Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sprained Ankle Leads To Soul Searching

It has now been over two weeks since I successfully ran 26.2 miles at the Chicago Marathon. That initial day and week after the race was quite special with family and friends giving me reverential treatment as a direct result of accomplishing the goal of 26.2. The praise was heightened when people would hear that I sprained my ankle midway through the third mile, but instead of quitting, as may have been the proper thing to do considering the pain I was enduring, I pressed on determined to cross the finish line. I was never going to quit. Not me. Not in my home town race!

In the week leading up to the marathon, I read several online articles, paid close attention to what friends were saying on Facebook and Twitter, and asked runners whom I trusted for any final advice. One thing I read is that many runners experience a bit of depression after a marathon. I figured many gut out a marathon, take time off, and with time on their hands, they begin to feel empty because there is not another long run or race scheduled. Suddenly, what use to be routine and a part of daily life has been taken away. I figured since I have other races to which to look forward, I would take a few days or a week off to allow my body to heal then start focussing on the next races to close out 2010 in fine fashion. Life does not work out the way we plan. I sprained my ankle and had to allow the swelling to take its course. By the Thursday after the marathon, the swelling was almost gone. Yet, some pain remained just under my ankle bone and just above my toes on the left side of my foot. I iced my foot, spent plenty of time in bed with my foot elevated, and when I did have to walk around, I did my best to put as little weight on the left ankle as possible.

I finally returned to some normal activities ten days after the marathon when I resumed my Kenpo sessions with Tim K at Self Defense Centers. I felt it best to not run, lift weights, or perform any other stressful activities until I was completely healed. I read that it make take three to six weeks for me to be back to proper health. I also read that this includes rehabilitation sessions where I could perform exercises under the supervision of a trained professional. I remembered how I sprained my ankle after being hit by a bus, I attended weekly rehab sessions to help strengthen my ankle. Thinking about it, my stint lasted six weeks, but my ankle did not feel completely at full strength until almost three months after the bus incident. As I write this, I still have some discomfort throughout the day. As a result, I have yet to return to working out or running since the marathon. I have three races five weeks away and I am starting to worry that I am losing valuable time.

Today, as I walked around my house to gage how my ankle felt in order to determine whether I would finally go work out, I felt some minor pain and decided to wait once more until tomorrow. This made me ANGRY! I am also sad that I have not been able to continue running and working on my sexy physique. Still, I am mostly angry at myself for putting myself in the position to sprain my ankle. One can argue it was an accident which none of the runners around me, my sighted guide, nor I could have prevented. Maybe I could have stepped differently. Maybe I could have planted my foot in a different part of the street. The place I could have prevented this sprain is in my dedication. As a result of the shape I was in during previous races, I was unable to push myself to have a finishing time which would enable me to have qualified for a timed start coral. Because I had not previously dedicated myself to strive to be great, I found myself in an open coral with people just hoping to finish, charity runners more concerned with running for a cause and not setting personal records, and run/walkers who did not have the ability to run like the wind for the entire distance. As a result, in this, just like in other races, my guides, Rich and Peter, had to do their best to navigate us by and around slower runners or those who stopped suddenly for whatever reason. This is why I sprained my ankle. I have always been a sprinter all my life, but I wanted to push my mental and physical limits at longer distances. I am still new to road races and triathlons. I have so much more to accomplish. I fully understand that the first half marathon or olympic distance triathlon were overwhelming and I was simply happy to finish. I can even understand if that is the same mindset I took into my marathon debut, but I feel if in fact that was my mentality going into 10-10-10, then that was the wrong mindset. I have too much talent and too much heart to simply settle for being happy to finish. Again, I have only been racing for two and a half years, but I am not a wide eyed little kid just happy to be there or happy to take in the event. I should be on a mission. In 1998, I went on a mission to bulk up. Nothing was going to stop me. I had always been an undersized person who weighed ninety pounds when I graduated eighth grade and weighed only 110 pounds when I completed my high school years, but that year, I was determined to put on the weight. Even after college, I continued to put on weight until I weighed in at 172 of hulking muscle. Yet, I lost my trademark speed. I also did very little as far as conditioning was concerned so I altered my philosophy to aim for a lean sexy physique which would give me seven percent body fat, no bulk, but plenty of strength and a restoration of my speed. Within eleven months, I was down to 130 pounds. Eventually, I went down to 120 pounds before returning to a consistent 130. With each case, I remained focussed on the prize. I maintained a level of commitment and dedication to better myself and my body. If I planned to work out that day, I did. It did not matter if I had other matters to which I had to attend. Once my responsibilities were met, I put in the time to work out. In the summer of 2005, Prop THTR named my play, "In The Dark" a New Play Fest winner. There was a week of rehearsals and two staged readings at the Cultural Center in Chicago. I averaged three hours of sleep that week working on rewrites and being at rehearsals yet I had committed to working out five days a week since January 2004 and I was not about to break my string of over a year and a half of remaining dedicated to that goal. Yet, here I have yet to discover that level of dedication to my racing in recent years. Sure, five years ago, I was driven by a desire to carve out a Bruce Lee physique as well as having the body which would enable me to be shirtless in my theater pieces and films and make people especially women, swoon. Nowadays, I am driven by a desire to perform at an elite level at these races. At the height of my lean physique days between 2004-2006, I was running 3.1 miles in twenty-minutes on a daily basis. With the proper dedication I should be able to get to that level once more. This time, I know I can build on that to maintain that speed for much longer. Guided by the right plan and individuals, I know I can keep up that speed for an entire marathon. I just can not seem to explain why I have not yet pushed myself to do so. I do not know what this block is which prevents me from fully embracing my abilities and fully giving of myself to perform at a special level. In fact, if I ever did that, so many more doors would immediately be opened to me as far as getting my theater, film, and motivational performances out to audiences on a global scale. If I could ever dig down deep to find myself, then I will dazzle spectators who will in turn actually care about me and my story. People will be interested in who I am and all my creative projects. By elevating myself to that level, I will be racing in events along side the best in the world and I would not have to worry about my guides needing to zig zag me through slow runners or even walkers which then means I will not have to worry about avoiding someone which then causes me to sprain my ankle then sit at my computer over two weeks later angry at myself for not dreaming big and achieving big.

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