Monday, March 22, 2010

Don't Let Walls Stop You

Last month’s Freezefest 5K was my first race of the year. I knew it wasn’t going to be good. I had not been running very much. It was a perfect day for a winter race—sunny and in the 20’s. I knew it wasn’t my day when a white Eskimo dog ran by me. He wasn’t even pulling a sled! Not even my lucky boxer shorts helped!!

My finishing time was 29 seconds slower than last year. I did find out later that the course was a little long, but I wouldn’t be able to say I PRed every race this year. This is not how I wanted my season to begin.

We sometimes become focused on one sport in the off-season. For me, everything had been about swimming. I knew I had to improve my swimming if I wanted to do an Olympic distance. I was making strides. On Feb. 25 I did a timed 500 that was two minutes faster than two months ago! I was thrilled, but at the same time I was bothered that I was not running.

I really enjoy running, for so many reasons. I love that runner’s high and how I can clear my head on a run. Everything seems more in focus after a run. You really feel a sense of accomplishment. Something was different this off-season. I didn’t want to run and I didn’t know why. It had to be mental and sometimes those are the hardest roadblocks to break through.

I was also fighting pain in my elbow. It sucks when you have an injury this early in the season. Normally you might feel you could afford to take some time off to heal. For me, though, I needed my elbow to swim and I couldn’t lose the endurance I had built up. That 1-mile swim was less than three months away and I couldn’t stop now.

I think there is a certain level of pain that comes with being a triathlete. We have to walk a fine line between keeping healthy and fighting through the injuries that come with the punishment we inflict on our bodies. For now, I was choosing self-treatment and “pain denial” over taking any time off.

So despite my swimming gains, as a whole my off-season is not going well. I refuse to believe that this is an omen for my season. Achieving your goals means more when you have to struggle to get there.

A fellow club member and friend is fighting cancer right now so I choose to take her lead and be a fighter! Her struggle is so much greater than anything us MWXers will endure this season. Brita and I would have been racing together in the same age group so, in a way, I feel like I am racing for the both of us. She wouldn’t be a quitter and she wouldn’t let anything, whether mental or physical, stand in her way. Michael Jordan said when you hit a wall you don’t let it stop you. You just have to figure out how to climb it, go through it or work around it. Or in my immortal words, you have to keep tri-ing!