Monday, June 16, 2008

What it is all about for me.

Both my girls have done it, and since I've been lacking on the blogging front and after reading this moving post, I just feel inspired to talk about "My One Thing"

If I'm truly honest with myself, I know deep down that I do all of this crazy training and racing and all consuming endurance activities for one reason and one reason only. Because I CAN. And, because so many times before I've been told that I CAN'T. And if you know me, even just a little bit, you should know that CAN'T, along with NO are not in MY vocabulary....

I did grow up a rather active kid. I wasn't the best at any sport, but very similar to my current state I was good, or sometimes above average. I was never the the best, or first place or that typical athletic looking child, slightly chubby if I must say, (some things just don't ever change), however I always put my heart into it. 100+%.

As a young child in elementary school I played all after school sports. Basketball (people, I'm SHORT too), Softball, volleyball and even cross-country (go figure). My parents didn't have the money to pay for extra summer activities, so I just did all of the school related sports that other than a pair of shoes were fairly inexpensive.

As I got older, I found more of a niche. I narrowed my sport playing down to 2. Softball and Volleyball. In Junior High, with the influence of my best friends at the time I convinced my parents to put me in a club volley ball league. It was a blast... but even better, as we went on to high school we were all very much a team already.

In High school one of my friend's father's created a new "select" club team if you will.... We had all these fancy uniforms and traveled to tournaments every weekend. I thought it was just the coolest thing ever. Unfortunately the dynamics were different. The "fun" was taken out of it all. We were all about appearances and winning and well, I really just was not happy.

I remember being at a tournament in Davis, California. We had been playing all afternoon in the heat, Non- AC gymnasiums. We had lost our game, and our coach was PISSED off. She had us running lines (drills) in 90+ temps inside at MIDNIGHT. I was miserable. I ended up with an asthma attack and breathing into a bag.

Needless to say, that was my one and only year with this high maintenance and high pressure team. I went back to my first club team and had a fantastic year!

In my Junior year I started having back problems. The slightest movements would cause me to shriek and scream in pain.

I was in and out of Dr's, physical therapy and my parents even considered taking me to the Shriner's Children's hospital for help.

After a few MRI's it was determined that I had a congenital problem called Spina Bifida Occulta.

By definition, Spina Bifida Occulta” means “hidden split spine.” Basically there is a gap in my low back where the spine did not grow properly..... It is not something that can be "fixed" but something you just have to, as I've been told so many times before, "learn to live with."

I was told I had to quit Volleyball. Each time I would go to serve a ball, the pain would shoot down my leg, like someone was stabbing me. I was taking up to 16 Advil a day (which I can no longer take at all because of that overuse) and my activities began to dwindle...

I took up some new, less healthy hobbies like oh, partying. I must say, I was quite good at it too...Unfortunately, we all know what happens to you when the activity stops, and the calories pile in. Yah, you could say I took less than athletic looking to a whole new level.

A couple of years (and several lbs later) I spent a summer in Seattle working as an accounting intern for Starbucks Corporate office. I lived with a college roommate about 40miles north of Seattle in Lake Stevens. I drove 80miles round trip daily, and soon adopted a new wake up early routine so I could be to work by 6am to beat the traffic.

Getting up at 4am left my social calendar pretty non-existent so I started a new trend. I began to run. I started with 2 miles and built to 7. I started eating healthy and my weight just fell off. I got down about 20lbs and was feeling fantastic. Like a whole new person.

I went back to college for my senior year and continued my healthy streak. The best part, my back pain was next to zero....

After graduation, and my move to Arizona I became a gym rat. I worked out 5-6 days a week, but still ran on the treadmill, with an occasional outside run..... Getting bored with the same routine I started thinking about doing a triathlon. I mean, I can swim (well I THOUGHT I could swim at the time, I mean I grew up as a kids going camping and going to lakes...)and run.... but after some research the whole bike thing just freaked me out, not to mention I didn't have the money to buy one....

The next thing I new our admin at work was passing out flyers for a fund raiser called the "Dream Team." We would raise fund for United Cerebral Palsy and travel and run the Monaco marathon.

I was hooked.... Why, BECAUSE I COULD!

I instantly fell in love with the endurance sports. Of course, in typical Krista fashion, my heart and my desire were there, but my body began to protest and after my 2nd marathon I became injured. The injury that lasted 4 years. (IT BAND).

Dr's told me to not run. That maybe my body just wasn't cut out to do this stuff. My back started to flare up more. For the first time in my life I was close to giving up...... And then I did my last resort. I had the IT band surgery. So many warmed me against it.. It wasn't a typical surgery. It didn't have great success rates.

I just thought, what did I have to loose? I can't run now, and I might not not be able to run after. I'll take "maybe" over "can't" any day.

I did it. And for 6 months I worked my ass off with PT and strengthening, and even when a few steps hurt and I was almost convinced I would never run again. I came through... One year later I completed my first half-ironman. Because I COULD.

My parents of course thought I was crazy. And stupid. Why on earth would I have surgery and then go mess it all up again? Like I said... don't tell me I can't.

Things were looking up for me. I signed up for an Ironman. My training was near flawless. IT band holding up. I had the race of my life.....

If you've been reading this blog long you know what happened after that. My neck injury, or rather neck problem. The steroid Epidural Injections... The pain.... all over again. Then the other IT band.
A dear friend of mine said this during one of the toughest times in her life....

"Life has given me lemons .............. sooooooooooo with all of my soul (and I'm hoping your good wishes) I'll be making lemonade ......."

I Believe it. I believe that when things don't come easy for you, that's when you get the opportunity to prove just how tough and strong you really are.

Now I know that so many people have far worse problems than me. And that for the most part, I am one incredibly lucky gal. I've also learned not to take it all for granted. That you just really never know when something could be taken from you. Something that you love.

I do this. I stay active and healthy and do all this training because I CAN. Because I know what my body does have going against it, and each time I do something so extraordinary, like finish an Ironman....or ride 7 hours in the rain, or complete a 3hr run. It makes me feel fantastic. It makes me feel on top of the world.
It makes me feel, like ME. Like a person that so many times I wasn't sure I would be able to come. And that, in my eyes... is what it's all about.
So this Sunday, when the going gets tough. I will think about all these challenges. About why I'm putting myself thru the pain. I'll remember the lemons, and my promise to myself is that, that I will make some fantastic lemonade.


Spokane Al said...

Very cool. I really like your attitude towards life and living.

Flatman said...

Talk about your motivating, kick-in-the-ass post!!! Thank you for sharing and have a blast out there on Sunday!!!!!

momo said...

you most definitely CAN and i know (because i know you!) that you will continue to prove that over and over again! i am just so happy that i will be there to share it with you on sunday, girlfriend.

here's to lemonade - maybe with just a splash of vodka?? ;-)

stronger said...

Or a lemonade snow cone??

Supalinds said...

Awesome post! I'm glad you came out with your one thing. And what a great one thing to have - to know you can!! And you will!!! You have an amazing amount of dedication in you, like nothing i've ever seen before!!

Can't wait to race with you on Sunday!!

Erin said...

So inspiring.

I'll be cheering you on from Wisconsin on Sunday!

Comm's said...

I think that people who earlier in life had to deal with being told they can or should never be allowed to do something physical again, it gives them a fortitude to overcome great obstacles in our future.

I have found that most of us, tend to be attracted to solo activities like running because its a competitive fire that burns within us without the fear of an elbow or knee ruining it all.

Except for maybe an Ironman swim.

Paul said...

Enjoy the race on Sunday! You're gonna rock it!!!

Benson said...

Wooooooohooooo. That is great.
good luck.

Kim said...

fabulous post!!!! best best BEST of luck to you this weekend! go kick CDA's ass!!

Megan said...

You don't need luck because you have the training behind you - so I just want to say "see you on the other end."

Go get 'em. Yes, you CAN.

Andra Sue said...

Good luck tomorrow, Krista! I'll be thinking about you and everyone out there as I ride my measly 46-miles of hills. :)