Fractured Opportunity, Or Opportunity Born of Fractures

Mission Bay Marathon Tony Goffredo

My dad at the Mission Bay Marathon, mid-1970s

Heat, snow, the flu. Even confinement to a Disney cruise ship couldn’t keep my father from his morning ritual. Sixty laps around the ship deck, he estimated, earned him eight miles.

Every morning since he was 20, he ran. Before anyone else in my family awoke, he ran. To nothing but the rhythm of his breath, he ran.

After his blood cancer diagnosis, he still ran.

Marathon with Poppy

He had read the myeloma literature. He knew that his brand of blood cancer would cause his bones to weaken. He understood that eventually his bones would fracture under the stress of what had long been his stress relief.

And so it was, six years after his diagnosis, the oncologist discovered a stress fracture was the source of my father’s back pain.

I wonder if the doctor understood the weight of her words when she told him he could no longer run, that he must abandon his faithful ally of forty years.  I wonder if she tried to pad the punch with words of empathy or a voice of compassion.

Run Stop

But I don’t know because he never said a word about it.

He never complained or pouted or whined or lamented the injustice.

He simply woke up the next morning and went to the golf course, like he’s done every morning since.

With the same diet of dedication and sweat that earned him a 2:32 marathon PR (!!!), he whittles away at his handicap. In the years since he traded his running shoes for golf cleats, he has become king of the fairways, a formidable–and nearly unbeatable–opponent on the links.

Poppy Tony Golfing at Sierra Star

A month ago, just days after IRONMAN Lake Placid, I slouched in a darkened doctor’s office, staring at an x-ray that outlined the hasty end to my otherwise triumphant triathlon season: a fractured metatarsal.


I could have cried.

I could have said it wasn’t fair.

I could have lamented my season’s denouement before its climax. 

Head in Breakfast Bowl_Csilla Klenyanszki

But I have had the great fortune of being my father’s daughter, of learning from the example he quietly sets, the attitude with which he has faced his cancer diagnosis and everything that comes along with it.

No Running

I can’t run for awhile, this is true. But like my father who now spends countless hours on the golf course,  I can swim like I have never swam before.

Swim With a Foursome

Instead of pity parties, I can throw pool parties and try to keep up with faster fish. I can swim 100 x 100 with some fantastic friends, even if it takes me four hours to finish.

One Hundred by One Hundred

I can turn the disappointment of a fractured foot into an opportunity to focus on my weakness, to become a better swimmer, to minimize the gap I have to run down in every triathlon I’ve ever raced.

I can turn a fracture into an opportunity.

Because that’s what my father taught me to do.

IMAZ with Poppy Smiles Cropped

–For more on life and fairness, check out “It’s not Fair.”

–For more on doing the best you can with what you’ve got, check out:  “Workin’ with What You’ve Got” and “Lessons From the Landfill.”

–Huge thanks to my swim friends for keeping me company as I fall in love with laps

Swim Crew

25 responses to “Fractured Opportunity, Or Opportunity Born of Fractures

  1. Kendra – I am sorry to hear about your fracture but so inspired by your glass-half-full attitude. Your father, family and friends are so very proud of you. Thank you for the encouragement and best of luck in the pool 🙂

  2. The “life’s not fair, deal with it” pill is a tough one to swallow, but you (and your father) do it with such grace. You both inspire so many by your examples. When Steve and I were told we couldn’t have any more kids, we were, of course, sad, but we fought to see the situation from a positive perspective. We though, “Okay, what new possibilities does this provide?” Life’s not fair, but you play the hand your dealt and find your new happy place.

  3. I knew from the day I first competed against this one back in high school that she was a rare and beautiful individual. Thank you, Kendra Goffredo, for the lessons you and Poppy Tony have taught me, this one being among the most impactful. Love you xoxo
    Love, Kelly Grimes (Scripps Ranch High ’98) 🙂

  4. Oh boo, I hate to hear that you injured your foot! Do you think your messed up shoe at Placid had something to do with it? AT least you have great swim buddies 🙂

  5. ‘Just keep swimming, just keep swimming,’ – said Nemo. Love your attitude about life, KGo. Can’t wait to swim this weekend!

  6. Love this Kendra….you are awesome (like your dad 🙂 (and you mom of course but this article was about your dad ❤ ❤

  7. 💕Bitter~sweet
    Lake Las Vegas OR bust”🚣🚲🌎✈

  8. So sorry to hear about the fracture, but, as always, you’re pushing through with the best mindset possible. And anytime you want a swim buddy, you know where to find me.

  9. Sorry to hear of the fracture, but you will come back even stronger! I fractured my ankle 2 years ago, so I can definitely relate! But now maybe you’ll come out and cheer on the Myeloma Minions that will be running to DC on the weekend of Oct 5? 🙂

  10. There is no doubt, Kendra, that you and the rest of the family will be back even stronger as a result of this small set back. Hope, too, that you all will find some time to carve some turns at Mammoth is a few short months…Thank you once again for sharing this story in such a beautiful and positive manner…

  11. I know you’re not throwing a pity party but im still so so sorry! I haven’t run for 6 weeks and its killing me so I get it. So good to read this bc I need to not complain or whine. Thanks for this post!

  12. Amazing, you are. Strong strong strong.

  13. Tony,
    Thanks for the inspiration. I’ve been battling a small depression lately with little to no ability to exercise and additionally, I miss coaching desperately. Some days are really hard. It helped to read this tonight.
    On a side note, I didn’t realize Chito was your bike, Kendra!

  14. You are an inspiration!

  15. This is great Kendra! Couldn’t have said any of this better myself!

  16. Great attitude (as usual), Kendra. With your improved swim: There. Will. Be. No. Stopping. You, Ever! BTW I love the face in the bowl pic. Chris

  17. What an attitude and a half! You’re always an inspiration Zootie. Can’t wait to see you and meet your family in Vegas! I am sure all the time spent in the pool will make you unbeatable in all disciplines!

  18. Beautifully written, as always! Love ya!

  19. Hi Kendra, I logged in to wish you good luck in LV but see you will not be racing. Kudos on the “make lemonade out of lemons” attitude. On the bright side, the time you do get to spend with your parents can now be Quality time without the distractions of a race in the middle. It might turn out to be a blessing! I bet you all make quite the uplifting cheer section for your many friends!

    It sounds like you are an experienced rehabber, but my advice is respect your injury and be smart about your comeback. I did not do that and it has messed me up for 18 months of yo-yo and suboptimal progress. I would hate to see that for you.

    Enjoy the Family Time and the time to enjoy them in a World Championship environment!!

  20. I love this entry. What a great attitude. I am officially changing mine.

  21. You live like a champion – You are a champion – you will prevail – every challenge is an opportunity as you know – blessings……………..

  22. Ugh, I am so sorry to hear about your fracture but absolutely love that you have your rockstar dad to go to as inspiration. What an amazing story to look up to… love reading your blog.

  23. I also have a stress fracture- tank you for this post. Was the attitude readjust I needed. Fast healing to you!!

  24. Pingback: More than the Entire | The Adventures of ChiTo and Kgo

  25. Pingback: COPING WITH INJURY – My Website

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