Sunday, December 29, 2013

Things Can Only Get Better!

So true!
I had so many goals for the year 2013. None of which I was able to accomplish "as is". Unforeseen injuries will do that to a person. So what do you do when goals can not be completed because of circumstances beyond your control? You let those goals evolve into something new. And so my goals evolved into simply completing the races I had signed up for. But even that had to change to finishing the races that I ran in and not quitting. I can honestly say I did my best and finished those races I ran in. Does this make for a successful year or a year of failure?

I believe it was a year of success. Why? Because I learned some lessons that in the end will make me a better person and eventually a better runner. And just what lessons did you learn, Cristina? Well, I am glad you asked.

DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that what I tell you now is my own experience and should be taken as such. If you are injured by all means see a doctor!

Lesson #1 Get a second opinion!
At one point in our lives we will put in the training and then get injured. We will be told to either a) Hang up your running shoes forever (see another doctor) or b) Heal up and then start to slowly get back out there.

When I first got injured after the Walt Disney World Half Marathon my podiatrist told me to just quit running and then he slapped a boot on my foot. I quickly figured out that this man was not a runner and just didn't understand. But I did take his advice, I transferred my bib for a foam race to my niece, and then sought out some knowledge from the internet. I slowly got better. But I wasn't healed when I did the Expedition Everest Challenge in May and I paid for it with pain. Would I run again? I had to get some answers and some help! 

This time it was in the form of a sports medicine/chiropractor. It did help... a ton. He assured me that I didn't need to give up running and that we could get me back out there on the trail. Then he electrocuted me, used medieval torture devices, and basically helped me to begin to heal. Note: I have a high pain threshold so it isn't his fault that we didn't know I wasn't ready for the Tower of Terror Ten Miler. But I felt great! I didn't feel 100% but not many people do before a race, right? Someone is always battling some injury. I felt way better (although I had a little bit of pain still) and I thought if I toughed it out I could finish but I wouldn't be setting a new PR. Little did I know I would be setting a new PR in my pain threshold! Which leads to...

Lesson #2 Never give up...but be smart about it!
If you clicked on the Tower of Terror Ten Miler link then you know what happened. I pushed and did not quit the race! But the next month I was getting more treatments , not running, yet healing. I did make the decision to transfer my Thanksgiving day Run 4 the Pies Race bib to my niece again. You have to be smart about your injuries and like Kenny Rogers says in "The Gambler"..."know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.". During the race I knew I wasn't injuring myself any further and that I could push and so I did. However, I didn't want to go into a race knowing I may have to quit halfway in because I was permanently damaging myself.That is why I transferred my bib. I knew I had to heal and so I am. I had to re-evaluate what the causes could be and what to do to prevent that pain again. So, in my opinion, it is better to not start a race because you are being smart about what you know you are ready for rather than dropping out mid-race because you were an idiot and disregarded all of the warning signs that you shouldn't have run that race in the first place. Healing time is our friend. Which leads me to...

First run with no foot pain!
3 miles, baby!
Lesson #3 Time is both a friend and an enemy in a runner's life!
Why is time an enemy in a runner's life? Because it can both try your patience (when healing) and your nerves (when the balloon ladies are breathing down your neck). Right now I think time has been my friend. I have taken the time to do some physical therapy. It has helped me heal so much. I think at this point I am at 85% ready for my 10k in two weeks. My foot feels good...very good (knock on wood) but my lungs are bad...very bad. I have lost my endurance. But I kind of don't care about that. I know I will get it back. I am just jazzed about my feet. On Saturday I ran/walked 3 miles with no foot pain and no numbness. This is the first time that has happened in almost a year! If the only thing that bothers me during the 10k is lack of endurance and lung power then I am okay with that. I would rather have a tough race than a painful one.

So, in my opinion I have had a successful year of lessons learned. Yes, my original goals went down the proverbial crapper. Who cares about the original goals when the trials you endured give you new insight into yourself? I have a whole new year to make entirely new goals and have those goals evolve into something else. The point is I HAVE GOALS and I intend to always strive to accomplish them. Therefore, I will always be successful because I will never give up trying to become a better me. So was my year a failure or a success? I have indeed had a very successful year. Here's to the new one!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Tower of Terror Ten Miler 2013 "Going the Distance"

My latest ”Learning Moment” started with pain and a blessing. As many of you know I was training for a ten mile race at Disney Hollywood Studios. Three weeks before the big race my right foot hurt so bad that I knew I had developed Achilles tendonitis if not plantar fasciitis. Well, now I had a matching set! That is what I already had in my left foot (although I had gotten it under control after six months). I couldn’t walk on my right foot and began to think my race was done. So, I asked for a blessing.

I was promised that if I followed my doctors instructions that I would be able to finish the race. Great! Problem, I wasn’t seeing a doctor. So, I went to a chiropractor. He went to work on both feet. I got better but I wasn’t whole. I knew it was going to be a tough race. But I thought to myself if I have enough faith, follow the chiro’s instructions, and run carefully I might not get swept. Three weeks later I was off to the races.

The Hollywood Studios Tower of Terror Ten Miler race night was here! I got into my corral, walked the 1 mile stretch to the start line, and with an explosion of fireworks and techno music I was off! I felt good. I could do this! Pain. Pain. PAIN! Crud. My LEFT foot was saying “Howdy, I hate you.” Okay, more walking than I anticipated was about to happen. Mile 1 ½ and I was running with the sweeper balloon ladies. Those are the gals that tie balloons to themselves and set the concrete 16 minute mile pace you have to abide by. Mind you, they are the LAST to leave the start line. So you can imagine my panic.

Mile 2 and my entire left leg went numb with sharp needle pain. Towards mile three the balloon ladies were shouting “Stay with us, be in front of us, or you will be swept. This is a hard cut off!” I was behind them. The thought began to enter into my head “It would be okay to quit now. Everyone knows you are running injured.” But then I began to think about the blessing I had received. I was promised I would be able to finish this race. Not that it wouldn’t be difficult. I had followed the orders from my doc. Then my hand touched the Faith Bound Journey iron on logo I had placed on my sleeve. I thought of you guys. I knew that I had been in some prayers and thoughts. I then thought about the lesson I taught to my youth that there were blessings when you followed the commandments and had faith. My next thought echoed President Uchtdorf’s words (which I read later)…

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters—my dear friends—please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith. We must never allow doubt to hold us prisoner and keep us from the divine love, peace, and gifts that come through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

I dug down deep and pushed ahead of the balloon ladies to beat the hard 3 mile cut off. With my numb yet painful leg I pressed on while they passed me yet again. Mile 4 feelings came back to my leg which brought a burn in my heel. Up and over an overpass. I used gravity to once again push me past the balloon ladies. As I neared mile 5, and the medical tent, the same negative thoughts came to my head “No disgrace to quit. You made it half way. You could sit back with ice and a rootbeer and cheer for your family as they cross the finish line. No big deal!” But then the thought of faith and you guys, and never quitting came back to me. I touched the logo and pushed myself through the dark dirt road, past the balloon ladies again, and got a good lead.

Then Heavenly Father sent me a gift. Someone else to encourage so I could take my mind off of my own pain and worry. I never got her name but we fearfully ran from the B.L.s (balloon ladies) together for the next two miles. Have you ever watched Friday the 13th? You know how Jason only walks while the victims run for their lives? Yet somehow he always catches up and kills them? Yeah, that was the B.Ls without homicide. They were soon past me again while I struggled to keep up. Then they shouted something glorious “Mile 8 is another hard cut off. But we think if you make it past that and into the park you WILL NOT GET SWEPT!” Okay, I can do this. And yet at mile 7 ½ they were 50 feet ahead of me and pulling away.

I sprinted. I could not get swept now. Not after all I had been through. Not after the promise I was given. I actually asked myself if I wanted to give up or finish. I wanted to finish! I started running. I was passing people. I was 50 feet behind the B.L.s but I was running. See ya mile 8! I could see the park up ahead. Bikes were all around me (they are the official sweepers who will stop you) but I ignored them and went faster while gritting my teeth. Pain in both feet! Suddenly I entered Hollywood Studios and my mp3 player kicked up the song “I Can Go The Distance”. It was mile 9! I had made it! I would not get swept! I was grinning from ear to ear and fighting back the tears.

My little friend came up behind me and said “Remember me?”. We congratulated each other and walked the last ¾ mile together. The last ¼ mile I really couldn’t run. I pushed, grinning like an idiot, until I saw the finish line. I began a slow trot, looked for my family in the stands, saw them, fought back more tears, said a prayer of gratitude, crossed the line, and gave Goofy a huge hug. I DID IT! WE did it! My Father had kept His promise and had helped me along the way. You guys helped me along the way. My family helped me along the way.

It wasn’t until the next day when I saw the prophet’s words from conference…
“The difficulties which come to us present us with the real test of our ability to endure. A fundamental question remains to be answered by each of us: Shall I falter, or shall I finish?”

I chose to have faith in His promises and finish my race. I know with Him ALL things are possible. So, don’t give up my friends though the trials of life befall you. You can go the distance.