Ahh, training, the true definition of insanity. On a sultry summer Saturday morning while most of the city is sleeping in, or trying to erase the memories of their wild Friday night, I am frantically running around the house trying to remember where I put my SPECIAL pH balanced chamois cream so I can meet another rider for an 8AM ride. I can barely get a half a cup of coffee down, let alone, required CALORIES. My body wakes up in sections and the mid-section is slow. I have to FORCE down a Gu, oatmeal, or a chunky, dry, tasteless Cliff bar. Then while a majority of the city enjoys cartoons, crosswords, trendy coffee shops, and fun farmers markets, I am dodging headless turtles, road divots, and a Miata that passes so close, I could see the inscriptions on the drivers wedding band. THIS IS TRAINING! YEEE-HAW!
I have been until now very pleased with training. Longer rides are becoming the preference and I am getting used to most of my Saturdays and Sundays being spent in spandex, sweating, grunting, and drinking “piss” flavored sports drinks (not my term….another rider). I have dropped weight…built muscle and overall, altered my lifestyle to include healthier food and less beer (there is always sacrifice). The only real disappointment is my right knee. A recent long ride resulted in me desiring a chain saw to remove my leg just above the knee for some relief. It started out as a dull pain around mile 48….then around mile 50….it was FULL ON pain…a stabbing, wrenching pain. Then, mile 54, it subsided enough that I could make it home. At this point I was convinced that I had done something wrong….I was not making full circles…pedaling too hard…using that leg more….but after a rather panicked email to experienced riders, I learned….I have IT BAND issues…I am NOT invincible or impervious to this common, ordinary pain issue.
I have ran for years….and always prided myself that I never endured any IT Band issues. What is the IT Band? A stretch of muscles up to the hip area and when inflamed, overused, or tightened too much….IT FEELS LIKE SOMEONE IS RUNNING BESIDE YOU STABBING YOUR KNEE WITH A SHARP KNIFE. I have seen runners crumple to the ground clenching their knee or hip in dire pain from this ailment. The cure? Well….this depends on WHO you ask. EVERYONE becomes an expert when you mention this problem (not meant sarcastically, literally very experienced cyclists have offered good varied advice). I have heard ice, compression, heat, massage, stretching, adjusting my bike, or getting a new leg (probably not in my price range and I could not get just ONE leg). The goal is NOT to push it too far….and this is the REAL challenge.
Everything hurts when you first start riding a bike. Your joints, fingers, toes, hips, legs and butt all ache and sometimes ALL at the same time (it would make a good Aleve commercial). The prescription to cure these common newbie issues is to “push” through it. A strained IT band is different; Everything I have read, says, rest, and a combination of the above recommendations will cure it or at best make it manageable. However, REST is done in doses when you are training. I have a pretty strict schedule I follow….and I am going to be disappointed if I cannot finish the century ride because of my ONE DEFECTIVE knee. Until now, all I worried about was finishing, not bonkinig, not crashing, not causing a crash, not throwing up (yes, I have worried about this)….I never worried about my LEMON KNEE. I am also that kind of person….like many people on bikes…that ignore what their body is saying sometimes. I like to pretend that I do not feel the pain….or that it does not exist. YOU CANNOT IGNORE THIS PAIN…your body SCREAMS at you.
So for now, I am following a regimen of icing, elevation, and stretching. I am not wearing heels to work. The bike is in the shop being dialed…just right, and I am going to have to find some comfort in knowing that I am pretty ordinary…and not Super Woman. Damn…I really like her spandex.