The other day Eoin was watching "Lady and the Tramp" and it made me think of something that has been worrying me lately. The scene I am speaking about is the one where Lady ends up in the dog pound after she gets separated from the Tramp after chasing chickens on a visit to a farm. In the jail-like pound Lady is surrounded a variety of different dogs including Peg, a shih tzu maltese (the sex symbol type), Boris, a Russian Wolfhound (the intellectual), and Pedro (the child-like character), a chihuahua. The dogs begin to speak about the Tramp's multiple encounters with dogs of the female persuasion. They begin to list all the females Tramp has been with (is this movie really suitable for young children's ears?) when Boris states, “Ah, but remember, my friends, even Tramp has his Achilles' heel.” At this point Pedro asks, “Pardon me, amigo. What is this 'chile heel'?”
Now for those of you that didn't pay attention in middle and high school, Achilles is a character from Greek mythology who was born to a nymph named Thetis and Peleus, the king of the Myrmidons. When Achilles was born, his mother grabbed him by the heel and dipped him in the river Styx in order to make him immortal (does this make her mother of the year or would dipping your infant son head first into a river be considered child abuse--ponder that one). The problem was that around the time of the Trojan War Achilles was killed by an arrow shot to the one place where the river's water did not touch him and in the one spot where he was vulnerable--his Achilles heel.
My weakness is actually a herniated disk in my lower back that I injured about ten years ago. I have been lucky to this point that it has rarely flared up, but after running 16 miles on the Train Run down the coast and then doing the 50 mile bike ride from Yorba Linda to Huntington Beach, my back completely seized up on me. The funny thing is that nothing else was affected, but my back was so painful that I could hardly sleep and I lost three days of training while I let it heal. The good thing was that when I went to see my chiropractor, he was not as concerned as I was. He just told me I needed to stretch more before and after running and biking, and he showed me some specific stretches that will hopefully keep my back from going out that badly again. And, I must admit, that I have done huge run and bike miles over the last couple weeks, and I have not had the same pain again.
I am hoping this means that I just need to be more careful in the future, but it got me thinking. My back is the one thing that can absolutely keep me from completing my Ironman. My back is my "chile heel." I am actually more afraid of injuring my back than I am of swimming--and that is saying a lot. And as my training ramps up in February, I am going to be able to see right away how my back reacts. Unfortunately, some of this is out of my control--I have to train, I need to do long run and bike miles, or I will not be ready for July's race. I will just need to be very consistent with my stretching during this time, so I don't aggravate my back and undo the months of training I have put into my preparation for this endeavor.
I will also need to work on building up my core. Since I put Crossfit on the back burner, I have been doing fewer activities to make sure my core is strong. Core strengthening is another key to supporting my back muscles that I will need to add to my workout routine. The time I put into this will pay out in the end.
All the adversity I've had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me... You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.