Monday, July 20, 2009

Wither thou, O Athlete

After wallowing for a year or so in self pity, and reinventing myself as, more or less, a full time college instructor, I found myself unemployed this summer. Hrupmph. No time like the present to get back in shape, I figured. Off I went for a run. The last run I would ever take, apparently. Whether I had a previous injury or the run caused the injury I won't know, but about $1400 worth of exams, XRays, and MRI's later, and the diagnosis ( drum roll....) meniscus tear. OK! Those are repairable, I know, because I tore the meniscus 3/4 of the way around on the OTHER knee and most of it was able to be stitched back on.

Noticing the furrowed brow on the surgeon's face, I then deduced we weren't through yet. We both peered thoughtfully at the Xrays and the MRI report. "Hmmm....see this here ( pointing to the top of my tibia on the Xray) and this here ( now the other tibia)?"

"Yes..." I replied slowly...trying to seem like I was following this.

"You have some pretty serious osteoarthritis going on in these knees, how much pain are you in on a daily basis?"

"Ummmmm......" not wanting to admit that even sitting for short periods causes my knees to ache horribly.

"You know..... ummm, your weight has alot to do with the stress you are putting on your knees, and, errr, you are, let's see....a good 40lbs over weight right now"

Great, thanks for that, I thought. Something I didn't already know. Actually, he was being nice, it was more like 50.

Back and forth we went, and I asked for a month or two to drop some weight and start exercising again before we started talking meds and arthroscopy. He agreed, as long as I never ran again, and cycled, for the time being, on the flats, for short periods of time. We shook hands and I made my next appointment, ego stinging smartly.

Back at home, I pondered.... what to do..... how to drop the to get back in shape..... Well, the first is obvious, eat less. Check! Actually this proved easier than I expected. I eat every 2-3 hrs, very small amounts of food, nothing that isn't fresh, lots of veggies, etc. The second objective required more thought. Biking, at first, just irritated the injury, so I started out with 10 minute spins on the bike, comical, when you consider it takes me almost that time to find my gear, put it on and get ON the bike. I have a pool, but swimming laps in the backyard pool is torture, and I can't afford a Y membership, so where to swim, where to swim.... Enter my saviors, the Saratoga Tri Club. Open water swimming, FUN! So once a week, I swim about a mile, out to an island and back. This week my friend from speedskating, Lisa, joined me. She's a tremendous endurance athlete and had no trouble with the swim. I'd like to do this more often, but I won't swim alone, so I'll have to find another form of exercise to round out this training. As a bonus, I also will not have to give up Triathlons, which I find enormously fun, thanks to Jayne Williams. I can just do the swim and bike portions! Some races even have an "Aquabike" category. This way I will be able to do both Sprint and Olympic distances. I'm pondering the Lake George Oly this Sept...... Here's where we swim, beautiful, isn't it?

As far as speedskating, I probably won't be skating much short track, but I should be able to be on the rink to coach. Once again, I hope to be able to compete in long track this year. I've still got a good 30 lbs to shed and alot of endurance to gain, but I may just be able to be an athlete again.

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