September 3, 2009

Stages of Grief

Having been delivered this massive blow I've been thrown head first into the stages of grief and they've been somewhat expedited by the extreme circumstances. As I sat here numb last night hearing another human being tell me I couldn't race I was in complete denial. I begged him for options, I rationalized it all I could. I cried. I told him why this was so important to me. And he kept firm to his recommendation that I'm young, I'm healthy and there will be other races for me. I barely slept but was able to forget for a moment, then woke up to the harsh reality that this really happened. I worked from home today to spare my foot the commute and was blissfully busy. It kept my mind in a positive place while I waited for the next update from my podiatrist.

I started to think about alternatives. How could I salvage this experience to be something positive? I thought about doing Ironman Arizona in November after a focused period of rehab. I thought about risking it all and walking the marathon for the glory of the finish, even if it meant I would be in the 16:30 range. I got approval from the race director to walk the marathon in a boot if that's what needs to be. I rearranged every dream, every hope, every aspiration I've had over the last year of my life and I tried to make it work. I cried and cried and cried as I read the 20+ comments left on this blog by people I never knew read it. I was deeply touched to know that you have followed my journey and cared. I received more than 30 comments on my training log today and realized I am incredibly lucky. I have embarked on a journey that has changed my life permanently. I'll never be the same again. And while it isn't ending the way I wanted, I am finding so much positive energy to pull me through this and help me move on.

So if the first stages of grief are denial, pain, anger and bargaining, I feel I expedited my way through them due to the limited time I have. I was truly stunned by this news and spent all day thinking it would change. When I got the bad news a second time I gave up. I met friends for drinks and pretended to be a normal person who's life wasn't being turned upside down. All I can do now is rest, take care of my body and move forward. I'm going through the motions of preparing for my Ironman when in my heart I know it isn't a reality. My reality is a DNF, my first ever, and in the most important thing I've ever committed myself to. It's a hard pill to swallow but I don't feel like I have a choice.

Looking ahead to the future, I will sign up for Ironman Wisconsin 2010 and do it back to back with Lake Placid. It still won't be the race I dreamed of, but Madison and I will have a score to settle and I can't wait another year. I want to skip through the other stages of grief and move immediatly to number 7 - acceptance and hope. The people who have loved me and supported me this year can make that possible. I will never look back and understand why this happened to me, but I'm hoping I can pull myself out of the sadness and begin to focus on the future. That's what the Ironman journey is all about.


  1. See you in Madtown! Dad.

  2. Holy crap. Go away for a few days and big-time shizz happens while you're gone.

    It's heart breaking to realize that something you have dreamed of isn't going to happen. Still, you have to look at the long term. A buddy of mine pushed his PF issues too far. He can walk now, carefully, after several years of planning his life to spend the absolute minimum time on his feet. He will never ever run again. And he's only 50.

    Let your injuries heal. Get strong. The IM race will be there for you.

  3. I am vey impressed with your positive outlook and 2010 plans. Here is wishing you a speedy recovery and the race you dreamed of, just at a different venue (IMLP).

  4. I was really heartbroken to read your recent updates. I was so impressed by your commitment and dedication when we were in Vermont. You are in my thoughts and I am hoping that something will work out - the story will not end out without a little Zippy!

  5. Been thinking about you. Your plans for 2010 sound fantastic.

  6. As your big sis, I am very proud of all you have done and accomplished throughout your training. You absolutely amaze me!!! Even though it may not be what you hoped, no one can ever take away how much you've done so far. Always remember, DNF greatly trumps DNS. So even though you may not be able to finish you at least started the training and even maybe the race, which is more than many people would do!!!

  7. I am so sorry to hear about the doc's diagnosis. I am glad that, while as hard as it is (I cannot imagine and don't want to) to stop in T2 that you are willing to save your body for future races instead of destroy yourself in what would probably be a miserable marathon. I admire your wisdom there. I hope you still have a lot of fun and it's going to be something else to see you conquer two IMs next year!



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