Merry Christmas

I hope you’re having a super time this holiday season. Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, smile and take it all in.

Thinking of Marc who is in Belgium racing cyclocross. I’m so very happy he has this opportunity. Listening to him telling me about his races, training rides and other adventures and hearing the excitement in his voice is the best gift. I’m proud of him, it’s not easy to be away from family and friends at this time of the year. A big thank you to Nick and Romina who have welcomed Marc into their home. 

  
Merry Christmas favourite guy. 

It’s About the People

Visiting Prague between a World Cup trip Photo by Gregg Germer

Visiting Prage During a Czech Republic World Cup Trip
Photo by Gregg Germer

I’ve said all along that one of the best things to come out of my years of racing cyclocross in Ottawa and in Belgium has been the people I’ve met. I’ve made some life long friends thanks to the pursuit of riding around and chasing the fun.

One of these friends is Gabby Durin. I can’t remember when I first met Gabby, I think it was likely 2008 at Overijse… I was there with Jos and I had just raced my first UCI elite women’s race. I remember the crazy intense course, the crowds, seeing Lars Boom slap his face, and the excitement of that first big race.

Over the years of racing, I got to know Gabby more and we spent some great time together in Czech Republic back in 2010 and 2011 racing the World Cups in Tabor and Plzen. A lot has changed in a few years and now Gabby is living in the United States and I’ve seen her at races in New England and in Winnipeg a few times. Through out this time, I’ve always followed her on social media and kept in touch.

On Wednesday, Gabby posted a blog post that I know was a cathartic but challenging post to write. She put herself out there and told us honestly what the last few years have been like for her. Not many people can do this. It’s easier to hide behind excuses rather than say it like it is.

I asked Gabby if I could link to her blog post because I think it is one that people should be reading and thinking about. Thank you Gabby for the honesty and for putting yourself out there – not many can – hopefully this will encourage others to do it.

Read this: Closing A Chapter And Starting A New

Gabby also gave a very good interview with CX Magazine: Exclusive: Gabby Durrin Talks Retirement, Battling Depression And New Chapters

Thanks Gabby for the awesome times on and off the bike. Keep smiling and living life to the max.

Soapbox Time

I think that around this time every year I wonder to myself, wow that year went fast. 2015 is no exception. This has been a year filled with more than I could have imagined.

Admittedly, when I planned ahead in early January 2015, I didn’t a year like I’ve just had. But, this is the spice of life – if everything went according to plan, life would be a bit boring. And if there is one thing I strongly dislike it’s routine. So while, the bike stuff didn’t turn out exactly as I had envisioned, so many other fantastic things happened over this past year that it’s a real challenge to feel sorry for myself.

This is particularly the case when I open the newspaper or turn on the radio and learn more about the terrible things happening around the world and right here in Canada. Learning about the challenges and extremely hard times others are dealing with, really does give me a dose of perspective. This is why I’m going to plug to groups to you: the Parkdale Food Centre – I’ve been volunteering here since January and this food bank is doing amazing things for its community (donate via the Reverse Food Truck and sponsor a family or buy some bananas) and Feedfive – this is a group of friends who have been gathering together every month to cook and serve meals in their local homeless shelter, the Ray of Hope community centre in downtown Kitchener, ON (buy a t-shirt from feedfive, buying a t-shirt feeds five people).

So yeah, maybe I didn’t get to race the race I wanted and maybe there have been days when I’ve felt pretty rotten. But geez, I’ve got a nice house, a fridge full of food, and a good job… kind of hard to feel badly about this.

I’m looking forward to 2016, a year that will surely be filled with lots of great stuff, and most importantly, I hope to continue to get some good doses of perspective.

Finding Myself

Admittedly, I’ve had some tough days and weeks. I want to thank everyone who has reached out to me offering kind words, sturdy shoulders and for just simply being there. It means so very much to both Marc and myself.

I’m steadily getting back to being me. Working hard on being positive and looking forward. Taking the time to look around and recognize how fortunate I am. To not take for granted the health that I do have. To remind myself that I have a body that despite the cranky colon, is fitter and healthier than the average person. I’ve stopped dwelling on the things I can’d and I am enjoying everything I can do now.

Rollercoaster

On Wednesday ulcerative colitis won. I was crying in the car. I was crying in the hallway at work. I was crying in the car on the way home from my doctor’s visit. I was crying on Marc’s shoulder. On Wednesday it all just became too much. Too much of feeling rotten and not feeling like myself. Too much of not knowing. Too many unanswered questions. Too many bad days and not enough good days.

Today is a little bit better. I still feel rotten physically, emotionally and mentally. I feel like ulcerative colitis has become an unstoppable train and no one knows how to slow it down. I can’t get off this train but I’d like to get back to where I was five months ago.

Now, I just wait. The new drug, Entyvio, has knocked down the ulcerative colitis symptoms but the side effects of this drug are not any better. There is nothing really to be done about these side effects – apparently less than 10% of the people in a two-year trial of Entyvio reported the side effects I’m getting.

My doctor has agreed to arrange a surgery consult for me. It will likely be a year-long wait until I can talk to a surgeon. Until then, I keep taking Entyvio and deal with constant nausea, fatigue, headaches, stomach pains, chest pains and a general feeling of unwellness.

So that’s that. I don’t have much else to say. I really don’t have anything positive or uplifting to say. I’m going to continue going to work, riding my bike, and doing everything else I enjoy. Because after all, life is for the living.

Just Do It

Photo by Alain Villeneuve of RedCap Photography

Photo by Alain Villeneuve of RedCap Photography

I love this photo. It encapsulates everything I’ve been looking for this cyclocross season. That feeling of going very deep and asking my body to do more. That feeling after the race where I’m convinced I can’t pedal another stroke and I’m struggling to catch my breath. The memories and sensations that become locked in my body and heart after such a strong race. Feelings of happiness, success, relief, elation, fatigue, and the desperate need to do it all over again.

Admittedly, three weeks ago I was less than pleased with my start to the cyclocross season. After looking at my lap times I felt even worse. I thought about where I used to be and where I really had planned to be this year. It didn’t take long for me to get down on myself.

And then I went to cyclocross practice and helped a small group of women work on their cyclocross techniques. I felt their enthusiasm and excitement after having done the the first race of the season. Every week at these sessions my primary underlying goal with each drill is to build confidence. Confidence on and off the bike. Confidence that these women can race any course and handle any off-camber, descent, barrier, run-up, or other obstacle. The confidence to try something new and be ready for all outcomes.

Over years of racing I’ve learned how vital this confidence is. Trusting and believing in my abilities took me a long way. It helped me push back the voices that said I couldn’t achieve my goals. And this on-bike confidence has helped me so much in all other aspects of my life.

So, if I’m trying to get the women in my cyclocross clinics to gain and learn this confidence – why was I letting my confidence falter? Exactly…. time to hit the reset button and remember that I can race a bike. I can drive a bike around a course and I do know how to race. Sure, I don’t have the fitness I had “planned” on having and I’m not reaching the goals I had initially set out in January – but so what?

The key is to simply Just Do It. Get out and ride. Get out and race. Push my limits. Enjoy the moments and hold them close. At the end of it all, we’re grown ups riding around on bikes – no one is really paying any attention to our results and lap times.

Line up every Sunday and give it a go. Race hard. Accelerate out of the corners. Look forward. Keep pedaling. Dig deep. Trust in yourself. Have fun.

Smart Words

Last night I watched the finale of Great British Bake Off and I must admit I found my eyes getting a tad watery when the winner, Nadiya Hussain said:

“I am never going to put boundaries on myself ever again. I’m never going to say I can’t do it. I’m never going to say maybe.I can, and I will.”

Something to remember the next time you’re not sure, you hesitate or you hold back.