Denial

A simple google search tells me that denial is not just a river in Egypt, but can be "the action of declaring something to be untrue" or maybe it's the "refusal of something requested or desired" or perhaps is "a statement that something is not true" <---when in fact...it is. 

It's funny, I never thought I would be one to be in denial, I'm pretty good at being honest with myself, but recently I took a pretty big slap in the face with reality.  I saw an Ortho for my hip and he told me I likely have a labral tear.  I've suspected this for quite some time now, so I'm not sure why it felt like such a slap, but I was really hoping he would just look at my X-Rays and tell me it was only FAI.  I was mentally prepared for that.  I was mentally prepared to schedule an FAI surgery for next Feb.  I hear FAI surgery recovery is a bit easier than a labral tear recovery.  What I wasn't prepared for, was him looking at my X-ray's, telling me he sees some calcification, which tells him it's likely a torn labrum, and maybe some minor FAI.  I wasn't prepared for him to move my leg around and ask me to tell him when it hurts, I'm an athlete, I just lied there biting my tongue in pain hoping he wouldn't tell me this was a problem.  He let go when I told him it was uncomfortable, and said "yea it's a labral tear, you should have about 40-50 degrees of motion there and you have 10".  I wasn't prepared for that.  I mean, I knew my hip was a little messed up, but not that.  I look back at my appointment with him, and I realize I don't think I heard 90% of what he was saying.  It was something straight out of movie, where you feel like your world has come crashing down, you're bearing the weight of 1000 soldiers and you can't hear anything going on around you.  

He asked me if I had any questions.  I sat on the weird table they have in doctors offices, I looked at the ground, I looked at him, I looked around the room and all I could muster up was "I don't want surgery".  He didn't even mention the S word to me in our appointment, his response: "thats fine.  Lots of people have labral tears and they're asymptomatic, if you can manage your symptoms you can live with it.  Just know you are more likely to get early arthritis with the wear on the joint, and more likely to need a hip replacement at a VERY early age".  This is what hit home the most.  I've joked about needing a "hip replacement" when I'm "old", with my dad, with my clients.  And I found it funny, until he said it, then...it wasn't very funny anymore.  I can live with the discomfort I have, because I don't have discomfort all the time, I can live with not being able to run for longer than 30-40 minutes, I can handle that.  But a hip replacement?  Do I want an artificial hip when I'm 50?  Do I want to be THAT limited when I'm 50?  About 75% of my clients have hip replacements, and holy moly are they doing amazing, but they have their limitations.  If I get a hip replacement I will never run again, I will never jump again, I will never be able to do deep squats or lunges, and you cannot cross your legs.  My ROM will never be the same, I won't ever pass a metal detector at the airport or anywhere for that matter, I will never have my ASIS, and I'll probably dream of the days of having a good hip.  That hit home the most.  It's not "do I want this labral surgery", the question no doubt has become "do I want a hip replacement"?  I immediately started thinking about my Cyclocross season, I've been thinking about next year since February, I can't possibly ruin next year by having surgery NOW.  I had nothing to say to this man, I was literally sitting there in shell shock.  

He discussed what surgery would be, 4-6 weeks on crutches, light spinning post surgery, but probably no hard efforts until about 6 months in, and 1-2 years for a FULL recovery.  I was counting months in my head, at this point, is it even possible to have surgery and be prepared for the upcoming season, my immediate answer was absolutely not.  There was no way no how I could go into surgery and be ready to race a front heavy cyclocross season.  The worst part is, there is no "easing" into cyclocross, the first race of the year is a C1 and then 1.5 weeks later is a World Cup, plus 3 days later another World Cup and more C1's.  I believe we have 3 C1 races and 2 World Cups in the month of September, I can't go into the season with a hip that might not function.  That was running through my mind, I can't, I can't, I can't.  No way, not how, not happening.  

I got to my car, I texted everyone that wanted answers, and I sat there in silence.  What do I do.  Silence has never felt so painful.  I read my discharge documents, turned the car on and headed home.  It was the quietest 1 hour car ride of my life.  I held back tears and many mixes of emotions.  I know this isn't an end all be all surgery, but it's never an easy choice to put yourself under and CHOOSE to go through such a painful (physical and mental) process.  Being an athlete my body is my number one priority,  I use my body in my job, in all senses of it.  I race bikes at the highest level, I work in a gym teaching group fitness, doing personal training.  My life is activity.  I thought through options, surgery now?  Surgery later?  No surgery?  I still don't know what I'm going to do, I'm sure time will tell.  

What I do know is, I'm going in for an MRI to see the exact amount of damage I have put on my hip.  I am going to have the STRONGEST and best looking booty and hamstrings around, and if I opt for surgery somewhere in my future, I know that I am going into surgery as strong as I possibly can and my recovery will be THAT much better.  

Nationals and Beyond

Thanks Motofish for the awesome picture!&nbsp;

Thanks Motofish for the awesome picture! 

If you read my last blog post, whew, what a crazy whirlwind of a season, right?

Before I get going and don't find a good spot to place this, I want to say how impressed I am with the whole production of Nationals.  The course was really top notch, I loved the elevation challenges (even if I hated it at times), the grounds beautiful, and I really did feel like I was at an event, not just a bike race.  So, thank you to USA Cycling and everyone else involved in this amazing production, you did it, and it was an incredible weekend in Asheville.

I flew out to Asheville, NC on Wednesday before the big race on Sunday.  This gave me time to prep mentally for the race and get a little time on course before the big day on Sunday.  Saturday I checked out the course, and got some openers in.  I opted to ride the course in the later afternoon while the rain was falling, that way I could get a feel for the course in the slippery conditions, since the weather was calling for rain all night.  Saturday night I did my usual night before the race - prep, and tried to hit the pillow early.  I really struggled with sleep this night, I always blame it on the moon, but I tossed and turned all night.  I did my usual pre-race morning prep, ate the usual breakfast, packed my bags and headed to the course.  

Myself, and a handful of other Elite Women jumped on course around 12, trying to see course conditions not so close to our race time (since our official training time was at 130pm, 1 hour prior to the start of our race).  The course was pretty slick at this time, so it gave me a good idea of what the conditions could be like when we raced.  I still wanted to ride at 130 to see if anything changed, and when that time came around, boy had the course changed.  The slick dried out, and the course was getting pretty fast, soggy in sections, big mud puddles by the pits from the previous pressure washings, but that was it in terms of mud.  I would say the muddiest and slickest sections included the run ups (filling all our shoes with mud and grass) and the puddles near the pits.  

I knew I wanted to have a good start, but sometimes I need to tell myself to calm down and not take the hole shot!!!  Perhaps I'm really good at blowing my wad in the first 30 seconds.  I was a little concerned with the small camel hump, not sure it was going to cause a crash or not, so I opted to avoid that situation all together.  After the first lap I had an idea my race was going to get ugly.  I was really struggling to turn the pedals around on the climbs, I was having trouble accelerating out of the corners, and I was having issues getting into my pedals (which I imagine most if not all of us did) and then got dropped in the group I was riding in.  Got caught by the next couple of riders, and after that lap (with 2 to go) my legs went into spaz mode.  Both quads started to seriously cramp, the run ups became walk ups and if I was having trouble finding my pedals in the previous laps, well good luck trying to get into the pedals now.  

I'm not sure what went wrong.  My body failed me at the time I needed it most, I was (and still am) so incredibly crushed by my race.  After being home for a couple of days and reflecting back at my race, I can see that not only did I physically break down, but I mentally failed myself.  Yes, my quads cramped, and sometimes its nearly impossible to push through such pain, but I let it get to me, and I let it get to me from the very beginning.  Looking back at that race and seeing where I fell off the pace, I wonder if I mentally gave up then, knowing exactly with my placement I wasn't going to make the Worlds Team.  I went into this season with a goal (well lots) and I feel so discouraged and let down that I couldn't accomplish that one goal.   

Since last year, I knew I wanted to make the Worlds Team in 2016, I thought about it all Spring, all Summer, and all into the CX season.  I made 2 trips to Belgium to show my commitment to that goal.  Sure, my racing over there wasn't spectacular and I'm not afraid to say it, but it doesn't mean I can't be disappointed.  When I came home from Belgium after Christmas I did what everyone told me to do, rest as much as possible, and prep for Nationals.  Going into Nationals this year I was mentally ready, I didn't feel mentally fatigued, burnt out or anything.  I really felt prepared, to have such a race happen like it did, is defeating.  

I came home from Nationals ready to rest hard and eat lots and plan a vacation to Hawaii, when I received an email asking if I was taking my start spot at Hoogerheide.  That's when the wheels turned, and I realized I hadn't completely checked out from racing yet, the thought of racing one more World Cup got me REALLY excited, and with that, I go fight for one last race this year.  Sure it's a long way to travel to 1 race when (unlike everyone else there) I won't be racing Worlds, but I'm excited for one last hurrah and I know that whatever I do, I'm doing it for me.  I'm not racing to try and make the Worlds team, I'm not racing to impress anyone, I'm racing because I want to.  I'm racing this last race for me, and I couldn't be more ready.  

That's a Wrap!

All my blog posts start the same, so there's no denying I'm not the best blogger these days.  I used to blog all the time, write race reports, etc.  Now I just don't feel I can write the same race report over and over again.  I started quite a few blog posts, and never posted them, so then I deleted it, started over to update where I was in the season, never posted it, and well now...it's over.  

So I'm here to write a season recap, and lets start with the first weekend in Rochester, NY.  

I actually have chosen to forget this weekend.  This was the weekend where I asked myself why I race this sport, and then I questioned my entire season.  In case you missed it...it was about 95 degrees and 400% humidity (or so it felt), basically New York tried to roast my insides.  

After Rochester I flew home to be at home for a weekend before heading to Vegas to for...THE WORLD CUP!  The first ever World Cup outside of Europe.  That event was probably the most special event I have raced in my entire CX career.  I feel SO privileged to have raced it, and because of that I think I put the biggest dig in a CX race I have ever done!  I came away so close to the top ten, but finished lucky number 13.  Straight from Vegas I drove to Reno with Mical Dyck and we raced in Teal Stetson Lee's even, "Cross Reno".  Probably one of the hardest CX races I have ever done.  It was hot, it was at altitude, and it was CHALLENGING!  I flew home on an early flight straight to SEA-Tac where I raced a local race after Chris picked me up from the airport.  

Photo: Motofish

Photo: Motofish

After that, I flew to the East Coast for my biggest trip yet!  I raced Gloucester, and it was dry and dusty, and my mental attitude was low and high.  It's never REALLY my favorite race of the year.  After that, we went to Providence, one of my favorite courses.  Unfortunately the course changed quite a bit, and I didn't like it as much as years past.  This was the weekend where I realized the season wasn't going to be as delicious and golden as I wanted, and I knew I needed a new attitude to make it through to the end.  Truthfully, between you (the internet world) and I, I wanted to call it quits because fun wasn't being had.  I added more smiles for miles and after that my season made a turn around!  

Photo: Dave McElwaine

Photo: Dave McElwaine

From the East Coast I flew to Madison, WI for the Trek CXC Cup, a twisty and dusty course, but always a fun one.  I had a solid day of racing for the C1, and was extremely satisfied.  Day 2 left me with a punctured tire after hitting a very sharp rock on one of the downhills.  Having some hip issues I opted out of running to the pits, and called it quits for the day since I knew Europe was the next weekend.  

Photo: Jeff Corocan

Photo: Jeff Corocan

From Madison, Wisconsin I flew to Belgium to race the Valkenburg World Cup.  I came out to this race to experience a new race course, go to Belgium at a different time of year and test my ability to sleep.  My trip over went flawlessly.  Stayed with the most lovely of friends and had a great trip over.  The race was unfortunate because I flatted and didn't realize it until literally right after the pit exit.  Fear of ruining my rim, I ran all the way back to the pits, and that was a LONG run, and a very sad day for me.  I was pretty upset with the flat, I wanted a really good result, but alas fate got the best of me.  I had a very positive attitude coming out of this race.  Valkenburg brought back my love of the sport.  Racing a new course to me, something challenging and awesome, and having a fantastic trip to Europe really helped with my smiles. 

Photo: Bart Raeymaekers

Photo: Bart Raeymaekers

I had 2 weeks at home (finally) after being on the road for 26 days.  It was a great chance to re-group and spend time with Chris and Nugget (my adorable kitty).  

Those 2 weeks went up quickly and it was time to pack it up and head to the midwest for the Pan Am's and Louisville weekends.  Chris had the chance to come with me to Cincinnati, so that was very special.  Saturday I had an unfortunate twist of luck and went sailing down the camel in a wonderful fashion.  Then my legs got tired and lost power.  Unfortunate result for a C1.  The following day was another favorite course of mine, the Continental Championships!  This course is so much fun!!!  I had such a blast, my legs felt the previous days efforts, but I couldn't walk away sad finishing 7th on the day.  

Photo: Yet Another Bike Photo Facebook Page

Photo: Yet Another Bike Photo Facebook Page

The next weekend in Louisville is another course favorite of mine.  Last year we raced under the lights, one of my all time favorite ways to race, this year we raced more at dusk, a very terrible time to race when the daylight is shifting from being able to see, to not being able to see.  I believe we call it twilight?  I still had a blast and finished 5th.  I was super stoked with a 5th place finish.  The next day during pre-ride a Junior boy pulled a U-turn in front of me and I pulled my hamstring.  I opted to sit out the race and let the hammy rest for the next couple weekends of racing.  

Friends make the world go 'round

Friends make the world go 'round

After 10 days in the midwest I went home rested my hammy on the couch and raced a local UCI race in Tacoma!  I love being able to race in front of the home town crowd, the cheers and heckles from the Hodala crowd is like nothing you will experience anywhere else.  

Photo: Woodinville Bike

Photo: Woodinville Bike

The weekend after that I traveled South to CXLA - Long Beach Edition.  Racing in LA is always really hard for me.  It's a mental struggle every single time.  I struggle in the heat and the dusty dry conditions.  And as expected, the weekend was a rough one on Saturday, but I turned it around on Sunday and I'm happy to say I had  solid day on the bike.  

Photo: PB Creative&nbsp;

Photo: PB Creative 

Home for 10 days before heading out to Iowa City for JINGLE CROSS!  My favorite race of the year!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this race SO much!  I love the course, I love the scene, and John Meehan does the absolute  BEST job at promoting this event.  He gets the entire community wrapped up in Jingle Cross and I love it.  This race is usually always my best race of the year.  Not sure if it's the course, or what it is, but I always do best at Jingle Cross.  This year we were graced with not 1 but 3 FULL days of mud, and it was awesome. 

Photo: Mauro Heck

Photo: Mauro Heck

On the hunt for better C2 points, I came home from Jingle and went to Dallas, TX for the Resolution Cup where the rains fell and the mud is clay.  I had a great showing on Day 1, taking my first (and only) UCI win of the season.  Day 2 was a little bit more of a struggle and my legs felt the previous day, finishing in 3rd.  

I arrived home Sunday night from Texas, and quickly unpacked to pack up again to head to Belgium the following Wednesday (2 days later).  Per Murphy's Law I got sick on Tuesday, travelled all day Wednesday to arrive in Belgium on Thursday feeling yucky pants and not being able to breathe.  Trying to make the best out of a not so great situation, I convinced myself it would be okay, and I wasn't THAT sick!  Namur wasn't the prettiest of pretty races for myself, but I finished and I'm proud of that, because the past years well...they where even uglier!  Hoping Zolder would be better with more time to relax and recover, my legs did feel better, but my result wasn't all that much better.  Not really sure what happened there. 

Photo: Tom Prenen  This climb...every time ouch

Photo: Tom Prenen

This climb...every time ouch

Leaving it all out there in Zolder

Leaving it all out there in Zolder

Photo: Luc Van Der Meiren

Photo: Luc Van Der Meiren

Came home the day after Zolder, celebrated Christmas with Chris and relaxed and rested before Nationals.  I felt I did everything right when I got home.  Didn't work much, slept in, relaxed, didn't ride too much.  The Wednesday after that (10 days later) I packed up the bags again to head to Asheville, NC for NATIONALS!!!!

Nationals gets a post of it's own.  :-P