Cursed or Blessed?

Posted in: Ironman, recovery, Triathlon, Uncategorized

It has been awhile since I blogged and a lot has happened in the past two months. From an objective observer’s point of view, the past two months, let’s make that 5 months, would probably appear to be sort of a little mini-hell full of one disappointment, letdown, illness, or injury after another. And while I would agree partially to that view, I have always believed and trusted that something bigger than my circumstances was at work – mainly God working some things out in me; and working things out for good.

So a real quick rundown on what has happened since my disappointing DNF in Raleigh at the beginning of June. After that race, I decided to go to the doctor to get a bunch of lab tests done; I knew something wasn’t right and hadn’t been for at least a few months. My cortisol levels, iron, and mono tests all came back fine. However, my Estrogen was almost completely gone. Now, lower Estrogen is normal in women that train for endurance sports, as is lower testosterone in men; however, mine was more than just a little on the low side. I am sharing this info with you for one reason – that perhaps it might help someone else who might be suffering from the same issue. There were a few people in my life – not going to name names here – that thought it was no big deal that my female hormones were lower than many post menopausal women’s. WHAT!! It is a big deal – not only does it make you feel really really bad, but it is terrible for your bones (we’re talking hip replacement at 50 years old bad for your bones). Anyway, I am just here to say that it is ok to trust your own instincts about your body.

Ok, I am happy to report that my hormone balance is back to normal thanks to the “unfortunate” thing that happened to me next. I went to Coeur d’Alene and decided to race anyway – despite the fact that I had taken a complete 7 days off from training after Raleigh and had not really done the requisite Ironman volume. However, with the lower volume/higher intensity training that I did do in the weeks leading up to the Ironman, I felt really good and strong and fresh. I felt like my hormone levels and energy were returning to normal. My training numbers looked great, and I knew I was ready for a good race – even though I knew the last 10km of the marathon would hurt like hell due to lower run mileage. Mentally and spiritually I was excited and happy to be racing again, and really looking forward to just being out there on the course. However, I will admit that I had an odd foreboding that said exactly this to me “I might die during the race.” Weird, huh? Well, the race started with some pretty rough conditions, but I swam pretty well. I took my time in transition and put on some warmer clothes and got onto to bike course to find that I felt great, really great. My legs felt really good and I was excited. I was biking strong, gaining on the women in front of me, and sat in 4th place and less than 2 minutes behind 2nd at around mile 45 when I crashed. I don’t really remember what happened except that I only had one hand on the bars at the time (I had just thrown my arm warmers off), my front wheel making an abrupt almost 90 degree turn, and my last thought being “oh, I am going down.” I’m not sure if the wind caught my wheel just right, or if I hit something in the road, or what happened. I don’t remember the actual crash as I was knocked out. I came to in the road with EMTs all around me. The EMTs had already removed my helmet (a huge thank you to Rudy Project helmets for keeping my head safe) and were trying to figure out how messed up my head was and if I knew what was going on. I had 3 things on my mind – 1) Ouch, something isn’t right. Oh crap, my collar bone is broken; 2) oh no, my race is over – and I let out a few expletives over that realization; and 3) someone needs to call my husband right now because he is expecting to see me come by transition soon and it he doesn’t he will be really worried.

Well, I was transported to the hospital via ambulance – the conclusion, no brain injury per the CT Scan, and a broken collarbone. So, for the next week I suffered with this stupid sling and the pain in my shoulder, pectorals, and clavicle became worse and worse. Then finally I was able to see an orthopedic surgeon (note: not the orthos fault, it’s just that I had to travel from Idaho, and then it was 4th of July, so the following Monday was the first chance I could get in). I saw the surgeon on Monday and was scheduled for surgery the following morning. The surgery was a real blessing as once they opened me up, they realized the break was much worse than the norm – I had not only broken the bone in half, but both halves were spiral fractured along the entire length. So, the surgeon had to cut along my entire clavicle – huge scar (7 inches) – and put a titanium plate along the whole thing as well as 9 screws. But, it is a blessing because otherwise my shoulder would not have healed correctly, or maybe not all. So, now at least I can expect full and normal use of my arm.

Three weeks after surgery, my husband and I moved to Prague, Czech Republic. So, I rehabilitated as much as possible before getting on the flight, and am continuing my own rehab work at our new home.

So, back to my point about circumstances and the bigger picture. A few days after my crash, I learned that I was accepted into a program to get my Masters Degree in Christian Apologetics, something that I feel called to do now and in the future. I love sports and do feel called to use my God given talents in athletics to serve The Lord, hence I joined the Tri4Him Pro Triathlon Team this year. (That team has been an absolute inspiration for me this year and I am so thankful to be a part of it. I am pretty sure at this point I have reaped much more from being part of this team than I have sown into it.) I also love school and more “cerebral” aspects of life. That was one part of being so focused on my sport that I always struggled with – I felt like I had been given the gift of a mind and a love for learning and I wasn’t using that gift. Well, now I feel like I am finally starting to combine my two passions in the service of God.

So, with my “bad” circumstances this year. I know that all of these things are for a purpose. For one, this injury forced me to step back and ask God what I needed to learn about myself. And yes, there have been some pretty profound and humbling lessons to be gleaned from the past 5 months. Sometimes we think we get it, but if we are really forced to examine things, we are far from the mark. And that’s where I realized I had been – far from the mark. Far from the mark on my outlook, my dependence upon my own strength, my belief or lack thereof that God really would bless me. I’m sure I am not the only one who has struggled to really believe that I will be the one who is blessed – I can believe for other people with ease, but when it comes to really really believing deep down that God has good things planned for me, well that is just plain hard. I know it is true in my head, but believing in the heart is hard. And that is what has brought me to realization that we can’t make ourselves believe something deep in our hearts, that level of believe and faith is a gift from God that only comes from us asking Him to give it to us and asking for His help in receiving that gift. James 4:3 “You do not have because you do not ask.” Of course, those things we ask for need to be in God’s will for us and we need to ask with a right motive. To be entirely open and honest, I believe that all this is meant to humble me and bring me to my knees before The Lord, so that I will ask Him, trust Him, rely on Him, depend on Him, seek Him …. instead of myself. And possibly to bring me to the realization that I don’t need worldly success to be happy, what I need is Him. So before I get too “preachy” I will end this blog with a list of a few scriptures that perhaps will lift you up and strengthen you. I know that they always inspire me when I read them. Thanks for reading.

Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in The Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Isaiah 40:29 and 31″He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. But they who wait for The Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

Ephesians 3:20 “Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”

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One response to “Cursed or Blessed?”

  1. Abby Geurink says:

    This is just awesome Stephanie! It is amazing what God brings us to realize. Thanks so much for sharing this…I know it’s been so challenging, but I am excited you are seeing Gods goodness through it. Continued prayers! And congrats on the master’s program!

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