July 19, 2008
Have you ever felt so tired that when you can't open the new jar of almond butter you burst into tears? So run down that the decision between an Americano and a Green Tea latte seems difficult? So exhausted that you are blinded to the fact that you are tired and you keep training, wondering why you are getting weaker... determined to get stronger? Introducing my first experience with mid-season burn out and less than optimal iron levels. I thought I quit wrestling years ago (I'm an ex-varsity wrestler, great sport if you ever tire of cycling) but right now I feel like I am right back in a match.
This is my first year doing a full season of NRC racing with Team Kenda Tire. Just two years ago I decided to try NRC racing and entered my first race, ALTOONA. Go BIG or go HOME! I remember not sleeping for two weeks before, wondering if I had gone insane? Hilarious now but in the end, I had a great week, finished the race respectably and was ready to do it again! My motivation was very high for 2007, but unfortunately those dreams faded quickly when I tore my groin racing, keeping me off of all exercise for 10 weeks. It took another five or so to be able to go full throttle. I missed the majority of the NRC season or had to use the races left to gain fitness.
So here we go, I try again with the 2008 season and my first attempt to do a full NRC calendar. Now let's be honest for all you full time veterans, is there such a thing as a year when things just "go right" or do I just need some time to figure this all out? It's just part of the journey, isn't it? Local Tucson racing started the season for me in February with the Valley of the Sun Stage race, North End Classic followed by San Dimas Stage Race (a blast!) and then off to Redlands in California. The Beaumont RR was very tough. I suffered and got on and off and on and off but was able to finish with the main bunch. The crit was awesome and my legs felt so fresh but then on the finishing lap… BAM down I go, I bounced off my head and was done for the day.
Then enters Michael Engleman and help from the U.S. Women's Cycling Development Program! I have met him a few times and chatted briefly, but it was not until that day when I was getting wheeled into an ambulance that it struck me just how great his work is for women's cycling. Feeling nauseous and scared of the pain in my head he was the one there holding all of my things telling me it was all going to be just fine.
I mustered the balancing skills to start and finish Sunset the next day with the encouragement of my coach Mirek. It wasn't my best performance, and I dropped in GC but I was glad I got back on the bike to finish. It's all part of the journey and I look forward to the 2009 race season.
In the last two months I've trained in Antigua, raced in the Dominican Nationals, then off to Joe Martin with Team Kenda Tire where I reached my first top 10 NRC finish! Then it was off to the Tour of Arkansas (ENTER FATIGUE HERE), drove to Tour of Leelanau, drove to Montreal and back and now I am home. Strange things crossed my mind while driving across Canada and California and USA…"why don't the bugs move out of the way of the windshield rather than get their lives splattered all over? Don't they talk to each other? Warn one another the highway is dangerous?" Crazy things like this went throughout my head the entire journey home.
My fatigue continued to worsen until it was obvious in Montreal that I needed to go home and rest. I had never felt empty like this. I usually take pride in my ability to recover so well in stage races but not now. Recovery seemed a distant thing. I had no power, no power, and mentally I was cracked. Luckily, my good friends Kris Keim, Kristin Wentworth, Mike Engleman, my husband Malcolm (thank you for putting up with me) and family at home have all been so great helping me through this burn out. (So has the local "cupcakes" shop although they are not aware). It is a terrible feeling when you commit to do something full force and then you can't do it because you have to rest. I know it was a wise decision and will pay off in the end.
This brings me to why I admire and want to thank Michael Engleman and the USWCDP for what they do for women's cycling. He even goes out of his way to personally takes riders to races and supports them and I just admire him and his contributions. Thank you Michael, you make this all possible for many woman. Kris Keim (k2) also does a ton of work for the program and helps Michael get in touch with women who need support. I watch women from this program progress each year and it is amazing to see the successes! It's tough being new to the circuit and advise is priceless.
Being new to the NRC circuit presents many obstacles; there are tons of veterans out there, but not many top level teams with good support. I am grateful for the chance to ride for Team Kenda Tire this season. It's hard to learn tactics on your own. You keep training and trying to get in moves and believing that one day your time to shine will come. At the end of the day, we all need to have passions. Mine is cycling and I believe that the ups and downs and hard lessons learned will all pay off someday. I am learning a lot about myself and I hope that someone out there will read this and say, "I want to support women's cycling too!" The USWCDP is doing a great job of raising awareness and offering support to women's cycling. Hopefully they are only the beginning for more and more support.
Thank you to everyone who supports women's cycling, all the sponsors, teams, directors, commissaries, families, volunteers and host housing. Without you, we would not get to live the dream!