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5 Minutes With... Andrew Short

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Honda Red Bull Racing’s Andrew Short is normally the guy you can count on to put in 35 hard minutes in every moto. He’s reliable like that. However, lately he hasn’t been. We talked to him after Unadilla, when it looked like he had it turned back around on his way to second overall.

Racer X: You’ve had a tough few weeks in the Nationals, and it was pretty obvious to people who are around that you weren’t the Andrew Short we’re used to seeing. Even if you’re not the fastest guy, you usually are fit and can go the same speed for 35 minutes. Can you talk about the frustration of trying to sort that out?
Andrew Short: It really was frustrating and a humbling experience for me, and it all kind of started right around Mt. Morris. But I got away with it for a couple races, and I was dealing with symptoms where I didn’t feel very strong and, like you described earlier, I’m normally a pretty strong racer. It really got ugly right around RedBud, where I was leading a moto and then just fell apart. I knew the week before that something wasn’t right, and I knew I had to see a doctor, but after that I started getting tests done and continued to race anyway because I needed to stay in the points. I was still second in the points at that time and not that far behind [Chad] Reed. I kept racing, and it wasn’t me out there. I didn’t want people to think I was losing speed, but that was the humbling part, going to the races knowing that I wasn’t going to be strong and I had to try and survive. After Washougal, which was the lowest point I got to, I was really frustrated and weak, and I went to a doctor in Florida, spent a week there, did a bunch of tests, and got some more tests done. It took all the way until basically last Friday [two weeks ago] to figure out what was going on. I found out that I have a thyroid problem. I work with Jeff Spencer, and he’s really knowledgeable with these situations, and he has a lot of resources. It was hard, but now I’m going forward and getting better, so that’s the best part.

When you talk about a thyroid problem, do you have any idea how it turned into a problem in the first place?
It’s something that came about maybe naturally but accelerated at a different pace because racing’s very strenuous, so it caused other problems as well. We had to decipher that puzzle because I was suffering from other things as well, caused by the thyroid. There are 20 million people who suffer from a condition like I have, and most of them are females, and there are two million who have a thyroid problem but just don’t know about it because they’re not physically active. But it came about after the Texas race because of the extreme heat. I was still training after that, but the volume was really low, and there wasn’t much there because I was always trying to rush to recuperate. I had to rely on the resources and the doctor’s knowledge to get a game plan going.

In the beginning, did you think maybe it was a mental thing or a lack of motivation or something like that?
Not so much a lack of motivation or anything like that, but at High Point and Colorado I thought I was still feeling the effects from Texas because it was so hot and brutal. So I thought my body still needed time to recover. I rested a full week without any physical activity before Colorado and I still didn’t get any better. That’s kind of the sign, when I showed up in Colorado and I couldn’t really step up and ride at my limit, that I knew something was wrong. It was a confusing time, too, because I didn’t know what was happening and I kept getting worse even though I was resting all the time. That was the hard part. I got away with it for a couple races, but it definitely caught up to me.

It was obvious this weekend that you were feeling better because you go up front in that moto and then even after Reed passed you, you stayed up near the front. That had to help your confidence some, didn’t it?
It was a breakthrough, and it kind of validated everything that I was going through. Like you said, it was just me. I really had a problem. I’m just starting to adapt to what was going on, and I’m going to continue to get better. It’s a shame because in four or five weeks I’m going to be at my best. I’ve been at my low point, and through all of this I’ve learned a lot of information that’s going to help me in the future and make me a better racer and a better person. I’m excited that I was able to figure it out, but I think this weekend did show that I’m going to keep getting better and not go back.

It seems pretty obvious that you would’ve been a likely candidate for the Motocross des Nations team had you not been ill this whole time, and if you’re going to be good to go in four to five weeks, that’s more or less perfect timing for the MXdN. Did you think about that at all?
Yeah, I was really disappointed. I was kind of involved a little bit on it, and I think my name was being thrown around, but in the end, I don’t think they believed me when I said I was going to be better soon. On a personal level, I was very disappointed, but at the time they made their decision and did what they thought was best. It’s just too bad they didn’t listen to my side, I guess. I was pretty bummed, and I don’t really like the politics stuff anyway.

You do seem like the kind of guy who would really love to be a part of that team, though...
I think it’s disappointing for me because I realize there have been a lot of injuries and a lot of people have gotten hurt, but I’m the top-placing American in what’s supposed to be the premier class here in America, and yet I’m not chosen. It’s tough for me. I feel like I always do well overseas, too. I raced Sebastien Pourcel in Japan and I’ve had good success at Bercy... I’ve raced all over the place, whether it’s Holland or Sweden or Switzerland, and I’ve raced Genoa in Italy, so I have experience over there and I know what it’s like. I think I’m old enough and mature enough to do the job, too, but to be honest, the team they do have, I think Jake’s really good and they’re going to be really successful with or without me. I was just disappointed on a personal level.

Yeah, on a personal level, because you would’ve preferred that they were successful with you rather than without you...
I just think it’d be a great opportunity and something you can take pride in.

Looking forward, though, now that you have three rounds left and you’re starting to feel better, what do you hope to do at the end here?
I just hope to find out how far I can get with my help. Nothing will be holding me back once I get to that point. I haven’t been training during the week, just trying to get a good start and hold on as long as I can until I get to my limit. I’m just trying to get into the pace. And that’s a shame because I know in the past I’ve had more and I could race harder, and that’s what I’m looking forward to the most. I think Southwick’s going to be an awesome race because you have to be physical with the track and be smart, and it’s more technical than the other tracks just because of the surface there. I think I’m looking forward to that challenge as much as I can, then finishing this off as good as I can at Steel City.

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