Foot injury, observations and a round of thanks

Yesterday, I warned you about jumping off a pier into shallow water.

Today, I offer this update on the left foot: It’s still swollen, although the swelling goes up and downduring the course of the day. It’s bruised. It’s sore, but not any pain. I can walk on it, though there is no running for me at all until the swelling is completely gone.  And if it’s  not down by next week, then I’m heading for some professional medical advice.

A big race lends itself to many thoughts, feelings and observations and I offer more from Ironman 70.3 Lonestar:

  • First, I’ve never been a fan of pizza after the race. Sure, I want to eat food and pizza is easy for both race staff and participants, but it just seems like the last thing (a) I need or (b) I want. For some reason after this one, I actually enjoyed my two slices from sponsor Papa Johns. Oh, they had cookies and fruit, too, but at that point I wanted anything BUT something sweet. I had enough chocolate-flavored gel, lemon-lime Gatorade and fig newtons to last me a few weeks.
  • On the run course, I passed a woman who appeared to be … running in her wetsuit? It was a sleeveless suit and knicker length but still it appeared to be a regular wetsuit. I am assuming she did the entire race in her wetsuit. That could not have been comfortable, particularly in the heat. But the odd sight was welcomed in a way — it took my mind off my OWN run for a few minutes.
  • Speaking of things on the course that make you think positively, I saw about half a dozen people in dire states receiving medical attention. It is at that point you offer a quick prayer to the deity of your choice along with a bit of gratitude that you are still healthy and moving forward.
  • On my final loop I came up to two guys who were walking. I overheard their conversation as they tried to figure out how much time they had left to walk the run course. Each segment has a time cutoff and you must finish the race within a certain amount of time. For this event, you had 8 hours and 30 minutes from the time the final swim wave began to complete the event. (And yes, that means if you’re in an earlier wave you have more time.) These two guys were trying to figure out when the last wave was. As I passed I offered, “The last wave went off at 8:15.” They said thanks and noted they were on their last loop. Me too! I said. “Yes, but you’re still running! You go!” At that point I realized a slow run was all relative. I was still running when others weren’t.
  • Again on that final loop a woman in front of me was getting plenty of cheering from friends who were at different points along the course. It seemed as if she was part of a triathlon group from the area and hence had a rather large cheering section. As we passed one such cheering section I noted to her friends, “She certainly has a big fan club!” One of the guys responded, “You do too Amy. Go Amy! Everyone cheer for Amy!” And shouts of joy went up and I raised my hands in acknowledgement of the encouragement. Tip for spectators: Cheer for everyone on the course. If you can read someone’s name on their bib, go ahead and cheer for them by name. Trust me. It makes a difference.

Anyone who has completed an endurance event has at least one other person to thank. I have many. Now, time for some special recognition:

Peter Pimm, my coach, who crafted a program that kept me on the edge of my physical (and mental) limits but one that made me stronger both in body and in spirit. He pushed me out of my comfort zone, just enough for me to feel the discomfort but never enough for me to get discouraged. And when I was on the verge of discouragement, he made adjustments and we moved on. He always kept me moving forward and for that, I am grateful.

Walker and Theo, my two friends with me in Texas. Walker did the race and crushed her goal time. Theo was great as our Sherpa and hearing him cheer when I finally got out of the swim and onto the bike was huge. They both put up with me in my panic over my swollen foot. And they put up with me in general. For that I am grateful.

Mom and Dad. This was the first major race they weren’t at and I know my mother was freaking out over my foot injury. But regardless of whether they are actually at the race or if my mother is voicing a bit too much of her (well-intentioned) maternal concern for my safety and well-being, they have always been a tremendous support and I will thank them every time.

My brother has a knack for sending me the BEST pre-race text messages. He and his wife are expecting their first child this October and they’ve nicknamed the little dude or dudette “POTUS” (and if you ever watched The West Wing you get at least part of the joke). On Saturday, he sent me the latest sonogram picture and text which read, “Potus says, ‘What time is it?? go Aunt Mo!!'” Instant smile.

Mark got me through a good six weeks of training and even put up with me during taper week when I probably would have bailed on myself had I been allowed to leave my body for a period of time. He gave me encouragement in just the right words and tone, made runs to the store for last-minute items, hauled me to the airport at 4:15 in the morning and provided more than one phrase which helped get me through race day. “You’re doing a Half Ironman today,” he told me early Sunday morning. “How bad ass is that?” Trust me, the phrase “bad ass” shot through my mind several times, especially on the run. He also reminded me that I had trained for this race, that I needed to trust my training, and that there was nothing left to do but leave it all on the course. There was nothing to “save” for — an important reminder when I decided to go hard on the bike. (And for the record, Mark had a PR in the Flower City Half Marathon on Sunday. He downplayed that, but a PR in the rain is pretty darn impressive!)

Numerous friends offered encouragement: from my steady running crew of Sue and Herm to Nick (who dubbed me “Awesome Amy” in his pre-race text messages) to Karyn and Jessica and countless others on Facebook. Every single positive thought was immeasurably important and reminded me that no matter what happened on the course, I have people who love me, care about and even, for some reason, are inspired by me. It’s humbling. It’s also mutual. Because for every person who tells me I help inspire or motivate them, their lives do the same for me in return.

And that beats a fast swim time any day of the week.

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