omen (ō’mən) n. A phenomenon supposed to portend good or evil; a prophetic sign.

Sunday, April 16, 2017, a brief reprieve in the seemingly never-ending Passover holiday. The weather predicted for today was low 80s…and it was…and I was not prepared.

Already feeling like an overly stuffed turkey after days of non-stop eating and drinking, I decided to take a short ride to the “countryside,” mostly because I wasn’t feeling very well hydrated this morning (omen #1). A short ride for me at this point is 5 miles out, turn around, 5 miles back. In my training, I’ve been working simply on riding 10 miles without passing out, cramping up or chafing beyond repair – it’ll be 10 miles between each rest stop on the cancer ride. I figure, if I can get from one stop to the next, 54.4 miles won’t seem so bad…hopefully…

So what did I do? Went against my better judgment and told the little voice inside my head to shut the hell up…”It’s too beautiful out here! I finally have a perfect day for a long ride! I feel GREAT!” I shouted (hopefully to myself in my head where the little voice resides…omen #2)…

Finding myself 10 miles out, I took a break at a local business, parking my bike in the handicap space. I felt like nothing could stop me. No sweat, no pain, no chafing…yet…(omen #3)…

Back in the saddle, I started to feel it…the sun was getting higher in the sky and heating up the tar. My quads started cramping up, my feet were going numb and sitting on my saddle felt like coarse sand paper on naked skin (omen #4)…

So what did I do? That’s right…I went against my better judgment…again…and told the little voice inside my head to shut the hell up…”It’s too beautiful out here,” I whimpered, “I finally have a perfect day for a long ride…I feel…okay…it’s not that bad…not really…I can do this…I feel…(like I’m going to die out here…but I said that somewhere else in my head, hidden from the little voice…omen #5)…

Quickly realizing I hadn’t packed enough water, I painfully pushed myself the next 10 miles, which just so happened to be here:

Rita’s Italian Ice

So what did I do? Yup…I started crying when I realized I’d forgotten my ID, my cash and my debit card. As I slowly gulped the last swig of warm water from my bottle, the little voice said, “Just ask them for ice or water or something, you stubborn old woman!”

So what did I do? Of course I told the little voice to shut the hell up, struggling not to vomit and/or pass out from extreme dehydration. I knew I was only about 2.5 miles from home – that’s about a 15 minute ride…and I could take all back roads if I needed to stop or I could call my husband for a ride if necessary.

So what did I do? You betcha! I got on my bike and started home…I think my little voice stayed back at Rita’s to schner some free water ice because I didn’t hear her the rest of the ride…

I slowly peddled home, plopped my exhausted body down on a chair in the garage, drank as much water as I could possibly hold and then slept for 12 hours wondering what flavor my little voice had ordered…next time I’ll listen to her…hopefully…

So why did I ignore all those omens? At each instance, I didn’t “see” the omen and even chose not to listen to my little voice telling me something was just not right. I know omens are just superstition, but my little voice believes in them, hook, line and sinker. I know it’s all just “hindsight is 20/20” – I “see” the omen now because I’ve chosen to make meaning of my experiences…but the little voice knew they were signs, warning me to stop and reconsider my actions.

“Survivors look back and see omens, messages they missed. They remember the tree that died, the gull that splattered onto the hood of the car. They live by symbols. They read meaning into the barrage of spam on the unused computer, the delete key that stops working, the imagined abandonment in the decision to replace it.”

Joan Didion,  The Year of Magical Thinking

The above quote was written by a woman who was born on the same exact day as my mother – December 5, 1934…is it coincidence that I found the perfect quote to express my experience and only discovered her date of birth after I copied and pasted her words? (Little voice: “Or is this another omen…stubborn old woman?!”)

“I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain”

Horse With No Name – America

“I had run for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours.” – Forrest Gump

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