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!
This ride was a milestone in my triathlon training adventure. Not a huge milestone, maybe more like a milepebble. But it was something that I felt proud of.
When my parents moved a couple of years ago to live closer to us, I jokingly suggested that I could start training for triathlons now, because they were close enough to bike to, and owned an Endless Pool. At the time it was just a lark. I was probably 50 pounds overweight and it would be at least a year before they even thought about installing the pool again, after dismantling it from their old house. Not to mention that the route between my house and theirs “ain’t flat” (to use a common expression around these parts).
Still, the idea never completely left my brain. It sort of percolated. And eventually, after a series of particular life events, I found myself training again. And the triathlon plan was a viable possibility.
This ride really solidified the reality of what I was trying to do. It wasn’t just that I had thought about doing this ride, and then eventually did it. It was that I could do it. It took weeks of training and reacquainting myself with my road bike to reach the point where I could ride 20 miles on my own without blowing up, much less on a route like this. But I did it, and that was a thing I did that I was proud of.
The ride was pretty much a steady climb for the first five miles, and included three Category 4 climbs, and my climbing muscles felt it. I learned a lot about my own personal riding on this ride, paying attention to how I positioned myself on the bike in order to focus on different muscles and relieve the pain of the persistent climb. I figured out that I could shift that pain around a lot by changing how I was sitting and leaning, and trade the effort off between different parts of my legs.
The payoff was a sweet extended downhill cruise to the flats, topping out at around 46 mph at one point, followed by watching a World Cup game with my Dad.
It was a good day, and one of the first days since starting this plan that exercise felt really, honestly good. It was great to have that feeling back again.