Sunday, April 22, 2012

Charley Horse Of The Apocalypse

Did you ever see that old version of Wuthering Heights, with Lawrence Olivier and Merle Oberon? There's this part where they sneak into the garden of the rich people so they can eavesdrop and look at the pretty ball gowns. But there are watchdogs and one of them clamps on to Merle Oberon's leg and won't let go.

(Full disclosure: this scene has always been a fail-safe way to make me laugh. It's sick. But I find it HILARIOUS. Like doubled-over laughing hilarious. I don't know why. It's just funny to me.)

Here, for your reference:

God that cracks me up.

Anyway. That's the way it felt - like a vice on my leg and stopping everything - when, about 7 miles from the finish, we were stopped at a stop sign, waiting for cross-traffic, and all of a sudden my body just rebelled. I'd had a soreness in my right quad a few miles before, so we'd stopped and I stretched it. Other than that, it was a fine ride. And then it was like the jaws of death clamped around my right calf. Actually, it started as little pings of cramps in my left leg, then weird random places on either leg, as though I couldn't get comfortable in this very standard Stopped position. It was almost like my legs were all What do we do, jab here? No here, no wait over here, or there - whoa rally the troops, all pain report to right calf immediately, GO!

I am very bad at that whole "rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10" thing. Either I can function or I can't, the end. (Same with this "perceived exertion" business: it's hard or it's not hard, the end.) And I couldn't function. All I could do was curse and yelp and look at Coach Bill in total panic and ask what to do. I didn't know, because I couldn't get off the bike without using my leg, and my legs weren't working. It was a baffling few seconds. Anyway, as to the pain - the only thing worse I ever felt was when my dentist was doing a root canal and the tooth was infected and he hit a hot nerve. It was the most primal flight-or-fight response I've ever had in my life, and it was in a dentist's chair. So I guess that one went to 11. Which makes this a 10?

So. I couldn't finish the ride. I couldn't. I'm so upset about it, even a day later, even with my leg still hurting like hell so I know there was no waiting it out - I still hate so much that it stopped me. I stretched it as much as I could on the side of the road. Bill did god's work in massaging the muscle until just the smallest knot remained. But there was no getting past it. It felt like a rock lodged deep in my muscle, and it wouldn't move. And I knew, no matter how much I wanted to go forward, it was not happening. It was like this was hovering in the road before me:

Which pissed me off, I must say.

Coach Bill made a call, and I got sagged. (Technical note: In cycling they have SAG stops and I think SAG stands for like Support And Gear. They are our help stations, to give us water and food and rescue us when we need it. I have used SAG as a verb: I was sagged.) We stood on the side of the road and waited til they came, then loaded my bike into the Jeep and I was hauled back in defeat. Coach Carrie was there for me and let me cry on her shoulder, and told me stories of the multiple times she and other very experienced riders have had to cut a ride short - or cut it short because they just didn't feel like doing it. Everyone was really so supportive and reassuring. And it helped.

But I still feel like a failure, of course. My only goal, every week, is just to do the miles. To finish. I don't care if I can't go as fast as I'd like, or if I can't climb a hill, or if I hate every second of it. All I care about is that I do it. And I couldn't do it. The physical pain is one thing, but my hysterical crying had nothing to do with the pain. (Crying doesn't alleviate pain, only cursing does. FYI.) Wanting to not quit, and having to quit - it just kills me. I just wanted to keep going, and I hate my body for not letting me. I hate that I can't make my body better, faster - it just doesn't want to do what I try to teach it do and it's making me miserable, frankly. It's like my body is the slow kid in class, and here I'm trying to get it to do calculus by June 3rd.

It's just sad. I'm sad that it happened. Thinking about it gets me all weepy again, so let me think of other relevant things to tell you about the day.

First off, I got to ride with team mate Lisa and witness quite possibly the most epic and legendary thing I've ever seen: she was sick to her stomach the whole time. Vomit and everything. Plus a lot of pain, the kind that caused her to bring up that part in the movie Alien. (I believe she said she just wanted the damn alien baby to claw out of her stomach already, and leave her in peace.) But here's the epic part: SHE DID THE FULL 55 MILES. She felt like crap on a stick for all of it, she rode with me and Coach Bill so she could do a more leisurely pace, she held my hand while I wept over my charley horse, but she still did the whole ride. That woman is a freaking LEGEND, man.

Also, I have to say that the CamelBak is such a brilliant thing, and for once I am sure that I was totally hydrated the whole time. I also had a bottle full of electrolyte-filled drink, which I drank up. I found one I liked, btw! Gu Brew, orange flavor. Same effervescing tablet set-up as Nuun, but tasted way better - like Tang.

Furthermore, I did much better on nutrition this time, though I still need to be more regular about putting things in my mouth. I filled my bento box with:
1. Dried apricots, which really hit the spot as they are sweet but no sickly-sweet, and also high in potassium
2. That Middle Eastern sesame candy - also not too sweet, and sesame seeds are packed with magnesium
3. Parmesan-crusted boiled potatoes, which I should've made saltier. These fulfilled the easily-digested carb requirement, and the need for salt.
4. Oatmeal cookies over-stuffed with dark raisinettes, because carbs + sugar + raisins (super-high in potassium). Also because YUMMY.
This did really well, except how the potatoes need to be more salty. Between these snacks, which I tried to eat every hour or so, and the electrolyte drink - plus drinking a full 24 oz of water before I got on the bike and taking very regular and healthy swigs from the Camelbak - was a very good combination. I think I might finally be getting the hang of this nutrition/hydration thing.

So it was educational and all, the ride. What I did of it, anyway. I don't know what caused the end-of-the-world charley horse, besides just simple exhaustion. I had orange juice with breakfast, I ate a banana at the rest stop - all my nutrients are there, and I hydrated so I don't think I did anything wrong. The cause for cramps like that tend to be a lack of certain nutrients, dehydration, and exhaustion. (Of course I've looked it up, I DID say I am a total Hermione, right?) We were in Saint Charles, which is mostly flat and full of wind. There are slow steady inclines and declines, but no real downhills where you can coast or take it easy every once in a while. So my theory is that my legs just never got even the teensiest bit of rest. It was just constant mid/high-level exertion for hours and hours, and they couldn't handle it for that long.

Coach Anne's theory is that God didn't want me to finish the ride for some reason. Which would fit in with the feeling of dread I had on Friday, I have to say - I really was scared of this ride, for whatever nervous nelly reason. I hate the the ride proved me right.

Anyway. I will lay here with my sore leg and hope for the best, I guess. There is my sad tale, and now I'll lay around moping, I feel like I got dumped or something. Like I should be out with my girlfriends, being fed a large ice cream sundae while being told I'm better off without that loser. In time, I will look back and see that's the truth. But for now, I am all dejected and but whyyyyyy and it's-not-fair and generally sad about it.


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