Monday, September 10, 2012
Pedals, Potential and the Big Push
The Paralympic Games in London just ended and I've been both intrigued and inspired by them.
Unlike the Olympic games in which the only divisions in the events are along gender lines, the Paralympics has separate events for people with varying levels of physical ability. A 400 meter track event, for instance, might have eight or nine divisions for -- visually impaired people (they run with a guide), people with cerebral palsy, amputations, spinal cord injuries, etc.
It's a wonderful reminder that everybody has their own abilities and limitations but the challenge is to make the most of your potential.
I've been trying to keep this in mind lately as we prepare for our annual fundraising ride for the Bay Area Outreach Recreation Program (BORP). It was the people at BORP who first put me on an adaptive cycle and showed me I could move myself, at a time when I could barely stand and balance, or even propel my wheelchair very far.
I believe I owe the recovery I achieved to the confidence I gained on the seat of my trike.
Oddly, as fragile as I am sometimes (I still need a good deal of rest and my energy varies widely each day), I think of myself as strong. Is that confidence or just denial?
My year+ of physical therapy taught me a valuable lesson: I need to stay active. The best way to manage the fallout from my back injury and paralysis is to keep moving, to train with the discipline of an athlete.
It's a struggle to find the motivation, but lately I'm riding about 30-40 miles a week and swimming for a about an hour. I'm hoping that I can achieve a level of fitness that will enable me to get this needed exercise and still have the energy left over to do all the other things I want to in a day. We'll see. Until then, I keep pushing. Keep moving.
Even though I'm competing with no one but myself (alas, there is no 400M Hobble) I get a lot of inspiration from the Paralympic athletes and also from the kids at BORP who not only have tremendous potential, but also know it.