Saturday, August 31, 2013

Re-evaluate, Redirect and Renew

The definition of "re" - action done over, often with the implication that the outcome of the original action was in some way impermanent or inadequate, or that the performance of the new action brings back an earlier state of affairs

There has been a lot of this lately.

As we knew it would be a long shot that the bones of my collarbone would become sticky enough to let me tackle Ironman Louisville in exactly 6 weeks from the accident.  I am so fortunate to live in a time when we do have all kinds of technology to work around different situations.  So I have done all kinds of running on a simulated moon and all kinds of riding on simulated roads while in my living room or even better set up right next to my virtual moon.  There was only one problem - there wasn't anyway to simulate a virtual pool that my left arm could tolerate.  Also seems that while my bones will and do heal, we are a bit off from being very "sticky".  Think post it note sticky now rather than Gorilla Glue.

So a few days before "game time" for Ironman Lou I got in the pool and realized that swimming 2.4 miles would be painful at best.  While I love racing and I love seeing all my friends at races and I am passionate about what Ironman represents, I have had my "Julie Moss" moment.  I knew that I would not be racing for a slot and I had to re-evaluate what I would gain from forcing a race.  We decided that what was in my best interest is to get a few more weeks of healing to happen and redirect our focus to 70.3 Worlds.  In the beginning of the year, Coachie had asked for my goals.  My goals were a top spot on the podium and a World Championships slot.  Seems I may have not been specific enough.  I accomplished my goals at the half distance so that is where we put our focus.

Sure enough, 3 days after deciding to redirect my focus I was able to swim. It wasn't pretty but I was able swim 500 meters.  Two days later we were at 1500 and two days later we were over 2000 - beauty!  My energy was Renewed as my passion for the sport.  While I won't be very competitive as the bones are still not "Super Gule" worthy, I will be able to go without creating more damage and enjoy the challenge.

This hasn't been the season I dreamt it would be, this is after all the sport of Ironman.  Just like when racing, we have to be ready to adapt to any situation with the commitment of getting the most out of the experience.  In life, we don't really get a DNF and I chose to race like I chose to live life!  The only real choice we have is what are we going to learn and enjoy while on the course.  As of late, I have many chances to make real clear choices of continuing on the course regardless of what is given to me.  I know that will make me an even better competitor when I am back on the big course.  Ironman experience seems to juxtapose with life for me.  Every day is an opportunity to renew a commitment to live life full out and train full out to learn the most that I can about myself and to know that Anything is Possible.

So next week we toe the line in Las Vegas at the 70.3 World Championships.  I am so thankful for my team that has had unending faith in my ability to overcome and get on the course.  Hillary Biscay my coach that never ceases to amaze me in her faith in me.  Smashfest Queen that has allowed me to continue to be an ambassador and allowed me to represent even during this adventure.  Dr. Steffan at Sports Medicine Associates of San Antonio.   Melissa Martindale and Dr. Justin Martindale at Promotion Physical Therapy for sponsoring this journey and letting me have a run on the moon experience on the Alter G as I needed.  Dr. Nick Milnor at 4Xtreme Health for reminding me that the body is a healing machine. Jim Britton at Britton's Bicycle Shop for providing me with everything I need to do the best I can on the day and in training. 

In the spirit of Ironman, lets go play!! 

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Around not Through

I am three weeks post "up close meeting with asphalt" and broken collar bone. What a journey this has been.  Certainly not one I would have chosen or could have anticipated coming off of the high of winning my age group at Buffalo Springs just the week before.  This is the Ironman Journey and if there is one thing I have learned in this process is that the best laid plans rarely go as they are supposed to and success is rolling with the punches as you stay present to what is happening.  So just like in racing, I have been using the same tactics in this process. 

The first step was to assemble a "team" that had experience in handling this situation as well as had my best interest in mind.  This team must know what my short and long term goals are and be on board to make those happen.  My team consists of my Coach Hillary Biscay, my Physical Therapist Justin Martindale at Promotion Physical Therapy and my group of doctors at San Antonio Sports Medicine Associates including Dr. Stephan and Dr. Allen as well as Dr. Nick Milnor DC.  I remember reading about how the Ironman World Champion Chrissie Wellington was instructed to "defer to no one" the eve of her inaugural race.  That is a concept I have adopted in training, racing and healing.  I recognize that everyone has different experiences and these are individuals that I have come to know well and have my goals close to their heart.  They are my team and I trust them and listen to them only. 

The second step was to use this team to create a plan.  Ironman Louisville was exactly 6 weeks from the accident.  Ironman 70.3 World Championships is 2 weeks after that.  My team and I knew we had our work cut out for us.  This would and is still a day to day evaluation process.  I have learned that as athletes our bodies are amazing healing machines as long as we are well versed in the language of the body.  This has been a challenge for me but I am getting better at it with the help of my team.  So we looked at what modalities of training and maintaining fitness are available and would fit in with this injury.  As it happens, Promotion got delivery of an Alter G treadmill right as the doctor cleared me to run on an Alter G.  Perfect! Now I can keep my run fitness without jarring the bones as they do their job of finding each other.  Coach and I both believe in the value of quality sessions on the trainer and I was entertained by the last week of the Tour De France while learning how much range of motion my arm would give me on the trainer.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that while getting into aero position was painful once there I was comfortable.  Ok, now we are talking!  With the use of a few other modalities and the watchful eye of the docs I am still getting some quality work done. 

The third step was to go to work between my ears.  This is probably the hardest part of the process.  I know how to train.  I know to trust my team.  When I am healthy - I know exactly why I do this sport. When a bump in the road (literally) shows up, we are challenged to confront the "why's".  How much of this is about forcing a situation or is this really about becoming more of who I am.  What value is this giving to me and to my life.  As a coach, I have seen so many athletes steam roll right through a situation for the sake of the "steam roll" rather than taking stock in what and why they are doing this sport.  I have also seen many athletes see an injury as a "get off the hook" card and thus become de-conditioned athletes with an excuse.  My experience is quite different.  As long as I am clear on what I want to learn about myself in the process of training and racing, I am going to be able to go around the injury rather than right through it.  Sometimes that will get me back on the course and others it will be a time to step back (not out).  I have come to trust that in either situation I will learn what I need to about myself and perhaps would not have had the chance without the change of course.  I am still in the process of paying attention to what I can glean from this situation.  What I do know is that while we look for ways to have certainty in racing, there are times where we just won't have it.  I have observed that the best in the sport revel in the uncertainty and are able to ask the little questions  - "what do I need right now", "what is happening right now" and "what can I do right now".  In any training day or race we will have the chance to experience things going awry despite the best planning.  As in life, all we can do is asses the right now.  While I think it is contrary to our nature as goal setters to stay in the moment; sometimes that is all we have.  What I know is that the only way to get to the finish line is to take yet another stroke, turn the peddle over one more time or put one foot in front of the other.  What I do know is that life can change with every breath we take and as long as we take another breath we are still alive.  So for now - I stay present in the moment, take another breath and put one foot in front of the other while I move around that which I have little control over.  Healing will happen and I will come on the other side with clarity and strength to be a better athlete and able to offer more to those I will share my experience with.