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2012, now more than ever

December 9, 2011

Before we begin today….. I’d like to extend a giant heartfelt thanks, and a giant hug to this community. Yesterday was ROC the day here in Rochester (for those not from around here…. we frequently call Rochester… The Roc… get t?). ROC the Day is simple, it’s a day of giving. You simply clicked here. And chose the local cause you wanted to donate to. The causes were everything from UNYFEAT to Girls on the Run. And of course, Teens living With Cancer, an amazing organization I am so fortunate to be affiliated with…. was one of those causes.

I am so happy to report that $5,597 was raised, completely surpassing their “stretch goal” of $5,000. From what I gathered, this was the trend for all the local causes. According to the ROC the day website, over $500,000 was raised.

A giant, and good lord giant is an understatement, but a humongous, giant, HUGE shout out to the one and only Leah Shearer. Leah is a two-time cancer survivor (and she is not even 30), and the one who drove this cause from start to finish. She has dedicated her life to helping teens who have gone through what she has, and she worked her a** off to gather up everyone and raise this money.

Thank you Leah.

And thank YOU Rochester. This morning I wake up feeling incredibly proud of this community. We live in one hell of a place here in Rochester, and this sense of togetherness is more important than ever, especially after some of the events that have occurred lately that have brought tragedy and mourning to many around here.

Moving on to today.

Yesterday I got some news that damn near broke my heart. One of my close friends sent me a hey tell  message….. check your email. I hate that. It only means one thing. Something is wrong. Something was. And while it was not a terminal diagnosis or anything like that…… one of my closest friends had to make a very difficult decision. To walk away from this sport, or risk something very bad. I know that’s bad detail and really very vague….. but trust me this isn’t something physical therapy, acupuncture or anything like that can fix. Trust me we have tried. And tried. And tried.

At the end of the day the decision was made…….. push through…. or not be able to pick up my children, or play with them?

At the end of the day….. this is life. On your tombstone what do you want it to day……. finished 8 Ironman races, or….. a mom who lived her life with us. Not watching us. Sounds dramatic, certainly there are those of us who are fortunate enough to do both……. but sometimes athletes are faced with that very decision. Our do or die, no one tells me what I can’t do, push through no matter what attitude…… is sometimes our own worst enemy. It takes a very secure person to make the kind of decision where they say….. this has been one hell of a great ride, I have finished Ironman races, accomplished what I was never supposed to, and now it’s time to finish on my terms.

I admit I cried. It’s a loss, it’s a huge loss for me. It’s a huge loss for many of us.

The decision was not easy and most people would not be able to make that kind of decision.

As much as it was a loss, we didn’t high-five and say goodbye. There will still be monster sets in the pool, there will still be epic bike rides around Lake Placid, none of that has changed. Our friendship is deep, and it will become deeper because of this.

But honestly this has changed my entire 2012 focus.

I wrote down her name one a post it note this morning and I stuck it where I can see it every single day. And I felt a new sense of motivation. Not only has she been one of my closest friends….. she’s been there with me through some pretty harrowing times. You don’t find people like that in your life too often, who literally pick you up when you find yourself at the bottom. Who stick with you through life. When you find them, you hold them tight.

There will be days when I don’t feel focused, when I don’t feel like putting in the effort. And I will look at that post it note. And I will remember that what I do is a damn privilege and not a right. I don’t deserve what I am able to do ….. I earn what I am able to do. I have a body that’s been through a war and right now I am the healthiest I have been in ages. She’d do anything right now to have the ability to do what I do and make the reaches that I am aiming to make.

So this season, this entire season is for her.

Because I will do what she can not, and I will carry her with me through it all.

Her name will be on my hand for every single race, when I get tired or down I will look at my hand and remember, and get my ass moving.

They say the only limits we have… are the ones we place on ourselves. I have to disagree with that in this case.

In 2001 she was in a car accident, and her body was literally pinned back together. She was not ever supposed to walk again. She sure as hell shouldn’t have ever run again. And she sure as hell shouldn’t have completed one Ironman let alone two, and the countless half ironman and olympic distance races that she did. And trust me she trained smart. No one and I mean no one manages their body as well as she did. NO ONE. No one took recovery and restoration as seriously as she did, so this is not a case of an overtrained athlete.

When parts of your body are held together with plates…… you have to be good to yourself. This is not a case of someone giving up or not being strong enough or not wanting it bad enough or not having the drive.

This is having the guts to stop before it becomes too late.

I don’t know if I would have the guts to make that same decision. I hope if I had to I would be smart enough.

It’s funny how we all seem to find each other. It’s funny how the friendships form. Sure some people come and leave your life (and hopefully leave good things behind) and there are others who remain. This one, she will remain until we are old ladies at Midtown having swim challenges.

The beauty is this…. she ain’t going anywhere. If anything she will remain right here and she will be at the camps and workouts and races, just like always.

The only thing that has changed is that she won’t toe the starting line.

But you know what….. she’s got her medal. She’s got a boatload of them in fact.

Ten years ago she was laying in a hospital bed, screwed together…… wondering how on earth she would even walk again. Ten years later…… under her own power, courage and bravery, she’s going to just experience life a little bit differently. Instead of being driven by M dot and training schedules…. she’s going to live it a little more her way.

She’s proven every doubter wrong. She’s done things that she was never supposed to do.

So 2012, you just became a whole lot more important. Instead of just my mojo…… we’ve got one along for the ride.

This season is for you sister.

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One comment

  1. Mary, this is Kim’s Dad, thanks for everything you have done for KImberly, she thinks the world of you, you are a great friend! God bless you!



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