Since 2010, Rapha has been coaxing cyclists off their couches to ride 500KM between Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. Last year, I completed the Festive 500 for the first time. It's not that I didn't complete past years' challenges for lack of trying, but it was the mental commitment more than the the physical commitment that always got the better of me. Last year, things just lined up for me (good weather, good friends, strong mental motivation). It's a great challenge that can help cyclists start off the year on the front foot versus the back foot. But, back to my personal challenge, I usually just don't have enough in the tank to complete the Festive 500. This year, I don't even have the energy to start the Festive 500. At least in years past I started (and made considerable progress).

You see, by this time in the year, I'm mentally and physically exhausted. The year takes its toll on me and I know part of it is brought on by myself. I'm not good at taking time off, I'm not good at listening to my body, and I'm not good at turning off. My inability to take advantage of "recharging" opportunities means that by the end of the year, I have nothing left to give - to myself, to my family, to work, to my friends, or to my passions.

While friends' plans to complete the Festive 500 started forming as soon as the challenge was announced, I knew I wouldn't be doing it. I couldn't do it. My tank was absolutely empty (more than in previous years) and I was coasting towards the end of the year on fumes, just hoping I had enough forward momentum to make it to the end. 

Why am I telling you this? Because acknowledging my current state is a huge step for me. I don't like to appear vulnerable. I don't like failing. I don't like sharing how I'm really feeling. But I know being vulnerable and failing and sharing how I'm feeling must be done before I can start to climb out of this "hole" I'm in. I want my energy back. I want to be excited to go for a bike ride again. I want to be excited to see my friends. Most importantly, I want to be the best father and husband I can be. Right now, I don't feel like I'm meeting the bar at anything. The Festive 500 might be a silly cycling challenge, but for me, cycling is hugely important and it took this silly cycling challenge to realize how bad I am right now, physically and mentally.

I'm also telling you this so that I can be held accountable at this time next year. I can't be held accountable if no one knows the goal except for me. This time next year, I will be in a much better place, both physically and mentally. I will take time off to recharge. I'll listen to my body more. I'll allow myself to do nothing. Whether or not I do the Festive 500 next year is beside the point but I want the conversation to be different - that I could have done or I did do the Festive 500. Next year, I want to enjoy this season versus having to take a week off from work (and do nothing) to let my body "repair itself." Next year, I want to be happy and festive instead of down and exhausted. 

Let's go, me. I can do it. 



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