Sunday, December 27, 2009

Facing the Truth

Before I begin... this will be long, lots of words. I do have some more pictures and will post those separately tomorrow.

Ok, the truth was that the World Cup in Cali SUCKED. Sorry all you family people reading this but there is only one way to get the message across.

I haven't wanted to talk about it with anyone- husband, coach, family, etc. How many times can you have the same depressing conversation? To say the least, I haven't wanted to write about it publicly either.

I came to a conclusion though- some people reading my blog could gain something (advice, inspiration, insight) from reading what's it like to fail at this level. I don't care what sport you are talking about but elite athletes don't always win. Ok, that's obvious. But, as an elite athlete, I am used to making progress and getting better. I am not used to taking steps backwards. 2 steps forward, 2 step back. yay, yay.

It's been a long and tough road the last couple months for reasons on and off the bike. I am in transition from being a sprinter to an endurance rider. There are reasons and, in the big picture, it all makes sense. But, to do this in the middle of my first World Cup season is a blow.

I am fortunate to be a part of what USA Cycling is building in order to win a medal at the 2012 Olympics in the Team Pursuit. There is a program and it is exciting. This is all very positive. But, I come from a different background and am a different athlete then the coaches and this is all new to me too. The load of the team camps and increased endurance load away from the camps finally caught up to my body. My body quit... it said done... shut down. I have been told to "look at the big picture and long term" but that is hard. I am too competitive to accept sucking in Cali.

Part of this is hard for me to talk about and much less write because it feels like excuses. But, unless I can analyze what's going with my training and my body, I won't learn from it.

After spending almost 3 weeks in Europe racing (where I felt fine), I came home for less then a week before heading to LA for team pursuit track camp. I stayed a couple days extra for more training (mistake?) before heading straight to Atlanta to spend a week with the husband, family, and friends. I came home from Atlanta for 3 days before heading back to LA for another camp. We left straight from camp to Cali.

So, let me just break down that 8.5 weeks....
1) 2.5 weeks in Europe where I had major sleeping issues
2) took one day off back in Colorado before I hit a tough week of training which included being back in the weight room (I was going to use this week and the next week of camp as a super block of endurance training which I had not done much of to this point)
3) Track camp where the legs were "fine" despite crashing super hard on the 2nd day. I still was in good spirits about training and enjoying the tough load and recovering between training sessions.
4) went to Atlanta where I still had a tough load of training PLUS seeing friends and family everyday. = no rest.
5) home for 3 days trying to manage training and household (things add up when you are only home 3 days in one month)
6) back to track camp part 2 where my body and mind started shutting down
7) on to Cali where I had no body and no mind
8)home for now... until next camp :)

Lessons in order:
1) sleeping pills. I now have a Rx and will travel with these religiously.
2) after all that travel, take a couple days off or 1 day off and 1 easy day. let the body and mind recover. I was so excited about starting this new chapter of training and I felt good... but, don't let emotions take over smarts.
3) my body (I found out 3 weeks later) was pretty messed up from the crash. Even though there was no pain (only soreness), I should have been seeing a chiropractor right away instead of letting the issue fester in my body. It's now taking a lot more work to get things functioning properly then it would have taken had I just seen a professional right away.
4) in Atlanta I was on a borrowed road bike (because I destroyed mine) which wasn't kind to the body and I didn't MAKE myself rest and recover. Mentality now was "I can't skip a workout. This is what my plans say. Must push through this." Listen to your body. Being around family and friends in the holiday season wasn't great for resting... but I wouldn't trade seeing everyone for the world because I needed that :)
5) not much I could change about being home because I had to get things done. My workouts weren't terribly hard these couple days but my body was showing it's fatigue.
6) Knowing I was racing a World Cup the next week, I should have insisted on getting more rest. The track intensity was good but adding the hours of the road rides everyday really was the nail in my coffin. My lesson was that I need to stand up for myself because only I am responsible for my results. So, my one meek effort to tell the coaches that I was tired wasn't good enough.
7) Not much to change here because the damage was done.
8) So, now, I am home and really carefully monitoring training. I decided not to travel back to Atlanta to be with Greg, family, and friends because the last thing I need is more travel and lack of rest. I can revive the spirits and the body but it takes a concerted effort. I am clawing my way out of this hole.

I don't call it overtraining but under resting. There is the fine line for athletes. You push, push, push to the limit, recover, and make improvements from those efforts. But, pushing too far is bad. I know I will be better for the training but I want to be better NOW. ha!

Meanwhile, I am here in Boulder where I am forced to ride indoors. The cold weather hasn't really inspired me to be out and running around either. This is good for the recovery!

I did go up to Breckenridge and spend Christmas with my good friends the Erben family... 6 kids and 2 dog makes for a festive holiday household. They hardly noticed Elke and I were even there :)

Happy Holidays to all!!


velogirl said...

Hi Cari, thanks for posting this, no matter how hard it felt to share your lessons. Hopefully you can find some peace with it now and move onto positive thoughts, solid training, and good recovery/rest.


Greta said...

I put a subbasement on a hole I dug a year ago and it's not any fun at all. You'll find your way out, it just takes some time... which sucks. Good luck!

Megan said...

Glad you're getting it figured out and have concrete things to do differently in the future. Don't be TOO hard on yourself though, you're still amazing in my book! We're all pulling for you 100% and want to see you happy and successful! Megan

rachel said...

well said Cari - i'm not surprised you had a little fatigue after al that travel!!! I learned the same important lessons this year and fully agree with your summary! Hope you had a nice Christmas and good luck for the next WC!

Jennifer said...

Great to read this, Cari. It still blows my mind that 9 years ago we ran into each other in the Denver airport and you were in sales, and now you're this ELITE athlete!!! I never knew people could compete at your level at much of anything without training their entire lives- so you pretty much are a rockstar, it seems! Also, to be switching up from sprinting to endurance... change always takes time for the mind and body to adjust to. Try to keep your spirits up, don't forget those sleeping pills, and don't ever apologise for taking care of yourself, whether that's taking time from family for the bike, or taking time from the bike for the family. You'll be fine.