Monday, June 2, 2008

Keep It Moving

This past Saturday was the 2nd race on the NUE Series Calendar, the Mohican 100, which was held in Loudonville, OH. Andy and I left on Friday afternoon and had to make a quick stop at the Trek of PGH Bike Shop in Cranberry Twp., PA. On our travels to the bike shop, I was telling Andy about my crash at Granogue and about the shoulder pain that I was still experiencing. I also mentioned that it sure would be nice to bump into a doctor or physical therapist that might be able to give me an idea about how bad my injury actually was. Luckily for me, when I walked into the bike shop, I bumped into a long time friend and physical therapist, Joe Fotia.
I tell Joe about my injury and he did some quick assessment of my movement, so that he could give me his opinion of what might be wrong with my shoulder. As it turns out, he says that I probably either partially tore my rotator cuff or maybe stretched out my shoulder ligaments during the crash. He said it was a good thing that I still had most of my shoulder movement, but a bad thing that I could not resist his pressure when he tested my strength. He told me about some exercises that I could do to re-strengthen the area and also said to just keep it moving.
Of course me being in complete denial of possibly having a bad injury, still thought that it would be good idea to do a 100 mile mtb race on a rigid fork. To make matters worse, the race course was made very slick by an early morning thunder storm that hit just before the start of the race. My plan for the long day of racing ahead was to ride safe, keep the rubber on the ground and to do my best at not putting too much pressure on my shoulder; all of which is hard to do in any mtb race of any length, not alone in an endurance race.
I definitely rode safely during the race, almost too safely. I basically had to ride the beginning or the race very conservatively, due to the slick and muddy conditions, to ensure that I did not crash. Of course, this meant losing ground to the top riders and all other riders whenever I was riding through a technical section or a downhill portion of the course. I then would have to ride like hell to make-up time on the climbs and flats to stay somewhat competitive in the race. Somewhere before the second checkpoint (about mile 35 or so), I became so frustrated with my inability to ride hard and the horrid chainsuck that I was experiencing because of the muddy conditions, that I almost decided to give up on this race. At that time, I had just gone past Trek Regional Rep, Bob Myers, who seemed to be all over the course that entire day helping everyone out, and said to myself that it would just be so much easier to turn around and to ask him for a ride back rather than completing the rest of the course. Instead, I decided to keep it moving.
During the remainder of the race, I just focused on trying to make-up ground on the riders that had put time on me in the more technical beginning sections of the race. There are certainly other sections on the course that are equally as technical, but because the course was drying and with me feeling a little bit more sure of what my should could and could not withstand, I decided to press on and ignore the periods of pain that I would feel in my shoulder. I actually think, in a strange kind of way, this shoulder pain did help distract me from the typical 100 mile race pain that I do tend to experience throughout an endurance race.
The night before the race, Andy and I were talking about all the fast guys registered in the race this year and we both agreed during the conversation that a top 10 finish would be pretty good for anyone. I was certainly hoping for the best finish possible, but realistically knew that considering my shoulder condition that even being in the top ten would be an achievement for me. Well, by the end of the race and by going through much suffering, I did manage to finish 9th with a finishing time that was pretty much the same as last year's (around 8 hours) on a course which I would consider to be more difficult because of the wet conditions.
In the end, my shoulder was sore, but not any worse off than before doing the race I think. Hopefully this means that I did not do any further harm to it by deciding to keep it moving and that maybe it is not a severe injury (the denial thing, again). On another note, however, I am sure the doctor of Floyd Landis also told him to keep it moving after his hip surgery. Well, after a mediocre start and a crash on the slick singletrack, I saw Floyd bent over in pain and holding his hip on the side of the trail. This makes me think that there is probably a limit to how much one should keep it moving. I will try to take this into consideration the next time that I decide to keep it moving, but will probably continue to push forward anyway. -Gerry

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