Monday, April 25, 2011

"Getting on with it"

What a difference a year makes. Easter was a pretty cool weekend for us, and far removed from the last 3 or 4 years when major MTB events were on the agenda. Last year Nic was in Dalby, England for her first World Cup, while I sat up late nervously waiting for results. Fast forward one year and we were both having a great old time blasting round the farm on dirt bikes.

We figure now would be a good time to officially announce what has been going on with Nic, as her absence from the entire domestic MTB season has left many questions. So here it is.

In late February Nic was diagnosed with Bilateral Illiac Endofibrosis. What? In laymens terms there is a narrowing and hardening of the major arteries feeding her legs. At high intensity effort(about 80% intensity and above), the plumbing is just too narrow to supply any blood to her legs and the muscles literally shut down. The problem becomes exponentially worse as intensity increases. As you can imagine this makes high level training and racing near impossible.

The positive is that she is otherwise perfectly healthy. AND, it ended a few months of extreme frustration and confusion as we struggled to discover why she was so fatigued, and couldn't train as she desired.

Can it be fixed? Yes. Via rather invasive and expensive surgery. Will it be fixed? We intend so, and May 2nd is D day when she visits the guru in this field down in Christchurch to assess the extent of the damage and discuss the path forward.

However we are not rushing things. If anything the whole ordeal has understandably led Nic to some soul searching. If anything it has led her realise how lucky she has been to be able to pursue her sport to such high levels. But it has also helped her realise there is more to Nic Leary than Mountainbiking. Don't get us wrong, she unfinished business and goals to achieve there. She will be back. Fitter, faster, and stronger than ever.

We are very grateful for the best wishes and support expressed by friends, family, and our loyal sponsors.

But life is a journey, not a destination. There is no point being railroaded down one track (MTB) that in reality is a hobby. It is not a job for us, nor some noble quest for the good of the country as some tend to paint the picture of young athletes on the world stage. It is a hobby (albeit one we are passionate about). There are many more roads to explore on that journey, and for Nic these include opportunites in business, farming, hunting, chances to give a bit back to the MTB community, and many other as yet undiscovered adventures. So any decision on the timing of surgery will consider the "whole life" balance. We are pretty determined to ensure that these decisions do not limit future opportunities in all aspects of life.

Just one week ago we heard that a fellow "Elite" MTB'er was expressing the opnio that Nic should "stop being miserable and get on with it (the surgery)"... At first we were pretty pissed off at such uniformed and misplaced comments. But on further reflection I just feel sorry for that person who has developed that tunnel vision.

This (below) is Nic, getting on with it. Look's like the polar opposite of miserable if you ask me!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

XTERRA Preparation unmasked....

I spent Sunday morning after XTERRA playing in the forest with Richard Ussher. He was keen to upskill himself on the MTB and learn a few of the finer points. I suggested he might want to try some of my preparation which even XTERRA's greatest/winningest athlete dabbles in regularly.

Here is me "training" one week out from XTERRA NZ. Not looking too bad I reckon?

The beauty of a photo shoot means you get lots of attempts at making things look good. The flipside is that it'll also catch some less composed moments. Maybe I'm not that good on a Moto afterall....

Big thanks to Fraser at DRD for the images.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Season done.... Moto time

An exhausted, and relived wave and acknowledgement to the crowd as I round out my season with my 5th straight podium at XTERRA NZ

It is a very broken, but very satisified me that can now officially sign off my season on a positive note, after a hard fought 3rd place at XTERRA NZ on Saturday. I was out classed by Richard Ussher and Scott Thorne, but I gave everything I had on the day, and am more than happy with that.

In reality I bluffed my way through. I was way underdone in training, and was forcing myself through it. 5 weeks ago I'd had enough, and it was only the enjoyment I get from the XTERRA concept that got me back training hard for one last season goal. It was really quite fitting as things kicked off way back in October... when in a similar scenario I bluffed my way to a win in the Whaka 100. If anything this last 6 months has taught me the importance of

a) base training. Without it quality training and recovery becomes near impossible.
b) This is a hobby... its not job and no one pays me to do it... so I had best make sure I pick fun events and targets and don't "force" it

On Saturday it my mental game I was most proud of. My swim was average, and while well down on the leader it was the 1min30 I gave up to Rich and Scott that was most damaging. Anything more than 30sec and you just don't see someone on this course. Without that visual target the chase becomes very hard. The two of them were battling each other while I was battling myself. I held them at a couple of mins by 2/3 of the bike before they edged out late in the ride.

Onto the run I was over 3min down. They were visably flying and I knew the catch was impossible. That is a tough thing to deal with as I focussed on holding 3rd. That is a difficult mindset, and I bumbled through the first 3-4km I felt awful and was running heavy. Aussie Ben Allen wiped out 1min30 of my near 2min gap in the first lap and it seemed all over. But somehow I dug deep enough to pick up the pace, run a 22min lap (maybe quicker... the first was 23 something) and hold him off.

Somewhere in the last week I found my Mojo again. Somewhere between ice-cream, a few beers, the moto, or just talking crap with mates. Maui's World Champs in October now seems exciting and top 10 result a real possibility on a proper committed buildup (Just need to find a few thousand dollars from somewhere first).

But for the next few weeks its couch time, and Moto time. Looking forward to it

Relative calm, before the Chaos of the swim

Halfway through the run, and trying hard to maintain my gap over Aussie Ben Allen

Of all the places, this is where I found my Mojo... lunchtime Friday, and a net session withe the kids at Broadlands School.

LAst week and the Meridian Kids Jam. Cool to see such entusiasm. Also stoked to see a big group of the Rotorua Junior Development group riders (12/13/14yr olds) turn up and volunteer. How come the rest of our Elite athletes aren't that professional?