I haven’t written for a while and with good reason. As most of you know, I was injured in a bike crash 7 weeks ago. Besides the usual road rash and bump in the rib, I managed to separate my shoulder and start to feel sorry for myself. I won’t lie, it’s been lonely since my move to Atlanta and getting injured meant taking away the one thing I did have…triathlon. Injuries have a way of not only knocking you down physically but mentally. No matter how hard I tried and even still today, the pain, the impatience and all the bullshit that surrounds it sometimes gets to me. So why write now? I met a person who not only inspired me, but made me realize the experiences I’ve had since this happened, the people who have been there for me and the fight to get back is more rewarding than I could have ever imagined.
Her name is Elaine Honsa. Elaine is the grandmother of someone VERY special to me and I had the honor and privilege to meet her a few weeks ago. Obviously Elaine doesn’t get around as well as all of us athletes anymore, however, when we arrived, she not only stood up from the chair she was in, but grabbed a hold of her walker and by herself, made a special trek back to her room so that we could talk in private. As we made it down the hall way I couldn’t help but be humbled at the effort this lady was willing to put forth just to spend some time with us. Inspired…in awe…honored. After some catching up with her granddaughter, Elaine said something that I needed to hear, that I had forgotten and that would instantly pull me out of the haze and funk I had been in. I was walking around and looking at the pictures all over her room and outside of her door. One in particular was a black and white of this beautiful woman (Elaine) sitting on a pylon at a marina. With a smile that would light up any room, Elaine told us about the picture and continued to say; “It’s the memories in life. I have such great memories!” There was no mention of money, cars, houses or any type of material item. What trumped the list and what she cherished most in her life were her experiences and the people who she was surrounded by. I cannot thank Elaine enough and I think of her often. There is a picture she painted hanging in my girlfriend’s house and when I see it, that moment, those words and that incredible lady all come back to me. Thank you Elaine.
So here is how it went down:
One week after the crash I had enough with lying around and being a burden. With my one arm in a sling I decided to put Chicky on the trainer, fix what I could and just spin. 4 hours later I was ready to ride hahaha! You might think that falling off a trainer is damn near impossible…allow me to put that theory to rest for you. I did get a workout done and finally had a sense of accomplishment even if there was spoke sticking out of the front wheel and the handle bars were crooked. (go ahead and laugh, it is funny) As the days went on, so did the trainer rides and finally a week later I decided I was going to try and run. Keep in mind the temperature here is one million, eight hundred fifty thousand, two hundred and twenty five degrees and I am wearing a stupid black sling, in serious pain and trying to run. The scene: Ryan dressed in bright blue Newtons, black shorts, a bandana and a black sling, all while running down highway 92 trying not to bust his ass by tripping. Oh yeah!! Not only did I look stupid, but it hurt! Just like the doctor said it would. Grrrrrrr! That is pretty much how training would go for the next few weeks. Doctors would say no, I would push as much as I could, my arm hurt and my attitude sucked…until what you read above.
One week out of Ironman Augusta 70.3, and just like every other major race I’ve entered I am injured. We all know of Ironman events, but Im thinking of starting Ryanman events. This is where your training is going well and then out of nowhere Tanya Harding comes out of the bushes and whacks you with a baseball bat in any given area. Then you race. Honestly I don’t feel bad for myself but c’mon, one race without injury would be so nice. It’s all relative and I realize millions of people have huge problems, real problems they face daily, but regardless this is upsetting in my world.
This blog is about my journey, but without certain people, that journey would have ended a while ago. People that were there, who are selfless and people that I cannot ever repay for without them I wouldn’t be writing this and I need to acknowledge them.
First and foremost my amazing girlfriend, Tami Liptak. After driving over 2 hours to rescue me from hospital hell, she hasn’t left my side. No one has ever been there for me like her and nothing I say can express my appreciation for all that she has done and put up with. Doctor visits, painful sleepless nights, dealing with medications that make me unbearable… but never once did she lose her patience and never once was she not there for me completely. I could write pages upon pages of what she has done but it still could not show how much this incredible girl put up with. Thank you Tami!! I love you! You are truly incredible! Tami is running the Chicago marathon for charity. Check out he site and donate if you can. (http://www.active.com/donate/nfchicago2011/TLiptak1 )
Dr. Chris Webb. Always my friend and always the voice of reason to me. I trust him and looked to him for help. Even on his birthday(which I didn’t even realize) his concern was for me, finding me the right doctor and helping to facilitate my rehabilitation. You are one amazing friend Chris. Thank you! (http://www.chirowebb.com )
My coach, Dr. Suzanne Atkinson. She used resources to get me information, checked in on me and has continued to work with me the entire way through this. I am as prepared as I possibly could be given the circumstances and although the original goal has been changed, crossing that finish line WILL happen! You Rock Coach!! Thank you!(www.steelcityendurance.com )
Ok, enough of the sappy stuff, lets get onto race day. Yes I am still racing. Why? Because I said I would. I’m a man of my word and I committed to this race months ago! DNF doesn’t exist for me!!! In one week I will be swimming mostly one armed, riding hard and possibly running with that sling on. My goal is to finish but more importantly to have fun. This race is extremely special as I will have two very important people at the finish line waiting for me, Tami and Wendy. I have never had anyone at a finish line before at a large race. (Not Syracuse, and not at the 70.3 World Championships) Although I was surrounded by good friends, having family and someone incredibly special to me at the finish will push me through anything.
On race day, Tami will have my phone so give her updates and keep her busy as its going to be a long day for a spectathlete in my corner. Thank you to everyone for all of your messages, thoughts and support!
R A C E O N ! ! !