2018: one year post-shoulder-surgery, a year of running and what comes next

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“A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.”
— Francis Bacon

In April 2017, I needed surgery on my right shoulder. As you can imagine, that was slightly problematic as it meant that my primary sport, hobby, lifestyle would be curtailed for at least 6 months, likely longer.

As it happens, 'likely longer' would turn out to be the correct case! 12 months on, there's still the legacy issues from the surgery with a slightly reduced range of motion that is steadily returning. No fault of the surgeon - Doctor Ruth Delaney - who was amazing, and physios who have helped me on the journey so far (particular shout out to Karen Doyle who has been as meticulous as always!). In short, my body decided it was going to take its time healing, no matter how much rest, physio, stretching, exercise, massage it was given! Such is life, and you have to roll with it - even if I will acknowledge there's been some definite difficult times dealing with the various emotions: will I ever climb again, is my shoulder totally ruined, etc. etc. Of course, I'd like to think I'm on the 'rational-optimist' mindset, not the 'delusional-optimist' mindset so I've been aware that there were going to be these ups-and-downs. Not that it makes it any easier, mind you!

So, while I've a year or two off the sport (it's 24 months as of March 2018 since the shoulder has felt right) and looking like another six months away, I've been occupying myself with a few others things. You'll have noticed from the (in)freqent blog posts that this really started to kick off in February 2017 wit this post about finding a new occupation while injured. And in this year, there's been trips to numerous outdoor climbing venues - but not for the purpose of climbing myself (although I've happily done belay and photographer duty for Naomi and others :) - but to enjoy these venues for the other reason of hiking and running! There's a reason I keep going back places like this.

So, what's happened?

Costa Blanca

There was the trip to Costa Blanca in February 2017 where I did a few easy routes, but mainly went for amazing hikes. I always have a weird vibe from the area as it's so over-run with ex-pats but it's hard to fault the area for pretty scenery as Spain transitions from the green north to the desert-like south.

 

In between all that, I also fitted in a little review of a climbing training book from Steve Bechtel of ClimbStrong.com - I still haven't left the sport of climbing :)

 

Iceland

There was the trip to the wild Iceland two months after the surgery in July 2017 for a big road-trip and lots of hiking (sans bag - I still wasn't allowed put any proper weight on the shoulder at the time after surgery).

What a beautiful, wild, barren country. And if you go there, doing the full lap in a campervan is highly recommended!

 

Albarracin

There was the trip to Albarracin in October 2017 which didn't get a write-up as wayyy to busy with work at the time but again, involved a bunch of running and photography work while everyone else around me climbed their socks off! This image from Instagram probably highlighted what is so amazing about the climbing community and its social element.....

 

A house Purchase and Siurana / Monstant

Then, the small item of a house purchase knocked any plans of a trip over New Years on the head, but it did leave myself and Naomi dying to get away for a little bit of activity in my 2nd home, Siurana. It's hard to believe it's been almost 20 years since my first ever climbing trip which was to this very venue, and that I've been back at least 15 times in that period. Yes, I probably should buy a house there!!!! This time, I dragged myself up a couple of low 6's which almost brought me to tears just tying back into a rope again for the first time post-surgery, and then we got the trails shoes on and checked out more of the local trails in the area.

Which brings me up to April 2018! And the little running project I've been working on since sometime in January. As I frequently extoll, I'm a big believer in setting some goals (see here, here, here, as examples)  and also setting goals above what you're currently doing. So, while I can't run, I came up with the idea of a little idea to run an ultra marathon. No, I've never, and still haven't (although I've come within a kilometre of the distance) run an official marathon distance. But, I've been intrigued by the increasing number of people taking part of these sort of events (especially after hearing recently that 100,000 finished ultra marathons in the USA in 2017!), plus i'm way more interested in running in the hills than on tarmac in a city. And thus a little idea was born:

Why not do an ultra marathon?

And thus, it's not April and I'm four weeks from my first 58km run! Want to know more - that's tomorrows post - keep an eye out :)

Neal McQuaidComment