Tuesday, December 18, 2018

6 Weeks In

Part of me didn't think it would take this long to 'bounce back'. I figured when doctors said 4-6 weeks that meant 4-6 weeks for normal people, people who don't derive joy from suffering like me. That I would be back to commuting every day by the three week mark, and normal by 6 weeks in.
I've only ridden mtb TWICE in the past 6 weeks. 
But over the course of the last 36 days I've come to realize that this really is as great of a 'reset' as I was warned it would be, it hasn't been 6 weeks till normal, but 6 weeks until I am able to eek out 2 commutes a week, TWO. And that much is tiring and kinda hard. I tried to push on my way home Thursday and it felt like hitting a brick wall, I didn't go faster, it just hurt more.
BUT don't feel bad for me, because as my body has been slow to come around, my mind has been much faster to process and deal with the initial grief, and now 'mountain to climb' of this setback. I know it will be a long long road to get back to where I want to be, which may not mean ever achieving the speed and power I had right before all this, and I've kinda settled in for the long haul.
The only hard part now is fearing that I like the sedentary life a little TOO much sometimes. Don't worry though, as soon as I get back on my bike in the pitch black at 5:30 to ride to XC practice I remember why I like the fast life too :)

Some real talk tidbits from the last couple weeks.

Making the most of less bikes means lunch dates with this kid :)
It was a no-brainer that this would happen and theoretically avoidable, but ceasing to ride my bike 30 hours a week and continuing to eat as if I was has finally caught up with me, and my clothes are getting very very tight, haha. I am terrible at counting calories and watching what I eat because that just makes me think about food all the time, which makes me hungrier than I should be. I've not been thinking much 'race weight' or power to weight ratios or any of that nonsense since I got back from Costa Rica, and while it's been freeing to not worry about how my weight will affect performance, it is a little tiny bit scary to think about how I need to be careful if I DO want to train and race again. I'm sure when I start riding more it'll balance itself out, but in the mean time, I may need to buy new pants :)

I've replaced one obsession involving wheels with another, because now I spend every waking minute thinking about throwing pottery on the wheel. Pottery has invaded every corner of our lives, clay is all over the car, on the kitchen table, in my classroom, and last night I was carving on a cup IN BED! hahahaha. Addictive personality I guess. It's been nice to fill the cycling void with something I love that I haven't had time for in the past 6 years because of bikes. I even made a bunch of Christmas presents for people, but sadly the studio I've been going to is crazy slow at firing stuff in the kiln, so most of them wont be ready until January :(

And lastly for now, real talk that I am so confused about... I mentioned a lot last year that I wanted to retire and try to start a family in 2019, and we are mostly on board for that plan. But to be honest there is still a big part of me that wants to race bikes next summer, especially when I think about specific races. I feel so torn when I get interviewed these days because if I say I'm retiring to have kids and then I end up racing that's going to be weird, and if I say I'm committed to racing I feel like a liar because I kinda really want kids.. Anyway, in the grand scheme of things it doesn't really matter, I know, but a ton of the people who follow me on social media (fans dare I say) do so because of my race results and all that hoopla, and I will be honest, I am scared to loose that. Again, I know it doesn't matter in the really big picture of life, having fans isn't nearly as important as living the life I want and doing what makes me happy, but the real talk honest truth is that it feels a little like the one thing that made me special and noteworthy is gone and I'm going back to being a normal person. This may sound crazy, but I'm just being honest. The more time that passes, the more OK I am with loosing my epic adventure riding, bike racing notoriety and I do know that who I am as a person is more important than how many followers I have, so here's to focusing on what makes you happy, on riding bikes, or not riding bikes because you love it, and enjoying whatever life throws at you.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

WHAT!? How has it been 4 weeks already?!?

Rode my bike to school last Tuesday, and all I can say is UFDH. That was NOT the magical, beautiful, glorious return to riding I had hoped for.

Instead it was a slow, hard, reality check of a ride that was honestly not as fun as I hoped :( Guess the old body still isn't ready.

That being said, 4 weeks into the recovery process (4 freaking weeks! How has time gone by so fast) and I am starting to understand my feelings a little better/cope with the situation.

There have been a lot of hard moments in the past month, but a lot of beautiful ones as well. In the long run I really want to remember everything I thought and felt during this time in my life because it's been so interesting and probably one of those pivotal moments that shapes me as a person more then winning a race ever could. I have a lot of random feelings/experiences, so this is going to be a little spazy :)
Sunrise on my one commute last week, made the pain worth it. 
First of all, it's hard to be the person who is known for smiling all the time, and then to have the thing that made you smile snatched out from under you without warning. I am happiest when I am riding my bike (any of them on any terrain). I've had to remember how to be happy without the bike. It was stressful at first to not feel happy or stoked, and to feel like I was a failure because this thing I have a reputation for, I felt like I was failing at it. I wanted to be the consummate optimist even in injury, but I couldn't find the bight, shiny silver lining, I didn't FEEL happy, and it seemed fake to pretend to just because it was expected. The messages from so many people about their injuries and recoveries helped so so much though, so I guess not faking being happy, just telling it like it is was worth it because the most beautiful part of this ordeal was all those messages. Thanks everyone :)

At the same time that everything felt incredibly hard/sad, I think I dealt with the hard stuff better this time around than when I've hit road blocks in life in the past. I felt sad, yes, and frustrated and angry... but the hopelessness and despair were easier to work through and not obsess on. I guess with age and experience it's easier to deal with stuff we don't understand. So while I'm bummed to not be living up to the happy Larissa ideal, I am proud of myself for coping a little better.

There's probably something about how cycling was my core identity and now I feel so far removed from it having to spend so much time off the bike that makes it hard to cope with injury. I'm sure anyone who has dealt with time off the bike experiences this. It was everything about me before, it was all I thought about, all I dreamed about, where a lot of my self worth came from, and now it's like a void. Maybe my advice to others would be to have a back up hobby, haha. Shifting my sorrow/all the time I used to think about how I wanted to be riding bikes to ceramics has helped, a ton. It's still strange to not ride every day, but I have something to look froward to on a daily basis since I know three days a week I'll be playing with clay, so that's cool :)

It helps that mugs make good Christmas gifts :) Gives me something to do!
One kinda hard thing for me to process is when people keep telling me I will come back stronger. It's frustrating because I will literally NOT be stronger. I lost a lot of muscle when my body was consuming itself, and now with 4 weeks of no riding I've lost conditioning. Maybe in 2 years I could regain the fitness I had at the end of this summer, but I'm back to square one right now, slower than I was when I first started riding bikes. I know they all mean well, but he feeling in my legs, the dull ache after hiking for 30 minutes, or that pain I felt on my 12 mile commute... yeah, not going to come back stronger any time soon. And that's ok with ME now that I have processed it, just in the last 4 weeks it's been stressful feeling like people expected me to be kicking ass in 2019. So, yeah, don't expect me to be stronger next year world. Hopefully I will be healthier and happy focusing on whatever makes me body stronger than I am today. That may not mean winning every 100 mile race I can get my hands on, but that's ok :)

I think one of the reasons this has been hard is that riding a bike was taken away so suddenly (as it is with a lot of injuries) at a time when I was already unsure of my future in bike racing. I was pretty sure taking time off to start a family was where we were headed, but the uncertainty and then not getting to make the choice threw me for a loop. And the scary thing is that now I'm starting to feel like this is the best thing that ever happened to me in the sense that I was forced to stop, where if it WAS my choice I may never have dialed it back enough to really try to do the family making thing.