The upbeat, happy-go-lucky tone I have tried to force myself into with my sporadic and sometimes uninspired blog posts has finally run out. I donâ€™t know if my current state of mind is typical of an athlete on my chosen path, but these past few months have been quite trying.
In May, the last time I was able to race, my results showed continued improvement, and even an acceleration toward my goal of racing, and beating, the best triathletes in the world. Unfortunately, due to a lack of flexibility training (yoga and stretching) and running too much too soon, I was diagnosed with a stress reaction in my hip. This was actually good news because by the time I was able to see the doctor, I had already run myself onto crutches. I was afraid of stress fracture or worse.
I spent June water running and taking care of my laundry list of non-triathlon related endeavors. My attitude was still pretty good, and I was hoping to be back in time to race the Seafair Triathlon (a big local sprint) in mid July. That didnâ€™t happen. I was running, but figured it wasnâ€™t worth the risk without proper preparation (I hadnâ€™t done any intensity on land.) I was bummed to be relegated to a relay at Seafair, but my spirits were still high. I decided to focus on US Pro Nationals, August 22nd. I was done with Biochemistry, enjoying a great Seattle summer, learning to brew kombucha, sailing, watching bald eagles mate while water running across Lake Washington (they cling together in midair and freefall), and spending a good amount of time swimming fast.
Last week my hopeful attitude took another low blow. I took a tumble from the saddle at the end of a training ride. It was one of those low speed falls that end up hurting your body and ego in equal amounts. My wrist was fractured; my hope of competing at US Nationals broken with it.
Iâ€™m trying to find a silver lining. A lesson that will make me better. All I can really think of are all the worthwhile life paths I could be on that wouldnâ€™t involve so many lonely setbacks. If I had taken an engineering job when I had the chance, or become involved in Seattleâ€™s transportation planning (still a passion of mine), then a broken wrist would be the least of my worries. My tendency to overwork myself would meet greater success and more productivity, and I would be striving for something that actually makes a difference in the world. The last point is whatâ€™s really been bothering me.
I struggle with this even while Iâ€™m healthy, but when Iâ€™m racing and doing well I can focus on the highs and the love I have for athletic pursuits. The purity of it quiets my fears. When Iâ€™m injured I feel worthless. Iâ€™m not contributing to society in any measurable way. Sure, I can help market my sponsors, maybe sell some triathlon gear, and coach some people, but Iâ€™m not changing the world. Am I suffering the delusion of youth to think I even have that kind of capability? To make life better for people? If not, then am I wasting my time pushing for a selfish goal of personal excellence? If it is a delusion then what can I accomplish? What am I capable of? Does potential lie in something off the field? Where this much work wonâ€™t be eliminated by a broken bone? Am I doing the right thing? Why am I a professional triathlete?