This July, 2014, will mark the 10-year ‘anniversary’ of my motorcycle accident. I’ll spare the details here, but suffice to say, it was a ‘major life event’, and recovery, at times, was in doubt. Fast-forward to November, 2012….I was overweight, stiff, sore, and sick and tired of being sick and tired. I had to make some hard decisions if I was going to change.
When I was in the hospital, it took small steps to go from being immobile to rolling over in bed. One day, I was able to sit up by myself….which made watching television from the hospital bed a lot easier. Because I needed assistance to transfer to the wheelchair, getting to the bathroom was a major production, which required advance planning. After several days, I was able to transfer myself….which was a major boost in my confidence (and privacy). From there, I was able to stand with a walker….then take a step…then another, and then another.
After I was discharged, I nearly exhausted myself walking 60 feet to the neighbor’s mailbox……but each day, I’d build a bit more, to the point where I would be walking as many as seven miles in one day.
That doesn’t mean it’s been all successes….8 years after the accident, I was significantly overweight, and not exercising much at all. I certainly wasn’t pushing myself. I came to the realization that nothing would change if I didn’t. Knowing that I had failed a number of times in the past, I decided to do this effort a bit differently…..making small changes, but measuring my progress along the way. To paraphrase Covert Bailey, my goal was to ‘start so slowly, people would make fun of me.’ Day one, I started out walking. Once I got up to 30 minutes after about a week, I decided to see if I could run (slow jog, actually). I jogged 60 yards. Then walked. I built up to 60 on/60 off….and each week, I’d add a bit, going to 90/60, then 120/60, and building to running half a mile, then a full mile.
During the spring, I built up from my first 5K, then a 5-miler…then a 10K, and then a 10-miler. At the end of the year, I finished by running the Indy Monumental Half-Marathon with my sister and her husband. Building up wasn’t easy, but I did it in such small increments that it didn’t feel like more work.
After a short break for the holidays, it was time to continue evolving. In February, I ran up the Empire State Building (thanks to the MMRF, and inspiration from friends), and planned out this year. Again, building from where I was, I’ll be doing two century bike rides, a number of shorter races, to a sprint and Olympic triathlon, culminating in the Marine Corps Marathon this fall. Just like in nature, to survive and thrive, I need to keep evolving.
In the end, I’ve gone from a hospital bed to a wheelchair, to a walker, to a cane……to walking unassisted. From there, I’ve continued to evolve, taking on more and more challenges as I’ve become more capable. This year, I’ll be doing a number of challenging events, including the swim/bike/run of at least two triathlons. Looking back 10 years, I couldn’t have pictured it. By taking small steps and building on each accomplishment, I’ve gone much farther than I could have ever imagined. You can too.