Sunday, June 21, 2015

Allan Beach Triathlon

Today, my friend Marilyn and I did the Allan Beach Triathlon as a team. I've been swimming a fair bit with my triathlete friends and Marilyn suggested that we do this race together so that I could stay involved in the sport despite my crappy hips. She's been very encouraging and supportive.

We were registered for the Olympic distance with another friend but she called us on the morning of the race to say that she had been sick all night. Marilyn and I went to the race anyway. We switched into the sprint distance event and tried to recruit a runner for our team to replace our missing friend. Alas, we had no takers. Then we got the sudden idea that I would do the swim and Marilyn would do the bike as planned and then we would both walk the run together so that we could finish (Marilyn is injured, too, and can't run). 

The air was very cold on race morning but the water felt warm and wonderful. I very much enjoyed the swim. When I finished, I handed the timing chip off to Marilyn and she set out on the bike. When she came back, we both went out for the run. We walked at a moderate pace and enjoyed the sunny day, which had warmed up quite a bit since the race start. Our goal was just to bring the timing chip back to the finish line so we didn't stress at all about our speed. Some of our friends thought it was really cool that we decided to do that. We joked that it took two of us to replace our sick runner. One young guy who was volunteering said to us that he hoped he'd be as active as we were at "our age"! We said, "We're injured Ironmen, not sweet old ladies!" Seriously!

This was a great day. We were pleased with ourselves for getting the race done despite our injuries and missing teammate. We were happy to be there, to be part of the race, to see our friends. It was my first race since 2013 and it felt just great to feel the race atmosphere again.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

My Hips Don't Lie

Once again, it's been a while since I've posted. I haven't been much of a triathlete lately because of my hips. They have been getting worse and it has interfered considerably with my participation in the sport. I've known for a while that I have arthritis in both hips. I managed to do Ironman Mont-Tremblant on pretty crappy joints but since then, it's just deteriorated. I decided to have cortisone injections last December and when I booked that, I ended up being enrolled in a "hip study," in which the researchers were investigating the effects of steroid injections. As part of that, I got two MRIs, two ultrasounds, and a physiotherapy assessment so I benefited tremendously by participating. What that study confirmed for me was that my arthritis is severe. I guess I knew deep down that it was getting pretty bad. I just didn't want to think about the ramifications of having severe arthritis. Triathlon is important to me and I imagined that this would mean the end of life as I knew it.

The time came, though, when I realized that I had to face it and deal with it, and see what life was like on the other side. I actually began to see that it would be better to have the surgery and restore my function rather than hold on the way it is now. I started to view hip replacement surgery not as the end of my life but as a renewal of it. So today I went to the Hip and Knee Clinic and was put on the list for hip replacement surgery. The left one will be first but the right one will have to be done, too.

The surgery will probably be sometime in the winter of 2016. While I wait, I still want to see myself as healthy and active, to keep moving as much as possible, and to build my strength and flexibility as much as possible so I keep living while I wait and go into the surgery from a position of strength.

Ironically, but not surprisingly, doctors don't tend to focus on health and well-being. They are interventionists who respond to illness and they aren't accustomed to working with triathletes! The surgeon I saw today told me that people with artificial joints play golf with golf carts and maybe take up bridge or go for walks with their dogs. I said, "I'm envisioning a very different life than that after I have this surgery!" He probably thought I was nuts but I have every intention at this point of doing another Ironman. And that is completely realistic: Swimming and cycling are great for people with hip replacements. Running will wear out the artificial joint too quickly but I can train in the water for running and walk a lot of the run during the race.

This has been a time of great change in my life and I wish I didn't have to lose my ability to participate in triathlon right now. It would have been a supportive aspect of my life. But it is what it is and so, all things considered, I am happy to be where I am now with this. This surgery will help me get back on track and be able to resume a fully active life. Onward and upward!