Sunday, February 3, 2013

Coming Back

Food Stop on Today's Ride. West Coast Best Coast!!
To wrap up 2012: I got IT band bursitis in my second week back to training in October 2011, and had it fixed by a wonderful surgeon, Dr. Nelson, at the end of October 2012. In the middle of that time frame, I thought I was healed (tricky cortisone injection), so I took 2nd semester off of school! Unfortunately I spent January bumming around on the beach, no closer to being able to race or graduate instead. Bummer (not the beach part.. that was pretty nice). In retrospect, it's easy to ask why I didn't call it quits earlier, but at the time there was always that hope/delusion that things would get better, so I kept swimming and tried every treatment on the planet, and was set on racing in Auckland. "I don't need to be fit," I kept telling myself, "I just need to be able to bike and run again!"

March rolled around, and I wound up with some kind of adrenal burnout/chronic fatigue, whatever you want to call it. After the ridiculous over-reaching/passing-out all over the place that occurred throughout 2011, it was probably a long time coming. At the worst points, I would end up on the couch for a few days, too tired to move if I exercised. Soon enough I wasn't swimming, or biking, or running... or meeting the daily requirements for physical activity. Again, why I couldn't come to grips with giving up on the season is hard to understand. You've got to be a little crazy to be in this sport. By summertime, I finally came to the realization that racing was not going to happen for me, but it was tough because it turns out I have no friends outside of triathlon, so I was having a rough go of making the most of the time off.

Gradually, I started doing more fun things with my fellow partner in crime, KS, and I took some summer classes to get my purpose in life back. Lo and behold I actually made friends there too (I don't generally make friends in school, because I only make appearances for the classes themselves in conjunction with not talking when tired)! I found people to go climbing with, and I enjoyed myself after all. Yay!

This fall was great as well. About 3-4 weeks post surgery, I was back in the pool again, and by six weeks I was ever so gradually getting back on the bike and doing a wee bit of jogging. I really enjoyed school because I finally had friends, and I was only in the upper level Kinesiology courses that are actually interesting. I started coming up with grand plans to get my masters over the next couple years. 

When you take that amount of time off, most people will tell you that you'll come back better than ever, that you'll be more motivated, have greater perspective, more fuel for the fire, etc. It's hard to say if this will be true for me or not. It was so hard to give up on triathlon for a year that it was a huge relief when I finally got over that hill and came to terms with it. They don't tell you that you then have to get back over that hill again from the other side. So January was really tough! My first month of full time training and school since fall 2010 was a huge shock to the system. I had planned to take it easier this semester, but it doesn't matter how easy the progression; training + school is hard. Also, I had promised to take a slack semester, but then I went ahead and took 3 lab courses out of my 4 classes, so my time spent at school has been more than ever. I therefore spent the last month in a combo of panic-denial. I was terrified of re-burning out, and was completely overwhelmed by the lack of hours in the day. I don't sleep when stressed, so I was running on 4-6 hours a night which finally cumulated in a minor tearful mental breakdown last Tuesday night on the floor in my closet.

And then I was better.

I realized that I do want to give this another shot, and that I can do it. The next couple months are going to be a lot less cruisy than the previous semester was, but that's just the way it goes. I still can't picture myself winning races and kicking butt and being awesome right now, but I am enjoying the process. I don't know if I have more fuel for the fire or not, but I am very excited for the season. And being healthy is always a work in progress. I mean, I really wish I was wearing full body-hot/cold compression right now! I am a lot smarter though. And I'm really really enjoying training. Not just that fleeting enjoyment of being able to run again after some time off, but enjoying all parts of training. I like the easy swims that never-end, even when I have endless homework still to do. And when my legs are so smashed that I can't stand going up hills cause they're cramping like crazy, and I'm totally getting popped off the back and still have 3 hours of riding to go, I think that's kinda funny too. So maybe 'coming back stronger than ever' is really just having enough outside perspective to know what it is that you are doing. I realized that most kids enjoy life by hanging out with friends, doing activities they like, benefiting society, and having breaks between classes that don't involve fitting in another workout, but I can set that aside a while longer. Swimming and biking and running are pretty awesome things to do. Besides, having fun depends a lot on who you're with- and we've got a pretty great team here in Canada. 

Thanks to Tri-Can this year for still believing in me. And Sharleen & Carolyn for putting up with my training logs over the past few weeks (EVERYTHING IS BAD!!!).  Super happy that January is over, that school looks more maneagable now, that Ellen and Alex and I made it to our chem exam on time coming straight from bike week workout #2 (Ellen: "so, 20k TT... what pace are we talking here?", CM: "all out". Ellen: "ALL OUT!?!?!" Carolyn: "it's a TT!!".) , and that my head is now on straight. Although doing school + training ever again is questionable..

Adaptation phase 1(mental): complete. Now onto Adaptation phase 2 (physical). 
Dude my quads are pulse/cramping just sitting here!