“I can feel it coming back again…. like the roll of thunder chasing the wind…”
As I crested the hill …. running…. the other night I felt some strength surface that I haven’t felt in years. Since 2008 to be exact. That year I went through a health issue… I never like to call it an illness. It resulted in a loss that’s taken me years…. years to recover from. I don’t talk about it, and I will likely never write about it. Not for a long long time.
As I said it’s taken me years to recover from….. through it all I have stumbled eight ways from Sunday. But the other night as I was running I realized….. that the process does take time. That healing does happen. That strength does come back and it can take literal years to happen.
As I have come back to triathlon training I get to experience this in an entirely new way. I know it from the athlete side, I know it from the coach side, but I am experiencing it like never before.
Throughout this recovery, actually throughout my career I have been fortunate to work with some of our sport’s best coaches. As we forge through this season I feel like I am bringing the best of them with me. Last season I did extensive work with my awesome coaches at HPT on running. All of my other coaches tried to fix my run…. but my coach at HPT taught me HOW to run. As I have made this slow progressive return those are the lessons I am bringing with me. On the bike I have found Zwift, and that’s all I need to even say. In the water my swim focus continues as we have slowed me down a bit to really hone technique. I feel it beginning to come together and my health strengthens each and every day. The best part is that I have finally relaxed into it and I am letting it come to me, rather than trying to grab it.
It’s been 7 years of stumbling and slowly forging through…. but it finally feels as if a new path has finally opened.
I feel strength. I feel fitness building inch by inch. I feel it coming along. The excitement of hitting new benchmarks in longer workouts (which are not long yet!). It never feels like I “have” to train. It feels like I “get” to train. I am excited about the opportunity.
As I crested that hill the other night and those words came through on my iPod it caught my attention. That maybe I made it through. That never giving up actually worked. That putting one foot in front of the other was actually the thing to do. To be relentlessly positive and allow myself to work through what I needed to work through….. was the way to handle it all.
Maybe it’s age, or the wisdom that comes with it…. but these days I have a new sense about me. It could be that I don’t give a f*ck about the small stuff. It could be that I don’t get caught up in drama in sport or life. It could be that after 20 years around here….. I am established in who I am and what I am here for. My self worth has never been built on Ironman finishes, qualifications or medals. My self worth has always been based on me, and it has always been. The freedom that has afforded me is incredible.
There are no secrets to all of this. There are no hacks. Each moment…. the good bad and ugly… they are meant to be fully experienced. Fully lived. Never avoided. Never ignored. You have to feel terrible to feel amazing. You have to have your worst days to experience your greatest days.
In training… it’s the same. It’s the day to day work and the culmination of it that creates greater things later on, not independent sessions. Taking the time to begin again and allow that process come and happen.
As Luc and I reviewed his track results the other day we didn’t focus on his placing in his events. On his team he’s finishing as one of the last, but his time was in red. Which means it’s an improvement. We talked about how improvement is a ladder and if there are things we want to achieve we need to climb that ladder, rung by rung. There are no shortcuts to the top. Sometimes we slide, and have to climb the same rungs again. He gets that, and part of that is because I live it. He’s watched me build and rebuild time and time again. I expect nothing and work for everything. And appreciate all of it.
Sometimes you have to endure something that feels completely unspeakable to so completely cherish every small thing that you are so lucky to have in this world. At no other moment in my life, than today do I appreciate the ability to be an athlete. My body has undergone some horrible things and at the same time comes back with strength and durability to climb higher.
It’s taken me years. 7 to be exact and we are not there yet, to work through this. Every day gets better. Every day I get stronger. One step at a time and one rung at a time.
“I can feel it coming back again….. like the roll of thunder chasing the wind.”
I came up over that hill in a way I have not in years. With hope. With strength. Ahead of myself instead of behind myself. No matter what I have always kept going. I will always keep going. This time though… it’s for me.