Jan 23

When I started down this training journey, I knew that there would be some unexpected hurdles along the way.  It seems I’ve encountered my first one.

Last weekend I took Cooper (my 6 year old) up to Mammoth for our Adventure Guide’s Mammoth weekend.  Adventure Guides is a YMCA group where fathers get together with their sons to go on, you guessed it, adventures.  The plan was to put the boys in ski school on Saturday so that we could have a full day on the mountain to let it rip, and then take the boys up on Sunday for some father/son time.

Saturday was an epic day…..the weather was perfect, and there was zero wind at the top of the mountain.  It was one of those rare opportunities to hit Cornice under perfect conditions, over and over again.

After a morning of non-stop boarding, we stopped for a late lunch when I got a call from ski school saying that Cooper didn’t want to ski anymore and that I had to go pick him up.  I broke off from the fellas and made my way over to Canyon Lodge when disaster struck.  As I was charging down a run at full speed to pick up Coop, I caught an edge and went flying head-first into some pretty hard-packed stuff.  I landed on my shoulder, flipped over a few times and knew immediately that I had hurt myself.  I sat dazed for a few minutes, trying to assess the damage and could feel my left shoulder drooping heavily.  After struggling to get myself up, I eventually made it down the mountain, picked up Coop and headed back to the cabin.  Naturally, that night I did what any normal human being would do and masked the pain in heavy doses of advil and booze. When I woke up the next day I knew that there was indeed something wrong with the shoulder and knew I had a week of doctors visits ahead of me.  I was terrified that I broke my collarbone, as I couldn’t lift my arm up to change my shirt and the pain was crazy-intense.

I couldn’t get an appointment with a specialist till Thursday, so my training week was essentially shut down.  I managed to get in 30 minutes on a stationary bike, as I’m not one to shut things down completely, but I didn’t want to push it without knowing what was wrong.  On Thursday I went to D.I.S.C. in Marina Del Rey and got the good news that there was nothing broken.  I was told that I had a Grade II AC Joint Separation, which is shoulder separation that doesn’t require surgery and is something that would heal itself over time with ice, rest, anti-inflammatory medication, and physical therapy.  I was told that I could ride/run, albeit conservatively while the shoulder heals, and that swimming was something I could do in about a week in limited doses.

I’m SUPER stoked that it wasn’t worse than it could have been.  If it had been a Grade III-V separation, I more than likely would have been done for the season, putting the full distance tri dreams on hold for another year.  I was so scared that I was facing another surgery and felt like a fool for putting myself in this position in the first place.  But then I have to ask myself, does my life have to be put completely on hold when I take on something like this?  Do I have to sacrifice certain things I love in order to ensure that I don’t undermine my efforts?  I reluctantly have to say yes…..As much as it pains me to say it, I think I have to take a break from the mountain this year (no pun intended).  No matter how hard I try, and can’t seem to go skiing/snowboarding without putting myself in a position to get beat down.  It feels weird to say it, but I think I DO have to sacrifice some of the things I love in order to accomplish what I’ve set out to do.

I know that I’ll be back in the fold on the swimming front within a few weeks. I set myself back a bit, but its still early and there’s time to get caught up again.  The mental hurdles are the ones that more often then not are going to be the toughest.  Priorities, sacrifices, temptations, and discipline are the biggest issues during this process, and I’m learning more about myself with each week that passes.  I have the short-term physical hurdle to overcome, but more importantly I have the long-term hurdle of being smart about this process.  Every day from here on out is going to test me, and I look forward to the challenge!