Cut. It. Out.

I have a thing. In my knee. It hurts. It’s annoying. And it’s coming out on Monday.

I haven’t posted in a long time. I’ve been angry with triathlon and my own stubbornness.

After having a personal best race on July 10 at Colonial Beach International distance tri, something finally gave out on me. That thing was my knee. 4 miles into the 6 mile run – I knew something wasn’t right. I finished. I didn’t stop. Had my best 10k split ever (in a tri) – even held my tempo pace!  I have not been able to run longer than a mile since that day.

I was very proud of the race and – at that time – I really thought this was going to be an amazing race season. However, after that, things started to fall apart. Week by week, training got more painful. I’d rest and wait for the pain to subside – then try again in a couple of days. Same thing. It started with the run. Then it crept into my bike. Then it crept into my swim. I now can’t do more than about 20-30 minutes of any activity without pain severe enough that it forces me to stop the activity.

I dropped out of one triathlon. And another…and then the big one. The season is over. I tell you – it was a personal struggle for a while. In the whole of life and humanity – it’s a very insignificant issue, but it’s preventing me from the activity I love. The wind in the face riding down a hill, the feet on the pavement…and even that damn black line in the water.

At one point during a terribly difficult morning on the bike – leaving my denial behind – I realized my A Race was no longer an option. This weekend I am prepping for a knee scope and cheering from home for my coach and teammates who are participating in that race.

So I finally saw the ortho. Thanks to Dr. Ben and OrthoVirginia – it was easily diagnosed (I even knew exactly what it was!) – we have a plan of attack.

So what the heck was it? My stowaway. My calcium pal. My pearl. I did a full Ironman without any pain last year with that thing along for the rideKnee.jpg.

16 years ago in soccer. I dislocated my knee. Then I dislocated my knee again. And again and again and again. Repeat ad nauseam. Something broke loose at that time that they never saw on the x-ray. It floated around in there – sometimes catching in the joint. No big deal. I always worked around it, no major pain or symptoms. Just some instability. Honestly, I probably should have had it removed a long time ago, but it never actually sidelined me – until now. It was growing, calcifying, through all those years – and it’s now the size of a half dollar and thickness of a cough drop. It hangs out in my thigh, above my patella. That is the only place where there is room for my cal pal. It pushes on things…tendons, patella, femur. I can easily feel and move it with my fingers. I can see it below my skin. The pearl that I have spent the last 16 years cultivating has got to go so I can get back to the sport I love. It’s technically a “loose body” or “joint mouse” … a giant joint mouse. I prefer pearl.

Monday afternoon Doctor Ben spends a cool 10 minutes to slice in and tweeze the intruder out of my thigh. Thankfully, this is no big deal. There is no ligament damage, tendons are great, muscles are strong. Doc doesn’t even think I will need crutches or PT.

My patella will be able to breathe again. In 2 short weeks, I’ll be able to return to what I hope will be pain-free training. My current focus is on some minor running races at the end of 2016 and race execution for next season. Locating places in my race where I can shave off 10-12 minutes of total race time – clarity of goals and redeveloping lost fitness. It will feel weird to have a normal-ish knee. I am looking forward to it and so thankful that it is a minor issue that in no way effects my overall health, well-being, or lifestyle.

Shoutout to all my amazing Rogue teammates who have been checking in on me. Thanks to my Coach for keeping me sane through tears and angry frustrations about the season – for reminding me of the bigger picture when I refused to look at it. Thank you to my friends and family who may not always understand the tri lifestyle, but stick with me anyway.

I can’t wait to root for everyone taking on those amazing A races! AC, LOU, IMMD.        Trust the plan. Smash the race.

“A minor setback paves the way for a major comeback.” – Unknown