‘He suddenly appeared. At the front of the pack in first. I was jumping out of my skin with excitement. My little brother, was winning his first ever cross country, and I was screaming my lungs out at the finish line so proud of him.
In year seven, he was four school years below me, just a little tacker, with my blood, racing for his life. I’ll never forget his face. Determination. Grit. Pain. He wanted to win.
The cross country course of Braemar College in Mount Macedon Victoria, was challenging. The weather was always freezing, your toes numb and your nose red and dripping. There were rivers full of icy water, and sticky mud that added weight to ones already water logged running shoes.
The finish line was at the top of a very steep hill. The nail in the coffin for some.
He was almost at the top of the hill, only 50 metres from the finish, when my heart sank as he fell to the ground. Other competitors pushed on past him.
Collapsed from exhaustion, he didn’t get up, and no one appeared to be helping him. So I ran onto the course and lent over him.
“Are you ok? Come on brother. Get up”
“I can’t” …he said amongst tears of disappointment and desperate fatigue. He had run beyond himself, fuelling his legs with pure guts and determination, and now the tank was on empty.
“Yes. You can. Let’s walk. One foot in front of the other”
We walked together, my arm under his armpit, he crossed the line in 11th”
The cycle today started badly. Firstly, I couldn’t find the bike pump…fireworks. Then, once found, I couldn’t get it to work, so I cycled to our meeting point with no air.
Exhausted before I’d even begun, my mind questioned why I had even agreed to such a feat, when I was so unfit. I had a headache, and I felt pretty lousy.
It didn’t get any better. The commencement of the hills really knocked something out of me like never before. I had to stop. I signalled to my brother and pulled over. I was frighteningly close to emptying my stomach contents all over the nature strip. I held my head down. My head began to spin and I was wishing I was on my couch at home.
Hard work? The hardest. This is what it takes. This is what it takes, to get it back. The secret is out. It’s sickening. It’s degrading, it’s not easy. But that’s why it’s worth it. That’s why it works. I want the results.
I got back on the bike and kept the wheels turning. My brother was riding Dads mountain bike, and I was on a racer. He was not struggling like me. As the inclines increased, my heart screamed for mercy. Holy heck. This is a battle I was unprepared for, but that had to be faced. I needed to endure the pain in order to go forward, and painful it was.
As my speed slowed and slowed, I felt a hand on my back. It was the little tacker from year seven, carrying his struggling sister up the hill that was breaking her. He rode one handed, as he pushed me up and encouraged me to keep going. His legs were powerful, his fitness admirable, and he rode with me, throughout my desperation.
So brother, I thank you for helping me to confront myself. For carrying me up the hill, so that I can begin my journey back to fitness. The little boy I helped up the hill so many years ago, is not a little boy anymore. He is a tower of strength and inspiration.
How do I feel now?
Exhausted. Absolutely exhausted, but deeply satisfied. I have a long, long, way to go…..but the journey has begun.
If you are willing to go outside of comfort, you will reap the rewards. That’s what it takes, but it’s all worth it. XN