Thursday, 24 February 2011

A Fresh Start

So! The planning is done! Route is calculated. In Europe, we cycle from Copenhagen to Brussels via Vordingborg, Rodbyhavn, Eutin, Plon, Hamburg, Bremen, Naturpark Dümmer, Münster, Kleve, Eindhoven, Antwerp and Leuven.  This is interrupted by the four day wonder extravaganza that is Werchter!


From there it is fly to Dublin from Brussels and it’s home via Kilkenny and Dungarven

I know where we need to be when. Now starts the hostel/hotel booking & campsite locating! And the training. Oh the training. Previous years I have loved my training. Pushing myself to see what I can do only for my body to ultimately fail me. I didn't know why then but now I do - fecked spine & back muscles.  This holiday is my one chance to cycle a dream - to do over a 1,000km cycle through Europe and finish it with a 300km cycle through my land of Ireland. From what I'm feeling, I think this is the last year my back will be able to take such strenuous, continuous exercise.  If not – bonus!  But I’m treating this condition on a year on year basis.

OK - a little background so you know where I'm coming from and why this blog is being kept.
I started my last intense training regime in January 2010 with the aim of competing in a Tae Kwon Do European championship in England in September 2010. My training was going perfectly - cycling, gym three times a week at least and I was controlling my diet brilliantly. Then in April I slept on a bad mattress and when I awoke, I felt my back muscles go for the 2nd time in my life. Had enough in them to walk the 10 minutes home from my girlfriends. Went to work thinking it was just the way I slept but the longer the day went on the worse my pain. Back muscles giving up on you - Not the greatest feeling in the world ever is how I'd put it. All my training down the sinkhole. My dream of competing on a European stage with my Tae Kwon Do club taken from me. But I didn't get depressed! I told myself I’d be back! My doctor arranged a cat scan to be taken of my back to see what was going on and that was 2 months away in June/July!

I'd be back!

Post cat scan results should have had me under clouds of doom. The results were (and still are) bad. My doctor started with the age old "I don't know how to tell you this, but......."
It turned out that my last three vertebrae had been fused since I was a child and it had never been detected. They were pinching my nerves - which explained my constant back pain - and there was nothing that could be done. I had to give up any thoughts of returning to martial arts and anything deemed 'contact' sport was out. Mountain biking. Tae Kwon Do. Running. All gone.  ‘Old man’s back syndrome’ was here 30 – 40 years early.

So for months I could do nothing but gentle stretching. Get my physical therapy. Stretch. Therapy. Stretch. Then in December 2010 I sold my motorbike. I decided that it was now or never to build myself up one last time to cycle my dream and achieve my goal.
January saw me cycle 221km mainly to and from work to start my rehabilitation.
It's going to be tough going. I had my visit to the chiropractor on January 26th and the adjustments hurt more than normal. My lower back & pelvis seem to be starting the deterioration process already. I'm not one to burden others with my issues so I think that's where this blog comes in. I get to share my burden, share my pain and share my planning and training I suppose?! No one knows my pain levels. Not girlfriend, not mother, not best friends, not housemates. They all know I have pain but are not aware of the levels I suffer from.

So, from here on in, I'm anonymous.
But my pain is shared.
My regime is training.
But mentally I hope I'm prepared if my body fails again.
The people involved are my chiropractor, my physical therapist, my personal trainer, my mother, my son, friends/girlfriend and my cycling/holiday chum/best pal. A 3 in 1! .......which would be nicely tasty about now.....
These people are the ones that get me through my days. Mock me. Drive me. Inspire me. Humble me. Attempt to push me. And feed me!!

I'm going to say today is day 4 as it's a Thursday this is being posted. I'm classing day one as Monday 21st Feb as I sent my cycling buddy an email advising we need to get up on the saddle soon as he has done no training this year thus far. He acknowledged this to be the case but he has demons of his own which are not mine to discuss but just so you understand - I do get frustrated with these demons but it is more out of love for the guy and the fact there is nothing I can do to help. That's the hardest part. One issue I can mention is his tight shoulder muscles!

Day 1: Completed 10km

Day 2: Completed roughly 15km
This day was productive in that I more or less put together my cycle itinerary for Europe. Ireland has to be finished off but Europe is the biggy and it's finished!

Day 3: Completed 8km
Today was tough. While I did a bit of cycling around town and down to my Mum which was fine, today was my fitness induction with my personal trainer. It felt weird doing weights for the first time since April last year! They were miniscule but boy it felt good! First proper session is next Friday evening!
I then went to see my therapist. Got a massage on my gluts on my left side that were as tight as anything. The massage didn't help too much (which is very rare) so I went for a quick adjustment with my chiropractor. The more I see this woman the more it hurts. My spine seems to be shifting a lot more. My middle vertebrae and my lower ones needed adjusting along with my pelvis. The pain I had since my adjustments worries me. Not from a bad practice point, more a 'how bad is this going to be a few years down the line' worry. My cycle buddy's physiotherapist told him a cycling holiday wouldn't be the best thing for his shoulders but he's doing it anyway! I have to try hiding the pain I'm in so I can do this mega trip. It's quite hilarious in a way to see the length of journey planned and the two broken 'old' guys attempting this mega journey! I say fair play to us!
Took me two heat patches and lying still on my back to get me asleep.

Day 4: Completed 10km
Nothing extra done today due to a family friends funeral after work. Just the standard to/from work distance. The upper body was quite sore after my weights yesterday and my pelvis/hip area was a little weak after my adjustments yesterday. Nothing major though, problem wise, which was great after the gym.