My first sprint triathlon since 2009 is this Sunday. I have been preparing for this event since February. (And mentally, even longer than that...been chomping at the bit to be able to race again after hip and knee surgery sidelined me for 2 years!)
But life has other plans for me, apparently. On Wednesday, that nagging minor ache in my second toe became a noticeable pain. No problem, I thought...until I got home and took my shoe off.
My toe swelled up so large and hurt so bad that I considered cutting it off. The pain was so intense that sleeping was not possible. Walking at work on Thursday was awful - every step was a nightmare.
I cancelled my Thursday night training session and swim, opting instead for a walk-in (ha!) clinic that had x-ray facilities. I was convinced I had broken my toe. I thought about the race on Sunday, and how hard I'd worked to be ready to have my best tri ever! I wondered if I would be able to race at all. I Googled racing with broken toes and read all kinds of stories about how people overcame the pain and ran their best races ever. I wondered how smart that really was, inspirational though it may be. I swallowed a few (very few!) bitter tears about how unfair life can be and decided that I had worked hard and if I couldn't race, so be it. I will heal, and there will be more races. I'm much healthier as a result of prepping for the race, and that's more important than crossing the finish line. I decided joking with the clinic staff was a better way to focus my energy.
Turns out, my toe is not broken. The doctor didn't know what was wrong, but he saw a bony abnormality on my toe. He speculated that I had a calcified cyst that exploded. He told me to go see a podiatrist as soon as I could, and in the meantime, take anti-inflammatories and antibiotics. Hopeful, I headed home.
I still can't walk well but I will continue to treat my foot and prepare for the race. If I can walk on Sunday, I can race. If I can't walk, I'll request a transfer of my registration to next year's race. Either way, I know I'll be doing what's right for me. I choose to remain hopeful.
In the past, I would rail against setbacks and blame everything around me for ruining my event. (or day, or life, or whatever...) I realize I'm more mature now, and more willing to take things as they come. I don't know if that's something that's simply coming with age, or if it is because, through blogging, I've been able to exorcise many of my inner demons and I'm simply a calmer, happier person now. Probably a bit of both, I suppose.
How do you handle setbacks? Do you let them derail you completely? Try to get out of that mindset. No matter how bleak a situation looks, you can choose to approach it in different ways. There may be silver linings. There may be alternatives. Even in terminal illness patients, attitude plays a role in quality of life. Choose to have a good attitude. Swallow that bitterness and look for ways to cope with good humor. It's ok to have a range of emotions, just don't let them knock you down.