Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Don't Fear Where You Will Tread

We take our running very seriously....
"We could dress up as a banana and a gorilla!!" They were definitely at the first Thanksgiving. "Yah! I'll try to find a banana costume and if not we'll do pilgrims or something boring." And that's how Molly and I decided to dress up for the Turkey Trot. Somehow my roommate was able to materialize a banana costume for me and Molly already had a gorilla costume (their costume box runs pretty deep). We both lasted about 50 yards into the run before I lost my top (to the wind, found it though) and Molly took off her mask so she could breath. A 5k is one of those distances that attracts all levels of fitness, from those high school cross country kids to the couch potatoes who are just walking it. Any time we passed a kid and their parent the parent would say to the kid, "You're not going to let a gorilla and a banana pass you, are you?" Clearly because we're dressed in costumes we don't exude any level of fitness. It was a good run, neither of us wore watches and weren't really concerned with our time. Which was good because I'm trying to soften my competitive spirit just until I get my mojo back so I don't go off getting hurt again. 

I'm not sure if I'm a fan of the medication they put me on for my traumatic brain injury (TBI). I like it but I don't. I think it's been helping. I actually walk out of stores and don't have to walk around pressing the panic button to find my car. But I still have to set an alarm to remind myself to take it. I started it a few weeks ago and the first two days I didn't get out of bed until late in the afternoon. I did but only to take the medicine and then go back to bed. I started it explicitily on a weekend because one of the side effects was drowsiness and I seem to be sensitive to that sometimes. I was worried about going into work  the next day but luckily it switched to one of the other side effects, insomnia. Which at least gives me more time for activities. If I fall asleep early I wake up really early (Like 4:30 and I'm ready to start the day) or I'll just wake up through the night. That went on for about 3 weeks until my doctor suggested trying melatonin and sleepytime tea. Which worked well until I woke up at 2:30am having to pee.

Between the TBI state, the medicated state, and what I think my normal state will be eventually I'm not sure which part is controlling what. I was going to go for a night ride for the first ride with my cast, which I didn't think it would be that bad (even though I'm pretty sure the guys at the shop did an over/under on how bad I was going to crash). It's probably a good thing one of the guys I was going with decided it was too cold for the short amount of time we'd be out. I was super gung-ho about it, but I think that was the medication, because post-concussion I haven't had a great time night riding, and normal me doesn't really like to be cold when I ride. I did go for a ride by myself with my cast and realized I could either hold the handlebar or use the break. The ride was uneventful pretty short, I did a  non technical trail and I didn't go over the handlebars like one of the guys at the shop thought I would, so that's a win

Pretty sure I walked this part
I did do another ride this past weekend with Wayne and one of his friends. We ended up going to Hall Ranch outside of Boulder, which can be challenging when you don't have a cast on but I warned them I would be slow and they didn't seem to care. It starts with a nice technical climb up, which it made me feel better when Wayne walked some of the sections too. I did crash on the way up, I was going pretty slow and thought about trying to catch myself but because I was falling to my left I didn't want to put out my broken wrist to try and stop myself so I just kind of rolled into it, but apparently not enough because I bruised up my knee, forearm and scratched my cast. The ride down though was pretty delicious. I opted to not use my front break and instead hang onto the handlebar which made me alter my riding style. I think for the better though, it felt more mellifluous, I was more conscious of what my body was doing and wasn't reacting to what I thought it was going to do. Now all I want to do is ride my bike and get back to that euphoric place. I saw my doctor the next day to get a new cast (It was looking pretty rough before I fell on it). She asked how riding with it was going. I told her, "Well I can either hold the handlebar or use the break, but not both." She said, "Oh, well that's probably okay just going on the bike path and stuff." 
"...Yah, I did Hall Ranch yesterday." 
After the ride
"You did Hall Ranch, with your cast? All those rocks? Are you trying to get badass points? You really shouldn't tell me those things." I almost replied to tell her it was a sound decision to cast it as I fell on my wrist, but it's like when you do something and after you're like, welp I'm alive and not hurt so my mom probably doesn't need to know, so just left it at that. Plus I was trying to get badass points.

I've started trying to figure out what rides/events I want to do next summer. I think it was spurred by a recent date (I think it was a date but jury's still out) that made me realize I need another reason not to date for a year. See the date I went on before this one I offered to split the check and the guy took me up on it. When the guys at the shop caught wind of that they were appalled and told me "Done, next, you're not seeing him again." With this guy he seemed pretty cool and I wanted to be able to see him again so when the check came I got really nervous and just awkwardly sat there and didn't say anything.
It might happen
He ended up paying and probably thinking I'm a huge brat. It basically fizzled out after that, which is probably good but somewhat unfortunate because he is a good biker. I told Molly I need to just stop eating with boys, she suggested I stop making out with them first. Good point. So that's how I started thinking about what to do next. I was on this kick for about 2 days to do the Leadman Series which is a marathon, 10K, 50 mile bike, 100 mile bike, and 100 mile run in about the span of 7 weeks. I was super enthusiastic too. I was asking people about training and what it would take to get to that running level. Even though I still really want to do it, I'm pretty sure it's the medicine talking. Let's be real, normal me has never actually trained for a running event, including the marathon. Soo 100 mile run, yah that's a really good idea, thanks a lot you sneaky little red pills. I still have till March 2nd to sign up for it and even though I want to I know it's not a good idea.
Yah....about that....
Like when you're drunk and a package shows up 4 days later because you went home and shopped online and you're like, "oh yah, I did do that, that wasn't the best idea" that is what it would be like when I get off the medicine but I still would have to run 100 miles. Luckily I got a less destructive kick a little later. I was looking at the Breckenridge 100, another 100 mile bike race a few weeks before Leadville. It's more technical and said to be harder than Leadville. Fortunately that can be done in a team of 3. I quickly contacted a few people who are into cross country racing and solidified a team. Now there is no way I can sign up for the Leadman series. The Leadman series would be fun in a very bizarre way. The Breckenridge 100 will just be fun in an awesome way. 


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Art of Falling

I'm kind of a baby when it comes to cold weather (which I know is surprising to most of you because I run around in shorts all Winter) so it took a little convincing from a friend to get me to go mountain biking up at Breckenridge not too long after they had gotten snow. I was informed it would be 52 degrees and he had called a shop up there and they said the trails were "good to go brah." The plan was to go up Georgia Pass and then come down on the Colorado Trail. I asked how long he thought the ride would be he said "Uh, anywhere from 90 minutes to whenever we're done." (Thankfully my house doesn't get trick-or-treaters so I didn't have to be back to hand out candy.) The weather was actually perfect, even at the top of the pass, but the trails were packed with a lot of snow and ice and we ended up walking a good bit of it. It would be an awesome trail for a toboggan to go down though. At the top we ate lunch and looked at the map for a bit to try and figure out where the trail started as no one had been up there snowshoeing yet. Once we found the trail we still had to walk about a mile to be in a place where we could actually ride. That was the only place I got cold because I was wearing knickers (they hit mid-calf, not undies but I use the word interchangeably to mean both so wanted to clarify I was not out tramping around in my knickers) and my socks left an opening where the snow would hit. The ride down was unreal; there wasn't a place where we weren't riding on snow. You just glide on top of it and don't really try to fight what lines you're taking. I definitely didn't bomb down, even with the snow for a cushion I was still apprehensive. I let the guys go first who were gracious enough to stop occasionally and make sure I was still behind them (my mom thanks you too!). We got done about 6 hours later with only and estimate of how many miles we had gone. It was nice riding with them because it was so casual they didn't care about mileage or speed, and they drink beer after too

All bundled up!
I've also done two night rides. The first one was outside of Boulder so Wayne came with a couple of my coworkers and I. Wayne crushed it per usual, the only time I can beat him on a bike is when he is really really hung over and I'm not. I felt a little better about riding in the dark there because I at least knew the trail (don't worry mom, we had lights too). Night riding is something you should do at least once. You really have to feel the bike and you're in the moment because you can't really see that far ahead to start planning what you'll have to be doing. There was one section where 2 of the guys were hot on my tail going down hill and my rear wheel started to lose traction and I freaked and pulled off to the side and let them pass me. I started tearing up (which is also how I know I'm still concussed as I'm still more emotional) because it really freaks me out to wake up in the hospital again. One of the older guys rolled up behind me and asked if I was okay, "Yah, just fixing my light." He said, "Me too." And waited till I was ready to go on.
This is about all you see on a night ride

The other night ride we did was at Green Mountain which I've done a night ride on before, but it was last year so I don't remember much about it. The nice thing about riding with other people is they usually have similar experiences. And all of them have had to get back on the bike after some crash. Half of the group took off and hammered away for the most part but the other half just took our time. One of the guys I was with had gotten a concussion at the beginning of September, he remembers the crash but it was his first mountain ride since. He's made similar comments about how you don't realize how fast your life can change in just a second. I rented one of our full suspension mountain bikes because I thought it might help to get some distance between my bike and I (like a trial separation) and my roommate wanted to try it and see if he should get a hardtail (he liked it and he probably will, if he ever buys a bike). I'm still not sold on them still or the seat that came on it. See I drove down from South Dakota that morning and didn't have time to go home and didn't want my roommate looking for my favorite pair of riding shorts (It might be more intimate than rifling through my knicker drawer, jury's still out). I didn't think it would be that bad because sometimes I commute without any padding (but I also have a stellar seat). Oh my goodness it was awful! I stood up out of the saddle for most of the climbing (which I realized it might make a good training tool). Afterwards we went to this hole-in-the-wall bar, which had wings as big as your fist. Most of our night rides revolve around getting dollar tacos in Boulder and wings by Green Mountain. It's not a bad way to plan rides.

I'm pleased to announce that I did not crash on any of those rides but don't worry I still have a cast on my arm.

When I went back to the doctor about my head I got good news that the amnesia I've been having, what with not being able to remember much of the past year is better than not being able to create and store new memories. She also put me on medication that has helped with traumatic brain injuries and is hoping that it will at least help a little bit (it would be nice to walk out of store and remember where I parked my car without having to set off the alarm). I have a 3 months supply of that which ironically is the time I can hit my head again, if there was going to be a time 6 months after is okay, a year is best. I also told her how I'm nervous to crash again, she used to race mountain bikes which is really handy and assured me that it would happen again, but it doesn't mean I'm going to hit my head again. She pointed out my crash to head hitting ratio and it's really pretty low. This was the first crash that I've really hit my head on. I did get beat up so much on a ride before college graduation I'm pretty sure my mom thought I had an abusive boyfriend, but I didn't hit my head at all on that ride. She then asked how my wrist was feeling and I told her I didn't have full range of motion or flexibility and it hasn't really improved and there is still some pain. She suggested taking X-Rays just to be safe (good thing I already met the deductible this year!) and found a fracture. It had been about 12 weeks (usually a bone heals in 6) but because I kept using it, it was healing much slower than usual. She gave me a brace to wear and sent me on my way. I wore it for the weekend which was good because I tripped when doing a night run and skinned my knee and landed right on it. I do enjoy the looks that often happen when blood is streaming down my leg... I went up to my parents early the next week to watch Mary's last volleyball game, but her team didn't make the playoffs so went and saw Heidi and mainly hung out with my Grandma and ate fortune cookies (Loon needs to come up with better fortunes). My doctor emailed me when I was up there saying that the radiologist had found an avulsion fracture and wanted me to come back in when I got back to town. I went back in and she used an ultra sound machine to get a better look. She thinks my ulna bone slammed into some of my wrist bones on impact creating the fractures. Good thing I don't remember because that definitely would have grossed me out enough to throw up. She decided since there were two fractures it would be better to cast it and really let it heal. Luckily it's water proof so I can still do swim workouts (that has yet to happen but I'll let you know if it survives!) She even molded it around handlebars so I can still ride, I am a little apprehensive about that as a kid in high school once blocked wrong and broke both his wrist at the same doesn't really look like fun. I don't have too much trouble doing anything though except brushing my hair (I might just have dreads by the end) and getting out of my car and trying to put my jacket and not locking the keys inside....