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Handling Setbacks

Friday, August 24, 2012

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!)
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Just reading this a little late.... But I am glad your toe healed up for you to race. You had a great outlook though and I am glad you didn't let this get you down. Because you are right.... all of that training was NOT for nothing!

    2067 days ago
    Listening to your body and knowing when to stop is important. An your attitude is spot on. I hope you can race today but if not it will be there next year.

    I wish you lots of luck and hope the toe is on the mend.
    2068 days ago
    Ugh!! How's the toe today?? I hope it's good enough you can race. You are ready for this!

    I think your attitude is spot on. Setbacks suck. No doubt. You can either let them destroy your progress or keep going. And the thing to do is keep going. Just like you are!

    Good luck rock star!!! (I have a hunch you'll race. ;))
    2069 days ago
    Great attitude! Hope that toe is better soon! emoticon
    2069 days ago
    Well you definitely had better listen to your body. The meds might help but don't make it worse for ware. Im so proud that you are trying to move past the pain to complete the race. Whatever you do be careful & take care of yourself.

    God bless,

    2070 days ago
    When Sunday comes around, if you feel like you can race, race. If you feel you can't (infection is spreading or can't walk), don't. Like you said, there will be other races, and if they'll let you transfer the registration, all the better. Just remember if you can't go, that the training han't been for nothing. You are in much better condition now than before you made the committment to do a tri. Use that as momentum to keep going. And if you ARE able to compete, BEST OF LUCK TO YOU !!! I know you can do it because you've done it before, and you're all "trained up" for it.
    Lst us know either way . . . .

    2070 days ago
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