Raw and Real …..
Mountain bike race season is over for another season! I feel mixed emotions, but I believe that like every sport, it is the off season that gives me the fire and the drive to be better than the year before. I’m taking this time to rest, meditate on last season, set goals for next season, and enjoy my family, and unstructured riding (much of which I am hauling Layla behind me in her Chariot); as well as runs, and even a little cross skills training. In my three short years of racing mountain bikes, this was the hardest of them, for obvious reasons.
Looking back, I’m not sure how it was made possible; pregnancy, child birth, breast-feeding, training, working, and racing. I found out that it was possible to work out and ride my bike through an entire pregnancy..
Although it was not comfortable or easy it kept me sane, knowing that the pro XC national tour had already started and here I was about to give birth. I had so much fitness to make up, I didn’t know if I would ever be able to catch up. Once Layla was born on March 8, 2013, I spent the next couple weeks recouping. I had definitely underestimated the healing process! Two and a half weeks postpartum, I managed to sit on a bike seat (which was way earlier than is recommended), and I started to ride outside.
I increased my ride’s time and intensity slowly, testing out how my body would handle the physical stress. I started my structured training 3 weeks after childbirth. It consisted of long rides for base building, core strengthening, and plyos. My coach Dustin Phillips and I had put together a tentative race schedule during the winter, but we both felt like this season was more of a “let’s try and see what happens” season. I didn’t know if my body would be able to support breast feeding, which was important to me to do for my baby; and training and racing. I had had multiple people tell me that they would recommend taking the 2013 race season off, but I wanted to at least try. I decided that if it wasn’t working then I wasn’t going to force it, and I would have to reevaluate at that time. As I continued training 12-16 hrs a week , my body continued adapting to the stress and take form again as the pregnancy weight disappeared. With the added stress due to breastfeeding, I had to be ultra aware of the extra needs of my body. Eating well, sleeping enough, and staying hydrated all became ingrained in my program. I am fortunate that Layla has always been a great sleeper, and I never had a sleepless night. I thanked the Lord daily for giving me a strong body, because I know that what I was doing was not normal! I also stayed injury free this season, which eliminated any additional set-backs.
How I was able to get away every single day to train is beyond me, except that the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child” became very real. My well planned schedule dictated when I would get my workout in each day. It depended on who was watching Layla and what time they were available, as well as working around my work schedule (Although I should mention that I took off a full 3 months off from work) . I was up before the sun on many occasions to train while my baby and my husband enjoyed sleeping in. In addition to my very supportive husband and Layla’s grandmothers, I also had a handful of good friends who helped me out so I could ride. Somehow, I didn’t miss a single workout. I wanted badly to be faster than the previous year, so my own motivation and guidance from Dustin kept me on track. He is dedicated to me and my success, so following through with my workouts was not an option, I just did them….rain or shine, and with all my heart! I also know that having mountain biking was a healthy outlet to get away by myself, which I do believe helped in avoiding any room for any sort of post-partum blues, which is so common.
I learned in a very personal way this season that anything is possible with hard work, determination, and the Lord’s grace and blessings!! A few season highlights include my first two national podiums; 3rd at Marathon Mountain Bike Championships, and a 3rd place finish at XC Nationals in Super D; as well as a 7th place finish at Missoula Pro XCT and 8th place at XC nationals in Cross Country. Going forward, my blog is going to key in on how I make life happen as a mom and elite athlete. I will share in detail, how I feel breastfeeding affected my performance, how I stay fit in the off season, favorite fit recipes, how I incorporate Layla as a part of many of my workouts, and much more!
Thanks for reading!