Where do I start? You may want to grab your beverage of choice. This is a long post. Ha!
In May 2017, I tried out for a role in a show called Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I had to dance and sing in front of judges. I HAVE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE. To my surprise, I was chosen to be in the show. I was thrilled!!! We rehearsed all summer long. Like 5-6 days a week for 2-4 hours. August 5, 2017 I tore my ACL. I was at rehearsal and I slipped on a metal cover on stage while dancing. This happened two weeks before the show. I was in the worst physical pain I had ever been in but the emotional pain was even greater. The hours I had spent training and rehearsing…. learning the dances. All of it was over. I truly felt my heart was broken. I needed this show. I wanted this show and in that moment, I knew I was out of the show. There was no way I could dance any time soon. (I didn’t know I tore my ACL but I knew something bad had happened.)
The results were a definite full ACL tear and surgery was scheduled for September 1st. Thankfully I was able to be in the show but not as a dancer. I was in the crowd and I smiled and waved my heart out. No one saw my massive brace under my amazing dresses. Lol I tried to make the best of an awful situation. I made new friends and I’m forever grateful for their love and care for me while I was on stage. Someone was always there to make sure I had a hand or arm to hold just to make sure I didn’t fall before surgery as my knee wasn’t very sturdy.
So surgery comes, my sweet mom drove up to stay with me for the weekend. I would not wish ACL surgery on my worst enemy. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I would rather birth 10 kids at the same time with no epidural. I AM NOT KIDDING. It was horrible. Then to top it off, me, Ms. Independent had to turn in to Ms. Dependent. I could not drive or walk. I don’t like to sit still. I’m on the move all the time. I had to depend on my friends for almost everything. Friends had to spend the night with me to help me take care of the kids, school had just started and I couldn’t drive my kids to school. It was so hard…. but ya know, it was also the most beautiful displays of love I’ve ever seen. I was at a time in my life where I was feeling lonely. I realized after this, I wasn’t alone. My friends showed up in mighty ways. They are my tribe and my go to girls when I’m in need of help. What I learned through the surgery and rehab is that I’m stronger than I thought. I used to think I was so weak but going through an ordeal like that isn’t easy. I’d be up alone at night screaming into a pillow because I couldn’t get the pain under control and didn’t want to wake the kids. Rehab was hard. I cried all the time. It all hurt so much. Fast forward a few months and I was starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The range of motion was coming back. I was able to spin on a trainer. December 10th I went out on my first bike ride. I took it easy but I was outside on a bike.
After this, I realized I wanted to do something different, something that challenged me. I had heard about 24 Hours in the Canyon but I didn’t know much about it. I figured I’d do the road race and see what it was all about. Well my riding buddies are more mountain bike girls and they wanted to do the MTB race so I thought why not? Like I said, I wanted to challenge myself and push myself. I wanted to do something that scared me. February 8, 2018 I was finally able to clip into my bike for the first time since surgery. I was healing beautifully. I asked my PT if he thought it would be wise to sign up for the MTB race. He gave me a green light. I was shocked. Here I am, finally clipping in and signing up for a 24 hour race and to top it off, a MTB race. I’m a roadie and cross girl. I cried the first time I rode my MTB. Lol What was I getting myself into!?
You see, having ACL surgery and rehab changed me. I see pain differently now. Things that used to hurt didn’t hurt so bad in light of what I went through with surgery. This would be an amazing challenge to get me back into shape as well as face my fear of the MTB. I have some awesome friends who are amazing on their MTB and taught me the ropes but I also had to learn by trial and error. Crashing, jumping into trees (still do that, lol), falling into a cactus…. It’s all part of it. I had to learn what I could and couldn’t do. I had to push myself and not quit. I grew to LOVE riding my MTB. I’m not the best and I still have so much to learn but the past 4 months of learning it have been life changing. Life giving. My therapy is on my bike.
When race weekend was here, I started to get nervous. What had I signed myself up for?! Am I crazy (probably!!). When we pre-rode on Friday, I liked the course but there were some tricky spots I knew I didn’t have the skills for yet, so I was going to walk :/. I don’t like walking but I legit didn’t have a choice and I didn’t want to get hurt.
The afternoon of the race I was anxious. We were lined up and listening to the speech about why we raced. We raised money for cancer survivors. Their slogan is: Cancer doesn’t sleep … why should we. I started to think about my grandpa, Jack, who died of colon cancer. Had he caught it early, would he have survived? When the race started, we rode by cancer survivors. I started to cry. This wasn’t about riding a bike. It was about them. Riding a bike isn’t hard, battling cancer is hard. When I started to feel like I was too tired, I reminded myself why and for who. I thought of Jack and how he fought at the end. My competition was keeping me on my toes. I didn’t have time to really rest or slack off. I tried to night ride once but I’m not a good night rider. It was my first time and I made a lot of sloppy mistakes, so I rested, knowing had I kept trying, I may have made big mistakes which would have cost me the race. The weather on Sunday was really nice at first. It definitely got hot around lap 10. Lap 10 was when I was done. I said goodbye to my least favorite areas. I was thankful they were behind me for at least another year. When I rolled into the camp sight, I saw my friends Michelle and Kalleen at the front of it and they stopped me from going in. Michelle, very calmly (I told Michelle earlier that I do not respond well to yelling or getting in my face. You can tell me the same message you’d say yelling as you can by talking calmly and gentle. She did it perfect.) said, “Liana, I need you to do one more lap.” I felt defeated. Not by her words but I had not mentally prepared myself for one more lap, but I didn’t have a choice. They refilled my water and gave me food and said, “go, slow and steady”. I didn’t have time to process the situation but the way Michelle said it, I knew I had to suck it up and push myself one more time. I could do it. I tried to sing the Rocky theme song … that didn’t help. I tried to sing, “we are the champions” but I thought that was too much since I didn’t know where I stood. So I thought of Dory in Finding Nemo and instead of saying just keep swimming, I said, “just keep spinning.” I had to fight emotions that last lap. I’m in the dessert, hot at this point, hungry for real food, and thinking of Jack on his last days. I fought for that last lap and did it for Jack. It sounds silly but it was for him. For his fight. For his love. I could not take his cancer away, but I could honor him in my race. Whether I won first or not, I pushed myself and fought for something I never thought I would be able to do after 4 months of training and 9 months post surgery.
I finished the lap and I was so proud. I pushed myself and knew I gave it my all, regardless of the results. My friends who raced and the crew were such an amazing group of people. Their encouragement the whole way was impeccable.
When Michelle told me I won, I had to walk away. I was shocked. I started to cry. I still don’t know how I did it but I didn’t quit. I fought for it. I’m no better than the girls that raced against me. They were strong too. My personal slogan when some guys and girls would fly by me was: I’m not slow, I’m solo. I told myself over and over, slow and steady wins the race. I guess this time, it really did.
Here are some images from the trip.
Look at this beauty of an RV!
This was on Friday. The thermometer said 120!!! Thank goodness we didn’t race on Friday!!
My sweet child, McKenzie, sent me cards to read each night. What she wrote in each one was beautiful. She has the kindest heart.
My re-enactment of how I felt. hahaha
We forgot to add the final tally, but Traci and I ended up with 11 laps.