Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How's it goin?

Well, pretty good I guess. As good as I could hope for at this point in the game after surgery minus one little worry (I'll get to that later). I've been trying really hard to take it day by day and not get too upset about the fact that I am waaayyy under power than what I ended last season with. I am just trying to be thankful that I am back on the bike to even know what my power is. As of now I can pull a 90-95 watt average on flat pedals if I try really hard. I get to ride about 5-6 days a week for 1 hour and I hit the gym and core routine about 6 days a week for the same time. I guess that isn't a fitness routine for slackers, so I'm pretty pleased with the amount of time I put into training right now, even though I can't post any killer long rides like some of my other competition.

My 6 week appt with Dr Porter went well and I seem to be on track for the overall 100% goal. Like I have mentioned in the past, I have never trained for cross 100% properly and I'm very excited for that prospect this year. I've been easing out of the cast and into a splint over the past week and by next week I will be out of the cast all together! Right now, I pretty much only wear the cast at work and when the pain is bad. Its gonna take some retraining of my leg and foot muscles to learn how to handle walking again. It just kinda flops around right now. Its amazing how painful a fatigued ankle can be. I also started the elliptical machine for a few minutes to get some ROM back and that was a fun new thing to do at the gym right now. Aside from that, I will start clipping in to spin on the trainer this weekend, but I'm not allowed to clip out for about 4 more weeks - so that means no riding outside at least until late Feb. The risk of having to catch myself or wreck on a fresh ankle out in the big world is scary enough to make me very thankful to stay in on the safe trainer for now. Think of breaking your ankle then breaking it a moment later again. Not a good feeling. Drill holes, metal harpoons and anchors in your bones do not feel good. Right now is a painful times as I try to transition to normal walking again and being more active, so I am looking forward to the next few weeks being over and having less pain with every step.
Our little worry right now seems to be what is causing the nerve pain. I'm having an internal stitch knot reaction on the lateral part of my fibula
This is kinda like the bodies way of fighting off a foreign object, but this one isn't supposed to be fought off. I have this inflamed, red, burned hole over the knot and we are hoping it will not get too much worse until it dissolves. Day by day, I keep a close eye on this and I'm saying my prayers I won't need more surgery to take it out. But overall, the ankle is healing nicely and as you can compare from the week 1 picture and this above 7 week picture it looks like a totally different ankle. Amazing how much damage and trauma a body can sustain and heal from!

I've also been able to take down the temporary infirmary that was my downstairs bedroom during my recovery. I can now make it up and down the stairs okay to my master suite. Good thing, since I was ready to get my exercise room back for working out. I even had my friend Deb help me put the total gym together. My first QVC purchase!
So that's how it's going. I feel like I'm in slow motion, but slow is better than stopped.
I'm gonna keep my head up.
I'm still training pretty hard for a gimp!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Frames

I think we would all agree that all of God's creatures He created are equal of importance and I'm sure He is very fond of each and every one. However, I have to believe that some are a little more special than others. Some animals just seem magical in their existence and seem to glorify perfect form for function. Mostly, these are the top of the food chain creatures. Like elephants, big cats, whales, crocs, octopus, and bears. They just seem to be so magnificent to watch that you can't help but wander if God wanted to combine all the wonders of the cumulative effort of the food chain in that top animal. I wander what it is like to be the at the top of the food chain. The big dog, the untouched, the magical.

So this time of the year is a great time to be a birdwatcher. I've been into following birds now pretty heavy for about 4 years and I find a lot of pleasure in it. I've always been amazed at things that can fly. Who wouldn't want to fly? What an amazing ability. Perfect trail and perfect flow on a mtb ride can almost feel like floating at times and it is a wonderful feeling. But can you imagine flying under your own power? Aside from flying, birds are amazing little creatures. They accomplish feats that are pretty stunning. Just watch a hummingbird in slow motion... it hovers and is quite a little areal acrobat. At just a few ounces, it travels further for migration than most of us ever will in our lifetime. Its heart rate runs around 600 bpm during feeding and decreases to 30 bpm at night to conserve energy! Brilliant. Seriously.

Anyway, one of the special parts of being a cyclist is that we get deep into nature. If your a mtber, you get into parts of forest that get us up close and personal with nature. That's part of the appeal. I seriously doubt mtb'ing would be as special if we took some fake trees and made a fake trail in the middle of an open field. You may not realize you love the woods, but subconsciously you do. As a bird watcher and cyclist, I've been known to stop dead in my path to watch a bird. Some things you really need to slow down and appreciate. God made a lot of cool things around us for us to see and take in, like the top of the food chain animals. They were made to look at, to study, to learn from, to be in wonder of what God can do. Kinda like the greatest of athletes like Ali, Jordan, Phelps, Maradona, Bo Jackson, Mantle, Armstrong, Williams, Magic, Manning, RC, Hoffman, Lopes, and Hawk. Perfect form and function. Today, I met that in the bird world. Their are several favorite birds of mine: the owl, piliated woodpecker, hummingbird, swift, and the peregrine falcon. But none can match the Bald Eagle. It is the master of the bird world and you know it when you witness it hunt in nature. Today, I was blessed to get a tip from my Mom that 4 bald eagles were doing a little ice fishing at the lake. I grabbed my bird gear and headed to watch them for a few hours. I was treated to an adult pair with 2 of their older fledglings. It was pretty amazing. Everything had a purpose for them. What I needed binoculars for, they could see with the naked eye. As one flew over me so low, I couldn't help but feel like time stood still as he floated above me with so much grace and elegance that most Hollywood stars would die for. They demanded respect and the other water fowl gave it to them. I couldn't help but wander if the fledglings knew how special they were to grow up to be. At this point they were constantly egged on by the adults to find their own fish, and in a 6 month time frame they will be Kings and Queens of their own territory. That's some big talons to fill. They are a perfect culmination of every single creature that every single creature eats to make it what it is. A rightly fine showing of the top of the food chain.

I also couldn't help but notice how, even though I remained focused on the grace of the Balds, the people world around me hustled faster than ever. Completely oblivious to the beauty that was around them. I think the Balds seemed aware of us, but not us of them. Like Jack Johnson sings; "slow down you're moving too fast, a frames can't catch you when your moving like that." A- Frames, for those of you who don't surf, are the flow of waves to ride in the ocean, these are the perfect barrel waves to ride. Waves that let us float as one with the earth. I am a firm Christian, but given that I have some Blackfoot Indian running in my blood, I have a special appreciation for Bald Eagles. Eagles are seen as messengers between the Gods and Humans for the Blackfeet. I still think they are messengers, but just between one God and us.

Some things are meant to be enjoyed; athletes, animals and people that are just a little special. Knowing that we are all vital to what they are. I'm just saying: Stop and wait for the A frames sometimes. It's okay to enjoy them, to be in awl of what has been created. Don't miss the A frames of life, God wants us to enjoy them while we are here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Number, numbers, numbers...

Right now I'm focusing my caged energy on the numbers of my life. Its all about the numbers for me actually. Sometimes I think that us cyclist can get a little hung up on all the number data we are fed these days, but some things really can't be measured unless it is put into facts and figures. I'm not talking about "heart" and motivation, since there is no way to measure that, but all the other things that surround us that can really be broken down with numbers. Right now, I'm paying close attention to them like so:

I'm 5 weeks out from surgery. I have roughly 8 weeks total in the cast. That leaves me 3 more dreadful weeks in this contraption. In 1 week I can start weaning out of the cast for 1-2 hours at home in an air cast splint at night. On the 23rd I go see Dr Porter for my 6 week follow-up. This point is always a good insight to recovery and I look forward to how he thinks things are progressing. He has estimated that I can start to clip into pedals and start riding outside in 2 more months. Maybe by then the 15 degree weather will be about 35 degrees! I hope. But at this point I'd ride in a blizzard just to feel the open road again. While I make my comeback I need to wear a compression hose on my leg for 3 months and a brace for that time too. At about the 6 month mark I should finally start to see an end to the swelling and should be about 100%. Just in time for cross!

Right now I get to do some mild physical therapy at home. This is a big change from my past surgery as I had a different surgeon with a different approach. Now I am getting about a 3 week jump start on keeping a little ROM. Currently, I focus on doing rehab about 3 times during the day. I do about 8 exercises to keep things stretched out. That's 2 sets of 10 reps. After each session I need to ice for about 40 minutes. Icing is like my life saver right now! A little ice goes a long way and is a simple way to help the body heal.

Other numbers in my life include the hours of the night and day I can actually sleep. With the nerve damage full force between 11pm- 5am. I really can't sleep good at those times. So if I need to be up for work at 530am I totally need a nap in the afternoon to make up some z's. Ideally, I can sleep from 5a- 10a, but I'm now back to the real working world. Sleep is vital to recovery right now, so I don't stress about taking naps or sleeping 12 hours at a time. I need it, my body has a lot to rebuild!

Other than that, I am all about the numbers for my workouts. I hit the gym 5 days a week for core, weight conditioning. We all know that's all about numbers. I am doing 3 sets of 15 reps for my variety of exercises I do. I'm hitting a circuit type plan to try and keep my heart rate higher than 100 bpm to hit a aerobic cardio range. This last for about 1-2 hours a day.

On the bike I keep it pretty tight on numbers as to not overdo it. Since I'm still on flat pedals, this isn't too hard to do. My goal is to ride 5 days a week. I get to add 1 minute each day to my ride time as long as the pain and swelling is okay. Tonight I made it up to 49 minutes! I keep it under the 100 watt range, which is easy to do since I'm still pretty sore and weak. I started in the 60 watt average range and now I'm breaking the 80 watt mark! Crazy how I was easily doing 260 watts a little more than a month ago. I also try to keep a close eye on the hr on the bike. I know that if the hr starts creeping up and I'm feeling pain, I need to back off to give the ankle a rest.

Another big number game is calories in and calories out. During racing time, its not such a big deal, but off season is another story for me. I've been doing this cool little LiveStrong application that Johnson Chiropractic turned me on to on the iphone that lets me track all the items I eat and track my workout calories too. It has been a big help in keeping me aware of what's going in and out; and helps to keep a check on the macro nutrients. Since I had some major anemia before and after surgery, I need to pay special attention to this to give the body what it needs to repair and get the hgb back up to 13ish so my o2 can have some places to bind once harder training get under way!

Of course these aren't all the numbers, because there are hours to count at work, money numbers to estimate for all the upcoming equipment I will need to buy, tallying up the number of vacation days I can take for races next year, and estimating how many GU packets I may need from GU. Stuff like that.

They seem to keep me a little focused. I just keep it one day at a time until I hear "starting in 30 seconds... 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO!"

Then it will be bell lap-
1 to go-
and then hopefully standing on the 1st place step!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

On To The Next One...

Aside from that being a Bad A** song and video by Jay-Z, that's the switch that was finally flipped in my mind last week. I'm finally seeing some improvements in the ankle and I'm starting to look forward to the next season of riding. On to the next one.

"I move onward, the only direction. Can't be scared to fail. Search your perfection. Gotta keep it fresh girl... I'm on to the next one."

It's a scary thing when you have major surgery on a limb that is vital to cycling. Even though the thought of not being a top cyclist was on my mind, the worry that I might have trouble walking and doing my job or taking care of my house was the first concern. Cycling is a lot of who I am, but basic care is a adult requirement. Now that I see that everything is going fairly good, I'm starting to allow some hope back in my mind for getting back to racing on top. Its also very scary that I may come back and not be the same, maybe not as good. But I really can't be scared to fail, because who would I be failing really? No one. Besides, I'm gonna work my butt off to come back even stronger.

"World can't hold me, too much ambition... on to the next one."

I love, love, love this time of year in a way. I like planning the next year of racing. Thinking and choosing new races and places to go, hitting the old favorites that I have raced at so many times, the prospect of improving on previous results, thoughts of riding some support for teammates, and thinking about how the master plan will all come together. It's fun to piece it all together like a hard puzzle, taking time to think and plan it all out and laugh at how it seems like it will fall together like a perfect receipt, but knowing that once the season gets here it will be like a space shuttle take off! It will be a crazy, mind blowing chaos. Things will go wrong, unexpected events will occur, it will be stressful at times, it will be a whirlwind, things will be added and dropped. But in the end it will all fall together as it should and I will be left savoring
the adventures of the season. Kinda like after a shuttle takes off then settles in the stillness of space looking back at the beauty of earth.

The ankle continues to make improvements. I'm up to 35 minutes on the bike. That matters. It may not seem like too much time on a bike to a normal cyclist, but that's a pretty big deal to me right now. It helps me feel like I'm moving forward and keeps to legs going and the confidence up. It helps me feel alive. I've also ditched the crutches completely. It feels funny to walk on both legs again, and its nice to have my hands free to carry coffee or talk on my cell phone while on the move. I still need the little go cart for longer distances, but I'm build up the endurance. I've also been able to hit the gym almost everyday and have steadily stepped up the intensity. I actually love the gym in the winter and I enjoy the change of workouts from the bike training. The ankle has also improved greatly in the amount of swelling I was having as you can see in the picture. So much so that I can actually feel and see the suture knots under the skin from some of the repairs that where done. They are kinda like bee-bees under the skin waiting to pop out. I was also able to sleep under the covers for the first time last night. The hugeness of the cast and the weight of the blankets make it almost impossible to sleep under the covers. I made this little pillow lift at the foot of the bed and that helped me last night finally sleep a little better.

Its a new year and that brings hope along with it for a lot of people. We love to have hope and it's a really important feeling for us to have. Because without hope we don't have much. I'm thankful to be getting a little better, even though it's a long way to go, but I can start to hope for things the future days hold. I thank God for my hope. Because if anything matters, than everything matters.

I just move on to the next day, then to the next one. "Y'all should be afraid of what I'm gonna do next." I'm hoping and planning on the next season to be even better than the last one!