Sometimes life just doesn't work out the way you expect it to.
Three weeks ago I woke up unable to walk. One MRI later and I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in my femur. I wouldn't be able to swim or bike for a month. Running would take 3.
It came pretty much out of nowhere - I had just completed some great weeks of training and, besides some minor aches and pains, was feeling awesome. The day before I had done a 100-mile bike ride! My first races were coming up and I felt like I was in the best shape of my life. I had had a bit of "tightness" in my IT band but figured it would go away as I had run a lot the previous week. I was wrong.
As I hobbled away from the doctor's office on crutches I thought to myself "You've been here before and everything will be fine. You'll come back stronger and even more motivated. You can use this time to concentrate on aspects of triathlon that were pushed to the back burner".
I've been dealing with injuries since I was 12 so I should be an expert at staying positive right? Nope.
This injury has been the absolute hardest injury that I have had to face even though it is very minor in comparison to others. And what's been hard isn't the physical part, it's the emotional.
For the past 3 weeks I've been depressed which isn't a feeling I am used to. I was getting emotional about everything and taking everything personally. I didn't understand what was going on. I was lashing out at my boyfriend and family and couldn't control it. One time I was driving on the highway and all of a sudden found myself in bumper to bumper traffic. I instantly started bawling at the steering wheel because I was having the worst day ever -- a day that consisted of sitting in traffic, babysitting the most adorable puppy, and then having an eye appointment and dinner with my mom...That is NOT a bad day. What was wrong with me.
Well, I wasn't acknowledging my feelings. I was ignoring them and hoping they would go away
My refusal to acknowledge my feelings took a big toll on my relationship with Zach. Every little thing, no matter how trivial, would affect me. If Zach didn't get me a glass of water right away after I asked I would burst into tears. If Zach left the closet door open as he rushed to work I would be fuming. If Zach took the last piece of gum I felt like it was the most disrespectful thing he could do. I was acting completely insane and irrational and I knew it! But I couldn't stop.
At first Zach and I blamed it on me not being able to work out - all this extra energy was pent up inside me. But, it soon became evident that that wasn't the root of the problem. The problem was that I wasn't facing my feelings -- I was ignoring them. I wasn't being honest with myself.
Finally, I decided to open up to myself with Zach.
I was so mad. I was livid. What was I mad at? Myself.
I felt like I had caused this injury. I hadn't listened to my body. I hadn't communicated. I wasn't learning from my mistakes. I had failed myself. I was a failure.
So, I spent 2 weeks upset at myself because I hadn't prevented this injury. I could have changed the course of this stress fracture. I had failed myself, my coaches, my family, my sponsors. All those emotions I didn't acknowledge? They all manifested themselves onto Zach, my boyfriend.
And Zach did exactly what he should have - he gave me some tough love. I expressed to him that I was super upset at myself and that I was a failure and he quite bluntly told me to that I have to expect my body to break a little as I learn how to navigate the waters. Just like basketball where professionals roll their ankles all the time I will also go through my share of injuries. I have to "buck up" and stop blaming myself. I need to acknowledge and move forward. His words resonated deep within me. Get over yourself, it happens to the best of us, you (nor anyone) is to blame.
It took me 3 whole weeks to confront my emotions. I have high expectations of myself and consequently judge myself even harder when I mess up. It is these times that the balance that Matt preaches about becomes so key. Your team is what gets you through the rough patches. They are the people you can fall back on when the ride isn't going as smoothly as you'd wish.
We aren't invincible and things happen. You just have to pick yourself back up again. Sometimes it takes a little help but eventually, you get there. I'm not perfect. I make mistakes. That doesn't make me a failure. It makes me human.