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.
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.
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.
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.