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?