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TriHardAlan - Tales of an Age Grouper
TriHardAlan - Tales of an Age Grouper

The Short Term and the Long Term

TriHardAlanby TriHardAlanMay 9th 2015
Today I competed in an Aquathlon. After failing to hit the right buttons on my Garmin and the results not available at the time of writing, I don’t know my exact splits. Swim was about 13 minutes so not great, the cold water with no ear plugs made me giddy and fall over in transition having forgotten to block my ears and having also forgotten to apply baby oil was slow to get wetsuit of so spent over a minute flaffing about and then ran a 21 minute 5k, something that would have been a nightmare a year ago. But today I left that race with a big smile.


Because I was able to run as hard as I could without my body breaking down. After 6 years in the sport and setting pb’s at every distance every year the start to 2015 couldn’t have been worse. A calf injury has forced me to pull out of the London Marathon which was a bitter pill as it was the 20th anniversary of my first London Marathon, or any race for that matter. And various, admittedly too soon, attempts to come back from injury and compete in Duathlons and Triathlons have resulted in DNF’s and the one finished race a 27 minute, and very painful, 5k. With my first qualifier next Sunday 17th May for the World Age Group Championships on the horizon I was in despair and writing of the whole season of at one point. But after showing the patience I should have done earlier and some extensive physio work this morning’s simple, low key, race tells me I will at least be on the start line next week and confident of finishing. Will I qualify? I doubt it. But I have 4 qualifiers to do this so the 17th is not the day for panic. Instead it’s a day to smile because I will at least be there doing something I enjoy with a chance to qualify. Even if it’s a small, tiny chance.

So if you’re still reading this you may be thinking we all get injuries, it’s a fact of life when we push our bodies so hard with an impact sport involved, stop being such a cry baby and get on with it. But the calf was the short term problem that was denying me the opportunity of deluding myself that the long term problem would go away by running well. And that long term problem?

I have no cartilage left in my right hip. Its bone against bone. The symptoms first appeared towards the end of last season and went from nigally, to painful, to agony, to restrictive. Some physio approved things and got me running again but it was only February that I got an xray and the diagnosis. The original surgeon I saw, I now know, was not helpful and predicted that post surgery I would never be able to run anything longer than 10k. Some research, mainly by my wonderfully supportive partner whilst I have tried my hardest to pretend this will go away, has revealed that something called a Birmingham Hip Replacement, also known as the better described Hip Resurfacing, has a fantastic history of people making full recoveries and even running ultra marathons. I have an appointment with one of the pioneers of the procedure on the 18th, ironically on the way back from the qualifier. I am hoping the conversation will be that I can carry on till the end of the season and compete at the World Age Group Finals in Chicago. This is important as next year’s switch to draft legal means I will not be competing again at this level so this is my last opportunity to represent GB.

So even with this more serious issue it’s not all bad right? Recovery period information is a bit vague but will at least be a few months. Against another 20 years in the sport it’s a worthwhile sacrifice.

But I don’t know if I can face it.

I’m scared.

Or at least I wish I was simply scared. It’s far deeper than that. I have a chronic phobia about anything hospital/needle related. I have previously fainted just talking to dr’s. And not even about myself at times. Just thinking about the appointment on the 18th turns my stomach and makes me feel sick. Needless to say the medical profession are unsympathetic and simply don’t understand. You can’t unless you have the same symptoms yourself and if they did, well, like me, they would have a different job. But even if they did understand how does that help? I doubt it does. I still have to face the situation and somebody saying “there, there, everything will be ok” doesn’t reduce the sheer panic.

In the short term I concentrate on the appointment on the 18th and trying to stay conscious to hear the end of it.

In the long term I have two choices, I either learn to deal with my phobia or I race on till I can no longer stand the pain. Right now, I have no idea what the decision will be or what the future holds so I will enjoy each and every race like it’s my last.
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