If there ever was one of my blogs to read… this is the one. For more reasons than you may expect. I recently received some amazing news: I am one of the winners of the #FocusChallenge. Unfortunately, I also have some bad news. Bad for me and important for you…
THE GOOD NEWS
Focus Bikes, a premium bicycle brand from Germany, recently launched #FocusChallenge, a campaign designed to equip ambitious cyclists in the UK with the best possible bike to succeed in their own personal challenge in 2016.
I applied, thinking “you never know” and … am super duper happy to hear I am one of the six winners who will receive one of the award-winning bicycles from Focus to train and participate in my challenge.
As many of you know, I am training to break the solo women’s Land’s End to John o’Groats record. I would have loved to go for the record in 2016, but due to road works on part of the route and time required to get all the logistics organised and put a support crew together, my attempt will have to wait until 2017. However, I will be competing in a number of other challenges and long-distance events during the build-up (including 12-hour and 24-hour time trials and races). It will be great to be able to do so on the new Focus bike.
The challenge is set up in a such a way that whoever of the six winners makes the most noise on social media and creates the best footage and content will ultimately be named the “Challenge Winner”.
I NEED YOU
So I beg you, whenever you see me posting something on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, my blog etc with #FocusChallenge, please help me by retweeting, liking, commenting and sharing. The more noise you can help me make, the better.
If you aren’t already, please follow me on:
- Twitter (@JasmijnMuller1)
- Facebook (Jasmijn Muller aka Duracellbunnyonabike)
- Instagram (jasmijnmuller)
- Strava (Jasmijn Muller)
- my LEJOG record website (lejogrecord.co.uk)
as well as this blog: www.duracellbunnyonabike.com
THE BAD NEWS
To have a chance at becoming the Challenge Winner, I need you now more than ever. Why? Because my challenge has just become a little more challenging than expected…
A few days after completing my first solo LEJOG recce ride (over a leisurely 6 days) and receiving this wonderful news about the #FocusChallenge, I suddenly got a cramp in my left calf that just wouldn’t go away. I hadn’t been on the bike for 4 days, so was fairly sure it wasn’t anything muscular. The pain got worse on Tuesday despite more rest. On Wednesday morning I saw my GP and insisted on being referred to the hospital for blood tests. She wanted to just send me home for more rest, but luckily gave in to my request. That afternoon the blood test came up positive for …
Deep Vein Thrombosis
I was given Tinzaparin (heparin), a blood thinner I had to inject myself with over the next 3 days to avoid the risk of the blood clot dislodging and causing a pulmonary embolism (which could be life threatening).
On Friday an ultrasound scan at the hospital confirmed that there was indeed a blood clot in my popliteal vein (at the top of my calf behind the knee). I was prescribed further blood thinning medication (Xarelto aka as Rivaroxaban) and told that I shouldn’t be exercising vigorously and take extreme care when cycling outdoors for a while. The medication thins my blood to a consistency two to three times thinner than usual and if I were to fall off and hurt myself, I could bleed to death as there is no reversal yet. I hope to get some advice from a sports medic with experience of DVT in athletes soon on how/when to safely resume my training and racing.
Friday was my anniversary. Saturday my birthday. I certainly wasn’t in a party mood now and gutted I had to send a DNS to the organiser of the 12-hour time trial on the Sunday I had been looking forward to for so long.
Initially the doctors were baffled (and so was I), because I do not really fit the usual risk profile for Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). I don’t smoke, I am not overweight, I am not pregnant, I didn’t just take a long-haul flight. I did not show any obvious symptoms, other than the pain in my calf which seemed to get worse despite rest. My calf wasn’t swollen, red or warm. Both calves measured the same size. I wasn’t short of breath or anything. I looked young, fit and healthy. Why was I wasting their time? But the scan eventually confirmed my fears.
How on earth did I end up from cycling the length of the UK on my own in 6 days one week, to being diagnosed with DVT the next?!
On hind-sight I did actually tick some of the risk factor boxes:
- I take the anti-conception pill (not anymore now that is for sure!)
- I have an active lifestyle, but also sit down long-hours for work (something that needs to change!)
- After my LEJOG recce in the sun and puking a lot due to food poisoning, I probably was quite dehydrated.
- I then sat on trains all day Friday (travelling down south), behind my laptop all day Saturday (trying to catch up with work), in a car all day Sunday (travelling home), followed by a long night at my desk to prepare for an all-day work meeting the next day and more sitting down on Monday.
These risk factors are probably what provoked the DVT. Although it very much feels as bad luck, I should actually be grateful for catching it so early. Most athletes push through pain and ignore or aren’t fully aware of the risk or the symptoms until they have a full-blown pulmonary embolism. Some aren’t even lucky enough to survive …
Dear fellow athletes, whatever you do, always stay on top of your hydration before, during and after training/races; avoid long periods of sitting down; and take the very first niggles serious. You know your own body. If it doesn’t feel right, there is a good chance something is indeed amiss.
WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU MAKES YOU STRONGER
At the moment, I am feeling depressed and sad. I hope to be able to resume my training soon (at least indoors) and get fit and strong to still complete some of my planned challenges for 2016.
Looking at things in a different light, dealing with this DVT setback and hopefully coming back strong(er) from it, should only increase my mental toughness for my epic solo LEJOG record attempt in 2017. That’s what I tell myself on days with my positive-thinking cap on. Other days, I can just think about how much this DVT sucks!
I am trying to focus on what I can do at the moment:
- Taking steps to avoid a DVT in future
- Talking to other cyclists who have had DVT and learning from their experiences
- Getting advice on how to safely resume training and racing
- Catching up and doing social stuff I would otherwise neglect during the cycling season;
- Preparing more of the logistics for my LEJOG record attempt next year (e.g. route adjustments, nutrition, light/Garmin/charger solutions etc)
- Continuing to shout about my record attempt on social media (apologies! but it helps me to stay positive and become even more committed and determined).
YOUR SUPPORT IS MUCH APPRECIATED
I probably won’t be able to fill your social media with exciting images of me riding the new Focus Izalco Chrono on inspiring long-distance challenges in far-flung parts of the country over the next few weeks. Instead there might be stuff of me doing yet another turbo session or trying to strengthen my core… Perhaps there will be footage of me racing as soon as the National 24 hour again. Perhaps even setting a new individual or team record in the process. Who knows?!
However exciting or dull the content may be, if I can please beg you once again, to retweet, like, comment and share anything I post that mentions #FocusChallenge. I am still 100% up for the challenge but, now that the challenge just got a bit more challenging, I need your support more than ever!
Oh and if you could be so kind to share this blog post about DVT. If it raises awareness among others, then at least my current DVT frustrations have had some positive effect too.
Be safe and happy cycling to you all.
Duracellbunnyonabike who needs to remind herself that she is powered by positive thinking…