Hello friends! Well here we are at the end of June, with half the year gone. I have been beavering away at the personal goals I set at the beginning of the year as well as cutting my teeth on a new course of study. I am half way there with the weight loss and on the psychological side, in the thick of it with trying to access the subconscious mind – that is much easier said than done. It has been twelve months since I hopped on my bicycle and started the long, torturous road to rehabilitation and if I knew that a full recovery was going to take twenty four months, I would have thought you were lying. After twelve months, I had hoped to be back to almost full capacity on the bike, but it seems like there is still much work to be done before I’m competitive again. At this stage, I’m not sure whether that will ever happen and suffice to say, it’s been a bit of a psychological blow. The problem with hamstring avulsions, surgery and subsequent recovery, is that there’s scant information about recovery timelines and much of the ability to recover, it seems, hinges upon whether you had an early repair (done within days of the injury) or a late one. My repair was classified as “late” and most of the available data points to less successful outcomes, especially where moving at a higher athletic level is concerned. However, compared with the prospect of not having my hamstring reattached, I’m doing well. It’s just that I didn’t expect the recovery process to be so long.
This was highlighted to me when I participated in the Lifecycle 80km road race last Sunday. It was a handicapped affair. The combination of a terrible handicap and a silly mistake on my part, known as bad positioning, meant I was dropped within the first few kilometres. Then I had been able to grab the wheels of the next bunches following through and had completed the first of two laps in a reasonable time. The second lap was a different story – I was completely on my own, after the gentlemen I was riding with pulled the pin at 40km. I had been sorely tempted to throw in the towel as well, but I remembered that I had made the commitment to myself to complete the race so I pressed on. It was cold, windy and miserable as I traversed the Brisbane Valley Highway, the headwind biting into my ribs and warmth leaving my poor numb toes. The insertion of my hamstring into my ischial tuberosity (“sitz” bone) throbbed mercilessly. I was running out of water. The grey skies matched my mood. Massive road trucks hurtled past me and as I ticked off the first half of the second lap without seeing a soul, I wondered if anyone would actually realise that I was still on the course. Missing a transponder? Um, that would be me! My hamstring continued to complain and I reduced the pace to protect it and started to visualise what it feels like for me to be doing a long solo effort. I reflected upon the recent “Hobbit/Lord of the Rings” DVD bender I’d just been on with the family. I could hear Aragorn in my head yelling, “one day the courage of men will fail, but it is not this day!” I wondered if completing this race was a courageous act or whether I’d be viewed as a try hard has-been. I decided that I just had to run with mad courage and continue to keep things positive. With 15km to go, I could hear the sweep car behind me. I was able to collect some water – big thank you to the Lifecycle volunteer, and better hydrated, I was able to complete the return journey back to Lowood, in dead last position and was grateful that the torture was completed. The great part was to see fellow teammates and friends who, upon seeing that I was a little worse for wear, propped me up with lemonade, hugs and muesli bars. After regaining some sanity with food in my belly, it was lovely to be able to give them a big cheer for their podium placings.
In the interests of brutal honesty, I felt rather despondent after the race. It wasn’t that I had expectations about doing well in it, but I don’t think I had expected to be in such a world of hurt, particularly from a hamstring point of view. That last 40km had been a miserable affair. Although I had completed what I had set out to do, I didn’t feel any sense of achievement. All I could think of was that at 14 months post surgery and 20 months post accident, that this “wasn’t what I’d signed up for”. Again, after a lot of rumination, it appears that my expectations and goals need to be reset – which may mean grading down, racing a lot less, if at all, and just riding my bike for fitness, no more, no less. I am about to give running another crack and will give myself three or four weeks at it before deciding whether I will do the Noosa triathlon. I don’t want to do an event if it means that I am going to be in pain for a lot of it – I want the physical activity I do in my life to be challenging, but enjoyable – otherwise, what’s the point?
It’s funny how the mind works. With the thought of not having to race or compete again if I didn’t feel like it, a load was lifted from my shoulders this morning. Despite having a very tired body from Sunday’s adventure, I genuinely enjoyed doing some frosty Graceville efforts with the girls, followed by a potter around the gym afterwards, realising that I was doing well with my deadlifts without thinking about them too much. At today’s physio visit, I was able to do a single supine bent leg lift on my crummy leg – for the first time in 20 months. Today’s lesson is that the body marches to the beat of its own drummer. I wanted it “fixed” in a certain period of time, but that’s apparently not how it works. I will continue to improve but there is no time frame.
Here’s to playing.. and pottering.