Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Go 'Til You Stop

The human body is an amazing thing. The capacity of the mind and body to work together just long enough to get through any given task will never cease to amaze me. The mind tells the body what it needs to do and how long for, gives it the strength to keep going, it even accounts for sleep (or sometimes lack of), factors in the temporary break in physical activity but keeps the body aware it hasn't finished just yet. The consequences of these types of events are never pretty though - often pushing yourself up to or beyond your physical limits.

Such an incident happened at the weekend. I was working on the second round of the British Mountain Bike Series up in Dalby Forest, Yorkshire. It was also a World Cup test event which added a slight bit of extra pressure to get everything spot on. I'd ridden the course first thing Thursday morning to get my bearings in the forest. To say it's the most technical cross-country course of the series is an understatement! Challenging and fun though and I was looking forward to actually racing on Sunday. Another practice ride on Friday on Olive the dekerf had me confident that I could clear all of the sections without a second thought.

The mistake I made though was not actually riding the course on my Ducati race bike that only turned up on Saturday morning. This was a grave error on my part and half way around the first lap on Sunday morning I hit the ground hard on a rooty drop-off section. After a long sit down I limped around to finish the lap, various body parts throbbing, and retreated to the back of my tent in pain. The ever insightful Martyn Salt approached and deduced very quickly from my abrupt single syllable answers to his concerned questions that I was far from alright but all I wanted was to be left alone to sob in peace and privacy.

A while later I reappeared in the arena with very few signs of the race ending dismount - just a graze or two on my legs. The large bruise on my hip, the graze on my backside, my throbbing right thigh and a pain in my ribs were invisible to the world. A limp gave it away slightly, as did the winces of pain every time I laughed or coughed. Still, there was work to be done for the rest of the event and I planned to just keep moving. Once I stopped, that would be it. And the anticipation of the morning after pain was motivation enough to get as much done on the day of the crash as possible.

Copious amounts of red wine helped me sleep on Sunday night. And here's the twist; Monday morning, although being the morning after, wasn't the end of the task. The plan had always been to stay on Monday and finish up. So I woke up a little stiffer than usual with some soreness in my neck, but actually rather surprised at the lack pain and ease of movement. Perhaps the crash hadn't been as bad as first imagined? Monday came and went and all the extra movement and walking hadn't made much of an impact on my aching bones. The task had finished, I had made it through, and made it home.

Tuesday is where it went wrong. Very, very wrong. My mind had finally told my body it could stop, relax and do what it needed to do to get back to normal. The excruciating pain I felt trying to get out of bed set the tone for the day - with every laugh, cough, sneeze and deep breath causing a sharp, almost unbearable pain in my rib. Even taking it easy didn't help as any core movement - getting off the sofa, bending down, standing up - causes a similar pain. I'm thinking cracked rib or muscle damage. Either way, there's no point going to hospital and there's nothing I can do except take it easy for a while. (And try not to laugh, cough, sneeze, breath too deeply or move.)


Simon said...

Ouch! Heal soon.

Jo said...

Ouch, poor you. What a trooper.

I know all too well the syndrome you're describing!