I have been thrown a curve ball. I was planning on doing another half-ironman this summer. Instead I will be having surgery on a torn rotator cuff. When I had to cancel my race, I was very sad, almost tearful. I have been spending a great deal of time worrying what recovery will be like. Then I saw an article about paratriathletes.
Paratriathletes are athletes that have some type of disability, such as a loss of a limb, and are still competing in triathlons. I have seen parathletes in almost every race I have ever done. There was the woman who was wearing a prosthetic for her right leg. I asked her how it felt to run with it on. She said every step hurt. I was volunteering in a race and watched some of these athletes being carried into the ocean so that they could start their first leg of the race, then being given crutches to help them out of the water and get to their bikes. I have seen blind runners being guided by a partner. I have watched the videos of family members towing disabled relatives so that they can feel what it is like to be in a race. I have seen a Marine unit running with a flag, pushing their comrade in a wheelchair, all the while singing Marine marching songs. I saw a gentleman in a regular wheelchair-not a race chair, a huge difference in weight and maneuverability-with a sign on his back saying, “Do not help me”.
I will have several months of pain, discomfort, and struggle to get dressed to go through. But I will get better. These amazing people will never grow back a limb, regain their sight, or walk again. But they are out there, doing the same thing I am, with a smile on their faces.
So, while I may still complain-all right, I will still complain-I have a much clearer perspective. My injury is nothing compared to these heroes. Every time that I think about hard my recovery will be, I will look at them. Every time that I struggle to do something, I will remind myself that my disability is temporary. Every time, I wonder if I will make it back to the starting line, I will think about all of these phenomenal athletes who do so much with so much less than what I have.
Keep your perspective. We can all look around and see how much we are blessed with. Never forget that.