Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Back on the bike, but still a ways to go! Update for May 31, 2011

Although it has just been just over 3 weeks since my last race, it seems like an eternity. It is crazy how much of my life revolves around training, bike riding, etc. When that focus changes, somehow the adventures still continue. The kind without race reports, but I am keeping busy and getting stronger. It has been a constant roller coaster of good days and bad. My first weekend 'off', I traveled to Seattle to celebrate my good friend Pam's 40th birthday, spending some long overdue time with her and her family. This was instead of going up there and then racing Enumclaw.  I took the train and even brought my bike. I think I have found my new way to get to Seattle. The weather was nice for a few days and Pam and I even got to take a bike ride together. I can not remember the last time we did this. 

Long time friends! Pam and I.

Pam & Evie helping me with my PT exercises.

Never a dull moment with Kirin and Evie.

The tables turned on Monday, May 23rd. Just 2 short weeks after my problems were 'diagnosed'. I had my first day that was almost pain free. After PT that day, something just clicked. I could stand up and sit down unassisted. And I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Things were getting better. I moderated my efforts on the bike, being very mindful not to over do it. And I kept feeling pretty good. 

The week progressed and then this last weekend we spent at the cabin. I was excited to have my bike on the car headed out of town. I did a record of 3 days of riding in a row. I am keeping my rides at about 2 hours, but increasing the difficulty. I am back riding in the endurance zone, putting pressure on the pedals, climbing hills. It is progress. It is definitely a reality check. But it is also just a reminder of how lucky I am to have my health.Not a day goes by that I take it for granted.

Saturday night dinner

Sunday hanging out.

drinking a little

the fun never ends

making dinner.

Took a ride with Patricia Dowd, visiting from Montana & long time friend Carol. Another person I haven't ridden with in years!!! So nice.
Now with Mt. Hood just around the corner, I am grumpy I am not doing it, but I am supporting a houseful of master riders and some women 1/2 friends. I will be driving the car for the 1/2 women on Friday's stage and helping with Tour De Hood. I will get to ride, but I know how much it sucks to be at a race you would rather be racing and be helping instead. I have been here before. But you have to give back. And if you can't race, staying away doesn't make the pain of not racing go away. I wish everyone luck and safe riding. It's going to be epic!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The gift that keeps on giving...

I thought once the scabs healed and the stitches were out, my crash on January 30th in St. Wendel was behind me. But unbeknownst to me, as I continued to ski, run, bike & enjoy some time off, some serious skeletal and muscular imbalances were developing. And then once back on my training program, getting ready for a different kind of season, mixing up local and national mountain bike and road racing on my own terms with the support of River City Bicycles, Ridley and NoTubes, I didn't listen to my body.

I'm still wondering how I let this happen. I literally went from riding my bike almost every day, racing as recent as last Sunday to not moving very well at all. In one week. OK, I know, it didn't REALLY happen in one week, but until I get straightened out, literally, there won't be any fun race reports or exciting adventures to write about.

Quick history: all spring, my back/hips have been unusually tight. I had some strange pain skiing, which I ignored. I haven't been climbing as well as I think I should. I've felt "fine" riding, but something was a bit off. My legs haven't felt good at all. I kept telling Kendra that I couldn't wait to 'feel normal' again. I brushed it off to hard training blocks. I could do the workouts. I could put out the power. I struggled occasionally, but everyone has a bad day. But off the bike, I was struggling. I was getting acupuncture, doing yoga, getting the occasional massage, but mainly just riding/training through it. I had some really good early results locally and I thought everything was on track. WRONG!

So, the week before last, Ryan (Trebon) came and stayed with us and we did some riding. I was telling him about my symptoms and how my back had been getting worse. I knew he had dealt with back issues, so I wanted to see how he dealt with them.  Then he asked the question: "Sue, did you ever get checked out after your crash at worlds?"  Well, they took X-rays in Germany and nothing was broken. Except my helmet. Nope. Why would I??? What is there to check???

That was the question that got me thinking. I made an appointment for PT the following Monday. That weekend we went to Bend, riding a ton on Saturday and racing on Sunday. That race was an eye opener for me, as my hip tightened up to the point of not wanting to pedal. I found myself actually contemplating dropping out from the pain. Of course, I didn't. I pushed on and finished 2nd.

Monday's appointment confirmed what was suspect. I have gradually been wrecking myself. My SI joint was 'stuck' in a bad position. Apparently I was even walking crooked and had built up some great compensatory muscles to do what I do: Pedal. But they finally failed me. I have been causing all these problems by continuing to train through the pain. Note to self, when things hurt, go get them checked out right away. Or if you crash so hard you get a concussion, other things may be out of whack too.  

Last Thursday, my first PT session was painful, humbling and encouraging. I was reminded that I didn't do this overnight, so it is not going to correct overnight.  This past weekend, instead of racing and riding, I spent a lot of time on the floor, doing exercises to retrain my muscles and stretching the impossibly tight hips.  There is more of this in my near future.

I am still in shock that in one week, I can go from being able to ride and race to being totally useless. To have enough pain that I don't want to ride. But don't worry, I will be back in action soon. I don't know how long it will take, or how quickly I will recover and get myself straightened out. I am hopeful it won't be very long.  I remind myself that it could be worse. I just wish I wasn't so stubborn and would listened to my body in February or March when it was nagging me. Instead I waited until it debilitated me. I should have known better. Nevertheless, I am looking forward and know once I can actually pedal, I will do so with a vengeance.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

We went on a Bend-er: May 6-8, 2011

After a week of house guests (Dusty & Ryan), riding with Ryan Tuesday & Wednesday, doing a 6.5 hour video shoot on Thursday for Road ID, followed by picture sharing/Cinco de Mayo gathering for the Belgian trip crew, I was ready for a drink or five, but instead I got a massage and we headed to Bend. It was a multi-purpose trip. A wedding for our friends Aaron and Amy and Cascade Chainbreaker, one of my favorite mtb races. We rolled into town for a late dinner with Cody & Shelly Peterson.

And Cody could not stop laughing...
 Saturday we woke up and headed out for what turned out to be a 40+ mile day. We rode to the course with Ryan, pre-rode, then did some sweet single-track on the way home. Bonk or not bonked, it was too fun to stop. After not riding on single-track, Bend is like crack for a junkie. It was a fun ride home, only to eat, shower and rush off to the wedding. A great evening with friends, celebrating Aaron and Amy. A beautiful ceremony and reception.

Amy & Aaron exchanging vows.
It's been a while since we had pictures sans helmets.
 Sunday, Mother's day, we woke up to sunshine. But it would not last. There was a dark cloud in the distance when getting ready for the race. Perpetually indecisive, I finally settled on what to wear, and boy was I glad I had knee warmers on when it started snowing. Liternally, during the race I had vertigo from the swirling snow. But the course was fun. I chased Alice from the line and kept her in sight until the first 1/4 of the second lap where I had to give up chase. My incessant back pain and tight hips were done. They said no more! I didn't give up. Tried to find her again, but she was too fast and I was happy to be done and finish 2nd. Followed up by hail on the way to the car and a very chilly post race gathering. Tim, however, was victorious and claimed the 'W' for team Butler.

Frank came to watch the race w/ Kira.

Tim taking the "W". He wears it on his jersey. He better win.
Ryan looking good in my jacket. Talking with his future replacement.
Then off to Deschutes to grab a burger, call our moms and head home. Another great weekend!