Monday, February 23, 2015

Surgery Results

For those of you who were unaware, I was having arthroscopic surgery of my left knee today to remove a loose body (that was present on an MRI I had in December). This injury was due to trauma I sustained to the knee when I landed funny while running downhill in the last mile of Syracuse Ironman 70.3.

The doctors went in and found damage and swelling on the underside of my patella (previously undetected in my imaging results). The doctor said that I probably bruised the bone when I landed during the race, and the swelling and damage done was a result. I am not sure whether, had I rested after Syracuse, the damage wouldn’t have been as extensive or whether it would happened regardless. Anyway, according to the doctor this will limit my ability to run for the rest of my life. They did try to remove some of the damaged tissue they found behind my kneecap, so that should help. But there is nothing more that they can really do. In terms of the loose body, they couldn’t find it and believe it adhered to the mess behind my kneecap and so it was probably removed with it.

The chances that I will ever run or participate in triathlons at the competitive level has now been called into question. In 6 weeks time I am allowed to run again and I will have to take it day-by-day to see how things go. I am trying to stay positive.

"An athlete must persist with hope in their heart and dreams in their head.” -EZ

Monday, February 9, 2015

Success takes more than talent and hard work

I took an interest in athletics at the age of 8. My parents enrolled me in a house league soccer program in our home town of Port Washington, New York. Every Saturday I'd lace up my cleats (did I even wear cleats then?) and head over to the field. Little did I know that this was the beginning of my lifelong love of competitive sports. Along with soccer there was basketball and then skating, volleyball, swimming and running. I took to athletics pretty naturally, no matter what the sport. I wasn't ever the best on the team, but I did have a natural affinity for most sports and I worked hard. This combination of talent and work ethic got me pretty far. All the way to getting to compete as a professional triathlete!

When I made my decision to quit my full time job in order to compete in triathlons as a pro, I based it on the fact that I seemed to have a lot of potential to do well in the sport (my talent) and that I knew I would work as hard as necessary to reach that potential (my work ethic). What I didn't take into account, was that there is a third necessary element to success..."luck." And I have had my fair share of bad luck in the past few years!

My most recent stroke of really bad luck occurred during my race in Syracuse in June, 2014. I landed funny on a downhill and ended up breaking a piece of cartilage off the back of my patella. Of course, I didn't know this until the end of December! I battled through the rest of the season and even managed a podium finish in Steelhead 70.3. But the pain forced me to withdraw from Ironman Arizona and I was barely training throughout all of September, October and November. Finally, either my body learned how to deal with the floating piece of cartilage in my knee or I became immune to the pain it was causing, because I was able to get back to normal training in December. Well, somewhat "normal" as my fitness level was probably the lowest it had ever been since the start of my professional triathlon career.

So, here I am. I have very slowly build back my fitness to a reasonable level. Nowhere near my peak, but probably about 70-75% of my peak. I have surgery to remove the floating piece of cartilage at the end of February, then more time off training and then, April 1st, I can begin again. But what do I do? Do I continue to try to train and compete at the level of the very best? I know that I have some talent, I definitely have the work ethic, but can I risk the uncertainty and more bad luck? Some very difficult decisions lie ahead...