Looking Forward

This is the time of year when most people list off their New Year’s Resolutions and proclaim to live a better life. Well,  I’m not going to do this…

As you most likely know, December was a very rough month for me. In fact this entire cyclo-cross season, which ended early after the Koksijde World Cup has been very rough. I didn’t race to my potential. My body couldn’t benefit from the hard training I put it through during the spring and summer. I couldn’t benefit from my improved technical skills. I kept at it but it just didn’t come together like I had planned. And then to top things off, my ulcerative colitis returned three days after the Koksijde World Cup.

What I thought was “just a flare” turned out to be the worst ulcerative colitis flare I’ve ever experienced. I’ll be honest here with you (as I always promise to be on this site) – my ulcerative colitis has gone from being mild to severe. It has now consumed my entire colon. By the time I finally let Marc take me to the hospital on Dec. 24, I was on the verge of rupturing my colon. I was sick. I am so sick. But I’ve now been out of the hospital for four days and I’m starting to feel better. I’m not symptom-free but I do have more energy and I’m definitely better than I was two weeks ago. I’m on a new type of medicine (immune supressant drugs) that will hopefully balance my blood cell counts and allow my body to fight this disease. There is no cure for ulcerative colitis so all I can do is learn how with the advice of my doctors how to best manage my disease.

As for racing and riding? Well I can’t start real training until I’m 100 per cent symptom-free. I trained and raced through-out a flare last spring – fall. I thought I did a good of managing my training and flare but by the time the cyclo-cross season came, my body had been pushed to its limit and I couldn’t do what I’d been preparing for. I’m not going to make this mistake again. This last month of being sick has made me realize how much I love racing and riding my bike. I’m hoping that next week I’ll be able to get out for some light and short rides – really light as in small ring only and short as in 30 minutes long.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about nutrition and the inflammatory effects that food can have on the body. I don’t have any food allergies but I do feel better with less gluten and dairy in my diet. I’ve also been paying attention to how my body feels on a diet of mostly fruits and vegetables compared to a more meat-based diet. This combined with reading the Thrive Diet and poking around on various food and cooking websites, I’ve decided that once I’m healthy again and can eat fruits and vegetables again (for now I’m stuck eating chicken broth, white bread, eggs, and some meat and fish) I’m going to move to a gluten-free/dairy-free vegan diet for 85% of the time – this gives me the flexibility to eat meat, fish and eggs when I want/need them (partly because I struggle with very low iron so I do feel I need some natural heme iron sources). I’m hoping that this dietary change will help me a healthier person and keep my ulcerative colitis in remission.

So this is where I’m at…. There is lots of subtle change going on but no big New Year’s Resolutions on my plate. I do have one mantra for 2011: live everyday to the maximum, smile more, stress less and appreciate it all.

Fighting

Just wanted to let you all know that I’m still here. I’ve taken a few days away from this site because I’ve been pretty focused on resting and recovering. And to tell the truth, I really don’t have a lot to say right now. I haven’t ridden my bike in over a week and I’m not sure when I’ll be able to ride it again. I really wish I could tell you about my latest training rides and preparation for upcoming races – but unfortunately this is not where I am right now.

Nope, instead I’m focused on getting healthy. 100 per cent healthy. This is different from the level of “health” I was in at the start of this cyclo-cross season. I now realize that I wasn’t healthy. I wanted to be healthy. I told myself I was healthy. But I wasn’t. I was fighting my body each and every time I got on the bike. Finally and ultimately, my body won. So now here I am sitting, resting, sleeping, waiting, hoping that I will get better.

So what am I doing to get better? Well I’m not riding. I’m not racing. I’ve switched to a gluten and dairy free diet. I’m taking some new medications. I’m trying to eat – this is hard because I really don’t have an appetite and food often makes me feel worse. I’m researching and reading – currently learning about veganism and Brendan Brazier’s Thrive Diet. I’m working hard to stay in a positive mental head space. I’m sleeping as much as my body wants.

Is it working? Hard to know. This type of healing takes time and patience. So this is what I’ll focus on – giving my body all the time it needs to heal and be ready for next season. I’m working hard at being patient with my body – it is very hard to not be frustrated with what I see as a “faulty” body – but it is the only one I have so I must do my best to give it time to heal. Time and patience.

I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be back next season ripping it up on the cyclo-cross bike zipping around the course in my red,white and black kit. Next year is going to be a good one. I can’t wait to get back out training with the “kids”, with Mr. Timbo Schleck Austen and to hold more cyclo-cross practice sessions (these benefit me as much as you). Until then – I wait and I get better.

As I write this I’m listening to the 2010 cyclo-cross season warm-up playlist that I created at the start of this season. I listen to this before and after every cyclo-cross race. Right now it is reminding me of how much I miss being out there with you guys racing my bike.