For most professional athletes, competing at the Olympics is the pinnacle of your career. It’s a massive accomplishment and opportunity to represent yourself, your sponsors, your sport, friends & family, supporters and your entire country.
As you guys probably picked up on in Ambitions episode 5, this season has come with its challenges both in training and in racing. The sport of XC mountain bike racing comes with a certain amount of ups and downs. It’s nearly a given when you’re trying to best all previous performances, workout after workout, week after week, and so forth. It’s a fine line to ride, a massive commitment that consumes your life and every thought and decision you make can impact your recovery or performance. Quite often we push to the point in which we are guaranteed a down day.
For me, I started the training season feeling down. I struggled with motivation early on which in turn had affected my ability to achieve consistent training patterns and impeded my efforts in building fitness. As I ramped up the training volume, I struggled to lose weight, and that continued to affect my mindset, mood, and energy significantly. All of these minor issues added up, filling my days with self-doubt, and I began to question my abilities as an athlete and was in a way fearful to start the race season because I felt behind.
Whether the change in my mindset was due to over-reaching in the off-season and not taking an appropriate amount of downtime, exhausted adrenals which contribute to poor mood, energy, and inability to lose weight, I worked through it and figured it out. The presence of the Olympics in the back of my mind allowed me to work through the bad days and with the people around me I also found what I want to get out of this sport, and where it fits into my life. Adam, (my husband, coach, and manager) said to me early on, that “we are either going to pull this off as a team, and we come out stronger than ever, or it’s going to break us.” I can say, this year has been testing on all accounts and at this point, we are winning the battle thanks to both of our unbreakable efforts and making well thought out moves during crucial times.
When your life revolves around training and racing and one thing goes wrong, then everything else goes sour as well. It’s been a big learning year, and of course, it all happens during the year of the Olympics. Challenges are meant to bring the best out in us and unfortunately, you have to push the limits to find your best. This year has forced me to dig deep within myself and pull it together in times that are of importance and for the people that are counting on me. Breaking my collarbone three days before the 2012 London Olympics was heartbreaking, but I still gave it my absolute everything considering the circumstances. I had a job to do, a country of people to represent and I owed it to myself. This year is no different, and I couldn’t imagine ever putting anything less than my best foot forward in life.
The one surprising thing that has come from the weak points is realizing that my aspirations to inspire other people to ride bikes are as much a motivator as Olympic Medals are. Our whole concept of the Ambitions video series is framed around that message, and our vision for the series has brought a lot of clarity and inspiration to me. People’s support has completely inspired and empowered me. Race results are the end goal for me; I also want to leverage those race results to encourage more people to find cycling, and hopefully this sport can influence their life in a positive way as it continues to make me a better person every day.
I owe massive thanks to all the people around me and especially those that follow along online or the people that come up and say hello in person at the races, and on the streets. Now that I’ve punched my ticket to the Olympics in Rio, I’m more motivated than ever. Getting a bronze medal this past weekend at the World Championships was a dream come true. It wasn’t the elusive World Cup win that I’ve been working towards, but I truly needed that moment and accomplishment. Hopefully, I can continue to carry that momentum and motivation forward. I have a clear mind to perform and a journey to share. I’ll see you in Rio 2016.