Being Without Limits by Alecia Williams

There is a saying in the sports world that says, “play for the name on the front of your jersey”! When I look at this picture, I think about the name on my Tri Jersey, “Without Limits” what does that mean when you suddenly find yourself with some real “physical limits”?

For those who don’t know, I suffered a snapped femur in the 2016 Boston Marathon after a container rolled under my foot from behind which resulted in my leg jamming hard into the pavement. The break was comminuted (meaning it broke in more than 2 pieces – some fragments broke off). This required immediate surgery to insert a rod and screws down the entire length of the femur shaft. After 8 months, the bone hadn’t healed, so I had to have another surgery to remove that rod and screws and replace them with a new rod and screws. Then a year later, they discovered the front side of the bone still had a major gap, so I had to have a 3rd surgery in Jan 2018 to do bone grafting to take bone marrow from my hip to combine with cadaver bone to insert into a sponge to fill in the gap between the bone halves after sanding off the part of the bone ends that had healed to force trauma and new bone growth (all barbaric to say the least)! Swim, Bike, Run? Heck, I had to learn how to WALK again three times in my mid-50s! Talk about “limitations” to running or triathlon! So, I had to really massage the notion of what it means to be “Without Limits”.

My conclusion after the break, 3 surgeries, and almost 3 years of rehab and rebuilding is that it is “an intentional MINDSET with a determination to not let anything limit your desires or your goals”. Let’s face it, the easier path would have been to throw in the towel since trying to get back to running and triathlon was going to require a lot of PAIN, time, and effort with no real guarantee that it would be possible to participate. That’s the moment when you have to dig deep and referee between your heart (desire) and your head (harsh reality, doubt, fear, frustration). I have to admit that the battle is mostly between the ears in overcoming the negative thoughts that invade your mind (i.e. what if I physically can’t do it, what if I fall, what if I wreck my bike, etc.).

So, the question I had to answer for myself was, “Would I allow my injury, doubts, and fears to LIMIT what I desired to do within my current capabilities?” And for me, I had to make the “decision” to NOT let it LIMIT what I desired to do! I came across a saying years ago that I think is kind of funny that says, “if you can’t be a good example, be a horrible warning!” Lol! Whether any of us realizes it, others observe not only our actions but our “reactions to adversity”. My WOL team would be observing whether I had it in me to bounce back or would I throw in the towel! I didn’t want to be the “horrible warning”! I wanted to be the “example” of what it means to be “WITHOUT LIMITS”!

I made the decision to take it a workout at a time, and do as much as my coaches thought I could handle. I started with alter-G sessions to begin running at 50% body weight for short intervals for a few months, then I moved to Walk2Run, then Level 1, then Level 2. Keep in mind I used to run with Level 3. I’m still not exactly where I want to be, but it’s a journey! It is exhilarating to have podium placed after being away for so long. But it is also challenging me to continue to regain speed and endurance. I’m not satisfied with where I am, so that fuels me to push harder! As I said in the opening regarding the “name on your jersey”, we all have our challenges with injuries and set backs, but God will never allow you to go through more than you can handle!

As Sherman Lee Criner once told me when he saw me on crutches in Golds Gym, “I’m not impressed with what people have accomplished, I’m impressed with what they’ve overcome!” Whenever you’re faced with adversity, make the mental decision to NOT let it LIMIT you! BE WITHOUT LIMITS!