Thursday, March 15, 2007

Just ... can't

Date: March 15
Mileage: 8.2
March mileage: 14.4
Temperature upon departure: 32
When I was 17, I wrote an editorial for my high school newspaper that I was really proud of at the time. It was our special "fitness" issue, full of exercise tips, nutritious recipes and columns about working out. And right in the middle of all that was my article, arguing - essentially - that exercising for the sake of exercising was asinine.

"We have classes to walk to and friends to visit and pickup volleyball games to join and punk shows to dance at, and you want me to wake up at 5 a.m. and go jogging? No thanks," I wrote. My point: Life was an exercise, and "exercising" was just a redundant waste of time.

I think of that article from time to time when I wonder how 17-year-old Jill would regard the fitness freak she's become. She had that idealistic slant that convinced her she would actually be able to spend her life in pursuit of intellectual and cultural enlightenment. The way she saw it, her body was basically just a vessel to carry her to the desert, the library, the basement of club DV8 ... anywhere that appealed to her academic sensibilities. I think she may have actually convinced herself that how she looked was not all that important ... good to be healthy, better to be smart. She also had a bit of a freewheeling hippy streak and listened to a lot of Phish at the time. One lyric that she scrawled across her notebook was, "Never understood what my body was for. That's why I always leave it layin' out on the floor."

I don't miss her music. But sometimes, I do miss her.

Another Thursday down, another attempt to ride the bike. New, soft snow required the use of Snaux bike, so I didn't have the pedal cages to lean on. But I decided that I was going to double pedal it today, or not at all. It became obvious pretty quickly that I just ... can't. But I wanted to. I can be so stubborn. I know it's detrimental. I can't help myself. But four miles was too far. I knew it before I even turned around. I already had some errant tears and an unwilling leg. I don't have an explanation. I don't have an excuse. I just have a reality. A physical hurdle that my mind can't beat. Or vice versa.

I spun a little and walked a little on the way home. The whole thing was a terrible idea. I was stiffening up again. Pain was increasing. I was regressing further with every mile. I was so angry ... mostly at my body, but with each step -as common sense settled back in - a little more at myself.

17-year-old Jill would be so ashamed ... Letting a small injury ruin an entire month, when it was obvious that it was just a minor setback that was taking a normal amount of time to heal (or would take a normal amount of time to heal if I gave in for a while.) Becoming so despondent over a stupid thing like a bike, when so many other pieces of life are so much more meaningful. "Limping down North Douglas Highway in a snowstorm just to prove your self worth?" she'd write in her editorial. "No thanks."

And I'm ashamed, too. When I was young and quick to rebound, I had little use for strong legs and high lung capacity. But now that I'm older and rickety, I'd gladly give up a few IQ points just to have two good knees right now. A larger part of me wonders why that's so ...


  1. Hey Jill, your knee will get better. You will push thru this, and learn soooo much from it, you already are. The bike can teach us so's about much more than just pedaling, but you know that. heal quick.

  2. Older! OLDER! Woman you ain't seen nothing yet. Wait till you're on the wrong side of 40 (like me). Oh what I would give to have my 27 year old body again.

    Enjoy it will you have it.

  3. I do not even remember being 27 seems like there was a baby that year, hmmm, he drives now! Ok knee injuries are zen experiences. You can not work a knee to health by pushing. They are just too sophisticated a piece of machinery. You have to surrender to their cycle of healing. You have a nagging injury that you keep injuring. I know you know that, I think that is the root of your anger. All you can do is the lightweight stuff, like the doc said, it is going to be as good as it was, but only through time. ice.

  4. small setbacks, dont give up!!!! I have been following youre blog for the last year, you are a inspiration, Keep at it, Get back on that Bike!!!

  5. I understand what you're going through. It's tough but you will get through it. As I commented before, there's a fine line between letting your body heal and keeping strength. Err on the side of letting your body heal. You can get your strength back.

    My junior year in college I broke my leg just above my ankle. It was about 3 weeks before the end of the semester. I got depressed because I couldn't ride and blew off school. I was a straight A student but I got a 66 on my Calculus final. Even at that I think my professor was being generous. Fortunately I only needed a 64 to keep my A in the class. For the few days between the test and when I found out my grade I was sweating it because I knew I had totally bombed it.

    The last week I had the cast on I did a 4 hour mountain bike ride. I was racing again a month later. 2 months later I had messed my knee up from trying to come back too fast. After months of pain and frustration, I ended up having my knee scoped. My ankle still hurts most of the time and there are days I limp even though the injury was over 10 years ago. I sometimes wonder if it would have healed better if I hadn't pushed it.

  6. Jill, Rob gives great advice here!

  7. Sorry sister, as you know I'm in the same leaky boat. Let's make a commitment to do something specific and cerebral during the healing time. Can't ride? Let's write. Or is there an online scabble option? Cuz I can bring it on the scrabble board.

  8. Remarkable self absorption.

  9. Juancho ...

    I'm not half bad at Scrabble myself. When and where? I'll bring what I got. I'm sure they have online scrabble somewhere.

    Anonymous ...

    I'm sure you didn't mean that as a compliment, but I'm going to go ahead and take it as one. This is, after all, my journal. It doesn't pretend to be anything else. No laws say you have to look at it.

    Frankly, I'm disappointed I don't get more insults. All the good self-absorbed bloggers have critics. Dooce!

  10. Patience and that MRI might be the sound course Jill.

  11. After a 10 mile race, I developed a 3rd metatarsal stress fracture that took about 3 months to heal to the point where I could run again. I have learned the hard way (from other injuries) that it is best to let things heal -- otherwise (in my experience) they become chronic nagging problems. You will stay in good aerobic shape from all the other stuff that you do, and when you get back to biking it will seem all the more fresh and exciting.

    I am a radiologist and I think that the MRI will be very very helpful given that you are still having symptoms -- at least it will help with the uncertainty which is one of the most frustrating parts of being injured.

    hang in there.


Feedback is always appreciated!