Some days lately, I’m not so sure I do. At least not the competitive me. And no this isn’t a post begging for sympathy; it’s about the journey of facing setbacks and looking at my racing career with a different outlook…the bigger picture in other words.
We left off back in late Fall, I had just raced Try Andy’s Tri and felt that my foot was on the up and up. But then soon after, it became clear it was NOT on the mend however. Between that point and now, here’s what we’ve done:
- physical therapy with C.Foster & Associates down in Pasadena – the PT diagnosed it as the “entrapment of the first branch of the lateral plantar nerve” rather than just classic plantar fasciitis (which is what everyone else had been treating it as)….we took 8 weeks off of running while getting the weekly treatments and doing my daily exercises
- I knew that 50% of folks respond to the therapy while 50% do NOT and have to resort to surgery; by the end of the year, it was clear that I fell into the latter category. From there, the PT referred me to the well known Dr. Baxter who this nerve is actually nicknamed after (coined “the Baxter nerve”).
- I had my appointment with Dr. Baxter in early January on a Wednesday and the surgery to release that nerve was scheduled for the following Tuesday…talk about fast turn around! I was super excited.
- Surgery was executed as planned (complete with a super powerful nerve block that left me without full feeling for 4 days!) and I was out of any training for the rest of the week. That following Monday, I was back on a spin bike and my trainer soon after that.
- Stitches came out a few weeks later and I was cleared to run, according to my “pain level.”
That basically brings us to now. While I had a few weeks where (short) runs were going well, when we bumped it up to 3 miles, my foot got VERY sore afterwards and would take a few days to return to normal. So last week at my follow up, Dr. Baxter advised me to not run for a few weeks but said that it will be okay, this is absolutely normal, and not to be concerned. That’s my run training plan for now – baby the foot and stay positive!
In the mean time, while all of this foot stuff was going on, my shoulder decided it wanted in on the fun as well. Over the past few years, I’ve had a tender spot on my right scapula that would occasionally get sore during longer workouts but it never caused me to stop or shorten my swims. It started flaring up again late Summer and I was beginning to get really frustrated with the lack of progress in my swim. At that point, Coach Tim Floyd from Magnolia Masters was kind enough to take me on as an athlete to try to get me through this little plateau and shoulder aches. We started working together, really analyzing my stroke, and building quite a bit of speed. My shoulder was feeling awesome. And then all of a sudden, one Sunday afternoon practice during some repeat 100s, BOOM… my right shoulder started screaming. It was back with a vengeance.
From there, we shortened my workouts and really honed in on my stroke to make sure I kept good form. I thought for sure once I came back from 2 weeks out of the water due to my foot stitches, I’d be good to go.
So I went to see Dr. Johnson of Sterling Ridge Orthopedics and he ordered PT 3X/week. The PTs then ordered me to stop swimming until we got the nasty knot under control and built up some strength in my shoulder which so far has lasted 3 weeks (but who’s counting?). I also limited my riding in aero position since that bothered it a bit as well. I was just cleared the other day to try out a short easy swim so that’s on the agenda for this week. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!
Really this post is not all about that stuff. It’s more the effects of that stuff. I just had to catch you up!
The past few months have been emotional to say the least, filled with hope and disappointment, ups and downs, over and over and over again. It has tested my nerves, worn down my patience, and pushed me to tears several times. I’m lucky I have a super supportive husband who doesn’t mind; I am certain I sound like a broken record by now! I can endure physical pain but feeling like you will never train or race like you used to is just gut wrenching. Watching those around you get excited and prepare for the upcoming season is difficult. Yes, I try to stay positive but those who have suffered from a stubborn injury know that at a certain point, you begin to doubt. You feel as though you are being left behind and forgotten. Months feel like years. And it not longer becomes “when” I get better but “if” I get better. The mind is a powerful thing I tell ya.
And so the key is to turn that around. Take control of the mind and say “no, not IF…the question is only WHEN.” I assure you on that day, when it all comes back together again, I will run (and swim!) with more joy than ever before.
For now, I’m slowing down and trying to be okay with NOT planning so far in advance. I’m trying to enjoy not having to squeeze so much training into a day that’s already filled with work/coaching/wife duties. I look forward to watching a few of the big races with a coaching hat on rather than dealing with my own race nerves and preparations. It is a little freeing, I must admit. Maybe this is how Type B folks live…just sort of figuring it out as it comes. But I certainly don’t prefer it, let’s be honest. I have signed up for a few races in the horizon since they’d sell out otherwise but I haven’t a clue whether they will be in sync with my body’s agenda.
The other day in church, the Gospel and Homily were about NOT worrying about stuff. He will provide anything and everything that you need. Don’t worry about what or how you’ll eat. Don’t worry about what you’ll wear or the latest and greatest. Don’t worry about money. Don’t worry about what/when/where. Don’t worry about anything, basically. It was a rather timely answer to a prayer; one that I welcomed with open arms. All my life, I’ve sort of thought if I wasn’t worrying, I wouldn’t make progress…I wouldn’t achieve. But to realize that worrying is not at all how He wants us to live our lives, my goodness, that is absolutely refreshing. And so I’m challenging myself to do this, especially with the injury healing side of things. I encourage you to do the same!