Thursday, May 31, 2012

I'm out.

For the first time since 2005, I'll have hairy legs in June.  Today is the 6 month mark on my non-recovery from chronic knee pain.   Since exactly the 31st of December 2011, my right knee has been basically incompatible with riding a bicycle hard.  The doctors and physical therapists call it patella-femoral pain syndrome, which is Latin for "your knee hurts".  I've still been able to commute to work, and have managed a couple of 15 to even 40 milers in the interim, but all at a snails pace and all but a few solo.  Off and on I've felt that my condition has been on the mend and that things are improving, but each time that has evaporated due to random circumstance or something I did or didn't do correctly.  I spent 8 weeks doing physical therapy, and I was actually pretty consistent with the exercises for most of that time.  It helped, at least with my balance and stability, but my knee remains as it has been--f'ed.  For the past while, I've been a bit jaded by the whole process and have fallen off the horse a bit.  I hope and plan to rekindle my mojo and get back with the therapy a bit, if only to give myself something to focus on.

I was feeling good and seemingly on the mend once in March, and once a week and a half ago, I'd completed a couple of decent rides and felt a bit better than I had.  Then last Monday I went in for my most recent consultation with the doctor who, upon my endorsement, injected me with about 5 cc of cortisone.  Turns out, it made things worse. My knee hurts, almost as badly as it ever has and simply rejects the idea that it was ever suited for pedaling a bicycle.  I get a small throbbing pain on the inside of my right knee that reminds me that things aren't right.  When I feel it, my heart sinks and my thoughts turn black. "If only I hadn't... if only I had.... if only."

I'm writing this here for myself to remind me that I've made a decision not to worry about that any more.  The fates are not with me this year and I've decided to formally pull the plug on any hope of racing in 2012.  It would take at least 6 weeks of solid training to even want to bother entering a race, and I simply won't be able to perform as I would want in the time remaining in the racing season.  If my knee is back on track by mid-July, I might consider gearing up for a more full season of cyclocross racing, but that's still well on the back burner at this time.

Needless to say, I'm gutted.  I've dedicated at least 10 hours per week for the past 6 years to riding, training and racing bikes.  My best friends here in Philly are all bike people, and I'm the president of my bike racing club.  It's not been easy to see all that flow away and be isolated from the most important activity in my life here.  It kills me every time I see my teammates out on rides or read race reports about what I wish I were doing.  Last time I was this long away from the sport I loved was in 1999 when achilles tendinitis sidelined me for 9 months and caused me to miss my junior year of cross country at Macalester.  That sucked, probably more than this injury, since the loss of one of my 4 seasons of cross country was so hard to bear.

I'll likely get better, just don't know when.  A friend of mine from the shop has volunteered to hunt down some alternative therapies for me; Active Release Therapy is on schedule for some time in the near future, we'll see if that does the trick.

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