Bent, But Not Broken

About a little over a year and a half ago, a week before my 40 Birthday, I made a change in my life that would affect me in ways I never imagined.

I started running when I was 17 years old.  It was easy to do, didn’t take much thought or preparation.  I quickly learned I was pretty good at it.  I could whip out 4 or 5 miles without even really thinking about it.  Running was also a nice mental break for an hour.  For a while, I got into running half marathons.  I loved the challenging myself and my body to new limits and the feeling of accomplishment when you reached the finish line.  Oddly, I loved the mental growth that was gained from pushing myself to new limits.

After 23 years, I was pounding out 5 miles a day, 7 days a week, and found myself longing to try something new.

That’s when I met my new love….CrossFit.

A friend of mine invited me to try a free class and I was hooked from the first countdown.  For those of you that don’t know what CrossFit is, it’s Olympic lifting, gymnastics, strength, conditioning, and cardio all crammed into an hour of intense craziness.  You show up every class to a programmed workout where you push yourself to your limits physically and mentally, tearing through internal barriers and rebuilding a newer, better version of yourself.   You walk away each day dripping in sweat, gasping for air, and feeling pushed to your limits.  You also leave counting down the hours until your next WOD.

Now I know you’re thinking.  It’s a gym.  You lift things and workout.  You can get that anywhere.  Yes, you can, but what you also get at a CrossFit gym that you don’t get other places is a community of support, encouragement, and friendship.  Everyone in the gym is pushing themselves to their limits while cheering each other along as well.  CrossFit really is a community.  When a workout ends and the bodies hit the floor, they then all get up and congratulate each other.  They offer sweaty hugs and chalky fists for jobs well done.  They ring bells and send up cheers when new personal records are met.  They offer kind ears and words of encouragement when needed too.

When I joined my CrossFit gym, I not only found new muscles and levels of pain and exhaustion, I found a whole new group of friends.  I mean who wouldn’t want to be friends with these crazy fools!

They are even so awesome, they sent me ‘Miss You’ photos when I was out-of-town!

Since I stared CrossFit, I’ve been growing and changing as a person.  I’ve been accomplishing things I never dreamed I would.  I’ve been feeling stronger and better, both physically and mentally, than I have in years.  I’ve been feeling not 41.  Then this last week happened.  My body betrayed me and a new level of sadness and fear set in.

Many, many, many years ago (we are talking in the 90s) I had reconstructive knee surgery and had 3 screws put in my knee.  It’s hasn’t been much of a factor since then and it certainly hasn’t limited my activities…until now.

A week and a half ago, I started feeling some sharp stabbing pain.  I figured I could just work through it.  I rested a little.  It started to feel better.  I thought it was nothing.  Seven days in, the pain returned stronger this time with swelling.  I woke up Friday unable to walk on it normally or bend it.

Silly me, I actually looked at the WOD that morning and was thinking about hobbling in and trying to do part of it.  Instead, I went to the Ortho doc who fixed me up years ago to have it looked at.  He drained the fluid off my knee, gave me a cortisone shot, and then gave me some devastating news.  Doc said that I have the beginning of arthritis in my left knee, where the screws are, and that I can no longer run.  Blow. To. The. Heart.  Full disclosure, I did go home and cry.  I’ve always considered myself a runner and to think I can NEVER do that again was devastating.  Even though I’m at CrossFit five days a week, I still love going out on my off days and pounding out some miles.  And that’s the problem.  All that pounding has done a number on my knees.  After digesting that information, I quickly started explaining my CrossFit regimen and held my breath.

Luckily, the answer was music to me ears.  As long as I stop running and watching the jumping, I can keep beating my body to exhaustion and pushing myself to my breaking point.  I can keep lifting heavy weights and climbing ropes.  I never wanted to jump off a table and hug someone so much in my whole life, but I’d just been banned from jumping, so Doc was safe.

So today I returned to the gym.  A little more cautious, a little more careful, but determined to keep on working, sweating, pushing, pulling and passing out.

I may have to hang up my running shoes, but could someone please hand me some chalk? 

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A moment in Tim

Well first and foremost I have to say…. I’m back!  To those of you who used to swing by here on a regular basis, I will apologize for disappearing on you.  It was never planned to disappear for that long.  One day I was writing and posting on the regular.  The next day life and moming and jobing and adulting got in the way.  And the words stopped coming.  I hope you’ll forgive my absence and visit again.  For those of you new to my Chaos, welcome!  I hope you like it and come back too!  Now, since the words have returned…so will I!

In the last year and a half, I have become a little bit of a CrossFit junkie. I decided after 20+ years of running that I needed to shake things up.  Seven days and over 30 miles a week just wears on you.  My treadmill was bored with me and I had run out of Netflix shows to watch.  That’s when I met my new love… CrossFit.  (My apologies to my hubby, but there is just something about throwing up heavy weights and climbing a rope that makes me swoon.  But that’s a blog for another day.)

In my world, workouts get down before the sun comes up. I love my family, but the only time I can get anything done without interruptions is to crank it out while they are dead to the world, so I am a solid up at 4:30 am at the box for 5 am class type of girl.

If you know anything about CrossFit, we are in the depths of The Open right now, a series of five grueling workouts that test you both physically and mentally.  A few days after the latest WOD, I woke up at 2:45 with tremendous, shooting back pain.  No combination of pillows or body contortions would make it stop so I could return to dreamland.  After 30 minutes of trying, I gave up and got on my workout clothes.  (You know, that activewear many just wear to actively get coffee and have their nails done.  I make mine earn its name.)  I had planned to pick up some groceries after class, but decided, since I was already up, I may as well hit the store first.

You know what Wal-Mart is like at 3:30 am…glorious.  Sure, there are employees in the aisles stocking shelves and palettes to dodge, but you now what wasn’t there…other shoppers.  It was phenomenal! I was able to navigate the whole store, get all the household items and a week’s worth of grocery for four (I have a 14-year-old boy, so it was more like groceries for 6), and hit the checkout in under 30 minutes.

And that’s where I met him.

You know what happens when there are no shoppers at Wal-Mart?  There are no checkouts open, so me and my overflowing grocery cart saddled up to the self-check out station and got to work.  Before I had even scanned the first item, the security guard walked over to me with a second shopping cart.

“Hi!  Good Morning!  Here, this will make it easier to you.  You can just put the full ones in it.”  

After wheeling me over the cart, he leaned up against the wall next to me and started talking.  At first it was the usual, the gorgeous weather we just had, hopes it would stick around permanently, fear we would get still one more snow storm before spring really arrived.  Polite small talk.  Nice.  Friendly.  Then he started talking about a meal he had recently with his mom and brother.  He lives with his mom.  His washer recently broke.  He didn’t have the money to buy a new one, so his mom found a place that sells used appliances and helped him purchase one.  He said it had actually broken weeks before he told his mom, but he didn’t want to upset her with the news, so he’d been washing his clothes in the sink for a while now.  

He has an uncle who has a vacation house and a boat.  Boat upkeep is expensive!  He wished he had enough money to be able to have a boat.  But his uncle is a very nice man.  Invites them over and helps him out.  The kind of guy who would keep giving you the shirt off his back time after time, no questions asked. 

They struggle, but they get by.  Tim’s dad was supposed to leave him and his brother some land and inheritance in his will, but he changed it right before he died and left everything to his step mom.  He looked hurt.  His dad wasn’t a nice guy.  We was a jerk (not the words he used, but I cleaned it up for you.) Oh well, that’s how things go I guess.

He shared about a visit with his dad from a while back.  His dad was starting to say something derogatory towards a person of color that was nearby.  He stopped his dad, told him you can’t say that.  That’s not ok.  His dad attempted to belittle him for not ‘manning up.’  I’m not that type of person.  I don’t feel that way about others.  People are people.  We’re all here together.  

I finished up the last of my items and headed out.  I thanked him for the talk and wished him a good day.

“What’s your name?” 

“Kerry”

“Hey Kerry.  I’m Tim.  Have a great day!” 

Tim stopped time.  Tim slowed me down.  Tim was kind.  Tim was honest.  Tim was open.  We could all learn a lot from Tim.  I know I did.