My account of life both on and off of two wheels...... "At least I'm enjoying the ride"

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Good Choice.

View from the Croton Bridge.  

For those that did not already know, I did not race this past Sunday at the Chainstretcher.   It was a very last minute decision- so last minute that I changed my mind at the entrance to the door of registration. 

It had rained a little the night before.  Just enough to make the roots a bit wet and slippery but that was only part of it.  As I pedaled from the parking lot up to the registration area, I kept trying to ignore the ache in my hand.   I was getting a tug in my gut and not like race day jitters sort of tug either.  More like, what am I doing? Then I saw a friend of mine who happened to be there the day I crashed.  He looked me up and down, saw me in my biking clothes, noticed my hand all wrapped up and said, “You are not going to race today, are you?!”  It was that sort of a fatherly comment that pretty much sealed the deal.  He said what everyone else wanted to say but didn’t.  It was just not a good choice to race that day.

G did race - here he is crossing the finish line all smiles!

Not racing was one of my best decisions I have made.  I was disappointed, especially since my legs actually felt good that  morning.  But this gave me a couple more days of healing and my hand is so much better for it.   I was able to get a good spin on the road bike Tuesday and managed a short Single Speed ride at Graham Hills on Wednesday evening.

I am not 100% healed up but pretty close to it.  I am making the choice to race this Sunday at the SingleSpeed-a-palooza.  It is a longer race- 28 miles but there are not any long down hills that will put a ton of pressure on my hand.  I think I am good to go and the weather looks perfect for race day!


Saturday, April 21, 2012

To race or not to race?

I have been nursing my hand since last Sunday with lots of ice, wearing the annoying splint and staying off the bike (sort of).  

I decided to take a spin class on Wednesday morning just so I can keep my legs moving and not have the concern of having to hold on.  Besides being more boring than I remember, it was a good spin.  It is so different when you know the weather outside is perfect and you have to be inside. 

Thursday I had a Pilates session with my friend Joy at Body Wise Studio.  She has watched me and helped me come back from two major surgeries and all my treatments.  Just last week she was telling me how strong I have gotten-I have worked really hard and Joy has been a big part of my comeback.  I walked into the studio almost ashamed that I had hurt myself.  Of course, she was just so happy I did not break anything or land on my ‘demon side’ which is what she calls my left side (the cancer side).
The impact of a fall can be so traumatic on the body.   Since the fall, my body had gone into healing mode, so I was feeling really tight and cramped up, even after I had done some stretching at home.  As usual, she quickly got me moving into a routine and still worked me over even without the use of my hand.  The amazing part of Pilates is how it helps me to open up my body in ways that I can not do any other way.- It helps me to feel centered again.  I came out of the studio Thursday feeling taller and stronger than when I went in.  I love those sessions with Joy. 

Thursday was such a nice evening and G got home on a little earlier train.  We decided that maybe we could try to ride up the Aqueduct to see how my hand would feel.  It is a relatively smooth pedal,  so it was probably the best way to test out my hand.  I wore my brace, but I was favoring my hand so much I was hardly holding on to the bar especially going over any sort of bump. 

Friday, I rested and iced.

It has been healing surprisingly fast.  My palm is still a bit swollen but nothing like it was.  The bruising is better than two days ago.  I can make a fist, but I still cannot squeeze my hand completely.

A couple days ago.  

So, what does this mean for racing Sunday? 

Today is Saturday, the day before the race.  I decided to do a very mellow pedal around the race course.  I wrapped my hand and wrist up in an Ace bandage hoping that would give me some support,  but allow me to move my hand better.  It went pretty well except for the downhill sections.  I had to go pretty slow as the pressure on my hand was just too much.  It felt great to be out there and I rode almost all the technical sections.
I did walk the section I crashed on.  Mostly it was because I had to stare so hard at the rock I messed up on wondering -why on earth would I have chosen that line?

I am still unsure.  It is set to start raining tonight and into tomorrow.  It is sort of swaying me away from racing.    Blue Mountain is technical enough when dry, that with the rain can make it traitorous.   Plus without a strong and stable grip on the handle bars- I could end up in a ditch again. 

I could go out there and just ride the race but that would not be the same.  I want to race, not just go for a ride.

Good luck to all of you that are racing this weekend.  I will see you out there one way or another. 


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Any Other Sunday

The day before.  

We woke up Sunday morning April 15, my 2 year ‘cancerversary’.  It was just like any other Sunday.  G and I ate our breakfast and gathered our things together to get to the trailhead.  It was a gorgeous morning and we were meeting our friend Tony at Blue Mountain.  He was only down from Vermont for the day so we decided to change plans last minute.  Our original plan was to ride the road bikes since we had been going pretty hard on the dirt lately.   I was sort of tired but really happy to be meeting up with Tony and a couple other friends that I have not ridden with in a long while.   It helped to put a bit of extra something in my legs. 

Totally focused- Sunday's ride before...

We decided to start off the ride doing the chainstretcher race course loop.  I was feeling pretty ‘on’ with my technical skills that morning and felt surprisingly strong.  We were going at a pretty nice clip when about 3.5 miles into the loop it happened…That quick lack of judgment or bad line choice that changes everything. 

I went over the bars and rolled down a ledge only to land on my head and my right hand.  It sounds a lot more dramatic when I write it out but it was a pretty good crash.  Nobody even saw me.  Most of the guys were ahead of me and G and Tony were behind me a bit. By the time they rolled up on me, I was trying to climb out of the pile of rocks and leaves.  This is a known spot for crashes and is one that I usually take a bit more cautiously. 

I have been pretty lucky with most of my crashes in the past and have been able to at least ride out of the woods.   I had no choice this time.  I could not hold the handle bars, was pretty dizzy and in quite a bit of pain from my hand that I thought it could be broken. 

To be on the safe side, we took a trip to the ER to get an x-ray.  Thankfully, it is not broken.  They gave me a splint to help keep it stable and sent me home to elevate and ice.  I would have updated sooner but it has not been so easy to type.  It still hurts but it is so much better than I thought it was going to feel.  The swelling is coming down a lot and my whole palm and wrist is turning deep shades of purple.  I think it is healing!

This is a minor setback in the grand scheme of things and I remind myself that it can always be worse. 

I am unsure if I will be able to race this Sunday at the Chainstretcher but only time will tell.  It all depends on if I can hold onto the handle bars or not.    

I am off the bike until further notice.  
This was not how I had planned to spend my day celebrating or starting my racing season but that is how life works.  This could have happened on any other Sunday.  It is mountain biking after all and I would not change a thing except maybe I would have taken a better line.

It is time for those super hero healing powers to kick in anytime now.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Graduation Day!

Yesterday was my 4 month follow up with my medical oncologist, Dr W.   I have been feeling pretty well overall so there was not too much to discuss.  We had some of our normal conversations regarding my dizziness, my arm pain and we discussed my joint pain.  “It is what it is” was her response.  This is her typical response.  She is not dismissive of these complaints but has no solid answers for me.  Her thought is that most of this is still residual effects of all the treatment.  I agree with her and think that the Tamoxifen is also playing a part.  
She seemed pleased with last month’s blood work from my internist but still ran our standard.  Results were overall fantastic and my tumor markers were stable so I have graduated from every 4 months to 6 month follow ups!   This is a big deal in the cancer vortex.  I was a little surprised but Dr W is not a worry wart.  “You are all good- just call me if something comes up“were her last words as she walked out the door.  

I had an extra bounce in my step as I left the building knowing that my next appointment with her was not until mid-October! 

Although this is not a graduation of completion (that will never happen), I will take this milestone as a wonderful gift for my two year “cancerversary”!

I honored my body for all its hard work with a quick celebratory pedal in the woods during my lunch break. 

We have come a long way…


Monday, April 9, 2012

Racer Girl.

Blue ride with my guy.  Only break that we took that day. 

Two years ago almost to the day, I was training to race my first Cat. 1 mountain bike racing season.   To some, that may not be that big of a deal and for others, you may not even know what I am talking about.  There are 4 cross country mountain bike racing categories.  Cat. 3 (beginner), Cat.2 (Intermediate or sport), Cat 1 (Expert) and then if you are lucky enough to get sponsored, there is Pro.   I had raced a year and a half in Cat 2.  My first full season in Cat 2 was in 2009 and because I had such great results, it was time to challenge myself a bit further.  This mostly means that the length of the race would go up but it also has a lot to do with the competition.  The racers are stronger. 

Ten days before my first race in April 2010, I was completely derailed with a cancer diagnosis.  I went from training for bike racing to using all that strength up kicking cancers ass with surgeries and ridiculous amounts of treatment that has changed my body forever. 

I have since been trying to build up my strength to race competitively in this 2012 season.  If you have been following along, you know that last year I did race and completed two endurance races.  While I do not want to down play those races, they were clearly not my most competitive.  My results were not what mattered most.  It was my way to say “Fuck You” to cancer.  It was all about picking a goal and finishing it.  I needed something to distract me.  I have always used cycling as my escape and cancer did not change that.  I had no expectations.  Nor did I really feel like anyone else did either. 

This year, I want things to be different.  I do not want to be that “cancer girl” on the start line- I want to be the racer girl that feels she can compete with the best of them.
I have been going back and forth in my mind about racing this season in Cat 1 or Cat 2.  After checking in on my ego, I realize the best choice for me is to start back in Cat. 2 and see how it all goes.   I can always move up from there.
My first race will be the Chainstretcher on April 22.  It is the first race of the Hudson to Highlands race series as well as my first race really ‘back’ to racing.  It is held on my home turf and at one of my favorite places to ride – Blue Mountain Reservation
I really have no clue how this race will pan out but as I line up on that start line, I hope to find that inner racer girl again.