I am always juggling with this idea: Why would anyone care about how my races are going? Why would anyone, outside of my close circle of friends, team, and family, would need to know about how I felt in a race?
That's why sometimes I just step away from social media, or from writing blogs, for a little while. Don't get me wrong, I care deeply about it, but I just can't wrap my head around the fact that other people would care about these things that I do... It just seems too egocentric to believe that someone else would be so interested in my life.
I've also been busy recently, so writing a blog wasn't at the top of my priorities. David and I bought our first house and we've been working on it a lot, which has been super fun. Other than that, we've been training a bunch and I've been enjoying that time on the bike. The riding close to our new house is simply amazing.
Anyway, this morning, I decided to break my blog writing drought, because this weekend I learned a lesson - or strongly solidified a belief I already had - that I think can also benefit other people: Health is the number 1 priority.
David always says it, and I live by that principle a lot, but sometimes, like yesterday, you get a reminder of just how important health really is. In races, I typically like the climbs. I look at them from the bottom and I get excited to get up it as fast as I can (...so I can get to the downhill quicker!). I usually don't even think about how much - or even if - it hurts. Yesterday, however, during the Horseshoe Canada Cup, as my back, my arms, my neck, my stomach and my legs were screaming, I seriously wondered, more than once, if I'd actually be able to make it up the hill.
If I'm honest, I was frustrated about that situation for a little bit. "I had some of my best ever workouts last week. Why the hell am I feeling so weak today?!". Baboune La Vieille Poune (my very negative little voice) even made an appearance for a few minutes, after months of not hearing about her. I wanted to give up. Luckily, it didn't take long for me to remind myself that I should just suck it up, and do my best. Because realistically, what else was I going to do? Quitting would make my situation even worse, plus we came all he way here, Scotty and I, and I have this opportunity to get over my struggles and get a good workout, so might as well do that.
"Scotty could have stayed home with his girlfriend, but now he's here with you giving you drinks, so suck it up Maghs!" I told myself.
So I looked up, stayed calm, focused on the obstacles in front of me and turned the pedals one stroke at the time until I crossed the line. It wasn't pretty and I threw up a little bit on 2 of the 5 laps, but at least I got it done.
Back to that lesson: health is the number 1 priority. On Thursday, I got a little bit sick, which had me spend more time than I would have liked on the toilet. I felt like I had lower energy than usual on Friday, but I felt like I was getting better. I kept it easy in training. By Saturday, I felt good enough. My Heart Rate was higher than usual, but I thought I was okay and ready to race. Honestly, I was really looking forward to a hard and solid battle during the race, so I put aside any small stomach inconfort, or any doubt that I could still be affected by the small "virus" I had a couple days ago.
What I realized is that, you can feel decent for day to day activities when you are not at 100%. But, when you try to use your body at its maximum capacity, as we do in training or in a race, a few percents can make a huge difference. If I had a more "normal" job, I could have performed well with that little stomach bug. However, the reality of our sport is that you need every ounce of energy you have to perform well and do a good job.
It's very interesting having power meters (we use ROTOR) to be able to gather data from all the races. Yesterday, my power was about 40W below what I normally average in races, while my HR was about the same. So it's not that I wasn't trying, my body just couldn't push past a certain level. It was limited. In a sense, it is comforting to see that data because it reinforces what I was feeling. I did not just FEEL weak, I really was a lot weaker.
Most importantly though, it reinforces the fact that health should be our number 1 priority as athletes. So as much as I would like to go train hard today and tomorrow, I know wha I need to do now is to rest and get healthy. Yesterday was a very good reminder that you can be as fit and as lean as ever, but if you are not 100% healthy, you won't go anywhere...maybe not even to the top of that next hill!
P.S Big thanks to Jamie from Revolution Cycle for the bottle hand ups at the top feedzone :)