Monday, March 5, 2012

What a difference a year makes

It is an annual tradition for Shannon and I to travel to Southern Utah the first weekend in March for the first mountain bike race of the season.

Last year, it was one of only three races where Shannon was able to race.  I was able to ride my bike, but racing was out of the question.  I had just had a second lumpectomy one week prior and the margins were still not satisfactory.  I was in the process of making the decision to try for another lumpectomy and follow that up with radiation or to go ahead with a mastectomy.  I had also just found out that chemotherapy was certain which made my future as a mountain bike racer very uncertain.  Despite everything that was going on, our 2011 annual trip to St. George, was a great weekend of friends, riding, and warm weather.

What a difference a year makes!  This past weekend, Shannon and I once again made our annual trip to Southern Utah for the first mountain bike race of the season.  This time, I was planning on racing with the pro women for the first time since 2010.  I had every reason to go into this race with confidence.  I have been training hard, riding well, and things have generally just been going good.  Despite all the positives, I had a lot of self-doubt the week leading up to the race.  Was I racing in the right category?  If I couldn't keep up this weekend, would I ever be able to race with the pro women again?  Would I be full of doubt and afraid to push myself hard?  Would my body shut down midway through the race?  Is racing and pushing my body so hard good for my health?  and so on......

As soon as the race started, I no longer had questions.  In fact, I no longer had thoughts.  I didn't feel like 'that girl who had cancer', I became a 'girl racing my bike'~as hard as I could.  By the end of the race, my questions were answered.  Yes!  I was racing in the right category and I can keep up with the incredibly fast local pros.  As the race progressed, I became less and less afraid to push myself hard and no, my body did not shut down midway through the race.  Most importantly, I am confident that racing is good for my health.  It simply has to be.  If I couldn't race, I wouldn't be happy, and that is not good for my health.

I ended up finishing 3rd in a very talented field of pro women and was happily surprised that I put down my fastest time on the course ever.  Like I said, what a difference a year makes!  This year, it was a great weekend of friends, racing, and warm weather.

We're lucky to have such beautiful weather and awesome trails to ride in the winter 
Podium shot: Erika Powers, me, Kathy Sherwin, KC Holley, Kelsey Bingham

Results and more photos can be found here


  1. Hi Jen, my husband happened to find your blog and I'm so happy he did. I'm not a 'reader' but, found your story very endearing and motivating. I am a 36 y/o mtn biker living in Boulder, CO, diagnosed with stage 2A breast cancer 1/17. Radical bilateral mastectomy with lymph node dissection 1/24 (2/26 positive). First dose of TC today, and ironically I read your blog during the treatment. Thank you for sharing your story!- Kristy Glicksman

  2. 3rd in that group? Wow. Just wow. Nice work!

  3. She has been one of the best bikers I have found so far! I am so thankful that she have this kind of blog. I hope you can share more of your alternative cancer treatments stories. Thanks a lot for sharing! Have a great day!

  4. This made me so happy to read because I had surgery on March 15 with lots of complications so my hiatus from running, biking, and swimming has been much longer than I anticipated. I keep trying to convince myself that after my 52 weeks of Herceptin and the 6 rounds of TC(hopefully starting next week), I will be able to toe the starting line again. It's a hard sell to myself sometimes but everyday I try. What a great difference a year made for you. I'm so excited for your great return to racing!