I Will Be Back … and other various ramblings

It has been a while since I’ve taken some proverbial pen to paper and we’ve seen the winter and spring of 2019 come and go. Summer is here in all its glory and it would normally be time for my summer trip for Alaskaman (having done 2017 and 2018), but I’m here on the sidelines. Let’s be honest, I am soooo excited for a friend who gets to participate in the best race ever, but I can’t help but be a bit sad. I WANT TO BE THERE! I love that race for all of its beauty and found some peace in Alaska that is hard to describe, but I AM NOT THERE. Why? Because I made the decision that my body wasn’t ready yet for the grueling demands of the day.  

The dreaded word, injury, that no endurance athlete wants to hear. And what about when the injury is life-related.  Ahh….the aging process. The discovery of your endurance mortality perhaps, BUT today is not that day and this year is not that year, so overcome we did. I herniated L2-L3 after running the Disney Princess and had well, a bit of pain (a lot really) in my leg and some numbness. What does that mean, pretty much lockdown until the numbness goes away? Getting older, hmmm…getting wiser ☺ Ok, into lockdown we go.  

When you give up a daily dose of happy endorphins, what do you do?  Well, you think and discover ways to help others who may be faced with something similar.   Why is injury so hard??? Well….

  1. Like it or not, a lot of our identity is tied up in the sport.  I am a veterinarian, a coach, a dog Mom, a girlfriend, a house owner, a volunteer coordinator (and the list goes on), but I am an athlete.  It is what I am and what I do. I mean isn’t it natural for the alarm to go off at 4:13 am to get up and train. Everyone rides 25 miles before heading out for their day.   Yep, it’s so hard, but my identity is tied up a bit in this awesome and amazing endurance life.  
  2. The brain is wired to love positive feedback and after all, reaching new heights:  running farther, cycling stronger, swimming more yardage, accomplishing a difficult workout, finishing a challenging race, conquering a fear, sends these good vibes that provide enjoyment and satisfaction that prompts us to dream bigger. While I (we) don’t need the external feedback (but let’s face it, many love it), that internal loop makes us feel stronger and invincible in everyday life.  
  3. Above all, exercise combats stress!! Known fact, not debated. Oh my gosh, more stress in my life…what!!!  
  4.  Your social circle may change. We meet for runs, for bikes, for swims, plan races, etc… That unknown of navigating injury rehab is often scary, but sad too. Who wants to walk when they can run. Deep breath because there is still coffee to be had and even a glass of wine. A walk to appreciate the beauty of where we are does the soul good!  

That was March and now it’s June. I love adventures and I love to travel and my plan was to complete 3 Xtreme tris this summer. After a dirty double 70.3 and a jump off a ferry. All sounds reasonable right?? So, no Alaska for me, but as with any injury we become wiser and I am now monitoring for any pain and being extra diligent with those paraspinals, but that is another story. Swedeman and the Land of Fire and Ice, it is. 

DURABILITY!  RESILIENCE!!!  My new words.  

I’m on it and have navigated the comeback trail once again.   

I think that skipping Alaska has a deeper meaning than missing the race (which is the most amazing).  When I stepped off the plane in 2017, I instantly took a deep breath and was able to think clearly. I think I have evolved as I hit my 50’s and realize there is so much to see and do.  Kinda like the last frontier and that is what Alaska is. Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh my. Well, bears for sure are there. Alaska brought back a desire for a simpler life, a take a deep breath and enjoy kinda life, an adventuresome life, but a calm life at the same time.   Decisions became clear and again in 2018. I firmly believe Alaska was the beginning of my coaching evolution and veterinary evolution as well. 2018 renewed my desire to fine-tune my vision for what I want. Believe me, I’m not there yet and it is scary, but small steps, small steps.   

Most endings are new beginnings, we just don’t know it at the time.  

So here we are, going from injuries, why they hurt so bad, to making tough decisions and sad that I can’t make more. Kinda got some crazy thoughts, but that is another story. And another story is how can I help my athletes navigate injury. I’ve got some thoughts, but wait for part 2!

OK, kids, Onward and Upward we go!  Soar Higher than you Dare and bring on Fitness Fusion Fantasia for Fido and Friends!!! (My inner secret)

Until next time, which I hope will be sooner rather than later…Go Erin Go and have an amazing journey. Alaska, I will be back, of that I am certain

Be the person you are, not someone you are expected to be.  Keep sparking!