Goals: End Game or Process?

What is a goal about for you? The End Game or the Process of achieving said goal? For many of us this year we went into a season of big goals with the End Game being the golden ticket but learned it was the Process that was really the ultimate fulfillment. What about you?

Words by Karin Grubb.

To say I’m a bit accident prone might be an understatement. I used to get the joke “There goes your career as a leg model” fairly regularly… it’s now been overused.

Ironically, I came into cycling after essentially breaking myself in every other sport. I have two ACL reconstructions courtesy of skiing, two scopes from Ultimate Frisbee (don’t judge), one more from the gym (seriously..), a plate and screws in my ankle from a mountaineering accident, broken wrist from soccer, cracked ribs from rugby.. the list goes on. After my last ACL I started spending more time on a road bike to rehab and then someone introduced me to mountain biking (hallelujah!). I like to think that because of my long history of accidents, my body had gotten pretty good at fixing itself. I think mentally I’ve also gotten a little better at dealing with the disappointment of injury, but the repetition can definitely send me into the pit of despair pretty darn quickly. I’ve also hurt myself mountain biking so I’m under no illusions this is safety sport. Last year I quite literally broke my butt and had to sit on one of those awful donut cushions for quite a while, I was off my bike for about 6 weeks. That sucked.

This year, two weeks before the BC Bike Race and two days before the Test of Metal (which I would consider my A and B objectives, respectively, for the year), I did something that caused a partial tear of my MCL. I went to bed that night hoping it would be fine when I woke up, but I could barely walk the next day. I went to the doctor and was told that I had torn my MCL and my meniscus, and that it would be at least 6 weeks before I would be ok again. This was not ok. This was really really not ok. I am no stranger to injury, but injury that will keep me from events that I have dedicated the last 6 months of my life to train for? Nope.. this was new, this was a whole new level of crisis and despair. So I did what any rational person would do, and I freaked out and had a bit of breakdown. I went into worst-case scenario mode and faced up to the fact that I might not be able to do the Test, or even worse, BCBR. I may have cried a little.

When I started to think about not doing BCBR, my thoughts went to all the sacrifices I had made over the last 6 months: all the missed drinks after work, all the hours and hours on an indoor trainer while other people were having “normal fun”, all the friends I hadn’t seen in months, all the ski days I missed because I needed to get 4 hours of cardio in, all the blood, sweat and tears poured into this race. And I wondered.. what was the point? If it can be taken away, if it all goes to nothing, was it worth it? After indulging in “some” whiny, self-pity, I climbed out of my fatalistic hole and tried to answer that question. Why did I do all that, and was it worth it even if I didn’t get to do the race?

Yes, it’s worth it. It’s all completely worth it. I decided to do the race to challenge myself, to do an event that was a bucket-list sort of thing for me. I think I put these types of events into categories like “bucket-list” because I know they are challenges, over-reaches and represent more than just the event: they represent doing something that is scary, something I’m not sure I am really capable of. Making a decision to take something like that on, to look our own limitations in the eye and walk right past them, is the biggest gift we can give ourselves. I grow the most when I am honest about what scares me and why, and  decide to do something about it. So, in the end, if I didn’t get to do BCBR, I still recognized my own self-perceived limitations and then committed to and followed through on a course of action that blew those limitation away. That was worth it. Every time we do something that is outside of our comfort zone, our zone expands and we realize that we are way more capable than we give ourselves credit for. That kind of confidence and growth is great in biking – but what’s even better is how it translates into other parts of our life. So if I couldn’t do the bike race, I still knew I could take on a big challenge and achieve it with commitment, that knowledge doesn’t come cheap or easy. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes me getting into a pretty dark place to see the silver lining.

In the end, I did get to race. I have an amazing and fabulous chiropractor who’s practice is very focussed on athletes and many forms of treatment. I got into see her and she was able to identify that yes, I did damage my MCL, but a lot of the associated pain was spasmed adductor, hamstring and calf muscles that had seized up to protect the ligament. She released those muscles and taped me up to race the Test with a brace on (with a warning that it would hurt, to stop if it hurt a lot, and cramping would – and did happen). Two more weeks of focussed treatment and I was able to race BCBR with tape, a knee brace and a heck of a lot of massage and acupuncture along the way. I suspect my MCL will take a little longer to heal because I raced on it in that condition, but I think it was all worth it.

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