Last week was an interesting week for me. I had about a 24-hour span when I wasn’t sure if I had some sort of life-threatening illness. Not a whole lot of fun.
I’m a pretty responsible person when it comes down to my health. I know I don’t eat right all the time, but considering I work for one of the best restaurants in town, I think limit my food intake pretty well. I exercise (obviously), don’t drink or smoke and have never done drugs. I go to my yearly exams like clockwork. I also don’t have a history of illness in my family. Longevity is common in my family, especially for the women. My Grandma Christine passed away at 96 last year, and my Grandma Helen just turned 96 last week and is still as active as ever.
So I have to say that I was pretty surprised late last week when I received a letter in the mail stating that “further examination” was needed because a “spot” was found on a scan taken at my annual exam. (Sidebar – I got a LETTER? Really? A spot on a scan doesn’t warrant a phone call? Apparently not.) Now to me, this letter basically said, “you have cancer.” I tried to be calm and realistic, but I admit, I was inwardly panicking.
I know this is a sport-related blog and I don’t want to get into the details of my anxiety so I’ll skip all that. Long story short - I was able to make an appointment for the next day (ok, I insisted I got an appointment). The more detailed scans came back clear and I’m fine. No cancer here!
Now here is the tie in with sports. Any guesses as to what one of my first thoughts was after reading that letter? “But I just ran 5 miles last night! I can’t be sick!” Classic denial. One of my next thoughts? “Crap, having cancer is really going to screw with my Half-Ironman training.” How crazy is that? I’m not even a professional athlete! (For the record, I did think about my amazing husband, family and friends during this time as well. I’m not a complete freak.)
It was then I decided that I needed to lighten up on myself in terms of training. I know I have a tendency to be obsessive about things like exercise. If I have a workout on my schedule, it’s going to get done somehow – usually by getting up crazy early or staying up late. I rarely blow off workouts, and if I do – I make them up the next day. If I have a bad run in the morning, I feel the need to bike or swim later to make up for it. A dedicated personality trait is a good thing for an athlete, but I don't think an obsessive one is. I shouldn’t beat myself up because I don’t run as fast as I’d like or can’t swim as far as the training schedule says I should at this point. Exercise is supposed to be fun, right?
I feel very fortunate that I’m healthy enough to train for this Half-Ironman and I’ve really enjoyed the training so far. But there are other things in life too. It’s finding the balance that will be my challenge.
Workouts last week:
Monday – 30 minute bike trainer
Tuesday – 30 minute bike trainer
Wednesday – EN run and 600 yards swim
Thursday & Friday – 24 hours of anxiety
Saturday – Swim lesson & 45 minutes on trainer
Sunday – 10 mile run with EN.