Friday, May 23, 2008

A Tale of 270 Lunges

Once upon a time, there was a girl who dreamed about racing Ironman Arizona and the Age Group World Championships. She worked very hard to make her dreams come true….

She swam lots of laps at the pool….

She biked over mountains….

And she ran as fast and as far as her coach would let her.

One day, she hurt herself in a bike crash out in Sunny and Beautiful Southern California.

But she didn’t let that dampen her spirits…

After a brief hospital stay where she made lots of friends with the friendly staff and even the scary Spinal/Neurological Doctor, she was released and eventually flew home to Pensacola.

Shortly after arriving in Florida, she began a new regiment of training.

She did lots of walking in the pool….

She hiked through the forests (making friends with Little Green Snakes along the way!)…

And she attended physical therapy faithfully three times per week. Every week.

But even though she was doing everything in her power to heal, and even though she had received so many wonderful notes, gifts, and support from friends and strangers alike, she was still a teeny-weeny bit sad.

She would watch her fellow physical therapy counterparts, and wish that she could do the things they did.

She saw the softball players tossing the medicine ball against the trampoline while balancing on the bosu ball….

She watched the basketball player attach stretch chords around her ankles and side shuffle across the room…

She saw people stepping on platforms, balancing on the Swedish ball, playing catch with their trainers while balancing on the inverted bosu, doing ab work on the same Swedish Ball, hopping, skipping, jumping, and looking as though they were working really hard.

Her physical trainer, J-Flo, noticed her upside down smile and commented, “Soon! You’ll be doing so many lunges that you’ll WISH you could be getting heat stems and ultra sounds on your back!”

And still the girl smiled, but was determined to heal even quicker.

At the six week mark, the girl had a CAT scan – which revealed bone that looked perfectly normal. Doctors and therapists were in disbelief over her miraculous recovery, but she knew (deep down) how amazing her body truly was. So she simply smiled and requested to do her lunges.

But her physical therapist made her wait.

Instead, bit-by-bit, she began tossing the medicine ball against the trampoline, but without the bosu ball….

And she was given the lightest stretch chords to tie around her ankles so she could slowly side step across the room…

And gradually, she got to step on (mini) platforms. And she was allowed to kneel on the Swedish ball (with one finger on a high table for support). But still wasn’t allowed ab work on the ball…

Then one day, two weeks later, her routine changed a bit…

She was allowed to stand on the inverted bosu ball while throwing the medicine ball against a trampoline. (And in spite of nearly knocking one of the knee replacement patients over with an errant throw, she kept pressing on).

And her aim, strength, and stability became better…

She was permitted to side-step with the heavy stretch chords across the floor. 10 X 10 steps in both directions became her new norm.

And her legs, glutes, and resolve grew stronger…

And finally, she was told to step up on the 2 foot platform holding a 12 pound medicine ball for 5 minutes, kneel on the Swedish ball while playing catch with the 4 pound medicine ball, and was at last allowed to do ab work on the ball.

Ab crunches, Russian twists, oblique work, back extensions, and any and every exercise her physical therapist could think of were given to the girl…

And still, in spite of sore stomach muscles, her body began to change, her core grew stronger than it was before the accident, her balance and stability became surer, and she soon realized that she was a better athlete because of this experience…

Then today, the girl was given the green light to work on lunges.

Oh yes – she had lunged forward and back across the room for 5 minutes last week, but she was hungry for more. And she let her requests be known to all.

So when her physical therapist announced that today would be, “leg day!” She knew she was in for a special treat.

After warming up on the stair master (15 minutes at level 7 (out of 14), stepping up on the 24 inch step with the 12 pound medicine ball for 5 minutes, side stepping across the room 10 X 10 times with a FAST tempo, hopping (yes – hopping) back and forth with the light resistance band, completing leg extensions (3 X 15 at 80% of max), balancing on the Swedish ball, and completing 5 minutes of walking lunges forward and backward across the room, her physical therapist told her that she was all “warmed up!”

Then he handed her the 10 pound medicine ball with the following instructions:

“Now we’re going to add multiple planes to our lunges. Instead of just forwards and backwards, we’ll be moving to the right and left side.”

He then proceeded to demonstrate what ONE Lunge looked like. It went as follows:

Lunge forward with the right foot and back.
Lung to the right side with your right foot and back.
Lunge to the left side with your right foot and back.
Lunge forward with your left foot and back.
Lunge to the right side with your left foot and back.
Lunge to the left side with your left foot and back.

Repeat a total of 3 X 15 per side.

The girl quickly agreed, but furrowed her brow. She tried doing the math and figuring out how many lunges total that made. But it didn’t matter: because she was on a mission. She and her 10 pound friend (the wonderful blue medicine ball) were going to complete the lunge sets.

All three of them.

While the girl was lunging, one of the other physical therapists responded, “You’ve got 90 lunges! Wow!”

And still, the girl smiled and kept lunging.

This was, after all, exactly what she was hoping and waiting for.

After the first set of 3 X 15 (6 lunges total per rep), the girl walked over to the drinking fountain and did the math. Even though she had a hard time remembering swim laps or calculating the number of bike sets, she very quickly realized that she would be completing a grand total of 270 lunges.

Not including the five minutes of walking lunges before she even started her current set.

But still, the girl said nothing. No complaints were uttered from her lips.

Instead, she grasped her faithful 10 pound companion-medicine-ball and started on her second set.

At this point, the girl had attracted a lot of attention from other patients and physical therapists alike.

But the girl was not focused on them.

Instead, she remembered something that her blogging friend Bree had written to her, “The training is harder than the race. If you can do the training, then you can do the race…”

And with each lunge, she focused on that ideal. With each lunge, she resolved to become better, smarter, faster, stronger, tougher, more driven. With each lunge she remembered less of the accident and more of who she is. With each lunge she chipped away at the old barriers that were holding her back, and instead broke through to the new levels. With each lunge she spread her wings a little further – wings that had been hiding, but were there all along, yet she did not realize it – and prepared to fly.

With each lunge, she simply became herself.

And after another 80 minutes of physical therapy, the girl was happy but tired. She knew she would be sore, but she didn’t mind. This was all part of the process, part of the plan.

And now she’s 270 lunges closer to her goals and dreams.

(As a side note: after dinner, the girl though she might attempt a lunge in the kitchen, just to see if she could… She got down, but wasn’t able to get back up. 270.5 completed.)


Trigirlpink said...

270.5 lunges?
You are the lunge Queen.
Excellent job!

Beth said...

Lunge queen indeed! OUCH!! I did a total of 24 lunges yesterday and now am SOOOO sore this morning! :)

rr said...

Yea lunge queen! And you're right, you're stronger for all of this, and not only physically.. keep up the awesome work, you're incredible! I would die if I did that many lunges. My legs would fall off.

Brooke Myers said...

Holy lunges "Lunge Queen"...
looks like a new nick name for u.

You are seriously doing so great - keep focusing on the healing process and looking ahead to accomplishing your dreams... I think the girl in the story has a pretty good chance of getting back out there and racing Arizona :)

Damie said...

That is so awesome. You make me want to be a great physical therapist so I can possibly help people make it happen like you have. I hope they jut keep making it harder for ya:)

Alili said...

You just made my day. What a great day for the Lunge Queen:)

Leah said...

This is a beautiful post. Almost made me cry!