On Limits.

Posted by: on Nov 18, 2011 | 5 Comments
Katrina Costedio

photo Scott Braun

It’s warm in my bed. Cozy. I was laying there a few minutes ago. Trying to sleep.

I’m here now. At my desk, pen in hand in the half-dark. Bed-headed and pillow-faced, attempting to excavate a seed of authenticity from the pile of debris that is the current state of my psyche. Somewhere deep in there, past the arrogance and the insecurity, is Truth. Sometimes, the hardest part of writing (of life) is recognizing yourself when you see her.

Two Fridays in a row now, I’ve gotten to steal a couple hours away from this desk to get wet in the Gulf. The first Friday was cold and stormy. Rough. I was a shipwrecked sailor happily clinging to life on my little board. Awesome. Last Friday was ripe with sunshine and glass. Tiny, little waves made just for me. A barren line-up both times, but I didn’t feel lonely. In the water, I’m enough.

It’s Thursday now as I write. Despite rumors of a bump in the water, no sand falls from my hair onto this page, I didn’t hunt any waves today. Last Friday, after surfing, I went to CrossFit. I collapsed in the middle of the workout. In front of everyone. I didn’t finish. My first failure there was a public one. While my ego recovered fairly quickly, my body did not. I continued to collapse over the weekend.

I’m always talking about the ways in which we (as surfers, as humans) confront fears; sometimes aggressively charging ahead, other times relaxing into the flow of things. This week I was forced to confront a fear so scary, so looming, that I’ve never even acknowledged it’s existence before. I’ve protected myself by relegating it to the shadows. My limitations.

The doctor told me to lie down and eat. “You’re thirty-three years old, you can’t expect to do all that.” She told me. I cannot accept this sentence. I’ve always operated under the premise that we are the things we do everyday. Striving is the cornerstone upon which I’ve erected the house of cards that is my self-image. Extended rest, for me, calls into question who I am at the very core. I’m laughing now as I write this, as you probably are as you read it, because I know this to be a ridiculous statement; trust me. But damn if it isn’t true.

I can’t do everything. I can’t be everything. I can’t control the situations I most want to control or take the pain away from someone I care about.

But I’ve realized something this week, mired in the recognition of my so-called limits. The real limitation lies in identifying with external attributes. We are not the sum of our achievements, not the aggregate of our abilities. I am not my body or my talent. I am infinitely more. I am the woman I am in the water, all the time; I am enough. And so are you.

I’m going back to bed now.



  1. Keia Mastrianni
    November 18, 2011

    Indeed. We are NOT the sum of our achievements. Very well said, Katrina. It’s a funny thing that, by knowing our limitations, we are able to grow into the person we have always wanted to be. Surrender to win, is it?

  2. matt
    November 18, 2011

    I agree with you. It would be a terrifying prospect if, at the end of the day, all we were was the sum of our achievements- I think I would fall a bit flat, hahaha. I guess we all would, though. I like the Carl Sagan approach to self identification- we are all intermingled potentialities- and our story is still being told.

  3. Becca B / BreakingMuscle.com
    November 18, 2011

    Was just talking about this last night — we are also not what we are NOT. If we dwell on what we are not, or insist that things are not how they are, then we are defined by that. If I insist I don’t need rest, or that I am not injured, I am defined by that state. If just let myself rest and recover, I get to be whoever I want and whoever I truly am — and I can properly care for myself instead of insisting there’s nothing wrong and therefore I don’t need special care.

    I empathize — I think people who are driven in careers, driven in the gym, etc, are also driven in their minds and not always as kind to ourselves as we are to others.

  4. E.Alland
    November 21, 2011

    Ouch Katrina – been there done that lesson plan — the ol crash & burn…. I remember being in shock when they picked me off the kitchen floor –sure as hell doesn’t feel good & it’s scarey as hell. I was shocked — how could me the athlete, the 50k runner collapse ?
    I learned when I push, demand and deplete my glycogen … even the hardiest will eventually go down… Jenga. I further learned, that this lesson will be repeated, & often w/more severity if not learned the first or second time. As an older athlete who luckily has not been culled from the herd, pacing is the key to the long term goal.
    I’ve been fortunate to work w/horses and I was able to observe which horses maintain their athleticism well into their older years… what set them apart from the horses that are chronically injured & in pain. Good Genetics, Good diet, and a fitness program that kept them fit, but never abused their bodies. Injuries were immediately tended to, and they were never worked beyond walking when hurt period. Also – pasture time. REST. These are the horses that I see are still athletes into their 20’s. When I mirrored the treatment & training schedule of my Self to that of the horses I care for, I dramatically lowered my incidence of injury and no more crash & burn.
    My other thought, having learned this the hard way as well –is that the fitness, endurance, strength & energy output , especially when it’s cold, is often underestimated in surfing. In comparison to my experiences in long distance running… I find the sport the most demanding and far more exhausting. 2 hours surfing is far more tiring to me then 2 hours running. I use to do a brick – combine a running & surfing day. But no longer… it was really too demanding physically I do much better picking one….. surfing wins

  5. Elle
    December 12, 2011

    Katrina, I think your readers would really enjoy my blog on living the best life you can.


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