Patience in Purgatory

I’ve been a fairly healthy person most of my life. I am passionate about a few select things. I am stubborn. I like to go fast. These are facts, not conjecture not excuses, just basic facts about me.

A few years ago I was diagnosed with my first autoimmune disease. It hit me pretty hard as the reality of my health over the preceding years came into focus. I lost traction for a while, but biking helped me deal with it. I’ve loved biking since the first time I saw Greg LeMond racing in the Tour de France. For a short while, I dreamed of being the first woman to race in the Tour.

Purgatory rock bed

Purgatory rock bed

Recent issues have come up and it was with great irritation that I dropped my bike off at Pedal Power (awesome locally owned bike store in San Marcos). Two days before that I was told by my doctor to stop biking. Ok, not permanently, but for a short while — what ever short while means.  We agreed to a week. I should mentioned it lasted a day.

Flood Control Dam at Purgatory

Flood Control Dam at Purgatory

It is not something I am OK with at this point in my life. I have struggled over the last couple of years with structure and consistency.  It is frustrating because my body is not responding as I expect it to. It is irritating because after a few months of consistent biking I am finally seeing improvement. Now, I am force to bring it to a screeching halt.

As I was venting to a personal trainer friend of mine earlier in the day, she asked me if it was worth it.  Was it worth riding through the pain to maintain my routine with the small possibility that it might impact me riding at all in the future?

I have to admit the logic in it all. It makes logical sense to stop, to let the back and hip heal. But hypothyroidism doesn’t care if I stop for a minute, a day, a week, or a month. It will slow down exponentially fast. What little ground I have gained with weight loss, stamina, persistence will slip away.

My first response is ride through the pain.

Let’s face it, I’m not a pro biker, I never have been despite my teenage dreams and I never will be. I don’t have what it takes mentally or physically to be a pro athlete. Biking through the pain will help me stay stable, mentally focused, and internally feel better, but in the long run it will not contribute to my overall health. While the back and hip are not part of the autoimmune disease, the pain is impacting my ability to concentrate at work, sleep at night, and be calm and relaxed.

So the day after ignoring doctors order not to ride, I forced myself to drop off my bike so I would not ride for a few days. It needed a few tweaks anyway.

Now the hard part comes. What do I do with the time I used to spend biking? What can I do to keep my metabolism up without doing more damage to the back and hip?

I was headed toward a marina to dwell on my sedentary state which had just been thrust upon me, when as I crossed over a bridge I notice a trail with some people and dogs running about. I made a u-turn and found myself at Purgatory Creek Park. Luckily my hiking shoes were in the back seat and I found my answer.

Purgatory Creek Park San Marcos TX

Purgatory Creek Park San Marcos TX

Walking — I could take an nice easy thirty minute stroll through the park.

It is a nice little park with hard packed trails for walking or riding a mountain bike. I could do thirty minutes at an extraordinarily slow pace (which might kill me because I’m rabbit like not turtle like) so that I would not stress the back and hip on the small boulder like rocks, but hopefully trick my metabolism into thinking I was being very active. I could do this. Thirty minutes.

An hour and a half and 2 caches later (geocaching is fun — check it out), I was headed back home.

I would like to say I don’t hurt, but that would be a lie. I managed to walk 5 miles at a turtle’s pace, but entertained myself with the beautiful sunset views mom would have loved, and the hunt of caches. I day dreamed a little and came up with a couple great ideas for posts — this being one of them.

Overall, I feel mentally and emotionally better and my body doesn’t hurt as much as if I biked. So time will tell if I need to become a couch potato or if turtle is the way to go.

People actually eat these

People actually eat these

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