Sunday, December 27, 2009

Digging DOWN to keep a chin UP

(Above: Thankful for any trainer time I can get. Slowly getting back on the bike)
Happy Holidays to all! What a great time of year to spend with family and friends! Its weird how much time us cyclist may have on our hands when we aren't racing and traveling non-stop. Being home and spending time with our family is cherished... at least by me. After they put up with our wacky schedules it amazing they even want to have anything to do with us at the end of the year. I'm so thankful that I have always had a supportive and caring family around to support me no matter what crazy adventure I decide to set my mind to.
So that extra time at home while I have been recovering also has me getting freaked out at times about not being on the bike. I read other people's blogs about hitting the trainer and I get it in my mind that I am way behind. After assurances by Coach Don (DRT) I'm feeling a little better that we had plenty of time for lots of training to come in the months ahead. Deep down I know this is true, but I also know I have a hard road of recovery ahead of me and that I have to put in double the effort to get back to my competition around me. I wish that weren't the case, but its the cards I'm dealt and I will deal with it.
I'm just thankful I have a great sport that I love in order to motivate me to get back on two feet and be 100%, because it takes a lot of pain and hard work to do it! I'm excited about the prospect of finally being 100% next year for the first year in a long time, but the days of late December and January are hard to keep the motivation going. These months are particularly hard for all of us bikers I think, and that seems to be even larger than life when there is a injury to overcome on top of that. Racing seems so far away, almost like light years away. Its cold, dark, and the industry is stagnant. Everything seems to be in slow motion compared to the bustling days of summer. Now is a great time to do some other cross sports, but I'm pretty much a no go for that. Instead, I'm trying to trick myself into thinking the small things I'm doing are "big progress." I guess they kinda are, but not like I'm used to accomplishing. Right now, those little things keep my chin above water and I have to take pride in all I can no matter how small they may seem to others. Surgery and recovery are pretty much your own personal battle- kinda like a hard TT.

My small gains since the last post have been epic then. I have moved up to riding the trainer for 30 minutes at a time, had a couple good days of core and upper body workouts at the gym, I have went back to work
(as seen in pic, epidural service on wheels), I am now able to take a short shower instead of a bath, I can one crutch walk around the house, I can keep my leg down for about 15 minutes before it starts to swell up really big, and I got the stitches out of the incisions. Nice! I made the trip to see Dr Porter and he is pleased with how I'm doing for the most part. The swelling and incision are coming along nicely and he had even allowed the PT to let me start some easy ROM. He is giving me the professional athlete routine and with that comes a little more grit but also the responsibility of pushing it when I can, and listening to my body when I can't. We are still worried about the nerve pain and potential for some hang ups there, but only time will tell. That part is really frustrating and very painful. However, all and all, I am pleased with how things are going and happy to get back to some of the normal things people do in life without being completely drained. I'm ready to start getting back to normal so I can then work on being abnormally fast on a bike for a girl.

Sometimes you have to dig a little deep to find some positives about the situations you are dealt. Some days that is hard for me to do right now, but there is always something positive. Always. Sometimes I have to make some crap up and bend the situation and mold it for me to make it a positive to keep my chin up. Like; "its good I can't feel my foot because it won't get cold in cross," or "its good to use crutches to work on my balance." You know, stuff like that. Or maybe just the simple: "that what doesn't kill me will only make me stronger." Not that I recommend surgery, but that statement worked last year for me.
So here I go again!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Few Cobbles

I'm finally getting over the bed ridden days after surgery. Its really hard to explain how hard it is to just accomplish the routine daily parts of life when you have only 1 good leg and one arm or no arms at all (because they are needed for crutch'in). I have depended my friends and family for so much that it makes me not only thankful for them but thankful for my health when it is good. I can finally pretty much get myself dressed, cleaned up, and get my meals around by myself. I've even gotten out of the house and given my couch a chance to stretch out a bit. Now that the snow has fallen, I'm a little freaked to get out too much on the wet floors. I almost bit it hard at the movie theater the other day when I hit a wet spot. Aside from that, my crutch'in skills are getting killer. I'm thinking that I may try to find some people to enter some sort of crutch skills competition. Maybe when I get a little better...

I've also started hitting the gym again. This was super cool and it made me super happy. I got permission to start really easy on the gym bike while in the cast. It went okay and I logged about 2 miles in the 15 minutes. Watch out! I also get to do this arm rower thing that is super easy (but something) and allows me to make some gym observations. So I've noticed that even though I'm less than 2 weeks out from major surgery, my current gym workout is 2 times harder than some of the really skinny girls, and that I am greatly annoyed by the widespread use of poor technique people use. It is driving me crazy. Maybe I should just watch the tv and mind my own business.
I've also been going a little crazy and trying to find reason's to stay motivated on diet and towards getting ready for the pain that will ensue in rehab shortly. It would seem really easy to just give up , but the couch is really not any more comfortable than my bike seat. Thankfully, I had someone show me the pic below and I snapped out of my urge to eat cereal late at night.
(Podium for the OVCX Series Overall title)
Speaking of pain, the swelling is on its way down from the massive kankle, but I now have some bruising working its way out. The lower pics don't really do justice, but my foot and toes are totally black and blue and it looks like a dead foot (trust me, I've seen many). My toes are even bruised on the under side and in between. That's some serious bleeding going on after surgery!

I also have been haunted by the complex pain problem that is a result of the nerve damage from my last surgery. I am pretty frustrated this is coming back and its a bummer for sure. Its that "foot dipped in gas and lit on fire feeling." Not much fun. It isn't as bad as last time and hopefully some of the things we are doing will keep it from getting too bad. Its just something I have to work through. I just hope this meets my share of pain and suffering requirements for many years to come.
Not all roads can be paved with no rough spots or bumps and I guess my recovery from surgery is no different. I don't know if that makes the smooth times all the better or the victory of conquering the bumps all the sweeter. One thing I know is that in my dream world I would far more enjoy winning Paris- Roubaix than the world time trial championships!
Bring it on!

Bob Roll, Paris-<span class=

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sometimes I get a little stupider.
Bad idea #1
After finally getting a good night of rest (11 hours straight) I thought today would be a great day to go cold turkey off the vicoden that I have been taking every 4 hours.
Bad idea #2
I came up with the bright idea, that since I was off narcs, that I could drive myself to work, crutch in, and fax some papers to the office.
Bad. I'm now exhausted and back on vicoden, but spacing it out a little more. And after completely soaking my clothes from a cold, clammy sweat after my little "outing" that had my friend saying, "you look as white as a sheet," I've decided to stay in for a little while longer.
Seriously, did I go to university for 9 years?
I wonder sometimes.
So here is my post-op day 5 pictures. I am happy Dr Porter was kind enough to do a running stitch for me. That's the fishing line type suture on each end of the incision. My sister said that she had never seen so many shades of purple on one foot- I have to say I agree.
It took me 3 hours to inch the compression stocking back on after this dressing change. It was a whole lotta hurt and I'm already dreading the next time I take it off wed to shower. Definitely taking a vicoden before then. No more cold turkey for a little while.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

There is always something to be thankful for.

It's amazing how time passes so quickly when you are home. I think it actually goes at the same pace, but I just don't remember much of anything right now. I pretty much wasn't expecting things to be this painful this early, so I have had to take the pain meds regularly and I'm not really used to mind altering substances. Last surgery was painful with nerve damage, but this round seems to be so much more painful around the ankle joint. He had so much to repair and fix and that means more tissue was damaged and has become inf lammed, painful, bruised and swollen. Any of the slightest movement that causes my fibula to brush up against the cast has me yelp out like a little girl. Plus, a nice addition to the pain has been the onset of my calf muscle spasming around the incision. Its like a Charlie horse from Hell with a knife stuck in it. My attempts at trying to space out the pain meds from every 4 hours has not worked out yet. I hate taking them, but things just aren't tolerable to do that just yet. I consider myself a pretty strong gal, but this is proving to get the best of me at the moment.

However, I am noticing some small improvements and I know that more will come. I finally felt good enough to take a bath. When you are totally lame you don't even care if you haven't showered in days. Its always humbling to have your Mom help give you a bath at 33. Thank God for Mom's. I also finally got over the nausea enough to take some much needed vitamins and eat real food. I could also put the slightest pressure on my toe for balance without being in severe pain. That was huge! Plus, I am able to make my own coffee in the morning! That rocks.

I have made note of a few more things that suck with surgery: I can't follow anything. I mumble around like I am drunk half the time. I had big plans to read a couple books and watch a bunch of movies. So far, I watched Star Trek, Dark Knight, and Transformers. The special effects were very cool since I was in a drug induced cloud, but I have no idea, what so ever, what the movies were about. I don't know if I should take them back or watch them again. Also, it's not a good idea to even think about online shopping. I'm sure I could blow all my money before I even know what hit me. Good thing my purse is in my truck where I can't reach it. Plus, no matter how much you think laying on the couch sounds like fun during heavy training season- it is not that much fun. I may need a new couch now, because I now hate the one I have and the thought of getting out of bed to lay on the couch another day is nauseating. The last thing that sucks is that I am obsessed with ice and ice melts. Ice is wonderful and an ankle that is the size of a softball gladly welcomes ice, but it is a constant that never lasts.

So that's the tons of cool things going on with me, its very exciting I know. Tomorrow I am going to step outside in the real world for the first time since surgery. I have a funeral to attend for a friend and colleague of one of our surgeons in Warsaw. Not exactly what I was wanting my first trip outside to be, but let it be a grim reminder that things can always be worse off. In a time where things are hard and painful for me, I have a lot to be thankful for. In the grand picture of things, I am very blessed.

Neal, may you rest in peace.
You were a great man and dear friend.
I will miss you very much.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Buzz Killed!

The last week has been one big blur. My plan to have surgery 2 days after the last ovcx in L'ville seemed like a really good idea because I had already taken the time off work to go to Bend for Nationals. However, it totally scrunched everything together and it totally killed my buzz I had from winning the last 3 cx races and the ovcx series. Now I'm just buzzing on pain killers (which really don't kill the pain). Talk about going from the top to the bottom of physical conditioning. Buzz Killed!

Surgery was in Carmel and I can't say enough kind words about the staff at the facility. They did a great job of balancing letting me maintain my professional control and being the patient. Since us anesthesia people like to be in control, that was much appreciated. I was also very pleased with my anesthesiologist. We discussed my plan for anesthesia and I was thankful to know what her plans were for me in detail. Nice. Then it was off to the OR. I was ready to get going and get on my way to getting this ankle fixed up by one of the best in the country!

Next thing you know I'm in recovery waking up several hours later. I kept waking up to the my monitor alarming. I'm so in tune to monitor alarms that I couldn't ignore my own. I kept looking up to my heart rate being in the low 30's and a nurse looking at me like she was concerned. I assured her that this was normal for me and we tried to ignore the alarms for a while until it was finally time to get booted out of the recovery room.

Dr Porter was pleased with how the surgery went and is confident that we are on the right track to getting back close to 100% once I get healed up. He said he had a lot to do to the ankle during the surgery and that their was some major cleaning up to take care of in addition to the major reconstructions that needed to be done. I love how, in the end, it all comes down to a outside scar that doesn't even begin to tell the story of what was done on the inside.
(A quick dressing change out of the cast post-op day 3)
So after hanging out in the surgery center all day it was time to make the trek home 2.5 hours away. Of coarse, we ran into the first major storm of the year and it took us about 1 hour more then normal to get back home. That being the case I was super thankful that Dr Porter did an ankle block for me (numbing medicine injected around the major nerves of the ankle) so the car ride was more tolerable on a freshly cut ankle. I was thankful to be home and in my makeshift downstairs bedroom. My parents headed home and I waited for my sister to get off of her 2nd shift work to get me settled in for the night.
That never really happened. Post surgery sleep is never really good and that was the case all night for me. I just couldn't get comfortable and the nerve block was wearing off fast and I tried every trick in the book to ease the pain, but it looked like I was in for a long night. I finally drifted off to sleep for a couple hours at about 5am. Whew!

The last couple days since have been a little rough, but I have had some good moments and I know more of those will come. You can never really prepare for the amount of pain that will happen, even if you have been through it before. Being that this was a revision with an added reconstruction on top of it, I knew it wouldn't feel nice at all. It is much more painful than the last reconstruction. I pretty much just sit around waiting for the time to take my next vicoden, holding as still as possible with naps that come on without me even knowing it. I feel like a druggie, especially since I don't even like to take ibuprofen on a normal basis, but that's how it has to be here for a few days until the pain and swelling settles down. My ankle and foot are super swollen and I can hardly even wiggle my toes because there is so much blood pooled around them. My anesthesia peeps helped me with my first dressing change tonight and that was enough to make me want to pass out since the slightest movement is excruciating, so I'm glad that is over.

I have strict orders to not put any weigh on the ankle and not leave it dependent for more than 5 minutes at a time. That pretty much means I'm holding down the couch for a while. After a few weeks I may be able to step it up a notch and start walking with the crutches and spin a little on the bike with the cast. I'll be in the cast for a while and looks like I will be catching up on my movies and reading that I have got behind on all season long.
I'm very thankful to all the people around me in my life to help me through the tough times right now. My sister really is a blessing to me right now as she has went way beyond her duties as a sister. I get so stir crazy and she knows how to put me in my place without making me feel like I'm out of my mind.

Thanks to everyone for all the prayers and thoughts, I appreciate them all and cherish every one of them!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Three Peat and One Series Title

I ended the last race of the year on a high note. And I must say, I'm pretty stoked about it! I took three State Championship races and the OVCX elite women overall title. I love when hard work pays off.

Going into the Storm the greens race I was sitting in second behind Nikki D and the series title was basically coming down to this one race. With the double points for this race- all I had to do was win the race no matter what to take the series overall. No problem and no pressure right? Actually I was happy to find myself in the series hunt, and I wasn't gonna go down without a fight. I knew Don (DRT) had me riding strong and all I had to do was keep the confidence and run a smooth race.

Race day was a busy one just to get to L'ville from my Northern location, and I had my anesthesia Christmas party the night before, complicating my travels even more. I did get in my share of dancing all night with my groupies, but I had to stay pretty low key at the "best work party ever" in order to save my legs and stay hydrated. After going to bed Saturaday at about 2 am, I have to get back up at 530am to make sure I got in a good warmup. Upon arrival to the venue, I could see it was gonna get muddier with every hour since the sun was out do its job to make cross how it should be. Good day for Rhinos!

My plan for the race was to put the pressure on the front gals and let them pull me and pressure them to make the mistakes, however that plan changed in the first 100 yards. I took off at a good pace and found I already had a good lead and that's pretty much how it stayed. It really wasn't that hard of a effort the whole race and I just tried to ride a smart race picking my way through the elite masters guys and keeping the Rhino side down. Half the battle of a muddy race is being smart and knowing not to get caught behind people making mistakes to slow you down. I had a sizable lead after briefly being challenged by Kenda's Ashly James and 2 laps into the race I noticed Nikki on the sideline with a mechanical. That's too bad because I love to battle it out, but regardless, I was pretty strong and I knew I wasn't going to be beat on this day. After lap 2 I just cruised around and took my time to not slide out on the slick corners. Ashely gained a little time on me and kudos to her for fighting so hard and never giving me chance to get too comfortable.
I rolled across the line in First place and for the last time at this venue. It will be missed as it holds some personal sentaments for me. Plus, I loved the venue as it really matches my riding styles.
As far as the title series win, it was so sweet to accomplish and I am proud of what it took me to win it. As cyclist that compete at the elite level and hold a full time jobs, it takes a lot of sacrifice to be there at that level. As for the 3 peat: that's 3 State Championships won for me in Ohio, Kentucky and my State Champ title in Indiana. I loved every minute of it and can't wait to step up a notch even further next year. I miss cross already!
Vrooom, Vrooom!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Here are some great pics taken by Jeffery Jakucyk during the last 2 cross races. Please check out his site
Jumping the single barrier at IN State Championships in Indy.
Stairs and more stairs. I actually may have gained a little time here this year!
Shot of me after crossing the line in Yellow Springs, OH winnning the OH state champs race.
Me and teamatte Josh Johnson discussing his first elite race. He end up 13th even after doing the cat 3 race earlier in the day!
OH OVCX podium: 3rd (1st OH) Terri Meek, 1st Me, 2nd Nikki D.

Finishing at the IN State Championship- oh yeah!

Monday, November 30, 2009

In the Middle of a Good Drunk

The initial buzz of having some good wins is gone and I am now in that in between phase of a good drunk. Just like any drunk I had a super high last week in Indy with my own state's championship title and now I added a Ohio state championship race win to the mix this past weekend. It wasn't as much of a buzz, but I did enjoy the feeling quite a bit. Like all drunks (which is a thing of the past for me), they eventually end, and I know what that is going to ential in the next week. With one more cyclocross race left to the season, I hope that buzz continues until I enter "hangover" phase 2 days after that last race. That would be the day I have surgery, and the day my riding goes from top of the world, to laying on the couch being dependent on others. In the mean time I'm looking forward to the week of riding and running the same routine I have gotten used to for the last 14 weeks. That's right, for the last 14 weeks I have raced every weekend, sometimes 2 or 3 races a weekend. I race, come home late Sunday nights, unpack the car or RV before heading off to bed usually around midnight. Then Monday its up around 530 am for work, do the anesthesia thing, then head off to Joe's for massage and reflexology. Once back home I finish unpacking and usually start a 24 call shift at 6pm at work. Then sometimes I get really lucky and sleep through the night, but not always. I work Tuesday until 6pm, come home and do a 1.5 hour training ride, clean the bikes from the weekend along with bike laundry, eat, pack for Wed night cx worlds in Ft Wayne the next day, and pass out in bed. Back to work early on Wed, then do cyclocross worlds in Fort Wayne or at home if time doesn't allow 2 hours of driving. Then I'm usually back on a 24 call shift at 6pm and work until 6pm Thursday. After that I head out for more cross practice, eat and head to bed. Fridays I sometimes take off work to travel, but most times I work. After work I head to do a killer core workout with Darrel and after that I'm home and getting the gear and truck packed for a early morning trip to some race somewhere. Then once Saturday arrives I do what I trained for all week and if I'm really able to put it together- I win.

So, it's a good feeling to be rewarded for the routine. I don't change the plan, I don't take a "easy" day and skip workouts or bike cleaning or laundry. Because if I don't do it, no one will do it for me. The routine becomes quite normal really and I feel a little lost without it. So after next weekend when I am recovering from surgery I may actually go a little insane and that will be the "hangover" phase in full force.

But for now... the good drunk continues. I decided to skip Jingle Cross that I had planned on doing for a few reasons. Mostly, because after the Brookside win, I actually could figure into the OVCX series overall win. Plus, spending the bling and traveling early the day after Thanksgiving would have made things a little hairy for me. I opted out of Jingle this year, but that's okay since I plan on a much more national focused cross scene next year.

So Sunday morning Josh Johnson and I headed for Yellow Springs near Dayton. It was a great day for racing as the weather was perfect and the venue was pretty sweet too. The course was pretty fast and had some good stretches for me to lay down some power, but I wish there was at least 1 more on and off the bike for me to throw down some skills in that regard. The start was pretty fast and it was all business for the Ohio residents as it was their state championships. Terri Meek and Sam House had great starts and put the pressure on from the get go, showing that this was going to be a battle for sure. Nikki D., who leads the series quickly went to the front and started laying down the power. I needed to beat Nikki in order to have any chance at the series, so I didn't want to give her any space. I found myself 3rd wheel behind her and Terri and I was content to sit there and draft and put the pressure on the front gals to take the lines and try and shake me. I had no problem matching the speeds and settled in until Nikki tried to step it up a notch and went into a corner too hot, hit some loose ground and ended up on it herself. Too bad for the wreck, but I knew I had to attack at that moment and after sitting behind Terri for a short section, I didn't want to give Nikki any chance to get back near me. We had 4 laps and I pretty much gave an easy effort for laps 1-3. After getting lap times from Mike B on the sidelines, I saw that my slacking ways had Nikki gaining a few seconds on me and I decided I should go into race mode on the last lap. I got on the gas and coasted across the line with a comfortable lead for the win! Kudos for Nikki to work all the way back to 2nd after hitting the deck.

It was win #2 for the State title runs this time of year. Last year I won the elite OH and KY state races and missed out on the IN win. This year the wins have been a lot harder to get with such a increase in the level of competition that the series is bringing. So they seem a little sweeter to have. I would love to win the series title based on that above statement and am undecided if I will attend the last OVCX race. Crazy I know, however, my anesthesia group Christmas fling is the Saturday before that event and it is such a party that I really hate to not get to celebrate all the hard work and long hours I put in as a professional all year at work. What to do? I will see how my week goes and will stick to the same routine and be ready for anything.
If I race the last race of the year I have to win in order to take the title.
No pressure right?
One more toast for the good drunk?
I like the sound of that.
Time will tell.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Back on the high- the fix is found.

Its one thing to win the race and another thing to win the battle. I won the OVCX stop in Brookside Park in Indy on Sunday, thus claiming the elite women state title along with it. It was a great race against Nikki D and me, we went back and forth and we really had to ride smart races in order to take the victory. It is always fun to smash the competition on magical days and have "no one else in the picture" victories, but I think most competitive athletes will tell you that the most memorable victories come after fighting hard to earn them. This wasn't as sweet as winning Nationals last year, but it is pretty high up on the list. I really wanted to win this race for a few reason and I mostly wanted to prove to myself that I had improved to a level where I could go bar to bar with the best in the area at a venue that didn't really favor me. The last 2 years of Brookside had been a struggle for me with the uphill paved climbs, but this year they felt like time had eroded them down. I actually think I went faster going up, then going down them. The other worry was the stair section with the ankle. It didn't feel good feeling the tendon dislocate every step, but I think I actually mastered them without problems. Also, not to dwell on it, but I wanted to go into surgery in the next couple weeks with the motivation that I can win, and I have every reason to put all my heart into working back to health for next year to be even stronger. Add in a little political/personal push and I wanted this race bad. Plus, it was the state championships. 'Nuff said.
My day started pretty good. I had a great night's sleep and a Starbucks next door to the hotel. Now that I'm back on coffee, that was a bonus. I had plenty of time to go over my errors from the previous day and focus on not making the same ones again. I also knew the venue pretty good and visualized as much of it as I could remember. Gotta love the Jedi mind tricks!

I hit a few practice laps and watched the other races and relaxed listing to the great announcing that the host provided. Not bad to have TwoJohns Podcasts Gatch as one of your local callers along with Bloomington's accented Geriant P. Just as I was getting into my main warm-up I watched my travel partner and teammate Josh Johnson take a great victory in the Cat 3 men. That got me even more pumped to get another win for DRT on the day. I actually got a good warm up in and was ready to get going at start time.
I was a little worried at the start. I went into the first turn in 3rd. Not my normal spot, and I was behind Amanda, and Nikki was ahead of her. I wanted to make quick work to get around Amanda just in case she got sketchy to allow Nikki any gap at all. Amanda is a good rider, but I didn't want to take chances. After getting around her I quickly found myself on Nikki's wheel with little effort and I knew then that I wasn't gonna be beat on the day. I rode on her wheel and drafted for the first lap and then made my move in the barriers to lead after that. I threw down all I had to get a gap and held that until lap 3. We usually do 5 laps, but on lap 3 the official called "4 more to go" and I knew that we must have been flying. Indeed, we were as the master's men that started 1 minute ahead of us were quickly getting passed one by one like they were out for a Sunday recreational ride. I saw Nikki gaining me a little and I decided to let her catch back on so I could draft off her for a couple laps. Even though I felt I was standing still at times, I hung in behind her waiting for the final 2 laps to make my move on the barriers again. On lap 5 going onto the finish area she sprinted away from me in what I thought to be a attempted break, however, she thought that was the last lap and finish. After seeing her confusion I slowed to let her get back up with me. I didn't really want to win on a lap error count on her part. After letting her sit in a little and regain her rhythm I decided to step on the gas and get on with winning. I slowly gained seconds and then a few more. I attacked the dismounts and knew all I had to do was stay smooth and coast in for the win.

Funny thing about winning, sometimes you cross the line so fast you hardly have time to realize your victory, others happen so slow and you recall all things that got you there. I had one of those slow days on a fast ride before crossing the line... I was closing my eyes seeing my friend put me under anesthesia; I was watching my Mom help dress me after my ankle surgery in the hospital; I was watching my sister carry everything to me when I was on crutches; moaning for hours in pain while I dealt with severe nerve damage in my foot from complications; I was doing the most simple core workouts with my trainer Darrell while in a cast; I was in Florida detached from my team for my "flat" solo training camp in so much pain I couldn't ride for more then a half hour; yet I was spending a few moments with my parents sitting on the beach being thankful they loved me; knowing God loves me and feeling blessed to be His child; I remembered the great feeling of riding my mtb again; drooling on myself up horseman's camp climb; struggling through back pain from walking in a cast for months; being amazed at being able to jump rope and do the most simple things; training in the rain, heat, dark, more rain and lots of mindless hours in the basement; kettle bell after kettle bell after kettle bell; nailing Wapahini; starving to lose a few pounds; chillin in the RV with friends; knowing and feeling like very few people in your home cycling community gives a damn if you do well; realizing is okay if they don't; working all hours of the night only to head out and train again; feeling so truly happy for others I know when they have good rides; not drinking alcohol; sweet rewards of post ride Mexican food; finding out I need surgery again; long, fun rides with Anne; watching others grow as riders and people as a result; being able to finally move my big toe after 10 months; having no chain moments; countless hours of planning my daily grind with Coach Don G., Barry M., Terry T., Dan H., Anne Y., Tim W., John C., Josh J., Bri M., Darell C., Joey H., my sister, and Mom and Dad. Knowing victory is ultimately my own personal perception.

These memories all flashed in my head... and then it was time to raise my hands in the "V," and the moment passed as quickly as it came and the fix was there, but ready to be sought again some other day.
One thing I know.
The highs are only truly cherished when you respect and remember the lows.
I'm back on a HIGH.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Looking for the next fix.

Its always hard coming off of a great high. Just like cocaine addicts, or any drug addicts do when they try to quite cold turkey. It's a real killer, and can be a little bit of a strange feeling. I don't know this first hand but have studied and understood the concept in anesthesia, since illicit drug use greatly effects anesthesia planning. So I came down a little from my cycling form high I was on last weekend today. I'm still riding strong, but not like wonder women. Like I said, once you get that "no chain" feeling you are on a constant search to get it back. It is such a fix, and you always want it back, even though it may take months to get it. Kinda like crackies do for their drugs.
I was all pumped up this week to have the perfect race Saturday at the Indy Southeast parkway venue. I knew I was a little behind on form with having a few late nights at the hospital, but I think my fitness is good enough right now to carry me to the races. Despite the motivation to do well, I struggled to get out of bed and get going, leaving me a little rushed to get in a good warm up. I know I'm getting a little tired of being on the road at this point in the year, and a few extra z's were very tempting. I just couldn't find that fierceness all day today and kinda went through the motions of it all. Regardless, it was a perfect fall day once again and it was sweet to be racing along on a short sleeve skin suit! I somehow managed my worse start of the year, or maybe Nikki and Amanda had good ones, but I decided to get going a little into the first lap and made a pass on Amanda. She is doing great and is a fun competitor right now. With that positioned gained, I set my sights on Nikki D. She had a pretty big gap on me, but I managed to close it a little and finally made got into the lead for the 3rd lap of 5. With 2 to go, she gained back on me and after I made a little bobble on the uphill climb she took back over on the lead. I stayed with her, but she ended up gapping me a little in the end and she had a good win with me taking second. It was a fun battle and its great to have such a competitive field of women in the region.
I thought the new venue was great and had nice flow for a change. I was a screwed with the up hill run up with the bum ankle. It couldn't have been set up any more painful for me. With a sweeping right, uphill turn right before the barrier at the base, it required a slight cutting action of the ankle. That's no bueno for me. I imagine I lost my share of time here, but we all have our weakness. It just wasn't good for me.
So, I'm chillin in my $42 dollar crib in Indy in room 142, waiting for the good fight to continue at Brookside in the morning. I hope my steak from Texas roadhouse has me supercharged for the State title, because I would really like to get my fix again real soon!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Worth While?

Some days just sing along like a song. Some days go ALL right. Waking up and getting on the road at the perfect time in no rush, having good company to share a long trip to a race with, not hitting any stop lights on the way out of town, finding the perfect draft behind a truck, getting to the race site in plenty of time in order to hit up a quaint little coffee shop, having the best raspberry white chocolate scone you've ever had in your life there, then getting back to the race with plenty of time to pre-ride on a warm fall day with a beuatiful backdrop, riding the venue and thinking it was something you would have designed to suit your riding style perfectly, seeing your friends do great in their races before you start, and having that "on" feeling in your warm-up... and then some days even get better by winning your own race! Top it off with mexican food post-race and getting home to shower and unpack and get at least 6 hours of sleep for work the next day; makes for a pretty song at that!

So I finally had a good day, and my mental state really needed it. With the gloom of finding out I need major surgery, and feeling a little over exhausted from tons of racing and travel in the last 2 months, I needed a uplifting day. I felt like I've had a pretty good form the last week during training and I was excited to hit up the OVCX in Columbus, OH to see how that would match up against the regions best. After doing my pre-ride I knew that if any one was going to best me, they would have to be over the top of their game. Not to discredit my competition, but I was en fuente! When I have that attitude before the race and have no doubt that I can win- I usually do. The mild uphill start didn't even bother me as usual. I got the hole shot and didn't look back from there. I put down the power and focused on nailing my technique. I was able to pedal over the small barrier on the run-up and being that I was the only gal to do that, I gained valuable seconds. This was critical for me since I am not able to run in my training and any chance to not run on the ankle is a welcome break. Plus, I was surprised to learn that not even the majority of the elite men did that little "trick." Cool. I always love to show up the boys a little and I even passed a few of them after starting about 30 seconds behind them. Sorry guys, but you got beat by a girl. I so love to say that.
After the first 3 laps of the 5, I had a pretty comfortable lead over Amanda McKay. She has been riding strong for the last few weeks and she had to be taken seriously, she always finishes the last portion strong and I wasn't about to let that happen on such fine form. I backed off my power a little on the hiller portions enough to maintain what I had. This was all fine until I had a little chain slip on the next to last lap coming out of the double barriers. I was then upset with myself for a few seconds for backing off, but my trusty Paul chain keeper got back on track and I was off again. Never, get comfortable in cross- you never know what it has in store for you!
I finished off with a fun last lap and enjoyed flowing around the bowl type turns they had placed while fully trusting my tubies. I was very happy to get the Win, and it was even better to get knowing Amanda and Terri were riding good that day too. I really enjoyed the venue and I was happy to not be racing in the mud. I love the mud, but I wanted a day to just lay down the power and that is exactly what I got.
Some days just go ALL right. There are times in cycling and cross where you can feel like a fish out of water. At Gun club, I think I made every technical and pre-race error I could, and it showed. Other days you feel like chunky peanut butter- pretty sweet, a little smooth, but a few ruff edges, and then there are creamy Jiff days. Smooth as silk, effortless, and perfect. You are sitting on a seat and look down and realize you are actually pedaling a bike at race pace. I believe they call it no chain. Those Jiff moments are a part of what keeps me going every day I train. There may only be a few of those a year, but that's okay, it's the best sounding tune you could listen too and you never will forget it.
I needed that day and I'd like to think that was another little gift that God gave me. I've kept a positive attitude about my recent news and kept my head up. After learning I need more surgery as a result of being an athlete sometimes I wander if it is all worth while. But I just remember this:
It is easy enough to be pleasant, when life flows by like a song. But the man worth while is the man who will smile when everyhthing goes dead wrong. For the test of the heart is trouble, and it always come with the years, and the smile that is worth the praises of earth, is the smile that shines through tears.
The no chain is worth while... and I'm still smiling.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

So what's up with your ankle? and what about Nats?

My vague twittering once again is resulting in some questions. After posting a blurb about the recent ankle surgeon visit, I got a few questions from all you really awsome people out there, so maybe I should just tell the whole story (mostly) in a quick blog post. So here is the story, as boring as it may be:
Most of you know I had my ankle reconstructed 12/28/09 after having some long term problems that really become worse once I turned onto the cross thing. Running, jumping, and cutting sent it over the deep end. I had some major problems with my recovery. Most of which was some nerve damage from cast compression that made for a very painful recovery. I have just now begun to gain the full function of my great toe back from this. I also had a rare complication of having a tendon sublux over my fibula bone, that still continues today and is getting to be very painful as the season rolls on. I am not able to run for my training or do too much skills practice on barriers as a result of this snapping out of place all the time. I have also continued to have foot pain. Adding all these up I have had lots of ankle specialist consults, tests and the whole bit and needed to see the best ankle guy I could find. So I did.
Dr David Porter with IU sports medicine in Indy may be my hero soon. After seeing him yesterday I was confident that he will be able to help me get over the difficulty that has been haunting me for 2 seasons now. Basically and complexly, I need some major work done. This doesn't surprise me since I have been pretty far off my normal since the year began. According to him, my previous reconstruction does not have my ankle bones lining up at all the right angles. This is causing the joint to articulate in the wrong positions. I also need to fix the painful tendon subluxation. So the plan is this (bear with my medical terms, I will try to simplify): He is going to make another incision then undo the previous reconstruction and tendon grafts that were harvested from my calf. He will then "hope" to get a good piece of graft and lengthen it and do another type of reconstruction called a Brostrum repair. After that, he will pull the tissue and skin back a little further and take a look at one of my ankle ligaments, the AITFL, and see if it is okay, and repair it of not. Next he has to reconstruct the tendon subluxtion problem. This is done by drilling a "ledge" in the fibula to give it a groove to fit in again and will then reconstruct a sheath to hold it in place by drilling some drills holes to place anchors in. Plus, take out all the crap that doesn't belong in there like spurs and sutures from before. Close it up with some nice sutures and place in a cast and that is a wrap! Yeah, that pretty much is gonna cover it. And yes, with words like "drill, and anchor" this will hurt. I know, I did it before on a much lessor scale. I'm already gonna start storing up ice to put on it.
(THE ankle man: Dr David Porter)
David A Porter, MDI'm a really sad about the fact that I face another major surgery and have another long recovery in the off- season ahead of me. Surgery just plain sucks and I have had my share of it over the last 3 years. This will actually make my 6th surgery in that time frame and it is such a crappy thing to do and I can't stress how much it takes to get over it. However, I am pleased with the feeling that I think I will have good results this time and having confidence while going under the knife is very helpful. I am really looking forward to healing up and approaching a cross season with the proper training, of which I have never done.
So based on the fact that I need major surgery, I will not be attending the National Championships this year in Bend, OR. This was based on a couple factors:
1) I really would like to get this done as fast as possible to get back to training for next season and that means December. 2) I also would like to do it before the end of the year for insurance reasons. 3) Also, since December is our busiest time of the month in my own anesthesia world, I don't want to ask my group to give me all of December off to race and have surgery. 4) Plus, the bling needed to have surgery and pay for a trip to Bend would be a lot, and I don't want to break the bank doing so. I would like to pocket that money for next year to hit all the USGP races and maybe do a trip to Belgium for some cross racing over there.

That's the ankle update. For now, I'm gonna put it in the back of my mind and focus on the remainder of the season. I have the Indiana State Champs ahead of me, JingleCross, and a few more OVCX races to rack up. Until next time.... thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Iceman Cometh and Goeth

Another Iceman Cometh made its way into my race list, as the 20th year it has been run and my personal 4th year. I have done this race 2 years on a singlespeed and 2 in the pro race. Funny how I forget how hard it is and keep coming back every year. I had a great result last year of 8th place and I was hungry to improve on that finish this year. The weeks leading up to Iceman proved that would be a tall order as a stacked field of some top name pros decided to place this race on their calender also. With the likes of previous multiple Ice winners, world champions and national champions, I knew top 10 would have to be my goal. My other concern for this race was my lack of proper training for it. Seeing how I have been focusing on this little cross thing, I hadn't really even been on a bike for more than 1.5 hours in a couple months, let alone a mtb. We didn't really want to sacrifice my cross training for 1 late mtb race, so I knew I would be suffering through the last 50 minutes. Regardless, Iceman is a great event and I wouldn't want to miss it. The crowds are super for the pro race and it always is fun to see a gazillion bikers take over a community.
Iceman is also a fun time since my Dad and I make this trip together every year. He is a busy sports official and the fact that we both have packed schedules, makes it a little hard for him to watch too many of my races. I guess it is a little father/ daughter weekend and we always enjoy hanging out together without the rest of the family around for a change. So off to Northern Michigan we went...
Race day shaped up to be the nicest ever, with temps nearing 60 degrees by race start, it wasn't a typical Iceman. I got in a good warm up and was able to line up on the front row. The start this year was a long road section and I didn't want to get mixed up in any wrecks (which did happen behind me). I had a great start and actually road about 3- 4th wheel for the majority of the 2 mile start. Nice and safe.

After dipping into the trail section we starting hitting the "go" button. Things got fast quick and I stayed right there in about 4-5th wheel. The race quickly shaped into a group of about 15 up front and it was a sprint from there to the end. I found myself at about mile 10 getting in a group of 4 gals that were slowly getting strung out by the super stars up front. We would be battling for 8-13th for the finish. The wind was a factor as it gusted to 30 mph at times and I tried my best to stay out of it as much as I could. My usual iceman competitor, Danielle Musto was busy taking great pulls with me and we kept the pace at about 14-16 mph averages. With about 10 to go we had a gal attack and our group couldn't pull her back after I spent a large effort trying. With 5 to go I ran into a major problem of my hamstring cramping. I highly underestimated the typical fluid intake due to the warmer temps and ran out of water by mile 15. I dropped my hand up and at this point I was paying for it big time. I decided to set back in my group and hope the pain would pass. It didn't. It was bad timing for cramps as we were just getting into the punchy rollers, and at mile 3 I was totally unable to pull on my upstroke through the climbs. With 2 miles to go, my group gaped me a little on a climb and I pretty much road in f0r 13th place a few ticks behind top 10 placers. Not much you can do when your legs are in knots...
I was a little bummed to be off the top 10, but then again, it wasn't too far off and I was riding in good company. I actually felt I had a good race and aside from my fluid mishap, I know I put it all out there. This race is kinda tricky in the fact that everyone would agree that is not all that technically challenging, but it makes for an all out sprint because of it. That fast pace consistency is a challenge and will have your legs screaming at you for sure. So is was unlucky 13 for me. Funny, that number is one of my few superstitions.

I have to say, this year was a lot of fun during the race for me. It seemed the crowds were in great cowbell form for us pros and it was very encouraging and meaningful to have people out there cheering me on personally. If you were one of those people, thanks so much and every "let's go Nik," was heard and appreciated! Iceman always reminds me of mountain biking in the good ole days. It has a kinda laid back, have fun atmosphere that is so cool considering the place is packed with 4,000 riders. Speaking of the numbers: I was able to get some riding in Sunday after the race at the venue and I was able to witness the mass production that the Traverse City Community is responsible for to pull this event off. I have to say that after talking with several of the locals who were cool enough to know I was one of the pros out there; that they love when Iceman comes to town and they do a wonderful job to make this happen for us. If you ever get a chance to thank them, make sure you do it, it means a lot to them and the future of their community.
As far as that post race ride went: well, it was perfect. The weather was in the mid 60's, the trail was perfectly rode in, and I pretty much had the whole Vasa trail to myself. It was pure silence in the pines, and it was kinda weird to not hear the your own breathing labored, chains clinking around you, or the cheers of the crowd. But then again, I kinda daydreamed of hearing the announcer calling my name somewhere in that top 3 position, and I was a kid again daydreaming and just out riding my bike.
My quest and dreams will continue next year. Thanks again Iceman!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ring around the Rosie.... we all fall down.

We all the know that nursery rhyme well. Ring around the Rosie, pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes, we all fall down. Sounds nice and fun until you learn it is really about the Black Plague. But it still sounds fun until the fall down part.
Well, that was me last weekend. I had a fun time racing the Gun Club cross, it was well run, but it was not a race I should have even done. I didn't fall down by wrecking, but I dug myself a hole of physical fatigue before I even started.
I think I am going on being on the road every weekend since about mid-august, with a busy work schedule and trying to squeeze in a small amount of "normal people" social time, that is a lot to take on week after week. It finally kicked my ass last weekend and it showed, I just dug my head down an tried to survive.
Despite my coach, Don G., getting the feel that I may be on a downward spiral, I decided it was necessary for me to race instead of take the week off to prep for Iceman. I felt I should do the race to maintain my series lead in the OVCX elite women since I would be missing a couple upcoming races for some other national events. With that plan set in place, I was happy to be home on Saturday to do some normal stuff.
That's where I went wrong. Friday I had a great (but killer) workout with my trainer after working about 10 hours. I hadn't worked out in about 2 weeks and I really missed the abuse that Darrell throws at me. Needless to say, I was brought to my knees with any type of ab use for the next 3 days. Love it!
Saturday was a major clean the house, do laundry and prep the rv for the winter day. After that, I had a OR Halloween party to see to. I wouldn't miss that if given the chance again, Halloween is by far my favorite holiday. You get to dress up, ward of evil spirits, eat candy for free and enjoy the fall splendor with friends! I love it! After a little mingling at the party and eating some great deer chili and a few eyeballs, my duty was to be the wicked witch for the haunted woods we had going on that night. I was to run around at free will and scare as many people I could on the 4 hay rides we had scheduled. It was a blast. My man Mike B and his family really put on a great party and we had so much blood and gore it even had the OR staff a little spooked! Needless to say, by the time it was all over I had ran about 20 miles of trail and not only was my ankle the size of a softball, my hips were aching from the running. Not really optimal for a muddy cross race the next day. Off to bed at 2 am I went.
Back up at 530 am to make the trip to Cinci, I was already zonked just getting packed up. I headed down the road hoping my body would wake up a little after grabbing a coffee in Gas City, but it did not. I debated weather to turn the car around, or maybe keep heading to BC to mtb, but my stupid self kept on.
After arriving to the site and doing a quick glance of the venue, I knew I was screwed. It was up and down and I could see it was very thick mud and a lot of running. Didn't I already run enough this weekend? My pre-ride confirmed the large amount of running and I had already defeated myself by that point. Mud requires a full commitment on the riders part. If you aren't in race mode, it will be a long day of mud. That's what is was for me. After having a decent first lap on and near the front, I blew up. It was just too much for me that day, and I couldn't bring myself to be in the hurt box as easily as I almost always enjoy doing most of the time. Not being able to train running because of my ankle surgery and need for more ankle surgery, leaves me the disadvantage to have to make up time on other sections and this coarse didn't really help me much there. I slowly let off the gas and by lap 2. I was basically soft pedaling and trying to salvage any type of muscle I may have left to have for Iceman. I shouldn't complain that I placed 3rd in the end with having to put so little effort forth. I was basically able to stay in my easier zone 2 heart rate area and not cause much more damage. Props to Nikki and Amanda, they prepped better than me and had good showings. I would have done the Halloween thing again- its important to maintain some bit of other social skills aside from cycling. However, I should have listened to my body and stayed in bed Sunday morning. That's often hard to do since I am always hungry for competition.
Lesson learned: if you doubt if you should race when you wake up and that doubt continues on a 5 hour drive; you should not race! I've been in the hurt box up until today! I am walking like a very old, sick lady! Entertaining for some- not me.

Regardless, I was stoked to get to race in an event that aired both Beasties and Ben Harper during my race. That was bad ass. Thanks John G and all the other dudes for the time put into this event.

Up next: Iceman Cometh. I haven't really had any endurance training (other than my witch running) to prep for this ideally. That's okay since I would rather keep my cross training going, but it is a little hard to tack another hour onto a race. I hope to break the top 6 in the pro field this year. It will take some careful recovery and diet here the next couple days to do it, but hopefully it will work out. I am trying the 29er set up this year and can't wait to see how that goes. Lots of top women on tap to race and I'm excited to have a full field this year to see what I can do!

I still have a pocket full of posies!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Some things are out of my control. Chaos around me and fever.

Who doesn't love the Derby City USGP? That's right, no one. It is a sweet event and this year did not disappoint. This event has a special place in my heart since it marks the anniversary of my first pro cross race. This year I had a much different outlook on my expectations from last year. I went from thinking I was gonna get killed, to wanting to kill it! As you can see, the RV made the trip and camp was set for a weekend full of racing. The women's pro field was balling big time! We may not have the numbers that the pro men post, but the depth of the talent is packed. As a matter of fact, there is very little "pack fill" as the pro men have, and I knew a top 15 finish on my part would require some focused effort mentally and physically. My goal for the weekend was to post top 15 results. Let's see how that went...
Friday teammates Josh Johnson and resident manager Anne Young made the trip down with me in the RV. We set up camp and scoped out the course with flashlights and prepped for what looked to be a muddy venue. We woke up to a chilly morning and tons of cars that once was an empty lot. We were thankful to be in the warm rv as we watched the poor cat 4's start at 830 am. Way to early! All reports showed mud and more mud. What was soup by the morning, turned into thick, power sucking mud by my race. After course recon, all us pro women were prepped for yet another muddy race of the season. True cross racing at its best!
I continue to start from the last row, but am slowly moving up in call up ranks (I was told I am ranked uci 93rd in the world). I had a poor start to say the least. I took advantage of weaving through some gals messing up on the muddy sections and by the end of the 1st lap I was sitting in about 10th position. Sweet! I felt like I was doing a good job of choosing lines that were getting me a few seconds ahead of the other gals but maybe were a little more technically challenging. I wouldn't say I like a mud race, but the mud races seem to like me. Anyway, I held that position for a few laps until disaster struck. A racer in front of me wrecked on a muddy G-out and I was going full speed into it myself. With no braking power in mud, I had no option but to ram right into her. Our bikes locked and after getting separated, my sweet trp's were jammed into the wrong place on my front wheel. I was forced to stop to try and free it and after a few attempts I started running for the pits trying to fix it on the run. I finally got it fixed after watching about 10 girls pass me by. Tough break! I fought hard the rest of the race to gain positions, finally making it back up to 15th. I can't really help situations like that, but it really makes me wander what could have been. I was still happy with 15th, because it could have been much worse.
That night was filled with de-mudding as usual. That seems to be the routine this season. I just kept thinking how thankful I was for getting Rhino's this year. We finished the night with a movie and gladly went to bed early to get ready for the next day of fun.

Day 2 also had a hitch in my plans of doing well. I went to bed the night before with confidence that I could maybe break the top 10. That quickly changed when I woke up early with nausea and a fever. I couldn't believe it. It felt like I had put embro all over my face, and I was super tired. I went to cheer Josh on (who finished 3rd and 8th) and I was exhausted from that. Not what I was expecting. I debated to not race, but I figured I had already paid and made the trip, so I should just give it a go. I decided I would drop out if I felt like death. I had nothing to lose.

I did better than I expected. It was tough, but I got 15th again. Riding with the flu on a muddy ground is super energy zapping. Surprisingly, I had a better start and felt better and better as the race went on. I started in the top 10-14 pack, but faded a little as I found I had zero top end spunk. I focused on staying as smooth as I could and slowly gained on that group again. I was in 16th going into the last lap and I was determined to get my goal placing even though 15th spot was about 40 seconds ahead of me. Well, I caught her. Once we got to the green monster, we went back and forth and going into the final mud pit I made a sweet pass and I knew I had her with my power. I made the pass and never looked back. It was a hard earned 15th, and I was proud of it. I met my goal, even being sick.
So that concludes my usgp races for this season. I would love to hit the NJ one, but my funding for such a trip isn't there this year. I hope to get a little more support next year to be able to put some bling in the bank to hit all the usgp's. I just have to keep working hard and posting some results. Both of which I know I can do.
It was a good weekend otherwise, it is always nice to have a high profile race really close. It is super fun to see all the ovcx regulars doing well with the best racers in the country. I also had some amazing ice cream on the way home. It made me feel better (at least in my mind). Thanks to Josh for helping around camp, Anne for doing everything without even being asked, Tim Wagner for being the pit boss, and Mike B and his family for providing general fan support. Thanks for the rest of my team and locals I know for the cheers and cowbell that we all know make us go faster than we really should!
I actually have a short race weekend this week with only one race! Wow, a weekend day at home. I really need it, I feel like I am abusing my cat. Plus, I have big duties of being a "scare" character at a Halloween party. I get to wear makeup and everything while a play witch and scare little kids on a hay ride. I love Halloween!
... and then, its time for the Iceman Cometh.