Friday, November 12, 2010

Phew, my blog still exists!

Oh dear, it's been so long. I had worried blogger might have disabled this blog by now, but thankfully it still remains, covered in a thick layer of cyber cobwebs and dust mites. Now, where to begin...

I suppose it makes sense to start with a recap of the last few months... I apologize if this becomes somewhat of a ramble!

The Davos camp was just what I needed to get my mind and body back on track after such an eventful, injury-filled year. I didn't exactly return home fully healed, fit and firing on a cylinders, but being with Darren's squad reaffirmed that my decision to make significant changes was the right one, and it also helped build back my slightly shattered confidence.

My body actually wasn't in tip-top shape when I got home in September. I could ride no problem, was able to start a little regular swim training, but my discomfort running remained the bigger mystery. Some days I could run for 20 minutes with no troubles, but others I struggled with simply climbing stairs. Earlier in the year, the main symptom was knee pain, but as the pain moved around the knee joint, I was given every overuse diagnosis out there and had multiple MRIs. With no answers, Darren and I figured it had to be originating from somewhere other than the hips or feet, the obvious knee-pain spots. Shortly after my collarbone surgery this summer I started to develop a burning pain through my thigh, accompanied by constant numbness and tingling. I would wake in the night and have to get up and move around for the burning to subside. It turned out that I had irritated my L4 nerve, originating in my lumbar spine. Whether this was injured in the crash or was building up over the years I don't know, but I was just relieved to have a firm diagnosis. The pinching of the nerve was affecting the functioning of those leg muscles, which in turn created varying overuse troubles in my knee. With some dedicated rehab back home in Victoria I was able to slowly, but surely, get some relief.

It has been an incredibly busy and emotional last few months, but also very rewarding. I have learned so much about how my body works, where my "weak spots" are that will require constant attention, and also how to be patient. In the past I have been very reactive, panicking when something feels off and wanting immediate relief, but sometimes things take time. Being patient and dedicated to my rehab was successful in the end. By October I was beginning to run consistently and trouble-free. In the midst of my busy rehab schedule, I managed to sneak in a good six weeks of bike work and when I look back on the sessions I did, mostly on my own, I almost can't believe it. However, the best news probably came in the middle of September: my collarbone was finally 100% healed! It took a good 9 months so you can imagine how delighted I was! Since then, swimming has been coming along great. We are really starting my stroke from scratch, trying to undo all of my bad habits I've collected over the years (and yes, there were A LOT of them!). It takes full-on concentration when in the water, but I have a feeling the hard work will pay off.

On November 1st I moved to Canberra, Australia for the winter. Well, actually more like part of the fall, all of winter and part of the spring. I will not be back home until mid-April or so! I can't lie, it was a hard move, being away from my extremely supportive hubby and family for so long and missing Christmas with the family, but I have no doubt in my mind that this is the best possible situation for me to help me achieve my goals. I've been doing this sport for awhile now, but Darren has pointed out there is still A LOT that needs to be addressed and corrected. Believe it or not, but some of my skills in the three sports are considered to be somewhat "pathetic" in comparison to the best in the world. So, I've committed to doing everything I can over the next two years to become the best athlete possible.

I'm actually surprised I didn't write a blog when I first arrived last week. Normally I'm busting to share my stories of cycling past kangaroos with joeys peeking out of their pouches, or getting dive-bombed by magpies on the running trails, but maybe it's because my internet access is limited or because the fatigue I've missed so much is starting to set in, regardless, I'm thrilled to be here and healthy again. At the moment, I'm living in a caravan/trailer in the backyard of Darren and his wife, Liz's home. I can't deny that I've never been much of a camper and definitely not one to "rough it" so I'm sure Adam thinks this is good for me. I know he secretly wants me to turn into a bush woman so that we can spend the rest of our lives in a shack in the mountains, running all day, everyday, but honey, don't hold your breath. You can take the princess out of the palace, but the royal blood is there for life :)

I also have to say that the caravan is FAR from roughing it. It's more like a peaceful backyard retreat with fresh air, chirping birds and a very comfy bed. I am quite lucky to have the opportunity to stay here while I get settled and find a more permanent home.

More from Australia soon.... I promise!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Saturday, August 7, 2010

203 days later

January 14 was my last swim workout and the funny thing is that I remember exactly what I did that session. Now if you were to ask me any other year the specifics of a swim I had done 8 months earlier, I would have no clue. Have I missed swimming much? Yeah, I'd say so.

The x-rays I had done last week showed some good healing (FINALLY!), but the fracture line was still visible so things are not quite 100% solid. I did, however, get the "ok" to hop back in the pool for a SLOW introduction to swimming. Slow was definitely emphasized, as was the importance of avoiding paddles for quite some time (just in case I decided to put on the big red ones and smash it out from day 1. Dr. Keeler, would that be a bad idea? ;)

I was nervous for my first swim. Very nervous, but the nerves were only partly because of the metal holding my collarbone together. I have been coaching/observing the squad swim for the past month. I have been a "student" of the sport, learning the fundamentals of a proper stroke. I was nervous because I knew the "old" me was not an exact master of these basics and I worried that when I got in the water for the first time, my stroke would resemble a combination of my old bad habits and someone flailing, desperately trying to stay afloat. I pictured looking over to the deck after the first length, seeing the pool door closing as Darren left the building. Would my swimming be beyond hope?

Thankfully things were not quite so dramatic. I was not given permission to simply "swim," as the technical lesson began immediately. It was a bizarre feeling to use my arms again. It has been so long and one arm has been so utterly useless and immobilized for so many months that losing "feel" for the water doesn't even come close to what I felt. At first, I honestly felt as though I had started swimming for the first time in my life.

After two days of my intro to swimming, I am starting to feel some soreness in the right muscles. It's a little sad to think that only a handful of lengths can put my body in this state, but I am embracing this feeling more than I ever could have imagined.

And here's a sight I haven't seen in a very long time....


A WET BATHING SUIT!

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Good Omen?

I laughed aloud when I had a closer look at the art on the outside of the Davos Hospital. A plate and screws!!!
(you know you're in a ski resort that has a hospital specializing in "difficult" fractures when....)

Now if I were reading this like abstract art, I would say that I also see waves that represent swimming, and a spiral that represents coming full circle. I say this could be a good omen because the screws are perfectly aligned, solidly fixated and in the shape of a smile :)

I had my 9 week post-op x-ray done today. I don't know what the verdict is on swimming, but if it's not time yet, I'm accepting and prepared to be a little more patient.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Choose your roommates wisely

Truthfully, I can't take credit for choosing my roommates. Darren found this room for me through the local bike shop and when I was changing my arrival date every week and unsure if I was even going to get the go-ahead to travel, I had to jump at this last-minute opportunity.

The two girls I'd be living with were described as "sporty." We joked that it sounded like I was responding to a personal ad ("two sporty Swiss girls looking for a like-minded female roommate"). Anyway, sporty was a good description to go off, but what would have really sealed the deal is knowing that one was a MASTER BAKER. The Swiss know how to make a good pastry, so when the word "master" is in the title, I think that's a very good sign.

When I left for my ride yesterday this was the scene in the kitchen:


And, when I returned, it was bread carnage. Not sure where the other loaf of "Zopf" went...

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Oh Canada!

It's always neat to come across a little piece of home when you least expect it.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Love Letter

Dear Turbo Trainer

I can't believe after 7 long months together we have gone our separate ways.

I still think about you from time to time. Like earlier this week, when the weather turned and coach gave me the option of riding the trainer. I just couldn't do it, it felt like betrayal. Instead, I put on my rain gear and ventured outside, remembering the good old days. Don't worry, I promise riding in the Alps pales in comparison to our thrilling sessions together.

I will never forget that session when we were ten minutes late and missed the beginning of What Not to Wear. Or that day when the fan wasn't working, it was nearly pitch dark in the basement, and nothing was on tv apart from soap operas. Or the time when I broke out in full body hives as my body sweated out the medication from surgery. Of course there were the early days when our love first blossomed, when I had a cast on one arm and a sling on the other. I remember the pure excitement just being able to spend time with you.

And now, I am across the world and only left with this one photo....

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

London-bound

I'm off to London tomorrow to check out the race course and cheer/spectate the WCS race this weekend. Despite many connections through Heathrow over the years, I actually don't think I've been in London since 2000, during my first year of university in southern England. I'm excited to return and more importantly, excited to finally be back on the World Cup circuit (even if it is in the injured-and-itching to race capacity).

And now a few recent pics:



The three goats again! This time I saw them galloping after cyclists ahead, so I was better prepared.







Monday, July 19, 2010

Ding-ding-Ding-ding

That's the sound I heard from behind as I was riding through the valley. I turned around and saw these three amigos with bells around their necks, trotting towards me. I've been chased by dogs before, even been snapped at by a snake, but a bell-tolling herd of goats in the mountains is definitely a first.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Jakobshorn


I took a little field trip up one of the mountains today ("cable car trip" were the exact words on today's training program, I believe). Davos is situated in a valley with some of the most picturesque, extreme mountains on either side so I had quite the selection of ski hills and cable cars to pick from. After a 10-minute stroll from my house, I was whisked up into the air for one of the most scenic gondola rides of my life. The next time my foot touched ground at the Jakobshorn station, I was at 9,000 ft. It was a bit of a hazy day, but the views were still incredible. I have been to some pretty scenic places in the world, but I think this might take the cake. I wandered out on one of the hiking trails and sat down in a meadow to take in the view and read my book. Apart from the buzzing flies and blowing breeze, there was not a sound in the air. It really was a surreal experience to look out across the Alps and realize that I was completely alone.

Anyway, I will stop there because I am already in enough trouble from my mountain man, Adam for sending daily Davos photos and excitedly talking a mile-a-minute over Skype. I think the photos will speak for themselves.

As for life and training, I've been settling in well with my new squad, my Swiss roommates and my life in the mountains. Training thus far has been short and simple, with the focus on getting my body working properly, and well, starting from scratch. My mind is definitely buzzing everytime I lace up my shoes, hop on my bike, or grab those swim cords. But, this is exactly what I signed up for!



Thankfully I left my heels at home.




It was over 20 degrees up there, but a few patches of snow were still to be found.






Looking out over the valley. Maybe this is Jakob?

Adam's dream house: no shower, just clean mountain air and millions of trails.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Kneeknacker Champ

BIG congrats, high-fives and hugs to my hubby for his win at the Kneeknacker 50km!


An update on my Swiss adventures in Davos coming soon!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Grizzly?


Calling all bear enthusiasts, is this a grizzly or a black bear?

Adam and I ventured up to Callaghan Valley to check out the spring flowers and stunning viewpoints at the Olympic XC ski venue. We came across these three bears in different locations near the top. The two below are clearly the common brown bear, but the one above was somewhat of a mystery to us. It's fur was a light brown colour, but it was shedding in patches, showing black coloured skin. It also had a slight "hump" on its back, usually a grizzly bear characteristic. It was also the only bear of the three that had been tagged. We weren't thinking it was a Grizzly at the time as we have never heard of them in the Whistler area, but after looking online, it turns out there are four resident grizzlies in the Callaghan Valley. Could we have been lucky enough to spot one?




A few more pics from our Squamish getaway:









That's right, in the "FAST" lane! Sadly this had nothing to do with my speed... it was the only empty lane which meant a minimal chance of someone breaststroke kicking me to the collarbone (my biggest fear!). Kicking with my arms at my side is anything but fast :-(

Friday, July 2, 2010

Misc.

I'm away in Squamish for a Canada Day (turned into a 2-day) getaway with Adam. I'll post some pics when we get back home, but for now, I found these on my phone from awhile ago. A very cute dog and vibrant flower - too good not to share!




In other news, I changed my plane ticket to Zurich. I'm now leaving on Thursday (yes, in 5 days!). I have my 5-week surgery follow-up in Victoria on Wednesday, and then I'm Europe-bound. It was a combination of getting antsy and needing some direction that led me to make this change.

Just one week until I can meet Sarah's buddy, Bessie!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Congrats, Amanda!

Woo-hoo!! My sister, Amanda did her first half marathon today (and one of her first ever running races).

She was bit by the running bug a few years back but we never expected her to sign up for running RACES! (put it this way, growing up I was the one in the summer swim and ringette camps while Amanda was in the creative writing and piano classes...)

She started training with a coach and a group about a month ago and decided to race today instead of her long run. She rocked it, finishing within the top-50 women (out of 2100) and well ahead of her estimated time. AND, I think she had a lot left in the tank when she finished. I believe her words were, "my legs weren't tired until the end!" We need to lose the ipod, cut back on the pre-race dancing (see below) and get her hurting just a little! Just kidding, you were awesome, Amanda!