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I can distinctly remember the last time I felt like an athlete. I was 17, just finished my junior year of high school. I was coming off a huge summer of training with goals and dreams of swimming D1, NCAA’s and Olympic Trial cuts motivating my every move.

I also distinctly remember the day I stopped feeling like an athlete. It was the start of my senior year of high school. It was following a morning high school season practice, walking up the main stair case in the high school to my first class. The jolt of pain down my leg. The stabbing/ripping feeling in my back and hip. Little did I know that would be a pain that wouldn’t go away for almost 11 years.

Although I did go on to “swim” for the University of Minnesota, it was short-lived. Pain won out. Doctors, physical therapists, sports specialists, x-rays, MRI’s, CT scans, cortisone shots…you name it, I talked to and tried it. Nobody could figure out what was wrong with me. Doctors told me the pain was in my head. That I’d be lucky to swim, let alone run again. That maybe a modified life was a better option for me.

I don’t like being told I can’t do something. Going near a pool was a painful thought for me, so I ran. I ran 5Ks, 10Ks, half-marathons and marathons. I learned to compartmentalize the pain. Until I couldn’t any longer. And so I saw one more doctor, Dr. Christopher Larson.

I was diagnosed with FAI (femoroacetabular impingement) and a shredded labrum. My pain was caused by a bone deformity I was born with. The first FAI surgery was performed around 2003, the same time I started having pain. But it wasn’t until quite a few years later that it truly became a “common” thing and the procedure that it is today. I underwent surgery on my right hip on November 19, 2013. They shaved the ball and socket of my hip, put stitches in the labrum, decompressed my AIIS and put more stitches in the ligament around my hip, including one that will never dissolve. I’ll give you the cliff notes version of the last 1.5 years so to not put you to sleep.

  • My prognosis, while good, did come with words of caution that I might never fully heal given the long period of time I spent in pain/compensating/etc.
  • No yoga, ever again. I’m hyper-mobile.
  • 6 weeks on crutches in a brace that I wore almost 24 hours a day.
  • Relearning how to correctly use my muscles after 11 years of compensating…that included learning to walk correctly again.
  • Over a year of physical therapy.
  • Enter lots of tears of frustration.
  • My first run happened 6 months, almost to the day, after surgery and involved 2 x 30 seconds of jogging. I was out of breath.
  • I ran a 10K in February 2014. And nothing hurt!
  • I decided to take my doctors words of caution and train for triathlons instead of always running.

And this takes us to today. Told you it was the shortened version :-) I’m now working with two fabulous coaches. One specifically for my hip and strength training. And one for triathlon training. This week alone I accomplished 9.5 hours of training. MY BODY did that. MY HIP did that. From 6,000 yards in the pool…with no fear or hard feelings towards it anymore, to biking on a trainer (a new concept to me) and running…running 3200 meter repeats and long runs with fuel. And nothing hurts. NOTHING HURTS.

Today is a day I will distinctly remember. I ran 7 miles this morning. 7 miles of hills to cap off that 9.5 hours of training this week. This is my longest run since surgery. And nothing hurt. I felt strong, confident…like an athlete.

I’ll distinctly remember today as the day I felt like an athlete again.

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