Me: "Can I go hiking?"
Doctor: "Yeah, you can hike flat ground."
Me: "Really? (rolls eyes)"
This conversation happened about 8 weeks post operation. I was searching for anything to do that would get me closer to being outside and back on the trails. My recovery progress had been great so far and I was looking to make some serious strides.... Literally.
This week marks week 13 post op and progress has not only been steady, but and as my friend said, " Scary fast." My leg is about back to normal (aesthetically) minus a bit of scar tissue from the incisions. My range of motion is 100%. I started "walking" the trails throughout the week before my BadAss Bootcamps to see how my body was responding. By week 10, I made the decision to wrangle a group hike to Mt. Baldy [10K vertical feet of climbing].
Knowing some wouldn't completely agree with the risks I would be taking, I did my part by getting into the mindset that I had nothing to prove. I have done the hike numerous times pre-injury, and there is a gondola to take down if needed. I would also invest in trekking poles for extra support when descending and make sure to listen to my body. I had to talk myself through this more than once, but by the day of the hike, I felt I was ready in both body and mind.
1. a long arduous journey, especially one made on foot.
1. the established set of attitudes held by someone.
No doubt that this recovery journey has been a trek, but my mindset has been nothing less than optimistic. I can’t say I’ve been all positive, all the time. I have had my moments. And when I say moments, I mean they were MOMENTS. What I have learned in past few months are just a few things to keep my mindset in the right place to move forward on this trek of mine. My adventure to the peak of Mt. Baldy meant I had to shift my athlete mindset to ALWAYS push, ALWAYS improve and ALWAYS win. These were the main shifts.
Don't set unreal expectations.
Same thing with setting SMART goals, you have to be realistic. Have confidence, grit AND also be humble. I knew that my attempt at Baldy was pushing it. I wasn't sure where my fitness level was and I surely haven't had more than a couple hours on my feet in a while, but I DID know I have done it before; even in the dark, by myself.
Put your ego aside.
Sometimes you might need help. In this case, my trekking poles were my help and the gondola was my back up. I gave myself permission to use back up if I needed it. I also had a group of heling hands that were reaching out to help me up the mountain. I gave myself permission to let those people (who I have been coaching) help me if I needed it. As much as I wanted to keep that "badass" persona, I had to maintain control and be reasonable. In the end well, it worked well. I made it!
Be prepared for any conditions on your trek and if something unexpected happens, adapt and overcome.
Life throws out some curve balls at us - and so does Mother Nature. Coming prepared with my trekking poles and some money for the gondola, were just simple ways I could help myself get up and down that mountain. But there are times when tools aren't all that is needed. Skills and a mindset can do wonders.
I felt I was ready. I was super pumped. Saturday, June 18th, was the end of week 12 post op and time to see where I stood in my recovery. The alarm went off at 3:45 am and we were off to meet the group. I was nervous, but also oddly confident (and ready to accept) my progress. We started the ascent around 6:30am and headed up to 10,064ft. My main concern was not the climb up, but coming down from the summit. The top of the mountain is anything BUT stable, with loose rock, steep downhill sloe and the constant sound of people slipping behind you.
Making it to the top was a shifting point in my recovery. As we started to descend, I was grateful I invested in those trekking poles. I had the extra support I needed and was able to make it down with no pain. I had a group of amazing people, who were along to support and push themselves. No judging. It was a true test of will, friendship and mind of matter. I knew it didn’t end that day. The true test was going to be how I felt the next day.
The next day I was sore. My hips and glutes were on fire but NO knee pain. I actually felt as if my knee felt better than when I started the day before. I may have not expressed my excitement to the others, but on the inside I was at peace knowing I had reached this new milestone. I was truly grateful for their support.
Not only was I able do something not many would be able to do or attempt, I was able to drag a great group of people from Becoming Badass bootcamp to come with me. There were Baldy Veterans and newbies. Being able to have the energy of the group around me, I was not only able to see what I was made of, but the others as well! There were so many proud moments that day. I can't wait to see other milestones reached.
I would not have been able to complete this hike if I stayed in fear and doubt. Or, if I had pushed myself too hard. I know the human body does some great things and healing is one of them. My body is a machine and I am so amazed and grateful that I get to take care of this body. I can’t wait to see what I am truly made of. It is working on breaking through fears we reach new heights. Like 10,064 feet.