It’s been an interesting week here in Chicago, and I’m glad to have the chance to share. And while I bet you’re expecting a hilarious and frightening account of my exploits at the Chicago Triathlon, I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint. Why? Well, there was a small complication: I didn’t actually race.
There’s a fairly simple story about why not, but I won’t bore you with the details. The high points are this: I had some pain, which I ignored, for more than a few months this year. I found that when I was running more than 5 or 6 miles, the pain was pretty significant. Despite what you hear on the news, not everyone can afford healthcare these days, and so, after an initial “all clear” from my general physician in February, I waited until I was employed again to get it checked by a sports doctor. When I did, he didn’t have good news.
Until we had the results of an MRI, he told me that I needed to be careful. No biking. No running. I could swim, but that was it. I had a possible stress fracture (pelvis), and he wasn’t taking any chances.
I wasn’t either.
I got that news 5 days before the race. So, on Saturday morning, I picked up my race packet, along with a medical deferral to next year. The water in Chicago was slated to be below 63 degrees, and I just couldn’t see what I was going to get by swimming a very cold swim, with no bike, and no run.
On Sunday, I went downtown at dawn, and cheered on several friends who were competing. Yes, it was a little bittersweet. I knew I was trained for the bike, and the swim. I wanted to be one of the 9,000 athletes who were running around Chicago on this gorgeous day. But did it really matter if I was walking around with a stress fracture? No, it didn’t. So I cheered, and rang a seriously loud cowbell, and had a darned good time watching all these amazing people succeed at this incredible event.
And you know what? It wasn’t that bad. Aside from the added bonus of the world NOT seeing me in my tri attire, I actually really enjoyed watching the people swim, bike and run for this event. In fact, I think I have a GREATER appreciation now for the amount of effort it takes to do that race than I did as a participant.
That may sound strange, but there really is something to be said for watching someone swim for a whole mile. (I know, because I watched my friends Lisa and Caronina do it – and that thing is LONG.) And it’s just as cool to watch them emerge from a sea of runners, coming down a long stretch of path, knowing they’ve just come off a 24 mile bike ride. I watched physically challenged athletes (blind, single, and double amputees), along with folks of every shape and size – and as usual, I could not have been more impressed by the determination, strength, and humor I saw in those faces. It was impossible to feel sorry for myself when these people were kicking some serious ass on that course!
I found out today that the MRI results have come back, and I don’t have a stress fracture, which is wonderful news. Yes, it’s bittersweet, as I didn’t race on Sunday because of it. But if I’m honest, I didn’t mind missing the race as much as I thought. This week, I was missing the training even more. I wanted to be on the bike path at dawn, and in the pool or the lake at night. Now, I know I can do both of those things again, along with an upcoming hiking trip to Colorado.
In the next few weeks, I’m going to work with the doctor to determine what, exactly, is causing this pain. I have my theories, and they begin and end with the amount of weight I’m carrying around. In true Plus Runner style, I’m not going to beat myself up for that weight. I’ve looked at the calendar, and I’ve looked at my available resources, and regardless of what the doc says, I’ve already made a pretty critical decision to start paying more attention to what I eat, and to slowly, and steadily, work off some of this weight.
I want to be able to run without worry next year. And to do that, I won’t have to be a Size 6, but being more proactive about nutrition, and dealing with all those icky food issues, is something I should do for my health – if only to make sure that I can keep doing all the things I love to do.
Don’t be alarmed: I’ve never been an expert on food, and I don’t profess to be. This blog will never be about what you should eat for that perfect meal – because there are a billion places where you can get that info. Me, I’m just a Big Girl who likes to be active, and that’s probably who I’ll always be. Only now, I’m going to try to pay as much attention to food as I do to exercise.
I’ll let you know how it goes. And in the meantime, this Saturday morning, I think I’ll make up for the lost opportunity of last weekend. I’ll be at Ohio Street beach at 6:00 a.m., to complete a mile swim, and a 24 mile bike. In deference to the doc’s orders, I think I’ll skip the run. It’s going to be a great morning, I can already tell.
See you on the path….