(Made up this mountain in Beaver Creek, CO... and a few other mental ones along the way!)
Lately, I've been climbing all sorts of mountains. The biggest mountain I'm working on making it to the top of is my recovery bell curve. The smaller mountain was Cottonwood pass in Colorado last week at around a quantity of 12,50o ft at the peak. I find it very interesting that some of the biggest measurable obstacles seem so much more less significant to the spiritual, medical, and emotional obstacles I've faced lately. But on all fronts, I see everyday that I am heading out of the black hole I was in... even though some days I have to take a few steps down, that's no problem with me.
I continue to make leaps and bounds in my recovery. After being told that most people don't even walk with the critical illness myopathy for 3 months; I actually rode my bike in Colorado at that mark! Granted, it wasn't my average pace and to most, I looked like a recreational, occasional cyclist... but I could have cared less. I was riding my bike people! 3 months ago I couldn't even breathe!
(Me and Suzan went for a easy trail spin at Buena Vista, the views were amazing)
Let me back up, so I still have been battling the fatigue and shortness of breath from letting the lungs heal up, but my good friend Anne decided she wanted to do a last minute trip to CO for the US Pro Challenge and take her 2 youngest gals with her. Being that I didn't have any type of work schedule to follow, I really wanted to go since my days around the house were starting to make me feel like I was in an infirmary prison. But given that I just had a major pulmonary event and CO is a bit higher then IN, I needed to make sure all my doctors would feel it was safe to go. Long story short, I discussed the trip at length with all the wizards, and with precaution, I was given the go ahead a few days before we were set to head out! Splendid!
So off we went, we had a nice trip and arrived at Buena Vista to watch the start of stage 1 in Salida. It was fun to watch the gals see a pro event up close for the first time, but even cooler to see young gals be big fans of cycling. It was a busy day and we tried to pack everything we could into the time we had, so I was pretty much exhausted from the start of the trip. I thought for a while that I was having a hard time sleeping as a result of the strange bed, but the more I think about it the more I think it was because of the high altitude. So I guess I won't be getting a altitude tent to sleep in anytime soon.
(My travel mates: Anne, Suzan, and Bethany Young)
(Suzan and Bethany didn't know this guy at first: posing with Bobke)
(Yeahhh... mtb trails!)
The next day we wanted to be at the summit of cottonwood pass that was just a short ways away from where we were staying. All of us gals took off at the base of the mountain early in the morning to allow plenty of time before the racers came by. I was going very slow but I made it to the top along with Bethany (17) while Anne and Suzan felt the effects of the thin air and had to take a slower trip up by foot. During my slow ascent myself I was feeling that familiar "burn" in the lungs from exercise, and despite the fact that this had ever been the highest to the sky my body had ever been and that I had been off a bike for 2.5 months and I was now climbing a mountain, it didn't even come close to the difficulty of breathing or the pain I had when I was in the hospital. NOT EVEN CLOSE. I think I'll hang on to that thought for a while. What I went through puts pain and discomfort in a whole new light.
(Took me a long time, but made it to the top of Cottonwood between the Colliegate Peaks)
Bethany and I had a blast and it truly felt like we were on the top of a climb in the TDF. I met tons of people and it was a cool party atmosphere while we all waited for the 5 minute time frame that the riders would pass us. After a strong storm dumped a nice chill on us (we were freezing above tree line), we (or more like I) screamed like teenage girls when the riders passed by! Very cool.... but not as cool as racing myself. Made me miss it a lot.
(Some firepower at the Avon stage start: Andy S., TVG., and Levi)
The following days we spend in the Vail/ Avon area. We watched to TT and the start of the Avon stage. I was able to spend some time at the D2 shoe factory and meet legend Don Lamson who makes the best cycling shoes you could ever imagine putting on your feet. I fell in love with Eagle, CO and am seriously thinking of moving there. Time will tell and I think a winter visit would give me a idea of it better. Having never been to CO before, it was a place I really felt like I belonged. It really is an area built around the outdoors and that's what I live for! Something for me to seriously think about....
(I spent my share of time in the hot tub looking at the mountains)
In other news, I was really pleased with how the ankle held up, and despite some major swelling and surgical discomfort, the terrible nerve pain remained absent. Dr Porter said it would be a couple more months before that subsided, but compared to the misery I was in before, I'm not complaining at all.
Otherwise, I was so happy to be back to work part time this week. I had my first day Monday and that happiness quickly faded as it didn't go as well as I hoped it would. Even though I felt very safe to take care of people, it took every bit of energy I had to make it through a short day. I worked a few hours, needed a 4 hour nap, then topped it off with a 12 hr night's sleep. I'm praying this was more related to my lack of sleep and body clock being on mountain time and will find out soon enough in the morning. I know each day isn't going to sail along as smoothly as I would hope for, so I just have to keep in mind how far I have come and know that I can and will make it to the peak someday with this illness. Some days I look back and shake my head and am amazed at just how far I have come from where I was in the days I spent in the hospital where it took too much energy to even be able to simply say a few words at a time. God really has given us amazing shells that can recover and regenerate from extremely tough circumstances!
So I just keep climbing the mountains one step at a time and eventually the glory of the view will take my breathe away (in a good way)!
(Sunset near Buena Vista Trailhead: a picture could never do it justice, but it's still nice to look at.)