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About This Episode

Her father was a professional baseball player and her mother a ski instructor; Katie grew up with sports all around her. Her strongest memories as a kid weren’t of learning how to swing a bat or carve a perfect trail down the slope, but of how her attitude and effort mattered far more than her ability ever would. She remembers sports being about integrity, work ethic, and teamwork. After she graduated from high school she became friends with a bobsledder that she had approached in the weight room who invited her to give skeleton a try. Just four weeks later Katie found herself at the top of the track at the Junior National competition. In her eighth week ever sliding she was ranked sixth in the nation and on her way to the Junior World Championships. It was a whirlwind, but Katie is a self-proclaimed “go big” kind of person and would have had it no other way. She walked away from her conservationist aspirations in order to chase her Olympic dreams.

Much like the luge or bobsled, skeleton racers slide down an ice track, but do so face first on their stomachs, hitting average speeds of 70-80 mph. For some this might sound terrifying, but Katie describes it as similar to the feeling of flying in a dream. Rather than the fear of injury or error, it’s weightlessness and freedom that stick with her the most. Her natural level of comfort with the sport, coupled with her impressive physical ability, easily landed her a spot on the team for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino. She remembers those games as “magical”; she took sixth place, was surrounded by family and friends, and even had the opportunity to travel around Europe afterwards.

Katie was a rising star in the international arena and at the cusp of an incredible career, snagging medals at the next two World Championships and boasting a 75% podium rate in the international circuit. However, in 2008 her father was diagnosed with cancer and her focused shifted from times and training to the health of her father, her family, and her self. She was abroad racing when she received the news that he was ill and her requests to return home to be with her family were denied. Katie found herself torn between her desire to represent her nation and the urge to abandon it all to be with her family. Pressure mounted from the Olympic Federation for her to compete; her record was just too good and with each win came more and more funding for the next Winter Olympic Games. She stayed in close contact with her family during this time, but her performance began to suffer. “I just didn’t want to be there,” says Katie. Her coaches and the Olympic Federation encouraged her to just make it through the end of the season which culminated with the World Cup in Utah. She agreed to stay, but the worries about her father’s condition only further clouded her emotional landscape, leaving little room for thinking about skeleton. Unfortunately, the worst case scenario came true; her father passed away while she competed in her final race of the World Cup. She got the news of his death when she stepped of the track that afternoon.  

Katie flew home as quickly as possible feeling devastated by his death and infuriated at the position she was put in by the sport. Her time at home was short lived, however, as she was expected to return to her team just four days later for the World Championships. She hardly even wanted to race, much less face the media storm that was brewing. “I felt like the story was getting exploited for sponsors and for the media,” says Katie, “In that moment I felt like I had to swallow all of who I was in order to say the right things that they wanted me to say.” There wasn’t space to grieve his loss, there was only the track, her performance, the funding, and the medal count. In order to just survive it all, she stuffed down all of her feelings about her father, became numb to the pain, and buried herself in the sport. The “win at all cost” culture of elite sports had demanded of her something more precious than time or effort; it had stolen final moments with her family that could never be replaced. In retrospect, Katie felt incredibly underserved during that season. She recalls no offers for grief counseling or encouragement for a sabbatical, and felt that in order to hold on to her dreams of competing, she had to consent to the negative culture around her. “I bought into the lie that my performance mattered more than anything else,” she says.

Following the World Championships she carried on racing through two broken knee caps, several surgeries, and without ever giving herself the space that she needed. Despite her traditionally competitive times, she only finished 11th at the following 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, something she still feels was a strong indicator of how her emotional health was affecting her athletic performance. In 2013 she suffered a severe concussion that required 18 months of recovery. She was sent to a military facility for traumatic brain injuries and claims that her time there really put things in perspective for her. “Recovering with them really revived my courage,” says Katie. She went into the 2014 Olympics with fresh energy, but narrowly missed the podium by only .04 seconds. The saga of that medal standing would drag on, though, as evidence of a state-wide doping scheme by the Russian Federation came to light. Katie was beat out by a Russian woman who was known to have participated, so for a brief time she was awarded the bronze medal. Unfortunately, months later an international court rendered the medal returned, and Katie walked away unfairly empty handed. It wasn’t the loss of the medal that really bothered her, but the greater glaring issue of individual athlete rights. She lamented with athletes being put it situations to do things that they would prefer not to, but feeling like they didn’t have a choice; it was a situation that hit close to home. Katie has continued to be an advocate for anti-doping regulation that will protect athletes in the future. She testified in front of the U.S. Helsinki Commission on the subject of doping and in support of the Rodchenkov Act that would further tighten down on how cases such as this are handled.

Not long after, Katie experienced another emotional blow when she discovered her best friend, Steve Holcomb, dead in his room at the Olympic Training Center. Steve was an Olympic bobsledder and had been a friend, confidant, and rock for her; the events surrounding his death were traumatic. The experience, however, jolted her from the shell that she had created around herself. For the first time since her father’s death, she gave herself permission to grieve, she reached out to friends, she rediscovered her faith. She began asking herself what she needed and wanted, and began standing up for herself again. “The only one who knows if you’re OK is you,” says Katie. It was an uphill climb to the 2018 Olympic Games in PyeongChang as she battled PTSD, panic attacks, and night terrors. The Games were steeped in emotion; the sadness over missing Steve, a surprise reunion with her estranged mother, and a richness in exercising her own agency again. She credits good friends and her faith for carrying her through those two years, but was again struck by the ways she was persuaded to put her emotional health second to her performance.

All of her frustrations in regards to the treatment of athletes were only further catalyzed when over 250 women came forward with claims against USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. “Athletes have no one to mediate for them,” says Katie. When an athlete feels threatened, exploited, or unheard, the only place to go is often to those who are either committing the abuse or directly benefiting from it. Athletes are forced to swallow their concerns and intimidated into competing as a duty to their country. Their dreams are held ransom in exchange for their silence and their medals. The injustice of these situations moved Katie to support the development of the Athlete Advisory Counsel that would be recognized by the Olympic Federation. This would provide a space for athletes to be heard, advocated for, and represented by other athletes when they have a concern with the way they are being treated. “Athletes have no one to ensure that this culture is changing,” says Katie. The first meeting of this board was in February of 2019 and she hopes to see it develop into a fully functioning element of the Olympic culture.

Katie continues to train for skeleton and looks forward to the 2020 Olympics, but says, “if I go to another Olympics it will be for myself and for completely different reasons.” She remembers one of the final pieces of advice from Steve before he passed away, “Remember who you are. Be the Kate your dad said you are.” She is on a journey of setting boundaries, redefining her identity, and exercising her voice. “I am remembering what it’s like to do something for myself,” she says. In addition to the skeleton track, Katie can be found on another track - a velodome. In 2018 she picked up team track cycling and won gold at the USA Cycling Elite Track National Championships and hopes to make back to back summer and winter Olympic appearances. But no matter where or how she races, she is confident that she is doing it for herself and for the right reasons and will continue to fight for the rights of other athletes to do the same. Be sure to follow her on Instagram and Twitter and cheer her on as she trains for the next two Olympics.  

 

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_toggle title="Read Episode Transcript" admin_label="Transcript" _builder_version="3.22.7" saved_tabs="all"]

Laura:

[00:00:06] Welcome to the Hope Sports Podcast where we believe the best way for you to unlock your full potential is by living into your purpose. We believe discovering your purpose is the only way for you to live a meaningful life. I'm your host Olympic gold medalist Laura Wilkinson. Each week I have the privilege of connecting with a different elite athlete to discuss how they win big in and out of their sport. We want you to compete better and live into your purpose as well. So stick around to hear about an amazing opportunity that we have for you. But first, let's talk about today's episode. We are so honored that Katie Uhlaender on our show today. I personally remember her for that flaming red hair she squirted at the last Winter Olympic Games. My daughter and I both agreed that she must be totally awesome because of that hair. And we were right. Katie is not only an incredibly decorated skeleton athlete but she's also doing important work advocating for athletes rights and cheerleading others to find confidence in their own identity. Her story is filled with some seriously painful seasons but her vulnerability with us on today's show it's truly impactful. So thanks for joining us and let's dive on in. Katie Uhlaender thank you so much for coming on the Hope Sports Podcast. We're excited to have you on.

 

Katie:

[00:01:18] Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. I feel honored. Really appreciate it.

 

Laura:

[00:01:21] So for our audience who may not be familiar with your background. Tell us a little bit about how you got into sports and how that led you into the skeleton.

 

Katie:

[00:01:28] My father was a major league baseball player named Ted Uhlaender. My mother was also very active. That's how they met actually. My mother taught my father how to ski.

 

Laura:

[00:01:38] Wow!

 

Katie:

[00:01:39] So yeah. I'm like the perfect blend of the throwback traditional cowboy and then hippie ski bug from Colorado. But I got a good mixture like I grew up in Texas and my dad was very supportive of me as an athlete. I think he helped create my identity as a person how I approach life and sport. He was very clear on his expectations of me and was very adamant that I hold integrity above all else. Of course, I want to go out to do my best and win and try to win. But he was more concerned about my effort and what I learned throughout that process of putting my best foot forward than he was about my results. And I think I feel so grateful and blessed to that especially now at 34. Because it gave me a really solid foundation and I think especially now it's coming in and big-time youth. It's given me a whole new perspective. It's something I didn't really realize that’s the kick.

 

Laura:

[00:02:43] Right. What wisdom. That's really cool. So how did you get into the whole skeleton field?

 

Katie:

[00:02:50] Oh sorry I forgot that part.

 

Laura:

[00:02:53] No problem.

 

Katie:

[00:02:55] I was graduating high school and I walked up to this girl. She had shaved head, tattoo, piercings like I just to everyone else she looks scary but I just saw an athlete. And I was like oh you're squatting a lot of weight which would probably mean you're a fast sprinter. So I walked upturn as hey you sprint? And she's like yeah. And I, you wanna race? And she goes who the blank are you? I was like oh sorry yeah I’m Katie. I was kidding as a be was just like I would love. You know trying to be an athlete although not there yet. But I haven't gotten the sprint in a while and I just I thought would be fun. And she was like you're a nut. So we automatically became friends. And she had to be a bobsledder and she talked to me into trying skeleton. Four weeks later I won junior nationals went to junior world championships. My 8 week ever sliding I won Senior Nationals and ended up ranked 6th in the nation within 8 weeks of starting the sport.

 

Laura:

[00:03:51] What?!

 

Katie:

[00:03:51] Yeah. So the federation was like I was 18 or 19 at the time. And they're like hey if you want to do this sport well we'll give you free housing, free food, and a scholarship for school. All you have to do is work out and go sledding. And I was like I thought about it. I was hmm do I wanna go get my Ph.D. and be the next Dian Fossey? And for all of the millennials out there google her and watch Gorillas In The Mist? She's awesome. Or do I wanna go to the Olympics? And I chose to pursue the Olympics thinking I could go back to college. Well, 4 Olympics later I am now studying for my essay piece.

 

Laura:

[00:04:29] Nice. Hey! Better late than never. That's cool. Oh my goodness. OK, so that's awesome. That's just crazy awesome. I love your story. So most of us have never tried skeleton. So tell us what exactly it's like to go face first down the track of ice at 90 miles an hour?

 

Katie:

[00:04:47] You know I don't know the speed. I think the record for women is like 92. I think the average is like 70-80. But we have some tracks that you go hecka fast. So have you ever had those dreams where you're flying?

 

Laura:

[00:05:01] Yeah?

 

Katie:

[00:05:02] And you feel free and your stomach kind of goes into your throat and it's just awesome fun.

 

Laura:

[00:05:11] Yeah.

 

Katie:

[00:05:12] Goldens like that but a little bit more restricted. So you start going down and you get a little scared at first because you don't have brakes. And you can't stop but then you realize that you get a little scared at first. But if you're able to embrace it you find yourself chasing the speed and going with gravity dancing down the track and craving more of it. And it's something I definitely love very much.

 

Laura:

[00:05:38] Oh wow. So cool. So like from four weeks in your nationally ranked. Was it getting you to the Olympics like kind of your first goal? Like was that immediately something you saw you could do?

 

Katie:

[00:05:55] of course. I mean that was basically I didn't think of anything small. It was either go and get Ph.D., be the next Dian Fossey and study gorillas in the jungle or go to the Olympics. Like that's how I looked at it. There was no in between. And I was excited to discover how to do those things and figure out how to become my best self. So yeah I mean I wouldn't like start something and be like Well I don't know what I want to do you just care cause it's cool. No. I'm definitely gonna attack awkward. Yeah.

 

Laura:

[00:06:29] I love it. All or nothing. So what was it like then making that first Olympic team in 2006?

 

Katie:

Oh my gosh. I remember seeing Pavarotti sing. And Ferrari's doing doughnuts to create the Olympic rings. You know crying and holding hands with someone I didn't know that was experiencing the same thing. Jeremy Bloom causing the Olympians to get roped in because he kept climbing outside a little circle they put us in. I mean it was such a great experience. My father was there my family my boyfriend and then as soon as we traveled to Europe because you could go anywhere in 4 hours in Paris-Milan. Where else do we go? Carina Venice it was like the most amazing experience ever. I think it's one of those moments in life that you're just like did that really happen? Because it is really cool.

 

Laura:

[00:07:26] So awesome. Now OK. You mentioned your dad Ted was a major league baseball player. And that he was very supportive and it just sounds like he gave you so much wisdom which is beautiful. But was it ever an issue of pressure like when media started to get involved? Because I'm sure it was always like Katie daughter of you know Dadada. Like was that ever difficult to handle?

 

Katie:

[00:07:49] It wasn't until he passed away. I think that moment is when the Olympic environment swallowed me whole. It's really difficult. I had asked to go home to see him when he was diagnosed with cancer. Well, we're on tour and the federation said no. I was not allowed to leave because they needed me to perform so they could get funding for the Olympic year the following year. The U.S. is the only funds' federations that have medal shot and I was a huge portion of their performance plan. So I had to stay and compete. And he passed away while I was competing. It devastated me. I have no words. I mean I could go into the details that season but it was psychologically damaging and man it just hurt a lot. And when he passed away they finally let me fly home for the funeral. And I had to return four days later and compete in the world championships. And I just I remember I didn't want to go because the media and the federation insisted. So I did and the first question out of the gate was how does it feel to lose your father. What do you think you would think? How do you think you would feel about your performance. And I just remember at that moment I felt like I had to swallow all of who I was to say the right things that they wanted me to say. You know the whole reason they put me in front of the media was that they were going to exploit this story to get publicity and sponsors. And it's big for NBC, right?

 

[00:09:21] It was a year out from the Olympics and I was ranked 3rd in the world. Despite all the trouble they had competing on while he was sick. And I didn't get to say the things I want to do. I didn't get the process degrees. It was pretty much from that moment on I had cameras in my face talking to me about my father who said what it meant. They even asked to come. We had a memorial service after the funeral like in November the following year. And spread more of his ashes. And NBC tried to insist that I have cameras there to film it. And I just like never got to deal with my grief for what happened because it would have been one thing if I had chosen to stay and compete and not been forced to stay. Or I guess worst in any word coerce. You know I asked three times to go home and the first time I thought they couldn't do it because they needed me. The second time he just said we can't. And then I think the third time I realized that you know they said they couldn't because winning so coming in 4th every week. I don't think it was like consciously on purpose but subconsciously. I think I was doing it because I was bitter I was mad. I did not want to be there. And then they said you know your performance must be important to you. You know your dad would want you to keep competing and you can’t make it if you are weak. So I said and then he died. And I remember like it was the last World Cup so I thought I'd meet it. I talked to him that morning and I remember him just telling me about the cattle we'd brought together and the ranch. But he would see me next week and how much he loved me like he said he loved me I think. A usual amount of time. And I won my first medal of the season because I was relieved that I had made it. I thought I was going to see him again. And when I finished the race they told me he had passed away.

 

Laura:

[00:11:26] Oh man.

 

Katie:

[00:11:27] So. sorry.

 

Laura:

[00:11:29] No. I can't even imagine.

 

Katie:

[00:11:32] That kind of puts it into context like. But the coaching staff in the federation they didn't really ask if I was OK. They didn't know there was no I could use a grief counselor or something. And I think it was really apparent that you know throughout the season that I wasn't okay because I had been winning everything up until that point. And then I just thinking back I was just like man you know making me talk to the media go to NBC do all the stuff that they didn't offer. They didn't ask how I felt and my true feelings were that I was kind of mad at the sport. I blamed it for taking because I didn't value winning or performing over my family over my well-being. And I got to the point where I think that is what's expected of you to perform. To perform at all costs. Win at all costs. And that was not who I was that was not my identity. That's not what brought me to the sport. So there was a good period of time where cancer question that some I did remember it. My identity and who I was was challenged significantly. And it was mostly influenced by the generalized other. Or in other words the expectations of what the federation wanted me to tell the public of what was what people wanted to hear versus how I felt and what was really going on. I kind of lost the humanity that I think I need personally need to be able to perform well.

 

Laura:

[00:13:00] Oh yeah. I can't. I mean you said you had to compete like four days after the funeral? Like at what point did you grieve?

 

Katie:

[00:13:10] I am not sure that I ever was given that opportunity really. And I remember I spoke out at the Olympics about how upset I was. They'd find me, took away my stipend, my housing and told me I had no OPEC privileges or trading privileges. Until after I made the team again the following year. I no longer had like my sounding board I was pretty lost. And I didn't know how to let go of the sport and start something new. Because I've been in this weird place that was like Oh I love skills and I want to do skeleton but I love my father. And I want to be with my father and my father was gone. And then I was like I was left with this lingering feeling while I was supposed to win an Olympic medal and I didn’t. And if I want to do that I have to be OK with doing these things they're putting in front of me. And it was like a state of cognitive dissonance that I didn't become aware of. I think honestly until after Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics. So. Yeah. Lives live am I right?

 

Laura:

[00:14:16] Wow. Like you know I'm just trying to process what all you went through. I just can't even fathom that. I mean he's not even long after you lost your dad you broke your kneecap twice and you had 4 surgeries on it. And you still came back and competed the next year at the 2010 Olympic Games. I mean at some point did you just disconnect or is that when you really dove into it? How did you get yourself together to do that?

 

Katie:

[00:14:46] I never did. I don't think I understand. I still am working on it. Like I was winning 50% of the time statistically. 75% of the time when I went to a race. 75% physically I was going to I was gonna win a medal. There was only a 25% chance that I'd walk away from a race without a medal. So for me to go to the Olympics like it wasn't even a question in my mind. Of course I was going to make it but when I get the medal. And I ended up like 7th I don’t know 11th I think.

 

Laura:

[00:15:22] So you just go and went through the motions. Is that kind of?

 

Katie:

[00:15:25] Yeah. That sort of thing. Like I was top 3 in the world. I had 22 World Cup medals, 11 gold, 6 World Championship. That it's like the most medals of anyone in the history of the sport up to that point. And I think that it was a huge indicator that something went wrong. I don't think I snapped out of it truly until after this past Olympics because something similar happened with my best friend passing away. So now I'm left at this point where I'm like OK well now I'm regaining my own agency. Like I'm remembering what it's like to do things for myself for me. Like who I am what I'm about and I can start saying no. I can start creating boundaries. And if I do go to another Olympics it'll be more for myself and for completely different reasons. Like I feel invigorated again. But yeah. I mean like I think that shattering my kneecap 6 weeks after my father passed. It was a symptom. Another symptom of what I was going through mentally. I crashed a snowmobile I think I was just kind of lost and numb and died. And I didn't have anybody. I was alone. So I don't really know how to describe it. That was like.

 

Laura:

[00:16:42] No. I think that was a very good description. Yeah, I think it just goes to show us that like you can't just block things out then perform like you know things in your life have to be together and it's important you know who's in your life and what else is going on behind the scenes. Like sometimes we just forget that we think oh I can block it out and I can just do this thing. But it's no. It's your whole person right? I mean that's kind of what you keep saying. It's like everything has to kind of be together to make it all work.

 

Katie:

[00:17:07] For me. I mean there are some people and that's what I think that's the difference. Like some athletes begin as children, right? And they become taught that performing is part of who they are like winning it defines them. That was never me. What I loved was discovering more of myself more of the world. And like I felt like God was taking me on a journey that I was meant to do you know. And that integrity like those things is all more important. And I somehow I think I got trick. I don't know. I got sucked into the other aspect of it. It swallowed my identity and I became an Olympic product. A commodity. And I think for me it's telling like for me personally. Because if I'm not true to myself and what I believe and what my essence is. Then I think it results in injury. Results in poor performance. Results in just a state of cognitive dissonance numbness. And I think it was like over this past season a good friend of mine was like I feel so bad for him. He was just there for me when I was like sorting through all this mentally poor Giddeon. I don't know if you know Giddeon Massie a two time Olympian for cycling. And I texted him all season long. I found my relationship with God again. But I didn't even really explain to him everything I was going through because it's pretty emotional and pretty dramatic. And I even talking to you about it I feel like this is a comfortable setting because people are gonna know. They're listening to like hear something. Significant something. Deep something. That’s to take you to the core.

 

[00:18:51] But in real life it's really difficult to find people that are willing to listen or engage because it shows vulnerability. Like for you to show your emotions they’ll talk about the way you're processing life. I don't think wade you're focused are the things you're facing. I think it's really rare to find the right people to do that with. And it's important for me personally to have a relationship with God. And I think that whole process I'm so thankful to have had a friend like that. But you know I'm coming back to realizing and this is really important guys. This is an important part of the lesson that the only one who knows if you're OK is you. And it truly comes down to being honest with yourself about what you're OK doing and what you're not. And the thing I forgot was in that moment when I said I didn't want to speak to the media I should have just stuck to that and said no. When I said I wanted to go home I should have stuck to that and pushed and not moved on my ground on that. I started to buy into thinking that it was my duty to go to compete for to make sure that the team could get money. I thought it was my duty to win a medal for my country and sort of go home to see my family and for some people that might be the right choice.

 

[00:20:11] I'm not saying that there is a right or wrong. But if you do something that you truly don't feel in your heart is the way for you then you're putting yourself in a state of conflict. And if you're in a state of conflict it's really difficult to hear the Holy Spirit. It's really difficult to hear God guide you the way he wants you to go. And I think that was the biggest epiphany I had. Was like whoa if I'm more honest with myself if I'm more true to myself about what I want to do my mistakes and make my commitment to my choices then I'm much more at peace than I can see clearly in my path forward.

 

Laura:

[00:20:50] At Hope Sports we know that you want to be the best athlete that you can be. And in order to do that, you train hard and dedicate yourself to performing at your peak. But sometimes it can feel monotonous. Every day has a similar routine and when you win well no victory feels as good as a loss feels bad. It doesn't have to be this way. We believe athletes can compete at their full potential and reach their dreams while feeling lasting satisfaction from their accomplishments. We understand what it's like when you've dedicated your life to something. But you feel like you're never living up to people's expectations and you don't feel satisfied with your achievements. Hundreds of athletes have told us that they've discovered how to compete at their best while finding lasting fulfillment in their achievements during our interactive international service trips. Our next trip is coming up June 7th-10th in Rosarito Mexico and we want you to be there. It's so easy to get involved. Just go to HopeSports.org sign up for the June 7th-10th home build and build hope for a family and win like never before. So sign up today. It could be the key you need to find success in your career.

 

[00:21:57] Well I'm guessing so the next four years you made your third Olympic team in 2014 in Sochi. And it appears that you were kind of doing a little bit better emotionally, mentally because you did amazing there. And you just missed the podium by a fraction of a second for 100th of a second. I love how you put that in perspective and you say it's faster than you can even blink. Walk us through that experience.

 

Katie:

[00:22:20] Sochi. [00:22:21] Oh my gosh. Well obviously that into athlete right? Because that's where that goes. I got a concussion and I spent some time with some combat veterans at a TBI clinic which is a traumatic brain injury clinic in Dallas. And I was like getting down on myself like here I am injured again this always happens like blah blah blah. And those guys told me their stories. Marcus Luttrell was there about how they'd been blown up. Crawled on their hands on their elbows for 7 miles to get to safety. And some of them were blown up and continued fighting. And I was over there with a head injury like still going to the Olympics acting like my life was over. And I was like OK So that just put everything in perspective. I'm still going to the Olympics and I'm capable of putting my best on the line. So my mentality shifted because I had men that served their country and put their lives on the line. To show me that I was serving my country but I wasn't putting my life on the line. And if they could do that I could definitely go with a new sense of courage and fortitude and just bring everything I had and let that be that. And that was the lesson my father had originally taught me. It kind of just revives that for a moment. Unfortunately, there was a Sochi doping scandal which was if you all could go watch it that will explain it in depth.

 

Laura:

[00:23:46] That’s a powerful documentary. Yeah.

 

Katie:

[00:23:45] But the Red Corn Russian KGB and the sports minister of Russia conspired to cheat. So they helped the athletes take this Austrian and different performance-enhancing drugs at the Olympics. And then they switched out the doping samples with clean ones and destroyed the dirty samples so they could ensure they won medals. Now the girl who beat me was named in the investigative report as one of the athletes who is doping.

 

Laura:

[00:24:17] You didn't know that at the time though did you?

 

Katie:

[00:24:20] No I had the time on my leg. I mean I was pretty bummed that I didn’t get a medal but like it’ll be best Olympic like it was super fun like could have put on a great show. But in 2015 they disclosed all the stuff and Wrench a buddy of mine with friends Bryan Fogel the director of the movie. Texted and said that 100% Elena Nikitina on the girl who beat me was doping. And it broke my heart and I wasn't. My heart wasn't so much broken to the medal. It was broken because that Olympics was fake. I was just like oh my gosh everyone that participated in the race participated in something that wasn't real. They went to such long extended lengths to make sure they won. And it breaks my heart. And then you know like those pretty crazy like. It was exposed the IOC decide to strip the medal in November 2017 which made me a bronze medalist. I was like wow this is awesome you know. But the day I arrived in Pyeongchang they gave the Medal back. So I arrived at my fourth Olympic Games thinking I was a bronze medalist. And then when I woke up to go through processing I woke up to hate mail. And I mean some of whom are kind of funny but not nice. It was like you're not an athlete.

 

Laura:

[00:25:33] Wait wait wait. Just back up a minute. How did they take it back? Like what exactly happened?

 

Katie:

[00:25:41] That was through the court of arbitration of sport. So the athletes appealed to the higher court. And so the court of arbitrational sport ruled there wasn't enough individual evidence to show the athletes knew they were cheating. Or knew about the conspiracy. So I mean I'll just skip it. Skip the god Pyeongchang part. But I read a letter after the 2018 Games after experiencing that and I said I appreciate that you are attempting to protect the individual athlete right. However, I think you've done the opposite. You have not set any parameters in which the state can treat the athlete. And by giving them back the medals you're rewarding an abuse of power. It is not the reason that there is a conspiracy to cheat. It's not disputed that they distributed drugs. And it's not just that they destroyed the samples and replaced them with those athletes. That evidence is 100% factual by you rewarding them the medal. You have now allowed Russia to force their athletes to participate in a conspiracy to cheat against the Olympic movement. Olympic spirit and their health.

 

[00:26:48] What happens in 10 years when they can't have children. Some of them are having severe health issues or some of them pass away. Their friends their family and potentially themselves will come to you asking why you didn't do anything. Who is protecting the athlete from how the state can treat them? And that kind of set me on a pathway this fall where I began investigating the Olympic movement and the systems and processes in place. All the way from the top to the from the IOC down to the USOC. And I'm on a mission to create an independent athlete commission or association like a player's association for athletes in the US. I'm hoping it can be recognized by the 96 Olympic Committee. Acknowledging that there is a cultural issue that there is a problem. That the athletes have nowhere to go outside of their federations or any and National Committee is open to NSC. that can negotiate. Mediate on their behalf or hope their well-being first. We really truly need to define athlete right? And ensure that the culture is changed from a win at all costs. Performance at all costs to you. Your well-being is as important as your performance.

 

Laura:

[00:28:03] That would be huge. That's awesome. I'm glad you've made that part of your mission. That's really really cool. I mean I don't like that you've had to go through these things to learn that and become passionate about it. But I mean just think of all the people that you're going to help in the future because of that. That’s really cool.

 

Katie:

[00:28:19] I think the only reason people are listening is due to what happened to the gymnast. And so I think that I'm hoping you know I think one of the girls Jamie I don't remember how to say Well I think the thoughts of a D. She was one of the first ones to speak out against Larry Nasser. And the sexual abuse he did. And because of her slowly the rest of the girl started to stand up and speak out. It was like 1to 10 to 15 now 300 over 300. And because of them, Congress is listening USSC is listening. And I can't imagine what it was like to go through what they went through. But I think the solution like this like I spoke to her last night actually and she was like oh my gosh I had no idea. I was like you know our experience isn't unique. But the susceptibility to neglect. To neglecting our needs. And the culture pushing that on us to believe that that's what it takes to become an Olympian. That’s what it takes to perform is real. And I think that this is a great solution that can bring us all together. And kind of bring some empowerment to some of those victims or people that have suffered you know. It makes me feel better to come up with a solution to the problem. And I see that I could have easily been one of those administrators that believe in that process too. Like I can't imagine being put in a position where it's like my paycheck or the depends on this athlete performance. I actually want to recheck that statement because I would want to make sure that athletes were OK. But I think that you know the environment's gone. The culture has gone a little too far.

 

Laura:

[00:30:01] Mm-hmm. For sure. Well, now that lead up to we're talking about to Pyeongchang. Your fourth Olympic Games can't leave you in for that's so cool. I mean it was difficult on so many levels. Obviously you just talked about the whole finding out about the medals from Sochi. You mentioned earlier your best friend Steve Holcomb his Olympic champion he passed away. You've had you had five surgeries. You struggled with an autoimmune disease. I mean you have quite the story to athletic career you know. How did you handle emotionally, physically, and mentally going into that games?

 

Katie:

[00:30:40] Well like I said I had really great support. Giddeon was someone I spoke to all the time and it was really great for him. I had this other friend Leah Oriel she is my sister in Christ. And then she came on tour with me like a month. I had another friend that I met out there. His name is Manny he used to be a minister. So I mean like it was really important to me for me to have God in my life. I think that really got me through a lot. And then Elana Meyers was on tour with me and she was a huge support. But honestly like I didn't share with either anyone really what I was truly going through. I was diagnosed with PTSD. The only people that I told were the Federation and the coaches. So I don't know if I handled it really well I didn't really know how I ended up just kind of going numb and I was still pushing transport through things. There's no real black or white answer there. You know I was feeling I would have triggers so I would have anxiety attacks panic attacks and then you know I was trying to sort through a lot. So I just tried to put my best foot forward but I went numb.

 

[00:31:55] To be honest I was exhausted by the time I got to the Olympics. And I can't say that I was really excited to be there but I did my best. And I was very aware that I was a role model for a lot of people so I made sure to be clear about that good thing. Like I was really happy about the fact that I got to start a relationship with my mom again. That was really happy to have really had a come to Jesus moment on that year. I was really grateful for my friends and family but that doesn't change the fact that I was dealing with a lot. And I was emotionally exhausted. And like there are plenty of moments I didn't feel like I handled myself well at all. I spent way too many long texts to Giddeon.

 

Laura:

[00:32:44] Giddeon if you're listening. Thank you.

 

Katie:

[00:32:47] Yes. But I mean that's what friends are for right? And if they can really understand who you are and what you're going through like and not judge you for it. That's pretty awesome. I mean it's tough right? I don't know how I dealt or process it. I think I still am. Like I finally got thanks to talk space and Michael Phelps. I got some real help. The USOC doesn't have any true mental health resources. So when I told them I was having panic attack anxiety attack. They didn't really know what to do and then when I ask for help they just kind of brushed me off. So. I'm really grateful that you know I have the right people in place to help now. And but it's still a process. Like I'm just starting to get back on ice and I get triggers every once in a while or a nightmare and I can't sleep.But I think it's definitely getting a lot better. It's much less intense than it was. I should have clarified I got PTSD. Because in May 2017 I found my best friend Steve Holcomb passed away in the Olympic Training Center from an overdose. He accidentally took too many sleeping pills and drank and it ended up being lethal.

 

[00:34:08] So that was I think the whole situation though I think that's what woke me up finally. Because it paralleled with my dad and I remember Holcomb said to me right before he passed away. Remember who you are. You said be the Kate your dad said you were which was fierce. And you would go to the line dancing your own music and not really care about winning and thought and relax. Like the performance was never my focus and you should stop looking for people to assure you that you know. Stop looking for your dad to be or for people to be who your dad was you. No one hope you passed away. I was like. It kind of snap me out of it I think. And like I said I'm regaining my own agency and you know going through these therapies and stuff. That's when I started I realized like Wow that's where all my trauma came from. Was when I swallowed who I was to perform I lost my identity. So I think currently I am rediscovering that. I'm on a mission of personal discovery.

 

[00:35:16] And I'm grateful to have rediscovered God along the way. Which I think is huge because it was always a huge part of my life in the past. And I'm rambling now but I think that was one of the things that I realized was that when my father died I stopped praying as much. I stopped doing a lot of reflection and intersection and the things that took care of me. Like you have to make time and create space for yourself and create space for God. And I think that was one of the things I didn't do when I became overwhelmed with sadness or you know. Like I said if you're in a state of cognitive dissonance a state of conflict really hard to hear the Holy Spirit. Hard to hear yourself. So you know facing those things to clear that out and create faith that's going to be a constant job I think.

 

Laura:

[00:36:09] I'm glad to hear you're on the right track and you're figuring out how to sort through it. And like you said talking to God and having those important relationships. And having therapy and talking. Like working through those things that's so huge. And you said you're back on ice so are you still competing and looking forward to Beijing?

 

Katie:

[00:36:30] Oh my gosh Beijing so far away. Just pick your day and time.

 

Laura:

[00:36:34] Well, you also I picked up another sport in this process too, didn't you?

 

Katie:

[00:36:39] I did. I am currently a national champion in 2 sports back to back. And I'm gonna try and do it again. When I try to win skeleton Nationals and then cycling Nationals again it’s like you've done?

 

Laura:

[00:36:48] That’s amazing.

 

Katie:

[00:36:51] I don't know. I'm just gonna take a day of time like I got injured and I'm just now getting back on ice like tomorrow. So I have about 6 weeks to prepare for national and everywhere else has been sliding since October. But I'm just like. I'm just starting to think that my career numbers are coming up on most people stages. So I should be at all. They’re like calling me grandma skeleton at this point. I'm like I am 34 and offended.

 

Laura:

[00:37:22] Grandma Skeleton I like it.

 

Katie:

[00:37:24] Ouch. But I'll take it. So then I'll do nationals. And then if I win I get to buy on to the world team next season. And then I'm gonna head back to L.A. immediately and start training for Team front. Which is like you go in this little circle and a velodrome it's like a fishbowl. The sport getting in bed and my teammate is Mandy Marquardt I think. I like calling her Marquardt because it is French. But so we won nationals and if we win again in my time is within the league standard then I'll get a Pan Am games. And hopefully help us attempt to make the summer games Tokyo 2020. But I'm like a second offer I need to be which is quite a bit of time. And I haven't had a lot of experience on a bike but I'm really enjoying it and the community is fantastic. I love being a part of a team. I love that I can do it and stay in one place like skeleton I’ve travel non-stop. So I think I'm ready to like transition into not traveling as much. And I was in L.A. up until like last week. I have to say 70 degrees in January was pretty awesome.

 

Laura:

[00:38:38] A far cry from the skeleton you know area I'm sure.

 

Katie:

[00:38:43] Yeah. I mean like Christmas was super rad. I wanted to get a palm dream and put like a Charlie Brown decoration on it. And then just wear an ugly sweater because the flake warm enough where you don't need a coat. But cool enough to wear like a sweater is appropriate. I was like This is great. This is business Christmas.

 

Laura:

[00:38:53] That would be perfect. Oh That’s awesome. Well cool. Well, where can we follow you because you're absolutely incredible you're awesome. So where can we follow you online to continue to be inspired and encouraged by you and cheer you on toward Tokyo and Beijing perhaps?

 

Katie:

[00:39:16] Instagram @kateu11 and all the other ones there @KatieU11 Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook. It's not hard to find me. So is there another platform missing?

 

Laura:

[00:39:30] No. That's perfect. We'll make sure to put those on there. Katie thank you so much for coming on the podcast and sharing your story and just encouraging and inspiring all of us.

 

Katie:

[00:39:42] I really appreciate the opportunity and thank you.

 

Laura:

[00:39:46] Wow. I love how vulnerable Katie is willing to be with her story. Knowing that her openness can encourage others to take an honest look at themselves. As well and perhaps even be bold enough to engage with where they're at. At one point she said the only one who knows if you're OK is you. And men that is so true. If you're feeling off or unheard or you resonate with Katie's sense of neglect then I encourage you to just like she did to go on a journey to discover who you are again. Reach out to a friend or a mentor and get connected to those who can remind you of your identity. Seriously Katie that was some amazing wisdom and we're so grateful. Be sure to follow her on all of her socials that are linked in the show notes so that you can cheer her on as she aims for her fifth Olympics and shoots for back to back Summer and Winter Games. Don't forget to subscribe and join us each week for more raw honest conversations with athletes about how their journeys have shaped them and how they are engaging in things that give them purpose. And if you're interested in getting outside of your normal day today and you want to pursue purpose then consider registering for an upcoming trip with hope sports. The link is in the show notes and a trip is coming up this June that you do not want to miss. Next step is swimmer Michael Andrews who is a young up and comer who has broken over 100 national age group records. He's blazing a trail to the 2020 Olympics and he'll share more about his story right here next week. On behalf of Hope Sports, I'm Laura Wilkinson. Thanks for listening. This podcast is produced by Evo Terra and Simpler Media. For more information on Hope sports and to access the complete archives please visit HopeSport.org

 

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About This Episode

As a sixth grader, Guy East would wake up every morning, put on a medal from one of his novice races, raise his arms high, and pretend that he won Olympic gold. Inspired by Lance Armstrong’s heroic return to cycling after cancer, Guy knew that someday he wanted to be that: a champion. He was bullied at school and remembers using his anger and frustration to fuel himself. Instead of running away, he channeled his pain into his training. He viewed cycling as a way to show his worth to his biggest critics. “I wanted to prove that I was better than all the names they called me at school,” recalls Guy.

The tactic worked. At age 16 he was invited to a training camp with the US National Cycling Team and soon after was hand picked as one of a dozen rising stars to be a part of Lance Armstrong’s development team. He began to realize that his dreams might actually become a reality. But the anger that once drove him began to wain and as he got further in his career the performance culture of the sport ate away at him. “I was only as good as my last performance,” says Guy. Coaches and teammates echoed the fears that were already inside of him -- that he wasn’t worthy of love if he didn’t win. He pushed himself harder to become faster and be ranked higher, but the constant scrutiny led to eating disorders and the brutal self talk robbed him of the joy of riding.“I was competing out of a desire to prove to people that I was worthy and capable, rather than because I loved the sport,” says Guy.

All of these feelings came to a head when he was 21 in Mexico City where he was competing. Instead of reserving energy like the rest of his teammates, he stepped outside of his Five Star hotel and was struck by the immense poverty that was directly across the street. Families were living in shacks, children didn’t have shoes or clothing, homes were crumbling. His instinct was to turn away and never think of it again, but that moment changed something for him and he genuinely wanted to help. “At that point I started to question what I was doing as an athlete,” he says. “I realized that I didn’t want to just be remembered for being fast, but for making a difference in the world.” Coming from such a cut-throat, “all in or all out” mentality of elite sports, Guy didn’t believe he could do both. After a year of inner turmoil and soul searching he decided to sell all of his possessions and equipment, and quit the sport all together. It wasn’t an easy decision, however. With so much of his identity and worth wrapped up in his athletic abilities, he deeply feared being rejected as he walked away. “I believed that people only liked me because I was a cyclist,” says Guy. And that rejection did come as teammates and critics reminded him that he was giving up his greatest talent, that all of his efforts over the years were for nothing, that he didn’t have a clue what he was going to do next.

Without a college degree, without a plan, and without any prospects on the horizon, Guy combined the only two things that he knew he loved: serving others and cycling. He bought a one way ticket to Puerto Rico and hung out with the homeless on the streets, served in soup kitchens, lent a hand at non-profits, and helped in churches. He brought his bike and journeyed for two years through Central America with no real agenda. “I never felt more connected to people, my faith, and my purpose,” says Guy. After two years he felt more free and content than he ever did racing a bicycle, but he also realized that he deeply enjoyed competing. He finally bought a return ticket to the States with the goal of returning to the professional circuit, but this time it would be with a much bigger perspective on life and what was important.

Guy went on to compete professionally for several more years, but was committed to sharing what he learned. All around him he saw athletes who were like him; they didn’t believe they had any purpose beyond their athletic ability and saw themselves only in medal counts, scores, and standings. Passionate about helping transform the mindsets of his elite athlete friends, Guy started gathering groups to travel to Mexico and work with Homes of Hope, an organization that builds homes for families with volunteer teams over a weekend. “I kept seeing light bulbs go on for people,” says Guy. He recognized that there were plenty of people pushing physical development programs for athletes, but very few supporting their development in emotional, spiritual, or psychological ways. In 2015 Guy founded Hope Sports which regularly brings teams to build homes in Mexico and is committed to training coaches to challenge the negative framework of elite sports.

In Guy’s opinion, the performance culture is only going to get worse unless we actively work against it. It communicates that hard work and sacrifice can help an athlete earn value, acceptance, and love. Unfortunately, this line of thinking extrapolates itself into all relationships, from coaches and teammates to parents, friends, and spouses. And there is never an end to the winning. If a victory at the next championship will finally bring a sense of worthiness, what happens when that is won and there is a next one? “If our purpose is winning, then we’ll never be satisfied,” says Guy. Elite athletes need to find a way to be content and happy now, not after some medal, some ranking, or some championships. “We want to free people of that mentality so they can believe that they are great for who they are,” he says. We live in a high performance society and sports will always be about hard work, dedication, and sacrifice, but Guy says, “yes, you may have to earn your medal, but you’re never going to earn love.”

Guy retired in 2017 to focus more on the work of Hope Sports and is constantly seeking new ways to reach the next generation of athletes with this message. Through trips, seminars and training for coaches, and the Hope Sports podcast, he hopes to wield his platform for good and encourages other athletes to do so as well. Learn more about the work of Hope Sports by visiting their website and following Guy on Twitter and Instagram.

 

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About This Episode

Like many, Ingrid Drexel grew up playing all different kinds of sports. From basketball to volleyball, she loved being active and her parents encouraged extracurricular activities that would help her learn about teamwork and perseverance. But it wasn’t until she first got on a bike that Ingrid came to understand true freedom. In this episode of the Hope Sports show, she shares that she would pedal around town and through the mountains, fully immersed in nature and overwhelmed with the liberty to go anywhere in her hometown of Monterrey, Mexico. It’s this sense of freedom that made her fall in love with the sport, and rediscovering that joy would be critical to bringing her back through moments when she considered abandoning her dreams.

It was after a cycling camp that a coach approached her parents and encouraged them to invest in Ingrid’s obvious natural abilities. With a better bike and a list of races, her family began road-tripping around Mexico. She started winning race after race after race and at only 14, she was invited to be a part of the Junior National Team and compete in the Pan American games - a spot normally only available to someone over the age of 17. She spent her teen years balancing a budding cycling career and her desire to be a “normal” teenager. She even took three months off of racing completely to attend all of the sleepovers, school dances, and parties that she wanted to, but found it all unfulfilling in the end. Traveling around the nation had matured her and she had dreams of cycling internationally, getting a degree, and taking advantage of the unique opportunity before her. Back on the bike, she picked up where she left off and her success landed her Mexico’s only spot in road cycling for the London Olympic games.

Ingrid was in awe of the entire experience at her first Olympics. From being honored at the President’s house in Mexico, to traveling with other Olympians from her nation, to the enormity of the athlete village at the games, the experience was almost overwhelming. Having been pulled from the junior circuit to compete, she didn’t even know her own rivals, most of whom competed professionally. As a solo rider for her country she tried not to be intimidated by the nations with full teams, but when she pulled up to the starting line for her race and it began to rain, she realized that her real rival would be Mother Nature. Having done the majority of her training and racing in Mexico, Ingrid had never once ridden in the rain, much less raced. She was able to stay with the Peloton in the early section of the race but was taken down with another twenty riders when someone else crashed on a tight turn. Determined to represent her nation and finish the race, Ingrid dug her bike from the disorder of spokes and wheels. When the snow turned to hail and the verbal discouragement from other riders weighed heavy on her, still she pedaled on. She finished the race frozen, exhausted, and outside of the time limit, but still proud to have represented her nation even if she had to do it alone.

Not long after the Olympics offers came in from professional teams and Ingrid signed with her first European team. The learning curve was steep, though. A new continent, unfamiliar language, different coaching style, and increased race distance all left her feeling defeated and lonely. She was used to competing in 20 races each year and upped that number to 30 races in just three months. She pushed herself harder mentally and physically than she ever had before, but the results just weren’t there. In fact, the more she demanded of her body the less it seemed to perform and the more discouraged she became. Comments from her coaches about losing weight spurred her to develop an eating disorder and, at one point, she didn’t even have the strength to complete races. Negativity was an internal refrain that followed her on and off the course, in training, and throughout her personal life. Despite feeling she would be perceived as weak, Ingrid finally reached out to a sports psychologist and a nutritionist. With their help, she began what would be a one and a half year journey back to herself. She realized that she needed to listen to her body and fuel it properly. She began validating rest and relaxation. And, most importantly, she faced the negative self-talk that had been crippling her performance all along. The judgment and pressure she carried from herself and others could never be overcome with more extreme training or improved performance - it had to come from acceptance of who she was apart from cycling.

As her recovery gained momentum, so did her career. Her hard work paid off when her international ranking again earned Mexico one spot at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. But just because she won the spot for her nation did not mean her name was attached to it. In a surprising move, the Mexican Olympic Committee decided to wager the spot on the results of just one race. Unfortunately for Ingrid, in that very race she experienced a technical failure with her bike and ended up changing bikes three times before finishing in fifth place and losing her the Olympic seat. To further the blow, the Committee didn’t even honor their commitment to the athlete who won and gave the spot to an entirely different rider. Frustrated and disheartened, Ingrid returned home and left her bike in its box, unsure when, if ever, she’d get back on it.

Despite losing the bid to the Olympics, calls came in one after another for her to join other professional teams. “I just decided that I was going to do what I loved just because I loved it, not because people were expecting something from me,” Ingrid shares to Laura on the show. She signed with an American team in California and 2017 turned into her most successful year. Rather than placing all of her worth and value on her performance as a cyclist, Ingrid poured into other areas of her life. She finished her degree in International Business, found younger athletes to mentor, and got married. She still has hopes to compete in the 2020 Olympics, but recognizes that she can only do her best. Rather than being dispirited that the decision it is out of her hands, she knows, “being an Olympian doesn’t define who I am.” She now rides for herself, for the fun of it, and for the sense of freedom that she experienced all those years ago.

For more about Ingrid, follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

 

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_toggle admin_label="Transcript" title="Read Episode Transcript" _builder_version="3.19.14" saved_tabs="all"]

laura:

[00:00:05] Welcome to the Hope Sports Podcast where high caliber athletes share about their triumphs and their struggles on their journey toward purpose. I'm your host Olympic gold medalist Laura Wilkinson. Today we're speaking with Ingrid Drexel a professional cyclist from Mexico. Like many of us, Ingrid hopped on a bike as a young kid and found herself inspired by the freedom she felt zipping around town with the wind in her hair. As her love of cycling grew so did her opportunities. And she's been traveling around the world competing internationally for eight years now. Her story includes victories disappointments and challenges. And she shares it all with us here on today's show. Thanks for joining us. Here we go.

 

[00:00:44] Ingrid Drexel I'm so excited you could join us for the Hope Sports Podcast today!

 

Ingrid:

[00:00:48] Thank you Laura. Thank you for having me. I'm so excited to be able to have a chance to share some of my story with the people there are hearing of. And yeah. Thank you.

 

Laura:

[00:01:00] for those listening that may not be familiar with your story. How did you kind of get started into sports like how did it all begin?

 

Ingrid:

[00:01:07] So first of all my family like my parents were always the kind of parents that wanted us to do something like extracurricular activities besides school. They wanted to keep us like active during the day. Nothing like it was not like you must do these or you have to do this. It was mostly like just a start. Like for me you know forming us as a kid. And so they just wanted us to do any activities. And so we chose like why we wanted to do so before finding that cycling was my passion. I did like I don't know really like a different sports because I went into one.

 

Laura:

[00:01:45] Oh really?

 

Ingrid:

[00:01:46] Yeah. I went into one and I was like No mom I don't like this and she was like okay just another thing you know. So I jumped from one sport to another I did like tennis, swimming, ballet, basket and I'm tall. So they want me to be on the basketball team because of my height but I just didn't like it. I just think with large balls and stuff. So no. And then I did taekwondo for a long time actually. I liked it but then there was this summer a friend called me and she was like Hey there's a summer camp cycling summer camp. Like do you want to join? And I'm like yeah sure. And I was 8 at the time so I don't know I just discovered that that's what I liked. And like I guess the adrenaline of being on the bike and the sensation and the freedom and like the wind in your skin. I don't know I just liked it and I stuck to it ever since.

 

Laura:

[00:02:41] Well so is it like cycling what you see at the Olympic or the big tour levels right from the beginning or was it different when you were younger?

 

Ingrid:

[00:02:48] No. I think it was really different I don't think that I knew about all of that when I was 8. Like I just liked the idea and I know how to call it but just the way I felt being on the bike and like riding on the parks and like true then nature and like the mountains or whatever. I know it was pretty cool and then I went there with some friends so it was also like good company and stuff. So yeah. I think I didn't even know about the Grand Tours and like even you could be a professional cyclist like No I've never thought about that. And yeah. I just like it. Like I was just enjoying and yeah.

 

Laura:

[00:03:33] Well so how did that kind of developed then because you made the Olympic team in 2012 as a teenager. So you saying that maybe wasn't on the radar like at what point I guess did that becomes something on the radar?

 

Ingrid:

[00:03:45] Yeah. It was totally off the radar. I started the summer camp man the coach of the summer camp he talked to my parents and he was like I think Ingrid has potential. Like she wouldn't likes it she's really passionate about it and she's good. So I started mountain biking and then he encouraged my parents to buy me a road bike. So then I got a road bike and I started doing both disciplines. And like the next year, I started competing nationwide. And I don't know I just started winning everything I went to. Like it was just like from day one I just like I won every race and. But I just did it because I liked it. Like I didn't have any pressure from anyone. I just enjoy it like getting out there and suffering and giving it my all like yeah. It was kind of cool I guess. And then you started to travel along Mexico with my parents so it kind of became like a family road trip like going to races and stuff. I just did it kind of like a hobby I think. And when I was 14 I got called to be on the national team as a junior. But to be a junior in cycling you have to be 17 years. And I was 14. So that was like whoa! So yeah. Then they called me and I went to my first American championship. Is it like for the junior category. And I got two medals and I guess it all started developing from there.

 

[00:05:12] Things started to get more serious and then it was a really hard age for me because I was like during 15 and you know you're in school and you're with your friends and the parties and sleepovers and blah blah blah. Then you also got a commitment like OK you get a drink. Now you're representing Mexico and not only doing it like local races or national races. In Mexico we're really used to celebrating our 15 birthday. I know in the Americas the Sweet 16. But for us is 15. So it was that age all of my friends started traveling and having all of these 15 birthday parties in and I had to like compete and be out for the weekend and like train and get up early and blah blah blah. So that was really hard. I don't know really hard like point on my life where I had to decide. Like if I wanted to continue this road because I knew it was becoming more serious and kind of more professional thing rather than being still a hobby. Now you've got compromises with the national team and like you know with your coach and everyone that's helping you and that's committed to you.

 

[00:06:26] So on that year I decided to quit or give me a break for like three months maybe. And I did all of these like I traveled with my friends. I went to sleepovers and parties and all that. But at the end of the day, I decided that it was always the same thing like you went out with the same people you saw at school you're seeing the party and then. I was Yeah. They're cool and parties as well but I don't know. I just thought it was kind of the same thing. And I realized I wanted to do something more with my life and rather just like I don’t know just going out and partying and whatever. So yeah I decided to come back in and be more committed and I guess it all started from there from that point on. I've been part of the national team. And then yeah I guess well I went to four junior pennants which you can only go to two because is 17 and 18. But I went from 14 15 Sorry.

 

Laura:

[00:07:30] Breaking all the rules.

 

Ingrid:

[00:07:30] Yeah I know and then I went to junior worlds as well and I was two-time medalist. And I was 18 at the time so I was like Yeah this is really serious here. Like this is no joke no. And after that year so 2011 that was my last year as a junior and next year were the Olympics and it was gonna be my first year as an athlete. And I was more inclined undoing track cycling. Then there was this girl that she was she had been fighting the whole four years before the Olympics to like qualify on the track. So I was like I'm not gonna get into your way. She's been doing it and I couldn't have done it before because I was a junior and I really wanted to go on the track but I was like she's being like fighting for it so I'm going to step aside. And that's when I decided to go on the road and quit the track you know. And yeah. I just started with the road and I started competing for more road and find some races in the US. Because I normally raised only in Mexico and then internationally I raised phenoms and worlds but nothing else so.

 

[00:08:40] I try to find some races in the US so I could step up my game you know and race against people who I knew that was gonna be on the Olympics and stuff and I might try and see how it goes. And then I don't know. I think things just came. It was unexpected. The National Federation they gave us several qualifying events and I won all of them again. Like the elites that have been there and fighting for many years so I was like. And then we're waiting for the Federation to announce like who is the one that was gonna represent Mexico in the Olympics because we only had one spot. So on road cycling you can have four but as a nation we had very few points that we only had one spot. So the Federation had to pick one person and I won all the qualification events that they have. And then I got the call like hey you're gonna go to the Olympics. I was 18 at the time and I was like OK what's going on. Like I didn't expected and I think I mean that event obviously it changed my life and it changed the way I saw cycling.

 

[00:09:54] So I was still studying. I had just gotten into university because I knew I wanted a career besides cycling even though I knew that I could probably become a professional. I knew I had to have something like a background. You never know. Probably at the end of the day maybe I wake up tomorrow and I can't ride my bike anymore. What am I gonna do you know. So we've got to be prepared. And I always had this plan in my head that cycling is gonna be part of my life until a certain point. Because I'm I really wanna work and I wanna have a job or probably I don't know create something and work outside of cycling. And then obviously have a family and then having a family thing being a professional for me. I just think is really risky is a really risky sport and then I mean going out training for four or five hours having your husband and kids on home and knowing that you might not come back. That just it's kind of scary for me. I'm not saying I'm not gonna do it. Like I'm gonna keep on cycling because I love it but maybe not as a professional.

 

Laura:

[00:11:04] Well so I have a question for you because you're so wise in being so young and thinking OK well I can't cycle forever I need a backup plan just in case. I mean that's wisdom beyond most 18year olds I think. Well, your parents very influential in those thoughts? Or was this all you? Or was this from watching others?

 

Ingrid:

[00:11:23] I think they really helped. Because they also grew on a family where they had a good formation from their parents. And I think they translated that to us. I think it was just all part of how I have been raised in the education my parents gave me. Because I know for my age I was more mature than the average kids. So and I think it was also part of it. I started traveling a lot to races inside of Mexico. And then you open your eyes and see that. Well, I think it was really privileged because my parents could give me everything. Like I didn't need anything else. Because of that, I think that's where I am today. Because they could provide me with all the material equipment and they could take me to races and stuff. But also traveling and seeing that other people they couldn't because they didn't have the economic resources to do it. I just think that made me like value more what I had and you know being grateful to my friends for what they have given me. And you know and just taking that as a hey you've got this opportunity to take it and do the best you can with it. You know.

 

Laura:

[00:12:51] Yeah. No. I totally agree with you. I was an athlete started traveling as a teenager as well. And I think it's very impactful seeing how other people live and get through things and it just. It really opens up your eyes in a way that nothing else can right? Well OK so you make the 2012 Olympic team. It's a total shock to 18year old Ingrid. And what was the London Olympic experience like?

 

Ingrid:

[00:13:13] Oh my God! It was, first of all, like when you get all of the like the equipment and like you know all the material for my team and all of these bags full of things. Like the uniforms and then you go to the president's housing in the capital. Because the president's going to like I I'll give you some words and like wish you the best you know and all that and I'm like. I think I’m in a real shock and I was so young. I didn't. Like I didn't know anyone so then OK we traveled to London we get to the Olympic Village and I was just shocked. It's like another city in there like yeah it was Wow! I was shocked and I didn't even know any of my rivals at the time because I hadn't competed with them before because I was a junior. So I didn't even know who was who. So what was just like OK I'm gonna.

 

Laura:

[00:14:10] That's probably a good thing right?

 

Ingrid:

[00:14:11] I know. That's what I'm thinking now like. But I think that was the best thing that could ever happen. So I was just like OK I'm gonna do what I know. What I've always been doing just OK step on the line and wait for the start and go you know. It was really intimidating seeing all of the other countries like potential countries like the Netherlands, the U.S., Australia, Italy. They all had full teams and I was there like the Mexican the Latin alone you know you don't have a team. So it's kind of like you're in deep under different circumstances you know. They didn’t know me I didn't know who they were. So it was just but then I said you know what we're all here for the same thing you know. So just go out there and have fun. Then I remembered we were on the line and it started to rain and I have never raced or trained on the rain before never. So I was like Oh my God! I started freaking out I was like OK just come down. Because where I lived it was super risky to go out on the rain because of the traffic the cars and then the roads are super slippery. That it's just like soap like if you went out you would slip. Yeah. It was terrible. So that's why I've never rode or even raced on the rain. Because whenever it rained things would get suspended. So I was like OK come down it's the same for everyone but I know. I mean in London it rains always so I know a lot of Europeans we're used to like racing or turning on the rain. Like ok, no worries same circumstances for everyone. And then OK we started we got started at the mall. So just in front of the Buckingham Palace. So it was beautiful.

 

Laura:

[00:16:05] Wow. Yeah epic start.

 

Ingrid:

[00:16:07] Yeah. And then we started writing out to the countryside. And I remember we got there and then we had to do two big laps around a. I think It was a park or a college or something. And I remember that on one of the turns it was really tight and then while the palace and we were about 16 maybe. A girl crashed in front of like I don't know probably in the middle of the pack and she because he was really narrow. And I don't know probably 20 people crashed into her I was one of them. Nothing happened so nothing really scary like we didn't get seriously injured or anything. But that was like the key point of the race. Because after that crash it was like the climb which was like the toughest part of the race and that's where all the action started because it was the last lap.

 

[00:16:58] And so yeah I mean crashing it takes time to get your bike and then it was just a pile of people and stuff. And then OK so the front of the race went and I'm like well I'm here I got to finish. Doesn't matter. Just give it your all. So I stand up. Get on my bike again and started pedaling. And then a little group about five or six girls got together and started riding together. But then some of the girls that were on my group. They had teammates on the front so they didn't wanna work anymore because if we caught them at some point they were taking rivals to the others you know? So then there was.

 

Laura:

[00:17:41] Such a strategic I didn't even think about that.

 

Ingrid:

[00:17:42] Yeah! Exactly! So then there was a point that I had I was just riding by myself. And then it was like OK I don't think you can make it to the front group riding by myself you know man the rain and all but I just kept on riding. And then I remember they started like telling me things like Hey stop like you're never gonna make it. Just like give up and blah blah blah. And I was just like.

 

Laura:

[00:18:05] Who? Like other racers or who is?

 

Ingrid:

[00:18:06] Yeah. Yeah. The other girls who were on my group. I mean the front of the race was gone and they had teammates over there so they didn't care if they finished on time or not. But I was alone I was the only Mexican rider I was there. My first times on the Olympics I wanted to do my thing and I wanted to do my best. So I just kept on riding and then I started falling from the sky.

 

Laura:

[00:18:29] Are you serious?

 

Ingrid:

[00:18:31] I'm serious. I was like oh my God! What is this? Like God help me please.

 

Laura:

[00:18:39] Oh my God.

 

Ingrid:

[00:18:39] Oh you started feeling that ice hitting you and it was. Yeah. It was just so hurtful. And I didn't have anything for like the cold weather and me. So I just remember when I saw a finish line it was like oh like it’s just a light bright enough. And I remember I crossed the finish line. I was all covered like mud and like from all this flash from the road you know.

 

Laura:

[00:19:02] Did you even feel your arms and legs? You must’ve frozen?

 

Ingrid:

[00:19:04] I can’t feel anything. I was like just trembling like oh my hands were like purple from the rain and the cold and everything.

 

Laura:

[00:19:12] Oh that sounds so awful.

 

Ingrid:

[00:19:13] Yeah. And I crossed the line. And all my family was there and my mom she was really worried because the front of the race had finished like 10 or 15 minutes before I got there. So when the first group finished and my mom didn't see me she was like OK something's wrong. Like something happened to Ingrid. Where is she.? Because she was like 5 minutes she was in there, 10 minutes, 15 minutes and then you're like Oh my God where is Ingrid?! What happened?! And nobody told her where I was or what had happened or. So she was like really worried. And finally when I crossed the line and she saw me all covered in mud and like breathing she started to cry because she was like oh there’s my baby. Yeah. I mean now I think about it and I guess it was a really good experience for me. I really really had wanted to go back but with more experience knowing the riders and obviously having a team around me. So that's what I aim for on the next 4 years for the Olympics. So that was 2012 and then 2013 I got my first pro contract.

 

Laura:

[00:20:19] Oh exciting.

 

Ingrid:

[00:20:19] Yeah. I went with an Italian team so I went to Europe aged 19. I mean it was a different country, different people, different language. Even living by yourself. Leaving home. It was kind of hard and then there was a big team house and there were some times that you. Because you didn't do all the races so sometimes you were left alone at the house. And I felt so lonely because I wasn't used to that. That I would cry like at nights just because I didn't know anyone. And like I didn't know that.

 

Laura:

[00:20:52] How long would you be at the house? For training or for meet sir?

 

Ingrid:

[00:20:56] Well because all of the races mainly when we're in Europe. So I would go for a blog of probably 2-3 months. So that was a long period especially like on my first time and not knowing anyone. And I'm telling you like different country, different language, different people, then being alone in a big house you are like Okay. And then I wasn't used to like cooking for myself and cleaning the house and like washing clothes and all that. So you gonna grow I mean gonna grow. It was really harsh because you get really lonely and then you go to races and it wasn't what you expected. Because you're on a whole different level. You're going from juniors to elite. So you're going to raising probably 80k to racing 100k, 120k, 140k and a different pace, different woman, different conditions. I mean it's a really big jump and adaptation process really takes a lot from you. And you can be the strongest woman physically but if you don't have the mental strength to get aware of that. Like you're never gonna make it.

 

Laura:

[00:22:10] How did you do that? How how did you get through the Olympic? How did you get through these difficult times? I mean starting this new professional career all by yourself like that. I mean that is a lot. How do you handle that?

 

Ingrid:

[00:22:21] It was really hard for me especially well getting through the Olympics. I have the crowds and I think it was that log. And probably that's what was meant to happen to me in order to come back and stronger. And like desire more for the next block or whatever. So then when I got my first contract in 2013 my first race I remember it was Giro d'Italia which is like the most important race for women in cycling. So I was like just thrown to the wolves.

 

Laura:

[00:22:50] Again?

 

Ingrid:

[00:22:51] Yeah just go out there and do a thing. And for my first time I actually was really good. I had really good result so I was like OK this is I mean I can do it you know I can make it. But I was used to racing probably like 10, 15, 20 races at most in one year. And then on this 3 months I remember I had 30 races. So my body after the Giro I think I didn't even know how to handle like recovery and all of that stuff because I wasn't used to all this. I kept on racing because that's what the calendar and the team had for me. And I just got onto like I bunked. I had chronic fatigue I couldn't even pedal I wasn't sleeping I was that just got into my head like OK probably you're not good enough to be at this level. It was just really hard. I remember the last races I didn't even finish because I couldn't like my body couldn't do it. And then it was also a mental thing. Now it was both physical and mental. So I came back home after all of that and I was obviously really disappointed with myself. And you know letting people down because it's just for a first contract first time is unprofessional.

 

[00:24:09] Everyone expects something from you. And I guess sometimes you start driving that towards people's expectations instead of knowing why you're doing it you know. I Started cycling because it's something I love not because I wanted to like I don't know surprise people or whatever you know or leave to their expectations. But I guess you forget all of that with the pressure and the pressure to perform and do good because you were really good nationally you know. So I came back and I was just so frustrated and I was like I kept on telling myself like I got to train more more more more and more because these girls train a lot. And that's why they're really good. But he was totally the opposite. I had to rest I had to let my body just like disconnect for a while in order to like get freshen up and start again. Because I had just bonked into and gone into a hole and had a chronic fatigue and like all my levels were on the floor and. What I didn't understand that and I think it's also soft leads. We're just thinking about OK what can we do better to be better and you can train here so hard on yourself when you never want to rest you know.

 

[00:25:29] So I started going with a sports psychologist and and I didn't want to do it because I was like No I'm not crazy. And you know how people saying is like you know seeing a psychology is because you're crazy. And I was like I'm not crazy. And everyone kept on telling me but I guess you don't understand until you actually go and see how it works. I started seeing a sports psychologist and I started realizing that first of all I had to listen to my body. Second of all I knew I had to race. And third of all realizing that I had mental issues it was not all physical. Break yourself up with the results. And just thinking about OK you were like super good winning everything in Mexico and like always having a podium internationally and the America level and now you're no one. You're like just OK you're one more in the pack. So that's really hard to overcome that. And just like people talking like oh you know you see Ingrid's not good enough like she was the best year. But as soon as you throw her to the professional then like the highest level she's no one. And so that starts getting in your head. And we finally after a year and a half it took me a year and a half to regain confidence and regain my fitness and started competing again and being myself again. So I made those changes and I think that really helped me.

 

[00:26:57] And I was on the road to qualifying for the real Olympics in 2016 and I think it was really good. I was doing everything right. And one year before the Olympics. I was racing I was winning races. I was getting points to qualify. So the way to qualify to the Olympics in road cycling is you gotta be on the first 100 on the ranking in the world ranking or as a nation be in the top 22 on the ranking. So I did that. I accomplished that. I was in the top 100 as a rider as an individual rider and I gave Mexico the ranking. I think we were at the end on the 20th. But again it was only one spot that we gained because we were so far back down on the ranking. So there was one spot I had won the spot for Mexico but the spot that you gain it doesn't have your name. So it's the national team that decides at the end of the day who goes. So they told us that they were gonna pick who went on the national championships. I was like OK so you're basing who's gonna represent Mexico in the Olympics with one race. After all the hard work. And I was like OK one more race. You can do it. Anything can happen you know it was one race. So I remember we started the race. My bike broke. Something happened in the chain goes stuck and it just it broke the buck part and I had a spare bike but it wasn't my fit it was my mom's bike but I had taken it just in case. So I changed bikes like three times. And it was just horrible I mean all of the changes and I mean you know it gets into your head.

 

So yeah. At the end I think I got like fifth on that national championships. And then they have said that the girl who won the championships was gonna be the one who went to the Olympics. But no at the end of the day they changed everything again. And they decided that another girl who wasn't even on the long list for the Olympics was gonna go. And it was all political.

 

Laura:

[00:29:21] So frustrating.

 

Ingrid:

[00:29:21] Yeah. I remember after that I went back to Europe with my team because I was going to keep on racing there. And they haven't given any news so it was like okay. I mean it's been like probably 2 or 3 weeks after that race and we haven't heard anything about it. This was July already and the Olympics were in August and we didn't know who was gonna go. So again I was racing the Giro d'Italia and one morning I remember I woke up and I wanted to Facebook you know how you wake up and you go into your social media. And so I started seeing Facebook and then I saw posts from the national team and that was the news announcing the girl that was gonna go to the Olympics.

 

Laura:

[00:30:06] So you didn't get a phone call. You didn't get an email. You saw it on their Facebook.

 

Ingrid:

[00:30:09] Anything. Yes. Anything. I didn't get a single call, a single email, text nothing. I saw the news on Facebook. And I remember this girl that had been picked. She was my roommate at the time we were on the same team. So I woke up first and I saw the news and I went out of the room and I started crying. And then when she woke up obviously she was really happy. It was a really hard moment. Tough moment because you wanted to be happy for her. Then at the same time I was just devastated. And I couldn't even believe that they hadn't had the guts to call us you know and give us the news personally or hey you're going or hey you're not going because of this is that. And I tried calling them I tried emailing them and texting or whatever and I never got a response back like I never heard back from them. So because they knew they had violated their own rules you know. So yeah I mean it was just really hard and after that I just crashed again like mentally you know it was you know. You get depressed you were like all these hard work for nothing and blah blah blah. You know it starts getting in your head. And I decided that year 2016 that I was gonna tired maybe this wasn't for me and you know.

 

Laura:

[00:31:36] Like professionally and everything.

 

Ingrid:

[00:31:38] Yeah. Like what's the point if you're doing all this. And you're I mean you have this goal and you achieve it you get to it. And then at the end of the day it doesn't depend on your performance or on what you're doing to go or not to go to a race?

 

Laura:

[00:31:55] Someone can just take it away right?

 

Ingrid:

[00:31:56] Exactly. So I was like You know what. And I was stunning at the time. I was like OK I'm just going to dedicate all my time to finishing my college degree and starting the next chapter in my life. And so I came back home after Europe and I was just really crushed and I left my bike. I remember I traveled with my bike back home. But you know it's parked in a big box and so I left it in the box when I came home I didn't even want to see it. I just want to like to refresh mentally and physically. And I tried to enjoy my family and friends and all that. And then I remember I got an email from a team from a European team saying that they wanted me to be part of their team next year. I'm like OK. But I wasn't even in the mood. And then I don't know probably like two weeks later I got another email from another team. And then I got another email from another team. So I had like four offers from four different teams to be on their team professionally. Now Im like what?! Like this it never happened before. This must be a sign like this. I mean I must be doing something good for 4 doing things they want me on the team. You know?

 

Laura:

[00:33:17] I would think so. Yeah!

 

Ingrid:

[00:33:20] Yeah. I thought to myself like you know what dialing doesn't define me. Being an Olympian doesn't define who I am. Obviously something you want as an athlete because who doesn't you know. You're an athlete you always wanna be on the first step of the podium and you're there to win. You know you're competing to win. But at the end of the day I think you gotta find. You gonna realize that being on a bike doesn't define who you are. Going to the Olympics or being an Olympic athlete doesn't define who you are. There's more to life besides that. And not everyone has the same opportunities. And most important of all things happen for a reason. And yeah I think that was a really important year in my career to make me realize that. Cycling is what I love and I do it because I love it not because I want to be someone. I had been for years in Europe already and I got an offer from an American team and I was like OK I wanna make a change. You know. Changes are good. So I signed with an American team based in California northern California. It was one of my best years of my career 2017 honestly and I had thought about retirement. And yeah I guess it all like you all came back to you're doing this because you love it not because it defines you. No.

 

[00:34:52] After all of that and after leaving all of that I just started realizing that I wanted to keep on doing this sport because it was what I like to do. And because I wanted to leave something to the upcoming generations and try to share my story and tell them that first. Because everyone in Mexico probably opportunities aren't as a. They don't present us often as in other developing countries so everyone ask me like how do you got there? Like how do you do it? This is your eight year as a professional. Like how no one has been able to do that? No one has had a contract or that many years in a row. So that's what I want to give to the Sports. I want to give back what it has shown me and how it had made me grow. Become a more mature person and realizing that there is more to life than just being an athlete. Cycling is a really hard sport I mean you got to love suffering you. Got to be able to handle the pressure especially the pressure about you got to be really skinny you're a girl and you got to lose weight and blah blah blah. You know just all of that gets into your head and I think it causes a lot of disorders in female athletes even male. So you're also playing with your health.

 

Laura:

[00:36:14] Well I'd love to ask you about that because I know you've been pretty open about how you struggled with eating disorders. And that's also I mean very prevalent in my sport as well. And so I'd love it if you could briefly take us through kind of how that developed? And how you I mean maybe you still deal with I don't know. But how you overcame it and get through that daily?

 

Ingrid:

[00:36:31] For becoming a full road athlete I did a lot of track. So track cycling you gonna have more muscle because you've got to be more strong. And because it's all about power and shored efforts and stuff. So it's gonna be all power all muscle all for strength. So I'm a big girl and I developed muscle really easily so. So yeah. I had a big body I had a lot of muscle in my legs so when I started road cycling and I went to Europe I mean most of the girls are really skinny. They just start telling you like you'll lose weight you can be better. Hey I think you get a couple of pounds. Couple of extra pounds on you like it starts getting you in your head. Even if you're not an athlete and you're a girl and someone tells you that you're overweight you're always shocked you know and gets into your head. And so yeah I was like OK I gonna take care of myself. So I saw a nutritionist and he was like guiding me and stuff. But every time it was the same thing you got to lose weight. You gotta lose weight. You got to lose weight. Got to lose weight. And I remember there was a year that I lost a lot of weight because I wasn't recovering. So I had to like I was obviously on a calorie deficit. But it was just I felt good on the bike or stronger but I wasn't happy because you don't have energy to do anything else besides training you know. You just you have solo energy. You're in a bad mood all the time because you're not getting all your nutrients. You're not recovering well. And then also if you get invited to like dinner or I don't know to have coffee with friends you don't want to go because you don't want to eat there. You know?

 

Laura:

[00:38:18] It’s stressful? Yeah. Ah-hmm...

 

Ingrid:

[00:38:18] Yeah. It’s really stressful. So I just realized and I went again to the nutritionist and I'm like OK I got to be skinny but I got to be healthy as well. So I started working with her and it worked really good because she showed me how to eat and what to eat. And fulfilled my all the other things that I lose on wild training wild racing and getting all my nutrients. And yeah I started feeling better obviously I gained some pounds but it was strength it was muscles. And I realized I was happier and I didn't have to be stressed all the time. And as long as you're performing. Try not to worry about that I mean I know you have to maintain a weight but you have to be healthy. I mean if you're not healthy and you're unhappy it's worthless.

 

Laura:

[00:39:07] Sports only lasts so long too. You have to I think remember that we think it's our whole world but on wrapped up in it. But it keeps going on after you're done with your sport. At some point everybody has to be done with their sport you know.

 

Ingrid:

[00:39:08] Exactly!

[00:39:17] Totally. I mean you're gonna hit that point that you're either no longer qualified to keep on racing because you're too old or you're just not performing as well or you never know. Or you'd have an accident that hopefully we don't. But yeah you got to realize that there's gonna be a point where you're not gonna be a professional athlete anymore.

 

Laura:

[00:39:39] Well changing gears a little bit. I love that you talked about how you are starting your university studies and you kind of going to take your time on it. And I think last year you finally got your degree right in international business?

 

Ingrid:

[00:39:52] Yeah. Yeah. I did.

 

Laura:

[00:39:54] Congratulations!

 

Ingrid:

[00:39:54] Thank you. I graduated on May last year. I felt really happy because I had been studying or doing my college degree for six years so.

 

Laura:

[00:40:08] Nice. That's dedication right there and consistency.

 

Ingrid:

[00:40:12] Instead of taking the four years that you usually take. I finished in six because I was doing professional cyclist at the time and I didn't want to leave my studies. And yeah I mean there were some semesters where I had to go to Europe and compete which I had to only take probably one or two classes. But yeah I'm so happy I got my degree.

 

Laura:

[00:40:34] Well, didn't something else happened right after you got your degree?

 

Ingrid:

[00:40:37] I got married. Yeah.

 

Laura:

[00:40:39] That's awesome. Well congratulations on both of those. It's so exciting.

 

Ingrid:

[00:40:43] Thank you.

 

Laura:

[00:40:44] Now what's next for you? Are you gonna be doing more pro circuits? Is there even a thought of 2020? Or are you moving on past the Olympics? Or what are your goals?

 

Ingrid:

[00:40:52] So I signed two more years with the team that I've been racing for the last two years the American team name Tibco–Silicon Valley Bank. And I signed two more years because yeah my ultimate goal again is the 2020 Olympics. After that I've talked to myself and I've come to a conclusion that I want to retired from the pro circuit. I'm gonna be settling with my friends maybe? But I would want to retire just take a break from the pro circuit. This year I have a full calendar starting on March in Europe with my team and it goes all the way to October.

 

Laura:

[00:41:27] Wow!

 

Ingrid:

[00:41:28] It's a really important year because it's where the Olympic ranking opens up. So every raise you go every race is an opportunity to get points and go up there and the ranking.

 

Laura:

[00:41:40] Has Mexico changed its rules at all on how they pick the Olympians?

 

Ingrid:

[00:41:43] Not really. That's what I would gonna say. I'm going into this whole process again knowing that the final decision is not in my hands. So I'm getting into this process with that idea. And knowing that if I do everything in my power to qualify and whatever the outcome is that I can retire happy and satisfied and knowing that I did everything in my power to go. So I think that mentality is gonna help me get through it more easily. I have full support of my husband full support of my family my coach. So yeah that's my goal. That's my program. And yeah.

 

Laura:

[00:42:33] It's a great great way to go into it. I think it's beautiful. It's beautiful. Well where can we follow you to continue to be inspired by you and to cheer you on along all of these adventures. Like where can we follow you online?

 

Ingrid:

[00:42:45] Obviously Instagram my thing right now is social and the top social media. So my Instagram is @IngridDrexel so just my name and last name. And I also have a Facebook page same my name Ingrid Drexel and Twitter @IngridDr so yeah. Those are social media as I use and I usually post what I'm doing and.

 

Laura:

[00:43:07] Awesome. Ingrid thank you so very much for coming on the podcast today. You are just awesome. I love your personality is adorable and I love just the way you handle things your heart for other people. And for showing people what you've learned I think that's brilliant so thank you again so much for being on.

 

Ingrid:

[00:43:22] Thank you very much for having me. Really nice to meet you. And I'm so happy I can have a chance to tell people a little bit of my story.

 

Laura:

[00:43:34] I'm so thankful to Ingrid for joining us on today's show. I really appreciate her honesty as she shared about the struggle to switch to the pro circuit. I think we can all relate to those moments when others expectations weigh heavy on us and if we let it that pressure can become crippling. But I love how Ingrid shared about her journey of releasing those voices and how that allowed her to cycle just for the pure joy of it. Such a great lesson for all of us no matter what we're doing. Be sure to tune in next week to hear from Olympic gold medalist diver David Boudia. He shares about what it's like to chase an Olympic dream from the age of 7 and how it's forever changed his life. Be sure to subscribe wherever you listen because you don't want to miss this one. And please go ahead and leave us a review because those reviews help us get these amazing guests on the show. I'm Laura Wilkinson. Thanks again for listening. This podcast is produced by Evo Terra and Simpler Media. For more information on Hope sports and to access the complete archives please visit HopeSports.org

 

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Hope Sports
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