There are things that are inevitably going to happen when training for an Ironman. One of those things is falling on the bike. I happen to be an extra clumsy person, and fall, trip and walk in to things regularly. I did fall while learning to clip in and out, but have had a couple of successful rides since. I didn't imagine falling while I was actually out riding. Unfortunately that is exactly what happened.
This past Sunday I headed out to meet some of the team in Santa Monica for a group ride. I left my house and realized that I had forgotten my sunglasses, so I turned around to go get them, even though I knew this might make me a few minutes late. (This is important later.) I arrived and parked and saw my teammates leaving. I was a little distraught. I was going to have to ride two hours alone? Crap. Then one of my teammates rode up on her bike, followed shortly thereafter by my mentor. Yes! I wouldn't have to conquer my longest ride alone. We warmed up and hoped that the rest of the group would find their way back to us before heading out to PCH. Luckily we managed to meet up with them.
We headed down to PCH, which meant riding down a steep hill (okay, maybe it's not that steep, but for a new rider like me, it might as well have been Mount Everest!). I was at the back of the pack right away. I am still nervous on the bike and tend to go a little slow. I got stuck at a stop light that they all made it through, and for the rest of my trip north up PCH I was alone. Sad. I had a moment where I was questioning this whole thing. Should I really be doing a full ironman? Maybe I should only do a half? Maybe I shouldn't be doing this at all? The bad thoughts come when I'm on the bike, its my weakest sport of the three at this point and naturally, I worry.
I got about 9 miles before it was time to turn around. I didn't realize it had been 45 minutes until I saw a couple of my speedy teammates heading south on PCH. At the next light I managed to get to the other side of the street and head south. I realized that I hadn't been drinking enough water or Gatorade. I attempted to drink while I was riding. I managed to get my bottle out of the cage and drink, but then I was struggling to get it back in the cage. Grr. I pulled in to a parking lot and stopped so I could get it back in place.
While I was in the parking lot
After he made me chug a bunch more Gatorade we got going again. He was giving me pointers on how to position my hands and go faster. It was going pretty well. I decided during that ride that I have to find a way to make the Wednesday morning rides work for me. While the bike trainer is helpful, I'm still so new to cycling that I know that I need to fit in actual rides on the road during the week. I'm going to make this happen after the first of the year.
I'm not 100% sure about what happened next. I don't actually remember what happened next, this is what I was told. I apparently hit a pothole in the road and couldn't correct myself out of it. And, boom, I crashed. I landed to the left, away from the parked cars and toward the moving ones. I did not get hit by any cars, thank God!
The next thing I remember I was sitting on the pavement, I think between a couple of cars and Brad was asking me questions that I'm pretty sure I was answering wrong or couldn't answer at all. I had no idea what had happened, how I had gotten to where I was, where I was at all. I think that when asked what day it was I said December. I think. Clearly December is a month not a day. But my brains were muddled. This was all very scary and confusing for me. I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know what, and I knew I wasn't giving the right answers, but I couldn't figure out what the right answers were. I remember being worried about weird things, like a missing water bottle, and the hole in my pants. That's normal. Or not. Again, I hit my head hard, so my brain wasn't working quite right.
I remember getting to the hospital and telling the nurse the amount of every medication I take daily, apparently I can recite that no matter how hard I hit my head. I think I was taken to one room and moved to another. But, that might be wrong. Maybe I was only in one room. I don't know how much time I passed, I remember crying a little. I remember my mom getting there, but I don't really know what we talked about. I remember crying when I was talking about what happened. Then my dad showed up. I think I cried again. Most of the tears were because I was scared. I know one of the first things my mom said to me was "You know you have to get right back on the bike, right?" I said yes (not begrudgingly, as I know that I need to get back out there, no point in being scared). She also told me that this little incident had aged her 10 years. Not at all what I was hoping to have happen on Sunday.
Fun times... hospital bracelet, IV and my face while I was still in the hospital (looks worse now)
|From my tetanus shot - best band aid ever.|
I remember being thirsty & they wouldn't give me water. I got a CT scan. After a tetanus shot, having my cuts cleaned up and diagnosis of a concussion I was discharged. My mom took me home. My dad went & got my car. My bike went to be fixed. Team work, all to help me!
I spent the afternoon relaxing. I actually thought I would be able to work on Monday. (I didn't, I stayed home.) I had conversations with a bunch of people, I don't remember most of them. To anyone I had a conversation with from the time I had my accident until Monday evening, I'm sorry if I didn't make sense or was rambling or more repetitive than normal. But, I did hit my head pretty hard. Please forgive my bizarre conversations, that I, truthfully, can only half remember. (I looked through my call log, and I really don't remember talking to some people... Note to self, next time you have a concussion don't talk on the phone.)
My amazing sister Alexis came over and brought me soup and magazines and hung out with me for a while. I slept very uncomfortably on Sunday night, every time I moved something hurt, my left hip, part of my back and leg feel like they are horribly bruised (but, thankfully no bruises have formed!).
|how my face looked Monday.|
So, you might be wondering, why those sunglasses were important. Well, they saved my eye from being scratched. This is what they look like now. This is why you wear sunglasses when you ride. If you notice the cuts on my face they start just above my eyebrow - these $20 Target sunglasses saved my eyes. I will be purchasing another pair this week.
Also, I have a Road ID interactive on its way to me (I ordered it last week, it just hasn't arrived yet). This is important, because if I had been alone at least I would have been able to be identified. I had nothing to identify me on my person, thank goodness someone was with me.
Things I am incredibly grateful for: that I wasn't alone, that my coach knew what to do, that my parents came to the hospital, that my bike is already fixed (it had minor damage), that I have good health insurance, that I will be able to ride again, that I didn't break anything. The list goes on and on. This could have been so much worse. No, a concussion is not ideal, but really, I didn't break anything and I will be okay. No, falling off the bike, getting a concussion and going to the hospital are not how I expected to spend my Sunday, I had big plans for the day - none of which happened. But, I'm alive and well, and that is what matters.
Yes, I will get on the bike again, sooner rather than later. Why? Because I'm training for a cause. And, shit happens. Yes, I still hurt right now, but it will pass, I will heal. And hopefully if I fall again it won't be as bad (or at least, hopefully I won't be as scared). I'm not going to lie, I'm nervous about getting back on the bike again, really nervous. But, I will do it.
And you know what? As bad as this was and as much as it hurt, its not as bad as cancer. It's not as bad as cancer treatment. Its not as bad as having a loved one with cancer. I'm just bruised. I will heal and I will ride again. I will keep training for this race and raising funds for a cure.
If you want to support me and encourage me to get back on the bike, please consider making a donation. I need your support every step of the way. And this next step will be a scary one, probably my scariest one yet. Your donations will help me get back on the bike and make it easier.
All I want for Christmas is to pass $1,000 in my fundraising efforts. That's not too much to ask is it? I mean I got a concussion... Help a girl out! Click the link and hit donate now, show me that concussion wasn't in vain (even if you can only spare $5, it helps).