Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Zero to Eleven

Turns out influenza has grabbed me and knocked me sideways. Indeed, I won't be riding my bike or doing much of anything for the next few days. If you were to look at my Strava, you might think...
Huh. This guy hasn't been doing any sort of riding anyway. Well, truth is... I have been riding. Granted, I haven't been riding a huge amount, I just haven't been uploading. Really, winter training is nothing glamorous. I've said it before and I'll say it onward. But, allow me to upload my riding...

Give it a minute...

11 activities. Now, I know that's not all that many for 4 weeks. But for me... working where I do during this retail intense season, finishing up two classes taken during this past fall semester at NOVA, and life's twists and turns (like the flu), I think I've done pretty well.

I know that consistency is very important and something I want to keep up with. I have tried slot into a routine with work, classes, and life. I do intend to take another course next semester. What I also intend to do is continue riding as best that I can. 

For now, I will be doing my best to fight this influenza slapping me around. I hope everyone has a great holiday season and new year!

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thank You, Cycling Subconscious

On my way home from work yesterday I had a wild sensation craving to race my bike. It's been a while since I've had those random images flash through my mind coupled with a foreboding urge to trash my legs through the pedals and into the bike.

The sensations do not last too long. This one was interrupted but the relatively easy traffic on 495 leaving Tysons and the thought of the training I must do to keep the hope of racing my bike alive. I'm not saying it will be a slim shot of me racing, I just mean that it will take some work and sacrifices.

Those sacrifices will not drop easily.

In any case, I am being reminded that the bike provides a balance in my life that I need. There is no real simpler way to put it.

I also recently had a dream where I was racing the Penn State Nittany Cycling Classic road race again. It was not the same course but my mind was trying to reconstruct the race, the hills, and the enjoyment I had racing it, and though I got to a point where I knew I was dreaming about it, I didn't want it to stop.

And all of this means that I don't want to stop riding, training, and racing. So I won't stop. Cycling in my subconscious is something I'm thankful for. It's giving me a lot to challenge myself to and keep working for.

Of course, I'm also thankful for my loving parents and family, as well as a beautiful gal who supports my cycling passion. Her birthday is this Saturday too!

And thank you for reading!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Treat Me Tricks

Realistically speaking, if I were to be paid to do the things I love - the things I wish I could do - I would be very lucky. It's just that... I'm being paid to take over-priced clothes out of cardboard boxes (and horrendously wasteful plastic surrounding each article of clothing) and refolding them to be put on shelves. It's an obvious statement that isn't what I enjoy doing, nor wish to be paid to do.

And before I go any further, I must make it clear that in these times, it is not lost on me that I have a certain degree of luck to even have this job. This is not a post to further dig myself into a hole from anyone's perspective than I already sometimes do. Remember, these and all posts are written for me in the moment for which I write them. These notions will pass and hopefully by the end of this, I will have found the silver lining that keeps me thinking I should stay positive... or that sleep will make it better.

I am passionate about cycling and the sport that has captured me. I wish I could be doing it full time. It isn't that maybe I couldn't see a potential to do this sport full-time in a way that might eventually lead to a professional taste, but it's that my life has been painted in such a way that the notion of such a hope I could commit to cannot exist now without the loss of my more realistic prospect of a future and financial existence. Is that the truth's pill I must regularly swallow? I know that sacrifices have been made by others beyond what I can think of myself doing to make this notion of this passion-fueled dream a reality. I know that I do not have the raw talent that others possess to become great and truly one of the sport's elite. Right?

I mean... what am I in all of this for? Myself? I am finding that harder to believe. Yet, I do believe nearly everything we do is for our own benefit. I like to think that what I do today will make a difference for my better or worse tomorrow. I like to think that I can live in the moment and get out on top. I like to think that I am making the most of everything this life will give me. Am I?

That sentiment is under some serious scrutiny tonight, folks. I keep having these thoughts of mild clarity go through my head that simply lead to racing thoughts of the world I am in. Most recently, I've thought that if I was as idle-minded as the world would have me be, would life just be easier? If I was someone that ignored the blatant lies, didn't see through the schemes media and advertising would have me follow, didn't jab against the fear this world would have me believe trust keeps me safe and aware, if I didn't punctuate, articulate, and communicate my thoughts while the lazy wagged their tongue, or forget that no one changes even when I've been told to stay true to who I am, would life be simpler? Has my wanting to fill my recent existence with as much evident beauty, crudeness, and in-between experience just entirely clouded and hindered my forward self? If I lived where life was tougher, where I fought to survive, had no time for wondering thoughts, where I had to make my own way without the warmth around me, would life's calling have revealed itself? If I couldn't choose my battles because the fight never ceased, would life have it's purpose? Strip it all away and we're all just trying to survive in our best interest; making choices to satisfice from what we have, and to sustain.

I don't care about money if I can do what I love to do. But that's a lie. I have to care. I can't do anything without money in this life. I have no way to support a family one day. Right? I have no way to eat. Right? I have no place to live. Right?

I know I can complain all I want about how little 'ole Johnny can't get his way. What I don't know is whether the way Johnny chooses to go will be enough to make him see that his wish to do what he loves must become worth so much less than what he ends with. Do you see? If I simply can't get what I want, can I find a way to numb what I feel knowing that this is how it is going to be?

I've been told that I am one that could do great things. What I am struggling with is the fear that what it is I will end up doing will not serve any purpose but to support what's around me, put food on a table, and a roof overhead; great for naught - in action and substance. I put pressure on myself, yes. I want to be more. I want to somehow transcend a simple, privileged self.

Readers, I cannot seem to ignore these thoughts, and I don't know if its even good for me to; though it probably would seem that I should, and would be better off - happier in blissful ignorance. That's what you'd do. Right?

I want more out of myself and am trying to figure out where I will find it.

Thanks for reading (but PLEASE not too much into this). Sometimes I just need to get thoughts down and out when stress weighs in. Trust me, there is a lot that I am looking forward to down the road... it's just how I am to get there with how long it will take, and even now while I wait, how can I keep making the most of things? I have been trying for a long time and I need new tricks to keep it going. It's that I need something to fill this time gap of my apparent suspension to make me think that it's all happening this way for a reason and that it's only going to keep getting better. Sometimes I get bored, and I think I need treats to trick me.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Summer Ago

Last summer was the summer I graduated from college. As excited as I was to venture forth to my perception of the real world's open, expectant arms, the only job I got was that of a mosquito larvae killer. I'm sure that I have discussed the job here before, but one day I took a camera with me. And today I will share pictures I took of my day.

Before the pictures started, my day began at 6am at our (Clarke's) office/ home base in Manassas, VA. Given that the day was without a rainfall hindrance, co-workers and I receive our sections of Fairfax county map to cover for the day. We grab about 30+  bags containing 40 sacs of the biological larvicide called Vectolex that we will be using for the day (15+ bags to each person). After stuffing those 30 or so bags into our respective company bikes, we lift those into the beds of our truck(s), and head toward the ever- worsening traffic on route 66 West back toward Fairfax and the sections of map we are to cover.

Let's get this day going!
After dropping my coworker off on his map, I drive around to find where on my map I should start.
Also, this job made my arms skinny.
Good enough.
Then I unload this puppy, and contemplate my strategy to knock the map out. What a beaut...
I have a company gps/phone to note when I toss each packet found in those white bags you can see in the pannier.
Inevitably, this muscle straining steed would have a number of breakdowns (not far from the number of breakdowns it would cause me to have) and I would have to get to the nitty gritty and fix what wouldn't stay fixed.
Somehow, that third chainring couldn't seem to catch that chain.
The days were long. I would ride for 5-6 hours covering up to 40+ miles of whatever Fairfax county had to give me that day tossing up to 600+ of those Vectolex packets down the curb-side drains (catch basins). I would miss a lot, but my throwing technique somewhere between that needed to toss a throwing star and frisbee rendered me some good numbers for the days.

Everything would vary with the type of map I had... hills, traffic, catch-basin density of the map, residential versus commercial, my legs, my mind, my co-worker's work ethic and motivation.

Red dots covered the sections of maps noting where catch basins were to be located. A red slash through the dot denotes a successful packet toss down the drain. A circle was put around ones that were not there, and triangles were placed to show uncharted catch basins. We were supposed to mark our travel along the map with highlighter, but that horrible waste of time only slowed me down on the bike on top of having to press a button on that phone of ours every time we tossed... no thank you. Just be happy I get better, honest numbers of tosses.
This map is clear! 
Salt lines... you should see my shorts from that summer... not to mention tan lines.
Anyway, once it was time to head back I will have received a call from my coworker as to where would be good to pick him up.
Don't look at me, bike. I hate you.

Long day, folks.
This job had some obvious set-backs. 1. It took a lot out of me. Physically, riding 5-6 hours in the 90-100+ heat and humidity of the Northern Virginia summer was draining. 2. Sure, I didn't have a night-life, girlfriend, or much else to do apparently, but it also took away from my cycling outside of the job. I couldn't train for racing while the stop-and-go heaving of that company bike was going in for most of my days. Simply... 30-40 miles in 5-6 hours is not training. 3. I HATED hills. They were made so much worse with that 30lb+ bike and all of those bags to toss. I had to stop and start both up and down them. Not cool, ya dig? 4. It lost it's fun and novelty after a bit. Sounds like a cool, perfect job for a cyclist, but for a guy that wants to train and race, it kills the legs. 

However, I will say that looking back, there were obvious advantages this job had. 1. Novelty. Sure it waned on me, but it is quite the conversation piece. 2. The pay was actually pretty good. At $11/hr, that was better than my next, retail job for a while. 3. I could escape. My days were long, but they were my days. I could go as fast or as slow as I wanted and I LOVED hills (they made me work hard and suffer as a cyclist). The only things I had to deal with was the map, missing the target on my tosses (especially by only like an inch - having to stop my momentum to turn around to only kick or pick back up and re-toss the little packet), and the pathetic bike my legs pumped away at (and okay... sometimes dehydration, exhaustion, mental and physical burnout, sweat down to my skivvies like I had just jumped in a pool, and the occasional lazy coworker or two). 

Writing this post out makes me think - maybe I should do again it next summer... The time since, working retail, is wearing on me in a number of ways (no pun intended). It actually might be really good for me to taste this kind of summer freedom before I really head back to school full time. I'll put more thought into it and I'll let you know.

I said to myself during the job that no matter how tough the day was, looking back I would rather be out riding and suffering there than be unhappy somewhere else. Indeed there were more bad days than good, but the good always made up for the rest and I appreciated it.

And I must say that holds true on all accounts, friends.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Stability Forth

Plagued by injuries, a treacherous work schedule, and other unpredictable ups and downs, this season off from racing has not always been easy for me to deal with.  I have thought to blog more, but haven't been able to work up the energy until now I suppose. This blog is for my riding and mindset toward racing. Since there hasn't been any of that, I just haven't felt it right to update it.

Anyway, I am foreseeing some stability in my life at least for the next year. Stability in this case will mean that I can look toward racing next year. I will be a Cat4 and I will be hungry. My planning and preparation will begin tonight as I construct my training program.

However, there are a few things I must remind myself and even those around me if I am to commit to this.

  1. I will believe in myself, and in all that I do - know that I am doing my personal best mentally and physically.
  2. This will not be easy; a commitment to suffering is key.
  3. Sacrifices will have to be made.
  4. I will become stronger in every way.
I get flashbacks of my first win at Bucknell with my IUP team and how I did it with the help and support of my eager, passionate friends there. I savored the pain, effort, power, and numb elation I felt after crossing that finish line first with my teammate celebrating next to me. I remember my second win at the Bud Harris Cycling Oval in Pittsburgh where I had my very first race two years before. I remember the commanding sprint I won after a friend gave me his all to put me in the right position through the final bend to latch a wheel and overtake with bike lengths to spare. These are two moments among many that I cannot forget and will not let be the only times I will have accomplished goals for my bike and myself.
Tonight, I will construct my training program to take me into next year and the races I hope to show well in. Pulling from the strengths I have developed, the weaknesses I will combat, and the challenges I still hope to face, this program and race schedule will prove to be a real test for me. There is no time to lose and I want this.

Yet I know that I cannot do this without the support of those around me. Though I will be putting myself through a lot to reach what I want, I cannot forget that my life affects others. I will seek a balance in my life on and off the bike with my friends and family, my work and studies, and of course, my beautiful, supportive girlfriend. She is telling me to not hold back and I couldn't agree more.

I am a person with focussed passions. No, I have not always known what I have wanted to be or do with my life, but right now I know that I want to race my bike. Next year will be an opportunity for me and I want to take it.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Have Me Back, NoVa

I'm young.

Alright, readers. For those that do not know, have not heard, have no idea what's going on, or find themselves reading this without much else going on in their lives, I can assure you that a lot has been happening in mine since my last post. I have thought to post more often, but here we are, and I am not moving to New York. I have taken a few risks, made a few mistakes, lost some time, lost some money, and come out alive.

The process exhausted me. Though I wish it could have turned out as I would have hoped, life goes on and being back in Virginia is not necessarily a bad thing. I still work at the J. Crew at Tysons Galleria and am still working hard to keep opportunities available for me.
The DC area in Northern Virginia is home.
Washington DC is such a clean city compared to New York. NY is gross. I will be okay with exploring more of what's going on around here.
Friends here help pass the time!
This may not be where I will stay the rest of my life, but I know that this process about New york has taught me a lot about how things will and won't work out. I was put under some intense stress, through situations and my own doing, but have come out of it with a clearer head and an ever eagerness to keep moving forward.
Passion Tea Lemonades (sweetened) for myself and a pretty girl.
My parents are working for a potential move themselves and I hope that they can get all that they want out of their next endeavors. I will be there to help them out as they have certainly helped me get through all of this happening in my life.

Really, there's not much else for me to say beyond this for now. Had I blogged more frequently through this process, you would know more details like... how I am out a lot of money from the last few months trying to make this work, how I am trying to get back $300 that was, imo, wrongfully taken from me, how I almost sold my car, how strong, understanding, and amazing my girlfriend has been through this with me (she has her own stories), and how lucky I am to be where I am now.
Gardening is included in that help for the parentals.
As far as cycling, I will be racing tonight at the Greenbelt Park Training Race in the B (4/5) category. Yes, I have downgraded to a Cat 4. Not proud of that move, but it is a necessary one until I can work my way back up. Let's be honest, my performance as a Cat 3 wasn't much to write about and I have been off the bike for a long time dealing with injuries, my work schedule, and all that has happened to me lately. I could use the redevelopment and challenge ahead of me.
Waiting for a pickup to deal with that flat tubular.
I am hoping to be back racing as a Whole Wheel Velo Club rider from here on out... if they'll have me back.

And what do you know, readers?! If this race happens tonight, (pending a weather decision from race officials) there will be a new "Where's The Podium?" entry coming up! I am very excited to race!

Thanks for reading.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Going Public; To NYC

Last Tuesday, I ventured up to New York City with my girlfriend so that she could interview with an art gallery for an internship. After successfully acquiring the internship position at the C24 Gallery, it looks like a move will be had for the two of us by next week followed by one of our store managers in mid May.

That's fast.

Now, please provide me with benefit of any doubts you may have. This is a premeditated move for long-term aspirations of job opportunity, personal development, and absolutely anything else the world might have for me. I am a realistic optimist here, readers. Something great (or rather... some great things) will come of this, I just do not know what that (they) will be.
Still riding and sweating on this, a J. Crew shoe bag to protect my bike's carbon fiber.
But let me frame it a bit more for you. I will be moving up there and transferring to a new J. Crew store in NYC. Though I am not sure which of the locations I will be placed at, (I don't even know how many there are) wherever there is a location for my position will be where I go. I am happy and appreciative to have support from my current store director. Right when she knew of a move to NY, for me she put into motion all that she could do to help out and wish me the best for success and fulfillment. And though at this point I do not know much of the details, I do know that it's being worked out.

Altogether, those like so many other details have yet you be figured out, yet I fail to see much point in succumbing to any crippling anxiety. Those close to me know that I've felt some pungent effects of worrying, but that I refuse to allow anything but optimistic excitement permeate this process.

I liken this to moving away to college again. I'm nervous, I'm excited, I don't know what will happen, who I'll meet, the friends I'll make, where I'm gonna live.... Oh yeah, I still don't know where I will live, but again... nothing to worry about. It will be figured out and I'll make the best of it!

As far as cycling, this move will shake up my club membership. I don't anticipate finding a team right away... I may even race next season without a team at first to figure out what kind of racers different clubs have. I have been very lucky to have landed an amazing team here in Northern VA with Whole Wheel Velo Club and I  trust they will continue success each season ahead! I wish them and their members the best of luck on and off the bike! Thank you, WWVC for allowing me on your team and helping my development as a racer and individual. I wish I could have raced with you more, but I don't think this is the last time I will see you all.

This is a move to get more out of myself. This is a move to see me struggle, and come out on top. This is a move to get what I want; out of myself, out of life, out of everything I have yet to experience. I will not stop. I will push myself and do what I have to do to achieve success. I can hardly wait.

Beyond all of that, it's all up in the air. Anyone want to buy my road shoes? Anyone want to buy my car? (I will make follow-up "listing" posts for these and any other item that I need to sell for people's interest.)
First picture I took in New York a few years ago.
Thanks for reading.

Monday, April 9, 2012

In Technicolor

My bum is squishy and my legs are weakening. It's time to stop whining and ride. Like many things in my life, I have found that it is better to act than to simply talk, complain, whine, groan, and think. With an overdue need to ride and brilliant inspiration from a local amateur elite racer going to the big league, I have wanted to prove to my legs that I haven't forgotten them.

Tonight, I did just that. Sure it wasn't for a long ride, but I needed a good sweat, stretch of the legs, and heart pumper. My body is nowhere near the form it had this time last year, but I am not worried.
tanline still on the arm.
I plan on making a quality comeback on the bike. Some changes are about to mount in my life and my bike will be my ever-constant.
rides in technicolor (oh yes... small ring for this spin)
... Even if this is the best that I can do right now so my foot isn't in agony, I can still ride and train, suffer and succeed.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Let It Be Said

"I am looking for a job."

"Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! I thought you have a job!" says you.

"Uuuhhh yeaaah I need another one," says I. "This one I've got just isn't cutting it."

And that's all that really needs to be said. The one I've got, as glad as I am to have it, just doesn't give me that satisfaction, growth potential, monetary compensation, and sustainable attributes I so desire. I can't move out of my parental's house, I can't save much, I can't train on my bike, I can't race on weekends, I can't blah blah this, and I can't blah blah that!

So, I gotta do something about it. What I have done is revamp my resume, talked to friends and colleagues about job hunting, applied places, written cover letters, emailed people, networked, and certainly done my share of whining. Yet, keeping in line with my loathing of feeling like I am wasting my time, I cannot spend time whining, complaining, wishing, and dreaming about my perceptions of the situation I have versus the situation I want.

"Well if you want something, why don't you just go get it!" says you.

Then I says, "Oh, well I mean I plan on it. It's not th-"...

"That easy?" you interject.


"Do what it takes."

"What does it take?" I plead.

"How should I know?" you inform me.

Well, no one seems to. Other than a lot of work, diligence, a neglect for noticing a stopping point until you've reached your destination, time, patience, knowing someone, and probably luck, I won't get anywhere without trying.

"I'm looking in NYC for my next job," I declare.

"Ew, why there?" you ask with concentrated disdain.

There has a lot more opportunity for a job and a way for me to develop than around here. Sure there are jobs here, but nothing with what I can see myself doing. The mentality is different there and sure it's competitive, but I can't get anywhere around here with how things are. I have more of an idea about things than I will let on here, but just know that I have to get somewhere and I feel rather "lame duck" here.

I see myself writing. I see myself finding chances to get information out, to tell stories, make people feel something, and really grow as an individual with the right opportunity. I want to race again. I want to train again. I want to begin my life again.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Recovery Rides

Friends, there are reasons why you are not seeing me on the road as much these days. I would say that it is both a sad fact and an annoying happenstance that I may not be able to race this road season. My ankle's nerve, with effected area now retracted enough to allow me to wear most shoes, has put me in a spot where my legs are simply not there in strength nor ability. My job, flinging fashion at everyone that walks through the door, has me stuck in a life without rhythm. Though these two potholes have left me without much control over my riding, I will be the one to change all of that.

As most of you should know, that neuritis put me right out of the game. Put ever simply... As long as nothing touched where that nerve was screwy, I was 100%. Once something touched it, game over. I don't know how some people don't get it, but think of it like... either something is touching your elbow or it's not. That's all. Once something touched it, it either gave a tingling sensation (from a light touch) or an excruciating stabbing sensation (a rough kick). For a while there cycling shoes were out of the question. This is probably nothing new for those who have followed any bit of my lackluster cycling life the past few months. Yet, as that nerve damage has found its way out of my life, another hindrance has plagued my unsuspecting legs.

J. Crew's clothing is something I feel lucky to wear. No one needs to wear clothing that can cost this much, but some people will drop thousands in one trip to that store and it's evident that the job I have can get hectic. I'm sure many of you have worked retail before. Remember, if you will, the kind of schedule one has to keep when working retail. What schedule, you ask? Exactly. My schedule for the rest of the week is as follows:
  • Wednesday - 11am-8pm
  • Thursday - 11am-7pm
  • Friday - 12:30pm - 9:30pm (will be later for closing)
  • Saturday - 9am - 6pm
Some weeks are better than others, yet none have a predictable attribute beyond me usually opening on Saturday and probably closing again on Sunday. I get that I can ask for weekends off, or Tuesdays and Thursdays left open to train, or for some pattern that might allow me to put some training in, but that's not all that I'm after.

I am happy to have a job, but I hope you can understand how limiting (in more ways than I will mention here) a retail job like this one can prove to be. To keep this on a positive spin, I have been making strides to better my situation and am open to changes that will facilitate development in every aspect of my life. My resume has been updated and I am currently churning out cover letters and applying to places where I feel my abilities are better suited while my cycling can continue as I need it to.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Throw A Bone

I don't know where this one will go, but I feel like I might as well write a bit.

Today is a day off and with the weather the way it is, spending time indoors is just gonna happen. But I can say that, for me, spending time indoors pretty much has to happen.
You guys... I don't miss the snow. At least in the state that my feet have to be in anywhere I go. Sure, snow is pretty and I don't mind cold weather, provided I am smart about what I wear, but as far as footwear; I'm limited. But alright. we've been here before. John is stuck in his Sperry topsiders - we get it.

I am not, however, stuck with nothing to do. Aside from continuously developing my skills in hashtagging all things witty in my life, I am also working to figure out more of where I want to be in the future. If there ever was a more important homework assignment, my boss told me that I need to work to figure that out over the next few months.
Sleepy Sally.
Success is ambiguous and subjective.

My definition may be more muddled than some of yours, but I'm beginning to figure it out. I believe that for me, success is going to have to be a step-by-step thing. I have to accept that for now, I do not have a grand view of what five years ahead will be like for my life. Maybe the question to ask is where I don't see myself in five years; or even one year.

I mean, at one year from now, I do NOT see myself still living with my parents. I do NOT see myself with a bum nerve in my ankle/foot. I do NOT see myself still selling mens clothing at J. Crew. I do NOT see myself being anything but happy.

But don't get me wrong, now. I am a happy person. I have moments where I'm more tired than I would like to be - thus dragging my mood through a dreary, ghost-of-sappy-moods-past, blahblah drench of mud. But you all know I'm not one to enjoy any of that.

In a year, I see myself with an apartment of my own. I see myself with my bike so yearning for the race season to begin. I see myself working hard for something I may have never seen myself doing. I see myself watching my life shaping out well toward a balance of finding my direction and still being open for anything that comes my way. I see opportunities unfolding throughout this year ahead of me that will put me in a place where I can begin to see ahead 5 years and beyond.

That's what it is! I'm just not there yet. I am absolutely capable of seeing beyond the immediate to where I want to be, but I'm just not in the position to see that far ahead. Right now I sell clothes. Next year, who knows!?!
Opportunity is a stepladder to Success.

There is a wall of doubt, fear, and stress, that can build up in all of our lives when things just seem to not add up for what we want. Opportunity, as I see it for me now, will be a way to see over that wall. I don't know how it will come, and I cannot expect anything from it beyond a challenge, but I am excited and up for it.

I had really hoped that the people I met through cycling would be able to provide connections toward an opportunity for me to see over my "wall." Though some did offer their help and words of encouragement, nothing too much came of it as I decided to apply for the job I have now.

I do not see myself here years down the road, but I do see myself owing a lot to what I have learned here about the people I have been exposed to. I do not take my time and efforts at this job for granted even if it's not where I want to be. How can I when I don't even know where I want to be?

I know that I can be successful with almost any job that I am given. I have not worked in offices or regular day jobs that have come about through internships like so many seem destined to land and drive their careers in. Yet I am confident that I could do so much with an opportunity to make a real difference in places I work. I have a creative, personable, diligent manner about me and how I perform. I know that I do not need a masters degree and 7 years of experience to be able to handle a job that I want to get, but can't because on paper I'm inexperienced. I know that given the right opportunity, I can make the most of and thrive with almost any job or career that I choose to pursue. I know something will open up for me and I can't wait.

Ask me what I want to do, and all I may be able to answer back to you is a cheesy "I want to be given an opportunity." Maybe that's the wrong attitude to some of you, but there are people around me that see a lot in me that I have been so waiting for someone to notice. In a way, have struck gold with this job at J. Crew. The people I directly work for, I not only look up to, but consider my friends. Their tenacity, diversity, passions, and goofiness is amazing to me. They see a potential in me.

I now see a world that isn't so scary and I wanna get after it.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, January 6, 2012

No Woes

Happy New Year, friends. I have really enjoyed my time with family and some of you and I hope you all have enjoyed this crazy time of year as well. I do think there is a lot in store for this up coming year, but maybe that's just the positive thoughts I have seeping through my fingers on to this screen talking. Anyway, I figure I might as well focus on the positives; too difficult not to.

Now, fortunately, there is no tragic event happening in my life that prompts me to be talking this way, but there is a rather bothersome annoyance that I am having to deal with. Surely you've all heard me discuss my foot/ankle situation before. At this point, it's still no different. I really do appreciate the well-wishes and suggestions on how to mend this ailment, but methinks time will have to be my mender. I have just come back from an appointment with a foot/ankle-specific doctor and we have diagnosed my condition and located the guilty party.

I have something called neuritis effecting the sural nerve in my right foot. Neuritis, in short (as I understand it), is a change in the state of the nerves that results in weakness, loss of reflexes, or changes in sensation. Causes and symptoms vary. Skipping to my situation specifically, the neuritis in my right foot was most likely caused by an injury at work (jumping down from a shelf that was a little too high for me to be jumping down from) and the symptoms, of course, are an excruciating stabbing pain on the top of my foot close to my smaller toes when any pressure is applied under my outside, right ankle. That's pretty much the best way that I can explain it for you all. I am not exaggerating when I say "excruciating." It is incredible how debilitating this can be considering that nothing of this magnitude has ever hit me before. As you know I have changed my shoe (the only pair I can wear) for work so I can still do all that I need to there, but you all know that's not what I'm worried about with this neuritis.

As it goes, I am still unable to ride my bike as I want to. Not being able to do something that I am so very passionate about is a certain blow. Not being able to ride is annoying, but allow me to explain, for those that may not know, how much of a blow this is to me. Not being able to ride means not being able to train. Not being able to train, means not only a setback to my racing schedule, but also my ability, my strength, my goals for the season, my aspirations for the sport overall (more on that in a sec), and my love of being able to push myself beyond words I can figure to say here. Cycling as a developmental sport is not one that a serious participator can take lightly if they are looking to continue success. I realized a lot about what I need be doing last season in order for me to stay competitive. In order to stay competitive, (or even be able to compete) I need to be able to train. It's a constant thing. Consistency is huge! I can feel my legs getting weaker. I can feel my body losing ground. I can feel myself getting dropped in every race I enter next year. At the level that I hope to compete at... I am being set back not only for this year, but years to come.. I am losing miles, hours, time, and everything I want to have to continue to build upon to be better and to win. When I think about how weak my legs must be getting, all this time lost... I feel a physical pain in my body. This means a lot to me. That is what this silly neuritis is costing me and this paragraph makes me want to puke.

But I'm not gong to puke. I might have to get an MRI. I might have to get poked with needles to shock my nerves. I might just decide to chop off my foot and call it a day (like someone seems to consider as the only rational solution...).

But let's get real here. Life isn't so bad. Yes, I am still able to work, and yes, I am surviving. This will eventually go away. Sure, it's frustrating that a doctor can't open me up - slip the nerve to a place where it won't be irritated - sow me back up - and say it's fixed. Sure it's frustrating to not know when this may actually go away. That's all well and annoying, but that's not worth me worrying about.

I will get back to my love of cycling (the way I love to do it) eventually and you know what!?! I decided that even though I couldn't train as I'd love to on a beautifully unexpected 60 degree day in January, I would ride the best way that I could.
Never taken for granted.
This is one of the things that made me smile today!
Sally is one that made me smile too!
It was a short ride, but I needed it. Cycling has taught me to be able to take everything that happens to me in the immediate physical world as well as emotionally as they happen; as life happens - as life goes on - because life does go on. I cannot waste time feeling sorry for myself, wallowing in woes, or worry about anything that I cannot control. I have learned to appreciate the successes, while taking the unexpected (good or not so good) and burdens of life with the knowledge that I am working for the best outcome and that eventually I will be better as I choose to be. Having time off the bike has allowed me to discover a few more passions and certain people that mean a lot to me. Life is busy for me and I want to keep it that way. I'm still a Colombian!

I appreciate you taking the time to read this and for teammates, competitors, and cyclists alike, I hope you all are having a successful, productive offseason and are looking forward to making the most of you and your bike this 2012 season. I'll be out there eventually. Don't allow me to make any excuses.
Again, thanks for reading, all.