Reframing 2018 & On Being Unstoppable

It started in mid-December when a friend tagged me in a Facebook post announcing that I was the winner of the "Unstoppable Award" at Redbird Crest 100k. WHAT? I don't win awards!

But really when I read about the award and thought about the race recap that I had just posted, I found solace in this word "unstoppable" that really does sum up my persistence and determination and drive. It works: past, present, and future.

I was planning on the following races for 2018:
- Lake Martin 100 Miler (mid-March)
- Tour de Lou 65 mile bike ride (end of April)
- Flying Pig Marathon (early May)
- Superior Fall Trail Races 50 Miler (again; early September)

Also, I would be co-race-directing the Mad Otter 10k trail race in March with Jeanette, as part of the adventure race put on by Orienteering Louisville.

I had a few other races on my possibilities list:
- Run Under the Stars Corydon, IN (early July)
- Cloudsplitter
- An adventure race
- A Ragnar Trail

While I was in Costa Rica (an amazing adventure trip I took with my mom this January), I read most of a book called "The Ultra Mindset" by Travis Macy. The 8 ultra mindsets discussed were things I already practice in my life. I just haven't called them a mindset or anything like that. I loved reading about the adventures, and putting order to the idea of having a mindset for life and running. But I couldn't relate to the author's motivation: winning. Competitive/elite runners are writing books. Great books with stories and wisdom and training plans. But I just can't relate to their competitive drive to win. That's just not what this is about for me.

I want to read books about everyday people who push their limits. Whether it's ultrarunning or adventure racing or other challenges. I'm excited by stories in which people overcome obstacles - especially their own! I talked about these ideas with my mom quite a bit. I kept interrupting her from reading her book, so I could talk about my ideas and thoughts. And share the adventure parts of The Ultra Mindset. Because she and I both love challenging adventures. I do know there are some books out there that are not written by elite runners. I look forward to reading them and seeing the different perspectives they offer.

Anyway, then in Costa Rica at the beginning of the trip, I fell off my bike trying to unclip at the end of a tough ride up a long hill in the pouring rain. In the moment of the accident, my handlebars (upright mountain bike handlebars) turned sideways and I fell onto them, which is great because they broke my fall onto the asphalt, preventing skinned knees or maybe a broken arm? But I basically impaled myself onto them, into my right breast. It took my breath away. I was in shock and in pain, and Nano, our trip leader who was there to witness it and help me up, could tell I wasn't OK. He got me over to a counter and I leaned against it. He handed me a shot of something that was fruity and cold and had alcohol in it. I started to calm down. My chest really hurt but I didn't want to make a big deal about it. It was lunch time and I was hungry. I was waiting for my mom to finish her ride, glad she didn't see me fall. I know everyone has a fall because of clip shoes and pedals. I hadn't had mine yet so I chuckled to myself about finally getting that out of the way. I tried to ignore the pain and just hope it would go away over the course of the day.

After I pulled myself together, I got myself some lunch. I was in a daze. There weren't enough seats and the tables were too close together and the one open seat was unusable. I stood there awkwardly with my plate in my hand, reminding myself to breathe and thinking about how amazing it was that I wasn't bleeding. I figured out seating and sat down and was asked about the ride. Most people in our group didn't attempt this ride because it was a steep uphill 4 miler and we had already been on a ride and a hike, and had another hike after lunch, and it was raining really hard and kind of miserable out. I replied that it was hard and that I fell at the end because I didn't clip out in time. There was concern of course. But I thought I was fine, just bruised. And then we all finished lunch and headed out for the ridiculous/awesome hike. I took some ibuprofen. Figured the pain would go away over the next few days and everything would be fine.

Over the course of the next few days, I had some pretty incredible bruising on my knees, thighs, and right breast. The doctors who were on the trip with us took a look at my breast but it was days before I could even think about letting someone touch it to feel around. It was so swollen it was doubled in size. And it hurt to breathe and cough and sneeze. Inside. Definitely most likely a broken rib. And a hematoma at least the size of a golf ball. Not much to do about it, especially in Costa Rica.

I kept reading The Ultra Mindset and texted a few friends about my fall and injury. I asked Jeanette to research workouts and time off from a broken rib. She got back to me within the day and suggested that I ask myself if I should continue training for the 100-miler in March. She pointed out that with 4-6 weeks (or more) off, I would not be able to run again until the peak mileage week of our training plan, and then would be in the taper period. There would only be 4 weeks of training left. And that's if I healed within the best case scenario. Not to mention that my December running was curtailed by a horrible flu-like virus that obliterated 2 weeks of training. (I'm still coughing over a month later.)

I was at the part of The Ultra Mindset where the author realizes that he's not going to make the podium in adventure racing, and he wasn't interested in placing 4th or below. Plus he had a new baby and wanted to stay closer to home and be more present for the family. Injuries and life changes happen to all of us and I always keep in mind that there are times I'll have to face the emotions and limitations of something that prevents me from running, like an injury. I've done it before, but it's been awhile and I'm a different person now. I have seen several running acquaintances and friends be sidelined by injuries and other obstacles over the past few years. I have seen some of those people become very focused on their limitations, completely fall apart, and/or carry negative energy.

I have noted how unproductive and off-putting negativity is. Building my mental strength for running over the past few years has spilled over into the rest of my life. (I have lots more to say about this topic some day.) I can use this mental strength to channel my energy into something else while I can't run. While finishing out the week in Costa Rica, I knew I needed to reframe. I needed to be patient and see what was really wrong with me. But I needed to be prepared to change my plans for 2018. To change the direction of my story. I can use my mental strength to find blue sky on a rainy day, to find adventure in a slog, to find new goals when I know my existing goals need to be reevaluated. Good timing for this section of the book.

It's 22 days after the accident now. Two days ago, I went the entire day without having to take a painkiller. I'm still having pain with deep breaths, coughing, sneezing, moving my right arm, anything that moves my torso. Yelling. Singing with passion. Yeah I do that sometimes.

Last week I got myself back to the gym, and am learning my way around a spin bike. I've taken a few spin classes and then walk on the treadmill after riding. A modified "brick workout" I suppose. I'm listening to podcasts, too. On Sunday, I joined running friends who met up to run at Jefferson Memorial Forest on the Siltstone Trail. I hiked while they ran. I was hiking along feeling a little sorry for myself and I remembered that I am unstoppable. The urge to run was strong! I really cannot handle the pain associated with any bouncing/pounding, and I would not want to further slow the healing process by starting in too soon. But I am getting better and that feels good. An 8 mile power hike felt great and my time alone on the trails renewed me. I'm still reframing 2018, and it looks like less miles and more non-running experiences.

Revised Plans for 2018:
- Volunteer at Louisville Loving the Hills (February)
- Crew (and maybe pace) Jeanette at the Lake Martin 100 (mid-March)
- Mad Otter 10k race directing (end of March)
- Tour de Lou 65 mile bike ride (end of April)
- Flying Pig Marathon (early May)
- A family canoe trip to the wilderness (end of July)
- Rough Trail 50k in mid-November
- Redbird Crest 100k in early December

With some other "maybe" adventures:
- an adventure race in the summer or fall
- a trail relay
- crew/pace an acquaintance on a 100-miler, maybe at a new destination
- other things I've never done
- still maybe Cloudsplitter or another new-to-me race in the 50k-100k distance range

This year is for new adventures, and while it's not starting the way I thought it would start, I won't let my limits define me, my injury depress me, or anything that happens hold me back from being unstoppable.


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