Monday, September 5, 2016

Not afraid

Cue Eminem music:

Yeah... something like all that minus the dick in the dirt part because that sounds gross. And although Eminem wrote this song for his comeback, mine isn't really one yet. Or maybe it is a different kind of comeback and that's what I want to talk about.

I've been living in fear of injury for over two years now. As a result, at first sign of discomfort when I run, I stop. I honestly thought that I was smarter than others for listening to my body and being cautious, with the thought that it would serve me in the long run (pun intended), and that my recovery would be faster. And while I am no longer injured per se after all this time, I have learned in the process that my soon 42 year old body cannot function properly without a certain amount of maintenance and conditioning. Besides, I have no financial means to have a physio therapist on speed dial. I see people doing all kinds of crazy stuff to keep themselves together (cortisone injections, dry needling, acupuncture - so many needles!), but this sounds more like a band-aid to me. I want to be CURED of all my aches and pains. I want all my boo-boos to go away, to feel like a brand new coin coming out of the mint. I want, I want, I want... The Universe seems to have other plans for me though, and it all starts to make sense now. (I should really not write blog posts while drunk, but I'm sticking to this story, at least for the rest of the post).

I don't believe in God, but I believe in karma. Does this make me spiritual? I guess it depends where I am in my menstrual cycle. When all those hormones come rushing to break havoc on my psyche, I cling onto anything to make myself feel better, especially ice cream. And some days I just want to believe that things happen for a reason.

Like my return to Taekwondo. About 10 years ago I was sinking into the black hole of depression and decided to throw away all my belts, uniforms etc. I must have said something like "screw this, I'm too broken for this shit". Yet I kept one uniform and my last belt, safely in my Taekwondo gym bag. The same bag that went on accumulating dust in my basement and that I took out in a similar situation last December. I remember being on my bike and not being able to pedal without pain and once again I said "fuck all this, I am too broken to do triathlons". And I went back to Taekwondo. The loop was looped, a bit like the infinity symbol. I should get a tattoo or something. Since then I worked my way around injuries by doing a good amount of painful workouts in the dojang paired with enough swim/bike/run workouts to keep myself from thinking that I've given up.

I told you a little wile ago that I was going to have my first belt grading at my current school on August 27. Twelve years later since I got my blue belt. I worked hard to re-learn to do a proper sine wave, to bring my hips into submission to do a side kick, to remember half a dozen patterns, to speak Korean "taekwonese", to learn the purpose and method of each movement, to follow protocol, and most and foremost - to FOCUS with the goal of bringing my mind and body together and stop losing my shit. On top of it, I had to do it all this in front of my instructors and whoever else was going to be in audience. Anxiety reached its peak. I lost countless nights of sleep. To say that I was scared was an understatement. Yet when the day came I showed up and I did my best. It was not perfect by any means of the imagination - I am still pretty rusty after all - but at the end of the day, I did not break. And that my friends, was monumental.
(Photos courtesy Miss Julia Sapershteyn)

A couple of days later I went out for a run and decided to push the pace. Once again, I pushed the fear aside and told myself that I am a better runner than 9 months ago. Last year I could not do 20 lunges without being sore for 4 days. One night at the dojang I did 600 lunges and the next day I went back for more. In January I could not do a kick in slow motion. Now I can do 4 dozens. My flexibility and strength have increased tremendously. It cannot be for nothing. I still feel my IT bands being tight every once in a while, but I've rarely felt pain during my runs this year. So I kept telling myself while I was running that I am no longer broken, that I can be a runner again. I still need to follow a proper progression, of course, but I should be able to run a little longer if I wanted to. And so I signed up for my longest running race of this year, the Toronto Zoo Run 10K on September 24. I am working towards it, and my goal is to keep the pain at bay.

Last but not least, yesterday I conquered another fear. Two years ago when I turned 40, I made a "to do" list of sorts which I called "40 steps to 40" and one of them was to try stand up paddle boarding. Not sure what kept me from making it happen - maybe it was fear, maybe competing priorities with the Ironman training... Looking back, maybe I just procrastinated until it was too late. Yesterday I was tired from a lot of time spent in the saddle two days in a row and a hard taekwondo workout the day before, so I let Zin swim by himself at the quarry and I decided to rest instead. Soon enough though, that plan went out of the window because a couple of ladies returned from a SUP trip on the lake and left their paddle boards beside me. The lake was calm as glass and the conditions looked ideal for trying. I asked them if they rented the boards and they said yes, and that it would only cost $10. Another sign that it was meant to happen as I had brought exactly $10 with me, even though I had not planned to pay for my swim.
This was the plan
Then this became the plan. Only idiots don't change their minds, right?
I knew that I would have no issues swimming if I were to fall in the water, so I did not wear any extra safety. I just hopped on and paddled away. It took about 30 minutes to feel comfortable on it and release the tension in my legs. Being in the middle of a lake standing up on a wobbly board with nothing to hang onto is a little unnerving, for sure. But eventually I let go of my fear and managed to have fun. I spent about 45 minutes on it, at times paddling pretty hard, so it was no surprise that when I came back my arms and back were aching. So much for resting, haha. I'll leave that for another day, when there will be no bucket list items waiting for me.

Until then, Carpe Diem!!


  1. It's so exciting how you are building your body up with various sports. You're so athletic! And each sport helps a weakness in another sport.