Oct ’15. Buzzing from winning Mayors Cup. I stayed out in Colorado having physio, it was making a difference. I un-diagnosed myself with Iliac Artery Endofibrosis and carried on buzzing. Brief stint in the UK, then headed for a kiwi summer. Dear Vascular Surgeon, It’s a bit too good to be true, I am not getting numb, crampy, dead legs. Dear Emma, Great you have found a way to manage the symptoms but bottom line is we have the objective evidence. Hello increased intensity, hello old sensations. Shiiiit. You deluded fool, ‘pipes’ don’t unblock themselves.
‘16 was testing and demoralising at times. I wouldn’t recommend trying to work around this injury; at present there are no successful alternatives to surgery. Nah there’s got to be a yoga pose for that. Beet juice? Surely you can belly breath that away…? (lol jks). But, there were good times and some performances to write home about (‘MRN’s’ aka more riveting news emails, parents relish them). It’s too easy to overlook the good when one defaults to harsh self-critic. Nevertheless I will cherish cool experiences, new places, new races, amazing people, host fam’s of 2016 and when shit hit the fan at least it made for a tale...
My year started with an impromptu US departure before I became an illegal alien. One stubborn seat post and equally stubborn US airways lead to a missed flight but the following day I was off to Canada. Embassy interview bossed in the am, spin in the pm. Turns out nature breaks are considered anti-social behaviour in Canada. Putting on your best British accent can be a saving grace when joining two other Emma Grants in the system. The purpose of my trip to Canada went down especially well. Shortly after whilst exploring the local roads I discovered the proximity of the US border. Border awaiting ahead, I made a prompt turn in the road. Unknowingly having already crossed the staggered left hand side border I was sent to report to the main building. When pried, the motive of my trip went down equally well with immigration. But lo and behold 4 days later my passport + visa was returned and I headed off back to sunny Cali.
I decided to finish up my season with one last race on my own and headed to Steamboat Springs. I was hooked up with lovely hosts Cathy and Glenn in the picturesque ski resort town. After a tour of the house I headed out to do a recon. Cathy had forgotten to tell me about the shower so stayed home to be sure to intercept. Whilst upstairs writing me a note she didn’t hear me back, I headed straight for a shower. She was alerted by the sound of a projectile monsoon coming off all four walls, the house's water supply was quickly averted. This was to bag a top 3 in awkward host housing incidents (alongside exploding spaghetti squash’s and oven roasted chopping boards). She sweetly rang friends, ex winter Olympians and lent me a white fluffy robe for the walk of shame along the street to their shower with teams arriving and assembling bikes. The following morning the incident was the talk of race day reg.
And that that was that, season done. After much vacillation I planned to head straight back to the UK and have surgery before my 25th birthday. Because everything involving the NHS goes like clockwork. It doesn’t, but slight dig aside we are very fortunate. Still with no date for the op, I wanted to stay as fit as poss going in to minimise the extent of detraining so I hit up the UK hill climb scene, which was sadistically such fun. Just like old running times mum got to help me up from a bush. After all the time spent working around the injury I had the protocol dialled in. Off the bike, the year’s free time spent attached to fluorescent rumble roller beastie ball, mobilising every muscle less reliant on blood flow from the iliac artery. I’d figured out how to recruit every morsel of glute muscle fibre I had. Praise the posterior chain. My surgeon injured his finger and it was well into the depths of winter when I finally went in for the chop. It wasn’t that bad I'd had months to brace for it so it was quite pleasant in comparison. I now have a cow heart patches on my iliac and femoral arteries.The average age on the vascular ward was ~80 and the corridor was lined with 5m benchmarks so my first steps felt like going for it with rainbow swimming badges. My guests thoroughly enjoyed the meals on wheels service whilst Madre brought me hot nourishing food from home and fed me arnica with my morphine. I am doing pretty well with sedentary life; I enjoy ironing, baking for the elderly in the village and don’t miss the endorphin's at all. Maybe not entirely accurate but after 6 weeks of keeping my blood pressure low I’ll be back on the push bike and psyched for another season with my team Colavita.
I’ll get round to writing about the injury properly as so many other athletes have shared their experiences and helped me. But in the meantime this is a must read for anyone engaging in chronic competitive hip flexoring: http://www.velonews.com/2016/06/feature/power-iliac-artery-endofibrosis-cycling_409438
Let’s switch to pics and start at the very beginning…
|Good times pre season training in SoCal with room mates Laura and Gaby. Beaut canyon roads, awk LA asian spa experiences and bumping into third cousins.|
Host housing never disappoints. Some went beyond their duty with homely peter rabbit bowls and inspirational biking mannequins, new pen pals for life...
|Back in Boulder, Colorado my base for the season. Yup same town as the room mate song, that's right.|
Good times representing the team in Maine for the Farm to Fork Fondo. Lobster in chamois with Gretchen was a first.