Slow Going

It’s been about a month since the collision happened now, and recovering from the concussion has been frustratingly slow going. Over the weekend I made my second attempt at running since the incident, and the next day I was nauseous and dizzy again. I had been looking forward to being healthy enough to do the prep work and testing week that my coach has had the team doing, begrudgingly accepting that I’d just be a week behind. It took me a lot of internal arguing and self-reflection but ultimately I accepted that it just isn’t time yet. I wrote my coach that I wasn’t ready. Then I sat down and cried.
It’s not all a sob story – it gave me some important realizations. One is to crystallize my goals and intentions. My wife told me “at least it didn’t happen the month before a race.” Sage advice, to be sure, but in hearing it, I realized that the race isn’t my ‘why.’ It’s not actually the most important thing to me, not by a long shot. I’m gunning for consistency and lifestyle change, becoming a “full-time-part-time” athlete. That’s what had made me sad – the realization that I had to let go of my ambitions to be consistently active through this period of the year, which has always been my most challenging period. I was so motivated and prepared and ready to do it. My brain just isn’t ready yet. But now I clearly see what’s most important to me – consistency over time. So I feel more prepared to be patient and exercise restraint.
My goal now is to be healthy. I want to do my baseline tests, not because everyone else is doing them, but because they will give me and my coach information and data that will make it achievable for me to train consistently over the long term. That’s the point of doing it. And I suppose I have my bruised brain to thank for the realization. I guess concussions are good for something.

In the good news of the day, I got my bike back from the bike shop, and it’s a thing of beauty.  Upgraded wheelset means it dropped a full pound.  It’s so light now, it’s like it doesn’t even exist! 

Crash

I went for a trip to Canada about a month ago, and brought my bike along so I wouldn’t miss any training days. I told my coach what I was up to and had him give me all my swims during the week, so that the weekend would just be run/bike. That proved more intense than I expected, and two days in a row in the pool had me pooped. I was looking forward to riding in new places, though, so I was pretty sure it would work out okay.

I went up on Thursday night, so my first ride was on Friday. I plotted out a route that seemed reasonable and would take me alongside a river. It was a city road, but there was a bike lane and a fair number of Strava segments on it so the circumstantial evidence pointed to it being an okay place to ride.

When I finally got out there, it had started to snow. Not a big deal for me normally, and I was already dressed for the cold. What I didn’t anticipate was the effect that melted snow would have on the pavement. I would find out soon enough though.

The road was two lanes on either side with a median in the middle. At an intersection, I slowed until I had a green light, then pedaled forward. Whereupon a car suddenly appeared, turning left right in front of me. I clutched my brakes and found myself hydroplaning. Everything went into slow motion. I wasn’t scared or surprised at that moment. I was just…annoyed. “Goddamnit,” I remember thinking, “I’m going to wreck my bike.”

And I did. I don’t remember how, exactly, I hit the car, but I was told later that I took out the rear view mirror on the passenger side with my hip (I definitely had the injury to prove that one). I think I then rolled over the hood and landed sort of in front of the car. I remember hitting the right side of my head on the pavement, hard. “Wow,” I thought, “that didn’t even hurt.” It was true, it didn’t at the time. My helmet had done its job. It would hurt later though. A lot.

An ambulance was called, I think by the driver of the car, and the police arrived, all within maybe ten minutes. It was only after I was in the ambulance that I started to feel anything besides adrenaline. That dropped away and all of a sudden I felt extremely nauseous and I noticed pain in my hip and knee. I was dizzy and couldn’t focus well either.

The hospital visit was pretty smooth overall. The diagnosis was a concussion, with nothing broken, just some hard bruising on my hip and some road rash. They let me go with instructions for painkillers and rest.

My bike, on the other hand, didn’t fare quite as well. However, it looked like the frame was intact and only the wheels, bars and components had really been affected. Considering that I still hadn’t paid for all of it, that was a very good thing.

Since the collision I’ve basically been waiting for my head to get better. I’ll write more about that next time.