Resilience: Another Defining Moment
What defines me?
That is a powerful and arduous question.
And one that I recently had to answer.
When I hurt my calf, I had this internal dialogue after my last attempt to save my long-time running streak:
“This running streak does not define me…”
“What will define me is getting healthy and starting a new running streak…”
“I will start another streak!”
The exact moment that I had this conversation with myself is germane to the story. I wrote about this in a previous blog post, but I wanted to share it again.
Before I went to bed on the day my streak was broken, I tried to run one more time. It was 1:30 in the morning. We had just gotten home from my daughter’s softball tournament.
“I have to try one more time,” I whispered to myself as I carefully slipped on my running shoes.
I walked out the front door, through our gate and onto the county road that dead ends into our property. I took a deep breath and started to jog … very slowly. I only took 10 steps and stopped. I couldn’t do it.
“It’s over,” I said out loud. This time I knew in my whole heart that those two and half words were real.
As I walked back into the house that night, I immediately started shifting into neutral. That’s when I had the conversation above.
Again … “What will define me is getting healthy and starting a new running streak…”
For me, it all revolved around perseverance and resilience.
For the last two months, I have kept my eye on the ball. I have been diligent about healing properly and getting back on that horse as soon as I was physically ready.
Neutral thinking was my best friend through this process.
Reminder: Not too high … not too low … conquer negativity.
I focused on the facts and removed as much emotion from the situation as I could.
Real quick … here are some of those emotions that I had to keep in check:
I could list more, but I think you get the point. These were not positive emotions. They were destructive, and in order to reach my goal of getting healthy and starting a new streak, I had to keep those demons shackled with neutral thinking.
All facts. Limited emotion.
Fact 1: I couldn’t run.
Fact 2: I wanted to get healthy.
Fact 3: If I didn’t want this to happen again, I had to heal properly.
Fact 4: I’ve been here before; I’ve had previous setbacks and I’ve overcome them.
Fact 5: I am mentally, physically and emotionally strong.
Even though I had my weak moments after my injury, I was in a good place. I stayed neutral 98.37 percent of the time. That is a very powerful place to be.
The next thing I had to do … move my ass. I couldn’t sit still. I knew forward motion could and would destroy those previously mentioned demons.
So, I had to do something. Anything. But I also knew that I didn’t have to do a quadruple pirouette into a swimming pool of cotton candy. Sometimes the smallest steps can be the most powerful. So, that’s what I did … a whole bunch of little baby steps:
Baby Step 1: I scheduled an MRI to find out exactly what was going on. (Reminder: It ended up being a Grade 2 tear of the medial head of the gastrocnemius.)
Baby Step 2: I figured out what other exercises and workouts I could do. (Reminder: I could do any exercise, except squats and lunges, and I put a heavy emphasis on push-ups.)
Baby Step 3: My doctor (shout out to Leslie Ross) encouraged me to rest my calf for eight weeks. So, I marked the date on my calendar and vowed to not run before then.
Baby Step 4, 5 and 6: Dr. Ross also stressed ice, elevation and Aleve. Check. Check. Check.
Baby Step 7: Once I had the MRI results, I scheduled my physical therapy. It was important for me to heal the right way, because I refused to start a new streak and allow my left calf to throw another wrench in my spokes.
All of these baby steps were generating momentum. I was moving forward – not sitting still and letting my demons devour me. Eff those demons!
During this forward motion, I was constantly accessing my injury, too. I would be intentional about checking in with my calf. How does it feel? Is it getting better? Do I need extra ice today?
This stoked my neutral thinking and helped carry me to the finish line of my rehab and the starting line of my new streak.
On August 13th, I ran one mile and my new running streak came to life.
As I ran that mile with my son, Crash, I kept thinking about that poignant question I started this blog with: “What defines me?”
I immediately thought of the quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
On that run, I thought about a quote posted by a friend on social media: “You are not the darkness you endured. You are the light that refused to surrender.”
I love that!
During that mile, I recalled this quote from author Landon Parham: “Life isn’t just about darkness or light, rather it’s about finding light within the darkness.”
But the main thing I kept coming back to was a powerful narrative by Victor Hugo. I carried this excerpt from Les Miserables in my pocket when I completed my first marathon. The irony of Victor Hugo’s words showing up on this particular run did not escape me.
In each age, men of genius undertake the ascent. From below, the world follows them with their eyes. These men go up the mountain, enter the clouds, disappear, reappear; people watch them, mark them. They walk by the side of steep cliffs. They daringly pursue their road. See them aloft, see them in the distance; they are but black specks. On they go. A storm is raging. Nevertheless they go forward in their madness. The air becomes difficult to breathe. The abyss yawns below them. Some fall. Others stop and retrace their steps; there is a sad weariness. The bold ones continue. They are eyed by the eagles; the lightning plays about them: the hurricane is furious. No matter, they persevere.
That is what defines me. Let me rephrase … that’s how I want to be defined.
Bold in the midst of the hurricane, refusing to quit. Moving forward with wonderfully great madness.
Again … eff those demons. Let’s ride!