A Choice

A couple years ago I decided I wanted to become a triathlete. Call it a middle aged crisis, but I started training regularly and last year completed six triathlons. These triathlons were not the same distance as the famous Ironman triathlons, which include a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike and a full 26.2-mile marathon at the end. My triathlons were called “sprint triathlons”, which at their longest involved a 1/2 mile swim, 12-mile bike and 3.1-mile run. Believe me they seemed long enough to me. While others used them as sprint races, they were every bit endurance contests to me.

I continued training vigorously over the winter and then in February laid out my race goals for the year with the pinnacle being an Olympic distance triathlon in late July with a one mile swim, 24-mile bike and 6.2 mile run. The next day, as if to penalize me for my hubris, I hurt my foot running (I think I ruptured a tendon in one of the toes of my left foot as I can no longer flex the toe), and I was left limping for a couple weeks until the pain went away. When it started to feel better I went running on a very cold day without properly warming up. I ran a full 3.1 miles, and then had to rush off to pick someone up without doing a proper cool down and then, sure enough, I found myself hobbled with a sore ankle.

Just when my ankle started feeling better I came down with a cold, which turned into bronchitis. Twenty-one days later I finally made it back to the track for a two-mile run. The next day the big toe on my right foot, which had been mysteriously slightly swollen the morning of my run was now fully swollen and inflamed. I don’t think I injured it running. My best guess is it is an attack of gout. This has not been confirmed by a doctor, just my best guess from reading on-line medical wed sites. I have had similar big toe swellings a couple times in the past, always spaced a few years apart and think gout is likely. It feels better today and I need to show some sense and not push it too much although I really want to go out running.

Today I was supposed to run my first ¼ marathon at the nearby reservoir, but my training has suffered to the point I would not only come in last, but would likely finish walking. I have managed to work through all of this without missing a scheduled work day, but have had to cut back significantly on overtime to heal.

I was talking to an older medic last week and he confesses he eats Motrin daily just to make it through the day. I know my old partner Arthur used it quite a bit as well. I have on occasion, but may need to amp up my dosing.

Being a paramedic is my great love and at times like this when I am sick and hobbled, I wonder if I will be able to make it until the end — age 65 is my target — or whether I will have to find something safer, less stressful on my body. It seems in a way at times like it is a choice between the woman you passionately love and the one who would make a securer marriage – a woman from a respectable family with a fine dowry. I am always encouraged when I see older medics and EMTs out working the streets with vigor, and I am discouraged when I have patients who I discover on their W-10s are younger than I am.

It is cold and rainy here today and I cannot wait for warmer weather’s arrival and to be back out on the road running, feeling like a young man with illness and injury far from my unworried mind.

My Triathlon Quest

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