I’m sitting here in a hotel in Holyoke, Mass – just around a 20 minute drive away from every cyclocross racer’s favourite park – Look Park. Yes, it is the Cycle-Smart International weekend of racing. This used to be one of my favourite race courses. A good mix of technical and power with lots of twists and turns to separate those who can “drive” their bikes from those who can’t. Look Park itself is also a great venue – lots of walking/running trails, a beautiful river and just a relaxing place to hang out. The crowds always come out for this race and apart from the racing, there seems to be lots of time to catch up with long-time cyclocross pals. So yeah, we like coming down here, racing, cheering, and hanging out.
This year of course, I’m not racing. Same deal last year. Last year it felt a bit frustrating to have to watch the elite women’s race. This year not so much. I think I’m finally ready. Ready to not be a serious competitive plan-driven must-train-at-all-costs don’t-eat-the-cookie athlete.
Earlier in the week I was chatting with Marc about skate skiing and trail running. I told him how I wanted to get a coach, get a plan and get really super fit again. How I needed to get in shape and ready for the Gatineau 51 Km ski loppet in February and the Ultimate XC 23 Km trail race in July. I went on about getting faster, stronger, leaner and focused again. Marc sat and listened. And then he simply said “No, you don’t need a coach or a plan. You just need to get back to 100% health and get active again. The fitness and strength will come. Just go out and do. Go skiing with you friends. Go trail running with you friends. Go snowshoe running. Just do.”
(Have I told you how lucky I am to have Marc in my life?)
At first I bristled at his comment. But then – well then I thought about it. Yes, he is right. I just need and want to get out there and move my body. I’ve spent years following structured training plans. I missed out on long rides with friends because my program said I had to do VO2Max intervals. I missed out on all-day hikes in the Gatineau Park and a latte afterwards because I had to go lift weights and then do a three hour ride. But back then, that was fine – that was what I wanted. Now, not so much.
Sure I still want to get fit and strong again. And yes, I want to be able to ski the Gatineau loppet in a decent time and still be able to balance on one leg at the end of it all. But above all else – I just want to be outside having fun and moving my body. I’ve got these small goals to look forward to and to be honest, they’ll help me get out the door when it’s raining or crazy cold outside – but they won’t force me out the door if it’s raining or freezing cold…
It’s happening gradually this transition and I’m finally okay with it. Today we’re off to Look Park for day two of the racing. It promises to be another great day. One of those days I just need to appreciate for being able to be outside and cheering on Marc while he rips around on his bike. Can’t really ask for much more. Tomorrow I’ll go to dryland ski training and bumble my way around Mooney’s Bay park – the entire time I’ll listen to my body and remember that it’s not always a race.