We Arrived Alive!

Shelly and I at the end of our last organized century ride. Despite the our laughter, this really wasn’t fun at all. Don’t let the picture fool you. I was probably crying just moments before this was taken.

I’m still on summer break, and I promise new articles coming soon.  In the meantime, here’s a little update on my summer adventures.  Some of you know last year my friend Shelly and I were in a bad bike crash.  A piece of wood took us down and we sported the latest and greatest in slings and casts for the rest of the summer.  Another nifty souvenir from that fall was a newfound fear of cycling.  “Fear” isn’t a strong enough word.  Let’s try “terror.”  We’ve ridden a few times since that fall, mostly on a paved path designated for bikes and pedestrians only.  In other words, no traffic.  Our longest ride was around 40 miles, but it wasn’t about mileage.  Those rides were about conquering our fears.  Well, guess what.  We didn’t.  That’s right.  We didn’t.  We are still scared.  Terrified, even.

Wait.  Isn’t this story supposed to be about getting back in the saddle (pardon the pun), conquering our fears and coming out the other side better for it?  Yeah, real life doesn’t follow a script.

Last Saturday Shelly and I and our other cycling friend Lisa drove to Idaho to ride in our first organized ride since the crash.  We rode the Goldilocks Century in Nampa, Idaho.  We chose it for it’s fairly flat course, beautiful scenery, good support, and really good sandwiches.  Because of near 105 degree temps (but mostly because I’m scared) we opted out of the usual 100-mile distance we usually do and chose to ride the 80-mile route.

I was literally shaking when we started.  It didn’t help that as we waited at the start line, we heard two cars skid and collide in the intersection just feet away.  Twenty-five miles in we were met with a steep downhill, 12% grade, with a right turn at the bottom.  I’d rather climb than descend and I said more prayers on the way down that hill than I’ve said in a year.  The nerves dissipated a bit after the halfway mark, but I don’t think there was ever a moment I felt 100% comfortable.  In fact, I doubt I ever will again.

Me, Lisa, and Shelly at the end of this year’s 80-mile adventure. All bones, ligaments and tendons in tact. And smiles, too!

So what’s the point of this cheerful update?  I was scared, but I rode anyway.  Doing things that truly frighten us is the very definition of courage and I’m owning it today.  We were all scared at one point or another, but our seats didn’t leave the saddle until we crossed the finish line.

What’s next?  I don’t know.  Will I do another organized ride?  If you’d asked me Saturday, my answer was a definite, “No!”  Ask me today, I’m not sure.  But what I am sure of is that we have guts.  It’s days like Saturday that I will tuck into my back pocket and pull out as a reminder every time I’m faced with something that shakes me to my core.  We really can do hard things.

Crash Recovery Update

Crash recovery update
Shelly and I hiding our fear with smiles before our first ride back post-crash

Crash recovery update.

It has been almost three months since Shelly and I had our big crash and the results are still coming in.

The good news: we’re back on our bikes.  We had our first ride last Friday.  I was more nervous for this ride than I was before giving birth to my oldest daughter.  We chose a relatively safe route- Legacy Parkway.  No vehicular traffic.  But let’s get real.  We didn’t have our big crash with a giant SUV.  We had our crash with a piece of wood.  I was paranoid of everything, and it turns out, rightfully so.

Only two miles into our ride we encountered a dad and his daughter on a scooter.  Shelly and I slowed down to around 6 miles per hour, made eye contact with the dad, verbally let them know we were about to pass.  Dad pulled daughter over to the right side of the path.  Not trusting anyone, I continued to ride slow.  Just as I was about to pass them, the daughter pulled out on her scooter right toward me.  I swerved left to avoid her, yelling at her to get over.  Dad started yelling.  Shelly was yelling behind.  I’m certain I closed my eyes and accepted that I was about to even out my shoulder injury by falling on my left.

But I didn’t.  I stopped a little further ahead.  Dad was still yelling at his daughter.  Shelly and I rode on shaking in our bike shoes.  Not the best way to start our first ride post-crash.

We decided the goal that day wasn’t to ride hard and fast.  The goal was to ride and survive.  Conquer our fear, if you will.  I wouldn’t say we conquered our fear, but we faced it and that’s good enough.

crash recovery update
We survived our first ride.

Scary as it was, it was nice to be back, although I’m not sure I’ll ever feel totally comfortable again.  The idea of riding on major roads again terrifies me.  A little fear is good.  I have a lot to live for.

Shelly’s arm is healing nicely.  No more “Frankenshelly”.  She looks good and has an awesome scar to tell the story.

I’m about 75% better.  The shoulder burns bad when I run and effects my neck and back, too.  Surgery is definitely a possibility.  The cost is holding me back.  I have a consultation appointment with a surgeon next month, so we’ll see.  I could always sell my bike to offset the medical bills!  Kidding.  Maybe.

Reasons Not to Run

My first run after getting my cast for a broken hand. It was slow and easy, but oh, so wonderful.
My first run after getting my cast for a broken hand. It was slow and easy, but oh, so wonderful.

My first writing assignment was for a blog called “Reasons to Run”.  It was an easy assignment.  I could spend days listing all the reasons that keep me running.  But once in awhile, the smarter decision is NOT to run.  There have been times in my life when I’ve allowed my love for running to cloud my judgement, take me away from family, push my body beyond its breaking point.  I’m not proud of this.  Thankfully, with age comes wisdom and I’ve learned when to draw that line and give my body, mind, and spirit a break.  Running is always there for me when I decide to come back, and I always come back fresher and stronger than ever.  Click on the link below to read more about reasons not to run.


Post-Crash Rehash

It’s been almost two months since our bike crash adventure and Shelly and I are still on the mend.  Our injuries turned out to be far worse than originally thought.

Our first run post-crash. I don't have my cast yet and I refused to run with my sling. Result- I could hardly move my arm.
Our first run post-crash. I don’t have my cast yet and I refused to run with my sling. Result- I could hardly move my arm.

Shelly didn’t just rip a hole in her elbow; she sustained an 80% rupture in her tricep which required surgery to repair.  She was in a full cast, from knuckles to shoulder, for three weeks.  She has yet to be able to put pressure on her right arm or lift anything more than a pound.  She has a gnarly scar on her elbow that I’m a little jealous of.  Scars are cool, especially when they come with a good story.  She goes to her doctor next week and we’re hoping she gets the okay to start riding her bike again.

Just doing what we can. I'm wearing a cycle jersey because I can't lift my arm overhead to put on a normal tank top.
Just doing what we can. I’m wearing a cycle jersey because I can’t lift my arm overhead to put on a normal tank top.

My Grade 3 AC separation is still a source of pain, literally and figuratively.  Grade 3 separations live in a gray area.  Most don’t require surgery, but a few do.  Since I’m so active and it feels like someone’s lit a match under my shoulder every time I go for a run, it looks like surgery is, indeed, in my future.  When I hit my shoulder, I tore the ligaments that connect my shoulder to my collarbone.  That baseball bump on my collarbone isn’t from my collarbone popping up on impact.  My shoulder actually dropped.  When I stand up, you can see that my fingertips are a good 3-4 inches lower on my right side.  I’m not a vain person, so this doesn’t bother me.  What bothers me are the shoulder aches, the neck pain, the inability to do a push-up without popping and slipping in the joint.  Ick.

Not the best shot of my bump, but it will do. I like to rub it for good luck.
Not the best shot of my bump, but it will do. I like to rub it for good luck.

To make it even more interesting, turns out my right hand was sore because I broke the navicular bone.  Not a bad break, but enough to warrant a soft cast for four weeks.  It’s off now and I’ve been given the green light to lift weights, run, bike, whatever I want.

This cast is right where it belongs- in the trash. And yes, I drink Diet Sunkist and I am not ashamed.
This cast is right where it belongs- in the trash. And yes, I drink Diet Sunkist and I am not ashamed.

As far as surgery goes, I have three races scheduled for the fall.  Top of Utah Marathon, Goldilocks century ride, and the Amsterdam Marathon.  My doctor said I would be fine waiting until those were done to do the surgery.  A few cortisone shots to get me through and then we can put me back together like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.

Things could be worse, but they have been better.  My patience is wearing thin, but I am still grateful for what I can do.  Below is a link to my Deseret News article about never taking our health for granted.  Check it out.


Be Careful What You Wish For

Warning: this post may contain one graphic image. It’s also very long. Settle in.

The fact that this post exists is a miracle in and of itself. I’m figuring out how to navigate typing with my dominant arm in a sling. In fact, I’m figuring out how to do everything with my dominant arm in a sling. I’m realizing how important thumbs are to overall life function and just how tricky ponytails can be with almost no range of motion in one arm. I’ve also learned my husband stinks at ponytails, too.

But all that being said, I need to say I am fine. My friend Shelly is fine. But there were some moments this weekend when we weren’t sure we would be fine. After ten years of road cycling, we finally had our big crash.

Continue reading “Be Careful What You Wish For”