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Sara Stover

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All in a day’s ride

Memorial Day Weekend 2017

A few folks have mentioned how hard it must be to go through a divorce. And I am grateful for the empathy. Grateful for the concern! It is. But “hard” is also subjective. The divorce factor is hard because it’s compounded with my unemployment status, and this matter of selling the Albany house, packing up, and laying a new foundation in the great wide somewhere… or at least New Hampshire! It is difficult much in the same way that the last 5k of Ironman Lake Placid is, with that infamous hill to climb back into town. It’s not that this hill is the steepest, longest hill on the planet. But it is the final challenge to overcome, after a day of challenges. A day of possibly getting elbowed in the swim, getting pelted with hail and freezing rain on the bike, breaking your derailleur cable, dropping your chain and eating pavement when your bike comes to a standstill, dropping your nutrition and going low blood sugar, running through blisters and stomach cramps, and generally doubting your sanity for signing up for this beast in the first place… all of which I have encountered in my history with Ironman.

So after a day of riding this glamorous emotional and physical roller coaster, there is that matter of the final climb.  Who puts a hill at the end of 140 miles of swimming, biking and running?! Filing for a divorce after over two years of Ironman-sized challenges and heartbreak feels a lot like that – Not the hardest aspect, but the last hard part nonetheless.

This is what I pondered as I rode my bike through the serene, green countryside today. As I pushed up the hill toward Alcove, I asked myself what it is that keeps one fighting, whether in a triathlon or in life. Frankly, you press on because you can see the lights from the Olympic Oval and hear the cheering. I press on because I know there is an end in sight, and I have an incredible support system cheering me on.

spunktified - albany iris

Cheerful iris in bloom to start the day! These are transplants from my Grandma’s garden! 

The end is in sight. Yet so is the beginning! A new chapter is beginning, and being keenly aware of this has changed the way I approach the whole swim, bike, run matter (thanks in part to the incredible support system that I mentioned).  I am not riding or running because I have an epic race on the calendar that I must train for. In fact, I have been challenged to drop the whole racing thing for an indefinite amount of time in favor of focusing on my career and my health – body, mind and soul. Challenge accepted! And I don’t regret it.

There is something so freeing about waking up and asking my heart and body “Oh hey, what do you guys need today? Rest? Run on a trail? Ride down a back road? OK great, let’s go”! Today I woke up from a dream about the reservoir in Alcove. So off I went, riding into the sun-soaked horizon.

Today I was a compassionate badass. Today I did my second ride in 11 months… And it was 33 miles! Today I was not focused on a distant race on the calendar. I was simply present. Riding for the sheer joy of it! Riding with an open heart!

Today I threw myself up the hills that always taunt me. But today I also rode with intention and awareness, stopping for the places and people that tugged on my heart. It’s amazing what happens when we are open and present, undistracted by our own ambitions!

Today I stopped to greet a man on a motorcycle who was placing flowers on the side of the road, just before I turned onto Quarry. spunktified 1

This is Rene Sanchez. And the flowers he left are in memory of his friend Eden, a fellow motorcycle rider who was hit and left to die on the side of Rt. 32 a few years ago. Today my new friend reminded me that life is short, and we should all take the time to remember those who lost this precious gift too soon … And to “just breathe”!

This is the house I have passed dozens of times on my training rides.  Spunktified - Clarksville house.jpg

Not a tiny house, but still, set back in the woods in rural Clarksville, and thus, an object of my lust 🙂 So when I rode by and noticed it’s owner outside working, I turned right down his driveway, in true Sara fashion! Today I met Jim, who has lived in this dreamy abode for the past 1.5 years. We shot the breeze about the trees he is planting in the front yard. Anyone who knows me will not be surprised that I geeked out discussing plants and his landscaping intentions! “God really blessed me with this house!” he mentioned before I shook his hand and rode away.

This is the view of Alcove that I woke up dreaming about! spunktified - alcove reservoir

About 15 minutes later, I had the pleasure of riding momentarily through Stanton Farms alongside a gentleman in a yellow jersey. “Beautiful day for a ride” I exclaimed as I pulled up alongside him. “Every day is a beautiful day when you ride!” was his reply.  Another gem of inspiration to stick in my jersey pocket, tucked in tightly beside the reminder to breathe, and look for God’s blessings!

This is the lunch I inhaled at Jake Moon’s after riding 33 miles today.  spunktified - jake moon's

Jake Moon’s is a cafe in the boondocks. Another mystery that I have wondered about every time I pedal past on a training ride, reluctantly riding by in pursuit of averaging a paramount mileage per hour to obtain a race goal that certainly would not change the world. Today, I put my bike in the car and drove back to Jake Moon’s!

I was disappointed to discover that the kitchen closes from 3 to 5pm, a fact that the general public was already aware of, judging by the lack of patrons. However, the friendly server explained that I was welcome to order any salads, appetizers or drinks. So today, I sat outside enjoying a delicious cuban chili, and a glass of wine… At 3:15pm. Because why the hell not?! And as I was quite literally the only customer, it wasn’t long before the server and I were discussing life like old friends. She shared some details with me that made my own struggles seem like a cake walk. And also shared with me some hope, as she explained how she broke free, grew stronger, and found the love of her life at 51. They bought a farmhouse in the country and are getting married this September 🙂 I tucked this into my jersey pocket, already brimming with inspiration from the day’s encounters!

Today I got outside and connected with God. Maybe it’s time we all did that more often. When is the last time you were open and present? Why not get outside yourself and be open to whoever God is putting in your path. Don’t be so caught up in your training, racing, and general ambitions in life that you forget to slow down, and connect with another’s story. Because it may be exactly the encouragement they, or possibly YOU, truly need! Be present, be open, and ride on friends!

This entry was posted in Life.
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