It's a very slow process - two steps forward, one step back - but I'm inching in the right direction. - Rob Reiner

September 01, 2011

Mind Games

An old commercial about drug addiction used to say, “Your Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste”, but sometimes I think your mind is just a terrible thing.  Things get in your head and you can’t get them out.  I’m struggling.

It’s Thursday – I’m supposed to have my biggest race EVER on Sunday.  I have no idea if I’m going to be able to race or not.  Things have been up and down for the past week.  Last Friday – Monday I had intense shoulder pain that I could hardly bear, by Monday night it had improved and I was certain my shoulder had just been out of place.  I went to a Sports Medicine doctor on Tuesday.  He evaluated me, told me he was almost 100% certain it was tendonitis (just an overuse injury/inflammation).  He said if that’s all it was I would be fine to race on Sunday.  He would give me some steroids.  I would be in some pain, but I wouldn’t do any damage to myself.  After the race I could come back and he would set up some type of rehab to get me back in tip top shape.  I was on cloud 9!!  But, just to be safe, he scheduled a CT scan………

Flash forward to yesterday… from Doctor – So, it’s not tendonitis, there’s some cartilage damage.  I need you to go in for an MRI so we can see how extensive it is.  My first thought was….huh?  I’m too young for that aren’t I, and I haven’t been swimming that long.  My second thought was, cartilage damage doesn’t sound like a big deal…I mean is it really going to get worse?  Then, I started doing some internet research – probably a bad idea.  Based on my symptoms and some tests available on You Tube, I’m pretty certain I have a SLAP tear.  What the heck is that?

It’s an acronym (Superior Labrum from Anterior to Posterior)…yeah that tells you a lot huh?

It’s a common problem among baseball players and it’s caused by repeated overhead movements.  It’s also common among swimmers.  Basically, you have a ring of cartilage that goes around your shoulder socket and it attaches at one of the biceps tendons.  You can get a tear in the area where the tendon attaches to the cartilage.  I have not been diagnosed with this, but I swear everything I read about it is 100% accurate to what I have been and am feeling.  Time will tell.  I had my MRI this morning.  I’m hoping to get the results of by tomorrow.

I’m not sure what the doctor will recommend – race, don’t race, surgery???  Who knows?  I don’t like unknowns.  My mind goes to the worse.  I won’t be able to race.  I’ll have to have surgery.  I won’t be able to do that Half Ironman next summer that I’ve already been somewhat secretly planning for (expect with my circle of girlfriends who are all planning to do it too).

Then I think.  What if I just race anyway……what if the pain is so intense I can’t do the swim.  It is almost a mile swim after all.  We are talking about 45 minutes in the water (at least for me), maybe even more with an injury.  What if they have to pull me out of the water and rescue me?  I don’t want to be one of those people.  That would be mortifying.

I just don’t know.  I’ve put in 5 hard months of training.  I want to race, but I want to be smart.  I’m trying to stay positive.  I still don’t even have a diagnosis yet.  These are the things I know:

1.       If I can’t race – IT WILL NOT be the end of the world.  Things like this happen to people all of the time and they survive.
2.      If I can’t race – I WILL be able to race again.  I don’t know when, but this is not forever.
3.      If I can’t race – I WILL still go to Des Moines.  I will watch the 5i50 Championship Series and it will be fun.
4.      I WILL not let this defeat me.  I WILL not.

I’ll keep you posted when I hear more.  I’m still looking for that swimmer!!!  I’m serious. Anyone that wants to do the swim portion of Hyvee on Sunday let me know.  I’ll make Jim run and I can bike.  We’ll be a great team J


  1. sending positive vibes your way...hoping for the best!!!

  2. I hope the doctor says that you can do it, that you just have to go easy. I've been enjoying following your Tri season. You've been loaded with PR's. Fo Realz!

    I have a funny story for you but I'm gonna send it to you in an email.

    I'm waiting on you to do that Half Ironman so GET BETTER!

  3. Wow, sorry to hear about the latest developments.

    Hopefully it is good news and you an do the race on Sunday. You are doing the exact same thing I did when the doctor thought I had a torn meniscus in my knee, then the MRI revealed that it was just strained. It's hard, but I would try to forget about it until the results of the MRI come out.

    If you aren't able to do the swim portion, hopefully you can at least do the bike, with Jim on the run. You guys will do awesome as a relay team I bet. (assuming you can find a swimmer)

  4. Hoping for the best for you! Maybe you could do a little test swim and see how it feels before making a decision about the race?

  5. I would race, but I tend to be an a-hole to my body.

  6. First of all, if you don't race, you will still be an awesome triathlete. Nothing's gonna change that.

    Hoping for good news on the test results but if it's bad news... hoping you don't hear about it until next week :)

  7. I know exactly where you are....sending positive thoughts your way!

  8. I'm so sorry things are still unknown. I find that is the hardest part. Once I know what I'm dealing with it, I can deal (even if I don't like it.) When I don't know what I'm dealing with, I freak out.

    You will be successful no matter what! Hopefully you get to do this race, but if you don't, you will rock your next one.

    I would do the swim for you - if it wasn't quite so far away. :( Hopefully you find someone. Are you on Beginner Triathlete? You could post there and see if there is anyone?

    Stay away from google!

  9. First and foremost, feel better.

    I've been down the shoulder surgery route a few years ago and that is notna happy place. Hope some PT and/or drugs can help.

    If the race happens, great. If not, there will be others. Email me if you have any shoulder problem questions and I'll try to answer. Mine started out as tendinitis then the dig changed a few times but then turned into impingement.

    You can still run and bike though.

  10. Sending you positive thoughts, Michael. Try to hang on to those rational paths of action. It WILL come out OK one way or another. Remember, you want to be tri-ing your whole life, so have an eye for the long view.

  11. I wish I lived closer, I would swim for ya! Hope you feel better soon!!!

  12. Stay positive as much as you can. I am so sorry and have HUGE sympathy for you. Take care.

  13. Professional and elite athletes get injuries all the time. It's just a fact of pushing your body hard. It sucks and it's so frustrating but you'll get through whatever's ahead. Finger's crossed for you that it's the quickest fix and you'll be doing what you love in no time.

  14. I wish I could come swim for you!!!

    This just sucks so much, BUT!!!!! the bright side is even "if" you are sidelined with the shoulder...there is ALWAYS something you can improve on. I've said this before to lots of people, just because you aren't getting your way in what you want (ie: my running injury..."well, if I can't run then screw everything" attitude really did NOTHING for me.) doesn't mean that you can't become THAT much stronger in another area you've been neglecting:

    Core strength...flexibility...strength training... etc...things we really need in triathlon that sometimes get put on the back burner.

    There. Mission assignment given.

  15. I wish I could swim for you :(. All my good thoughts your way! Hang in there. It may not be Sunday, but you will do an ply Tri & even your half iron in time. Listen to your body & look to the longterm :) hugs.

  16. Ah I will keep you in my thoughts! I hope everything turns out ok!!

  17. Thinking good, healing thoughts for you! I hope you are able to do your tri this weekend!

  18. Can you hold a kickboard and just kick the swim? :) To me best-case is that you can't race and don't need surgery... Itd suck of course to miss the big race but if a little time off is all you need it is well worth it in the long run, in my opinion.

    Regardless, I do hope your MRI does not show a full on tear (that you just have similar symptoms) and that you heal quickly!!!

  19. Sorry I am so late on this but I am praying for you. You inspire me and no matter what I know that you will pull through this. You are so strong and your positive attitude is inspiring.

    Let me know when you hear. And I wish I was there to swim for you. I suck at swimming but I would do it in a heart beat.

  20. Frustrating week (to say the least)! Hoping and praying it all works out.

  21. WEll, dang it, if I would have read this sooner, I could tried and see if I could have come out and did the swim in your relay.