I’m done… No, I’m not giving up or anything. I’m simply done being injured. Done not doing the things I want to, the things I was meant to, the things that make this life exciting and full. This week has been good, in a painful sorta way. I finally am able to maintain a regular training schedule again. With only four weeks to my solo RAAM qualifying attempt at Sebring, I’ve really gotta get serious, gotta drop the hammer.

If you’ll recall from my last post, I’m just now recovering from an eye surgery. The surgery was a “lamellar keratectomy”. In layman’s terms, the outer layer of my cornea was removed and my eyeball was ground down to remove some irregularities. If you’ve ever had a stick in the eye, or badly scratched your eyeball… imagine that sensation, constantly, for like 100 hours. It was literally nearly four days before I could open my eyes again. Only one eye was treated, but being “twins” with ESP, I couldn’t use the other eye for fear of the retribution that would be swiftly dealt by the problem child. It was one of the most miserable experiences of my life. Four days, heavily drugged, sick from all the narcotics, and no way to pass the time, nothing except lying in the cold, sick sweat of nausea and listening to the television. If I had to do it again, I’m really not sure how I’d manage. I’d seriously request to be put in some sort of “medically controlled coma”. It’s just that bad. I’d honestly take an open, compound fracture of the femur well before doing this again. Seriously.

I’m on the mend though, so life is good again. I wouldn’t say I’m back to “normal” just yet, whatever that is. Every other day seems to be a bad one, fraught with itching and stinging in the eye, fear that the cornea is coming off yet again. I think it’s simply growing pains though, pains as the cornea rebuilds, trying to return to normal. Hopefully my vision will come back. It’s something like 20/150 or 20/100 or so. Not great, but definitely correctable should it not improve any more. It’s time to move forward though. I simply don’t have time to lay around wounded. I’ve got things to do, adventures to experience, and new, more fun ways to suffer. Yes, that’s synonymous with a seriously long ultra endurance cycling event. The 24 hours of Sebring, down in the flatlands of Florida. I hope to make a RAAM solo qualifier there. To do so, I need to hurdle myself plus bike at least 400 miles in a 24 hour period, without the benefit of drafting off another rider. After struggling with the eye since November, interrupting any regularity of serious training, it’s gonna be a real struggle.

I got back on the bike the very first day I could open my eyes again. It was awesome. After over half a week of delerious-ness, getting into the open air, under my own power was glorious. I wanted to ride on the road, “it’d be much safer” I thought, at least initially. But the eye, the stinkin’ eye, made me doubt it was really safe. I could only see maybe 6 inches in front of me with it. I had no depth perception (your brain could adjust over time of course, but I was only about a week into being “one-eyed”) and I was still a little dizzy from residual narcotics floating about my system. I decided that off-road would be better… without the competition from the cars. I rode nearly 20 miles of single track here in Peachtree City. It was fun, but I’m still bruised. I crashed constantly, unable to gauge the proximity of my bike and body relative to all the obstacles. I was enjoying myself regardless. I even decided to attempt a new section of trail I hadn’t ridden. It was still roughly cut in, still being worked. I did no fewer than three endos (when the front wheel stops abruptly and the rider flies over the handlebars and into oblivion) before I decided I’d better walk the rest of that section. The last one resulted in an impressive nose-stand, me balancing perfectly vertical on the front wheel before finally losing it and crumbling into the ground a couple of seconds later. The bike performed a ceremonial wrestling-style “piledriver” on me, the pedal landing squarely into the side of my knee. I shot up in pain when it struck, afraid my knee had just shattered. I sat there a second, balancing between laughter and crying. It hurt so bad. The sensation finally passed and I fell back to the ground in pure laughter. I glanced around, wondering if anyone was watching, if they were wondering if I had totally lost my mind.

The rest of that week was a bit of hit or miss. My eye kept reminding me it was still fragile, but my surgeon reassured me that all was safe. With Glamazon (my pet-name for my 6 foot 3 or so, misses) as my witness, I even pressed him with the all clear, warning that I intended to really push it, push into dehydration, into extremely high blood pressures and heart rates. He wasn’t deterred. I’m not sure he really believed what I was saying, but that’s okay, I’d be performing my own human clinical trial. I pressed on. I made one spin session and one of the night MTB path runs. I was fortunate enough that it was an easy night, because my interval fitness just wasn’t quite there to hold onto the “hell raiser” pace. I was clawing my way back into the game, I hoped. Not only was I looking ahead at Sebring, hoping to get back enough to have a reasonable chance, I had an interview of sorts… as luck would have it.

The day before surgery, a trusted acquaintance contacted me (I hope we can develop a true friendship soon, as we spend some time together, suffering. Suffering seems to develop the strongest friendships. The true self comes to the surface then, strips you bare, there is no hiding. But, I diverge.). He contacted me with a proposition. One I hadn’t been considering, at least not this soon in life. A lot needs to happen before this materializes. I’m patient. If it’s right, I’ll know it, and it will work out. The first step is to expose yourselves, let them see who you really are, and you see who they really are. This was the “interview”. I’m not ready to divulge the details just yet, I need to be certain it’s right, that this is where I fit in, where I can make a difference. I’m excited about the possibilities though. The “interview” didn’t pan out as planned, its been delayed a bit. God has another plan. I think he was buying me a bit of time. I wasn’t quite on cycling form just yet after all the eye issues. I’d have another week to get ready. Not that I had to be “peaked”, but I needed to at least show I could hold my own. I have absolutely no doubts in myself and my abilities, but I’m a stranger here, an unknown. I hope to share more, sooner than later as this would be a long, but exciting road.

This week is about dropping the hammer. I have four weeks to reach a reasonable peak. It’s not gonna be a great one, but I’m hoping it’ll be enough to git ‘er done. I started off Sunday on a tear, focused on where I need to go, what I need my body to be able to do. The weather of course wouldn’t cooperate on Sunday for an outdoor experience, neither would my schedule, jockeying church and unit #3’s 9-year birthday party. I hit the spin bike at the gym. Heart rate monitor, a half gallon of water, and sweat rag in hand, it was comical to the casual observer, I’m sure of it. I beat myself up on the spin bike, out in view of the general population, panting and sweating furiously as I tried to hold near LT (lactate threshold) heart rate for 10 minutes at a time with short recoveries over the course of 90 minutes. I got it done.

This morning was session #2, another hard interval session. The “drill sargent” hammered one home in 5 am morning spin. We spent 40-45 minutes of the hour in an out-of-the-saddle grind. I loved it, the pain of it… but I honestly hate spin. I feel like a caged animal, needing to feel the rush of actual moving air and the resistance of a real hill to quench my blood-thirst. It’s just tough to get that during the winter. I’ve got to lean pretty heavily on trainer / spin work. It’s manageable, but just not quite the same. At least I have the Tue / Thur night MTB rides to get my fix, not to mention the weekends. This week I’ve gotta hammer down with the lead wolf, hanging onto his pace as best I can. I’m gonna make it. If you don’t believe you can, you may as well quit now, save yourself some suffering, you’ve already lost the battle in your own mind. It’s just gonna be work to get there. I’m actually looking forward to it. Masochist?… possibly, but it’s a good kinda pain. Nothing like that fearsome eye-pain I tell ‘ya. I’ll take it any day, hurts so good 🙂

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