the week of the chocolate chip cookie

THE COUCH, WITH LOTS OF PILLOWS // CHICAGO — I have eaten a lot of cookies in the last eight days. In what became a very messy week, I needed something constant to rely on, and I allowed chocolate chip cookies to assume this role.

It started last Saturday, when MW & I were in Indianapolis for a wedding, and we figured we’d throw a 5K onto the itinerary. I had a lot of fun (and snagged a PR), particularly in the last quarter mile when I caught up to a child who seemed determined to do everything he could to keep me from passing him. He had to be something like 8 years old, and to his serious disappointment, his attempts to block me failed. He definitely got in my way, but the whole thing was too funny to really bother me.

After everyone in our group finished, we looked up our results and left. We had already gotten to the car by the time I realized I should have stayed for awards — I took third in my age group, which is just ridiculous, given my running history. Looks like all this speed work and training is getting me somewhere.

That’s how my day started. It ended quite differently.

Short story: We had an amazing time at our friend’s wedding. A few of us went out after the reception ended, and at one point I fell and hit my knee on concrete.

Long (but still pretty short) story: Had I not been paying for the cab, I would have seen my friend fall down when getting out of the car. But I was paying for the cab, and I didn’t see it. There wasn’t much room to exit the car, because there was as strip of landscaping right up against the curb. Going with the whole “a straight line is the shortest distance between two points” thing, one might understandably decide to walk through the grassy area to get to the main sidewalk.

Unfortunately, you can’t tell that the grassy area is about 6 inches below the sidewalk level (so even farther below the surface of the curb around it). My friend didn’t know that, so he fell when walking through it. A minute later, I did the same thing, and as I pitched forward, my right knee slammed into the curb on the far side of the grassy area.

I went from a 5K PR Saturday morning to a bloody knee and a lot of pain Saturday night.

With the Chicago Triathlon coming up a week later, I was mad and uncertain. I took a few days off. I got subs for my Spinning classes. I ate cookies. I talked to MW, my coach, my sister, my training buddies, the cookies — should I race? It doesn’t hurt that bad. But it hurts a little. As the days went on, I felt better, but I still didn’t know what I should do.

I had been looking forward to the Chicago tri ever since I moved here last year (I missed out on registration in 2014), but as far as my season goals went, it was never a top priority. My biggest race is in September. After a few successful runs and bike rides this week, I decided to race but committed to dropping out if I felt too much pain. I literally ate dozens of cookies en route to this decision. I’m aware that’s a pretty crappy nutrition choice, but I do not care.

I’ve done more than 20 triathlons. I’ve never failed to finish one I started, until today.

It was the right decision, but it still really, really sucked. Swimming was an unknown (I hadn’t gotten in the water since hitting my knee), and it turns out it really bothered my knee. It might have been the motion alone, it could have been the added pressure of the wetsuit — whatever it was, it hurt.

Here’s where things got all sorts of ridiculous: I ran into transition after the swim, and the rack that had once held my bike was on the ground, on top of my bike. That momentarily distracted me, but I wiggled my bike out from under the rack and ran with it as fast as I could to make up time. I’d say I’ve gotten pretty good at flying mounts in the last year, and I took a spectator’s comments as confirmation of that: “Oh yeah, that looked good,” he said as I jumped on my bike. Then I heard the spectator say, “ooooohhhhhh.”

My shoe fell off my bike. I don’t know how, but it did. I put my bike down, ran back to get it and clipped it in, while that same spectator said, “Well, it looked really good. Just keep going.”

As soon as my speed hit 21, 22, 23mph, I knew it was over. Every pedal stroke felt like a punch to my knee. It didn’t hurt much when I slowed down below 20mph, but slowing down just to finish the race made no sense. After 3 miles, I found a place to turn around and tried to keep a level head as I made my way back to transition.

I then drank two beers before 10 a.m. (Huge thanks to my friend Maggie who came to watch and then drank with me.)

There was some crying as I sat on a curb near the finish chute. There was anger and crying and head-hanging and the whole thing. I wanted to be anywhere but near a bunch of people high on endorphins, wearing snazzy finisher medals and rehashing the highs and lows of the races they just finished. Then, when my sister crossed the finish line and smashed her PR, I wasn’t mad anymore.

My coach recommended I sit on the couch, have a beer, watch some nonsense and forget about the race. I did that. I also ate cookies.

I’ll need to rest and get my knee looked at, and yes, I may eat a few more cookies as I get it all figured out, but for the most part, that’s the end of it — this blog post is the end of it. The race is over, and I have another one to get ready for.

{images from Mama DiGang} 

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