Keep movin’, movin’, movin’,
Though they’re disapprovin’,
Keep them doggies movin’ Rawhide!
Don’t try to understand ’em,
Just rope and throw and grab ’em,
Soon we’ll be living high and wide.
Boy my heart’s calculatin’
My true love will be waitin’, be waiting at the end of my ride.
I am, in my own opinion, the world’s crappiest rehabber. I’ve done a pretty good job throughout my career of not getting injured, so I’m think I’m pretty good at that. I know how to train, recovery, and – usually – race. But rehab is pretty new to me. That last I really needed to rehab from an injury, I was rowing, it was through a desire to heal that I discovered triathlon as a way to take a break from rowing. And I’m still taking that break…
I don’t really know how to do something. Generally, I just do it. I can’t give you a thought process for kicking the crap out yourself for a TT. You just do it. Have a plan – most often provided by the coach – and then execute it. But rehab isn’t really like that. The plan needs to be flexible. I will say that, finally, I’ve gotten over the hump of actually being ready to approach the whole process, and I’ve put myself back in the hands of my coach. For a while there, I just didn’t know what I’d be able – physically or (more often) mentally – to do. I look back on the past three months, and I wish that I’d done a better job. I don’t really know what that means. With training, I would know. It would mean getting the work done, focusing on what matters, training hard when it was time to train hard. But with rehab, I don’t know what it means. I suppose I look at it like training, which it is and isn’t. But I really don’t know.
I was allowed to swim on April 29, but I didn’t get in a pool until Monday May 10. Partly it was the rather large hole in my shoulder from extracting a popcorn size piece of glass, but really it was just a lot fear. My shoulder at that point wasn’t really so cooperative. I thought I’d hop in and become the world’s greatest kicker, until I realized that just holding a kickboard was hard enough on my shoulder. I found my way on and off to the pool. Some days, the disappointment of not being able to do what I wanted was more than I could bear.
I was allowed to run on June 10, and I ran that afternoon. I hammered my legs into the ground and 30min later I felt like someone had put my legs through a meat grinder. It was the hardest run I’d done in eons. I ran for eight days straight. About halfway through those eight days, my right knee – the one which took a major impact (most likely into my top tube) and which ended up sliced by the glass – started acting up. But I wasn’t going to let running be taken away again. I couldn’t. I’d waited so long to get it back. But I also hadn’t really prepared myself to run again. I guess I didn’t know how. For the past seven years, when I wanted to run, I just ran. Running was how I trained to run. But not anymore. So with the single most common affliction in orthopedic medicine – anterior knee pain – I gave up running not long after I felt like I finally had my life back.
Fortunately, about this time, my shoulder started to cooperate. I regained my range and my stroke. The nerve damage seems to be repairing relatively fast. I can swim and it feels reasonably good. I’ve started now – two months after I planned to start – focusing on my kicking. And my trips to the pool are things I look forward to know, instead of dreading as I did at first.
On June 26th, I got permission to ride my bike. But it sat in the corner – out of sight – because I was simply terrified to ride. But today, after being thwarted in my attempts to swim due to the holidays at one pool and repairs at another, and thwarted on yet another test run after 90 seconds of running, I decided that I had two choices. I could either do nothing – another day like those when I first left the hospital where walking from the couch to the refrigerator seemed like a task – and lose a little bit of my sanity. Or I could face my fears and ride. I chose the latter. Getting on the bike was the hardest part. As I rolled down the street, I almost turned around when I saw the first car. But I didn’t. It was one of the loudest rides I’d ever been on. The sound of cars passing me seemed deafening. I would guess that I could tell you when a car was about to pass me 10x sooner than I could have on Mar 22. My ears were ringing. It was a constant din. But the fear faded as each pedal stroke felt more and more normal.
I believe now I have a reasonable plan for what training will mean. I will trust Michael to keep the reins tight, something which I could not do when I first was allowed to run – I needed it. Not to train, but to run, to be outside, to move freely. It was a dark day when I finally owned up that I had done too much. I felt quite stupid. I hadn’t prepared. I hadn’t listened. I’d done everything wrong. And I suppose that admitting that now is a bit of me trying to commit this lesson to permanency.
But I can swim and it’s coming back faster than I expected. I hope the same will be true for riding. I said today for the first time that I might not race this year and really meant it. I hope that isn’t true, but another dose of reality has made me realize that it might be.
I apologize for the somewhat distracted nature of this. I set out to say something, and then realized I didn’t really know what. I rode my bike – which felt like a triumph – but it was really fear of another day of nothing that eventually won out over fear of riding, which makes me all too aware of the limits that I still have. It was the lesser of two evils – or fears – as the case may be. Not the greater of two desires.
There’s a road ahead. And I guess I know that I’m gonna have to hike it. I suppose there was some hidden hope that I’d get to hitch a ride, but that ain’t gonna happen. But I think I’m ready to do that. And I guess we’ll see. There have been a lot of fits and starts. Two steps forward, three steps back, and three steps forward, three steps back, and two steps forward, one step back. But I guess I’d just like to take that one step forward. A lot of days, I think that’ll have to be enough.
If this made any sense to anyone else, I’m glad. But if not, I guess it just means I’ll have to write again sometime soon, and maybe that’s no so bad either. There’s something about it that makes it real. I cried this morning because I tried to run and it hurt. And then I had a few tears on the bike simply because I was able to ride and nothing hurt. Life is a funny thing. I guess we just gotta keep rolling.