Well, last night gave me an unexpected surprise. I have received a black sash in Muay Thai, the highest honor at my gym.
In late October, after living with back pain for years, everything finally gave out and I had to go to the hospital. I was pretty scared after seeing the MRI - two discs badly out of place in my lower back.
The doctor assured me that 95% of injuries of this type heal on their own with care - it appears as though I am in the 95%.
Since the injury, I have taken a grand total of one of my prescription pain killers (that was the day I came home). I started with three Advil, four times a day. Then after, started weaning myself off of them slowly, until today I take virtually none. I remember asking the doctor if kickboxing could have caused the injury and he said that it wasn't a blunt trauma of any kind, more of a wear and tear type deal. When I told him my regimen of exercise (kickboxing, strength training, running, cycling) he was a bit amused and said, well, I guess you need to back it down a bit there, Lance.
So, after thinking long and hard, something had to give. It was kickboxing. I was one month away from my black sash test. Unbelievable.
Fast forward to last night. There was a seminar at the gym and it was dubbed the "mystery seminar". Most of the gym was there and the first hour was technique. Then the instructor let myself and one other guy read to the entire gym the essays we prepared for our black sash tests that didn't happen. I knew at that point that I was going to receive my black sash and I started to get pretty emotional. It was difficult to get through my essay - it was three pages of what my journey looked like from the day I stepped into the gym until the day I got my black sash. So many people I have met, so much physical exertion, so many experiences. I had to stop several times to keep myself from breaking down.
At the end, the instructor announced that he was going to give me my black sash. It is too bad that my Muay Thai career, for all intents and purposes, is over, but that is life. I will still coach and mentor students as best I can. But frankly, I am enjoying having my nights back, and the off time from the gym has allowed me to train cycling like never before, and cycling was always my first love. I fully expect to shave lots of time off of my personal bests in France this year.
A very emotional and satisfying end to a fulfilling career with a sport I love.