Confession: I've been a total crab lately.
While I've mostly likely (hopefully) been able to hide this from most people I've come in contact with - especially if they don't know me well - there's no escaping the fact that I know I haven't been my usual cheerful self.
This morning, after I struggled to change a flat on my bike in my kitchen before a bike ride, it came to a head with a meltdown - the kind where I end up crying for no particular reason.
I could feel "it" brewing inside me as I wrestled to get the tire separated from the rim - a real-life reminder that as tough and independent as I try to be, there are still some things I can't do.
Sometimes I need help. (I've never been good at asking for it.)
After a frustrating experience shoving the new tube back into its spot and trying with all of my might to get the tire to re-seed properly into the rim, I reached for the air pump. The valve from the tube looked crooked, so I asked TC's advice.
TC, keenly aware that I've been a bit "off" for the past day or two, reluctantly told me that I'd forgotten a step - a nut from the valve was mistakenly on the wrong side of rim. Wrong side, meaning inside the tire that I'd just pushed and pried desperately to get it back in place.
Up until that point TC and I had agreed that I change this one on my own in preparation of that day when (not if) I get a flat on the side of road when I'm riding by myself. But I think he sensed something in me after I learned of this small misstep - perhaps some mix of frustration and disappointment - and lent a helping hand.
I felt deflated - yeah it's obvious, but I'll say it anyway - kind of like that tire I was trying to replace.
It wasn't just about the flat. In fact, it wasn't really about the flat at all (although it made me have some serious doubts about my ability to handle unexpected bike situations on the road, something I'll have to strategize over and deal with at another time).
The extra time spent on the flat meant that, once again, I'd be racing the clock. With plans with TC's family set for early afternoon, I'd scheduled my wake-up time (a huge thanks to TC for letting me get some much-needed extra shut eye this morning) to allow for a couple hours on the bike before having to head out.
I'd still be able to get a couple of hours in, but the delayed start just meant that it would be the usual mad dash of showers and tending to the pups to hit the road in time.
TC and I planned to meet up somewhere along the ride, and although I was very much looking forward to riding with him, I was also looking forward to spending the solo time clearing my head and trying to figure out just what's been eating at me lately.
Running and riding really allow me to refocus and think. Those miles and hours are as important (perhaps essential is more accurate) to my mental well being as they are to my physical health.
I spent the first few miles trying to understand why I've been such a crabby pants during the past few days. I quickly realized that the more I thought about it, the harder it was to understand. I decided to just let my mind go and focus on the crisp summer air, the sunshine and the beauty of enjoying the outdoors.
Soon enough, like it always does, my mind started to figure things out. I realized that maybe I've been trying to cram too much in - almost every minute of my day is spent doing "something." There's always a schedule, a place to be by a certain time, people waiting on the other end.
Not surprisingly, this week has been like that - start to finish. Always an obligation somewhere, with things like runs and rides to try to squeeze in between must-do's.
Maybe I should call them want-to's. After all, it's all stuff I want to do, all people I want to see. But, as the saying goes, sometimes you can have too much of a good thing.
The realization caused me to re-evaluate all of the good things in my life - Team In Training, my own running and riding, family, friends - and the time that I allocate to all of them.
I'm not willing to give any of it up and I know I don't have to. But the problem is when I try to do all of it, I don't do any of it well. I always feel like I'm letting someone - or myself - down.
It's not a coincidence that Ms. Crabby Pants comes knocking when my running and riding miles dip down. The training chart for the past few weeks is peppered with X's. Like I said, those "mental health" miles are part of what keeps me happy and sane. I need to remember that.
This morning's bike ride definitely helped - although I admit would have liked a longer, leisurely ride. It put things in perspective and showed me I need to do some more thinking and prioritizing. I can't do it all and I shouldn't feel like I have to. In fact, I shouldn't want to do it all.
All easier said than done.
It definitely gives me something to think about on those next solo miles - as soon as I find a way to properly squeeze them with all of the other good things in my life.