Let me start by saying I fully understand this is not the end of the world. Life, in general, is pretty darn fantastic. I don’t have a terminal disease, my children are healthy and my move is slowly coming together. However, speaking strictly of Ironman Arizona, things fell apart.
If you follow me on social media, or you know me, you have heard about a stupid cough that wouldn’t go away. In the deep confines of my hypochondriac mind a cough is equivalent to lung cancer, and a cold to Ebola. Don’t laugh. It’s just how I am. So to me there was a chance I had both of these, simultaneously. Of course I had neither, I had an infection on one of my lungs. The chest x-ray did not reveal pneumonia or anything more serious. However, the Doctor told me to take two weeks off training completely or risk getting worse.
It’s not uncommon for people to get sick at this point in Ironman training. The volume increases significantly and your immune system gets depleted. I didn’t feel the training volume was impossible; I was comfortable as I had a good base. However, my kids got colds and a stomach bug, and I have more stress than usual with an impending move. I guess my cold enjoyed the coziness of my lungs and refused to leave without antibiotics.
I looked at the Doctor, said I couldn’t take two weeks off and asked what can I do instead. She said to take at least a week off to heal and get my immune system back up, and then do the least amount possible for another week. She said “for example, instead of running, go for a brisk walk.” A brisk walk? In Ironman training?
And here is where my insanity comes in. If I don’t take it easy, instead of healing I can relapse and then get sick again closer to race day. But if I take it easy and heal, I might not be ready for a great race day. In that space of indecision and fear, a cranky, selfish, self-consumed mami shows up.
Until someone throws a bucket of ice water over my head. Really?
I am not a professional athlete. I don’t earn money racing Ironman. Sure, I am sponsored but I get sponsored to share my journey – not to win. Regardless of how long it takes me, as long as I am honest in how I got there I have done my job.
What I really am, and what concerns me most, is being a mother: the best mother I can be. When I am in this state I am far from the person I want to be.
And then I think of Brianna, the eight year old girl I am fundraising for. She passed away waiting for a heart transplant five months ago. I feel her with me on every workout. It’s a bit weird so I don’t share that often but I ask for her help when I struggle, and I feel her cheering me when I’m in a groove. The first symptoms of her cardiac myopathy was shortness of breath, and I can’t help but think this all comes together.
I am struggling, but unlike Brianna there is nothing seriously wrong with me. These hurdles, instead of defeating me, will eventually make me stronger. Not necessarily stronger as an athlete – I feel my finish time in Arizona is becoming increasingly irrelevant – but as a person.
I am not trying to break a world record, or my own record. I am learning how to live in balance: how to take this long distance triathlon sport I love, and have it be a part of my life. I am not obsessing. I refuse to focus so much on it that the rest of my life becomes secondary. I do what I need to do to the best of my ability; for this week that meant I did a whole lot of nothing.