It was something I thought had escaped when I left alpine ski racing.
Zero circulation through my paws? Yep.
What I'm talking about are my two favorite holidays - Thanksgiving and Christmas. I like them because of the food. I don't know how many of you reading this would say you have an obsession with food, but I know my brother and I were somehow cursed with this. Curse or blessing, you decide, but when Turkey Day and Xmas overlap with bicycle training and racing it seems like a curse. I may laugh at all those Xtra Normal videos that are flying around, but I'm laughing because it's true. At least I can laugh at myself; even though in the video I sound like a male martian in a super hero suit.
I left ski racing behind in 2005 after a second knee injury. What I was surprised to feel was a sense of relief. I didn't realize how burned I was on the sport after being utterly consumed with it since age 8. The love was no longer there, and that's probably why I wasn't getting any faster and after each slow run was becoming more frustrated. But on the surface of it, I was also sick of being cold. I was sick of frostbitten toes and stiff boots 3 sizes too small. Sick of the waiting game, of 6am wake to freeze while the lift took you to the top of an amazing mountain to inspect one run on a vast mountain. Sick of taking just a couple runs then sitting in the lodge killing time until my start of a performance lasting 1minute 33 seconds. Sick of being in amazing places throughout the world and staring at a computer screen in some hotel.
That sounds alarmingly familiar to what I have immersed myself into with cyclocross. And I even get to wear a skin tight superman suit still! The difference is that I love it, and maybe that's why each year I get faster. The boots are better - still cold but at least my toes aren't crumpled. The waiting game - not so bad, and I'm the motor that drives the chairlift, gondola, t-bar, poma, or whatever you wish to call it. And, while I do spend a lot of time with my eyes shut or my fingers tweeting away in some hotel room, the bike does allow for some sightseeing.
Back to food. I love pumpkin. I love pecan pie. I love stuffing! I love the oysters in the turkey. I like ham. I love squash and the word squash, and pumpkin. I love egg nog and I even like soy nog. I love ginger and so I like gingerbread and gingerbread men. Christmas cookies? Nom nom nom. Those peanut butter buck eyes! And then...and I will stop here, my mom used to make these deliciously butterified rolls with a cream cheese frosting in the shape of a Christmas Tree. Through being infatuated with all that, one may think I'd be a good skier because gravity would be on my side. Either that or slow because I couldn't find a stretchy enough speed suit. But maybe warm?
Can you see the pickle I am in? Cyclocross is my passion. When I left ski racing I thought I'd leave behind being cold and wearing surprisingly little & tight clothes in surprisingly cold & miserable weather. I think with 'cross I may have made these matters worse. Add in the whole weight weenie and training obsession and I don't even get to gauge myself with a food coma. When there was pumpkin and pecan pie I'd simply have both, and then some more...but now, now I can't eat the crust because it has gluten in it, and a slice of pie is now a 16th of the size it would have been, and there's no glutinous "have both!" - it's one or the other, or...worse...NONE.
There I go again, all concentration on food. That's not even what this was supposed to touch on! As athletes we travel A LOT. As a ski and cyclocross racer this usually requires traveling during T-day and X-mas bacause we have competitions that overlap. So it becomes a delicate balance of following your dreams and cherishing family. Like all things in life, change can be right around the corner...in both athletic potential and goals, and with friends and family. Some of my fellow cyclists are in Belgium in miserable weather eating mud pie instead of pecan pie, miles away from family. Some are wrapped in their families warmth while wishing they were recon-ing the race course. Some of my fellow skiers are on the mountain chasing gates in -16 degrees and 35mph wind gusts, but I bet they'll enjoy their pie later. Today, I am thankful for what I have. Listing what I am not thankful for would be a much quicker list to write. I am thankful.