Runners can be very impatient people. I wasn’t exactly born with the “Patience” gene. This is not a revelation to me, however, as I get older, it is increasingly more frustrating.
So here I am, 7 weeks into Physical Therapy, NOT RUNNING,after ripping a few tendons and a muscle because I didn’t want to be a good girl and listen to my body. All runners hurt, don’t they? “This must be normal.”, I thought. (Well, not really, but somewhere deep down, I kept thinking the pain was going to stop if I just kept icing, heating, elevating, etc. Dumb idea.)
Oh yeah, this is what I did after long runs while I blow dried my hair. Before I went running, I’d soak my foot in this pot full of hot water. Then I’d add ice when I got home. Don’t worry, I washed it out before I made my famous home made soup!
I was anxious to stay on my 5 day per week running routine, but you’d think the fact that I was limping constantly, wincing while training, and eating Ibuprofen like breath mints, I would suspect something was not right.
My Physical Therapist told me that I needed to find something to “feed the beast” while not running. Haha, I love how he “got” me right off the bat. He said I could swim, bike, and walk. It was December in Oregon. Running in the cold, wind, and rain I can do. But, bike? Swim? Seriously? Sigh. OK, well I’ll give it a try.
My first bike ride started out as a disaster. The tires on my much neglected bike were flat, it was covered in cob webs, and I couldn’t figure out how to use the bike pump. After 3 attempts, I finally got the tires somewhat full of air, and hopped on, hoping to feel the thrill of the wind in my helmeted hair. I started pedaling, and WHAP, the chain fell off, my foot spun around, and I fell flat on my driveway.Thankfully, I was clothed in so many layers, that I came away physically unscathed. A few curses later, I fixed the chain and off I went. It was 40 degrees out and I was already sweating from the effort and frustration of simply getting out of my driveway.
I ended up having so much fun on the 9 mile ride and even thought, “wow ,I AM in great shape; I barely felt that!” I sang along with my ipod, with wild abandon. “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger”, Oh Yeah, baby, watch out for me. Woohooo.I’m a CYCLIST!
Fast forward to the next day, and I could barely lower myself to a chair or toilet without grunting in pain. OK, well pain is good. LOL, I seem to love it. If you’re going to exercise outdoors in the Great Northwest, you have to be prepared for all types of weather. I have great all weather running gear, but CYCLING GEAR?
Yep, that’s me on New Year’s Day, wearing ski bib overalls, snow boots, countless layers of dry fit, fleece, and a water proof jacket, plus numerous neck and head coverings. I needed the basket to carry all the discarded clothing, as I warmed up along my ride. Hey, after all the money I have spent on running gear, I wasn’t about to jump down the money pit and do it in the bike shop….yet.
So, back to the patience thing. My second bike ride that week was when I decided to ride to my PT appointment. I mapped it and saw that it was approximately 9 miles from home. Not having stellar math skills, I thought, “Oh, I can probably do that in about 30 minutes. Don’t even TRY to figure why I thought that. I tried to leave a little early just in case, and after donning lots of layers and even packing a change of socks, shoes, and gloves in a plastic bag, I headed out. It was a cold 39 degrees, and by the time I got to the end of my block, it had started to rain. Hmmm, for about a nano-second, I thought about turning around and getting my car, but then I was worried it would take too much time and the clock was ticking! 10 minutes into the ride, it was now pouring, I was freezing, and I knew I was going to be seriously late. When I finally made it to the Springwater Corridor-the bike path that follows the Willamette River, I was pushing those pedals as fast as I could, but the frigid rain and wind was a killer. I could see downtown Portland, and knew I was close, so I gave it everything I had, all the while screaming at myself for being such an idiot.( There were a lot of bad words in my “self talk” on that ride.)
I finally arrived with rain pouring off of my and walked my bike into the facility. They had a bike rack inside, and the nice receptionist helped me stand my bike in it, and then I proceeded to try and peel my gloves, helmet, and extra clothes off. The only problem was that my feet were numb, my frozen snot was leaking, and my hands were too cold to unsnap my helmet. What a sight. I managed to survive, thawed out, and begged God for mercy for the ride home. Luckily, I had brought the extra dry clothes and shoes, and when I left, the rain had stopped, it was a tad bit warmer, and the ride home was a blast.
I learned a tough lesson that day. Think before you act. I know, that sounds really elementary, but when you roll like I do, you pretty much DO, and then think. I laughed about this experience once I knew that I would live through it. That’s the trick to this whole thing. With new experiences, you are going to make mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up about what you did wrong, or not perfectly right. For me, I look back and say, “Wow, I rode my bike 18 miles in the dead of winter, in Portland, Oregon, in the rain, in 39 degree temperature, with a bad ankle, at 53 years old, after not having ridden a bike for several years. THAT, I could celebrate.