Monday, January 4, 2016

Off-Season Goals

For the first time in three years, I've given myself a real off-season. No winter races, no marathons. Just a lot (lol, not a lot!) of trail running with my dog and learning a new skill- mountain biking!
Hammer is much faster than me, even for 8 miles!
Taking is easy has turned out to be a good plan. Back in October, I went to my sports medicine doctor worried about my left shoulder- it was popping a lot, and felt like it was sliding out of socket. It only hurt sometimes, but I knew that certainly wasn't normal. I set up an appointment with their physical therapist, and she gave me some strengthening exercises. They're a little afraid I might have a torn labral ring, but say that it's likely just very inflamed and needs some stabilization.

Fun fact, I also learned that when I was thrown from a horse while working at the 7D in 2009 I broke my collar bone. I did not know this because I'm stubborn and didn't tell anyone I was thrown because I didn't want to buy the barn a case of beer. I'm not really worse for the wear, but it did adjust my pain-tolerance perspective, since apparently I completely walked off a broken bone. There are NFL players *coughRomocough* that can't do that. ;)

My current best friends.
I've been working on re-habbing my shoulder and back muscles since then, and have noticed significant improvement in my shoulder, but still have concern about my right trapezius. It's insanely tight, and no amount of massage and rolling is helping. I have an appointment tomorrow, though, and plan to get it right.

The good news is, none of these medical issues have effected my running, swimming, (amazingly enough!), or mountain biking. I've had to lay off my TT bike for now until my trap is under control, but have kept up the occasional trainer ride now and the.

When I was a kid, I had a mountain bike and rode it around the neighborhood, even through the woods sometimes, but I was never exposed to the actual sport. I was scared to jump curbs. I haven't had a mountain bike since I was 12, but bought one in October because one of my girlfriends rides all the time and I was tired of the FOMO when I heard the fun stuff she was doing.

So, I used my REI gift cards and some saved up cash and got a decent Novara bike from REI. Not bottom of the line, since it has disc brakes and a decent fork, but definitely cheapo-components. I wasn't worried about that part, since thanks to the Mr., I soon get to put a NuVinci hub on my bike. 

Mom and I enjoying a nice easy ride at the Williamson County park
Since I got my bike, I've been on it once or twice a week, every week. I am having so much fun! No traffic whizzing by, constant movement and scenery change, and the headwinds are less of a worry. Plus, I love getting muddy and doing dare-devil things with my friends.

 The above video is pretty long, but it's a good look at how far I've come. Gone are the days of being fearful of jumping curbs- now I'm hopping trees and plunging down descents riddled with loose rock.

Of course, I've definitely eaten it a couple of times. Mostly, this is the result of me deciding to do something, and then chickening out when it's too late. So far, I've stayed on my feet, and only had a couple of scrapes and pretty gnarly bruises.

This was pretty ripe a few days later!
 It's been worth it, though. I'm remembering the joy of cycling in a whole new way. Loving mountain biking has altered my goals for racing and I am so excited about entering my first XTERRA off-road triathlon soon. I've got a lot of work to do to extend my 7 mile trail rides to 13, but I know I can get it done! There are dozens of places to ride in Austin, so there are lots of opportunities to keep it interesting.

My fiance is incredibly supportive of all my new hobbies and adventures I pick up, and I think I've got him hooked in to this one, too. His 29er has no suspension, but I expect to see a new fork in the mail sooner than later so he can keep up without rattling right on over.
My new year's eve "just because" present the Mr. got me after we rode the trials. Matches the Fox gloves well, I think!
 My training for Ironman Boulder begins officially in March, but I'm going to start picking up steam at the end of this month, building my endurance base back up. I've enjoyed this time off immensely, it's helped wash away the burned-out feeling and allowed me to be truly excited for the upcoming season, instead of exhausted and overwhelmed. Bring it on, 2016!

Huge smiles, all the time on the trails!

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