I wanted to write a post, which turned into two posts, about my journey to running and triathlon. It quickly occurred to me that my journey actually started a few years ago long before I realized it. After my first surgery for my shattered finger I returned to swimming and bounced back to my previous fitness level rather quickly. It was my junior year of high school, which meant it was the beginning of college recruitment. Despite being out of the pool for more than a month, I was able to bike and cross train to keep in relatively good shape.
Unfortunately for me, the following summer I started having a lot of shoulder pain while swimming. By the end of the summer I was having surgery for a torn rotator cuff. This was surgery numero dos in less than twelve months. The recovery for this surgery required me to stay out of the water for 4 months. I was crushed by this surgery but still motivated to train. Unlike my first surgery, I struggled to go to practice everyday and cross train while watching all of my teammates swim. Instead I worked out at home about 50% of the time. In addition to being out of the pool longer I was also more limited with what I was able to do.
There were many times where I struggled to find the motivation to go through this all again. The first time was easier. I had dreams of swimming in college and knew that I needed to train hard so that when I was aloud to get back in the pool I wouldn't be so out of shape. In all honestly, four months is a really long time to ride a stationary bike for two hours a day followed by 30 minutes of ab exercises, 6 days a week by yourself. But I made it through those four months. By the time I left for college I was not back to where I was before this surgery but I was getting there.
Maybe a month or two after swimming in college my arm starting going numb. At first it only happened during class, but then it started happening when I was swimming. The trainers checked me out and didn't know what was wrong so they sent me to the hospital. At first the doctors thought I was having or had had a stroke. Hearing this was terrifying, especially since I was 3.5 hours away from my family and boyfriend.
It was later discovered that I had an extra rib near my neck that was pinching on a nerve. Once again I needed surgery, making my count three surgeries in three years. After I learned about this injury and that I had another extra rib on my other side that wasn't causing any damage, yet, I knew my days as a swimmer were over.
I finished my semester and then withdrew from school to return home and have surgery. I took online classes because I was not permitted to go to class. I wasn't allowed to do much of anything athletic for months. I quickly became depressed by all that was changing in my life. Before the surgery I became intrigued by the New York City Marathon. I decided I would start running to stay active. I don't think at the time I believed I would ever actually run a marathon. I wanted to but I think it was more of a far-off dream.
There are still times when I desperately miss swimming. But for the most part I'm okay with how things turned out. Having three surgeries for injuries in three years was devastating at the time but they are the reason I am where I am today. I often find myself thinking about where I am and how I got here and I truly believe that I am where I am supposed to be. Sure, there are things I would change. But for the most part I am happy with the course my life has taken in the past few years.
My scars of reminders of what I have gone through. They are my storybook. They are a part of who I am and despite the hard time they remind me of they challenge me to push through and be an even better version of myself.