So far this has been a tough post to write. I’ve been out with an ankle injury for almost three weeks now, since April 12. Since then I’ve sat down to write this post several times and ended up avoiding it – no matter how many outlines I scribbled, I just couldn’t get the words on the page.
Today is a different day, for a very good reason: I’ve finally been cleared to get back out on the trail! Last week I got out for a few short bike rides and yesterday I was able to go for a fantastic mini trail run. I think that knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel makes it easier to put these thoughts down on paper without feeling like I’m throwing myself a big ‘ol pity party.
SO. Let’s get down to it. Dealing with an injury is no picnic, period, I know lots of you understand. However, I think it’s even worse on the bus. The focus of our bus journey is to travel from place to place, finding the best mountain biking and trail running in the American West. This means that our daily routine is pretty simple:
- get up early
- go for a morning run
- work for a few hours
- go for a bike ride, hike, explore outside
- go to bed tired
We aren’t able to watch a lot (or any) TV, we don’t have any volunteer commitments, we don’t have any old friends to pass the time with… lots of the stuff that takes up time in “regular life” just doesn’t apply while you’re traveling. Normally that’s ok: we have so much fun playing outside that we just don’t need all that other stuff to kill time. With an injury, that daily routine looks more like this:
- get up early
go for a morning run
- work for a bit
go for a bike ride, hike, explore outside go to bed tiredlay in bed trying to fall asleep for several hours
All of the items on that list take place inside my 208 sq ft bus. “Cabin fever” is a very nice way to describe the feeling I had, but it did not do nice things to my attitude and personality. There’s only so much reading you can do before you want to binge on Netflix or HGTV rerun marathons, and that just isn’t an option on the bus.
Worse than being stuck in the bus all day is the torture of being surrounded by the very activities I’m missing. Every day we wake up in a beautiful campsite, and drive to a popular trailhead. Will and Hilde head out for their multiple runs, bikes, hikes, while I stayed in, watching carloads of recreationalists pile out to enjoy their days in the desert. I’m so happy that they’re able to get out and enjoy… but I want to bike/hike/run too, dammit!
I had a lot of “why meeeeeeeeeee” emotions during the first two weeks, interspersed with a good amount of bitterness that Will and Hilde were getting out on the trail without me. Will is a saint – throughout the entire process he did his best to make me feel loved and supported even though my behavior more closely resembled a trapped coyote than a logical human being. I know that it wasn’t easy to put up with me, and I love him all the more for making the best of it.
Ok, that’s enough whining. It’s been a rough few weeks, but I’m through the worst of it and am so excited to get back out on the trail.
When my physical therapist gave me the green light to hit the trails again he emphasized how important it is to take things slowly, making sure that I’m not ramping up too fast. My first run yesterday was really a walk/run combo, just half an hour, and I only covered 1.6 miles.
Will spent the day on the Porcupine Rim, a 29 mile mountain bike extravaganza, so I decided to do my mini run from the parking lot. I started off on a OHV (off highway vehicle) trail called Hell’s Revenge. I think they named it Hell’s Revenge to make the tourists think it was pretty gnarly (and maybe it was, I don’t know) but for running, it was pretty tame – there weren’t many rocks, and the sand was nice and soft. In order to keep those pesky OHVs on the trail rather than roaming all over the desert, someone had fenced this particular trail in pretty tightly. I didn’t like feeling like I was running on a go kart track, so Hilde and I ducked out onto another trail pretty quickly.
Our side trail traveled up to the top of the ridge (Dr Wes – if you’re reading this – it was super tame; gently sloped and not off camber at all. Ankle felt great!) and gave us some great views of the city and “America’s Second Most Scenic Landfill” (their words, not mine!) I stopped for a few minutes to do my rehab exercises, and then continued on to make a little loop out of it.
As far as runs go, it was pretty uneventful. I wasn’t particularly fast and I certainly didn’t go very far, but I was running, and that’s all that mattered. I think it’s easy to get caught up in needing to make every day harder than the last, constantly pushing for more and more epic adventures. This run was a great reminder to slow down and appreciate the little things in life, like this blooming cactus we saw on our way back to the car.
Have you ever been sidelined from something you love by an ill-timed injury?
I want to hear your stories!