GOIN’ DOWN IN A BLAZE OF GLORY

As I read in another blog post (http://goingdowninablazeofglory.tumblr.com/meaning), “…most people would describe ‘blaze of glory’ as a very spectacular downfall, but it is more than that; it’s about choosing to fight back, even though the chance of winning is very slim, and not just surrendering but going down fighting.”

That clearly describes me. In my book, it’s all about the fight. I’m not one to take the path of least resistance and give up.

Coming back to swimming after surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome was one case in point, as my story on Page 19 demonstrates (http://issuu.com/kitchendrawer/docs/6_3_final?e=0/8465165).

This time around, I’m scheduled for hip arthroscopy for psoas (hip flexor tendon) release and to clean up whatever mess my snapping hip caused as my hip flexor rubbed over the joint’s labrum of my right hip. Twenty years of this finally caught up with me.

Although the cause of my too-tight hip flexor tendon is unknown, it sure wasn’t due to a lack of effort in trying to keep it strong and flexible. My snapping hip was probably the result of many factors: genetics (I probably inherited my connective tissue issues from my dad), leg length discrepancy, a pelvis that tilts forward and to the right (no matter what physical therapy exercises I do to try to correct it), a life-long habit of walking fast with long strides, spending too many years as a treadmill rat, and did I mention genetics? Surely, having back surgery at the age of 25 was an indication of things to come…

Swimming is a great exercise for whatever structurally ails you; however, as much as I love to train (and I do so six days per week, 2500-4000 yards per day), I can’t live my life as an “Aqua Dog” all the time. Too bad my body doesn’t love being on land as much as it does being on the water. (My tussle with Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome was one indication.)

My body also doesn’t love my physical therapist any more (no offense to my PT), nor does it respond to my diligent 30-45 minute post-swim PT deck exercises. I’ve run out of options, so it’s time for the operating table.

Dr. John Andrachuk was a fellow under the famed pro sports orthopedic surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, so I believe I’m in good hands. Hip arthroscopy is his specialty, lucky for me.

I strategically scheduled my operation for December 17—after the U.S. Masters Swimming Dixie Zones Short Course Meters Championships at Georgia Tech. With permission granted from Dr. Andrachuk, I’m going to do in-water starts, swim my races rather than “race” my races, and push off the wall on my turns very lightly with my LEFT leg. I am also going to give breaststroke kick a big miss. This is how it’s been for me in the pool since the Georgia Senior Games in September.

Obviously, I won’t be breaking any personal records, but this meet won’t be about racing best times. It’s about participating to the best of my current ability and winning the Georgia Championship Series (for high points) for the third year in a row. (I can kiss 2015 goodbye, thanks to a 5 month ban from competition issued by the doc.)

I’m leading in points after the short course yards meet at Georgia Tech, the long course meters meet in Athens, and the Georgia State Games Open Water Meet where I won silver medals in the 3K and 1K races. All I need to do is complete one race cleanly at Georgia Tech, and I’ll have the series wrapped up with a bow (and a trophy).

Somehow that seems like a cop-out, knowing that I do more than that in the pool during my training sessions. I am still able to “race” the three most difficult races in the pool (400 IM, 200 Butterfly, and 1650 freestyle), even if they are raced at more like my 3k pace. Breaststroke kicking is really the only thing I can’t do without pain unless I severely modify the kick (or eliminate it), so I’ll make the adjustment.

I’m signed up for ten events over the two-day meet, but I’ve left the three breaststroke races off the line-up, opting for the less painful strokes instead. (I never would have thought butterfly would actually be easier on my hip!)

No, I have no chance of winning any of my races, but I’m not going to surrender. I’m going down fighting in a blaze of glory.