It’s the question I have been asked several times. It is also the question that I have avoided answering. So here it is- why I am training for an Ironman.
The short version:
I don’t enjoy waking up before the sun rises to get a run in. I also don’t enjoy muscles so sore that it hurts to walk. What I do enjoy is setting goals for myself and achieving them. Crossing a finish line for an event that you train so hard for is the most indescribable and amazing feeling in the world. I enjoy how being so active and pushing my limits has made me feel – both physically and emotionally. I think training for the next year for an event that right now seems impossible will teach me more about myself than I ever thought I could know.
The extended version:
I have always enjoyed being on a team and playing sports. I was involved in gymnastics and dance classes growing up as well as a smattering of other sports and activities. In college I was a diver on the swim team.
Now let’s fast forward to January 2009.
Phil and I took our first vacation as a couple to a ski resort in West Virginia. On the second run of the first day (of a four day trip!) I took a weird fall. I slipped on ice and my right leg flew out from underneath me. As I was falling I heard my knee make a loud “pop”. When I tried to stand up, I had no stabilization and fell again. Phil flagged down the ski patrol, and they strapped me to the sled and took me to first aid. Side note: Phil wanted to take a picture of me strapped to the ski patrol sled and I would not let him. He said I would regret it later. Now that I am all healed, I wish I had a picture!
After spending the next 3 days on the couch of the ski lodge with my knee as swollen as a grapefruit, we headed home. After an MRI and a few orthopedic visits, I had the verdict: completely torn ACL, MCL and meniscus. Surgery needed.
When I was talking to my orthopedic doctor about being active after my knee surgery, he said something that hit me deep…except I didn’t think anything of it until months later.
“I am glad you were not a runner! Runner’s usually have the hardest time with knee traumas such as this because of the impact of the sport.”
I laughed and replied that thankfully I was not a runner. At that point in my life the most I had ever ran was a 5k because our diving coach made us….and I hated every second of it.
I had knee surgery in March 2009. My ACL was replaced with a cadaver’s (yes, I have a dead guys ACL in my knee), my MCL was stapled together, and my meniscus was completely removed. The Dr. was hoping to not have to remove all of my meniscus (which is the padding in your knee which keeps bones from rubbing together) but it was so badly damaged that he had no choice.
I was a couch potato for a several weeks after the surgery. Being so inactive (along with eating tons) caused me to noticeably gain weight. I felt awful- I was always tired, my pants no longer fit and I was really cranky. I’m surprised how well Phil put up with me
|Brizzy and I taking a nap the day of my knee surgery|
I began physical therapy right away. I still had a ton of swelling in my knee, but I needed to get my range of motion back and build strength in my knee and surrounding muscles.
I saw my PT 4 times a week for several weeks and we always had wonderful conversations. During one of those conversations I told her what my doctor said to me about running. Her response was “You should sign up for a 10k just to prove him wrong!” I laughed and disregarded her comment.
She finally convinced me that training for and running a 10k would be very satisfying and build my confidence in myself and my new knee. She also promised that she would evaluate my knee every 2 weeks just to make sure everything was staying put.
I trained all fall for this race. I had no time goal- just to finish. My first run, I was able to run almost a block before becoming winded and exhausted. It was frustrating. But with Phil and my friends and family (especially my parents) supporting me, I was able to jog longer and longer. And I lost the weight that I had put on.
In December 2009, I ran my first 10k.
|Running with friends makes it way more fun!|
|Approaching the finish line of my first race!|
The feeling of crossing that finish line was unbelievable. I was so proud of myself. So I did it again.
|Phil and I after the Marine Corps 10k|
My confidence skyrocketed and I wanted to see just what else I could do.
So I signed up and ran my first 10 mile race.
|Mom and Dad always come to cheer me on|
After the 10 mile race, I ran a 36 hour, 200 mile relay race from Gettysburg to DC with 11 other girls. Don’t worry, we each only ran between 15-20 mile total in three different sections.
|Team America the Bootyful!|
Then I ran a half marathon.
And now, I am training for my first full marathon in March.
The challenge of taking on a full Ironman is daunting. It is going to be a ton of work. I am going to get frustrated. I will cry at points. I am going to be tired. My whole body is going to hurt. I am going to wake up at ungodly hours to get in a work out and I am not going to like it.
But I will push my limits. I will make wonderful friends during 7 hour bike rides. I will raise as much money for the Susan G Koman foundation as I can. I will learn more about myself than I ever thought possible. I will enjoy the journey.
I am training for an Ironman to celebrate life. To celebrate how blessed I am that I can even consider training for an event like this. There is going to come a day where I will not be able to do this. Today is not that day.