This is not the article I had planned to write. No, I had much different things in mind.
I had a great idea for a season-long series of articles: the 6-month ski plan.
Here is the background. I stopped racing competively at a National level in spring 2002. Since then I had remained active, exercising 5-6 times a week for an hour or two, but no serious training. At the beginning of last September I was beginning to feel like I was in decent shape, and I began to wonder, “Could I compete on a National level with only a few months of specific training?”
Probably not, but I was curious to find out exactly how fast I could get being only a 6-month skier.
Right now, most of you Masters are sayiing, “I already know the answer to that question. That's how I always do things.”
But this was new territory for me. My ski training season started on September 1st. I dusted off the rollerskis and came up with a training plan. I didn't plan on being in great shape by December, but I thought that by March I could be competitive. My goal was to race well in the Tour of Anchorage in early March. And by 'do well' I mean ski with the leaders. Plenty of time to do that.
The first month of training went really well. I was feeling strong and I could feel my muscles starting to get back some of their tone and their 'pop.' This was going to be a fun experiment and I was excited to share it with all you readers.
But that all changed on October 12.
That morning I woke up feeling great. Completely exhausted, but great. That was the day I put the cap on my biggest training week in almost two years. I was very sore as I crawled out of bed, but that day would be easier. Just a mellow 3 hour run with my friend and fellow skier Scott McArt to finish off the week. With those three hours, I would reach 18 hours for the week. Huge considering I had been averaging about 8-10 hours/week for most of the summer.
Scott and I were headed up to Symphony Lakes, a beautiful place for running in the mountains of Alaska. From the start of the run I was exhausted. I couldn't keep up. Maybe I had done too much this week. Scott would run ahead and I would do my best to keep him from getting out of sight. We ran from the trailhead, up to Symphony Lakes, crossing a large boulder field on the way. We then climbed up a small mountain peak for a view before turning around and heading back. As we were crossing back across the boulder field, we stopped for a minute to discuss our route, or something like that.
As we started running again, with the smooth trail only a short way ahead of us, I slipped. Normally if you slip or trip while running, you fall forward 'superman' style. While sometimes painful, this kind of fall allows you to put a hand out and cushion the fall. When I slipped, possibly because the rock moved or I stepped on ice (or both – I'm not sure), my foot slipped down and backwards. My other foot then stumbled into another rock as I tried to regain my footing and I fell over backwards. As I was falling, my body was contorted and I knew that I would not be able to break my fall with an arm or anything. I was in the middle of a boulder field and I was definitely going to hit my head hard on a sharp, hard rocks and there was nothing I could do. The thought of permanent brain damage flashed through my mind.
Sure enough. Whack! The most vicious blow to the head I have ever had (and I have wrecked a few bike helmets in my days). I hit so hard that I thought I had cracked my skull. I jumped back to my feet as quickly as I could and quickly reached for the back of my head with my left hand. I was still concious, this was good. I felt the back of my head and was relieved to find it still intact. But as I lowered my left arm after the inspection, I discovered a new problem. My collarbone was moving around in a most un-natural way. Scott asked if I was okay. “Umm yeah, I think so. But I broke my collarbone.” I had never broken a collarbone before, but there was no mistaking the feeling. Bone was moving around where there was no joint.
A graph of my run from EndlessPursuit.com
X-rays in the ER confirmed the break. But it was worse than I expected. The bone had shattered into three pieces: the two ends, which weren't even close to touching each other, and a section in the middle that was poking up into the skin. For your enjoyment, here is that xray.
A big metal plate and seven screws holding me together. I spent the next few days on the couch, doped up on some big horse-sized pain pills. The doctor said I would be in a sling for a month. No activity except for walking. This was going to be hell.
So much for my goal of getting back into prime race shape. The Surgeon General might say that walking is good exercise, but no one ever won a ski marathon by walking every day.
So instead of getting a diary of my training as I try to get back in ski shape, you are going to get a diary of my mental and physical battles as I work my way back from injury. I'll admit, it might be a better storyline, but I wish I someone else was telling it.
You might be thinking, “The injury happened almost four months ago. How are you doing now?”
Patience my friend. We will get to that in time. All I will say for now is that I am typing this with two hands.
If you go to this trek at Endless Pursuit.comyou can zoom in on the map (even see the Boulder Field), check out lots of statistics for our run, and much more. I encourage you to check it out.