Good To Be Back

The weekend in Rochester, NY was a good one. The racing was good. Some high moments and some low moments – but this is what happens over the duration of a weekend of racing.

Saturday was a good day on the race course. I briefly held onto a podium spot but slipped back into fourth. Some fatigue-induced errors in the last lap solidified this finish position. I was happy with how I rode and felt like I really did leave it out there.

Sunday I was stressed to the max. This was not good. I raced tight and lacked the pop I had on Saturday. I don’t even know how I finished and I don’t need to know. I put myself in a bad spot and then had to claw my way out of it. I pushed hard and even laid down some of my fastest lap times of the weekend, but when the front of the race is gone – it’s gone.

I’m glad this happened. I needed this to happen. Anxiety is a real thing for me. Learning to manage it is a daily effort. Throw a cyclocross race or two into the mix and well the anxiety level gets a bit out of control. And this is exactly what happened last weekend in Rochester.

The anxiety started gathering steam on Saturday afternoon and by Sunday morning it was a freight train out of control. I knew it was happening and really couldn’t get it to stop. On the start line I wanted to vomit. Yes, it was bad.

I need to break this and stop it now. Anxiety is not fun. Race anxiety when I’m trying to have fun and race my bike is not fun. I’ve raced in the “not fun” mode in the past and I don’t want to do it again.

Yes, I’m back racing. It’s great to be back. But I have to remember that I’m not chasing UCI points or lining up at the biggest races on the ‘cross calendar. I’m not even on the comeback path. Nope, I’m back racing for fun.

Yes, I train hard and I’m serious about my training. But you know how this is. This approach builds confidence and frankly makes it easier to achieve racing goals. And that’s all these are – race goals. They are not indicators of how I am as a person or a bike racer or an athlete – these goals are just goals and nothing more.

Lining up, racing hard, having some hard battles on the course, making small improvements during the race, and standing around talking about the race for at least 90 minutes afterwards is what it’s all about.

The real goal is in remembering this. I do this for fun. Not to make myself so nervous and wound up that I want to vomit. Done that, bought the t-shirt, and I know how it turns out.

So thanks Rochester. You were good to me. You were tough on me. Just what I needed.

Really the best parts of the weekend all came down to people. Seeing Marc race. Talking about the race course with our friends. Catching up with old cyclocross friends who we haven’t seen in a really long time. Watching the elite races and cheering on the racers. All of it was pretty darn special.

Yes, it’s good to be back.

 

And So It Begins

I’m sitting here eating 90% dark chocolate and trying to stay calm. My heart is beating a little bit faster than it should. My brain is going slightly crazy. And frankly, I’m feeling a little bit freaked out.

This can only mean one thing – I’m racing my cyclocross bike this weekend.

We’re off to Rochester, NY to kick off the cyclocross season.

I was calm. And now I’m not.

Not sure why I’m nervous and acting a bit crazy. I suppose it’s because I really care about how I do.

Of course, I’m telling myself things like “all you can do is all you do”, “just leave it all out there”, “focus on the performance not the results”, and “racing is the fun part”.

But really… do these pep talks really work? I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe not.

All I know is that I should never have checked the ranking system on crossresults.com. I checked this so I could see when I’d be called up. Well, now I know – I’ll be called up second last. Second last.

Geez. This is stressful. I was less stressed when I was called up first (way back when). But second last. Now I feel like I have to prove something to myself (and that damned database).

I know it will be okay. My fitness is much higher than it was last year. My technical skills are probably the best they’ve ever been. I’ll just go out there and give it a go.

This is the fun time after all. Breathe in. Breathe out. Eat some more dark chocolate.

New Beginnings

The new year is just around the corner. Yes, I’ve checked the calendar – January is kind of a long way off. I’m talking about September. I don’t know about you but for me, September signals the start of a new year.

I suppose it’s all the years of school and university that have imprinted September as the time to be ready for a fresh start and new beginnings. All summer I’d be busy doing summer stuff (riding bikes, working, and reading books) then it would be time for the school year. What would it be like? Would this be the year that I’d finally be part of the in crowd? Would this be the year I’d figure it all out and lose the feelings of dread that came with starting a new school year? Would I finally get it and be cool?

Yeah, September has got a lot of emotion tied up in it. I suppose if your high school years were filled with cool kid parties and less time in the library, then high school was a fun time for you…

But I digress, so all this to say – it’s finally here – the start of a new year. I’m never one to wish time away or to speed up the clock, but I’m happy September is right around the corner. It seems like the chances for a true fresh start could actually happen.

This past year has been challenging to say the least. But, thankfully these challenges were not deal-breakers and we all managed to come out whole.

And now, we’re here. The sun is shining. I’m going to ride my ‘cross bike in the woods. Marc is out riding with his pals. Calvin is sitting on the kitchen table catching some sun. Yeah, life is pretty good. Perfect time for fresh beginnings and a new start.

Instead of the school year and a stomach of dread – I’ve got a stomach packed with unicorns and rainbows. The possibilities feel endless and the adventure really has just started.

 

Happy Stomaversary

Wow, one year ago today, I had my colon removed. Can you believe it’s been a year? I can’t.

Before my ileostomy surgery, I really had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know what life would be like with Reset (my stoma). I didn’t know how life would change (or wouldn’t change).

This surgery saved my life. Having an ileostomy and pouch, has given me my life back. In 2009 if you’d suggested I should have surgery and live with having a pouch on the front of my body that collects the undigested food that travels through my small intestines – I would have refused this as a possibility.

It’s amazing though what perspective can do. I spent so many years being very ill (you likely didn’t know how ill I was) and trying to force myself into regular daily life. This meant I was often very tired and in pain – but I kept on doing everything I loved doing. Until I couldn’t.

The last couple years before having this surgery were very hard. Hard for me. Hard for Marc. Daily life was cloaked in uncertainty – would today be a good day or a bad day?

The surgery I had on August 8, 2016 changed all this. Generally, every day is a good day. Thank you Reset. Thank to you to my amazing surgeon. I have my life back.

This is not a cure. I’m still dealing with an ulcerative colitis flare. I still have my rectum and part of my colon – this will likely be removed sometime in early 2018. Until then, though, I do have days of intense pain and not nice things happening. Such is life. I’ve been through worse. Ulcerative colitis will always be part of my life, whether it’s with this flare or with the new joint pain that has appeared.

Regardless, I wouldn’t change what happened on August 8, 2016 for anything. This past year has been one that I couldn’t have imagined. I feel like I’ve been cramming in multiple years of life into this past year.

I’ve never felt better. I can’t wait to experience whatever is around the corner. Happy Stomaversary!

Yesterday, August 7, was our 13th wedding anniversary. I’m so fortunate to have Marc in my life. This guy is my rock. The past year has been challenging with my surgery, a car accident, Marc’s concussion, a sick cat (twice), and a few other stressors – but through it all we knew that we have one another for support, love, and happiness. Happy anniversary Marc.

New Job

Some news: I’m starting a new job. Okay, well it’s not really a new job – it’s actually taking my freelance work and making it my primary job. Today I gave my notice at the technical writing position I’ve been at for the past five years.

I’m super excited. I feel like a huge weight of stress has been lifted from my shoulders.

I’ll be working from home. Doing more of what I’m currently doing – lots of creative and challenging writing.

I’m excited. I’m nervous. But best of all, I feel like I’ve come up for a breathe of fresh air. I didn’t realize how much of my day-to-day was spent rushing from one thing to the next. I learned the hard way that I can’t do it all (as much as I would like to).

Instead, I’m focussing on the things that truly give me satisfaction. It’s amazing how quickly the work/life balance can get distorted. For me, I had to get in it very deep to recognize that I was on a bad path of unmanageable stress.

So, yeah – new job. Cool. Very thankful.

Long Time Coming

Hard to believe I haven’t posted here since March 15.

I must admit there were days when I’d think about posting but simply couldn’t find anything interesting to say. Then there were other days when I’d have a great idea but then decided to keep these thoughts to myself. And then there were the days when I thought about shutting this entire site down, feeling that the time had come.

And now here I am. Nothing in particular has compelled me to post and I honestly don’t know what is going to come next. But it is what it is. Words on a screen.

Life has been rolling along. Nothing to spectacular or ground-breaking to tell you about. No deep thoughts or catastrophic missteps. Just life.

This is okay. Things have been crazy for us in the past and it is refreshing to just be focussing on the day-to-day stuff of life. It’s easy to lose perspective and misunderstand that every day has to be better than the previous and that every moment must be filled with success, triumph, and unicorns.

Riding bikes. Eating good food. Hanging out with friends. Reading books. Chasing Calvin the cat around. This is good. In fact, this is great.

Okay, that’s all I’ve got. Here’s hoping I can keep the posting gaps to a minimum but as we all know, there are no guarantees in life.

Go Live Your Life

“Go Live Your Life”

This is what the lady who is in charge of booking my next surgery told me. Turns out I’m on an 18-month wait list. So that mythical date of sometime in April – June that I was given in December – well, it’s just simply not true.

What this means is I don’t need to keep not making plans. I don’t need to keep not having goals. I don’t need to keep not trying to think about what I’d like to do this summer and fall.

Instead I can get busy doing it.

It might seem strange to read that I’m happy about an 18-month wait. Well, the thing is I was calling today to ask to have my surgery date delayed. I feel great. My UC symptoms which had returned are now comfortably under control. As far as the surgeons see me, I’m in the “benign” group so there is no rush to get this second surgery done.

I had been feeling like I couldn’t commit to anything, make plans to do anything, or even look forward to enjoying the summer since I anticipated spending it recovering from a surgery that has a 50% complication rate.

But now, everything has changed.

I’ve got myself booked in for a mountain bike camp in July. I’ve fired off a super excited email to my coach. I celebrated this great news with two bowls of delicious Oat & Mill peanut butter/chocolate ice cream at 10:30 this morning.

I feel rejuvenated. Just as my stoma (who I nicknamed Reset) has given me a new chance, this news today has really lifted me up.

Time for some goal setting and the¬†planning to achieve those goals. If there is one thing I crave it’s a big goal or two.

I’m stoked to be back.