When you participate in endurance sports (I struggle to say I’m an athlete), there are questions and comments that present from people who do other sports, or no sports at all. Most often, things like, ‘Why would you put yourself through that?’, or, ‘I can do anything for 10 minutes, but for that long…no way’.
For the last few years I haven’t questioned that I have a deep-seated desire to do triathlon, on whatever level works for me, but I have had trouble articulating my responses to those questions and comments. I just KNEW, in my gut. Maybe I thought the answer is that I’m a bit crazy. And the reality is, maybe I am. Maybe we all are. But as I reflect on the past 16 months of getting knocked down and getting back up, it’s all starting to make sense.
Since January 2014, I’ve had two surgeries, the latter of which resulted in a burst artery and a third emergency surgery. I couldn’t walk on my own for several days due to blood loss. I’ve gotten through rhabdomyolisis. And now I’m recovering from a stress fracture in my foot. Did I mention my first Half Ironman is Racine 70.3 in July?
My training this season was progressing along quite nicely prior to the stress fracture, aside from one minor (major) detail. I couldn’t get my head on board. Motivation? What’s that? Why am I doing this again? BAM–stress fracture–you’re down.
As soon as I got into the very fashionable boot, two weeks ago, something started to stir in me. Amidst words of ‘Are you ready to quit now?’, ‘That’s why I don’t work out’, and ‘You need to take it easy’, a fire started to build.
I don’t do this so my body looks a certain way. If I wanted to be skinny, I know how. I’m in my 19th year of recovery from anorexia/bulimia (another blog for another day–or a book). I don’t do this for a beach body, although I would really like to have one. I don’t do this to win; my feet are firmly planted in reality on that one. And then I realized, I do this to overcome. I’m never stronger than when I either have no choice but to move forward or to give the ultimate answer to all the people and things in my life that ever told me “No”, my body included.
The environment in which I was raised was an overly restrictive, religious extremist society and there were more “no” responses than I can count, in every way. (That could be even another book, but others have written similar stories). So, when I hear “you can’t do that”, all the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I fight like a cat about to get a bath.
I sincerely hope I can learn to pull those demon feelings out from within me on command without perpetual injuries to arouse them, but in any case, at least for today, I can see the finish line in front of me. I want to overcome.
Everyone who is “crazy” enough to begin down the path of endurance sports has their “why”. If you don’t know what yours is, figure it out. And in the meantime, feel free to borrow mine if you need it.