I leave for Angel Fire to race at Nationals in a week and I'm not entirely sure my shoulder (or my mind) can handle the excitement. I've never ridden Angel Fire, having forgone the ProGRT there earlier this summer to regroup financially and mentally... I'm more thrilled than terrified, and I feel ready for (mostly) anything.
I've learned the hard way that when it comes to my racing, my mental well being and my race results, the more prepared I feel on the day of the race, the better I do. Injuries are usually kept at bay, major falls and mistakes tend to be less so, and I have a cleaner, clearer mindset about the big picture I've got going on. Racing is an interesting psychology, especially when preparing for a large race of particular importance while recovering from a pretty major injury, but I'm desperately trying to just take it one day at a time and prepare the best I can. After hearing the final diagnosis of my shoulder (broken clavicle, torn front, rear and mid-deltoid muscles after a posterior dislocation and muscle hemorrhaging) and being told to just mellow out and use my pain as a scale of limitation, the first thing I asked the doctor was, "Can I ride?". In response, he kind of smiled and told me, "Sure... On a road bike."
"But how will my shoulder heal if there's no pressure on it?"
"I don't have time."
"You'd better make time; you're lucky you didn't break anything major... With injuries like yours, we usually see shattered humerus bones, pieced-together clavicles and even, in some cases, broken necks."
He's right. I got lucky. I got very, very, very lucky that it wasn't worse, especially with my history of injury. But he cleared me for mountain biking... Eventually, when I promised to do a LOT of my rehab work at home. Bands and lazy pushups (I can't call them girl pushups after seeing a few of my buddies unable to complete a full set) and stretching and icing (ICK!) and lots of sleep and water.
For now, I'm back in the gym, back on a stationary/spin bike and pushing myself as far as I can go. Tomorrow will be my first day back on my DH bike. I'm telling myself to just keep it upright and slow. The race times will come if I just put time in on the bike and there's no need to push everything to an immediate 14 (on a scale of 1-10) right now... Am I convincing you? Because my subconscious is just screaming, 'LIAR!!!! LIAR!!!!'.
However much my subconscious doubts the power of my self-discipline, my conscious self understands the absolute requirement of taking it easy right now. Give it another week before I try to match STRAVA times... I can work on my skills. I can kick it in the gym, at PT, at the pool (pool time? Ha! Who has any of that?!?) Take the damn calcium/vitamin D. Pedal more. Push a little less, for now... Stay in competition. What good will I be next season if I destroy my shoulder? Two seasons from now? Ten?
Holy shit, I'm getting old!
It helps to surround yourself with people smarter than you. Believe me... I totally just plagiarized my friend Jarad and his perfect advice. But I believe it; he's a pretty smart dude. I have this habit of meeting really fantastic people and sort of adopting them into my heart. It's a really great thing I have so much space in there, because it feels like everyday I'm meeting someone new who sends a smile straight to that funny organ... Anyway. Love the tangent.
So. I work on getting gear and equipment and bikes and money to all roll together (with any luck) and stay smart about my riding. Stick to the plan, playing smart and keeping everything toight (like a tiga). Strategy is key right now. Getting sleep. Continuing to ruin my legs in all sorts of horrific manners akin to medieval torture (aka, the weight room). It's all going to matter, because the little stuff becomes the big stuff. And over time, that big stuff creates a legacy of rad.
And legacy is what this world needs.
I think that's why I identify so much with the book 'Outliers'. Is it talent? Is it work? Is it genius? Or is it all time invested for the sake of passion? I think it's a little bit of everything. It has to be. Talent without work is useless, as is genius. Time without passion is what convicts do.
What drives me? WHY do I ride that bike? WHY do I race? WHAT am I contributing to the community that has given me so much? WHO am I giving back to? Big questions... But those answers eventually come. It's the small questions, the everyday, the mornings when you have emails and voicemails and text messages piling up and criticism from every corner that can fog the important stuff. The mundane, but necessary, stuff that keeps the lights on and the water running (not hot, but running; we're not fancy here!). That crap can kill anyone's work ethic. But the challenges are just as consuming once conquered as the actual quest. It's a pile of cumulative work. Whether it's working or handling business contracts to training and dialing in diet regimens to working on skills and actually making time to ride between long blog posts (ahem.) and updating the websites, it all takes some sort of miracle time management system. But once you handle that, there's more. Ha ha! There's always something to do, someone to call, some sort of errand to run.
If you can overcome the small, required details, you can take over the world.
And I thought making and selling cupcakes was taxing? HA!
Now. Does anyone have any HGH?!?!**
**Dear WADA and USADA and the entire US Military (or was that the post office?): This is a JOKE, not a reflection on my actual behavior or training methods as an athlete. Please don't piss test me though... I'll test positive for too much AWESOME.