May 11, 2014

Breaking the #1 Rule of Taper

The number 1 rule of tapering - DON'T GET INJURED!  Unfortunately, I broke that rule the week before the race.  Yesterday started off great.  I had an early morning 10 mile run that felt amazing and so many of my fellow runners wishing me luck.  I had dropped my bike off at the shop to get a final tune up before the race.  My plan was to go pick up the bike, do an hour or so workout and then rest for the remainder of the day.

I decided that I would just go ride the Veloway (a 3.1 mile paved asphalt trail exclusively for bicycles and inline skates), which is something I haven't done in quite a while.  It's hard getting a long ride in doing a 3 mile loop.  Although, I guess better than doing it on a trainer, but still. Also, it's got a lot of turns, something I won't have a lot of on race course.  It would also give me an opportunity to practice in all of my race equipment; shoes, aero helmet.

I got on the bike, got into aero position and off I went.  I felt great on the bike and was ready to fly, and I was.  There weren't a lot of people out there so I could move through the corners pretty well in aero.  I got to one of the first big turns and was move along at a pretty good clip in the aero position.  All of the sudden, I realized I was taking the corner way too fast.  What happened after that, I'm really not sure of.  The bike skidded, I had to avoid a tree, and I went over the handlebars and landed on my head and shoulder.

I was stunned, pissed off, shaken up, and worried all at the same time.  I believe there were probably some other emotions going on there as well.  Immediately some other riders came to my aid.  Asking if I was alright and checking me and my bike over.  The bike seemed fine, just had the chain come off. No major visible damage.  Me, on the other hand, that was a different story.  My head hurt.  My helmet was really scratched up, having taken the brunt of the fall.  My initial reaction was the ager, frustration, and disappointment that I was now going to have to buy another expensive aero race helmet.  Then I saw that my shoulder was bleeding.  It felt like a really bad scratch.  I poured some water on it and it didn't appear to need stitches.  At least not right away in any case.  I told the good samaritans that I was fine, I thanked them, and they rode off.

Now what was I going to do.  I was thankful that it wasn't any worse.  I hadn't even really started my workout.  More importantly, I was worried that I was now going to be skittish on the bike and that that could seriously affect my race.   When was I going to be able to get comfortable for the race?  How was I going to deal with adversity during the race?  F**ck it, I thought, it's now or never!

I got back on the bike and told myself I would ride until I felt comfortable again.  It took nearly an hour before I was able to feel comfortable again.  But that's what I needed.  I need to get my confidence back.  I needed to clear my head.  I needed to shake out the emotion and think about this rationally in order to put a plan together.  My bike's OK.  I'm, more or less, OK.  This wasn't going to beat me.

I finished up, cleaned and dressed my wound, and went back to the bike shop to get it checked out and buy another helmet.  On the bright side, I could now get a helmet that matched my new bike! Everything was fine with the bike.  Only a small bend in the derailleur which was easily fixed.  I got a sweet new aero helmet with a visor.  I left the shop in pretty good spirits.  It was a setback but I'd gotten over it and everything was going to be fine.  My wife gave me some good advice: "Don't make this anything more than it is. Deal with it and move on."

Today, it's been a little different.  I guess having time sitting still causes some reflection.  The spill on the bike resulted in a sore neck and big scrape on my shoulder. I'm confident everything will be fine for raceday (I'm seeing a chiropractor, PT, and massage therapist), however it's starting to affect me mentally. I feel like it's thrown me off of my game and that I've lost focus. I know some of this is normal stuff I deal with during taper. But I feel a little sadness and depression starting to set in and I can't seem to stop thinking about it. Again, I'm confident I'm going to race. I'm just worried I might not be as focused and mentally prepared as I need to be and want to get that back. I know I'm ready physically and up until this happened I felt like I was mentally prepared.  I've reached out to my coaches for some advice.  Hopefully I can shake this soon.

My helmet which took the brunt of the impact.  Good to know it does what it's designed to do.

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