An update on my hip that turned into an existential crisis blog post!
Oh guys... When it rains, it pours, amirite? It's been a tough few weeks in Camp Cotter. Let me fill you in! To do that, I have to rewind back to the start of the year...
I started 2023 full of enthusiasm. I had made it through 2022, hallelujah, and I was going to get a good run at racing again with a stacked racing calendar. I knew with hard work and determination, I could get back to full strength. I was really hopeful! 2023 was going to be my year!
Man plans, God laughs - that's become one of my favourite sayings this year. Unfortunately, due to logistical reasons, my racing calendar was chopped and changed quite a bit this year. Up until May, I was still blindly enthuasiastic (I look back and think of myself as one of those stupid dogs, always going around with a smile on my face despite getting repeatedly knocked back). My training was going really well, but by May, I still hadn't had many opportunities to pin a number on and my motivation and love for the sport was dwindling. I decided to go back home to Ireland. This has become a recurring theme in my late 20s - start to have an existential crisis, go home to mum and dad. Maybe I should look into that a little bit more...
Turns out, that time at home in Ireland was just what I needed. Lots of local races, tough training sessions with local cycling clubs, Irish cycling camaraderie and getting back the thrill of competition without feeling pressure. I capped it off with a nice weekend at Nationals, coming in 4th at the TT and 5th in a very attritional road race. Then, it was back to Girona.
A couple of things happened to get my mojo back in late summer, but a big one was switching coach. I got on board with John Wakefield from Science 2 Sport here in Girona. Having a coach who really saw my potential and pushed me to my limits with some gnarly sessions was a game-changer. I ended up setting new power PBs, not just for 2023 but for ALL-TIME babyyyy! I had one block of racing coming up in Giro della Toscana, and then a weekend in Belgium.
On Stage 3 of Giro della Toscana, I was coming back from the car with some bottles for my team-mates when I was swiped out by another rider. Anyone who is following me on Instagram (you totally should, by the way, I'm really interesting) will know that last year, I broke my wrist. I never gained back full movement in the joint, so instead of putting my arm out to break my fall like a normal person would, I came down full WHACK on my hip at 45km/h. Not very fun, would not recommend. Since then, the muscles and tendons have been very angry and inflamed. I couldn't walk properly for a couple of weeks, but nothing was broken. I still kept cycling because I'm stubborn and hate being lazy, but these last few days I have done NOTHING. I'll be honest, I feel like shit about myself, but my hip is getting a lot better.
It's a weird feeling. I'm at the end of my season now, but I feel like my season never really started. I feel sad about it, but I also feel very burnt-out - mentally, not physically. And now, I'm at this weird stage in my life, it feels like a big crossroads. My contract is up at the end of the year. I missed my 2022 season almost completely, I haven't had a proper 2023 season.The level of the women's peloton just keeps getting better and better, and despite constantly trying to prove myself, I've missed out on so much development. I'm putting out my best numbers ever, but have I missed too much skill-building to ever be up there with the best in the world? Or even with the top 50% of them? The love of racing has disappeared a little bit, but I know I can get it back when I have a busy racing schedule - I proved that in May. If I decide to go in a different direction with my competing, will I ever get to see what I can do with such big power numbers? Will I look back and regret it? Is there a way I can still be competitive? I just want to find my joy in racing again. I don't know the answers to any of this. There's been a lot of sleepless nights around here!
It feels good, in a weird way, to get this off my chest here and share it with you all. I feel like sometimes, with my Instagram, people expect a lot from me. And I do think, sometimes, that I'm letting people down - by not competing more, by not winning more. I feel like now I've shared this, it helps me breathe a little bit. I wish someone could just tell me what to do, but I know I will commit myself 200% to my goals.
Thanks for reading, and listening, and supporting!
Lots of love,