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!


Zach said...

Incredible job Rebecca! Way to recover so quickly and push so hard to earn your 2nd place spot. I wouldn't have had the courage to push that hard so soon after recovering from the hospital visit. Just incredibly awesome!

Dan said...

And keep telling that story! Remember, Rebecca, you are an inspiration to others...I told Molly about your troubles and your 2nd place and she was totally psyched! Molly just had her colon removed the day after Labor Day. Her 18 month battle with Ulcerative Colitis was just too much for her to take and we had to take this radical step.
She is already doing well and her spirits are high but she was grinning from ear to ear when I told her about your race.
Hang in a favorite singer of ours--Christine Havrilla--says in one of her songs "You are stronger than you think!". Keep up the fight! Hope to see you at Granogue in October.
Dan, Molly and Claire

Craig said...

Wow! You after the hospital life!! Sorry things are rocky and kinky...I look forward to watching your season! Cheers!! Katie(...from Craig's account)

weak and feeble said...

Keep riding strong, Elizabeth was asking if we'd get to see you race again this year- she's been working on her remounts, although she still isn't strong enough to lift her bike real well- but that will come.

Ride strong and keep up the good work.

suitcaseofcourage said...

Thanks for sharing some of the "behind the scenes" details which, as a Crohn's patient and (amateur) bike racer myself, I find especially inspiring and encouraging. I first heard of you at the Portsmouth Crit yesterday (great race BTW) when Richard Fries mentioned you. I'd registered to race, but when I woke up yesterday morning I really didn't feel like it, so didn't (which, as an amateur, I can do!) Fortunately, it wasn't Crohn's related - I'd done the Seacoast Century on Saturday and was just really tired. I was psyched to watch the racing yesterday though - and especially glad to hear of somebody else with Crohn's that races bikes despite it. I'm sure you know of Phil Zajicek, another pro-racer w/Crohns. Dunno if you've heard of the Get Your Guts in Gear charity ride, but noticed the CCFA link on your blog.

Very glad to "meet" you and am looking forward to following your story. Racing is tough enough without the added stuff, and your persistence and grit are a great encouragement. Keep up the good work - we're pullin' for you!!


Michel said...

Hi Rebecca,
You have courage and sure that with your passion and the work you do you'll be back on the top soon.
See you in Belgium

Megan said...

Hey Lady--

I had no idea, of course, that this was in your recent past when I chatted with you on the start line this weekend. It's funny, I guess, you look so much happier and at peace this year. . .here I just assumed it was Ward and the fun life of grad school. Thanks for sharing, and thanks for racing.


Tibor said...

My stepfather had crohns and I remember a few of the surgeries he had to remove segmants of his gut. He had old school surgeries, so he had some huge scars. Its a testament of your strength that you live such an active lifestyle, dont let anything slow you down.

Best wishes.

Heather said...

Hey. How are you? Rooting for you from my classroom!! :)