Sunday, September 14, 2008

Racing My Body

Today was the Amesbury, MA cyclocross race!  Today was the season opener before next week's season opener at Suckerbrook.  The morning's heavy rain let up by our 2 pm start, so the mucky spots on the course grew tacky as the race progressed.  Lots of damp tree roots lurked in the woodsy sections.  No big mud, which I regard with mild disappointment.  I need mud practice and the warm rain felt good.  I really enjoyed the course, it had a good variety of terrain and challenge, and good "flow," too.  It was great to see so many friends and acquaintances again, once of the reasons I love this sport so much.

At the start, Mo and Amy jumped out ahead.  I had no snap in my legs to get a good jump, but I wasn't worried about being in third position.  Mo basically rode away.  She appears strong and poised for a
 great season.  I wasn't worried about staying with her because I knew that today I was out to ride my own race.  Amy and I stayed together for at least the first lap.  But like I said, I wasn't really racing against them today.   Today I was racing [against] my body.  I finished second, and I don't think I have ever been happier to finish second.  I was happy just to be riding my bike at all.

As I pushed and suffered around the course, I heard so many voices cheering me on.  Riding past them, I thought about how none of them knew that just 7 days prior, I was lying in a hospital bed, unable to eat or even drink.  I had a food blockage last weekend, a result of my Crohn's, but indirectly so.  I did not eat for 4 days and lost 5-6 pounds.  I have had 6 surgeries in the last 10 years, resulting in a lot of scar tissue in between and around my intestine.  My intestines are now catching on this scarring, and kinking, causing complete blockage and enough 
damage to the tissue that I could perforate the bowel.  There is no warning that the kinking might occur.  

So my competition on the course today came from within.  I would be insincere if I were to deny that I harbor a certain amount of anger against my body.  Today my legs felt incredibly weak, and my own body is the cause.  Before last weekend, I felt very strong and in a good "groove" with my training and mental focus.  I worked hard for that, and I feel robbed.  I'm determined to get all my strength back and more.  This isn't a ploy for sympathy, or to say that I am deserving of any special treatment - almost everyone has something they have to deal with, emotionally or physically.  
I just wanted to tell my story.  
See you at the races next weekend.

Thanks to Geoff Martin for the fabulous pictures!