Tomorrow morning I will toe the start line of the Tahoe Trail 100k mountain bike race. From 7am-noonish I will be suffering it out on long, hot, dusty climbs at altitude trying to stay with some super rad fast chicks. It will be painful, I will be breathing hard, my heart rate will be pinned, there will be pain in my legs and my head will most likely not feel too great by mile 50. At some point my feet will probably hurt, there will be dirt on my water bottle I will have to consume in order to stay hydrated, sweat and dust will be in my eyes.
This time the suffering means so much more to me than any other race though. On the drive up to Tahoe yesterday I found out that my grandma (my only surviving grandparent) has a tumor in her lung and cancer in her lymph nodes. This news has been a little bit of a shock because Nana who is in her 80's is a freaking survivor/badass. It never crossed my mind that something like this would happen (although it probably should have crossed my mind,,, aging is not a nice business), I was living in ignorant bliss, not wanting to think about what might happen down the road.
So on the drive, somewhere between Lone Pine and Mammoth Lakes, as I was taking in the most beautiful light show put on by the sun and clouds over the Eastern Sierra, without cell reception and the ability to call Nana, it hit me that she is maybe the reason I have had some success racing bikes. I thought about all the traits I inherited from Nana's side of the family, like loving house shopping (even if you have NO intention to buy a house), being laid back but high strung at the same time, and fighting through tough situations/never giving up. Nana doesn't mountain bike, but when my cousin Casey described how she rode for 39 miles with her saddle rubbing her leg and never considered stopping to fix it it was evident to me that the Fitchett side of my family is where I get my ability to suffer for great periods of time (sometimes in a silly way, like not adjusting that leg warmer that cut a hole in my thigh).
Tomorrow's suffering will have much deeper importance to me than any race I've ever done. While I'm out there I'm going to be thinking about the radiation and cancer treatment Nana is going to endure. Knowing her, she will beast it out like a Fitchett, but I will be saying a thousand tiny prayers that everything goes well and that she doesn't have to endure too much discomfort. I will be thinking about Nana's life and her example she led which helped shape me into the human I am today. And I will be hoping that by giving it my all I am making her proud.
I love you Nana, this one is for you.