Apr 25 2016

#MotivationMonday – Jenny Clark

Written by DeLayne Hart

Well folks, spring has sprung. Hopefully you are all able to get in some outdoor running and riding. I often find myself cursing the wind, but quickly realize it’s a little ridiculous to be complaining about the wind when the sun is shining, the temperature is in the 70s and I get to spend the afternoon on my bike. I admit, I’ve been seriously procrastinating writing a motivating article, because I’ve been experiencing considerable lack of motivation myself.

In February, I was diagnosed with a stress fracture and taken off running until further notice. After six weeks I was released to run again, but by my third run, I could tell I was still injured. I ran a few more times out of anger towards myself for not healing in a timely manner before deciding in the interest of my long-term health to lay off the running once again. This has been an incredibly discouraging and frustrating time for me, but I am learning to adapt.

I am swimming and riding a lot, and spend the occasional few hours on the elliptical or aqua-jogging. In my attempt to embrace my injury as part of the process many athletes endure, I’ve found it helpful to learn how other accomplished athletes have worked through substantial injuries.

No one knows injury quite like Jenny Clark.

jenny on bikeCompeting in all types and distances of endurance races throughout her life, the Queen of Suffering has endured countless injuries and setbacks, but continues to shine through them as a role model and giant force of positivity. There are some people who just seem to do better when they’re in motion, and Jenny is one of those people. By the age of two she had learned how to swim, and had her sights set on the Olympics until the boycott of the Games, when she turned to diving.

Jenny sustained an injury while diving that included a broken neck, leaving her with permanent c-spine damage. It is instances like this that separates true athletes from the rest. The average Joe would see a broken neck as a career-ender, but not Jenny. She adapted. When I asked her about coming back from an injury, she told me, “There’s always something that comes out of where we are.” This principle can be applied to almost any unforeseen circumstance.

Through high school and college Jenny became such an accomplished track and cross-country runner that Nike tried to recruit her as a marathoner. But with a 5k under 15 minutes, Sebastian Coe, wanted to make her a miler. There is something incredibly rare in a person who can run a 4:34 mile and a 3:10 marathon. Secretly, I hope the more time I spend with her, I’ll get faster by diffusion.

Circa 1982, some friends of hers talked her into doing a triathlon. At the time, triathlon was largely unknown, but given her background she wasn’t concerned about trying something new. This particular race equated, approximately, to a half-ironman during which she did not wear goggles. She did however, have one water bottle cage and a banana taped to her top tube. The conditions were horrible, but she adapted. She placed third overall female after 30 percent of the field had dropped out due to the frigid temperatures.

Throughout medical school, Jenny competed in a few running races but sports took a spot on the back burner as she made time for other priorities. She continued to run and lift weights for general health and fitness, but through her career and adult life most of the activities she did were, “just whatever the kids wanted to do.”

In 2009, she ruptured her posterior tibial tendon and was told she would never run again. So she swam. And she rode. Once she learned how to walk again, she, of course defying all odds and predictions from other physicians, began to run again but the permanent change in her stride caused knee problems. Once again, she adapted. She swims. And she rides. And she does this funny run-walk-hobble-shuffle thing that you will never forget once she passes you on the trail. Jenny at nationals

I don’t know what is more impressive, her resilience to any and all setbacks, or her massive tolerance for pain. Everything that Jenny has been through has given her a unique perspective on life. During our meal I used phrases like “when life gives you lemons,” “hardships” or “misfortune,” but she quickly corrected me. She believes that life hasn’t handed her lemons, it just was what it was. This led our conversation to changing seasons of life. On juggling responsibilities: training, kids, career, parents, she is an advocate of adaptation. When something doesn’t go according to plan, she doesn’t look at it as good or bad. It just is. Forces outside of our control will cause us to change our priorities – so we have to adapt.

There is always something else you can get good at, so if you’re in a situation that requires a change of pace you might as well embrace the change, maybe you’ll like it. When I asked her about what keeps her motivated she started with, “I just want to see how much I can do.” What a great attitude towards life to have.

Now, I have to put this in context. I too, want to ‘see how much I can do’ but I don’t take care of myself in the manner needed to push myself to that extent. I tend to get so caught up in seeing how far I go, I deny myself rest and fuel. At the end of our conversation Jenny gave me some invaluable advice that could not have come at a better time for me. My goals this week, when I’m feeling frustrated with my situation: to embrace the things I cannot change and to remind myself that my body is the only place I have to live while I’m on earth and I cannot do the jobs I was put here to do if I don’t take care of myself.

Jenny said, “Look at it as a rebalancing. For this season of your life, how can you maintain your responsibilities and your health while having fun and growing as an individual?” Know that the mental aspect is just as important at the physical. The biggest win isn’t a gold medal, it’s self-improvement.

I’ll leave you with this: If you can run, don’t run away from something. Run towards something. Run towards new challenges, experiences, people, or self-discoveries. We all have issues, it’s how we grow as individuals. But running towards progress will make us psychologically healthier than running away from problems because we’ll never feel far enough away. For the indefinite future, I’ll be swimming and riding towards self-discovery rather than running, and for now that is going to have to do. Athletic achievements however are only a part of what Jenny has accomplished. She is a true example of when you put your mind, heart and body into something, you can accomplish anything and everything!

Mar 25 2016

April Membership Meeting

Join CMC Thursday, April 14, at 7 p.m. inside the back room of Harpo’s, downtown. Our guest speaker will be Sgt. Brian Tate from the Columbia Police Department and member of CMC! Brian will be giving us a “crash” course on bicycle safety.

Other topics will include:

>Jay Dix Challenge to Cure Preparation (May 7 – less than a month from this meeting!)

>Club Nationals in Loveland, CO (June 25)

>Other really good stuff!

Mar 23 2016

14th Annual Jay Dix Challenge to Cure Open for Registration

2016_JayDix_Partic_Frt_2C_v2Join CMC for the 14th Annual Jay Dix Challenge to Cure presented by Chapman Heating and Air Conditioning on May 7, 2016. This race is a family event offering a 5K run/walk and a 10K run starting at 8:30 a.m. from Flat Branch Park in downtown Columbia, Missouri. Once you finish, enjoy post-race pancakes!! If you have never experienced Chris Cakes before, it’s worth the price of you ticket alone! They are pancakes you experience!
All proceeds from the race benefit Ellis Fischel Cancer Center. The Challenge to Cure has raised nearly $186,000 for cancer research since it began in 2003. Help us meet our Challenge to Cure!

Race includes:
> beautiful, well-supported course
> awesome race t-shirt
> custom designed medals for top 3 in each age group
> post-race Chris Cakes pancake breakfast
> $50 gift card to top male & female in the 5k and 10k

Learn More

Register Here

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