Going Under The Knife

AJW writes about his upcoming hip-resurfacing surgery.

By on September 18, 2015 | Comments

AJWs TaproomA little less than four years ago when Bryon suggested we come up with a column to provide an editorial voice for iRunFar, I was excited to contribute. After writing on ‘AJW’s Blog’ for over four years, I was looking for something a little different that would allow me to comment on the sport of ultrarunning and share some of my own experiences as well. From there, AJW’s Taproom was born!

Over the years, the column has evolved to include more editorial and reflective content and less first-hand personal experience. This has happened, in large part, due to changing circumstances in my life and my running. However, in this week’s column I am going back to full-blown personal sharing, the likes of which was common on AJW’s Blog. So, if that kind of stuff bores you, feel free to stop reading now.

On Monday, in Columbia, South Carolina, I am having hip-resurfacing surgery on my left hip.

Ever since I can remember, even as a young 11-year old athlete in the Pearl River Little League, I have struggled with left-hip pain and limited range of motion. Gradually, over time, wear, and tear, the pain in my hip has gotten worse and, in recent years, particularly in 2013 and 2014, the pain became so bad that I had to stop running. After a long and exhausting year of running in 2014 I decided to take time to re-boot and re-evaluate. After extensive research and reflection, I have decided to have surgery.

My surgeon is Dr. Thomas Gross of Midlands Orthopaedic. He has performed hip-resurfacing surgery on over 4,000 patients and his success rate has been remarkable. Of particular interest to me, not surprisingly, is that over 95% of his running patients have been able to return to running after the surgery and many have returned to ultramarathon running and triathlons. In short, if there was a guy for me and my hip, Dr. Gross is that guy.

You see, as much as I’d like to say I’ve achieved all that I want from ultrarunning, that is just not true. Sure, I’ve enjoyed a 20-year-career of running in races all over the country. Yet, 93 ultras and 31 100 milers later, I still have the drive and determination to set goals and train hard. I am hopeful that hip resurfacing will get me back out onto the trails that I love and give me that opportunity to become a Hardrocker, finish UTMB, and get my fifth finish at Angeles Crest.

Now I also know that the recovery and rehabilitation from this surgery will likely be more difficult than any ultra I have ever run. It is my hope that the temperament and skills that I have accumulated over 20 years running of ultras will allow me to embrace the recovery with as much vim and vigor as I have in all those races that have gotten me here in the first place. I have to believe that those tried and true ultra values that I hold so dear–hard work, patience, and a positive attitude–will steer me through even this difficult but ultimately rewarding chapter in my life.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

Wicked Weed Brewing SerenityThis week’s beer of the week comes from Wicked Weed Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. They have a sour beer called Serenity that is really outstanding. I am not usually a sour guy but Serenity, now available in bottles, is a new twist on the Brett variety. Give it a shot if you can get your hands on one!

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • Have you had major hip surgery? If so, what was your experience like and how did your return to activity progress?
  • When was the last time that injury took you away from running for an extended amount of time? With what did you fill the extra time and emotional void?
  • If you’d like to send AJW a personal note, his email is [email protected]. :)
Andy Jones-Wilkins

Andy Jones-Wilkins is an educator by day and has been the author of AJW’s Taproom at iRunFar for over 11 years. A veteran of over 190 ultramarathons, including 38 100-mile races, Andy has run some of the most well-known ultras in the United States. Of particular note are his 10 finishes at the Western States 100, which included 7 times finishing in the top 10. Andy lives with his wife, Shelly, and Josey, the dog, and is the proud parent of three sons, Carson, Logan, and Tully.