Archive for November, 2011

Know Who Has Your Back in Racing and in Business

November 7, 2011

I was having dinner recently with a friend and we started talking about our training. She mentioned she had added meditation to her regimen. I asked, “Have you discovered any revelations in this process?” She replied, “Yes, I’ve determined the meaning of love.” Intrigued, I inquired what that might be. She told me she’s determined that true love is knowing you can depend on someone and they can depend on you. I can’t think of a more accurate definition. I call that having someone’s back. I found out what that really means over the last few weeks.

Months ago, I signed up to run my first Ultra marathon… the Taterbug 30. It’s 30 miles on a brutally hilly course. People who reviewed this race last year commented about it being like running the Swiss Alps, a clever reference since the race is in Switzerland County, Indiana. I recruited two friends, Tony and Pam, to run the race with me. I met Tony and his wife, Pam, a few years ago through the Runner’s World Challenge. We ran the Flying Pig marathon together and have run a race together each year since.

While I knew the Taterbug would be a challenge, I tend to like hilly courses and was very excited about this experience and running this race with Tony and Pam. I was excited until four weeks before the race when I suffered a foot injury and wondered if I’d be well enough to run the race.
My first stop was to my doctor who treats a lot of injured athletes. As a marathoner himself, he truly understands how athletes feel when they’re injured. He walked into the examining room and saw the look of fear in my eyes. He’d treated me for a foot injury two years ago, but it was months before my next race, so I had plenty of time to heal. This injury was much different. I’d never had an injury within weeks of a race.

He manipulated my foot for what seemed like an eternity, but was a matter of minutes. Then, he looked me in the eye and said, “I have good news. It’s not a fracture and it’s not a bruise like last time. Your injury is muscular and muscular injuries heal faster than other foot injuries. If you rest and ice the foot and do what I tell you, you’ll be well enough to race.” I started to feel better, but there was one little hitch.

I explained to him that I promised a friend that I would work in their food truck at a festival that weekend, which would mean I’d be on the foot non-stop for 10-12 hours. He asked me if I could just tell her I couldn’t do it because I was injured. I explained to him that was not an option. I explained the entire situation to him (which I won’t go into here) and that she was depending on me. I told him, this is someone who knows I always have her back…and that’s never going to change. He understood, explained to me this could set my recovery back significantly, but assured me we’d work through it. I knew my doctor had my back.
I came home from the doctor, and posted on Facebook that I’d injured my foot and was concerned about how it would impact my training and the upcoming race. The first person to post a comment was Tony. His post read, “Lauren, no matter how things work out this weekend Pam and I will have your back at Taterbug.”

During the following weeks, I spent a lot of time getting my foot worked on and doing my runs in the swimming pool in an effort to maintain my fitness and endurance without putting any pressure on my foot. Two weeks before the race, my doctor told me it was time to test the foot. He wanted me to do a short six mile run at a very slow pace. I was really nervous, but I knew I had to do it. I needed to know where my foot was in the recovery process and what to expect. The doctor needed to know that too.

The first pavement run went well. I had a little tightness, but that was it. I reported the status of my run to the doctor, and he told me the following week, I needed to do a double-digit mileage run, 10 to 11 miles. That run didn’t go quite as well. My test run was on relatively flat roads. My longer run needed to replicate race conditions…hills. I had shooting pain in my foot going down steep hills (and these hills were nothing compared to the ones in the race). The good news was that I was able to experiment with foot positions and other options during the training run to try to minimize this reaction. After reporting what happened on my long run, the doctor cleared me to race. His final advice was to take it easy and remember that the goal is to finish with a smile on your face and in good condition.

Tony, Pam and I arrived the day before the race. We picked up our race packets and went to have a pre-race dinner together. At dinner, I explained to them that while we normally run together for most of the race, I didn’t want them to feel obligated to do so this time because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to keep up. Tony assured me that they wouldn’t leave me behind, they had my back and they’d make sure we all finished the race before the cut off time of 7 hours.
After dinner, we decided to drive the race course. I was glad we did. I’m a “best surprise is no surprise” type of person. After seeing some of those hills that seemed like nearly vertical ascents and descents, I was glad to know what we had ahead of us so we could plan our race strategy accordingly.

Race morning, I was more nervous than usual. I was concerned how my foot would react to the steep declines on the course. We hit the first one. It was excruciating and we had more than 25 miles to go. I experimented with foot positions and found something that lessened the pain. My friends kept asking, “How’s the foot?” I replied, “It’s not happy, but I’m determined to get through this.” Throughout the race, we all felt our share of aches and pains, but we stuck together and worked through it together. At mile 28, we were done with the hills and had two miles of flat roads to the finish line. We knew we were going to finish well under the time limit. Tony looked at Pam and me and asked if it was okay to run ahead of us. We both said, absolutely. We’d be fine. He took off and had a great finish. Pam and I finished several minutes behind him. He was waiting for us at the finish line and we all celebrated our accomplishment together.
So how does this story relate to business?

The business climate has been extremely challenging over the last few years and there have been a lot of steep uphill and downhill climbs for most of us. What we need to remember is that no matter how tough the road ahead may be, there are people who have our back…people we can depend on no matter what.
So take a look around your office and within your centers of influence to inventory who those people are. Then take the time to thank them for being there for you and having your back. These people are a true blessing in your life and it’s important that you let them know how grateful you are and that you return the favor when they need your support.