Bouncing Back from Injury and Into the Mud – a Column by Lee Waldman
Lee Waldman bounces back from injury and dives back into Colorado’s atypical mud as he continues his preparation for master’s nationals. This is installment #6 of Lee’s regular column, catch up on #5 here.
by Lee Waldman
As I write this I’m staring at a right forearm that finally looks “normal.” I’ve been living with a Popeye-sized right arm for three weeks now: the result of my unsuccessful attempt at cutting a corner. Course tape is a lot stronger that it looks and it simply doesn’t budge once wrapped around a brake lever. So, I bit it badly three weeks ago at the Boulder Reservoir, proving one thing – math is indeed a part of our everyday life.
Let’s talk negative numbers here. A centimeter in one direction or the other and I’m a hero and making the jump to the front group. Instead, I’m laying on the ground trying to sort myself out, collecting all of the parts as I watch the front of the race disappear around the next corner.
But I’m not here today to talk about past injuries. It’s healed for the most part and it really never stopped me from racing. It did, however, funnel all of my energy for the last two weeks away from training and racing and into healing. I’m always surprised at how much work it takes my body to heal. Even though I won’t admit it openly, I am almost 60 and it does take a bit longer than when I was a young buck of 45.
Even though I raced twice the following week, my body and my head weren’t there. For the first time all year racing was more misery than joy. I struggled through both races and at the end I was happy to have jusr made it through. The good news is that my technique continues to come around. Fitness is another story. Actually I don’t feel less fit, just more tired.
I should have seen it coming because I go through it every year. After racing cyclocross for so long you would think that I would have figured out how to keep from going flat in October and early November… but I haven’t. I try to rest, really. I try to monitor my training efforts, I promise. But I still can’t seem to get it right. So, although I can be flying in September I’ll always be crawling in October.
Here’s the rub – It got into my head. I stopped believing in myself and start grasping at straws, looking for that one key piece that will put my season right again.
I start every season with the intention of riding every race. I should know better by now. Here in Colorado we have over 20 races on our cyclocross schedule. For me to “race” each one is not only unreasonable, but wrongheaded. It’s too taxing physically and mentally. Right now, with less than 6 weeks to Bend, rest was more than a luxury. It was a necessity – and it helped.
I came back this past weekend motivated and rested. I needed that since it was another mudfest. We have had a real cyclocross season this year in Colorado with at least as many muddy, sloppy, cold and miserable races in this one year as in the past 5 seasons total. I’m loving it! With the obvious exception of the hassle of cleaning bikes, shoes and clothing every Saturday and Sunday, it really has become fun. I’ve always thought of myself as a dry conditions cyclocrosser – and I’m relatively faster in my field in those conditions – but every time I finish a greasy and sloppy race, I notice how much better I’m getting. It’s true, practice does make perfect, or at least proficient.
I’m starting to feel stronger and more motivated again and I’m looking forward to Bend no matter what the weather gods throw at us. Thanks for reading and please keep the comments coming. Your words keep me motivated. I hope I’m doing the same for you.
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