Saturday, January 31, 2015

Travel Day

Travel day.  Amazing getting over the peak then completely relaxed in Manchester airport. Talkative on the plane and coach and at dinner then a walk towards the lift before collapsing in bed.

Travel Day - good stress?

Most hated part of package holidays?

When you are your own responsibility and you have to get to the airport on time. This time massively improved by a mid-day departure meaning all I had to do was be in Cheshire by 11 am. Check-despite the snow over Woodhead.

At 12.30 we were duly dispatched to the airport by my dad and once through check-in without any illegal packages being discovered,  I could relax. I even bought myself a new camera to record my first package holiday in 2 years.

There wasn't even anyone to get annoyed with on the bus transfer and we were welcomed at our accommodation by the proprietors and the odour of cattle and hay. Welcome to my skiers' farm retreat.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Second physio on the calf muscle

Definition of a sports physio: when you turn up for treatment of your spasmed and very sore calf muscle with the news that you're going skiing next week and his response is, "Excellent!".

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Ladies who Lake

I started the day lazy. I don't sleep well at home at the moment. The snow was still falling at a rate that implied it would build faster than I could clear it so I had my breakfast and cancelled my review with my boss as he was in a row of 20 cars waiting to get towed out. As I sent a query to the customer about the state of their roads further North I saw the snowfall stopped, dressed in yesterday clothes and walked up to check the main road. Someone's car was being recovered from taking out the footpath handrail and I joined my neighbours in their debates about whether to risk it. I got the shovel and spent an hour shifting snow in 2 fine tracks from my car to the top of the hill. I sweated a lot but further to yesterday's post I found it absorbing, simple and therapeutic. I was a little concerned that after all the effort the car still wouldn't make it.

As the snow started to fall again I grabbed the car keys to move it before my tracks were filled again. To my absolute joy, no matter how I treated the Goji Golf it just eased its way up the hill. I slid back once. I found it ironic that the one person who had moved was parked outside the pub so I dived in their space and set about recovering the shovel and sleeping bag for the just-in-case and the essential mountain bike for my trip to the Lake District.

I popped in the office for my project file and lunch and coffee then continued on to my hotel.

The Lakes were clear but with snow on the cells. There were so many places I could have stopped on the way and done an epic ride but I didn't want to hurt myself and it seemed like such a pain to change my clothes and my plans in the car. Instead I watched the sun go down and followed a sheep trailer all the way to my hotel.
I was so glad I did. My room was exquisite. I still went out for a ride, tempting as it was to sit on the bed and stare.

The route started interesting, got consistent then steep. I kept running out of steam so I pushed rather than straining my calf on the bike. I zig zagged as much as possible though because walking was uncomfortable with the Carradice on the bike. The sheep eyed me through the dark, little green alien eyes glinting on the hillside. When it started to grate, I checked how much more climbing there was - not too much before I reached the top. Ahhh the joy of GPS. I pushed on and dropped over the top, views of Whitehaven, Workington and Sellafield streetlights opened up but sadly there was insufficient light to make out any of the fells ahead. I dropped off the back side of the hill, focused on the trail ahead, listening to the ice breaking behind my back wheel but managing to stay upright and mostly dry.

I joined a trail that skirted back around the hill I had just climbed, dropping steadily at first then steeper.  I thought it might be nice to do the route the other way around but loose rock and fallen trees put paid to that idea. It was enough to keep me engaged before the route opened up to track and I enjoyed the fast run out to the road. I unfulfilled the injured leg for the final stretch of bumpy path to ease the pain. Brilliant ride t hat totally justified the bath that followed it.

Now I am being wooed to sleep by an owl.

Page 3

I read this article yesterday (only just noticed the relevant title) which led me to  ask myself, 'do I like who I am when I am at work?'. The author is a project manager(?) who doesn't like spending time in construction meetings fighting over budgets.  Today I concluded that I do like myself when I am at work. Especially days like today when my knowledge seems valuable to others and I can share it fluently with a client who respects what I have to say. It helped that the sun was shinning and I got a ride on my bike last night.

As I drove home I listened to a radio program on radio 4 talking about our grandparents' generation being at their happiest during the war because they were tested time and again to their limits and I enjoyed the menial analogy with my own day - walking miles in the cold with a sore leg but getting on with it and forging friendships with strangers that I find myself thrown together with through chance and a common goal - to deliver the same project. With one half of my brain on my earlier statement that I like who I am when I do my job we agreed to let others argue over the finances and get on with the engineering.

I listened to radio 1 for a while. Snippets of information about page 3 girls being ditched from the Sun newspaper filtered through. First with a statement from campaigners about the objectification of women followed by the obligatory counter-statement from a topless model to say we were all missing the point that unrealistic womens' magazines do much worse for young girls mental opinion of themselves - presumably compared to middle aged men drooling over the prospect of her perfectly air brushed pumped up 26 year old (yes they specified) titties.

I wondered if I had ever done anything to hinder her career as a topless model and pondered at the years (and ageing processes) it has taken me to once again feel confident enough in my own skin to see today as a great opportunity to showcase my knowledge and chisel some ice (literally) without feeling smaller or the need to impress, just for being a girl.

Perhaps in the absence of a modelling career, someone would like to come and walk a mile in my steel toe capped boots?

Since political ranting on the internet is bad for my self-esteem I think I'll stop there and drink some more coffee whilst I get some work done waiting for the snow to stop falling so I can dig my car out and drive somewhere new to feel good about myself.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Recovery from Recovery

I took a recovery day today to allow my calf muscle to heal some more after all that I have given it to think about over the last two days.  It got as strenuous as walking into town via the Goodwin sports centre to check out the facilities and buying a book before getting the bus home.

It's been nice.  I'd like to say relaxing but I spent a lot of the time rewriting my training plan for this year which takes some time.

I now face the propsect of packing enough stuff to make a training plan happen in some way, shape or form, tomorrow and the rest of the week pretty much away from home.

Already I am planning my reclamation of Friday.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Enforced lay-off week

After watching the women's race on Sunday we headed home to Sheffield via a couple of stops to keep my leg moving. I gave up on being stubborn and started asking for the keys to disabled toilets at service stations. I've never noticed that in many cubicles (including those in the Neville Hall hospital in Abergavenny) only have 1inch between the swinging door and the pot. Not good if you're on crutches.

The journey was mercifully efficient. Walking into my own house on crutches was very weird. Going up my steep stairs was very weird but I got it sorted. Dosed up on drugs the night was pretty peaceful.

The muscle was doing better and better as the day went on. I worked from home which turned into churning out traverse training profiles to get my bonus for the year.

By the evening I was putting plenty of weight on my right foot as I walked with crutches.

On Tuesday morning I took one crutch to the bathroom and felt like a bit of a fraud so I started to make do without. I could put enough weight on it to press a brake pedal in an emergency stop so I drove to work with one stick in the car just in case.

Things were mending so well I didn't really think that a physio was going to be necessary I mean it would take me 6 weeks to see a nhs one anyway so I didn't bother with the doctor. I have had enough time sitting in waiting rooms.

Then on Wednesday, a work colleague told me how long it took him to recover from his torn calf. Same as me - back to walking in no time - but it took him weeks to recover his spring without feeling the strain. I texted my usual physio. She gave me some pointers but couldn't fit me in so next point of call is Accelerate running store.

Their sports therapist is in today and can see me. Yes! Inappropriately dressed in my work kit and borrowing a pair of silly large shorts he starts by counter-diagnosing the hospital. I don't care whether he is right or wrong, the glimmer of hope that I might not have torn it is something to cling to. He proceeds to maul my sore muscles into some kind of soft mass instead of the clawed, gnarly lump of scrap metal they previously represented.  Momentarily the pain all concentrates into my knee pit and Achilles and we have to stretch it all out to move it along.

He gives me some exercises to strengthen muscles around my pelvis which are forcing my poor calf muscles do all the work then ends with music to my ears that I should get on the bike to get the muscle moving.

Thursday starts stormy and windy with enough chill to hint at ice so I opt directly for the car again although a ride would've been nice. I sit in the same boring traffic on the way to the same boring projects and watch riders pass me. I feel envy.

I get through the day somehow and go for a haircut which makes me feel nice. I arrive early... allowing too much time for that bloody traffic. There's a running shop nearby where I find the perfect windproof jacket in the sale so now my evening is twice as good. I head home looking good and with an incentive to get well. Since TSK is going out to QioGong I have the house to myself to set up the turbo.

I started off quite wobbly and had a few stops to sort out my Garmin sensor. In the end I gave up and switched to the new one. For 7 minutes I have no idea what I achieved. I got back on and warmed up properly. I only managed another 22 minutes before my legs started to get twitchy. It was disappointing given that I was thinking of riding to work but on Saturday I didn't think I was going to be walking for 6 weeks so I guess I can't moan.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Cyclocross National Championships 2015

On Thursday I really wasn't sure about turbo in the evening but I actually felt like it so off I went. I had a good session. Possibly too good but it put me in a good frame of mind.

I was woken up on Friday morning by cats and eventually relented and got them breakfast.  I ate my own then went back to bed.
When I got up I faffed with the bike and chains for a while then we set off for Wiltshire for an evening with the Smiffs.  Unfortunately this wasn't a great plan.  Although I had a lovely time, my brain was super-excited to be at their house and stayed awake till 2am to make the most of it. We got up at 5.

Andrew drove most of the way while I slept like a sack of potatoes in the passenger seat.  Even then I didn't get much sleep as the car was buffeted by high winds all the way there.

I slept in the car for a while,  waiting for the sun to come up and the rain to stop as promised.  When I had run out of exxuses I went to sign on.

I had a good place on the grid. Second row,  next to Lynn, inevitably Maddie fluffed her gears. I didn't go too fast off the front and planned for recuperation of places as the race went on. However, multiple pile ups left me defending an untenable position as I bounced Lynn back into the race and passed Liz Clayton with her chain dangling off.
Finally normality waa restored.  Lynn and I got comfortable,  liz got ahead and Ruth Gamwell, on fresh legs, disappeared into the distance.

The course steadily got tougher and less rideable,  less readable. I tried hard to catch Lynn but she started to pull away from me. Looking for every advantage I could,  I was probably trying to ride more than I should have been able and at the extreme of the course I tried to ride a section one-footed. Instead of the pedal rotating behind me and up, under load, it rotated back and up with no resistance.

After that my calf started to ache very definitely but,  me being stubborn as I am,  I could cope with Lynn getting away but I was not getting caught by the next place rider.

In retrospect, if I  had made a decision to back off I might have stood every chance of sprinting my way to the same position in perfect safety... but I didn't.
Instead of focusing on a rider I couldn't see behind me,  I focused on trying to stay with Lynn.  I looked at my watch,  dismayed to see I had only progressed 5 minutes since the last time check at 20 minutes.  I was wondering if sticking with my slightly shorter red bike would ease the calf pain.  I came out of the woods,  jumped off the bike and as I took that first powerful leap forward,  heard a hideous popping sound from my calf muscle and my leg imploded in pain.

I took two hobbles forward to try and get out of the way. Cramp shot through my lower leg and my foot turned inward in a nasty, contorted mess. I waited to see if the cramp would go and let me continue.  By then, TSK was running over,  concerned and a marshal came too. I tried to move to one side to get out of the way and it was a painful struggle. I couldn't move and had no choice but to wish my next competition well and tell her I would be ok.

TSK did as instructed and went to find me a coat while I hobbled back to the car.  I couldn't let my right leg fall back behind my left and instead pushed it ahead of me uncomfortably. The most productive thing I could do was throw it over the bike and pedal one footed to the car. I was overwhelmed by offers of help from lovely lovely people who I had never even met.

In the showers alone I had no towel so I changed, held my head for a bit then settled down to wait for someone to come and get me.

TSK went to wash bikes. I lay on the warm tile floor with my foot elevated and shivered. Claire arrived first and we had a chat as she had suffered a similar fate a few weeks earlier.  Eventually TSK returned and Claire and another rider physically carried me out of the door from whence my prince brought my chariot and we sat and shivered some more at people passing by.  I was gutted to miss the men's v40 racing but we decided to go to A&E (1st trip of 2015) so I could be repaired and go and support my girl friends on Sunday - making due use of the hotel room I had already paid for.

4 hours later we left A&E and went straight to our hotel and in to dinner after watching some crappy tv. It wasn't how I intended to finish the season but it was a pretty good steak for a Premier Inn and obviously the enforced rest that I need.
For 2015 I have already found out just how much training is too much training.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Pre race turbo

I think that might have been too close to Saturday morning's race but hey, I will sleep well and am looking forward to my day off tomorrow. Don't want to rush this returning to work malarkey.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Back to work

A blur of being too busy, tryin to rest and then wake the legs up again in time for the weekend. Managed a sports massage yesterday while still high and an aerobic ride home. Now tired and grumpy.

The good news is that the bloods have finally been signed off by the doc - more or less - so time to get on with life some more.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

National Trophy 6 2015 - Derby

I don't know what all that nonsense was about being rubbish because I tried too hard yesterday because I had a brilliant ride today. It was tricky but not too 'hard' and everything went right. I kept my head and my line and when I asked something of my legs and my lungs they had an answer which wasn't 'fuck off'.

I'm not sure where I came but we think I might be 8th in the series.

All I need is to do that again next week.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Run 6 of 100

My run today was cold and wet and some may even say horrible but I loved every minute. From the lonely hour or more on the tops to the crowds of mountain bikers out for a bit of mud in the valleys, it was wonderful. Hills I've seen a hundred times seemed like whales cresting through the parted cloud banks and the crags above Derwent swept in and out of view. Obscured aeroplanes occasionally rumbled ominously in the distance.

I was the only runner above the shelter of the water level and my hot chocolate tasted all the better for it.

Most of all, I got a new stylish hat in the sales.