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Forgiving myself and having hope...

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Forgiving myself:

It's been 4 months since my 70.3 and there are some things I never really got over from that event. It was a huge success and I learned a lot about myself and how far I am willing to go to see things through. There were also things that went very wrong during that race, things that really caused me a real feeling of shame. Real or perceived, I felt it for a long time afterward but now, I feel like I've given myself permission to move on.

Let me explain...

For those just "tuning in" here are links to the original race blogs...

I trained HARD for this race and put my heart into it. The 1.2 mile swim was cakewalk and cycling was my strength. The 56 mile bike leg was going to be tough but I was no stranger to the distance. I had trained on hills around here, hills that were steep enough that I was able to clock 38-42 mph going down the hill I just climbed and did that over rides going as far as 60-70 miles. I had it down, my race nutrition was spot on and I felt like I was going to do well.

That was until I got on the actual bike course.

The only way I can describe it is the feeling you get getting dunked under water until you almost pass out then allowed a quick gasp then thrust under again. The hills came hard and fast and kept me totally off balance until I hit the big one at around mile 26-ish. The gears on my bike couldn't go low enough to take such a steep ascent. That followed very quickly by the leg cramp from hell and I was forced to dismount.

I wont rehash the total experience here, you can read it at the blogs linked above.

The part that stuck with me was the feelings I had while marching up the hill in my race shoes (like walking in wooden Dutch clogs). I felt alone and in deep panic, feeling like my dream of finishing was vanishing very quickly. It's hard to describe unless you've been there. I was pushed to my extreme limit, I choked, I sobbed silently slogging up the hill, I was in pain, and I was totally alone.

I felt like a failure and I was fighting the urge to quit. For those that know me... I never quit. It would have been so easy to do. I made it up the hill and got hit with several more then I finally felt like I got back in the race at around mile 35-40ish and actually began to race like a triathlete.

I never forgot that day, I felt like I really got a black eye so to speak. I've never been driven to tears any race I had ever done.

When I got home, the damage to my bike was apparent. It needed TLC in the worst way. I got it fixed and my bike, the one that I was so proud of, even felt like it was an extension of me (it's a cyclist thing), was parked in a corner and promptly forgotten about. I didn't even want to see it. It's hard to convey this in a way that is easily understood but there were just some bad memories that were too fresh. I even avoided my triathlon magazines... there are several issues I haven't looked at...collecting dust.

Yes I finished but I wasn't totally proud of myself like I should be. I felt, in a way, like I didn't really earn it.... until today.

I watched the 2013 Kona Ironman and during the race, I saw something that gave me a sense of release... I saw another athlete walking in their bike shoes because the cramps made it too difficult to keep riding. It sounds so silly, but for me it was a pivotal moment. I felt like it was ok now, I could let it go.

I have officially forgiven myself and I am now on speaking terms again with my bike and I brought it out of the back room and it is now in my office ready to be set up once again on the indoor trainer.

My goal for next summer is to execute one or more Iron-distance rides (112 miles)

Having hope...

As most of you know, things have not gone well for me over the last few months. It has been a perpetual downhill slide since the big race and the two half marathons following were dismal and painful....then came the diagnosis..

I fell into a slump and really felt like I had lost my identification as an athlete and pretty much over-reacted and found myself scared to get on a treadmill for any reason so I shut down completely. The reality of the situation is that although distance running is off the table until I get my orthotics, I can do 5k pain free, it's when I go beyond 10k that there is a problem. After such a dismal end to the racing year, I just divorced myself from all endurance activities because I was tired of hurting.

I hopped up on my treadmill today and did a 30 min run/walk at an easy pace today and while I struggled a little, it felt really good to be back in control. I am not pushing myself or stressing my foot but I am simply getting in some much needed fitness. No pain or problems...except the gasping from several months of detraining.

Today, however small of an effort this was, I FEEL like a runner again.

I feel like I'm back.

Feels good.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Good attitude. emoticon
    882 days ago
    I'm sooooo glad you got in a better place. I've learned, from experience, that the individual in the race is that individuals most critical judge.

    I did a half triathlon last year also, my first also. It went OK, but not as good as I had wished. It can be hard to let go of, but we have to so we can grow!

    For what it's worth, reading you're race report, made me gain a higher level of respect for you. The transformation you've accomplished is amazing, and I have a lot of respect for you. Being in a race with bad things happening, wanting to give up, feeling embarrassed, but pushing on took that respect to a higher level.

    Over the last few years, I've worked out a lot with about 6 different people regularly. After reading your race report I told the whole group your story. It was unanimous that you were AWESOME for having the drive to finish!

    That's just us though. That's insignificant when compared to your opinion of yourself! Again, I'm so glad you're in a better place!! Keep your head high, get your ankle better, and get back out there.
    933 days ago
    935 days ago
  • v _JODI404
    I'm so glad you were able to reach that important point of self-forgiveness!!

    This will be pivotal as you begin to move forward again.

    Will you be able to get your orthotics soon? I hope it will be very soon, as I hope it will make the difference that will help you heal and get you back to your distance running.... when it is OK for your foot and body to do so.

    Glad you are back! This journey really is quite a process!!!

    935 days ago
    940 days ago
    I just found your blog that was featured. I want to read more of your experiences. Keep up the good work. Happy New Year.
    941 days ago
  • v MAYBER
    great blog with insights into what you experienced
    keep on moving you will succeed
    one day at a time
    941 days ago
    Way to go!
    942 days ago
  • v JMARIES51
    All that self discovery is amazing. I understand why people become addicted to pushing themselves to the limit. I think it may be about finding out where the walls are and what is going to take to push beyond those limits.

    I hope your healing goes smoothly.
    943 days ago
  • v JERICHO1991
    Great goals, and great attitude.
    945 days ago
    946 days ago
    Thanks for sharing.
    949 days ago
    Great blog
    950 days ago
  • v JIBBIE49
    Happy Holidays
    951 days ago
  • v JRRING
    952 days ago
    You are a sparkpeople hero. A hero isn't defined by times and distances, but by mere resilience and determination. You've got a lot of spunk. emoticon emoticon emoticon
    952 days ago
  • v BLUENOSE63

    The sport of triathlon is not for the feint of heart which you have learned over this year! Now that you have experienced the best and worst of racing, your mindset will be totally different and the next big hill will not be so daunting. I think most of us are afraid of failure or what we perceive as a failure. Remember this....if you have left it all on the course, then you can ask no more of yourself! It may not have been the finish you wanted but my God man, you did it. Did you ever envision yourself participating in a Half IM when you were at your highest weight. I learned this year that every little victory is a mini finish line and that is how I now approach racing.

    From one IMer to another! You came, you saw and you kicked its ass! Onward and upward to the next endurance race -- in whatever form it may take


    952 days ago
  • v RUDITUDI2000
    emoticon I have spent 7 solid months this year either injured or sick or both...its no fun. I am sorry its been so rough on you! I'll be lifting you up in prayer! You are a rock star and I know you won't give have fought too hard! Don't forget it! You are totally worth figuring this out and pushing through to victory!
    952 days ago

    Comment edited on: 12/20/2013 10:10:46 PM
  • v GEORGE815
    Glad you got it going!
    952 days ago
  • v MRSRIGS1
    Little by little, one day at a time! emoticon emoticon
    953 days ago
  • v NEPTUNE1939
    953 days ago
    Whether walking or running, we still have to "put one foot in front of the other." Congratulations to you for taking "the first step" on resuming your "personal marathon" - you know, the one called LIFE.

    Continued success to you.
    953 days ago
  • v PANIK257
    Welcome Back. :) emoticon
    953 days ago
    953 days ago
    954 days ago
    Robert you will always be my everyday athlete no matter what even if you are a triathlete! Take it slow and let us know how the orthotics work when you get them!
    954 days ago
  • v BUTTERFLY-1976
    emoticon emoticon
    954 days ago
  • v GINA180847
    Dear Robert, a lot of us are maybe a little more invested in your success than we should be. I felt after that race that you pulled back from us (your fans) and now I understand why. You dear soul, of course walking is great. You are so amazing as you are and that is with all the little warts and all. You are no longer 18 and muscle cramps seem to come with the territory. My DH whom I adore was cut back in a medication keeping his muscle cramps at bay and when I realized how much pain it caused him I went to work to find a solution for him. Pain is scary for us all. We love you as you are, don't forget that. Enjoy the season, keep the treats under control and allow yourself to be proud of you as you are. I'm allowed to send you hugs as I am an old lady. emoticon
    954 days ago
    954 days ago
  • v KAB7801
    954 days ago
    954 days ago
  • v SJKENT1
    Glad to hear that you are battling that mind battle. You are commited, you are seeking victory and you will hop back on that bike.

    We are pulling for you!! Spark on... you have too much to do Robert... too much to give up.
    954 days ago
  • v LINDAKAY228
    I felt that way over the one ten k race I did a few years ago Maybe not exactly the same but I kind of know what you mean. I did so much worse than I had planned. I could have quit but I didn't but I walked away in shame. It wasn't till much later I learned how much I had actually gained, When I recover from this stoke, I may work up to that again and maybe to a half. Who knows. This was really really hard on you but I believe you can bounce back and learn. No race goes the way we want it to, and some are really hard. But I believe you can do it!
    954 days ago
    Seems easier for me to forgive others than to forgive myself...
    954 days ago
  • v RHOOK20047
    Way to go, you are an inspiration to all of us. The hardest person for most of us to forgive is ourselves. Way to get back on track. emoticon
    954 days ago
    emoticon emoticon BRAVO!!!!!
    954 days ago

    Comment edited on: 12/19/2013 5:55:48 AM
    That's great. emoticon
    954 days ago
    good for you!!
    954 days ago
  • v SUPERDAD55
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    emoticon emoticon
    You are truely a great inspiration to many,
    Keep up the great job and never quit!!
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    954 days ago

    Comment edited on: 12/18/2013 10:18:39 PM
    Good for you for picking yourself up and starting from where you can. I hope you get your orthotics and are soon able to do more.
    954 days ago
    You rock! Walking is fine. You completed the race and that is totally what counts.
    955 days ago
    I am sorry it was so rough but I am very proud of you for letting it go and knowing that it isnt just you it happens to everyone ... congrats
    955 days ago
    955 days ago
  • v REJ7777
    It's hard to believe that such a remarkable achievement would lead to anything else but feeling really good about yourself! We can be so much harder on ourselves than we would ever be on anyone else. Thank you for sharing so openly about your experience. Wishing you a healthy and fit future, whether you choose to do marathons or not.
    955 days ago
    Hey Robert,

    I know it's been a dark and lonely time for you, and my heart goes out to you. You've got a lot of chutzpah coming back from all that. You're like Rocky. You can't be kept down. Keep pushing!

    Your biggest fan,
    955 days ago
    955 days ago

    Comment edited on: 12/18/2013 2:54:01 PM
    I honestly can totally relate. Chicago marathon was this for me it was not the day I wanted it was awful even though I finished. I wanted to reconcile that last year by doing a 70.3 and then that darn ankle took me out and I felt let down not because I dropped down to the Olympic distance but because I was too scared to try and possibly fail at 70.3 even though for me now that I have had time I know that it was the best decision. In 2014 I wanted redemption by doing an April marathon and the 70.3, now I am stuck in a bit of a rut not knowing when I am going to get my shots at redemption obviously the reason for the inability to complete these two things is a good reason I am still struggling with it and now feeling a huge twinge of regret that I didn't suck it up and muddle through the 70.3. I'm keeping in shape but I'm uncertain when these goals will become reality again. You are an inspiration in your courage to complete these monumental tasks but also in your courage to share your inner workings and the "downside" of things too. I think when you show resilience you inspire people, you inspire me. Take care buddy Merry Christmas.
    955 days ago
    Way to pick yourself up by the bootstraps! I was pulled from Ironman in 2011 about 100 miles into the bike ride. It was devastating. I experienced a lot of the same feelings that you did. To be honest, I still haven't totally made up with my bike. It's hard to push through that kind of shame, but you did. Way to go! Keep racing and riding hard.
    955 days ago
  • v THOMS1
    Boy, it's a good thing you went to see the expert. Many times we just push through the pain not thinking about the damage we are doing to our bodies. Good thing you had the sense to get a qualified sports medicine doctor. emoticon
    955 days ago
  • v RENATA144
    emoticon emoticon
    955 days ago
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