Saturday, February 4, 2012

Not the best start

Before I tell you about training, I will just take a moment to state very publicly that my brother Dan is great, and he is officially the best brother, and all my other brothers suck in comparison.

Also, my friend Megan is a super-friend because she found and donated to me a set of clipless pedals and cleats. (I am sure I will talk more about this whole set-up once I have it in place, but for now all you need to know is that it is an Advanced Cycling thing.)  I've known I'd get some eventually, but I don't currently have the cash and I am not eager to pay for something I will only use for this charity ride. Everything else I've bought is something I'd wanted anyway (the bike, for instance) or can use in life generally (work-out clothes, sandals). But the pedals are special and specific and I really hated the idea of buying them. And then Megan saved the day. Thanks, Megan!

So now - about Training.

I went on Wednesday evening, which was great because I'd spent the whole day staring at a spreadsheet and tearing my hair out over fiendish formulae, not able to get to the gym or even get up from my chair much. I HATE those days. So an evening workout was very welcome, and I'd never have done it if not for training. It was at a local gym, in their spin room, which I found hilaaaaaaarious. The spin room was like a night club. The walls were painted dark dark turquoise and there was track lighting with boxed theater-ish lights than pointed at the walls, not anywhere they might actually illuminate anything. When I giggled at the atmospheric lighting, my coach Matt told me he could flip a switch and turn on the black light if I wanted. Too awesome for words.

So there we were in what felt like a dark bar (smelling of sweat instead of gin and cigarettes) crammed with spin bikes. It was me and five guys. I was the newbie by a landslide, but all of them were super nice and supportive and welcoming, thank god. The spin class itself was much easier than the one at my regular gym (I repeat: thank god) but I had a serious and seemingly unsolvable problem with the bike. A quick note on spin class, if you're unfamiliar: it is super duper extra important to adjust your bike right, in order to avoid terrible pain during and/or after your workout. The seat has to be high enough so that your legs fully extend but also your knees can't come up too high, and your elbows have only a slight bend when you hold the handlebars. At least that's what works for me, and when it's wrong, the workout is harder than it needs to be and I am virtually crippled with sore muscles the day after.

Anyway, I could NOT get this bike adjusted to satisfy me. It was an evil contraption, conspiring against me. No, but SERIOUSLY. The seat could not get low enough, and no matter what I did, my arms couldn't extend enough to get rid of the extreme bend in my elbows. But I soldiered on, despite the odd cramping in my right calf - until it turned into a full blown charley horse and I had to stop, get off the bike, and stretch it out. I was a little mortified. Way to make an impression, newbie. You know when you just want to shout "It's not me! This never happens! I'm not a malingerer, please believe me!" But you CAN'T be like that because it becomes a The Lady Doth Protest O'ermuch situation and you're better off just keeping your trap shut? Yeah. But it was fine and I'll just get there earlier and more aggressively adjust the bike next week. And I went to my regular gym's spin class Thursday and was fine.

Except yesterday, my legs were really sore. Either I worked too hard Wednesday night, and/or I should've given my legs a day off between spin classes. So I rested and didn't work out yesterday, just did stretching throughout the day and walked around a bit like a cowboy after a day-long hard ride on a metal mule. Or something.

Aaaaaand I can't go to training today. Because I woke up this morning and my right calf is swollen and painful. This happened a few weeks ago, after a particularly brutal bit of calf-strengthening work at my regular gym (the instructor there is a Beast, people, and "calf-strengthening" is like a modern day version of "galley slave orientation") . I was still in physical therapy at the time and my therapist slightly freaked out at the sight of my leg then. She said I'd strained the muscle and to ice it, elevate it it, and let it rest for a day or two. So that is what I will do now. Literally right now, as the ice pack is on my calf as I type. Since training today is a spin class all the way out in Orland Park, I'll just skip it. That's a long way to go to tell my coach I have a wee injury and maybe try a very lame work-out, you know? Especially since I forgot my clothes and shoes at the gym, and I don't really have enough gas (or money to fill up) - I was prepared to go despite those issues, though, because what Dan said is my new motto: Quitting benefits no one. But I have to reluctantly acknowledge that injuring myself benefits no one, either. So I really don't think I should go.

Still, it feels like a huge personal failing, somehow. Even though obviously, duh, it's not. I understand now how pro athletes and the like can really push themselves when they know they shouldn't, because even though your body has limitations, you're focused on pushing past those limitations. And to not push it feels like you're wussing out. But I admit that I am slightly alarmed at my calf and am worried that I've done some kind of damage that will force me entirely out of the game. I really really REALLY don't want that. Just the thought has me all devastated with disappointment, you know? I don't know if it was the strain from a few weeks ago that was triggered again by the cramping Wednesday? Or did I do something specifically wrong that would cause this? I don't know these things.

So I'll treat my leg like a fragile princess today, and go to spin class Monday and see how it is. And if I feel the pain/swelling again, I'll suck it up and go to the doctor and officially make it An Issue To Be Dealt With, instead of a freak fluke thingie that just messed up a Saturday training.

That's my plan. That, and going out on the bike tomorrow if the weather holds, which (knock on wood) it should. And it'll be Super Bowl so everyone will be a football parties and I'll have the lakeshore path all to myself, right? Well, I HOPE so, and I'll comfort myself with anti-inflammatory pills and ice packs until then.

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