Wednesday, April 11, 2018

2018 Prairie City Race Series - Very First Race EVER!!


As I rode my bike over to the start line staging area, the only thing going through my mind was “What is a 50-year-old woman doing signing up for a mountain bike race?”

Out of My Comfort Zone

To say that I was out of my comfort zone was a huge understatement.  I was at a completely foreign venue, I didn’t know the lingo or what I was supposed to do, and I was on a brand-new mountain bike. I felt like a fish out of water. If this was a triathlon, I wouldn’t be feeling this way. I would know what I needed to do. Chances are that I would be racing on a course that I had raced many times before and that I would know several of my competitors as well as the race directors. There would also, more than likely, be members of my triathlon club racing too. This evening, the only familiar face was that of my husband.  Honestly, I wanted to call it a day and just go home. What was I trying to prove?

Prior to the race I read and re-read the instructions on the race website. I knew there was something called a speed-check that I needed to do before the race and that I had to get my age marked on my leg. Turns out, it’s not your age on your leg, it’s your starting wave or category. The website referred to it as “Calf Marking”. The triathlete in me came out after I picked up my race packet and asked where the body marking area was. Close enough. A young volunteer scribbled a 29 on the back of my calf (it’s better than the 50 I get at a tri). I’m pretty sure my category of “Beginner Women 40+” was the very last to start.

Practice laps at Prairie City OHV
Next on my pre-race to-do list was to ride the course. This was another suggestion on the website because the course changes every week. Riders seemed to pass me left and right as I navigated my way around the dusty, bumpy rock filled trails. When I finished my lap, I rode over to my hubby and told him that were a lot of river rocks all over the course. The description worked for me, however, I later heard another rider talking about all the “Baby Heads”. I Googled it when I got home and, as I suspected, my river rocks were what MTB riders call baby heads. I learned something new and now I can sound cool too talking about baby heads.

Back to the Start Line Staging Area

There were over 350 riders registered for the race. I made my way to the back of the pack and found some other riders with “29” on their left calves. We introduced ourselves and started chatting about the race.  ‘Will people call out “On your left?” during the race?’ I asked one of the riders that had competed there before. “Some do, some don’t” was her response, “Just hold your line”. My question showed how naïve I was about MTB racing. During the race I heard “Left”, “Right”, and even “Coming up the middle”.  Passing and getting passed is definitely a skill I need to master.

Our category moved closer and closer to the start. I clipped in my left foot and prepared myself for the chaos I was sure was coming. A swim start has nothing on a mass bike start! Category 29 was combined with the smaller preceding category so there was about a dozen of us starting together. The actual start was a blur. I can’t even remember if there was a countdown or if the announcer just said “Go.” All I know is I started to pedal and could not get my right foot clipped. My group appeared to ride away from me but I eventually got my foot clipped and began to catch up with my group.

Trying to get clipped in
I remained focused on the task at hand which basically amounted to staying upright. I gained confidence with each pedal stroke. What time I lost to being a bit timid on the descents, I made up for on the climbs.  None of the climbs were too steep or too long, but on my first lap I did find myself bunched up with some bigger dudes that were struggling a bit to get up hill.  One rider swerved towards me so I quickly moved left and out of his way, only to end up unclipping to avoid falling over. I hurriedly walked to a flatter area where I could clip in and start riding without interfering with other riders. No big deal.

Start of Second Lap

My second lap was faster and more fun than the first. Probably because the competitors were spaced out a bit more and because I am sure some of the expert riders had already finished all four of their laps.  The course was more familiar but I still struggled a bit with some of the sharper turns and steeper descents. On the last half of my second and final 2.8 mile lap I noticed a familiar rider. Her yellow jersey caught my eye and I recognized her from the start line chat.  I had one goal…catch up with her.

Always smile when you see a race photographer 😊 

I started to close the gap, only to have it widen as she sped downhill away from me. I kept riding. If I could just get a little closer, I might be able to chase her down on the flat gravel section leading up to the finish. All of a sudden I hit a bump. The bike went up, I came down, and my saddle shifted. The nose of the saddle now pointed uncomfortably upward. I tried to sit on the saddle and press it back into a flatter position, but that didn’t work. In this position, I couldn’t sit down and ride like I intended.

I crossed the finish line and then tried to figure out where I needed to go. I thought I read that there was a finishers chute and that you were supposed to keep your order as they wrote your number down but I didn’t see anything of the sort. I rode through an opening in the barricades and stopped at a group of young riders. “Is this where finishers are supposed to go?” They told me that all I need to do was cross the timing mat at the finish and everything was recorded there. I thanked them and rode off to find my husband. Even if my finish didn’t get recorded, I didn’t care. I figured I was dead last in my category anyway.
Not the most comfortable riding position 😉

I found my husband and showed him my seat. He made a joke about me not being as light as I think. I didn’t laugh. We then found ourselves standing there trying to figure out what to do next. “There’s not an awards ceremony is there?” He asked. I knew that was code for “It’s getting late and we still have an hour drive home.” I responded that there must be because there is a podium.  I had no idea if or where any results were posted and I didn’t want to ask another stupid question so I suggested we head home. Besides there was no way I was on the podium.

Post-Race Reflection

Since the hit and run, I have been trying to find new ways to enjoy riding on two wheels without worrying about things with four wheels. I quietly reflected about the race on the ride home. I found the race itself to be incredibly fun and the challenge of the terrain kept me mentally engaged for the duration. It was the complete opposite of the long, day dreamy rides I had on the bike leg of an IRONMAN race. However, I found myself feeling melancholy about the whole race day experience. I had strongly hoped that this new type of racing would seize my heart the way my very first triathlon did.

I think my initial post-race feelings were a culmination of a number of things…my new bike let me down, I had no idea how I did at the race, I was so very, very far out of my comfort zone, and I missed having my triathlon friends with me. When I got home, I decided to see if the results were posted on line.  Kudos to the race director. The results were posted and I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had placed third in my category (still getting used to not saying “age group”). On top of that, I was only :14 seconds behind the lady in yellow and even better, my second lap was faster than my first.

Suddenly, I started feeling much better about the whole experience. My saddle is a minor fix and I know that the only way I am going to get comfortable with this type of racing is to do it more than once. My biggest task is going to be convincing my triathlon buddies to dust off their mountain bikes and come join the fun! I can honestly say that it was a great experience and a fun way to challenge myself. I am looking forward to my next race.


Friday, January 19, 2018

Bye-Bye Weekday Wine :-(

Tuesday morning was a wake up call for me. I finally got on the scale for the first time since the hit and run. Let's just say that I was not pleased with the number. I knew it wasn't going to be good, I just didn't expect it to be so bad. After the accident. I was afraid to weigh myself because I wasn't working out like normal. The goal of running CIM kept me somewhat focused and once I was given the OK to add running back to my routine, I sort of got back on to a schedule. However, my nutrition did not get back on track.

My shirt should have read "Will sit on the couch for wine"
Prior to the accident, I was very focused. I had given up "weekday wine" (Yes, that's a thing!), I was watching what I ate, and I was taking my vitamins and other supplements on a daily basis. After the accident, my focus was lost. Weekday wine was back on the menu. I stopped caring about what I was eating and started snacking more. I had a hard time falling asleep at night, so I would take a sleeping pill to help me doze off. On the outside, I appeared OK, but inside I was falling apart.  Then the holidays hit.

Actually, first came Ashley and Jay's two weddings. This meant more wine and a lot of delicious food. Next was Thanksgiving, followed by my 50th birthday, Christmas, New Year's and last weekend my Mom's birthday. My mom's birthday marked the end to my gluttony and hopefully the end of my not caring about what I was eating or drinking.

I forgot to mention all of the holiday food at work too!
What finally made me decide to get back on the scale was looking at my race photo's from last weekend's "Kick Start Duathlon". I could tell that my cheeks were a little fuller. Sure, to most people I look the same. However, I could tell the difference from a few months ago. I knew I needed to know where I was, so I got back on the scale. Like I said, the number was a bit of a shock. At that moment, I decided to get back to what I was doing before the accident.

Looking and feeling a bit chunkier than normal.

The Plan

I am going to make small adjustments to my diet to get back to where I was. If I try to do everything at once, I am just setting myself up for failure. This week, I eliminated "weekday wine", eating Altoids like candy, and I also started taking my vitamins in the morning. Three easy changes to make that have already paid off. Next week, I think I will remove all refined sugar from my diet. Eventually I want to give "no carbs" a good 2-3 week run, but I'm not ready yet.

In terms of working out, I had a schedule planned. Unfortunately, the cold/flu that has been going around the office at work finally caught up with me, so I had a couple of days off. I am going to write out my workout schedule this weekend and hopefully get started on Monday. One thing that will be different this year is that I will be focusing on sprint distance races. These shorter races will allow me to find events on closed courses so I will not have to ride my bike on the road. At first I was a little bummed about giving up the longer races, but now I am starting to look forward to trying something different.

Oh, and in case you are curious, the weekend officially starts on Friday afternoon, Cheers!

#endureandenjoy365 #hitandrun #wine #tbfracing

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Triathlon - Starting Over

I fell in love with the sport of triathlon after completing my first race in October 2012. I started this blog so I could share everything I was experiencing. At least once a year I publish a post encouraging people to give triathlon a try.

Following my first triathlon in 2012


This year, I am struggling to find the words to encourage people to try the sport. Most of this is due to the hit and run while riding my bike. At this time, I cannot fathom riding on the road. How do I encourage people to try this sport when I am scared to death of one of the best, most fun aspects of it?  "Hey, you are going to love triathlons! Just watch out while doing your bike training because someone may run you over. I'll be at home on my trainer." Yeah...I don't see many people wanting to sign up with a sales pitch like that.

I truly miss riding on the road
Another reason I think I am having a problem getting people pumped up to swim-bike-run is because this is the first time since 2013 that I do not have a "big" race planned. 2013 and 2014 had Barb's Race as my focus. 2015 was Vineman, my first iron-distance race. 2016 was IRONMAN Vineman, same race, different name. Last year, was IRONMAN Santa Rosa 70.3. This year I have nothing big planned.

Since I have an issue riding on the road, most of my races are going to be smaller, closed courses. I found myself depressed and feeling like I wasn't a triathlete just because I wasn't going to be racing for 6 to 12 hours. I worried that I was going backwards and that shorter races were equated with "beginner" races. I also worried that I would lose fitness and gain weight without hours and hours of training.

Size doesn't matter. All races are fun!

Believe me, I know that none of what I just wrote is true. The distance of a race does not determine whether or not I am a "real" triathlete. I also know that with proper diet and training, I am not going to get fat or out of shape. Now, will I be able to complete an IRONMAN race in 2018? Probably not, but that just means I am not trained for it this year. It doesn't mean that I couldn't do another one if I decided to in the future.

Plenty to Do in 2018

In order to keep myself focused, I have listed out most of the events I want to do this year including cyclocross!
  • January
    • Kick Start Duathlon
    • Dirty Duathlon
  • February
    • Double Duathlon
    • Lost Trail Half Marathon
  • March
    • The XTERRA Real MTB Triathlon 
  • April
    • Ice Breaker Triathlon
  • May
    • Folsom Lake International Triathlon
    • Avenue of the Vines
  • June 
  • July
    • Dirt, Sweat & Beers MTB Triathlon
  • August
  • September
    • Bear Valley Triathlon (Finally going to try this race AND we get to stay at our cabin in Arnold)
  • October
    • Cyclocross season starts! A whole new adventure!!
  • November
    • Salmon Duathlon (If I can muster up the courage to ride on the road)
  • December
    • California International Marathon
Getting Re-Started

Yesterday I completed the Kick Start Duathlon. It has been a couple of years since I did this race. I almost didn't sign up because I was worried about competing. I am so glad I sucked it up and raced. It reignited all of the old feelings that made me fall in love with triathlons. At the end of the race I found myself energized and focused...feeling like I can't wait until the next race. 

Now my next big challenge is getting back in the pool!

Ugh! LOL

Friday, December 22, 2017

California International Marathon - 2017

Those of you that have been following my blog know that I was hit by a truck while riding my bike on September 30th of this year. This event happened about nine weeks into my training for the California International Marathon. I was devastated. This was going to be my year to finally qualify for Boston. I was also looking for a little redemption after last year's less than ideal performance.

Besides my own plans for running CIM, I had convinced my daughter, Ashley, to sign up and race with me. My sister and her hubby also signed up for 2017. In August, HS signed up for the race as too. Then I got hit by the old, nearly blind, farmer.

HS quit training. He was afraid it would upset me if I saw him leaving the house to go for a run. The rest of my family pretty much gave up training too thinking that I was not going to do the race. At my first appointment with my regular doctor I asked when I was going to be able to run again. At that point, it had only been a week since the accident and she advised me to keep my activity to walking.

My next appointment was nearly a week and a half later. At that point, my doctor referred me to a surgeon to drain the huge hematoma on my backside. After the procedure I asked the surgeon if I could run. He advised me to keep my activity to low impact stuff like swimming and cycling (Seriously!). At least I could officially climb onto my trainer and pedal around Watopia.

My next appointment was scheduled Monday, November 13. The deferral deadline for CIM was November 10. I was going to have to gamble that the surgeon would give me the OK to run. Thankfully, the doctor said it was OK to run again and added that I should stop if anything hurt. No worries there...I can't really feel anything in the injured area anyway. I resumed training. I had lost a lot of time and hoped that my hours on the trainer would pay off.

Pre-Race

We headed up to Sacramento early Saturday morning. Since we had Zoe with us, I figured we would park and then take turns going into the convention center to pick up our packets. However, when we neared the convention center, HS said he would drop me off and circle the block. I said OK.

I hopped out of the truck at the red light and walked quickly to the convention center. Once inside, I maneuvered around the people taking their time. I was on a mission, pick up my bib, get my shirt, get my 5-year stuff and get back outside.  Packet, shirt, 5 year cup and pin...back on the sidewalk waiting for HS. Definitely not as fun as walking around all the exhibits but at least it cut down on my time on my feet. When HS stopped to pick me up, I asked if he wanted to run in and get his stuff. He said he didn't want his shirt because he was not racing.

Once again, Lindsey and Max welcomed us into their home and gave up their bed so I could get a good night's sleep before the race. Zoe wore herself our playing with Rocco and crashed on the floor next to the bed. I had a restless night sprinkled with nightmares of showing up late to the start. I was relieved when my alarm went off. I could finally get up and get the day started. I had a big task ahead of me and I just wanted to get through it.

As I rolled out of bed, I noticed a tightness in my lower back that I hadn't felt before. Great! That's all I needed today. I got dressed, had some coffee and instant oatmeal for breakfast, and then tried to loosen up my back a bit. I was more nervous than I have ever felt before a race.   HS got dressed but I told him that I was just going to have Lindsey drop me off at the shuttle and that he didn't need to go. I was getting emotional as it was, and having him drop me off probably would have opened the flood gates.

In the past, I've fretted about getting to the start early. This time, I wasn't in that big of a hurry to go stand in the cold by myself. Lindsey dropped me off a little after 6:00am and I walked to the line for the shuttle. Within a couple of minutes, I was seated on a Folsom-Cordova school bus chugging up the hill to the start. The driver made a couple of turns then a tight squeeze into a neighborhood. It seemed vaguely familiar, so I wasn't worried.

Some of the other runners were a little more concerned about our location. They started Googling directions to the start and then called out turns to the driver. I sort of chuckled to myself. We aren't lost people. The navigators continued "Right turn! Turn right at the next corner!" As the bus rounded the corner the line of porta-potties could be seen. The driver stopped the bus and announced that we were welcome to stay on the bus as long as we wanted. Most of the runners exited. There was still over half an hour before the start. I kept my butt in the seat.

Eventually there were just two of us on the bus so I got up to go to the bathroom one last time. The remaining runner got up and left too. The line at the outhouse wasn't too long, but seemed to slow as we got nearer to start time. By then I knew I really needed to go, so I waited. Thankfully, I was done and walking to the start line with 10 minutes to spare.

Wrapped in my mylar blanket from last year, I eased my way towards the 4:00 pace group and then hung back a bit. Last year I made the mistake of going out way too fast. I wasn't going to do that this year. I also didn't want to start out with my goal pace group of 3:57 because I was afraid that if I couldn't keep up, I would become disheartened and stop trying. My Garmin was programmed with my paces and I planned on following that to the best of my ability.

Race

After the national anthem, the race started. It was a slow walk to the start line. I heard the announcer call out the 3:57 group and then the 4:00 group. The crowd thinned and I started jogging. As soon as I crossed the start line timing mat, I pressed start on my Garmin. Here we go...nothing to lose. This is the first time that I have actually meant it when I told people "I will be happy just to finish."

The first mile of CIM is almost entirely downhill. In the past, I have found it hard not to get caught up in the frenzy and adrenaline and run this mile faster than intended. This year I listened to the warning beeps on my Garmin and slowed down the best that I could. I was still running faster than I planned, but not nearly as fast as I did last year. The first mile always feels so good, it's easy to forget that there are 25 more to go.

The next few miles felt pretty good. The tightness in my lower back eased up and I was getting into a rhythm. Since Lindsey and Max live fairly close to Oak Ave, they were going to walk over with HS and the dogs to cheer me on. I figured that I would be passing them at about 7:30am somewhere around 3-1/2 miles into the race. The thought of seeing them really raised my spirits. As I neared the park where they would be, I kept scanning the sidelines. I moved to the left side of the course so I wouldn't miss them.

My two biggest fans

Eventually I saw HS, Lindsey, Max, Rocco and my big puppy, Zoe. I waved at them and called out Zoe's name. I think there were too many people for Zoe to focus on who was calling her name. At the moment I passed them, Carrie Underwood's "Something in the Water" started playing on my iPod and I let out an audible sob and started to cry. I quickly tried to pull myself together. Who starts crying at mile 3 in a marathon? LOL

Last year I carried a water bottle, but I really didn't find any advantage to carrying something around for 26.2 miles, so I left it at home this year. Instead, I went back to basics and hit the aid stations every three miles for the first half of the race. As long as you pinch the cup at the top, you can still run and get the liquids in your mouth and not down the front of your shirt. During the second half of the race as I started to get a little warm, I started drinking every mile or two.

Somewhere around mile 15, I started to feel my quads. They were beginning to burn. The one thing that my injury really derailed was my hill training. Prior to the accident, I had done quite a bit of running up at our cabin in Arnold. From our cabin, you can go up or you can go down, but flat is not an option. Unfortunately, after I was given the OK to run again, I never incorporated hills back into my training. I think I was afraid that hills would be too much and would aggravate my injury.

My Garmin confirmed that I was still within my desired range, so I kept pushing forward and prayed that my legs would hold out. Aerobically I felt good, so I had that going for me :-) As I neared mile 20, the pain in my legs grew but I noticed that I was still passing people here and there. I did some math in my head and reasoned that as long as I remained in front of the 4:00 group, I would still technically have a qualifying time.

Checking my pace just after the 20 mile marker

My programmed pace for the last 6 miles was a few seconds per mile faster than what I had been running. The plan was to really "race" the last part of the course where it is nice and flat. Unfortunately, I just couldn't find that last gear. My legs were done. It was going to be a mental battle to the finish.

I knew that with less than six miles to go that I would be finished in under an hour. An hour, I reminded myself, is nothing. This race is hopefully going to take less than four hours. IRONMAN Vineman took an additional eight and a half. This is nothing. Each step is one step closer. Just keep going. I was soon within two miles of the finish. Even if I ran the last two miles at a 10:00 minute pace, I was going to be finished in 20 minutes. 20 minutes! That's it. Keep going.

Sometime during the last mile, I thought, "Who cares about Boston? Just walk. Nobody expects anything out of you this year." I imagined a little devil perched on my shoulder whispering negative thoughts into my ear. Where is my little cheerleader angel when I need her? There was only silence. I checked my watch several times a minute trying to make the calculations in my head. My Garmin distance was a bit off of the course markers but I figured I would still make the four hour cut off.

Almost done
Someone called out my name and snapped me back to attention. I looked to my left and saw my family cheering for me. That was all I needed. I knew I was almost there and I wasn't going to disappoint them  by walking the last quarter mile. I rounded the final turn and saw the finish line and ran as fast as my legs would allow.


As soon as I saw HS on the side, I went over to him and gave him a hug and said "I did it." Tears welled up in my eyes. I couldn't believe it. Not only did I finish a marathon a little more than two months after being hit but I had finally achieved the elusive Boston Qualifying time that kept me coming back to this course over and over again.

Official time - 3:58:37
Boston Qualifying Time (50-59 Female) - 4:00:00

Congrats from Zoe!

Post Race

For the 2018 Boston Marathon, runners had to be 3 minutes and 23 seconds faster than the qualifying time for their age group. So, although I ran a qualifying time, it is doubtful that I will actually make it into the race. That's OK.

After the race, I really wanted to ring the BQ Bell. The line was huge and my family was less than thrilled about standing around even more just for a photo op. I said we could just go, but they said we could stay. Eventually I made it to the front of the line and I FINALLY got to ring the bell... five years after my first CIM.


Afterward, my brother-in-law bought me a "Boston Qualified" shirt! 


"Boston Qualified"
You would think that this would be the end of my CIM journey. However, as soon as the re-run special was posted, I signed up for 2018...and so did HS. Of course, my sister and brother-in-law are running 2018 since they deferred this year. Looks like it will be a great group. I'm hoping to remain injury free next year so I can run the race fast enough to actually make it to Boston.

#endureandenjoy #Garmin #CIM #marathon




Monday, December 11, 2017

An Open Letter to the Person that Hit Me and Left Me on the Side of the Road

NOTE (12/11/2017): I'm done with all of this. Out of the loop. People speaking for me without talking to me. It's time to move on with my life. Yes, I am mad but I just don't have the energy for this. Nothing I say or do will change anything. Half of my backside is numb and I just have to deal with it...of course, you still have all of the feeling in your body, no scars, no nightmares...enjoy!

___________________________________________________________

NOTE (12/1/2017): I've been working on this letter for over a month (its now a little more than two months since the hit and run). I shelved this post for a while because it stirred up too many emotions. I feel that now is the time to finish it because I can feel a lot of anger and resentment building up and I just want to get this out once and for all. (Not published at this time).

___________________________________________________________

To the A-Hole that Hit Me and Left,

First, I would like to ask you if you care that you hit me but I know that’s a stupid question. If you cared, you would have stopped. Your actions answered the question before I even asked it.

So, knowing that you don’t care and that you have no regard for human life, I am writing this letter in hopes that perhaps someone else will read it and think twice about their own actions. Maybe someone will read this and decide that they are going to obey the traffic laws and give cyclists three feet clearance. Maybe someone will read this and they will stop and render aid if they hit a car, pedestrian, or cyclist.


Please note, there were three of us that day that you hit. No, hit is not the right term. There were three of us that you ran into, over, and through. We were riding single file along the white line on the side of the road and ...ONE...by ONE...by ONE ...you took each one of us out in a different and horrifying way. This letter will only discuss the pain and horror you inflicted on me. I will let the other two riders tell their own stories.

The Terror

The last memory I have while still upright on my bike was the sound of gravel and loud sound of cracking. In the split second before you hit me, I did not have time to process that what I was hearing was the sound of your tires driving through the gravel on the side of the road. Yes, the gravel to the right of the white line. Forget about three feet of clearance, I would have given anything to have only had one foot of clearance and not to have you directly behind me. Oh, and the loud cracking I heard, that was my friend’s bike being snapped and broken as you drove over it and him.

That’s the extent of my memory. I was knocked out for a couple of minutes. The next thing I remember is that I am standing up. I was dazed. I looked around to try and get my bearings. I can only say that at that moment I felt as if I had been picked up and dropped in the middle of a horror movie. My two friends were severely injured and laying in the road. There were bikes and parts and gear strewn all over.

There was a gash in my head and blood was running down my face. I thank God that I had the wherewithal to grab my phone and call 9-1-1.  Please note, I did not call for help because I am some sort of hero. I called for help because of the sheer terror you had left me to deal with!

I was alone on a country road with two injured friends and I was scared out of my mind! I needed someone to help us. I should not have had to do this. It was your responsibility to stop and call for help immediately!


The Physical Pain

When you hit me, an artery was torn somewhere in my left buttock. I spent my three days in the hospital cinched in a T-Pod in an attempt to stop the bleeding without surgery. I was denied food or anything to drink for the first two days because the doctors did not know if the bleeding would stop on its own. I had stitches in my forehead. Other wounds were bandaged and wrapped. The left side of my body was covered in deep purples bruises and extremely painful road rash.

First day home
After I was released from the hospital, I spent the next two weeks at home, unable to return to work. I'm sure you were back to earning a living before I even got out of the hospital. I was fortunate to have my husband and daughters with me doing what they could to make me comfortable.

Comfort was fleeting though. Trying to find a sleeping position that kept me off of the bruises and road rash was nearly impossible. Getting up to go to the bathroom or move about the room caused even more pain as scabs on my knees and elbows split open again and started bleeding.

As the swelling receded, a huge hematoma became apparent. I'm sure it was always there, I just couldn't see it because of all of the other damage you inflicted. Thankfully I was able to find a surgeon willing to drain the hematoma so it could start to heal. What started out as a swollen, numb, lump on my upper left buttock is now a hard, semi flat, tingly, painful area (and yet it was still oddly numb).

People keep telling me that it is just the nerves "waking up". Honestly, I wish the nerves would go back to sleep because the burning, itching, and zapping that strikes at random times is very disconcerting. I am trying to get back in to see my doctor to see it there is something that can be done to help.

Do you want to know what really pisses me off about the physical pain?

What really pisses me off about my physical pain (over two months out and I still have no feeling on my left side) is that I don't even feel like I have a right to complain about anything given the extent of the damage you inflicted on my two friends. I feel like I just need to shut up and accept it because I don't have any broken bones or because I am not in the hospital. I've been told this is similar to "survivors guilt", maybe that's what it is, but it sucks because I suffered and continue to suffer.

Hematoma after three weeks (The lump is NOT my butt!)


The Suffering of Others

Speaking of suffering. You put my husband and daughters through an incredible amount of suffering too. When you hit me, my daughters were down in southern California celebrating my oldest daughter's bachelorette weekend. They had rented a house and were having a fun weekend up until the point when my husband had to call them and tell them that I was in the hospital because of what you did. I would have given anything not to ruin their plans. However, they ended up cutting things short and coming home early. I understand why they came back early, I would have done the same if anything had happened to one of them. However, they should not have had to do that!

When my family walked into my hospital room, the pain and sadness on their faces was too much. We all started crying. I didn't want them to see me all banged up just as much as I am sure they didn't want to see their mother with stitches, scabs and bruises all over my face. You were probably at home at that exact moment enjoying dinner with your family.

I do take a bit of solace in hoping that you and your family suffered even the slightest bit of distress when the police showed up at your door and told them what you did. Did your family cry when they found out that their father hit three people and left them on the side of the road? (12/11/17 Note: After reading the police report, your family did not want you driving that truck!)

The Intangible Losses

One of my favorite activities was riding my bike. I rode with friends from the triathlon club, I rode with neighbors, I rode with co-workers, and I rode with my family. If anyone had a ride planned, I was ready to go! You have ruined, no I think STOLEN is the right word, my joy of riding. In your one single, heartless act, you have taken road cycling from me. Maybe if you would have stopped to help us, I would be able to fathom getting out one the road again. If I thought that someone would help me if the unthinkable happened, I might be able to consider riding again.

Below are several of my favorite pictures from my rides. I want to cry every time I think that I may never enjoy this again just because I am scared of some heartless jerk running me down and leaving me again. On top of that, I couldn't stand being involved in another incident where friends were injured. My husband talks about going out riding with my co-workers. I'm not sure I could stand knowing he was out on the road. I don't want to get the same call he got about me.

Heartbroken that we may never have our date-rides

Riding with my daughter and son-in-law

My co-workers

Tri club friends

Racing

I can't finish this letter...enjoy your life selling vegetables under the freeway on Saturday mornings. Watch for cyclists!



Monday, October 9, 2017

Hit and Run - Anger, F-Bombs, and Church

After a restless night of sleep, I woke up with the intention of going to church. I needed to go to church. It was one more step towards my ultimate goal of reclaiming all that is "normal" in my life.

It was about twenty after seven so I knew I was going to have to hustle a bit to try and get out of the door on time to make the 8:30am service in Manteca. HS had already made coffee, so I took a few sips and made my way to the shower.  The warm water felt great on my black and blue body, but I kept my wash time to a minimum and proceeded to try and get ready.

Road rash reality
Step one was reapplying sterile pads to the road rash. I struggle to be as independent as possible, but HS eventually stepped in when he saw my frustration level rising. I was snappy with him. I just wanted him to hold the pad while I tried to wrap the ace bandage around me. I was trying to wrap the bandage so the metal clips were in front and not somewhere that I would I would have to sit on it.

Step two was reapplying the silicone scar sheets to the areas that were no longer considered open wounds. The sheets rolled, curled and stuck together. I was finding it exceedingly difficult to get them to stick and was starting to even more frustrated. Tears welled up, but I tried to hold them back.

HS popped into the bathroom to let me know that we were going to have to leave soon. My hair was still wet and I had no makeup on. I grabbed my concealer and started applying makeup to my black eye and oddly colored cheek. I looked in the mirror and started to cry. The first time in over a week putting on makeup and all I managed to do was make myself look worse. The makeup was no match for the yellow and grey hues on the left side of my face. I only succeeded in making it look like I was trying to hide something...poorly.

I grabbed a makeup remover towelette and wiped off my face as I started to cry. Mike came back in the bathroom to see what I was doing. I was quickly sinking into a sea of self pity and anger. "My makeup only made me look worse" I cried. He responded but I'm not sure what he said. He knew there really wasn't a way to help. Words only seemed to make my mood worse.

I moved on to trying to dry my hair but it was a hot mess. I think during my rushed shower I left some conditioner in my hair. The tears continued. I went to the guest bath to rewash my hair with the hand held shower head. Gingerly kneeling on my "good" knee, I hung my head in the tub, applied shampoo and then rinsed. I went back to the master bath and tried running a brush through my hair. I cried some more.

By this time, it was well after 8am. HS came into the bathroom to say something and I snapped again. "Why can't we just go the f*****g 10:00 service?" I screamed. Yes, that is how bad it was. I was dropping F-bombs in our discussion about what church service to go to. Ugh. It was ugly. HS said it was fine if we went to the 10:00 service. He said I didn't need to go to church if I didn't want to. "I need to go," I cried. I was so frustrated and angry that I couldn't get ready in 30 minutes like normal. I was mad that we couldn't go to our "normal" service time. I was mad. Mad at everything.

HS left the room. Probably so he wouldn't have to take the brunt of my verbal assaults. I sat down on the edge of our bed and cried. And cried and cried and cried. If my anger and self-pity were quick sand, I would be up to my neck at this point.

HS checked in on me again. I was frustrated at my wardrobe options. It wasn't cool enough for a sweatshirt, but a bit too cool for a short sleeved shirt. The one pair of workout pants that I could comfortably wear were in the drier getting "freshened up". I pawed through the options in my closet. Running top, race shirt, cycling jersey, cycling jersey, cycling jersey. OMG! Thank's to my Pearl Izumi "Ambador" status over the last two years, I have an abundance of bright, fun, screaming pink jerseys that mocked me this morning. The thought that I may never don a cycling jersey again smacked me in the face.

Yes, this is my closet!

I continued to search for something to wear and settled on last year's CIM shirt. Long sleeve, but loose, it would cover the wounds on my arms but not be too warm to wear. I sat on the bed and continued to cry. Not only did the unknown driver needlessly injure me and my two friends, but he had destroyed my favorite bike, stolen my joy of riding, and erased the last few months of training for CIM. This was going to be my year to qualify for Boston. In a second it was gone. I cried even more.

Eventually I pulled myself together enough to get dressed, finish drying my hair, and to apply some mascara and lip gloss. No foundation today. At this point, I didn't care if people saw the yellow and purple hues on my face. I would wear them like a badge this morning. I left the bedroom and went to sit on the couch with HS until it was time to leave.

Our ride to Manteca was silent. I continued to simmer in my anger. Cars appeared to fly past us, but I had asked HS to not get in a hurry because riding in a car was stressful for some reason. I think I was worried about how bad it would hurt if we got into a accident. My battered body was not ready to hurt even more.

When we finally pulled into the parking lot, we only had a few minutes to spare. HS looked like he was going to park in our "normal" spot, but I asked him to drop me off near the front because there was no way I would be able to walk fast enough to make the service on time. He drove around to the front row and was about to drop me off at the center walkway when he noticed an open spot just to his left. Perfect. He parked and we made our way inside.



I was secretly hoping for one of those sermons that, when you heard it, you assumed had been written specifically for you. The current series is called (Be)Loved and the topic for this week was called (Be)Careful. I'm not sure what I was expecting...maybe something along the lines of (Be)Careful riding your bike because some stranger may run down you and your friends and leave you on the side of the road. Alas, the sermon was not Tracy specific. It was a great sermon, just not the grab me and shake me message I was hoping for. I desperately wanted something to dissipate my anger.

When the service ended, HS and I made our typical exit out of the side door. I shuffled along next to a woman with a cane. I think she was racing me. I let her take the lead. At the sidewalk, HS and I ran into Pastor Brian. He recognized us and stopped to give me a "gentle" hug. He was aware of the hit and run and had messaged me a couple of times during the week to see how I was doing.  He asked about Jessica and Dal, and we discussed some details about the unfortunate events of last Saturday.

Pastor Brian is a cyclist himself. He admitted that he often rides alone. I pray that he finds a riding partner. While I have learned the hard way that there is no safety in numbers, it is a much bigger gamble if you are on your own. If you are by yourself and someone hits you and leaves, there is no one to call for help.

If Brian want to continue riding alone,
this bubble-wrap outfit might be his best option

At the end of our chat, he asked if he could pray for us. We stood in a small circle in front of Crossroads as Pastor Brian prayed for me, Jessica, and Dal. Honestly, his words were a distant noise that I struggled to focus on. Why can I not pay attention to what he is saying? Pay attention, stupid!! I heard names, but everything else seemed lost. What I did notice was that the powerful gusts of anger and self-pity that billowed my sails suddenly ceased. I was at peace. It was amazing.

We said our goodbyes. HS and I found our truck and headed to Target for more bandages and some pain relieving spray for my road rash. I tried conjuring up a little anger. I thought about CIM and not being able to race. Nothing. I thought about how badly my body hurt. Nothing. Nothing I could think about seemed to raise my ire.

I'm not sure how long this peaceful hiatus from anger will last. I pray that it will become my new "normal". Am I angry that my friends are hurt? Yes. Am I angry that our loved ones were put through this anguish? Yes. However, I am thrilled that the anger is no longer consuming me from the inside out. I still suffer from random bouts of tears, but I no longer feel like I am losing myself.





Saturday, October 7, 2017

Hit and Run - A Week Later

This morning I woke up and looked at the clock. It was 6:42am. "I was just leaving the house at this time last week to meet everyone" I said to HS. I can't believe it's already been a week.

At roughly 7:28am on Sept. 30, 2017, three lives changed

Five years ago today, I completed my first triathlon (I can't believe it's already been five years). I was immediately hooked on the sport and more specifically, cycling. I absolutely loved going out for a ride with my friends, teammates, and co-workers. If anyone wanted to ride, I was there. Today, one week after two friends and I were hit by a car and left on the side of the road, I can't say if I will ever ride again.

One happy group of finishers

I am a basket case of emotions. I cannot express how absolutely thankful I am to be up and walking around, kissing HS, chatting with my daughters, hugging my fur babies, posting on my blog. On the other hand, I am wracked with guilt that I am able to do all of the things I just listed and that one of our riders is still in the hospital with very serious injuries. I fight off bouts of self pity for a bunch of various reasons. I am unwilling to even divulge any of the reasons because they are stupid and trivial.  Tears come at random times and I laugh and joke when it may not be appropriate. 

Yesterday I tried reassembling Beauty. I don't know what I hoped to achieve. I think I secretly hoped that doing so would restore all the missing pieces of my memory. That didn't happen. Instead, I was merely saddened by the loss of a dear friend. This bike started as an upgrade to an aluminum frame, store brand bike. I wanted to go on group rides without +James  bitching at me about group ride etiquette and my tri bike. I was also tired of trying to keep up with a bunch of cyclist on carbon frames.

A year ago today we said goodbye to Buster

I've been documenting my recovery with photos. Again, I don't know what I hope to achieve. It did come in handy at the doctor's office so I could show her what I looked like in the hospital and when I got first came home. I choked back the tears when I looked at my body in the mirror today. The football lump on my backside is hideous and weird. However, when I look at my pictures from Monday, I can see the change and pray that my recovery continues.


I'm not sure what the future holds. I hope to return to running and swimming. Cycling (and even riding in the car) scares me. When I see friends posting about their rides, I am afraid for them. At only a week out, I know it is way too soon for me to say what I will and won't do. I will continue to play it by ear...maybe one day you will see me back out on the road.