Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Closer to fine

Spring is creeping closer; the sun is up until 7; and I am starting to think about riding again. It's a tough decision and I'm not sure how to make it - where do you draw the line between smartly conservative and borderline hypochondriac? At the same time, where do you draw the line between doable and reckless?

There's not a lot of sports advice about frostbite and activity out there. One might wonder how a few measly blisters on toes would even prevent a person from riding a bicycle in the first place. My problem is the injury cuts a little deeper than skin-deep. Circulation has for the most part returned to my foot, but left in its wake strange sensations and pains. The lower half of my foot is at once numb and hyper-sensitive. A burning sensation has become a constant. I still can't put much weight on my toes without streaks of pain. But I can press down flat-footed indefinitely. So I can walk with only a slight limp, but I can't negotiate much in the way of inclines.

I've been running 90-minute interval sessions on the elliptical machine at the gym most days, with a little weight-lifting thrown in. It's a good hard workout in a short time, but there's not much variety in the routine, and nothing to really help me hold my endurance. I can also press down on pedals easily. Riding a bike should be fine as long as I can keep my foot warm and completely dry. But still, I have reservations about venturing outside. One, I can't feel my toes very well and wouldn't know if they were becoming too cold. And two, it's difficult to keep my feet dry even with overboots (In my three years in Juneau, I've become totally complacent about riding around for hours in 35-degrees-and-raining weather with wet feet. I think this complacency may have contributed to me not treating my wet foot with the urgency it deserved during the race. 35 degrees with wet feet is one thing. 20 below is another.)

Right now roads are pretty dry, but more rain, snow and snow melt is on the way. Spring generally creates consistently wet riding conditions, which complicate things. I plan to discuss cycling with my doctor, but I'm worried she's going to tell me to just ride the bike at the gym (I can't handle that thing for more than 30 minutes before saddle sores set in.) I sold my bike trainer earlier this year because I was convinced I'd never be tempted to use it again, so I don't even have that as an option. I want my doctor to give me the OK to set out for six-hour rides, but I have a feeling the answer is going to be "Um, better not ..."

But really, the fact that I am even thinking about the option of riding, and not scheduling surgeries, is an optimistic boost. I'm trying to be patient, and directing my energy into my new 50-hour work week. But overwork just doesn't churn out the same rewards as working out. And I've never been too enamored with the virtue of patience. :-)


  1. Hey Jill,
    Just been reading your blog. I cannot get into my e-mail, part of the torture of living in Africa. Anyway, I wrote you a letter and am wondering where to send it to. Please email me with it!

    I wish you a speedy recovery! I've been thinking lots about you!

  2. Hi Jill!
    I'm really worried about your injure. It seems serious. Surely you will recover, so don't precipitate you to take a bike again before being the time, the consecuenencies could be forever. TAke care!

  3. I would recommend you to be patient. Give your foot time to recover. Don't risk a permanent injury in those toes.

    El Animal

  4. Hi Jill,

    Try to find information about Edurne Pasaban frostbite in Google.


  5. Jill, I love that picture. I come from a boating family!

    I hear you about the eliptical...I can't stand that thing...no matter what I do it says my heart rate isn't high enough. Blah.
    I hope your foot heals sooner than later.

    Did ya get my e-mail?

  6. I hope your foot recovers quickly. You've inspired me to take up cycling! Good luck!

  7. Cycling would probably be as good as anything else for your foot. A little increased blood flow never hurt anything. It's boring as heck, but maybe it's time for an indoor trainer. Just a thought.

  8. What a fantastic and informative blog. It really provides a new and fresh perspective and I hope it will continue to hook me. Definately one for my favs list.
    where do i get copy of book

  9. Maybe get a ping pong table? Good time for cross training.

  10. Engineer's suggestions:

    - A thermometer (like the one you use for the turkey roast) stuck in your boot to tell you how warm it is in there.

    - Ask the gym if you can switch your own saddle on the stationary bike.

    We can be annoyingly practical.

  11. You could use a remote themometer:

    I bet it would start a new trend!

  12. Jill, I frostbit my feet lightly as a teenager and they have never been the same... I must always pay close attention to the conditions I am enduring, as my feet can't do what other folks' feet can. (Hooray for the bunny boot!) What has changed in your life is the need to truly think through things you haven't needed to bother with in the past. This shouldn't stop you, it just raises the bar. You always have the option of moving south and riding in warmer climes....not a huge concession given what you've been enduring with your foot. Take care of your foot, give it time....Good luck!

  13. Plenty of lay person comments but I tend to agree with Julie in Alaska.

    I've seen numerous cold weather injuries. You will always need to take extra precautions with your foot.

    With any soft tissue injury, changes in tissue consistancy and nerve damage is a concern. But I know you're smart and these concerns have already crossed your mind.

    Hang in there and most of all be patient.

  14. I'm sorry your recovery is seeming so slow. It must be so frustrating, but you're probably right to talk with the doctor and see what she says. As for the spinning bikes, I bought a gel seat at Freddy's for about $10. It makes such a difference!!

  15. Sounds like you are at a crossroads. Always good to get to those points. You know you will get back on eventually. And while it might never be exactly like before, you are still master of your own destiny.

    Take care Jill,



  16. I had to look back at the date that you frostbit your foot to be sure but it was barely 2-1/2 weeks ago! You are one impatient person if you are so anxious to start bicycling outside in the wet again that you would risk further damage to your foot (which you already damaged because of your impatience and disregard for the cold during the race). Take a deep breath, chill out, branch out, and find other ways to channel your energy and fill your days. You will get all of your fitness back and more before you know it because you are young. But the tissue and nerve damage you did to your foot needs time to heal and this process must be respected. You acted foolishly during the race and paid the price - time to wise up, even though that sort of calm, rational behavior does not make for good blogging.


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