Saturday, July 31, 2010

Football= Cyclocross

It's now August. Wow! When did that happen? Its hard to believe that cyclocross is right around the corner. It seems like every year it sneaks up like wild fire and the next thing you know you are scrambling to build bike up so you can get out and get a jump start on cross specific practice.

The more and more I get into cyclocross the more I appreciate that it revolves similar to football.
American Football. I for one, love it. I grew up in the 80's a Steelars fan (who wasn't?) and today I love the Colts (who doesn't?). I've always loved (or hated) the Irish and I am hoping the Golden Dome has some luck of the Irish this year for a change. Although I love the roots of college ball, I do enjoy the NFL and I feel pretty lucky to be watching the Peyton Manning legacy play out. He plays smart and I love that, I love combining smarts with athletic talent. Maybe that's why I love cyclocross. Although you got to be able to pull the power, you also need to be able to pick lines and equipment that will give you a slight advantage.

The months leading up to August for football involve lots of personal efforts in the winter and spring, mini training camps; most if them are voluntary, just like cyclocross. In cross, you can choose to put in the boring core workouts or you can not. Its fun to play in the big lights on Sunday night, but its not as cool doing endless workouts in a gym, but those workouts pay off in the end. Right now, mandatory team camps are getting ready to take place for the football teams. Some of the guys are "stalling" with contract agreements and other distractions. Although I don't deal with those things, its time to decide weather my own personal training camps are mandatory and how much I plan on committing to the weekly cross workouts. While cx for the average Joe seems like a long way away, just as football fans think; now is actually the time to make all the details come together that will make a successful cx debut. My camps are mandatory!
(One of the greatest Qb of all time, puts in his share of hard work just like everyone else.)

As I've said before, the only downfall of cx is that it actually is the same time as football. That makes keeping up with the NFL almost impossible, and college ball almost equally as hard. I try to squeeze in what I can on TV, but making it to the games are pretty much out, since the week of football and cross are also similar in structure. Monday rest, Tues review, wed big practice day, thur preview, friday final preps, Sat travel/ race, Sunday= game on! Its go, go, go until the year end for the super bowl and national championships. Every race, like every game is important, some more than others, but each is approached with the same routine. Tony Dungy would tell you the importance of this. He always wanted to keep the week structure and game day prep exactly the same, even for the Superbowl. I find this to be true of myself too, and I actually find comfort in the repetitiveness that cross season brings. So to me; football does equal cross in a lot of ways, and I can feel them both approaching fast!

On the personal update front: I am feeling better everyday. I still find I lack the endurance to pull out my normal daily life and rides just yet, but it improves a little each ride. I plan on starting back with my core workouts this week and I feel pretty lucky that I will be able to do that 3 weeks out from surgery! It's pretty amazing that less than 3 weeks ago I was laying in a hospital bed, and today I plan on doing a fairly organized ride.

I also had my 8 month follow up with the ankle surgeon (DAP) and I made some strong leaps with my ankle testing. I actually doubled my strength numbers from 2 months ago, which wasn't easy to do, but I'm super stoked about! DAP was equally impressed with this and I have full clearance to do anything I need to for cross and it looks like I will finally get to prep for cross season with a little jogging for the first time ever. I still am having some major issues with nerve pain, and although I didn't receive the best news about this, I'm not going to think about it right now as DAP and I both agreed that I didn't need to burden myself with the solution until after nationals. I will cross that bridge later, and pray that I can handle it for a little while longer. The great thing is that my hard work on getting the ankle stronger is paying off after a long battle.

Cross bikes are being built, it's a rainy day... the season is just around the corner. Do you have your Winston's Embro ready? I know I do.

"It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great. You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn."
Psalm 18:32-36

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Coming Down The Mountain.

I know most of my readers have been watching the Tour and unless you had a emergency (like getting your appendix out) you watched the last mountain stage drama unfold in the massive fog and clouds a few days ago. Hopefully, most of you have had a chance to ride amongst the clouds and felt that cool, yet erie, feeling of having the fog all around you, and watching it unfold as you come down from the mountain you've been on. Having those memories of those feelings remind me of how I've been feeling the past 2 weeks. I've been in a fog, life has been marching along in an almost surreal nature. I feel it all around me, but my mind seems so heavy and I can't quite see how my life is playing out in the future. Kinda like being in the clouds, but just not as fun. It kinda also reminds me of a few lyrics from the Jane's Addiction song:
Comin down the mountain...
Holding it back
it Hurts so bad
Jumping out of my flesh
And I say Ahhhh...
So I've been steadily coming down the mountain in a couple ways. One, I'm not required to take as many drugs that alter my mind. That's obvious how that works to help come down, and two, I'm slowly getting back to doing my normal routines of life. I'm not aimlessly wandering around on a narrow mountain peak. I'm slowly starting to b aware of my surroundings and I can almost see the road ahead of me. Almost.

So its been 11 days since I landed in the hospital (as a patient) and even though its been really, really tough at times, I'm pretty amazed at how I'm bouncing back. I've felt pretty good the last 2 days and expect more of the same in the next 2 days too. I kept it on the down low to not catch any grief, but I actually started back on the trainer 6 days after surgery, and although it wasn't pretty, it got the good juices going again. On day 8 I was blessed to have my surgeon go for a walk with me in my neighborhood, followed by me getting to slowly ride my mtb along side him for his half-marathon training. He knew my mindset at the time and knew I needed to snap out of "sick" mode and move into "athlete" mode to get me back on my feet. I was happy to have him whip me into shape and although that seems above what a normal patient/ surgeon relationship is, it really isn't too far of a stretch. Like I tell people, those of us who work together in the OR experience situations most people would never imagine, and in our "family" we get to know each other well and take care of each other, I'm lucky to have people around me that care... regardless, it worked. Four days since then and I was able to ride outside for 14 miles, that was today. It was awesome. Riding after a long break ALWAYS reminds me of why I ride.

(Really seeing what I'm made of: Nice picture of where my appendix and right fallopian tube/ ovary used to be (black mark under the instrument), plus a healthy looking uterus (round thing at top of picture). All that yellow stuff is bowel fat (normal and healthy), and the thing to the left is part of my colon. No bleeding, and smooth work by Dr Ilada)

I have also returned to the working world and was blessed to get a couple shifts that were not too busy. I felt pretty rough there for a little while, but it was also comforting to know that my anesthesia colleagues would be there in a heart beat if I felt I needed covered or couldn't handle coming back to work. That never needed to happen.

Physically, I'm healing up nicely as expected. I'm finally eating a regular diet after about 10 days of liquids and semi solids. Let me just say, I would never make it in Hollywood. I missed peanut butter too much. Even though I can say I was totally turned off and appalled by food for about 6 days. I never thought that was possible. I also never thought it was possible to go without chocolate for 10 days... but I did. That's just crazy.

(That yellowish looking thing is my appendix, being placed in a bag to be pulled out of an incision in the abdomen. Bad appendix, bad.)

I'm still having some problems with one of the port incision sites spasming. Its right under my rib cage and has a bit of swelling so, it will just take time to settle down. It is a bit of a discomfort to breath since my lung expansion encroached on it some. Now I know what its like to be stabbed... as one of the other general surgeons pointed out to me. I'm going to have to be patient with this healing up and not get ahead of myself with core workouts. I'm sure my strength coach Darrell will figure it all out like always.

At this point I am just taking things day by day and not pushing it too hard. I think the first 2-3 weeks are critical to recover from surgery and stage a proper comeback. Assuring adequate rest is my main goal right now and so far I've been banking 10 hrs of sleep each night. I am hoping to return to racing at the Frankie Park DRT race. I plan on this being more of a "ride" around the coarse for me, but going through the race prep will be fun and I'm just gonna see how things go before then. First is to see how I'm doing at my follow-up visit on Monday. Funny, that I also have a 8th month follow-up with Dr Porter (ankle) on Wed in Indy with some more ankle testing to see if I can have full clearance to tackle cyclocross full- on and see about dealing with the nerve damage by my fibula.... I feel like a old lady with so many appointments... but it won't slow me down too much.

Otherwise, my main focus now is getting into full cyclocross mode. Getting the bikes built and getting fitted by Summit City Bicycles in the very near future....

time to come down from the mountain (bikes) and start riding cross!

I tell you with certainty, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.- Matthew 17:20

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Prickly Perch? Not Really.

"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance , character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us."- Romans 5:3-5

I'm really in complete shock and have been since last Monday. I'm still in such a haze from pain, narcotics, and anesthesia that I am still thinking this is all just a bad dream and I'll snap out of it and someone will laugh and say they were playing a bad joke on me. They will tell me I didn't really have emergency surgery to take out my appendix and the surgeon didn't find other things that I will have to face the rest of my life with. Nope, this can't be happening after I have spent the last 6 months working my butt off to come back stronger than ever from my second ankle reconstruction. No way!

But I know its real, I "feel" its real and I refuse to start feeling sorry for myself or start diving into a cloud of depression (even though I want to). I've spent the last several days asking God why this is happening to me, what this is all about. I just don't understand. Thankfully, through knowing God and having faith I don't have to, I've resolved to trust the He has a plan for me and I have faith in that- I don't have to understand and I refuse to be angry at my God that has blessed me with so much. I just take it as another test from Him in my faith. I find it quite interesting that my Bible study group has been studying Exodus where God asked for so much trust from the Hebrews and I can find some parallel in my life to that amazing event right now. I feel like I was just asked to walk through the parted water of the Red Sea!

The last few weeks have been building up nicely on my fitness, I felt I was really getting strong and was setting up nicely for cross season. Saturday I woke with a slight pain in my side, blew it off, did some shopping and headed out on an evening ride. I bonked on my ride, or at least I thought I bonked. I failed to eat lunch before the ride, but looking back I did so because I wasn't hungry. It was a rough trip back home after bonking, I even stopped and sat on the side of the road 3 times to rest. Not very Nicke like. Sunday I had more pain after sleeping 14 hours, but I had a great mtb and I figured it was just gas pain, but man was I tired. Monday was worse yet, I was on OB call, slept another 14 hours and deep down I knew I needed surgery. That evening I did a couple C-sections and found myself overwhelmed with nausea and left my last case to my shift relief throwing up. I called my general surgeon at home and we decided to let me give it one more night of rest and we would see how things were in the morning. Ha! Maybe I should have ate and apple and taken an aspirin. I woke up Tues feeling pretty bad, I didn't eat or drink anything somewhat because I was nauseated and somewhat since I kinda knew I would need surgery. I went to work and had a full day of anesthesia lined up in the OR and I did my best to displace my own feelings to take care of my patients. I did a couple cases and after seeing my own surgeon I decided to give in and have a CT scan to see what was going on. Thankfully, my colleague Bre was able to relieve me from my cases and I went into patient mode with the thought that I would just get the scan then finish my day at work... I ended up finishing the day being the one worked on. I was in shock and disbelief when Dr Pat Ilada told me I needed surgery, but I was also kinda relieved that I could just lay down and rest and quit trying to fool myself into feeling good.

So off to surgery I went. I didn't want to have surgery again and I was not looking forward to being in pain and dealing with everything surgery/ recovery entails, but I can honestly say that I was not afraid or nervous to go under. I trusted God and was blessed to have my OR family take care of me. Mick got me prepped and ready to go, Bre did my anesthesia, Ronda was my nurse, Martie assisted, and Pat did the operation. I was also lucky to spend my hospital stay after with the OB nurses and I can't thank Molly and Dawn enough for the great care I received. I had things done laperscopically, and that's a good thing. That will decrease my recovery time by a couple weeks. Surgery to remove the appendix went good. I have some other issues that were found and those will hold long term issues for me to deal with. He found that I have a nasty looking left ovary, which is scary since I already had the right one taken out. I also have endometriosis which is defined as: a debilitating gynecological medical condition in females in which endometrial-like cells appear and flourish in areas outside the uterine cavity, most commonly on the ovaries. I'll deal with that in the near future and will have more appointments to see what we will do with this. And I do plan on dealing with, and overcoming these things. Its a lot to take in and I'm glad I don't have to alone.

Now I focus on recovery. I'm still on a semi-liquid diet, and in the acute healing phase. I increase my walking and out of bed time every day. I hope to climb back on the training in the next week or so. I'm training hard to recover. I'm not stranger to that.

Having emergency surgery and diagnosis such as the endometriosis kinda puts life in perspective. I miss riding already, and riding and racing is a bigger metaphor to life, but its not everything. I'm not really sure what is, but I do know that faith in God and family is.

And more importantly I do know this:
You can train yourself to be the best athlete, you can make all the money in the world, be the envy of your peers, conduct yourself like a jerk, speak poorly of others, or be the very best, moral person you can be. But the truth is: that can all change in the blink of an eye. Everything, good or bad, can change. And in the end its only you and your relationship with God.
What's yours?

Like Dr Suess says, "I'm sorry to say so but, sadly, it's true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you. You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You'll be left in a lurch."
That's right Dr., but God will never fly on if you believe.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Signs of Cross?

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(On my way to the State Short Track and DH title: sweet photos from Matt Link at

The North Vernon weekend has come and gone again in Indiana. This weekend features a short track, downhill, and XC event as part of the Dino series and is also a AMBC event. That being the case, it usually draws a few more people than our usual series. I was excited to do the short track race to get a good gauge about how my prep for cx has been going since it is somewhat similar in styles. I was not, however, excited about the XC since I would place this trail on my "not so good at" places for me to race. You can about guess what that means for me, ie: climbing. I do feel it has a few more places for me to lay the power down on some flats than French Lick did and I was ready to give it my best and see how I faired. I felt once again that I prepped well for the week before and had a focused fresh diet and rested well. It was fun to take the RV down and this venue is always a cool place to RV it.
Friday night saw my travel mate Josh Johnson (7th in elite ST) and I arrive late since I had to work a bit late in the OR Friday. We set up camp and hit the lights out around 1am. A holiday weekend in an RV is not the best for sleeping since every person in the world seems to want to blow things up. I heard the "fun" until late in the night. I kept imagining some firecracker landing on the propane tank that would blow us into the sky... thankfully that didn't happen.

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(photo by Matt Link)

Thankfully, we got the day started off right. The temps were nice and comfortable and I was able to enjoy some nice hot coffee without having to worry about drinking water instead. I had a nice prep for my short track race and went to the line ready to roll. We had a sweet turnout for the women and I thought that was pretty cool and was happy to see all the gals come out and race. I rather enjoy this st coarse a lot and my goal was to race as hard as I could to win and conserve when I could. I got a great start and was pleased to see I could still lay down some good vibes on the flats and I kept flickering to thoughts of cross and the months to come throughout the race. I really can't wait to see if all the hard work and focus after the surgery will pay off in my main discipline. Anyway, I rode a fast 10-15 minutes and stayed pretty much with the sport men before I started to lap some women. I decided at that point to lay off the gas for a few laps and conserve my energies for the other races. I rested and raced at times to finish off the 31 minutes and was very pleased with things in the end. Which leads me to this: apparently my own personal strategy of taking a few lap slow here and there appeared that I had some sort of race tactic surrounding the other racers out there. Looking back, I see how my slowing down at times came across as slowing the field down, but I promise I had no intentions of this at all. That gives me waaay more credit then I deserve. So to Emily and Meridith, this is my public apology for messing up your races in any way. It wasn't my intention. I was simply trying to conserve.

After the ST I decided to "race" the downhill. I did win the event, but I can't take much credit for it since I pretty much went as fast as I could on the single track, then ran the techy stuff.
After the day's events were over, the temps began to shoot up and Josh, myself, and a few others hit up some swimming in the river. The view in the river of the surrounding bluffs and boulders were truly amazing and God gave us a wonderful afternoon of viewing some of his handy work while cooling off. Aside from a near disaster of me almost losing my croc in the river, requiring a major rescue mission- Saturday turned out the be a great day!

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(Pushing thru the heat for XC. Photo Matt Link)

With a full day of fun on Saturday in the books, Sunday proved to be a bit less "fun." By wake up time, the AC was already kicking on in the RV, and the temps would keep on rising the whole day. The best part was that we finally got to race this place DRY! Not only do I dislike racing here, I really dislike it when it is wet. So nice to have a dry race and, all in all, it was a fun trail to ride. I had a good start and thought I felt good in warm ups, but halfway up the first ascent I knew I was gonna struggle on the days climbs. I just didn't have much snap. Couple that with the heat, and it would be a really tough day of racing for all. I lead for a while then had Amanda pass by me on a climb. I hung on her wheel for most of the 1st of 3 laps and was actually pretty happy with being able to stay with her on the climbs. She is such a strong climber- I give her the polka dot jersey for our class! Once the real climbs began I slowly drifted back... or she ahead, and settled into second. About that time I burped my front wheel on a rock and spent a whole lap riding around almost flat and very tender before smarting up and stopping to air it up some. That helped me at least be able to corner a little better, but it was still pretty sketch as I only had 10psi at the finish check.

I soldiered on the remainder of the race and I was pretty happy with how I climbed and managed to ride despite feeling like my front tire could roll at any moment. The heat was pretty bad and shortly after the awards ceremony, I felt the affects of it hit me and had to lay down in the AC. I was so very thankful to be able to have the RV with AC to lay down and chill out a bit before making the drive back home.

So... 1st in ST, DH and 2nd in the XC. Kudos to Amanda Mckay of Shamrock Cycles, she had a strong race and deserved the win!

I'm back to hitting some training for a couple weeks and will take a bye week from racing. The short stint at ST has me starting to look forward at planning for aligning training for cyclocross... it will be here before we know it and some signs of Cross are in the air... or maybe my mind.

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” – Galatians 6:9