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What to Expect From a Broken Clavicle

In desperately googling every nook and cranny of the internet about broken clavicle surgery and recovery from it, I managed to run across a gem of a blog post series about broken collarbones, treatment, surgery and recovery. One post was so funny and so accurately depicts my life right now that I couldn't not share it. Courtesy of Laura and sent in to Hans Kellner Dot Com, I give you...

What to Expect From a Broken Clavicle

full post linked here but some highlights:

Killing the pain. First, let’s discuss the power of alchohol. Through the ages this fine substance has been used to dull the pain of many a fallen soldier. Seeing myself as such, I broke into the whiskey with wild abandon. Choosing Jack Daniels’ as my personal “fav’ I set out to imbibe. If you dose this correctly you won’t have to pick up your prescription vicadin. Careful to drink a glass of water for each alcoholic drink so you avoid hangovers.

Dressing, this becomes a new adventure. You must keep your hurt shoulder extremely still. This means that the arm attached to it is completely useless. If you are a woman then forget the bra. If you must have a bra get someone you “trust’ to put your most comfortable one on and realize you will be wearing this item for at least two or three days. Unable to work out how to get a t-shirt on I tried my shirts that button up. You soon come to realize that buttons are not an option. Ok, back to regular shirts. I could get large t-shirts on by feeding the sleeve of the bad arm over my useless hand up to my armpit and then carefully pulling it over my head and then putting my functional arm in the other arm hole. Getting the t-shirt off again is usually a two-person project. Forget tying shoelaces or wearing tight pants, they become the enemy.

Sleeping. Most certainly, one must avoid, at all costs, rolling onto the affected shoulder during the first week. This will wake you up in just as much pain as the day you crashed. I found that propping pillows all along the length of my body helped to reduce unwarranted movement. I slept a lot, there wasn’t much else to do. But, this doesn’t really matter, as dressing, eating, and drinking will take about 5 times longer than usual, so I filled my day accordingly.

Pit of Despair. This probably only applies to women. I could not shave the injured arm’s pit! This was horrible and I began to refer to this area of my body as the “pit of despair”. This is when you realize the ultimate greatness of the Mach 3 razor. You can literally shave without lifting your arm! Well lift it as much as you can. Good luck girls!

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The above pretty much sums up my life right now. For example, this morning I found myself screaming into my pillow around 3am because I managed to roll onto my stomach/shoulder in my sleep. I can't drive anywhere, so the highlight of my day today has been my Dad dropping me off at Starbucks, where he will pick me up later in the day after five hours of compulsive slowtwitching and facebooking and googling "clavicle surgery rehab return". Sitting in the Starbucks is just as mind-numbing as sitting around the house, except then it takes away the temptation to drink to make the day go by faster. So there's that.

One thing the post fails to mention is just the whole part about being one-handed. Though I may feel this more acutely since I broke my right collarbone and I'm right handed. This means trying to eat holding my fork in my left hand and having food fall in my lap. I haven't really brushed my hair since the accident since it's such a pain and the only hair-do I can accomplish on my own is a questionable low ponytail. Or a one-handed bun that falls out every time I turn my head more than 5-degrees. One handed typing/texting? I'm now a pro. Though for this, I've taken my arm out of a sling and have managed to use two hands. I bought those little one-use picks for flossing but even my left-handed brushing leaves much to be desired.

Right now my saving grace (sadly) is television. I've watched two seasons worth of Friday Night Lights—well, one season—the first season—twice, since my mom decided we needed to catch my dad up on the drama before moving forward—and a full season-and-a-half of Breaking Bad. Though I have to admit, Breaking Bad does a much better job of distracting me from the pain, mostly because it simultaneously reminds me that life could be way worse and strangely cheers me up at the same time. It also gives me a reason to (jokingly) tell my mom, "YO, let me have another Vicodin, Bitch". Thank you, Jesse Pinkman and thank you, Netflix.

Judging us for our television choices.

I've been walking a lot. It sucks. My HR only gets up to about 115 max and southern Louisiana is as flat as a pancake. The total elevation change of 2ft might have been me sitting up from putting on my shoes. I walked 6.5 miles yesterday and pretty much covered my whole neighborhood. Speed walking is no where near as good of a stress reliever as running and even just walking aggravates the collarbone from the up/down shock on my spine. I really miss living in a city where no one would bat an eye at someone walking around in a sling down the street—in my neighborhood, we don't have sidewalks so I'm basically walking on the street. Nothing to look at but the occasional person who gives me a concerned look as they drive past me walking down the street. No, I do NOT need a ride. The lack of window shopping stinks as well.

And then I went on that failed bike ride Friday night, mostly a failure because I forgot my bike shoes in Austin. First we tried tape:

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I got on and managed about 20-minutes of trainer time:

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And then I ripped through the tape, got discouraged and sat on the couch for the rest of the evening. The next day I had to go out and buy a pair of Used (gasp!) Specialized (gasp!) bike shoes from the local shop because they didn't carry Pearl Izumi. Got a good deal on them so they'll do for the next few weeks. I'm going to try the bike again tonight, though staying upright is a total pain and not having a free hand makes shifting hard and staying hydrated hard. Also leaning forward hurts some because it requires me to extend my upper body forward to reach the bars—though I've read that raising the front wheel helps some so I'll be making that adjustment before my next attempt on the bike.

Can only go up from here, right?

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rev3 half full preview

yesterday's bike called for a shortish ride (about 2-hours) with a few punchy rollers thrown in to get the legs ready for next weekend's race without overdoing it. i wasn't feeling my regular route: lots of flats followed by hill after hill after hill and then more flats, except here the hills are less rolling and more grinding. instead, i thought i'd mix it up and opted to test out....

the Rev3/Half Full bike course that I'll be racing in a few weeks!!

drove the 45-min to maryland, scribbled some cue notes on my leg and got to riding!

i know, so ghetto, right?

so the half full bike course starts out like the columbia triathlon but then takes a few key detours, which—i think—led to my favorite stretch, which takes you through some pretty nice, scenic and (most importantly!) quiet neighborhoods.

i say "i think" because about two-minutes in the writing on the leg had sweated off; it was 87% humidity out there, no joke. as a result, i ended up taking a wrong turn or two and having to backtrack my steps.

but once you take the left onto mount alban (one of the "punchier" climbs out there - have to admit, i stood up and worked it some), you start passing really nice neighborhoods with wide, friendly roads and almost ZERO cars. i almost felt like i wandered onto the set of pleasantville... or maybe the stepford wives. maybe i'm just a city girl but i was in awe of the giant houses and yards and perfectly meticulous landscaping.

from what i could tell, this course offers a huge advantage to those who have ridden it before. there are a few rollers where you can't see whether it's okay to bomb the descent or hold back. the one give-away i will tell you is that after taking that left turn and climbing up mount alban the very first descent leads to a sharp lefthand turn that could be a little dicey if you weren't used to cornering quickly.

the rest takes you through nice rolling hills where if you're brave enough, you can really push the descents and ride the momentum up and over most of the main climbs without feeling like you're starting to roll backward.

in all, it's a fun course: i would put it on par with rev3 wisconsin but maybe easier than knoxville... only because there are no long grueling hills. you can get up and over most of them pretty quickly, which gives you enough time to catch your breath and gain a little downhill momentum to surge up the next one. there are also a few traffic circle "round abouts" as opposed to 90-degree turns, which were fun to zoom around while still making quick/safe turns.

but don't just take my word for it, here's a quick look: map and elevation, courtesy of rev3 tri:

i'll be doing the olympic but for folks doing the half, you roll on through the olympic course before heading out for part two.

i am SO excited for the race for so many reasons: rev3 production, the ulman cancer foundation,  team fight out in full force (total sea of yellow, i bet), for a great cause AND right in my DC backyard! :)

in sum:

  • half-empty: "ugh so much climbing - HILLFEST."
  • half-full: "woo hoo so fast bomb the descents - HILLFEST!!!"

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::crickets::

my first half-ironman is about six days away and i'm starting to freak out. while i've been training consistently for eagleman for nearly the past six months now (like real training, not just my regular goofing off), suddenly it's starting to seem much more real. just this weekend, while my twitchy quads and achy calves were keeping me awake after what should have been a start-of-the-taper-easy-bike, i let my mind start to wander: can i really hold those watts for that long? will my 2-3 missed swim sessions come back to haunt me? what it i blow it too early on—heaven forbid, what if i WALK? and most importantly: will i give myself heatstroke and end up in medical?

part of me wants to shout "mulligan" and insist that eagleman is my first pass at that half-distance, meaning i can sandbag it if things head south on raceday. the little voice in my head reminds me that i'm racing the half at both rev3 cedar point and then again at anderson... maybe eagleman's just the warm-up to my finals... but i don't really like excuses. instead, i'm just looking to control the controllables and have fun out there. that's why i'm avoiding posting any goals or expectations. regardless of whether i hit my best case scenario, falter to plan B or—gulp—worse, i'm excited to just get out there and put to test my training from over the past few months. it also doesn't hurt that riding the eagleman course reminds me of growing up in the hot, muggy and bug-infested swamps of louisiana... ah, home sweet home...

but that's why it's been so dead around here: i've been training up a storm, trying to tackle the increasing work responsibilities in my 9-to-5 and apartment-hunting like a madwoman across all corners of D.C./Northern VA. and so i leave you with:

a few observations....

  • there is no shame is licking a spilled powerbar gel off your fingers, forearms, jersey... and shifters... when you accidentally squeeze gel all over your aerobars on a very windy day
  • aero helmet, zipp wheels and a $3k shiv have no business biking at sub-17 mph pace around DC's hains point on a mid-week, post-work ride
  • pretty sure Rev3 and Pearl Izumi have already seen ROI on my Rev3 kit... since i like to run around the mall/monuments, i photobomb a LOT of tourist photos. i mean, A LOT A LOT.
  • the paved walkway around the outer circumference of the washington monument is exactly .5 miles (thank you garmin!)
  • the route from my current apartment, past the white house, around the monument and back up 16th is a reliable 45-minute trek... as long as it's not tourist season (then it's 90-min)
  • during the summer in DC, steady-state runs can very quickly disintegrate into fartlek sessions if you're not careful about avoiding the overly touristy areas
  • eau de chlorine can sometimes be sexy... but usually it isn't
  • get a bike fit and gain so much free speed you don't even know what to do with yourself

finally, there are few things better in the world than finishing a 4-hour brick at dusk at the very edge of a rickety old pier and then cannonballing into the river—clothes, shoes, garmin and all:

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Wide Open Spaces

Also known as: Once you go flat, you never go back. This weekend took me up into Maryland for a long ride through the DC Rainmaker-approved farmland of Queenstown, MD. I’ve been getting tired of my hilly tour de Montgomery County and was looking for something a little flatter in prep for my first half coming up in June, Eagleman. I couldn’t have picked a better place:

Only a few miles north of Cambridge, MD, this route was a much needed change of scenery from my regular car-filled routes. There were a few stretches where I would go half-an-hour without seeing a car or even another person. The roads were pancake flat and the shoulders ample: rural riding at its very best!

Aside from some close encounters with the wind and occasional cow, the only very eventful thing on this ride was accidentally biking onto a divided highway. Not sure how it happened but all of a sudden cars where whooshing by my and I was saying a few hail marys as I skidded over some rumble strips along the side of the road. After dismounting, turning around and praying that I made it out alive, I finally made it back to my wooded route and continued exploring the area. Seriously, even with a few iPhone-aided reroutes, it’s a miracle that I didn’t end up super lost at any point in the trip.

In all, I made it about 50-miles, having downed three bottles of H20 (two supplemented with some PowerBar Perform) and a medley of PowerBar gels. I got back to the playground where I had parked, knocked out a speedy t-run (almost too speedy… felt good!) and then rode windows down back to D.C. Could not have asked for a better Saturday!

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smashfest in the mountains

i'm currently in north carolina, enjoying my weeklong break from work and cycling to my heart's content. more later but for now, a view of heaven:

could it be more magical?

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