Monday, July 25, 2011

Hitting the Reset Button

I was lucky enough to visit my parents in early July this summer.  I was "surprising" my dad for his 72nd birthday.  I put that in quotes because he knew something was up, that I was coming, but he didn't know when.  Technically I did surprise him when I showed up with balloons, champagne and reading a poem I wrote him in a blond wig.
Being in North Carolina was completely awesome.  After spending the first part of the summer in Seattle with temperatures barely reaching 65* with rain and clouds, I was ready to jump in the heat and get thawed out, dried up and restore some heat in my bones.  That happened rather quickly.  I played tennis with dad in the mid day heat, went running most every day.  However, one of the highlights of the trip was going to the BEACH!
I absolutely love the sand, swimming in ocean and being transported through sight and sound to a different world known to me as THE BEACH.  I grew up swimming in the Atlantic and being there this summer just brought me back to being a kid.  As I floated, body surfed, dove under waves and bobbed around, I could feel the stress I have been feeling just get washed away in the salty waves.  Whenever I would get pummeled by a wave, I would crack up!  There is something about being in the ocean in warm salty water that brings me much serenity.  I could stay in there for hours and never get bored.  It was incredible to see my parents, married for nearly 50 years and having known each other since kindergarten, laughing together in the ocean.  That image is burned in my memory, it is an image of love and commitment, that is for sure.   And of course, what goes perfectly with a day a the beach....?  Well, ice cream or frozen custard of course!

After 2 days and the beach, we left and the next day I flew home.  I was still on vacation for a few more days from work and had planned to run around Mt St Helen's for my birthday.  After talking to the ranger, we decided that route finding in 8 feet of snow did not sound like a relaxing birthday adventure.  We opted to run in the North Cascades, however, it rained a lot of the day and I forgot my rain jacket.  Oh well, you'd think by now I would remember the essentials, but no.....  It was a fun day anyhow.

While I was in North Carolina and really since Big Horn, my leg pain has not subsided.  It seemed to be getting better before Big Horn and I was feeling optimistic.  I ran Big Horn and didn't run for a week and then gradually started running and resuming the boxing classes.  I am back to where I started with the leg issues.  I cannot complete the 4 mile loop near my house without stopping at least twice to walk.  The other day I went to the trails to run and I had to walk about 1/3 of the time on account of my leg.  It was then I decided that I would not participate at Cascade Crest 100 next month.  Sometimes my leg warms up and I have a great run, but lots of times, I just walk and run and "get through" a run.  This has been going on too long, a year and a half now.  I thought I had tried everything but now I am trying something different.  After reflecting on the book/memoir "Touching the Void", I decided to mix it up.  This book is written by Simon Yates.  Simon had a nearly fatal experience attempting to climb Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes.  This peak is 20,813 ft in elevation and he and his climbing partner attempted to climb this.  They had some issues going up but the sh&&t really hit the fan on their way down.  Simon was belaying down and was attached to his partner by rope who was anchored on the mountain.  Simon goes down and somehow swings into the mountain, breaks his knee and swings away from the mountain and finds himself suspended in air, hanging from the rope with no way to get contact with the mountain.  He cannot communicate this with his partner either as they are not in ear shot of one another.  His partner is up above him, wondering what is going on.  The continual weight of Simon is wearing on his partner and his partner is having a hard time holding on to the rope and staying anchored into the mountain.  The partner has to make a decision, should he continue to hang on and put himself in danger of falling off the mountain or should hevcut the rope to save himself.  What a decision!  Eventually, he decides to cut the rope!  When he cuts the rope, Simon goes flying down the mountain in mid air and lands in a crevasse.  He is submerged in snow and mountain with a broken knee.  He has no provisions with him either.  For days he tries to crawl out of the crevasse any way he can.  When he fails time and time again, he yells and screams for help, but no one can hear him.  He keeps trying to climb out and he still is in the same position.  After a few days, he realizes that this could be the end.  His will to live is so strong that he decided to do something totally counter intuitive.  What he does is he LET's GO and immediately slides down the crevasse.  He is going deeper and deeper down and the eventually, he shoots out the bottom of the crevasse and is once again out in the air and on snow.  Now he has a chance to survive.  It's truly an amazing story.  I won't tell you the end as it's a really good read, but obviously he wrote this book so that's a pretty big indication that he survives!  Anyway, the take away message for me is that when I have tried everything I can think of, or have the will to try, and it doesn't work, then I must let go, dig deeper and try something new.  I realize that this situation with my leg and running 100 milers does not even make it on the radar screen with what Simon was up against, but the book has always been a reminder to me to always be in motion trying to fix, solve, resolve or overcome what is ailing me.  I have known for quite some time that if I stopped running so much that I would heal quicker, but I did not WANT to do that.  But now is the time.  I WANT to run CCC100, I WANT to run the 4 mile loop without stopping, I WANT to ride my bike without having to get off of it and push it.  But because I can't do the two latters, it leaves the former in question.  So, I am letting go of CCC100 and trying a new approach.  I can still do my beloved boxing classes and go for trail runs here and there.  But now the pressure is off to find a solution before the next race only to find myself back where I started.  I will cheer my friends on at CCC and volunteer, pace Owen for some miles, but other than that, it's time to get on a different path. As Erin says in Jasyoga, I am going to hit the reset button.  Although I am personally disappointed in not running CCC, I know I am doing the right thing.  In the long run, it is the best thing, (no pun intended).  I'll be there cheering friends on and pacing Owen for part of it and hopefully volunteering in other capacities.  And I also decided to join to fellow ultra runners for the Great Urban Race in August.  It's something different, why not?


Rooster said...

What a great trip you had. Sun...ah....beach. Nice for a PNW resident. Personally I was craving sun and blue sky.

Sounds like a good change is coming. Maybe some rest and repair and you will be ready to race again soon.

Olga said...

It's great to read about marriages of 50 years filled with companionship...wonderful trip! As for leg, I was reading Evan Hone's surgery for his hip labrum tear, what I have and it hurts me for 5 years. I keep saying one day I'll take a plunge, time off, and fix is scary though. I love Touching the void! and truly hope your reset button is what you need to put the leg thing behind for GOOD!

Sara said...

Your trip looked like a lot of fun. I'm sure your dad was thrilled. Wow 50 years!?!?

You are making a very tough decision but it sounds like a good one. Like you said, you've got to keep trying until something works. I recommend you hang out with me and Laura at No Name Ridge during CC100. :)

Touching the Void is such an incredible story. No doubt we can learn a lot of lessons from it.