Thursday, June 12, 2014

I'm a Cyclist Now

I always thought one of my strengths was being durable.  Lars and Tom have been dealing with plantar fasciitis for a while and Jason and Jessie have both suffered stress fractures during their competitive time on the track.  Up until a few weeks ago, I felt like I could run as much as I wanted or had time for and wake up better for it.  

This season, I ramped up my mileage a little faster than previous as the skiing failed to inspire and I wanted to get a jump on training for some bigger races.  I felt a big mistake I made last year was not doing enough vertical training and then paid the price at Speedgoat and Leadville.  Determined to harden my quads a bit and fostered by the fact that I now live on the shoulder of Mount Olympus, I set out shuffling up the foothills everyday.  

I was loving running as much as at any point in my life and was feeling pretty good pretty much all the time.  That is, until May 29th at about 11 AM while on a run with Lars.  I had worked late the night before and missed most of a long run with Lars, Jason, and Tom.  I drove up Millcreek Canyon and headed up the Desolation trail to try and catch them.  A few miles up I intercepted them as they were running down, now about 25 miles into their day.  I turned around and we ran fast down to the road where I decided to run Lars home and then head back to the mountains.  Over the next mile, I went from running completely pain free to feeling an annoying pressure in my left SI joint.  I tried to stretch to no avail and finished the run at Lars' house with a limp.  

For the next two days, I tried to run but could take no more than a couple steps.  Walking made it ache while Ibuprofen really seemed to help.  I went to a sports med chiropractor and a massage therapist with no relief.  Finally, I asked one of the orthopedist at work what he thought and after a two minute conversation he felt it was a stress fracture until proven otherwise.  

Damn.  Of course.  I had been blinded to the possibility and didn't even consider a stress fracture, especially in the pelvis.  But, once suggested, it was the only diagnosis that made sense.  The MRI was a formality to confirm the fracture so I could quit living in athletic limbo and shift my energy to something else.  
Bathroom selfie just before heading into the MRI
I worked overnight from Sunday to Monday, wrestled my way into a clinic appointment, got the MRI, confirmed that I did indeed have a sacral stress fracture along the left SI joint, and then went and bought a road bike that same day.  It was an emotionally frustrating and manic 20 hours ameliorated only slightly by some retail therapy and a big bike purchase.  

So, now I'm a cyclist.

My new bike as recommended by Bart G and Sam T.  I really didn't know what to get but those guys said the SuperSix Evo is where it's at!
I'm not allowed any impact for six weeks to two months, effectively wrecking my summer running.  Fortunately, the doc did recommend swimming or cycling and since swimming is unnatural and probably the most boring sport ever, I'll spend my summer on a bike.  

And, the interesting thing is that I'm not too bummed about it.  I will absolutely miss the races, friends, summits, singletrack,  and everything else about running.  But, I'm finding that what I really love about sport is the process.  I'm learning a whole new sport, developing specific fitness, and just trying to get faster and more efficient.  I'll get to spend time with a bunch of friends that I previously shunned because they would "only" ride bikes.  And, when the snow falls again, I won't have missed out on anything aerobically since I can probably spend more time on a bike than I every could running.     

It's been a week and a half and I'm captivated by the bike, the tradition of cycling, the speed, distance, scenery, and by the fact that I can stop in the middle of a ride and eat a huge meal with no apparent ill effect!
It's pretty hard to pull up to a chinese joint on a run and inhale all that and keep going!  On a bike, it's all so civilized!

Photo from the internet of the Alpine Loop.  I can't get as intimate with the mountains stuck on a road but I can still get all up in em.  

Also, the bike can take me to a lot of weird places that I would never see on a run.  


  1. Andy, you don't know me though I follow your blog and we've crossed paths here in the Wasatch - But I want to tell you how sorry I am to hear about your injury. It's so hard when you have to give up doing something you live for. Despite that your positive, get back up attitude is an inspiration. And your confimred diagnosis may be a big help to me personally.

    You see I had am eerily similar experience last summer leading up Speedgoat.Stubornly I went ahead and ran, finishing in excruciating pain. That pretty much put a stop to my two passions; trail running and splitboarding. I sought relief for a while, but x-rays of my hips and back were negative. In my experience x-rays rarely find the source of nag injuries, so I wasnt too surprised. Every attempt to find a solution led to some variation of; "It's proably your back"; "It might be your back", etc... All the while I'd be saying, no it's my hip and my back is just collateral damage.

    Anyways, I went through PT (you guessed it, for my back). and by the new year I opted to feel sorry for myself, gave up and got quickly out of shape. I deleted my blog of almost ten years and gave up any hope of returning to swift movement through nature. Then in April I became slightly motivated and dusted off my bikes and slowly but surely my attitude changed. Like you, my stoke for movement and exploration began to return via cycling. Now to drop in and learn of your misfortune, see your positive response to it and learn that perhaps an MRI i sin order, well I just want to say thank you!

    All the best on your recovery!

    1. Well spoken Doug. Best of luck with your own recover and return to the trail. Thank you for sharing!

    2. Thanks for sharing Doug! Hopefully, we can both get back out there quickly, fully healed, and smarter for our experiences.

  2. That bicycle would look really good in your garage next to a scalpel 29er.

  3. Too bad the bikes missing flat bars and a lefty

  4. Mountain biking seems like a better (and way more fun) replacement.

  5. Funny to read all these MTB'ers ragging on the road bike. Totally different mindsets, in a way. Both are fun. But I'm guessing Andy will enjoy the ability to let his mind wander a bit after a long day in the ED. The MTB requires near constant attention. It's meditative in a different way. It's also hard to truly go easy on an MTB. There's almost no mountain bike equivalent of the classic "coffee shop ride" unless, of course, you ride your mountain bike there. On the other hand, the MTB allows some of the same exploration of the mountains that you get trail running, away from the hoards and traffic. Hard to be the trails in PC in the Fall. Better get that Scalpel. I love mine.

    The funnier question to ask is, "shaved legs or no?"

    1. Legs have been shaved since day one. I'm all in. For all those questioning the choice of road bike vs mountain bike, I'm trying to heal my fracture and not create new ones. My bike handling skills aren't very mature so while I'm healing, I'm not going to push in on a mountain bike.

  6. Shave the legs and for heaven's sake SLAM THE STEM

    1. Slam the stem? Turn it around to make it lower?

  7. Be careful! That's the most dangerous activity there is.

  8. Good to have you on the team. How bout strapping some boards on that beast and setting some bike-to-ski records? Looks FAST!