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The horizon

April 2, 2013

There have been a lot of tears the past year. A lot of frustrations. I learned how weak I was. How weak others thought I was. But I said nothing. I told very few. About what? It doesn’t matter. It was the culmination of a few seasons of fighting through something.

Don’t give up on yourself Eggers. That’s what I kept telling myself. I look myself in the eye… in the mirror. I do it every single day. Do not give up on yourself. For him. For her. For everyone who knows what they are capable of and for everyone who has ever been doubted. Don’t ever give up. Stay the course. Ignore the critics. Love the haters. Embrace the supporters and keep walking your path. That’s what I keep telling myself.

I threw myself into  Teens Living With Cancer and the Duel in the Pool and I allowed that to become the story. It was important, it is still important. It is much more important than what race I win or lose. Much more important than how fast or slow I ride my bike and how much I weigh. That allowed me to work for something outside of myself and it taught me what really matters isn’t what I finish, but what they finish. They taught me what victory truly meant and oddly enough… what I had been chasing…. wasn’t victory at all. I am involved with these Teens for the long haul, I am not here to wear their name on my chest across a finish line. I am in … elbow deep. That is where my passion lies.

And those teens drew me out of a very deep and very big hole. I can’t ever properly articulate what that entire experience did for me, or what it saved me from, what it taught me and what my continued work brings to me every single day.

I am not there yet, in fact I have a long way to go. But right now I can see it in the distance. I see it on the horizon.

What is …. it? I can’t define some of it, I won’t talk about the other part. Because IT doesn’t really matter. We all have something. We all have a gremlin, we all have something to overcome. We have all been told it’s over, we are done and we have all had that flame within us still burn. The question is then…… when all else has fallen and that flame still burns…. what are you going to do with it?

You get back up. You do it for you. You find what you believe in and you go the hell after it. No matter what they say. No matter what anyone says.  What matters is what you say and you believe. And you don’t…. you don’t…. do it for the accolades.

You won’t see me prancing around in my Ironman finisher’s jackets or displaying my finisher’s medals. I don’t buy the jackets or the backpacks. And I will never get the tattoo. You will find me in the gym wearing hanes tank undershirts most days and shorts that cost less than a pair of M dot socks. I am not here to be fancy or pretty. (Obviously!)

What I am here to reclaim isn’t really definable either. It isn’t really  a performance or a time of a race distance. It’s not the top of the podium… although through all of  that could happen. Great if it does…. fine if it doesn’t. It’s something much deeper. I know what it is but if I spell it out for you the danger becomes that it then becomes yours and not mine and mine alone. I want you to have yours and I want me…. to be able to keep mine.

IT… is what wakes me up at 3:30am and has me on my favorite spin bike at the gym before the gym even opens. When no one is around and the only one who really notices you are there… day after day… is the older gentleman who calls you “Ironchick”.  He’s the only one who sees that sweat and hard work and he doesn’t know what it’s about but he knows it’s about something.

“You are after something.” he said to me a few months ago. “I can see it in your eyes.” I smiled. I sure am. I am hungry for something, that’s entirely true.  It’s not that desperate feeling of needing to be the best…. I have been driven by that before… now it is quieter. The need to scratch an itch, the desire to see what I can do post________, if I can touch the inner soul of myself again.

As I reviewed my training week last week I scrolled back through the past few weeks and again, smiled. I have slowly through the course of a year built my durability back up. Through nutrition, strength, restoration and recovery and very consistent smart training….. brought myself up to where I thought I would never get. I haven’t cracked through yet but I can feel it coming. When I need it, on August 18th…. it will be there. That’s the day it will all come together.

I can’t define it in a time or a placing. I will be able to define it in terms of how it sits in my spirit. How it feels to live the privilege of being able to do everything that I do… despite what I have been through…. in addition to what I have been through…. after what I have been through.

I have relied on many, my circle just kind of happened. I connect with certain people sometimes … people who just kind of happen to show up in my life or whose life I happen to stumble into. I hope they understand the respect and importance I hold them with. And i only hope I can add an eighth of much to their lives as they do to mine.

Last night I ran to that light pole…. you know the one. The one at the top of the hill. I made it there in a time I have not seen in a long time. I was running easy. Tears ran down my face as I turned around and looked out over the City of Rochester. The two sheepdogs who live on the farm at the top of that hill came running and barking like they always do. I stood there for a moment and let the tears flow. Not tears of sadness, not at all. Tears of relief. Tears of hope. Tears of promise.

The privilege of being an athlete has allowed and afforded me to see the world and connect with people on it. To have that ability sidelined was devastating and something that could easily happen again. For however long I have it in my hands….. I hold it tight. I hold it near my heart. And I hold it with great honor.

“Thank you for this.” I said out loud. To God. To whoever was listening. To whoever it is who guides me in this life and on this path. This scene… the light-pole at the top of the hill….. is sacred to me.

I began the run home. I love the feeling of the air against my skin, the tears rolling down my cheeks and of my heart beating hard…. not too hard. I know it’s coming back now. It’s not there yet. But when the time comes for it to be there…. it will be.

What I can’t do is define all of this. What it means. What it adds up to, or even where this story will end. If it does. What I can tell you is this…. no matter what there will be doubters. If you dare ever fall off your podium they will laugh, mock, and judge you. They will call you over, a has been or even a never was. You can allow that to define you, and determine where your journey leads.

Or you can listen to the one voice that matters. Yours. You can stand yourself up, dust yourself off. Not be afraid to fall off the podium… right onto your ass. You get yourself back up and you listen to the only voice that matters. You pull your $4.99 black tank top over your head in the morning and you either get your shoes on and get  to the gym before it opens. Because that’s when it’s quiet. That’s when it’s just you and that voice.

The one that believes. The one that perseveres. The only one that matters. I promise you this…. not only will you rise above…. you will outlast them. And you will silence them. You silence them by rising above. And that’s exactly what I am here to do.

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