What steroids do to me with treatment - keeps me up for days, mind wandering...here is tonight's thoughts...
Yep, 37 days till my friend Mac starts the journey of a lifetime! I am so in awe of him: proud and yet scared, excited, and jealous too! This is exactly the type of thing I would have loved doing! I am an avid reader (when I can now), my favorite book was by Dean Karnazes, “Ultra Marathon Man”. In it he discuses his experiences, the good, the bad, the outrageously insane, and the yummy and most uplifting thing when you are low: chocolate covered expresso beans!
Reading excerpts from it and watching St. Ralph were part of my pre-race routine to stay out of my head. Every start line was where the lines from the St. Crispin Day Speech was run through my head or spoken aloud as every person that toed the line with me that day were my brethren, and only we had the courage to live that day to our best not knowing the days outcome. They would be in my head "we band of brothers" as only we knew what it took to stand there that day.
Yes, I was in the midst of building up to beating my Ironman 70.3 time, then conquering the Full 140.6 Ironman and next on the bucket list was the 50 miler in Huntsville to be used as a stepping stone. This was all in preparation to get on a crew for the BadWater Ultra Marathon and later run the darn thing just to finish. I was inspired by Dean, and was considering trying the Western States Endurance Run…..that is if my IT bands held together.
You see it never occurred to me that I would get sick. I was healthy, in the prime of my life, working on finishing my degree, and starting to reach my goals in my career. I knew what I wanted and was not going to accept any other outcome. That is just how I think, positive, competitive and always do my best. This was in my DNA since I was little and that as long as you give it your best you will persevere. I followed the Golden Rule taught to me by my 2nd grade teacher Mrs. Smith. I treated persons as I would be treated, help and put my wants aside to assist others in the hopes that someday those persons would do the same.
Now my pace might have been barely more than a crawl, but I wanted to be the fit, short spikey haired woman you see that is competing long beyond what most people consider appropriate. I wanted to keep up with the youngsters to a point and keep doing challenges, American Ninja, things like that well into my 90s! Hey, you laugh, but I was the one in awe competing with persons in races that had their ages on the back of their legs in big bold black sharpie (yes, it is a triathlon thing: embarrassing but then for the competitive ones helps you know if you are passing a person in your category). See this idea of mine was not uncommon. I often swam with a 92 year old gentlemen that was training for the Senior Olympics and he discussed how he had only 3 competitors in his age group left and the others were fast! I had one trainer that was in his 90s for Ironman competitions and he still competed and I had worked out with a trainer at Spectrum that was in her 70s and yet looked 20+ years younger that was doing the same for running!
During one triathlon I was racing and just rocking it! I was passing persons left and right and to top it off a bunch were from my age group! One lady I passed was a spry 84, and another gentleman was 92, running in what I called the Tri from Hell. There was not a single breeze, it was humid, it had flooded recently and the double loop we ran brought us through a wooded area that felt like a Louisiana swamp. Everyone was dying from the heat out there!
Now being from San Antonio at the time I was at an advantage over my Dallasite triathlon brethren. I had run and biked all my training through the wet humid season and where others were struggling, I was making up lost time and feeling great! I remember so vividly passing that man marked 92 and congratulating him on his fitness, and even he was down on himself because I was passing him! (Imagine that! Us competitive folks, don’t know when to take a moment and feel good about our accomplishments! We always have to be looking to how to better ourselves and push beyond!)
Anyway, it wasn’t long after that I saw a young lady was slowing down on her last loop in the run and she was in trouble. I decided to chat her up hoping to get her mind off the run and past the woods till she could see the finish and get her second wind. She was a first-time triathlete and was doing good, it was just a hard race. Although I knew I had raced well and was passing up persons in my age group I felt it more important to help the young lady than to try for an unsure podium finish. Well, let’s be honest here, I was hoping to get her going AND get a podium finish, however that wasn’t in the cards….
Sure enough, my little sidetrack mission worked, she kept the feet going, I helped her catch her breath and then push a little more and then showed her that just past this bend is the finish! Reminded her of the picture at the end: to smile, keep her chin up and look happy and not like she is dying as she crossed the finish! She kept running, and was looking for her parents so she could make them proud and get her picture moment! I stayed back so she could have her moment in time as your first race only comes once. She had finished and I felt good for helping a newbie out. Although no podium finish in that race; the good I felt from helping her out lasted much longer than some award on my shelf. I’ll settle on knowing that she was 20 years younger than me and yet I was able to help her!
So now you can see, my thoughts on racing and going strong were not just dreams but something I fully believed I could make a reality as long as I put in the physical preparation. Just sometimes God has a different path for you to take for whatever reasons.
Today, I have a therapist and now a Lyme doctor that have both told me on different occasions that they fully believe that I deal with my pain and the struggle so well due to all the training and mental preparedness that came with my choice of sports. I accept what I can and cannot control, handle the anxiety and move on. You cannot dwell in racing or in sickness on what is not working for you in the moment or you can mentally beat yourself up and the race is over before it has even begun! You must deal with it, calm yourself ,solve the problem as best you can, and keep going.
I know this illness and all the complications that come with it may not be a race to you but it is the race of a lifetime for me. I can live vicariously through my friends, and I hope that what little I write, and do may be the help that someone needs to get through tough times and to remember there is always somebody in worse shape. No Pity Party Allowed. Well…take 10 minutes maybe 30 tops, that is it…..and move on! I still read my St. Crispin’s Day speech, I can’t watch St. Ralph, it is too much, along with Prefontaine and Without Limits: but I can read Deano and his tales in Ultramarathon Man and imagine myself transported and in his shoes……
Mac buddy, you will be added to the list! I can’t wait to be transported out of this body, as I watch your videos and read your updates; if only in my mind so that I may live a moment of time in your shoes on this adventure of a lifetime!