Triathlon hiatus

Recently I’ve disappeared from the triathlon scene. I know I’ve kind of disappointed some people. With the college degree in hand and the ability to pick the next step, I know a lot of people hoped I would explore my endurance capabilities. I’ve struggled with inspiration in seeing the worth of such an endeavor. However, the mental inhibition from my curiosity has not been the primary reason for my backing away from the endurance community. My lack of training was entirely involuntary, set in stone by an ankle sprain on New Year’s Day. A foolish question of the party of the night would be mistaken. I was trail running with a couple friends, exploring mountain peaks and bushwhacking through mazes of snowy slopes covered in thorny briers. Wearing MICROspikes which gave my feet a little too much traction, my ankle rolled, tearing two ligaments on an already bum leg.

With an appointment scheduled the next day to find a tiny fracture on my patella, the diagnosis was quick. With an ankle the size of a softball, my leg was booted up and I was on crutches for six weeks. At the end of the six weeks though, something was still not right. Every now and then a step would launch a shooting pain through my outer ankle and any magnitude of eversion has been excruciating. I visited a surgeon here in Richmond six weeks ago to learn the likely possibility that the ankle simply needed more time. Nearly three months later, the pain has not dissipated and the time to hunt for other injuries has come. The hypothesis is potential torn cartilage for which the solution is surgical. On Monday, I’ll be sitting through the third MRI of my life, hunting for a source of pain for which I am hesitantly curious.

With the longest I have been without running in nearly a decade, my body was welcoming of the rest. I feel beaten and concerned for my older years because of the accumulation of these past injuries. With crumbling bones and weakening joints, I am not excited for the inevitable arthritis to come late in life. Keeping healthy has been my priority and is one that was seemingly ignored with the introduction of off road triathlon into my life. I’m slightly pissed about my decisions in the past and embarrassed about my arrogance concerning these repeated injuries. I don’t want surgery but I want a healthy body. I want to be able to run again but I am also accepting of the relaxing time focusing on alternative sources of happiness and consistency.

No doubt triathlon had become an addiction at times, having established a regimen in the chaotic years of adolescence and college. Surely, however, other things are beginning to fill the space where my anxiety about the future left a gaping hole. I have formulated an exciting life plan, one for which I am not confused nor disinterested. My friends are solid and balanced and ever present. My home is cozy and healthy, my solitude humbling and relaxing. While I do hope to return to the competition of endurance athletics and be better than ever before, I have all but abandoned any intentions of making a career out of it. We each only get one chance at this life and despite my talent as a quick little man, I can’t see the reward in prioritizing such a brute satisfaction at the top. Athletic endeavors are certainly beyond the pleasure of sexual interests, or those of appetite and drugs. I have a tremendous respect for athletes, and I have always found pleasure in the challenge of competition. There is no question I thoroughly enjoy satisfying my insecurity by beating other people. But to turn a form of selection into a career seems mindless to me.

Instead, recognizing my true predicament here, I plan to enjoy the rest of my life looking for questions, and hopefully occasionally stumbling upon answers. I am not disinterested in triathlon; I love the sport, and value the ability of human motion now more than ever before. I simply have satisfied those insecurities enough and don’t see any relevance in beating a dead horse. I’m potentially a fourth away through this trip and there is much to learn. Residing in the top 1% was satisfying enough, I need no need to be the best. I imagine I’ll be back soon, granted a healthy ankle, and my competitive drive will be no less strong. I thoroughly enjoy going fast, especially going faster than everyone else, so without the distraction of making money off of it, I’m going to have a damn good time. Next up is a half-ironman, probably sometime in the not so distant future.

Grayson Cobb

Grayson Cobb

I am a long distance backpacker, triathlete, adventurer, climber, kayaker, and lowly medical student currently living in Norfolk, VA attending Eastern Virginia Medical School and getting out for adventures on weekends.
Grayson Cobb

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