Thursday, October 07, 2010

the hammer and the nail

So maybe it's time for an update?

Sometimes your the hammer and sometimes your the nail.

I have spent some days as a hammer over the years but from May through August I was the nail, a smashed nail!

The summer was a rough one. I have a new appreciation for health and a whole new empathy for those that suffer from any chronic illness, including depression. I was in denial during the early part of the summer and surely prolonged my physical and mental anguish. Mono or EBV is nothing to mess around with, it is impossible to beat without complete and total rest. I would go to work and was just a zombie, sometimes I would just go sit in the restroom so I could rest without having to think or do anything. It was a different kind of tired than I had ever experienced, and I have felt my share of tired. It kind of felt like the Sunday afternoon following 24hrs of Moab after crushing the Duo category, except I just got 12 hrs of sleep and have not exercised in weeks.

I was lucky to find a professional that knew what they were doing as far as testing goes and was able to help me get on the right track. At the end of August I took another 3 weeks off from any physical activity and slept a minimum of 10hrs/night and sometimes 12. It was rough, not only did I feel lousy but my means of coping was gone, no outlet. I am sure I was rough to live with.

By the start of September I was starting to see the light. I was feeling more and more like myself. Granted I still need 10+ hrs/sleep at night but the haze was going away and I could feel the weight lifting. I takes a lot of descipline to hold back when you start to feel better but that's exactly what you have to do. Keep resting once you feel good!

I was always nervous about feeling crappy again so I moved slow. I went backpacking and did some hiking. Awesome, and good for the morale. I got back on the bike and followed a strict plan, very slowly building my conditioning. I even installed a power meter to help me reign in the intensity and build slowly while tracking my progress. I felt better and better all the time but one thing continued, I need a ton of sleep. It felt so good to be able to ride without being demolished the next day. Following 3 solid weeks of training I had built some fatigue, the good kind of fatigue that sheds easily with rest and is the result of some consistent work. Following an easy week, the legs seemed to come around. I could push hard again and recover! The body is amazing. But, I still needed tons of sleep.

Maybe the worst part about not racing all summer was the lack of socialization. I missed the scene, racing and training with friends. The one positive from the whole deal was I got to spend a bunch of Saturdays with the family, we did a bunch of new stuff with the kids and I don't even think the girls knew I was dragging.

So now we're in the middle of cross season and I have had a couple pretty good races. Cyclocross is nice as a come back sport because it's short, requires skill, and is very social. Everything I needed! Hopefully I can continue to build throughout the fall season and maybe at some point, require a little less sleep. I will always remember the UTCX #1 2010, I was so excited to finally race and I think Rosie was even more excited than me! I felt like the hammer again, at least for an hour.

A huge thanks to my family and friends who provided support even though it was one of those intangible illnesses where everything looks fine from the outside. That's the worst part, everyone thinks you should be out having fun in the summer sun, trust me I wanted to. I also appreciate the Revolution Team for sticking with me, what a great crew of people!

So I'm not out of the woods yet. I need extra sleep for sure and need to continue monitoring my energy levels. Some people say it can take over a year before your completely back to normal. Will see, at least I know what to do now.

I hope I learned something about myself through all this. Something that will make me better, better as an athlete and better as a person.

Now I just need to shake up this blog a little...

Hammer on!


Blogger s day @ said...

BG - That sucks big time. I had a major rough year with EBV in high school. Wiped me out for 6 months - completely. Hospitalized even. No tennis - no school - nothing but bed rest for 3 months turned into major depression and then a series of nasty infections.
Glad you're back in the swing and on the bike. We've missed ya.

3:48 PM

Blogger The Racin Caveman said...

Great to have you back!!

5:35 PM

Blogger Skull Candy Mountain Team said...

The mountain scene really missed you out there. It is great that your are willing to share your experience with others. It gives hope and an example of someone who keeps swinging the hammer.

10:48 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post, Bart! Thanks for sharing, strikes a chord on several different levels.

8:19 PM


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