Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Exercise in Humility

(Warning: Large ego-check in progress. Watch for falling self-opinions.)

So I rode last night.

I decided that I would do an hour. That’s easy enough, right? I mean, come on, that’s like a warm-up for me right?

Wrong. So very, very, wrong.

I called it quits at about 45 minutes. I was gasping for air, sweat pouring off me, even though I stayed in a easy, cruising gear the whole time.

And Megan being Megan, I got frustrated with myself, and the conversation went a little bit like this:

Me: 45 minutes?!?!?!!? Are you kidding me?!?! I hate you, you stupid body.
Body: Hate you right back! Why do you keep doing this to me? I give and I give and I give, and you just take and take and then make me do things I am not ready for. Give me a break for crying out loud!
Me: Oh stop complaining. You did IM three weeks ago, I know you can break through this pain. I know you are better then this.
Body: I am, Megan, but you need to give me some time. If you don’t, I am going to revolt against you in a way you never imagined. LAY.OFF.ME. If 45 minutes is all I give, then you need to be happy with it. Get over yourself, you ego-maniac. END.OF.STORY.
Megan: *grumble….grumble* Fine….Still hate you.
Body: Whatever. And while we're on the topic, maybe you should stop feeding me boxes of candy instead of meals. What - did we all of the sudden forget about protien? The doctor says specifcally, "Eat protien" and you give me Red Vines? For breakfast?!? Grow up.

So I am learning, among other things, how to re-think and re-talk to myself.

Oh boy - is this “Square One” approach a test of my patience. I told Cheese last night - I always consider myself to be the exception. We all do, right? I mean, the doctor says, "Most people will take about four to six weeks to feel recovered, go back to work...." and we think, "Well, maybe, but I'm not like most people."

I know I am not the only one who thinks like this, right?


I think it would not be so bad if I didn’t have the two utmost extremes of physical ability within two weeks of each other - going from feeling invincible to totally broken.

This was never more clear then my little attempts at walking on the treadmill at the gym.

See, I’ve posted before about how I get this secret satisfaction when I go to the gym to run the treadmill after riding the trainer for 3-4-5 hours. I like running and thinking, “Yeah, this is like my 4th or 5th or 6th hour of working out today.” I like knowing that.

But I never really thought that in a narcissistic or superiority way. I was never snide out it – just proud, and proud of myself for being able to do it.

In fact, throughout the training, I have always felt proud – and mostly because, at the beginning of each new and long workout, I was terrified of what that workout would bring – pain, tears, injury, etc. So in finishing a workout, the pride was about overcoming that fear, and pushing through.

The payoff was non-quantifiable. To finish Ironman, and race the way I wanted – I was at the extreme peak of what my body could do.

And then fast forward to two weeks later. Scene: Me, on the treadmill, surrounded by people running, singing along to their iPods while bouncing along. I found myself overwhelmed with the desire to scream, “But I just did Ironman!!! Three weeks ago! I am just walking because I had surgery! But I am better than this!”

Okay, how narcissistic is that?!?!

Like, who effing care that I am walking and why? No one cares. NO ONE. It’s only my own ego about what I think I SHOULD be doing. I am embarrassed about this and yes, I know I need to take myself down a notch.

It occurred to me that my mental strength was what ultimately got me through Ironman, and my mental strength is the thing that is going to make or break this recovery. If I keep getting in my own way, I am going to have setback after setback. But if I can just teach myself to accept life as it is in this moment, then I can comeback slowly but strong.

Sigh. Sounds so easy, but we are talking about a girl’s whose second most obvious “hole” is the place when my patience should be.

So 45 minutes on the bike will do for now. I will say this though – I woke up this morning feeling like I did a 7-hour brick.

But I guess I have never been one to turn down a challenge.


IM Able said...

I've decided we need to get you a t-shirt that says

"Has anyone seen my kidney?"

You can wear that and your IM hat to the gym. Ego intact. ;)

Prin said...

Ooo, I actually know what you're talking about. After my concussion from snowboarding, it was really hard to go back to the hill and ride just for the hell of it. The mountain and I had a deal: I was going to kick ass on it and it was going to take it while giving me peace.

And then there I was, weak, scared, broken and useless sitting at the top of the mountain, embarrassed that my favorite mountain was seeing me in such a sorry state.

In the end, I've all but given up snowboarding. My two boards sit in my snowboard bag, unused in over a year now.

If I can't compete, even against myself, what's the point? When it comes to snowboarding, all I know is pushing myself hard and trying to get better fast.

It's really, really hard to redirect your perspective when that's all you've known and it's been so rewarding.

But if you want to keep going, keep getting better, and all that, you have to progress. You can't just jump back up to the top, even though you already know what it feels like to get there.


Molly said...

im able's T Shirt idea made me laugh. scott got kozmo a tag for his collar that says, has anyone seen my balls?
glad you listened to your body...don't want you to end up with more complications.
glad your brother is looking well, i am sure the emotional stuff with his will work itself out.
take care

The Clyde said...

One day at a time Meg, I mean you just did have major surgery...

Oh and on this....

"at the beginning of each new and long workout, I was terrified of what that workout would bring – pain, tears, injury, etc. So in finishing a workout, the pride was about overcoming that fear, and pushing through."

....I couldn't agree with you more.

Alili said...

I've had that conversation with my body, more than once actually.

Able's shirt idea is fabulous!

But this is what struck me most "If I keep getting in my own way, I am going to have setback after setback. But if I can just teach myself to accept life as it is in this moment, then I can comeback slowly but strong."

Listen to your body...and I'll try to as well:)

Sassy Molassy said...

Yeah it's tough to just say "ok, this is all we can do today" when you're used to going balls to the walls nonstop. Eventually the body just says "enough already!"

It's hard to give up that power you know you have inside and the ability to push through no matter how bad the pain.

Hang in there and give yourself a break. I know the training experts always say you should try to find something else to fill your spare hours like going out with friends, doing something crafty, etc so you don't feel like "AH, I need to workout!" Like I should talk...I never follow that advice.

Benson said...

Being a little humble can be a good thing. Best wishes for a goo healing process and great results.

Good foods and good sleep are vital.

Alili said...

I meant that I would try to listen to my body too...I don't want to listen to yours :)

Melissa said...

sheesh - you are an Ironwoman - high five yourself! Clearly we are all hard on ourselves, that why we take on such challenges. and the ting is, meg, we succeed. it's jsut a nother challenge for you to push through. and candy is so full of protein - as is ice crem cake.

this weekend i was on the run course of a half when the guy i was passing (oh yeah i was passing him!) started complaing about the heat (it was hot) and such. i told him - at lest he can feel the heat - at least he can feel the pain. so the next time your ego needs that kick - you tell it - at least you can do it! 45 minutes is better than 44! and next week - I bet you can do even more.

Melissa said...

and clearly i need spell check on this thing!

KrissyGo! said...

Patience, grasshopper...

Danni said...

Big realization in this post Megan.
Strength will make it or break it. You figured it out, now like you said, get yourself to do something about it.

PS: I love IM-able's idea for the t-shirt :)

The Young Family said...

You will get back to it - what do you think you just had an organ taken out? It's me again the lurker - now commenter!


Go Mom Go said...

I cannot imagine what you are going through. I have a hard enough time training and I have not recently gone through major surgery. I also beat myself up for not being able to do what I was doing this time last year in the middle of ironman training. I am just a "normal" person this year and my results show.

I agree with im able...a t-shirt would be perfect. :)

I don't have a answer - just take it slow and know you have tons of support!


Tea said...


I can only hope to be half as strong as you are.

Tri-Angle said...

3 weeks ago IM

2 weeks ago....guts cut out...hmmmmm


the fire said...

Ever read the "Giving tree" maybe its time to take a break and sit on the stump

Greg said...

A well-written post. I agree with you about the need to stop procrastination. You can find more help at http://www.stop-procrastination.org This website also has plenty of easy ways you can use to stop procrastination.