I was gasping for air. And the gap was big. I played with the thoughts in my head … do I really want this? Do I want to chase them down? If I do, will I be able to hang on after I’ve caught them?
It was like a bubonic plague of doubtful thoughts. You suck. You can’t do this. Why even try? Are you serious? There is no way you can do this.
Photo Credit: Clara S. via Flickr
Frankly, I’m sure there were a few other riders with a similar dialogue at this point in the ride.
It was Sunday morning … early. There were at least 30 or 40 riders and we were already hitting 27 … 28 mph. The front group had created a gap over the two or three riders ahead of me.
And since I had my head down as I sucked the wheel of the bike in front of me … and as my lungs exploded from the lightening pace … I didn’t see the damage until it was too late.
Too late to stop since there were 15 riders behind me … and too late to speed up since I just felt pieces of my lungs come up through my body and hit the pavement as I heaved forward with less and less oxygen after each pedal stroke.
The negative thoughts rushed in again … you don’t really want this anyway, so just quit and go home. You haven’t been riding enough so why don’t you take the cue from your weak-ass body and pack it in.
And then it came from behind me like a bolt of lightning. A simple phrase. Was it encouragement or the ultimate insult? It didn’t really matter at that moment. When your body is in oxygen debt … you can’t really make sense of things at the time. You only have two decisions … keep going or stop.
There it was again.
A simple phrase that cracked every negative thought in my head … DO THE WORK MON!
Gary was a cyclist from Jamaica with a clear patois accent. A guy who was never afraid to turn on the afterburners and drag a whole line of riders up to the front group at 30 … 32 … or 34 mph. And today, he had just called me out.
DO THE WORK MON! DO THE WORK.
He was respected in just about every local group. He was strong, fast, and still affable … even when the screws got tightened and everyone was gasping for air.
But this time his words were firm. And they were directed right at me.
Two other riders had already peeled off to the left in front of me. And now I was all alone. The front group was over 250ft away … and their speed was increasing. Even if I sprinted to catch them, I could blow every ounce of energy I had left only to see myself slide to the side and let the riders behind me latch on and race away.
But the simple words in that Jamaican accent rang true.
They not only pierced my head … they pierced my heart. How could I stop now. All I had to do was “do the work”. Nothing more nothing less.
Show up, be intentional, and do the freaking work.
Of course the negative thoughts continued to plague me. But now I was on notice. I wasn’t just in my head … my thoughts were now on my sleeve as riders behind me were counting on me to do the work.
They’d done it for me in the past. And now it was my turn.
DO THE WORK MON! DO THE WORK.
Where did this phrase apply in other areas of my life? As writer, as a husband, as a dad? Do the work mon! Suck it up, be strong. Be in the moment and move your ass!
Whether it was ego, shame, or chutzpah, I slammed my pedals, put my head down, and cranked up the rpms. In seconds I was flying at 30 … 31 … 32 mph hour as my lungs screamed for air and my hands and feet went numb.
I was going to do the work. And the 15 or so riders behind me were going to reap the reward as I closed the gap and dragged myself and everyone behind me to the front group.
And here’s the crazy part.
Right as I caught the front group … 15 or so riders in tow … the fast group slowed down just a hair. I caught the draft behind the last man, and my lungs gasped as sanity raced through my blood.
I was there.
I had done the work … right then. No more hesitation. No more negative thoughts. I had done the work and the gap was closed. We were all one group once again.
No shame. No regret. Just the satisfaction that I had beaten back the demons of negative thought and did the work.
But candidly. That was just the start.
I couldn’t get Gary’s words out of my head. Do the work mon. Do the work.
What a beautiful phrase. A life changing phrase.
When you do the work … the payoff is hard-earned but it’s real. And best of all it’s yours. Its something you own. Something you can share with others who can benefit from your hard work.
So here’s the question for you. Where do you have a gap in your life that you need to overcome? And who is tagging along behind you that will benefit from the hard work you throw down.
Think about it. Is it a relationship? A business endeavor? Do you need to close a gap in your marriage? With your children? With your dreams? With your goals or ambitions?
Whatever it is, it’s ok if there’s a gap right now. Just realize the gap exists and …
DO THE WORK MON!
Trust me its worth it. Your worth it and so are the 15 riders behind you.