Has it been a year already? I'm doing the Warrior Dash on Sunday, two days shy of a years since the last one. Am I any more prepared than I was last year? No. Perhaps less so. Do I care? Not much. There's more mud this year, and I'm ready to get down and dirty.
When I was 15 I had surgery to lengthen my right leg (three inches). My mom had left the decision up to me, and I was okay with it up until I woke up from surgery. As I emerged from my anesthetic stupor, I stared down the length of my hospital bed at the huge lump under the blanket. "That's my leg," I thought. "What the hell have I done?' I started crying and told my mom to tell the doctors I'd changed my mind. She explained to me that it was too late and I'd just have to deal with it. I was terrified of what my leg looked like under the blanket. The only sense I could get was pain. A lot of pain. For the first couple of days after my surgery, my whole life revolved around the clock and how soon I could press the button for more morphine. Once I was weaned off of it and reality settled in, I studied my freak show leg and began to accept it and I did what I had to do to heal and move forward. It wasn't easy, but I had no other choice. I'd made my decision and I had to live with it.
One day, a few weeks after I'd returned home, I was sitting on the couch doing "pin care," which consisted of cleaning the pins in my leg and refreshing the pads and foam around the pins. I was watching TV with my dad (Star Trek) and during a commercial he asked, "If you had the choice to do it over again or not, would you have the surgery?" I told him yes, I would. He said, "You're very brave. I couldn't handle what you're going through." This from a man who served in Vietnam.
I really had no idea what i was in for when I said I wanted the surgery, and my dad's praising me felt wrong. Not on his part, but mine. I felt it was undeserved praise because I went into it blindly. If I had known how hard it was going to be and did it anyway, that would be one thing. That would be brave. But I foolishly thought, "I'll have this surgery and my legs will be even!" and I went in for the surgery thinking it would be easy. Coming to terms with how wrong I was about the whole thing, that was a mess in itself. But I made it through that painful experience and I bare my scars (all 14 of them) proudly.
I had no idea what I was in for with the Warrior Dash, either. I just wanted to get muddy and run around in a fuzzy helmet with a medal around my neck. It was hard. Really, really hard. And not just because I hadn't trained for it. I put myself through hell last year, and I made it through. I walked most of the 5k, but I didn't fault myself for it; I made it to the finish line and that was my only goal. Well, I had two goals: one was to finish, and the other was to not finish last. I reached my limit, physically, and I went beyond it, pushing myself harder than I ever had in my life. I quite often felt like I was dying and I thought about giving up more than a few times, but quitting was never an option. This was the first race I had ever run, and I was facing mud, barbed wire and fire. I knew I was crazy, but it was too fun to pass up.
There are some new obstacles this year, but I still have a pretty good idea of what I'm in for. What's got me most excited is that I will be doing the race with four of my friends this year, instead of two. Plus another friend is coming along for moral support (and to hold my stuff so I don't have to check it).
Pain is survivable. I've got scars to remind me what I've been through, how far I've come, how strong I am, and how brave I am to keep going.
I can't wait for tomorrow.