Saturday, 21 July 2018

Riding through post Sri Lanka blues

It has been a strange season for me so far. Where I started with incredible motivation racing almost every weekend through April and May, soaking up all the improvements with a huge grin on my face. To things turning quite quickly when I deleted a race off my calendar for reasons I won't go into; the Off-road Finnmark in Norway scheduled for the beginning of August. I had been eyeing up the Off-road Finnmark for a few years now, not being able to race it due to injury. It was my goal race for 2018 and the main reason I was really motivated to overcome my back injury and create speed in my legs again. In the attempt of becoming the first women’s team to ever complete the distance. The decision not to race Finnmark hurt where it hurt the most and I felt lost without it, not exactly knowing what to aim for.

The perfect Scottish summer

                           Although I am so happy to be able to run again it is a frustratingly slow progress

The sad experiences in Sri Lanka had made things even more unclear. Not really know where to go from here. My struggle with injury in the last couple years and the determination needed to get even a smidge of my old strength back started to fade. I had always been a veterinarian AND an athlete and did not feel quite myself without either one of them. But I equally struggled to successfully combine the two and started to wonder if the pressures I put myself under chasing dreams were worth it.

3 weeks after Sri Lanka, I travelled to Spain to race a MTB marathon together with Karin. We decided to do this during the saddest days in Sri Lanka, in memory of Narayan. But when I arrived in Barcelona it was very clear very quickly that neither of us were in the right frame of mind to push ourselves to the max during a race. So we decided to chill a lot instead. Going for rides with no other purpose then to enjoy riding the bike and our environment. Having long lunches mid ride and coming home when the sun was setting. Chatting endless about all aspects of life. Neither of us really knowing where to go from here. Mid life crisis?
enjoying mid ride lunches 

The one big adventure left set in stone on my calendar was The Ride The Dolomites. 900kms of riding through the Dolomites in 6 days, where Maan Klomp and I were leaders for the StrongHer team. As I was riding my bike without any direction or intention post Sri Lanka, a few things started to become clear in my head. The attraction of going to the Dolomites for StrongHer was being able to help and support the other team riders together with Maan. A completely different role to racing for myself, I would be there to offer advise, guidance and inspiration to hopefully give everyone an amazing experience whilst completing a challenge they could be proud of. Racing for me has always been about the places the bike has taken me and the people I have met along the way. To be able to use my race experiences to help others on their journey really started to excite me. To be able to be strong enough during The Ride in order to support team riders in need, meant I had to be really strong myself heading into the event. This suddenly felt like an awesome motivation which had nothing to with my own goals but with helping other people achieve theirs. Inspiring me to suck it up, get on my bike and get back at it.
With the best Summer Scotland has ever had, I had no excuses really, and I needed to put a stop to my self pity. With life’s endless curve balls this was sometimes easier said then done. But I have never been after easy. And I needed to remember that, this path I was on, was my choice, that these were my dreams and it was me who wanted to keep chasing.
enjoying a chilled ride with fellow METAthlete Laura 
With having my closest friends and especially my sister spread around the world far away from me it was quite easy to forget that I was in fact not alone. That we were all fighting our own battles. Lately I  learned that opening up a little, leads to some of the more interesting conversations I have had. Hearing stories I could relate to, connecting with people who had similar dreams and understood. Making me realise I have some real good friends who care. So here is a big thanks to you, Karin, my sister Martje, James, Cara, Corinne (to name a few) and of course Michael for making the last month a little easier. It is time to eat a rock and toughen up! 

                            “we know what we are, but know not what we may be” 

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