Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bike Accident, and Malibu Triathlon – my attitude killed my joy, and I paid for it!

I haven’t written in a while – not only have I been busy with work since the end of my first half ironman, but a lot has happened and I have been trying to make sense out of it. I think I can finally look back and make sense out of all that has been happening as I organize my head.
First, shortly after the exhilarating high of the half ironman race, I started feeling a little down and got extremely bored of the day to day life – it was as if I didn’t know what to do with myself now that everything I’ve worked for all year was over and done with. Still, I wanted to maintain my fitness level by continuing to do weekend rides and ocean swims, etc… then about month ago something happened that shattered what was left of my desire to keep up with my training.

I was riding north going to meet my friend on the Pacific Coast Highway, near Zuma beach. This was mid August. There was construction in that area, which I was not aware of – neither were there any signs up saying there was a re-pavement construction going on….all of a sudden I find myself riding on a seriously ripped up bike lane – bumps and cracks everywhere, and I can feel the bumps and gyration in my arms…there were several more people on the road, and especially this one woman ahead of me, maneuvered pretty well through the bumps that I just kept focusing on following the path she went on to avoid falling into the cracks. I was getting pretty scared and tired of all the shaking, and the moment I let go of my alert and wanted to just stop, that is when my wheel got caught between the cracks and then…from what I can remember, I felt myself float into the air, rotating, along with the bike (my feet attached to the clips, so my bike and I were one, good or bad), then falling straight on to the ground, with a big thump on my head. The minute I fell, I looked around to see where I was – I fell into the middle of the road (survival alert!). I looked around to see if there was a car coming my way, and yes, there was..(note, PCH speed limit: 50, which means people go at least 55 mph)…a big black Mercedes…I started dragging myself (still attached to the bike) back on the bike lane…on my butt (bike still attached to my feet), I almost remember literally bouncing off my butt into the bike lane…how did I do that? Anyway, I was watching that big black Mercedes slow down right in front of me as I was doing all this…thank God, really, the driver was able to slow down. He pulled over and came out of his car to check if I was ok. I thanked him profusely for being able to slow down. What you will read will surprise you – he said that he was able to stop only because he was already slowing down to watch another person fall on the other side of the road! There were at least 4 accidents that day that I witnessed, and there were about 20 in total as reported. Fortunately my friend found me and he drove me to the ER and I got a CT scan on my head and xray on my right shoulder – everything was fine. I was so thankful for being alive and not having any serious damage.

On the other hand, my emotional side was not doing so well. For weeks I couldn’t get rid of the visual of the black car coming towards me that could have killed me. I avoided getting on the bike for weeks, and my desire to train and continue on with my efforts pretty much went to zero, from what was already at low levels. My right shoulder was tight and my right hip was definitely not doing very well. Head and neck pain came and went for weeks. All these things gave me great excuses to build on my already withering eagerness and passion for the one thing that has been keeping me alive – my training.

It was the end of August soon and then came the first week of September, and I had the Malibu Sprint Triathlon just around the corner on 9/13. I’d maybe gone on two ocean swims and done a few short runs. Maybe I got on the bike trainer once. But most of the days I was either nursing my tight injured areas or just doing pilates or yoga to loosen up my joints. I didn’t want to train, and I definitely did not want to do this upcoming Sprint race. I just didn’t want to do it. But I also knew deep inside that I had to do it, especially because it was a fundraiser for the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles.

Race day morming comes around, I'm still bitter that I had to get up at 430am for a short race. I mean, I was setting myself up for a bad race. If it hadn't been for Detra who carpooled with me and my other friends that met me there, there was NO WAY i would have even gotten up on time. It didn't help that when we got there there was already massive traffic and it was nearly impossible to park to get to the transition site on time to set up for the race. We parked alongside the road and just biked to the race site.

Long story short, I had one of the most unhappy races in the 5 years of my triathlon experience. I was sluggish from beginning to end, and I really did not feel much joy except for when I got out of the ocean. I had all the reasons to be proud of the fact that I survived the swim in Zuma beach, since I had been putting off doing the Malibu Triathlon all these years for the exact reason that I was too scared to face the unpredictable waves there. I killed it and I did well! But no, i didn't even think about it, all i thought about was that I wasn't up for doing this race.

With that attitude, even recovery was bad. I was sore all over for days, after a sprint! I recovered nicely after a half ironman not too long ago, granted I was very well trained that time, but still I do think my whole bitter attitude delayed my recovery.

What have i become? I started wondering why I was not feeling the usual joy - I understand, the accident shook me up a little and I was coming down from an immense high of completing a half ironman, but mang, I was just the biggest sour patch!

Now as I look back, I am realizing that I got spoiled. I lost my gratitude. I forgot WHY I was racing. I forgot that even two years ago I was not able to race without training diligently for it no matter how short of a race it was - now i'm at a fitness level where I can still race (albeit poorly) without much training and recover decently without severe consequences. I have dozens of reasons to be grateful for and continue to race with a smile no matter what! I became arrogant and foolish, and I apologize to those who cannot race because of the pain, that i have momentarily forgotten you. I let this whole half ironman experience and the accident get to my head.

I vow never to have such a sour attitude when it comes to training and racing! I mean, I love this stuff!!!!!

I definitely learned my lesson. In triathlons and in life, we walk into situations where we just don't feel like doing things, no matter how important they are to us. We can easily find excuses that back up our negative feelings about them too. So we allow ourselves to forget what got us there, what made us who we are, and most importantly where we are going. I almost let myself let go of everything i've worked for just because I got into a bad accident. I took my time getting over it, and gave myself every excuse in the book to delay a rebound. Eventually I even didn't want to do the race that brought me the joy and recovery of my health for the past 5 years. Once we lose our gratitude, excitement and the vision to go forward, we lose sight of the big picture and then..we get lost. Being positive is most of the time a choice we have to make and renew every day. It just doesn't come naturally all the time. However, it is that positive attitude and fortitute to move forward is what drives us to be better, live better and laugh a little more, so we have to choose to be positive and happy. Happiness is a choice.

Let's keep our joy alive by renewing our positive attitude every day.