I’m writing this from the snug warmth of a Sunday morning in bed, when the whole house is still asleep and a cold rain falls outside. I made the decision to not get up in the dark, rifle down food I’m not ready to eat, pack the car up, and drive the 75 miles north to Bennington, Vermont for the Wicked Creepy CX race I signed up for earlier this week.
I’m not sick, just so busy that hitting the pause button today felt like the right thing to do.
I’m having a good cyclocross season so far, arguably my best yet, posting strong results in 3 of my 5 races, even earning an upgrade point for the first time ever. But the last 2 weeks have been so crazy at work, my training has suffered, my diet has suffered, my sleep schedule has suffered. Adding 4 hours of driving and 3 hours of waiting around for a 30 minute race felt like a crazy investment of what little time is mine these days. So here I lay under a cozy quilt.
This is my 8th year racing cyclocross, and I still love it. I don’t want to stop. But as a Masters athlete I have learned that taking a rest can do more for my performance than pushing through everything that is thrown my way.
I’ve also learned that pushing my body at the right time yields better results. I will still do something today-something that will feel uncomfortable for a time, to stress my body similar to what racing today would have done. But I can do it on the trainer or out my back door, and spend an hour instead of 6-7 getting a good workout in. It’s not a race experience-but I can get it close.
I’ll miss Wicked Creepy Cx today. They put on a nice grassroots event and the course is fun. I’ll miss chatting with a few of my cx friends and getting cold & muddy with everyone racing today. A little rest and re-centering feels like the better call.
This weekend wraps my much abbreviated cyclocross season, with the eagerly anticipated Ice Weasels Cometh. Last year I had a great season, with more time to train. This year the clavicle fracture in July sidelined me almost the entire summer, and by fall I was just trying to pedal my way back to some fitness and learn how to lift my bike again. I was thrilled to race at all. I hoped, unreasonably, that I might rise to the level I was last year. The level being solidly average. Hey I take any small victory at this point. I had a couple good races this year and felt some progress being made, but never quite got to where I wanted to be. After the Northampton races in early November, I knew I was pretty done. My work schedule ramped up, available daylight ramped down, and I figured it was time to cut my losses.
So this weekend, I race cyclocross and the “Wookie” fat bike category, but Ice Weasels is more a going away party to the season than anything too serious. The cross race has more serious leanings (but there will be hand-ups). The fat bike race will be an all out party. After too many 10, 11, and 12 hour work days lately, I cannot wait.
I’m already thinking of next year, after this year being somewhat stifled in terms of bike related adventure. My adventure quota needs filling. Plans are brewing, stay tuned.
I haven’t posted in a while, mainly because I’ve been riding my bike. My clavicle break is finally healed, and I’m still working on recovering lost muscle mass/strength in my shoulder. I’m working with a fantastic physical therapist who has taken my goals and made them hers. And I’m doing great, riding again, even off road, and just started mountain biking again. I’m not quite 100% where I was before the crash, but I’m progressing well.
Well enough I’m going to race tomorrow.
It’s Minuteman Cyclocross, in Lancaster, MA. I raced this last year in the pouring rain, had a solid mid pack finish, and a hell of a lot of fun. This time I’m trying to tone down my expectations, but I admit it’s difficult. My plan is to take in the course during pre-ride, have a good start, go hard whenever I can, and stay upright. Keep it simple.
If I survive the race tomorrow, I’ll turn my eye to Gloucester. I haven’t entered yet, but am 90% sure I’ll race Sunday, and about 50% sure about Saturday.
I remain tentative because I am genuinely surprised about the amount of strength I lost from keeping my shoulder immobile for 5 weeks. The muscle loss is visually noticeable, and I was told “the asymmetry would last a while.” But I think tomorrow will help me turn the mental corner to racing again–providing everything goes well.
Regardless of all of the cyclocross angst I have (because when have I not?), I’m so happy to be riding again, on all surfaces, on all bikes. It’s great to be back riding!
Tuesday afternoon I got the news I wanted: the collarbone is healing well, and ligaments are stitching the shoulder separation together nicely. Already the separation is measurably smaller. I’ve been cleared for physical therapy immediately. I left the office absolutely elated.
Then I went home to make my PT appointments. Reality check–they are booked an entire month out. What. The. Actual. You know how to end that sentence.
If you are a medical professional, feel free to cringe when I tell you my very next move was to Google search “rehab protocol clavicle fracture.” They say you have to be proactive in your own healthcare–well most of the time, we aren’t left with many choices in the matter. So I’m DIYing it until I get an “evaluation.” Leave me unsupervised, this is what happens.
I did get some handy tips from the PA before I learned I wouldn’t get into therapy that I have already been practicing, like finger crawls up the wall, and just trying to get some gentle movement into the joint. Nothing weight bearing for now. That’s ok, I can’t lift more than a coke can at this point. I definitely need the PT.
Since this was the news I had hoped for, and I’m not looking to screw it up with being stupid, but I am not willing to wait around for another whole month. While I’m not known to be terribly religious, I’ll take one from the Lord’s playbook, and quote Luke 4:23 and “heal thyself.” How else can I put this? To make another pious reference, I’ll quote the Book of Elwood:
My original timeline for getting back on the bike and back to racing is intact, and the Lord helps those who help themselves and all, so I type this from the seat of my trainer. I should be back riding outside by Labor Day Weekend and no MTB until October. Racing by mid October. I’ll miss cyclocross in September but still have October and November, that should be plenty.
What I can tell you, is the healing power of the human body absolutely boggles my mind. It really is a miracle. That is some divinely elegant design.
More X-rays at the end of September as a final sign off to my health and onto new bike adventures. I cannot wait.
I didn’t know a bruise could last 5 weeks, but I still have one from my epic DH MTB Crash and subsequent collarbone bust-up (in at least 3 places, no less). But things are slowly getting better and I figured I’d check in about it.
Last week, at 4 weeks post crash, I went on vacation as it was planned many months in advance. That delayed my 4 week check up to next week. Fortunately cycling wasn’t on the itinerary for vacation, but the sea kayaking in Puget Sound was out. I went west in a sling, and came home without one, because I just couldn’t take wearing it anymore. It was hurting more to wear it than not to. Actually–that went back and forth a little. Let me explain: when you don’t move an entire part of your body for a month, muscles start doing weird stuff. Like spasming. That wasn’t in the brochure. I tried massaging the affected areas-biceps, triceps, trapezoids, etc. but at the end of the day–i just wanted to move. But not TOO much. And what is more important here is what was NOT hurting–and that was my shoulder. The only thing uncomfortable were the supporting muscles around the shoulder–and those were, at times, pretty painful. So for the week–I kind of went back and forth between hurting when I was wearing the sling, to hurting because I was not wearing the sling. I was walking a ton and hiking a bunch too (in Olympic and Mt Rainier National Parks in Washington State). There was definitely a correlation between my overall body movement and my discomfort. Flying all day in a sling to get across the country–horrible. I just wanted that sling off. Hiking 6 miles in The Olympics wearing a sling? That felt just fine. If I walked or hiked too much without the sling, well–that hurt too. It was a balancing act.
My range of motion is no where near 100%. Probably 30-40%? That’s my best guess anyway. I’m not pushing that part too hard but I’ve noticed that it is improving with just normal daily activity. Yesterday I drove for the first time in a month, and that was so nice to have some freedom back.
The big day is this Tuesday, when I finally go back to the Orthopedic practice for feedback on how I’m healing. My hope is they say “everything is going great, you can start PT next week.” Fingers crossed for that. It feels great to start doing more for myself. I can put a t-shirt on now! I can drive short distances! But I know I’m not fully healed yet (lifting more than a coke can is impossible and I cannot raise my arm past my chest). Regardless, I’m moving forward as if I’m going to get good news Tuesday. I have done a few trainer rides now and it has felt so good to spin on the bike, even if its on my back porch.
Good thoughts for Tuesday–wish me and my shoulder luck!
It’s been a solid 2 weeks since my crash and I’m healing. Slowly. I won’t lie, it feels like watching paint dry.
I went back to work last Wednesday, and I was so happy to focus on something else besides what was on TV, or the book that I’m trying to get through, or all the rides my friends are taking that I am unable to participate in. But at the end of the day on Friday, I was really hurting, and felt like maybe I’d undone some progress. My shoulder was aggravated and I had random spikes of pain, and my rib ached with each breath–something that had really improved in the last couple of days.
In terms of what’s happening inside my body, I found this pretty cool video of how bone heals.
With 2 weeks into healing, I should have a lovely soft callous formed, with bridges built to join the broken bones together. Next step, very simply put, new bone will be interwoven into a hard callous. So I’m between stage 2 and 3, and getting fully to 3 is probably at least 2 or 3 more weeks away. See the stages nicely illustrated below.
By mid August, I should be into the 4th Stage, bone remodeling. This is where things get really firmed up.
I had my walk Saturday morning, and my rib was hurting…..the pain level just a click below “let’s not have a walk today.” I pushed on, and by the end of 3.5 miles, my rib actually felt better. I spent the rest of yesterday (Saturday) doing relatively little, and being quiet and still. Now it’s Sunday morning and I feel back on track. But with a 5 day work week ahead of me, I’m thinking about the ways I might change up my workstation so I don’t push my shoulder into a subtle position that feels innocuous at first, but cumulatively feels awful. I don’t want to undo any progress made.
My goal is to be back on a bike by September 1. I feel this is a reasonable expectation. Of course, all my expectations and plans could be redirected after my checkup on August 14th, where x-rays could determine surgery is needed. But if it’s not, and my healing is going well, I hope to start riding on flat smooth surfaces–taking it easy as everything firms up. That’s the textbook 8 weeks from injury. I expect to take another 4 weeks before tackling rougher surfaces, and another 4 weeks before attempting cyclocross racing. I know a good crash could set me back tremendously, but I haven’t crashed all year until this mishap. Cross racing means crashing and falling. I’ve done the math, it’s highly probable. So I’ll want to be 100% sure I’m out of the woods before racing. I’m not afraid to fall, I’m not afraid to crash. I’ve crashed so many times over 17 years and this is the worst injury I’ve had, I’d say that overall–I’m doing alright.
Smaller efforts: I’m taking a calcium/bone health supplement daily and consuming as much dairy as my lactose intolerant body can take (thank God for Lactaid). I’m eating healthy. I ‘m taking my walks daily, and this week I hope to start pedaling on a stationary bike. I expect to hate it, but beggars cannot be choosers. And something is better than nothing. I’m living through everyone else’s adventures online. It helps me cope with being on the sidelines. I’m happy for others who enjoy the pleasure of cycling in it’s many forms. Savor it! And be safe out there.
I use cycling to manage stress and to bring me into a state of overall contentment and happiness. With my injuries and that now temporarily on hold, I’m left feeling antsy and angsty, which does not make me a dream companion, a good mom, a good employee, or a good friend.
A friend in the cycling community reached out and suggested Nature Baths to calm my spirit. She had an injury that derailed her summer in 2017 and knew exactly what I was going through. I had started taking walks immediately after the accident to give my energy a place to go, but how much woods time was I getting? Some, but not as much as my riding had been feeding me.
So I took this piece of advice and seriously considered what a nature bath meant. I started taking walks in slightly wilder places. Off sidestreets and sidewalks and onto paths and trails, even if for a short time. The break from the noise of the world was truly calming and restorative. When I was on streets and sidewalks, I’d focus on the birds or butterflies that floated by, or the way the breeze would gently stir the leaves on the trees, or the wildflowers that grew up on the margins of property lines.
And this simple break–it works. Yesterday I only had a short walk close to home and my mood took a beating. I was grouchy, sad, having a pity party and ready to argue with anyone who talked to me. Today, I went out for a 3 mile walk along the slow end of the bike trail and feel relaxed, open, with more positive and creative thoughts.
So–if your feeling down or stressed or grouchy–try a walk in the woods. It’s free and it works!