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Ironman Training: Back in the Saddle

After finding out about my fractured humerus a few weeks ago, I have been sticking indoors for training.  Riding on my trainer in the kid’s playroom is much safer than outside and most importantly limits the jarring motions on my shoulder. My plan was to wait until about 1 1/2 weeks before the race to take it outside, so I could maximize the healing time for my broken arm.  However, last week, I could not take it anymore. The weather was beautiful and I was sick of being inside looking at an iPad screen. The other thing eating away at me was the accident and not being able to truly “get back in the saddle” since it occurred. There have been over 2 dozen well intentioned people tell me that “best thing to do is just get back out there.” Of course, this is true, but I wanted to do so safely and not with a broken wing or torn up knee.

After having many sleepless nights reliving my near death experience, then falling asleep only to have nightmares about not being able to get out of my pedals, forgetting to put my helmet on as I crash, having high speed tire blow-outs, etc., etc. Just envision a horrific scenario on a bike and it has probably entered my mind in the past month. So as any good Nurse that happens to also have a Psychology degree would do, I self-diagnosed myself with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and decided that “best thing to do is just get back out there…overcome my fears”. That was an expensive idea that I had heard before…

So, last Tuesday I had a Brick on my training plan that I decided at the last minute to do outside. It was a 15 mile ride/1 mile run x’s 3. It was a spectacular day here and I was more than ready to get out of the confines of the room above our garage cluttered with toys and lacking sunlight. My kids were at a Summer day camp and my husband had the day off work, so it was a good day to be out on my bike. My kids were busy and if anything went wrong, my husband was at home to come pick me up!

I thought I would be nervous when I got on my bike, but I was fine. After so many weeks of not being able to bike because of my injuries, it was a relief to be back on it! I started out slowly, but within the first 6-7 miles, I felt fine. I did try to use my aero bars on a flat section of the ride. Unfortunately, that did not work so well because of my arm and the limited mobility I have right now. However, the good news was that I did not have any discomfort in any other position on the bike!  I finished the first 15 miles, did the run, then got back on the bike. I was thrilled to be outside riding on such a nice day!

I was 10 miles in to my second brick when a man pulled up beside me on my left. It did startle me a bit as I had not heard anyone behind me. The first thing he said was “Do you know your right knee is swinging out when you pedal?”…no introductions, just that. I’m sure my blood pressure went from 120/80 to 210/110 at this moment, but I smiled and said “yes, as a matter a fact I do know this, I’m having some trouble with my knee right now.” Then, he said,  “Well, ya know that is not good for your knee!” I smiled and initially was going to take the high road and thank him for his unsolicited advice, but I was angry.  I tried to keep my voice steady and said, “Look Buddy, I was in a horrible bike accident over a month ago. Today is my first day on the road, I have a banged up knee and a broken arm…I Do Know I am riding funny without you pointing it out.” He looked at me, my bike, as if to assess the damages, then said in a soft voice with a reddened face, ” I hope you heal up quickly” and pedaled away, as I slowed down. I was infuriated that someone would come up beside me and try to give me “pointers” about cycling. Honestly, I find some of the attitudes, elitism, and egos in “recreational cyclists” so appalling that it makes me want to hang it up for good (I hope to write an entire post on this subject some time in the near future). This guy was certainly not on the Pro circuit and had no business interrupting my ride!

Unfortunately, this set off many emotions, most of them being anger. My mind wandered off again to the day of the accident, the women with us never coming back, thinking we had “fallen behind” as opposed to accident, mechanical problems, needing help of some nature. I quickly tried to change the path my mind was taking to something light and focused on the beauty of the day and the scenery. “I am in Maine, riding my bicycle along the ocean, it is a beautiful, sunny day, and I am healthy and so thankful to be here at this moment!”

I finished my Brick and was happy! I felt good, had very little discomfort and was feeling more confident about tackling the Ironman!!