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