Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sprained ankle

It's been a quiet week for me. On Tuesday I rolled my ankle while running along the Rattlesnake Corridor and ended up with a first-degree sprain: swelling, pain and minor bruising. I have ambitious hopes for the winter season and can't afford to prolong an injury right now, so I took it very easy all week. When exercise and activity is your default setting, it can be a little unsettling to cut back. I've felt a bit off all week, with pent-up energy simmering on low in the background, and gray, wet, Juneau-like weather swirling around me. I still don't know if I'll ever be able to get this winter training season off the ground, but I'm at least mature enough now as an athlete to not get overly frustrated by injuries, even silly ones caused by my own ineptitude (better to have a silly injury than a major one.)

I got lucky that this week's Thursday Night Ride was a relatively inactive one, with a "skills clinic" at the park and a jaunt/sprint-before-closing to three local breweries. I can ride a bike with a sprained ankle but on Wednesday/Thursday it was still pretty tender. I sat out the skills clinic and instead used the time to test the manual setting on the Lumix camera. I was going to skip the brewery tour altogether, seeing as how I don't drink beer, but decided that a social outing was better than sitting at home and clawing at the door. I drank brewed rootbeer and Diet Pepsi, much to the dismay of every proud-to-be-a-Montanan local brew connoisseur in the vicinity.

I hobbled too slowly to get many shots, but discovered that low shutter speeds on moving objects don't create a double image, but ghost the subject altogether. Interesting.

One of the clinics involved doing chin-ups while staying clipped into the bike. I don't see how that's a useful mountain bike skill, but I guess this was the annual beer tour.

Riding the rings. This looked hard. I was fairly grateful to have an opt-out.

Beat flew out to Missoula later on Thursday night. We managed to carve out a fun weekend despite my limitations, involving trail outings where I rode my bike and he ran. On Friday we climbed Mount Sentinel with Bill. Beat ran the trail and we descended down the canyon road to avoid the singletrack bumps and jostling that really aggravated my injury. We froze nearly solid in the cold evening wind. I forget that most of the winter riding I did in Juneau didn't involve prolonged descents — thousands of feet of elevation change within a single ride is the norm around here. It's hard to dress for. Of course you can carry extra layers, but eventually you just have to ask yourself whether it's worth carrying them just to avoid 20 minutes of discomfort, because after sweating out your base layer, it really takes a lot to hold in heat.

By Sunday afternoon I was again tired of the low-level ankle babying, so we went out despite a mood-dampening mixture of snow and rain. It was the first time this season that I got Pugsley out for snow riding — although a wet inch on top of mud doesn't necessarily qualify as a snow ride. Beat had no problem keeping up with me on the climb up the Stuart Peak trail, and we continued climbing together until it became too steep and slippery for me to pedal.

We got up early Monday to head back to the airport, and I was able to get out for a 90-minute dawn ride up the canyon. I also threw in a 15-minute shuffle of a run. I have a big ankle brace and was able to complete my half-mile-out, half-mile-back to my bike without pain, but it's a bit sore again now. Patience will prevail, but I can't help but watch my calendar creeping forward, and wonder if I'll ever really start running. So far success has been elusive, and I have proven myself to be more than a bit of a klutz. (I'm beginning to think of mountain bikes as safety tools invented for people like me — wilderness wheelchairs for the clumsy.) Still, I'm not giving up just yet.