that gurgled up to greet me with a little “Hello, friend” as I lay in bed.

It was waking up at one o’clock…”Did I miss my alarm?”

It was waking up at two o’clock…”Is it four o’clock yet?”

It was waking up at three o’clock…”Just one more hour.”

It was getting up at 3:30 and abandoning all pretense that those final thirty minutes would be spent any way other than with eyes wide awake. “What the hell. Might as well shave my legs.”

The anticipation comes from the expectation. The expectation comes from the telling and re-telling of what lies ahead. The telling and re-telling comes from the training, the practicing, and the miles we’ve all invested to be “ready” for today, whether”ready” means to conquer, to be honorably acquitted, or just to drag yourself in tatters across the finish line.

Each little checkpoint has bolstered or weakened our confidence. Weight going up? Bad. Legs feeling awesome and light? Good. Bike looking sparkly and clean? Good. Last minute equipment change making you feel funny on the bike? Bad. Images of finishing strong? Good. Images of horrible dirt catastrophes? Bad.

Some have been prattling on about “the hay being in the barn.” Perhaps it is. But now the well-fed stallion is being led out by the reins, snorting and stamping and raring to run, or the undernourished nag is resisting with every step, neighing in terror, and dreading what lies ahead.

In a handful of minutes you will sign-in your name, pin on your number, scarf down your waffle, throw a leg over, and flop on the bed.

I hope it’s good for you, because the walk up the stairs has been all I could have ever wanted in a lover, and so much more.

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