Well some of you know part of these stories, some none but this is my first installment of my spring/summer "race" season so everyone can cringe and poke fun all together. Those of you I have seen recently know why race is in quotations, others will soon find out. I know you are just dancing with excitement.
Things started out pretty well. It rained in Houston a couple of days before I left June 7th for Dallas and the first of many in-line and bike races. I took it as a sign to let my body rest. It worked just fine for when I was at the start line at were gone. It had rained the night before and that morning in Plano. The roads were super slick... did I say super slick? I meant super duper ultra slick... slipping every stride. Slip sliding away... Post time came and skaters lined up. Pros out in front followed by the advance and then fit/rec behind them. The gun went off and all skaters started together. This year included a timing system like CHIP but with a few added bonuses. Of the minor was the fact the chip was built into a neoprene band that quickly and easily went around your ankle. The best part was no mats. I repeat NO MATS! Woohoo!
The course was just over 3 miles long and was skated 5 times to equal a 25k. Not to harsh to kick off the season. I took off but the sliding around kept me in my place. It was not till the second lap that I learned the far left lane (we had 3 on this section of the course) offered grip. A very encouraging thing to learn.
In the first lap I caught up to a forming pack of what I believe was Advance men. Perhaps there were some Pro vets and masters in there as well. I didn't ask. I pulled up on their right side (they were discovering the joys of the left lane). With cross drafting ok they told me to hop in but instead I continued on. They pursued behind me and I was now leading a pack of intelligent skaters. My favorite kind. In the first lap we all decided it was going to be a fielding out the course lap rather than risk serious injury on a wet course. There were 4 right hand turns in the course and one was at the bottom of a hill. Later on in the race by my understanding there was an incident with rec skaters and the pro men lapping them and then a big nasty pile up at the bottom of that hill/turn. By the time that I got there on lap #4 (I think) there were emergency vehicles at the site. Glad I missed it. I also later saw a skating acquaintance Lloyd, who is a super nice guy and I greatly admire, holding a pack to his face. It was not pretty. He had been ahead of me the entire race and turns out he had a dealing with that hill as well. I don't know the details but I know my heart screamed out in sorrow for him when I saw his injuries. Summed up it looks like he was beaten with a baseball bat. I sure hope he is much better now.
Anyway back to my fun... starting the second lap I was leading with Johnny Chen and a few other men pacing behind me. We were in the left lane and I was starting to feel real good and ready to start digging in. All of a sudden my right foot stuttered as my left was coming in for a recovery. I had hit a perpendicular spacing in the road and it was just enough to cause my foot to delay for the other to click it. Front wheel hit rear wheel. Must have had too much weight on the front wheels. *sigh* So with no traction to recover I went straight down on my left leg and cheek. Johnny tucked and rolled over me. He went down but from the glance I took of him he looked clean. All the other skaters managed to swerve right and left to avoid us. Instantly I got up and took off after the unscathed skaters. With a quick breather behind Johnny I took the lead and pulled us to the pack that kept a decent pace.
Ok so now I needed a rest. After that we caught up to the pro women who were each skating solo. I am sure they were tired a bit. I rotated up and over the course of the second lap we pick up a few more strong men and lost a few others. I was doing ok till I spent a stretch trying to pull us back up to Stacy Eldridge who had turned up the juice and created a little gap. I was feeling ok at the point but decided to rotate back before I was drained. Makes sense right? Well it was bad timing on my part. The lane was too narrow for the line and myself to get a full stride. So as I tired to keep some momentum the line flew past me too fast and without the traction I needed I could not chase after them. (Lesson learned!)
I was now alone for about a mile looking back for the pack of men I had skated with earlier. I could see them but it was going to be several minutes before they reached me. This section of the course offered a headwind and my lower back was reminding me of such. All of a sudden it just cramped up. Oh joy.
The men caught back up and I decided this was a good place for me to stay. I was sore in leg and back and knew there was no way I was going to be able to chase down the stream train that I had lost.
In the end I finished trying to sprint around a fellow skater who was in that left lane. I knew the middle would offer me no traction but I still wanted to try. I didn't want to reserve myself to just settling for behind him. We crossed at the same time. He did a great job and again my favorite... a smart skater.
In the end I managed 3rd woman overall in the race and first in Advance and age group. Yeehaw. However I should say that I do not think there were as many women racing this year. I would not doubt it due to the weather and surface conditions. IN the aftermath I got to speak briefly with Stacy and John. Both offered good jobs and John said "proud of you girl". That really made my day.
...hit PAUSE and go make some popcorn or something. I'll wait.
Ok so if you were paying attention you remember I said I fell. It was far from the worst road rash I had endured and was not bleeding so I didn't think too much of it. Strolled over to the car and emptied it in order to reach the well packed first aid kit.
SIDE NOTE - now the first aid kit stays on top.
I washed out the leg with antiseptic foam. My first clue that it was not strong enough should have been that I didn't scream when it soaked the wound. We went out to a late lunch with some local Dallas friends followed by a trip to Walgreen's for Tegaderm and gauze. The application of the Tegaderm was fun loving stroll through a lush garden of happy birds and pretty flowers. Not.
That night I started my road trip north to Milwaukee. I didn't think much of my owies other than they hurt but big whoop. Been there done that. Then as time passed the swelling went from near non existent to eventually my left leg being twice as large as my right. I will leave out the yucky stuff but lets just say there was oozing and draining from under the leg wound covered in Tegaderm. I kept thinking the swelling (before the 100% growth in size) was due to muscle bruising and would go away any day soon. It didn't. I was starting to fear my Brainerd race. I was not getting any training, or even slight amount of exercise in. Day before Brainerd 3 of use carpooled up. One sick, one on new skates, and me Limping Lena. We got in town just in time for the 10PM packet pick-up deadline.
I went to sleep with an ice pack on and pumped full of Ibuprofen. I woke around 4 AM and the tears started to set in. I knew I was not going to get to race. The flat easy perfect for me course was not going to pass beneath my skates this year. Went to the race and I was not strong enough to fight back the tears that started to stream down my face as for the first time ever I had to return my timing chip. Instead I got to cheer my friends on. While it was cool to see the start of a race from "outside the box" and it was solo amazing to watch to pro men come down the homestretch fighting their fatigue and each other for placement. I hope I never have to see it again.
But alas in the past 12 days the most I have done is unload and load up my car. Unpack and repack. I called Russ of Big Granite this week to move from Pro full marathon to fit/rec of the half. Race is this Saturday. (no pro for the half) I don't know if I am even going to get to skate it. (Racing it is out of question)
Saturday night upon returning from Brainerd my car mates took me to local hospital ER where I had the IV from hell. First try was in my wrist. Bone was hit... I am pretty sure I cursed. Not at the nurse of course. The vein blew and we had to try again all over elsewhere. Lots more tears. The whole time I thought about how I would rather be out skating A2A on 3 wheels rec skates in the middle of winter. Anything but the elephant needle again. My leg was scrubbed clean and after of week of swelling and infection it was raw and more tender than new mother taking a spin on a my bike with no suspension. I wanted drugs. I wanted booze. More tears.
Since Sat. I still have been limping but it is less. The swelling has gone down considerably but the wound itself still leaves me in throbbing pain every time I stand up. Oh well. Live and learn. Always carry hydrogen peroxide around. If it didn't hurt the wound then it isn't clean yet.
I am in bike short and have the Klein on top. Today will be my first attempt at any form of athletics. I hope the leg holds out. I have a long way to go to get back to where I was but I have found that I really should not think about it. Just as depressing as sitting on the couch with leg elevated and icing while you stare out the window at the most perfect weather and roads to skate/bike on stares right back at you.
Someday soon I won't be staring out the window anymore.
Wish I was skating