Tuesday, August 06, 2013
Around not Through
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.