When I start to not feel like myself I often turn to racing to get back on track. With life in the way, I haven’t been competing as often as I used to. I’m not complaining – this is completely my choice. My husband encourages me to get out there all the time knowing how much my mind thrives on the endorphins and my children enjoy coming to cheer me on. Even my boss pushes me out the office door to get a ride in.
So why not race more often?
1.) I’ve been competing since I was in 2nd grade. It started with soccer and ice hockey and moved into endurance sports when I was 18. For all these years I’ve competed every season of every year minus the total of 18 months of pregnancy. I’m kind of fried.
2.) My body isn’t holding up as well as it used to between multiple ankle surgeries, a broken back and most recently a broken wrist. I put my body through the ringer and I’m trying to be (kind of) smart and salvage what I have left.
With all that being said, I still get out for exercise 4-6 days a week. I don’t run much anymore but I ride my bike, Nordic ski, ski mountaineer and strength train regularly. No more organized training – just riding for fun and mental health. I don’t even usually want to compete all that often. I don’t miss the pressure I put on myself. Every so often I get the desire to get out for a race.
This was the case recently when I decided a few days before the Crested Butte Fat Tire 40 that I wanted to compete. It was my husband’s idea. He wanted to race so he put the idea in my head. Then he no longer could make it so I decided to go enjoy a long ride on some amazing singletrack (and use it as an excuse to visit friends). I made a point of enjoying the race, starting easy and never going at full on race pace – that pace that feels like you really should back off a little. Riding hard, but not uncomfortable, kept the pressure off and kept me relaxed. I passed people throughout the course and even enjoyed the uphill sections. To my surprise I moved into 4th place, then into 3rd and held it until the finish line.
Was I psyched to have finished in 3rd place when my only real goal was to finish and have some fun? Absolutely. But I think I was much more excited that after 20 years of racing my mountain bike, this was the first time I truly just raced for fun and it worked. It was a huge step for me in my career and felt as good as winning national titles. Now back to a lunch time ride and maybe a few more races later in the summer.