Next to Normal

Such an eventful week, so little time to write.

Last Sunday was just the start of a horrible downward spiral. I failed to mention last week that after my bad race at Mason Lake 1, I went on a 5.6-mile run. I fell about 15 minutes in, skinned both my hands and bruised my right hip, knee and elbow. I decided to keep going, but almost fell another 6 times. I have always been aware of my clumsiness, but this had reached a new high. After licking my wounds, I started my work and training week with hopes of turning such a bad day into fuel for a solid week ahead.

Well, things were fine until I got to the track on Tuesday. I ran one lap with the team and noticed I was doing all sorts of crazy things to compensate for the pain in my right foot—a pain I had started to notice on the previous Wednesday. I decided to stop. I am not a quitter, but my body was begging me to stop. Defeated, I headed home.

Wednesday, my foot ached and resigned myself to wearing my Danskos (aka ‘old lady shoes) until it felt better. I didn’t do my lunch run but headed to Seattle Multisport for my computrainer session. My bike had more mechanical issues, but I was more concerned about how much it hurt to even put my foot into my bike shoe. Leina suggested a podiatrist for me to see and I resolved I would call first thing in the morning.

I made good on my promise, and called the doctor. I was able to get in for an 11 am appointment. He pressed down on my foot and I yelped. He pressed down again and I yelped louder. Man, it hurt. So matter-0f-factly, he told me I probably had a stress fracture in my foot and that I wouldn’t be able to run for the next 6-8 weeks. It took my breath away. I started to cry. I’m not sure if anyone understands how bad I want to do well at Ironman CDA. He smashed my hopes into a million pieces. As tears streamed down my cheeks, I went for X-Rays. Thankfully, there wasn’t a ‘dreaded black line’ as the doctor called it, but I still needed to rule out a fracture with a bone scan. He sent me on my way in an ‘air cast’ boot and told me I was lucky I didn’t need crutches. Needless to say, it was a dark day.

I spent most of Friday adjusting to my new reality. I got up early and focused on what I could still do—swim and aqua jog. I swam an endurance set of 3,500 yards followed by a 30-minute jog. I will never make a crack about water aerobics again. That jog was hard. I wasn’t huffing and puffing, but my legs were burning. Once I got to work, the sympathetic looks flooded my way. It just made it worse. I don’t want excuses. I just want to be able to do the best I can. Nowhere on the results do they place an asterisk that says *suffered injury during training.

Aqua jogging. Don't knock it until you've tried it.

Saturday was the last day of a very tumultuous  week. Thankfully, my doctor said I could ride my bike, so I did. I decided to race Sequim 1.

As I am VERY motivated to upgrade, I chased down anything I thought might go up the road and stayed near the front almost the whole time. Towards the end of the second lap, I was stuck mid pack when some really strong riders made an attack up the road. I panicked, finally found a way out, and gave my all to bridge up to the break with another racer from FareStart. Even though I was exhausted, I quickly got into the rotation, trying to make the break stick. Unfortunately, we were caught about a mile or two later and I had definitely used up some matches. I remained toward the front as to not end up in a similar situation. Headed into the final sprint, I was out front, flanked by a Bikesale leadout train on one side and a Group Health train on the other. I knew it would be hard to win from where I was, but I was hoping to avoid getting stuck (and maybe finding a wheel on the way in.) I finished 8th in the sprint. Frustratingly, that is the first position to receive zero upgrade points.

My attempt to bridge to the breakaway.

Sunday was the start of a new week and a fresh beginning I desperately needed. After having a ton of mechanical issues at Mason Lake 1, I was ready for some redemption. This was a cat 4 series race, and I had done well enough the weekend before to get to wear the Leader’s Jersey. I started to have flashbacks to my very first race two years ago at Mason 2 with the pouring down rain. Our race is only 2 laps around and I figured I can do almost anything for 24 miles.

The first ½-3/4 lap was extremely uneventful—we were all getting our bearings with the wheel spray in our faces. Then, I see Group Health congregate and send a girl off the front, taking 2 Bikesale girls with her. I managed to make my way through and catch the break, along with a rider from Oly Ortho and Gregg’s Trek. Because we were so well represented, the break actually stuck this time!! It was my first time in a successful break. Being the most experienced and possibly the most senior (!!) rider in the break, I went into drill sergeant mode and commanded the group’s rotation. One particular Bikesale girl (notorious for sitting in and sprinting at the end) tried to skip pulls, and I wouldn’t let her. We got a good rhythm down, although Kelly from Gregg’s and I still ended up doing most of the work. At some point, we dropped the girl from Group Health which FREAKED me out and I pushed the pace some more. I was terrified that the pack would find out that we dropped her and start drilling. At one point, we got our own follow car and were told we had a 2-minute gap on the field.

Knowing I had the best TT/endurance engine in the group, I made sure that pace stayed really hot so the others were good and tired by the time we headed into the finish. We stayed away from the pack for a good 16-17 of the 24 miles. At the end, I knew Kelly from Gregg’s was the strongest wheel and I rode it all the way in. We ended up gaping the other 3 and I finished 2nd. That was my best finish ever in a road race and I now have more than half of my upgrade points and I get to keep my jersey! I almost didn’t care that I was soaking wet, covered in dirt and shaking uncontrollably. I finally had something to celebrate.

Covered in grime at the sprint finish at Mason Lake 2.

Monday, brought reality back around and my bone scan appointment. It is a two-appointment process. First, they shove a bunch of radioactive material into my veins and take scans of your soft tissue. Then, I came back in the afternoon after the radioactive stuff had a chance to settle into my bones for the bone scan. The technician was a jerk and completely insensitive to my situation. I’m sure he thought he was being funny, but I did not find this to be a laughing matter. From what I could see on the screen, I knew the news wasn’t going to be good.

Today, I was dealt the official blow. My doctor told me that I had done a real number—I stress fractured my 1st metatarsal, which is the one to my big toe. He continued to tell me that in his 20-year career, it is only the 3rd one he’d seen and was the 2nd worst one.

Now, here’s the thing. It should have shocked me, but it didn’t. I have always been a medical anomaly. As a kid, I contracted chicken pox THREE times. My body temperature is abnormally low. My white blood cell count is abnormally low. I was only the 2nd spinal leak victim from my lumbar puncture procedure my very experienced neurologist had ever had … and then the blood patch procedure failed, which he’d never seen. Sometimes, I JUST WANT TO BE NORMAL. Is that too much to ask? Maybe I’ll get lucky and my bones will actually heal faster than normal. That I could handle. But until then, you will find me in the pool … aqua jogging.

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4 Responses to Next to Normal

  1. heather says:

    oh honey! this is full of super great ups! and the crappiest of downs! damn! sorry about your toe doll. let me know if you wanna hear my broken toe story. completely idiotic. yours makes you sound figgin tough! such a lil baller! 😉
    heal, keep chin up, and aqua jog like you mean it! 🙂

    • carlsincharge says:

      I am going to become an aqua jogging champ. Sorry to hear that you’ve also broken a toe, it is noooo fun. So happy that you are doing well in California. Hopefully I’ll run into you again at a race this season!

  2. Condolences! I took up aquajogging c. 4 years ago because of a stress fracture also – I have to say, it is something that one would only resort to when injured, though I do think it should help you retain a lot of your run fitness!

    • carlsincharge says:

      Thank you. I strive to remain positive and hope you are right about retaining my run fitness. It sounds like you are doing Ironman CDA too! You are going to love it. This will be my second year doing it and it is inspiring and very challenging. I grew up in the area and it is beautiful. I wish you the best in your training and achieving your own goals!

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