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Month: July 2014

starting re-entry… slowly… (#projectfemur)

It’s less than a month until I’m back to riding full-time on the road. I’m keeping busy during that time.

The workouts continue, with increasing intensity and focus. My time in the gym is spent mostly either in the weight room, where I’m building leg and arm strength, or in the stretching area, where I can work on core strength and flexibility. The latter is something I’m working on a lot in PT, where Scott and Megan have been working diligently to make my repaired leg every bit as capable as its healthy neighbor.

Next challenge for that: rotational flexibility. To visualize what that is: I can’t sit cross-legged on the floor right now, as my right leg can’t rotate and lie flat just yet. Soon – just another goal in my sight.

This morning I started the next step in my bike training with Matt at District Cycle Works: morning workouts on a Wahoo Kickr. This is a major step up from the Star Trac eSpinner I’ve been using at the gym, as it allows me to use my own bike for the workouts. It also pairs with my Garmin Edge 500 and my iPhone to record my rides and the associated data, including power output. This opens a whole world of possibilities for my workouts as I head into the home stretch.

Most of all, though, it’s fun to be able to workout with friends who will actually converse with me.

Wahoo!!!

That’s something that’s sorely lacking at the gym, where folks tend to fold into the insular shells provided by the ever-present earbuds.

Just so you don’t think it’s all about the bike (do I owe that Armstrong guy a royalty for trotting out that phrase?), I’ve also spent some time on the beach, where I tested out my run.

Running!

It was awesome!

I’ve also been dipping my toe back into local government – very local, as in the Advisory Neighborhood Commission’s Transportation and Public Infrastructure Committee. Basically, this committee advises the ANC (which is a step below the District Council) in all matters walking, cycling, parking, and parks. While I was brought into the fold because of cycling, as a pedestrian during my convalescence, I’ve gained a lot of knowledge of mode share issues that affect this committee. I’ve already penned a letter to DDOT, asking for follow-through on motions passed by the ANC back in 2012, and look forward to doing – and learning – more as my tenure grows.

And I’ve been working with some of my fellow ski coaches to come up with a fitness plan for our junior racers. I’d like to see all of the athletes come into the ski season in peak physical shape, not only to allow them a great chance of meeting (and exceeding) their goals, but also to provide them more safety against injury. Hopefully this will get some traction within the team – I know similar plans helped me achieve my skiing goals when I was younger.

What else is there to say? Sometimes you need to look at the details to see where you need to go…

Shados in surf

Maybe Jimi Hendrix said it best, regarding the impending next steps of my #projectfemur recovery:

“And so castles made of sand, fall in the sea, eventually.”

Sandcastle at Bethany Beach

six months and i am impatient (#projectfemur)

It’s been six months (and one day, as I started writing this on the 11th, and it’s now the 12th) since my injury – since #projectfemur began.

I am not, by nature, a patient person. My patience is wearing thin in terms of indoor workouts. I’m riding the spinning bike, lifting weights, stretching, and it’s tedious and boring. Sure, I see and feel positive results, but I’m not sure how gym rats do it all year long.

Yes, I can hike, but I haven’t since the Connecticut trip. I have the Rock Creek Park trails close to home, but I’ve been oblivious to their draw. Perhaps the spate of afternoon thunderstorms has me leery to go into darker, wooded areas. And the mud around here is slick, which isn’t conducive for sure-footed hiking.

And while I’ve discussed the idea of going to yoga classes with sprite, that hasn’t become a reality just yet. Perhaps this coming week, that can be fixed.

I’ll also finally start my indoor trainer workouts on the Wahoo Kickr this coming Tuesday (at *cough* six effing thirty in the morning – a time of my own choosing, I admit), which will mean riding my own bike. And I’ll be riding with friends, riding to some intense workout programs, and maybe, just maybe, it’ll be a better shot of my own version of “vitamin A.”

“Vitamin A” is the adrenaline thing I mentioned in my last post: I crave it, and I’m not getting it from my current high-intensity indoor training, at least not in amounts that register with my psyche.

So I celebrated my six month anniversary of #projectfemur by riding a bike to Friday Coffee Club.

It was on a Capital Bikeshare bike, rolling slowly on the lowest traffic roads between The Burrow and M.E. Swing’s.

It was liberating.

I smiled a lot.

I felt free.

And that’s likely it for outdoor rides until mid-August.

Y’see, I did it on the sly. I didn’t let anybody know until it was over – not even sprite.

It was, any way you look at it, a boneheaded, selfish, childish move.

I didn’t feel like I was in any danger at all. CaBi bikes handle very predictably, are fairly slow, and are perfect for an initial foray into outdoor riding. At least that was my approach to my 1.3 mile ride.

But I hadn’t told anybody I was riding, not even sprite – a big mistake, if you look at my current risk level. I didn’t have anything on my person explaining that I’m on anticoagulant medications, just in case I got into an accident and needed medical assistance.

As I admit: it was a very irresponsible thing to do. And while I enjoyed it at the time, as the day wore on, I knew I hadn’t gone about the ride in the proper way.

So I’m in the doghouse right now. sprite was right to be mad at me, and I don’t expect those feelings to subside soon. What I did was hurtful and insensitive. Given all she’s done for me during #projectfemur, it was a truly dumb move on my part. I am most sorry for that.

I think I’ll stick to the complete mental torture that is indoor workouts – and the occasional hike here and there, with friends – until I’m off these (now likely unneeded) meds. It will do my body good, if not my psyche. And while I can commute via bike, taking the precautions that I didn’t this morning, I can see myself forgetting to let sprite know I’ve made it to my destination. That would be a deal breaker.

We’ll see. All I know is that I caused a lot of grief that I do not wish to repeat.

Days since surgery: 181

these are days… (#projectfemur)

Somehow I managed to not publish any updates in June. I’m not sure how it happened, but it’s not as if I was doing nothing.

The weekend after Memorial Day, sprite and I went to Bethany Beach, Delaware, to get away from things and enjoy the surf. The water was “New England warm” – i.e. 60°F/14°C – and the air temperature was mild (as has been the case with most weekends this summer). We managed to see the sunrise over the water, which was extremely beautiful and worth the pain of rising so early in the morning.

Sunrise over Bethany Beach

Leaving DC for the weekend was effective at getting my mind out of “I’m missing the bike” mode – at least for a little while.

The rest of the month had highs and lows: days where I’d feel like I’m moving forward, and others where I questioned whether there was any point in doing the work needed to get my leg back into shape. Indeed, the nice weekend weather, combined with the fact that my flexibility level and basic leg strength are good enough to get onto a bike, tore at me.

All. the. time.

Yet I soldiered on. I continued with my intensive PT regimen, with Scott and Megan working me, stretching me, poking and prodding me (i.e. dry needling), giving me new “homework” assignments every week. I work hard to “ace” these assignments, and tend to do quite well in exceeding expectations.

And there have been breakthroughs. I can balance on my bad leg:

Balance

And I’ve been working out on a Spinning® bike that I’ve setup to my road bike’s measurements:

Spinning

I do well on the spin bike, but I call it “going nowhere – really fast!” I’ve discovered that I like indoor cycling about as much as I like riding the bus: it’s OK for collecting my thoughts, it is a means to a (fitness) end, but it’s not overly enjoyable. I do workouts that mimic stuff I’d do on a normal bike – endurance riding, working on form, intervals, et al – but it’s not the same as real cycling.

There’s no change of scenery, save for whatever TV program is on the little screen. The tiny little fan on the control panel blows a feeble stream of wind across my brow (no way to setup a good box fan at the gym), and the eSpinning® bike doesn’t react like a real bike. To “shift gears” means turning a resistance knob where the top tube should be, and if I stand to “dance” on the pedals, the bike doesn’t rock under me like a real bike.

Hello, my name is Rudi, and I’m an adrenaline addict in serious withdrawal.

Granted, I’ll be working with a Wahoo indoor trainer starting this coming week (I hope), and that should get things moving in a better direction. I’ve cleaned the drivetrain of the Pedal Force to get it in shape for this next chapter:

Shiny chain

Still, these stationary bike workouts are not analogous to real cycling.

Trust me: I feel like I should be out there on the roads. I know I could be out there, riding safely, and enjoying the hell out of the ride. But it’s not in the cards just yet – thank you, anticoagulant meds. To say I’m displeased is an understatement.

I am finding ways to mix things up. For example, a couple weekends ago, I went on a nice morning hike in the hills of northern Connecticut:

(Click on the picture to see it in a bigger size – it’s a nice view from the top of Soapstone Mountain in Shenepsit State Forest!)

I also built a tiny Intel NUC for sprite’s dad. They are amazingly tiny – and very capable – computers for the money.

Intel NUC vs. CD

(Yes, it is smaller in width and depth than a CD case – very tiny, yet powered by a Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM!)

And I repaired my 9-year-old (!) iPod, replacing its dying hard drive and dead battery. I also replaced the batteries on my old heart rate monitor (to use in the gym), and finally sent my old Garmin Edge 500 (with its blown-out screen) for a warranty repair (hey – GPS data in real time!).

I’ve also has some incredible, high quality time with sprite. Y’see, during a typical summer, I spend a great deal of weekend time away at long bike rides. As she’s not an endurance bike rider, she stays home, while I’m gone for huge chunks of daylight time.

This summer, we’re doing more things together on the weekends. From traveling to the beach, to walking around town, to exploring new places, to simply sitting in the park and reading in the sunshine, I am enjoying this time with her quite a bit.

sprite at the DQ

While it’s not the summer is typically experience and enjoy, it’s satisfying.

I hope that the rest of the summer contains more fun travels. Right now, there are a few variables that need to be nailed down before sprite and I can commit to doing anything more than a weekend jaunt to the beach or the mountains (and if it’s sprite, the beach always wins out).

There are many things left to do. I need to continue with the #projectfemur recovery (which is still on schedule, much as I’m still grousing about it a lot). I want to take advantage of the summer. I want to see my endurance cycling friends (hey guys, it’s me, Rudi – remember me?). I want to hang out more with my DC friends. I want to see movies, eat out, cook out, camp, hike the VA, MD, and WV mountains.

And I want to ride my bicycle.

So there is an upside, right?

Right?

34 more days… 34 more days…

Days since surgery: 175

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