My Worst Bike Crash


The last time I crashed really hard on a bike was the spring of ’96. I was mountain biking with some friends and didn’t see a gap created by the heavy rains. My friend bunny hopped it. I landed on it, went over the bars and slid on the right side of my body for several feet. I didn’t need to go to the hospital, but I remember inviting a couple of friends over to partake in a mini keg of Grolsch. And I didn’t wear skirts that summer because the road rash was so bad.

I had a pretty good streak going of no bad crashes – until last Sunday. I was just going out for an easy spin down by Todd’s place. I like going into this wilderness park where there’s a paved road to practice my aero position and take in the scenery without cars.

Four miles into my ride, I hit a pothole that I didn’t see. (Yes, I have crappy vision.) Usually I can recover from those bobbles, but not this time. My Garmin showed I was going 18.4 mph. I don’t remember the fall. But my Garmin said I took quite a bounce, crashing at 16.8 mph and sliding for 12 seconds. I got knocked out. I don’t think it was for very long. When I regained consciousness, I was surrounded by five strangers who wouldn’t leave my side until the paramedics got there. Apparently, I stopped my Garmin 1 minute and 50 seconds after impact. I don’t remember doing it.

If I had been wearing this headband that I got at the Boston Marathon Expo, perhaps one of those kind people could’ve done it sooner. They kept saying, “I can’t believe you didn’t break your collarbone!”

Once I found out that I had been knocked out and saw my trusty Specialized Prevail helmet was cracked in two places, I knew I had to get checked out at the hospital. I’ve been writing about head injuries for the past 15 years for my rehab hospital client. I know you just can’t mess with them.

The rush of adrenaline or shock that you get from impact kind of masks the pain. As the minutes ticked by, I wondered if maybe I broke something – my ribs hurt and my hip was swollen.

The paramedics/firemen rode me, and my bike “Blaze,” out of the park. Todd’s brother, Ken, picked me up at the park entrance and drove me to the hospital. Ken is no stranger to bike accidents as you may recall. He’s broken his collarbone four times! And I was grateful he kept me company for three hours in the hospital.

The folks at Mission Hospital were great. They gave me a CT scan, X-rays of my pelvis and ribs, a tetanus shot, and cleaned up my road rash. I had a mild concussion. The next day, I still felt shelled. I declined using the prescription for a painkiller. The last time I took one I had dreams of King Kong sleeping in the fetal position in my neighbor’s garage and strange little rat-a-saurus creatures with neon tails eating pineapple off my bedroom floor. No thanks! I opted for vodka and pomegranate juice instead. ☺

I thought recovering from this would be like getting over the soreness of a marathon or a half Ironman. Nope. I’m still incredibly sore on the right side of my body just over a week later. It still hurts to laugh.

With 11 bruises, my legs are like a mood ring, changing different colors every day. I have scrapes on my hip, elbow and shoulder that are healing well, but I wouldn’t dare take them for a dip in the pool. I still have a slight limp when I walk and it hurts to do little things that I normally wouldn’t think about like kicking the bottom sock drawer of my closet closed. Or rolling over in bed. I’m using my arms still to push myself up or ease myself down in bed because my ribs still ache so. Yesterday, I got on the trainer and spun my legs for 20 minutes. Getting on and off was the hardest part.

Despite all of those complaints, the biggest overriding feeling I’ve had this week is joyous relief. I feel lucky it wasn’t much worse. I’m in tact. My life is in tact. I feel gratitude for the strangers that came to my aid and my honorary bro Ken. Grateful for my sister, Jane, coming over to help this week and changing my bandages, knowing she’s the most squeamish chick I know. There are such good people in my world.

My thoughts this weekend are with my blogger buddy, James Walsh, a phenomenal endurance athlete who got hit by a car this weekend going 50 mph. The driver hit another cyclist in his group as well. James suffered numerous broken bones and I can only imagine how uncomfortable he must be, if I’m hurting this much still without breaking anything. Please send positive vibes his way and cheer him on for a speedy recovery on Twitter at @jmwalsh2.

Making Produce Last

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to not waste food, particularly produce. Spending time back and forth between Todd’s place and mine, I noticed something. He doesn’t waste food. I do. I’ve been the queen of good intentions whenever I go to the store and tend to buy enough fruits and vegetables. I just don’t get to it all before it goes bad.

After doing much soul searching I’ve come to the following conclusions for why this happened:

  1. Perhaps my eyes are actually bigger than my stomach.
  2. Definitely not enough meal planning on my part. I shopped for the same stuff on autopilot.
  3. Believe it or not, I forget to look in the vegetable crisper drawers. For me, out of sight can actually be out of mind.
  4. Items get hidden behind the bigger items and turn into things that look like science experiments.
  5. Ethylene-producing fruits shouldn’t be stored with or near ethylene-sensitive vegetables or they will go bad quickly.

That last one was an ah-ha moment for me. You can read more about the science of why produce can go bad quickly and which fruits and veggies should not be stored together in a great article by Vegetarian Times here.

Once I read that I was reminded that I have a couple of FridgeSmart Tupperware containers (click for a short demo video) tucked away in a cabinet.

These containers have two vents, which can be adjusted in four different open or closed combinations based on what you put inside them. I’m glad I kept the pamphlet that explains the way they should be adjusted for each type of veggie and fruit.

I also picked up a few more Progressive Fruit and Veggie Keepers, which I found on sale at HomeGoods.

I still keep a couple of things in the produce drawers. But everything isn’t jammed on top of each other there.

After three weeks, I can see that the new system is working. For me, being able to see things, lined up and organized in their own containers is helping me stay on track with eating healthier while preserving food longer.

Wednesday ZenDay: A Big Enough Dream

One of my favorite things about my bimonthly meditation group is that our “Zen Coach” often reads to us a wonderful passage from Ralph Marston. And our group usually responds with a satisfying sigh of agreement. I usually can’t wait to share them with Todd and his bro. So I thought I’d share them with you here from time to time too.

A big enough dream

How big is your dream? Make sure it it’s big enough to overwhelm all the challenges.

Are life’s pains and problems and annoyances getting to you too often? Though you can’t stop them from popping up, you can stop them from dragging you down.

When you’re passionate about where you want to go, you’ll more easily deal with all the things that happen where you are. When you focus on what’s on the other side of the challenges, you’ll find the strength to persist through those challenges.

There is a beautiful purpose within you. It is a purpose so compelling that it absolutely will not allow you to give up.

Open yourself to the truth of who you are, and you open yourself to that purpose. Allow that purpose to inspire you, connect with it, and tap into its undeniable power.

Express that purpose with a dream that is too big and too wonderful and too meaningful to abandon. With a big enough dream, anything is possible.

Ralph Marston

The Big Off-Season Tune-up

 

This is the time of year when triathletes can finally rest and take it easy.

My off-season officially began in the last mile and half of my Olympic distance race in mid-October. The heat got the best of me. I mostly walked it in, feeling lame, alarmed, and defeated. (But would you believe I podiumed?) I knew I didn’t feel right. And with chronic insomnia, I hadn’t felt right in a long time.

I made a long overdue appointment with my doctor. She took eight vials of blood and performed a couple of other tests. Yup, she pretty much looked at everything under the hood.

The good news:

• I’m not going to have a heart attack anytime soon.

• I do not have sleep apnea (according the home test that made me look like a Jedi warrior and scared Todd’s cat 7)

The bad news:

• I’m low in iron, but not anemic. According to Runner’s World, 56% of the runners they polled had an iron deficiency.

• I’m low in vitamin D. Yes, you can be low in D even when living in sunny So Cal. I had tested low in this three years ago too. Being low in D can cause fatigue. I guess it’s one of my bug-a-boos. My body doesn’t absorb it well. Back then, I was told that 50% of Southern Californians are low in it.

• My endocrine system is a bit of mess. My doc said, “I’m amazed you’ve been able to do what you ‘ve done. Your body isn’t producing energy right now.”

The great news:

It’s fixable. I just need to give myself some time to let my body rest and get re-adjusted with the meds and supplements. Which means, for now, super light workouts. No exercise within four hours of bedtime. Limited activities. And do whatever I can to reduce my overall stress. I’m still a bit overloaded with work, but I can finally see some light at the end of the tunnel. For now, I’m basically going to have to act like a bear in hibernation.

I’m glad I got checked out. I had about a million excuses to put it off. But in retrospect, the beginning of the off-season is the perfect time to get checked out by your doc. Okay, your turn. If you haven’t done so in a while, please make an appointment so you can have a great season next year.

Iron Girl Lake Tahoe Race Report (Way to Impress the Parents)


A couple of months ago, Todd and I were planning a trip to Tahoe to visit his folks and hit the trails. After a little too much time perusing races on Active.com during the off-season, it instantly struck me that the timing was right to do the Iron Girl there.

I loved the idea of getting a chance to swim in Lake Tahoe after hearing about Brett Blankner’s endurance swim there last summer. I loved the idea of getting a taste of what it’s like to race at elevation since they introduced a new Ironman event there. Hey, I’m no way near ready to take on an Ironman, but a sprint? I hadn’t done one since before my knee surgery almost four years ago. That I could handle. I looked forward to pegging it in a new environment!

We drove 500 miles straight to the check-in, which was mandatory the night before the race. Then I made a quick change in the car and we strolled down to the lake. I wanted to see if I could tolerate the temp without resorting to wearing a wetsuit. The water was about 65 degrees, maybe cooler. Nothing I couldn’t tolerate for 10 minutes after all the cold-water training I did in Lynne’s unheated pool last winter.

Before the race started as we headed to the beach, we heard the race MC announce, “Now, you’re going to see a couple of ladies without wet suits. Those will be some of the local girls!” Todd and I laughed. No there was one crazy, So Cal girl too. You can recognize her by the blue lips and the goofy goggles on race morning.

The 43-degree air temp was a bit much. Glad Todd stood next to me on the other side of the chute, so I could hand off my sweatshirt and hat at the last possible second.

My first goal of this race was to do it without a wet suit. I had never raced without one, so it represented breaking through a huge mental barrier for me. Taking up swimming late in life made me a little too co-dependent on that thing. It was only a 400-meter swim. I had to go for it. It went well. But I overshot the second buoy. This was the first place where I probably lost a good minute or two.

T1 went well for me. It was one of the longest I’ve ever done.

We had to run up one block

around a corner for another block and through the race chute.

But it was a long one to do bare foot. Note to self: Next time, bring a pumice stone so you don’t have black feet for the rest of your vacation.

When I got to my bike, I was surprised to see I was one of the first few who made it back to the racks in my age group. Um, that never happens in the races I’ve done the past few years. We raced two loops from the strip to Zephyr Cove. There were a lot of rollers that felt steeper when you’re used to zero elevation and racing at 6,200-feet plus. There were some places that felt so cold that my feet where shivering in the pedals.

I had trouble taking in any fluids on the bike. Not sure if something got wedged on my Speedfill or if I was just too winded from the elevation to draw fluids properly. I’m thinking the latter because I’ve never had issues with my Speedfill before. I had five sips of water the whole 15 miles. Note to self: Buy a normal bottle cage for sprints like this one.

T2 was uneventful. Looked like a few more gals came in ahead of me. I need to work on grabbing my stuff faster. But it was one of my betters ones.

On the first lap of the run, I cramped up badly and walked before and through the aid station. It was pretty bad and not my norm. I’m thinking it was dehydration. Todd found me and looked concerned when he saw me walking. Grrr, I didn’t want him to see that… but his encouragement helped. The second lap went better. I passed a couple of ladies in my age group in the last mile. I went as hard as I could in the last half mile. I finished strong. And then another first – as soon as I crossed the finish line, I puked. I didn’t even know I was nauseous. The poor volunteers stepped back and looked at each other like ‘Who’s going to put a medal on her? You do it!’ And all I could think was ‘Way to impress Todd’s parents!!’ They swear they missed that part.

After I made my way out of the finish area, I immediately spotted my enthusiastic tri sherpas. I was so happy to see them and it meant the world to have them there. I knew Todd would be wonderful. I was afraid his folks might be bored there. But it was obvious they enjoyed taking in the whole thing. His mom spent hours making her artsy sign the night before. And they were so patient, waiting for me to check on results and gather my stuff.

I was pleased to find out that I did pretty well. I was 9th out of 64 in my age group; 150 out of 605 overall. I was about 4 minutes off the podium. And you know what? That was just a matter of better navigating of the buoys and better hydration. Woulda? Coulda? Shoulda? No, I’m just feeling like maybe one of these days, it might be doable.

We had a nice celebratory breakfast back at Zephyr Cove. Well, it looked tastey, but my body was only ready for a café mocha. As I answered some texts about the race from friends back in Cali, I heard Todd joking with his parents, “You know I should get Minnow some jewelry one of these days. We’ve been dating for so long, you’d think I would get her something by now.” (Yeah, my guy is amazing, but he is not a shopper.) I may have made a smart a$$ comment back about the fact that grocery stores don’t sell jewelry. Then he said, “I should find her some jewelry and put it in a little pink mesh bag.” And then I thought ‘Wait, where did that come from?’ I looked up and there in front of me was a little pink mesh bag and we all started laughing. Yes, my tri sherpa totally surprised me with an Iron Girl necklace charm. Hey, if I knew that was waiting for me, maybe I would’ve gone a little faster!