Monday, August 27, 2007

How far I've fallen

After my difficult trainer ride on Wednesday, I decided to take Friday off for some mental rest and a bike ride. I made the decision Thursday to end the pain killers, just sick of being high all the time and having to plan my travel schedule around freakin pills. So, I slowly awoke Friday morning, got Grace ready for "school" (what we call daycare, to prepare her for actual school), and then got some calories and water in me for a ride. I realized I wasn't 100% prepared, as I would have been for a big ride or a race, but I wasn't planning on setting any world speed records either.

I set off on the bike, and immediately noticed the difficulty level in getting up to speed and maintaining it. It had been 2.5 weeks since I had been on the road, after all. What was I expecting? Surely it would take a couple of miles for my legs to open up and start turning the gears with some sense of purpose. It took some time, but eventually I was able to push up into the low 20's for an average speed. I decided to ride through the corner that very well could have been the end of life as I had known it before August 7th. I wanted to go relatively quickly through it, but some firefighters (from the engine company that responded to my call, coincidentally) were testing out a fire hydrant, spraying water across the corner. I slowed to go through, not recognizing either of the heroes, and continued on up the long grade from that corner.

It was at this point that I really noticed my fatigue. Not being able to carry speed through the s-turn, I had to rebuild on the climb. But my legs were flat and my breathing labored. I just couldn't turn the pedals over. My average speed quickly dropped, and my plans to stop briefly at the bike shop and ride an additional 15-20 miles completely dissolved. All I wanted to do was end this ride. I was so disappointed. At CarolinaTriathlon, Jamie and Sideshow were happily surprised to see me out on the bike again, and we talked about various cycling and triathlon stuff. Jamie was trying to talk himself into racing the next morning at a local tri (which he wound up winning outright, I hear), and I was wishing I could even race. I went straight home after that, happy to have been able to ride, thankful that I was alive and had full body function, relieved at how rapidly I was healing, but completely dejected at how much fitness I had lost.

23.51 miles in 1:17:01 @ 18.32 mph avg

The rest of the day went well; Grace and I had some fun and played. Grandma called and offered to watch Grace over night on Saturday, which was a very pleasant surprise. I probably didn't make the most of it, but it was nice to relax and not watch any Dora or Little Einsteins. Sunday at church was great, and lots of people wanted to hear what happened while commending me on healing so rapidly. I felt good about life and really wanted to get back out on the bike and try to redeem myself for the weeks off. My legs did feel a bit sore, though.

The bike shorts slid on a bit reluctantly, with the sinking feeling that I may again be disappointed in my ride. Still, I was determined to do it. I took off and immediately struggled to maintain speed. I noted at key points that I was 2-3mph slower than I had been before. At about 7 miles into the ride I just wanted to quit. I could imagine pulling off the road, throwing my bike into the field, and having a big old tear-filled pity party. I contemplated officially ending my race season. Then I got a flat. What? Oh come on!!! Talk about kicking a guy when he's down! I changed it, at no blistering pace, while reflecting on how I felt. A nice older gent stopped to see if I needed a hand, but I was all set. Man, I felt low. Lower than when I was sitting on the sofa, drifting in and out of sleep, unsure of the extent of my injuries and their long term effects. Lower than when I saw the results of the Greenville Tri, and realized I probably would have placed 4th in my age group. Just emotionally wiped out.

I got the new tube in, flipped the bike back over (it's easier for me to change a flat with the bike upside-down), and decided I would turn around a couple of miles up the road and head home. I pulled a U-turn in a golf course parking lot, and headed back. Huge, ominous storm clouds were closing in, so I actually couldn't dilly-dally. I pushed hard on the way back, but just couldn't seem to get things going. My rear derailleur was out of adjustment and frustrating me, so I stopped a couple of times to adjust it. I made it home with only a few drops of rain on me, but completely dripping of sweat. And it wasn't that hot out: just the effort level to maintain such a dismal performance:

18.33 miles in 1:00:25 @ 18.20 mph avg

Yep, shorter than the previous ride, and slower. I gotta say, my happy tanks are pretty low when it comes to my current fitness. It feels like everything I've busted my butt for over the last grueling year of training is gone, and I'm almost starting over. I can't even imagine how difficult a run will be at this point. I'm kinda down about all of this. Freakin sucks! I was thinking of running at lunch, but perhaps I'll just get on the trainer tonight, or even skip a day to recover. Sorry to take Marcy's place as Debbie Downer on you guys. I'm told I will bounce back fast, given my base fitness level. We'll see, I guess.


J~mom said...

Ha! I thought I just took the place as Debbie Downer in what I just posted. I guess we can share. ;>P

David you are being way too had on yourself. You have got to give yourself a bit of time to catch up with all that has happened. You need to give the painkillers time to completely leave your system. Even though you have stopped taking them and the effects have worn off they still bog you down for a while (ok, well I just made that up really but let's go with it). You also need to realize that some of your body's energy is still being channeled to healing. Try to be patient....try to not get discouraged with your rides so far. You will bounce back and it will be fast. (((HUGS)))

Paul said...

Coming back is tough. But consistency makes all the difference. Soon enough you'll be better than you were. Hang in there.

Wes said...

I can't add anything to J~mom's sage advice except we expect you to recover with the same drive, grit, and determination it took you to get there, and we won't accept anything less, ya hear? You'll be all healed again soon, then you will be stronger... and we'll be here...

The One and Only Tigger said...

Thanks for backing me on J-moms log. They tend to hate the morning sickness thing.

Nicholas said...

Dude, it's a marathon not a sprint. This is a setback and a monkey wrench in your season, but your day is coming. You will recover, you will be stronger than you were before, and you will stand on a podium. Keep your chin.

Nicholas said...

add the word "up" to the end of that :-)

Michelle said...

Oh, David, I'm sorry you're feeling down about the bike rides. I imagine it will take a few times out to start getting back to where you were. And remember, your body got pretty beat up there! Don't feel bad if it doesn't want to respond the way you want it to yet.

Hang in there! It will happen! I would give you hugs, but that is kinda girlie. LOL!

Mendy said...

Ahhh...David... it's going to be okay. You have had a rough couple of weeks, and as you know - it's expected for you to be where you are, but, maybe not exactly - most people wouldn't have even gotten back on the bike this soon. It'll all come back soon.

Gotta Run said...

You are in a tough place right now. No getting around that!! It just plain sucks!! Good news is that your desire will not allow you to be there long. Continue to listen to your body and allow for recovery to take place.

Your new 100% will be off the charts someday very soon.

Jess said...

I'm sorry you're feeling down, but you do need to be patient with yourself. Your body just went through a tramatic event, and it needs time to heal and catchup with what you demand of it. Be nice to your body -- look at all it's done for you!