Announcing My Retirement

I thought I could do this at least a few more years. In fact, I thought I might be able to handle the abuse another 10 years or more.

I trained long and hard to be in this position. I never could have imagined I would be saying this before my 41st birthday. But I have reached The Crossroads. I need to do what’s best for myself and my family.

I’ve enjoyed the journey, with all the mud, sweat, and beers, but it’s time to face reality. To quote Danny Glover’s Lethal Weapon character, Roger Murtaugh, “I’m getting too old for this $#!t.”

As of Saturday, July 16th, I am officially retired from obstacle course racing.

Set For Life

If you thought I was taking this in a different direction, I apologize. The alternating ibuprofen and acetaminophen have got my head in a different place. I will eventually announce my retirement from my full-time job, but that announcement is a few years away.

Since you likely clicked your way here expecting some talk about my actual retirement from clinical medicine, I’ll share some exciting ideas we have for our first few years after my eventual early retirement before delving into the muddy waters of obstacle course racing.

Having these potential plans makes the prospect of an early retirement that much more appealing. I can’t promise we’ll do them all, but I expect we’ll live at least one or two of these three swell adventures.


Awesome Idea Number 1

After leaving my full-time job, and taking at least a few weeks or months to decompress and prepare for what’s next, I take a locum tenens job where the toilets flush backwards.

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of working in New Zealand, and that was before the land of the kiwi became the backdrop for Lord of the Rings and other films with amazing scenery.


Dr. Carmen Brown

Listening to Dr. Nii Darko chat with Dr. Carmen Brown on Docs Outside the Box about her life with her physician husband relocating to New Zealand was inspiring. I’ve also chatted quite a bit with an anesthesiologist I’ve worked with who has worked multiple stints in NZ.

The pay is not nearly as good as it is in the United States, and the disparity has only gotten worse with the stronger US dollar, but the working conditions sound excellent. I’m not too concerned about money; I would be doing it for the experience for myself and my family.

Australia would be considered as well. Ideally, I would prefer an outpatient or daytime position only, but I don’t know how available such a position might be. My boys will be 8 and 10 in three years, great ages for them to experience a different culture.


Awesome Idea Number 2

While the culture in New Zealand or Australia would indeed be different, we’re still talking about first-world English speaking nations. Our second idea, which could come after or take the place of the first idea, is to spend a year in a Spanish speaking country.

My wife, who has some teaching experience, has expressed an interest in teaching English in a nation where Spanish is the primary language. The rest of the family could tag along, and have a bona fide Spanish immersion experience. There are many places we could potentially do this, including Europe, Central America, and South America, where the toilet water also swirls backwards.



the equator, where the toilets don’t swirl


We are beginning to expose our children to the Spanish language, and have played around with a few teaching apps. If anyone has taught the language at home, please leave a recommendation in the comments.


Awesome Idea Number 3

Speaking of homeschooling, I’m not necessarily a huge fan. I’m supporting the public schools generously with my tax dollars, and I like to get my money’s worth.

airstream sculpture

ooooohhh… shiny…

That being said, being tied down to the school schedule in early retirement is kind of a drag. Middle school seems like a decent age to take a year off from the traditional school schedule. We wouldn’t exactly home school; we would road school.

Road school?

We envision visiting national parks and learning about the local flora and fauna, and the geology and natural history of the place. We could study geysers in Yellowstone, redwoods in Yosemite, and the effects of glaciers in Glacier. A months-long road trip out east would feature history lessons on our nation’s founding. We could follow the Mississippi and focus on the literature of Mark Twain.


A year on the road would be quite an adventure, and would necessitate an RV purchase. I’ve always wanted an Airstream, but never had a good excuse to buy one. We’ve always been tent campers.


Why I’m Retiring. From obstacle course racing.

Back to the original premise, the decision to leave the mud pits and outsized obstacles behind was not easy for me. It was really easy for my wife, though. “You can’t do this to yourself anymore. You’re too important to me.”

I think she also read the post where I mention I’ve dropped my term life and disability insurance, although she didn’t bring that up in this discussion.

Does she have reasons to be concerned? In a word, yes.




After my most recent Tough Mudder, I called her up and told her it went well for the most part. It wasn’t as strenuous as the Spartan races, and the ice water in the aptly titled Arctic Enema 2.0 was actually pretty exhilarating, and the “therapy” from the live wires in the Electric Eel actually evoked laughter after the initial unpleasant jolt.




I did experience a little more unpleasantness though. On the second obstacle, the Berlin Walls, I felt a pop which I have since self-diagnosed as a likely dislocation at the costochondral junction of the right 8th rib, which still smarts 10 days later.

That, along with the first, second, and third right shoulder dislocation, were enough to make me realize I might be trying to do more than my body wants me to do.

I had never dislocated a joint before in my life. But at the Pyramid Scheme, after taking my turn at the bottom of the pyramid, I stood on the shoulders of someone who stood on someone else’s shoulders and I reached up to the outstretched hand waiting at the top. This isn’t me, but is an actual picture from our race at the offending obstacle.



pyramid scheme: hard on shoulders

The very strong man at the top pulled me right up to the top and my arm right out of socket. After a girly scream and a few gyrations, my humeral head found its rightful home and I was ready to get on with the mudding.

After a short run, I wiggled through Birth Canal, then my buddy and I approached the slanted wall known as Skidmarked. Being just too tall for me to grab the wall with both hands, I was going to need some help. A Mudder at the top was happy to oblige. I instinctually reached up my right arm, he grabbed it and OWWWWW! SON OF A…

Like Mel Gibson’s Martin Riggs after escaping the straight jacket in Lethal Weapon 2, I bumped my shoulder up against the wall a couple times, which I don’t think worked, but I did manage to finagle it back in place in short order.

I did an eight pace walk of shame around the wall and heard people feeling sorry for me to have made it so far only to have that happen. They didn’t realize I was standing next to them, and I told them, “It’s all good. That was me. I’m back in the game.” Looking for a high five, I started to raise my right arm and… SERIOUSLY YOUGOTTABEKIDDING ME!!!

I should have gone for a fist bump.

Getting good at this, I maneuvered the weakened joint back into place in less than ten seconds. At Quagmire, I used my left hand to hold people’s legs who were reaching down to help people out of the mud pit. I attempted King of the Swingers grabbing the trapeze with my left arm only.


At Bale Bonds, I twisted at the top and felt my right 8th rib pop back into place. Cage Crawl was downright peaceful, with everything but my face underwater, staring up at the partly cloudy sky, ears submerged to drown out the chaos around me, and the cool if not exactly clean water easing my accumulating pains.

I stealthily avoided the electroshock therapy at Electroshock Therapy, and earned, and I mean Earned, my tee shirt and head band.

En route to visit some new friends, I called up my wife and two orthopedic surgeons to talk about my experiences. I came to the unhappy conclusion that my Tough Mudding and Spartan warrior days were over. Is there such thing as a Delicate Mudder? A Spartan croquet tournament? That would be more my speed.



on the shores of shamba

on the shores of shamba


  • Ha, ha you got me! I really enjoyed the post and agree it’s time to hang up the muddy sneakers and put your TM days behind you – your body is trying to tell you something! Hey, at least you have some “good” memories, right?

    I love your travel ideas for early retirement! That’s one of the great things about being a doctor, you can pack up and take your skills to NZ or almost anywhere else and not only help out the local community but earn a living too. That’s more difficult as a businessman like myself.

    I expect you’ll have to swap out something else for your Tough Mudder races, shuffleboard anyone? lol!

    • I do have good memories! I’ve done a few of these types of runs, always with a group of old friends. The threat of them kept me working to stay in shape. The rush of it all keeps the scrapes and bruises from bothering me. A rib and shoulder out of position is a bit much to ignore, though. Yes, my body is telling me it’s time to move on.

      I’ll continue to run, and perhaps do some swimming and more biking to do some short triathlons.


  • The Green Swan

    Haha you got me there with that title! I thought you were pulling the plug early.

    That sounds like one heck of a race though, kudos to you for finishing strong. Take a nice ice bath after?

  • Anonymous

    Awesome opening! You had me fooled. I like the article though, I love the idea of financial independence, but I also love medicine. I’m a Hospitalist and even though things get to me at times…I love medicine. Reading blogs from you and WCI has changed my life! My goal is to get to that Magic FI number ASAP. But I doubt retirement is in my near future at age 37. Once my kids are adults in 10 years locums life does sound nice! Things would have to get pretty bad for me to hang up my Stethescope.

    • Locums is pretty great. There was a time when I figured I would return to the locums circuit as an empty nester, but it turns out I don’t have the patience to wait until I’m in my early fifties to satisfy my wanderlust.

      Glad we could help you make some realizations. Best of luck on your path to FI!


  • Thanks for helping solidify my decision to not engage in one of those races. I’ve toyed with the idea but this makes me think, “No, I’m good occasionally watching some Spartan Races at home.” hahaha

    I did sign up for a Sprint Triathlon though and it’s only 3 weeks before my 2nd half marathon, so there are plenty out there that think that is a bit crazy and overdone too. Who knows, maybe it’s getting closer to 40 I’m realizing I don’t have to take this lying down, and in a “dad-bod”! So I’ve started to do more exercise to not be that guy.

    Congrats on finishing even with the hardships!

  • Trickery!! You got me hook, line, and sinker! I was excited for you when I read the title, but it sounds like this isn’t the retirement we’re all looking forward to.

    Getting older is tough – the body doesn’t work the way it used to! Nice job with the Lethal Weapon ties into your post though! 🙂

    — Jim

    • You can still be excited for me, Jim. I’m sorry if I dragged you in here with my clickbait, but I’m glad you stopped by and left a comment.

      I try to weave in some fun pop culture references. Personal finance isn’t necessarily the most exciting topic, so I try to have a little fun with it. It might be an overstatement to say that the Lethal Weapon movies shaped my youth, but I remember some lines and scenes clearly some 25 years later.


  • Ouchies! I never have done a tough mudder. I’ll stick to powerlifting for now. Nothing gets my motor revved like some squats!

  • Mr Crazy Kicks

    Ooof, that’s a lot of dislocations. I think choosing a different activity is a wise move. The older I get, the more I find the most difficult exercise at the gym is working on my humility. It’s not easy choosing to do whats best for your body when you want to feel competitive, but after being sidelined a few times I think I am learning slowly 😉

  • PathMD

    Ha ha on us! I was so excited when I read the title in my email. As I think more and more of calling it quits at the end of this year I felt a moment of validation/support. But alas… lol.

    As for obstacle races there are plenty lighter versions and at least you can still run. I have finally had to sort of (you know us runners) give that up after 6 marathons and 2 years of an irritatiting hamstring tendinitis that has not completely healed. Thankfully I am enjoying the joys of cycling and “climbing” mountains. Congrats on your Tough Mudder looks like you finished with a tale to tell!

    • If you’ve got the resources and the reasons to be FIREd, more power to you!

      I have done a couple Spartan races, which are more intense, but don’t require nearly as much assistance, i.e. someone yanking your limbs to get you up and over the obstacles. But I feel like I’ve been there and done that at this point.

      I haven’t officially run a half marathon or full marathon (I racewalked one), or any kind of triathlon, so I may move on to the lower impact stuff.

      The biathlon is cool. Cross-country skiing with rifle target practice. Like chocolate and peanut butter?


  • Your title certainly got us all going. What a click baiter. :O) Sorry to hear about the OCR retirement though. However, I can completely understand. A mountain bike duathlon or triathlon or just a long trail run or bike ride may still fit the bill. I was in a lot of pain last year after my series and it does beg the question as to why keep doing it.

    Your plans for once the real retirement comes sounds great. And middle school may be the perfect time for some road schooling. 7th/8th grade can be quite brutal in public or private school.

    cd :O)

    • Yeah…. sorry about that. I’ll announce a true retirement eventually, I promise!

      I was honestly talking with my buddy during the Tough Mudder about doing this with my boys in 10 or 12 years. We’ve already started running with them this summer. My 7-year old recently ran 4 miles without a break and my 5-year old is up to 2 miles. So proud of these boys; I wasn’t running these distances until high school, and even then, begrudgingly.


      • My son when he was 13 completed a marathon with me. I let him do it because we had already done a half the year before, but the mental side of the race and the training for the marathon distance really was too much. He is a great natural ability and ran cross country last year as a freshman, running times that were better than many juniors and seniors, but sadly has at this point decided to give up running. So I would recommend being careful on the distances with the children. Just make sure whatever it is, they continue to enjoy it. cd :O)

        • I’m both impressed and disappointed at the same time. How many 13-year olds have run a marathon? But it’s a shame he doesn’t want to stick with it. We’ll be cautious not to push too hard. Is he doing the ultra beast with you?

          • I would say very few. There were only 5 people in the 18 and under category at the one we did, he was the youngest and placed 3rd for his Age group. And most people didn’t think he should do it and in general, I would agree with hindsight being 20-20. At the beginning he committed to the training and was on board. Being the first for both of us, did not realize the mental fortitude required. The mental side took a much larger toll on him than the physical.

            He is not doing the Ultra Beast, but did complete the Beast and earned his Trifecta with me last year. His older brother is doing the UB with me. His other older brother was also going to do the UB, but he has a knee injury that is unlikely to be healed in time (not Spartan related :O) ).

  • You got me too! Though even when you talked about quitting Tough Mudders I thought it was for a different reason. This scares me more than injuries.

    • I’ve seen a few of those headlines, but considering how many mud races are run each and every weekend, I think “runs” of infectious disease at these events are few and far between (that’s a pun in more ways than one).

      Cruise ships have made headlines for norovirus, and wind storms, and sinking…. but I’ll still take an occasional cruise. It’s about understanding and accepting the risk.


  • I like to live vicariously through writers like you who contemplate, and actually pull off (hopefully), a move to another country while still young enough to enjoy it! Have you been influenced at all by the musings of Tim Ferris and some of his followers? I recall seeing some pretty interesting posts about whole families moving to foreign countries, crafting unique learning experiences for their children as they traveled, using a combination of local schools and home schooling.

    • Good question. I haven’t been a TIm Ferris follower, but I am curious to know more about him. I downloaded a handful of his podcasts for a drive through the U.P. but learned quickly that his interviews are NSFLE — not safe for little ears. I’m not sure I buy the 4-hour workweek concept, but I’m not qualified to judge since I haven’t really looked into it.

      There’s nothing wrong with living vicariously, but is there anything holding you back from living that life?


  • RocDoc

    Great post and after reading about your experiences I’m going to strongly continue to discourage my husband from ever entering ToughMud races. A friend in our wine tasting group tried to recruit my husband into a fundraising ToughMud. However, once I heard about the electrical fences I vetoed it. I’m glad you decided three shoulder dislocations in one race was enough!

    • Most people do finish relatively unscathed. :O) I completed my first one on a whim, but I had already been running. I have completed 6 Spartan’s of the various distances except for the UB which is this year. I am 46. Spartan’s do not have an electrocution obstacle, but plenty of other interesting ones mostly requiring a combination of upper body and grip strength.

    • Good to hear from you, RocDoc. The jots aren’t that bad, really. If you want to get an idea, ask your friendly anesthesiologist colleague to hit you with the nerve stimulator turned up to 11. OK, they only go to 10. So turn it up to 10.

      As Chris says, the Spartan races are more strenuous, but the obstacles can be at least attempted if not completed without too much tugging on your limbs. And if you can’t do it, 30 burpees! I recommend practicing those.

      While my story may not turn you or your husband on to the idea, I do recommend doing one mud run for the experience and the pictures. Once you’ve done that, a lot of other uncomfortable things seem reasonable and sensible.


      • RocDoc

        Thanks for the inspiration, PoF and ChrisCD. Maybe I am too much of a worry wart. I’m happy to hear most finish in one piece ChrisCD but I’m also glad you decided to retire PoF! I hope you got some great pictures in your last event to give you permanent major bragging rights. You deserve the great photo memories after the effort you put in and after all you went through!

  • Good to know that there are doctors who can actually relate to their patients when asking “on a scale from one to ten how much pain do you feel?”

    Your post also inspired me: When trying to sell some of my own ideas for future fun activities to my wife, say, a Grand Canyon rim-to-rim day hike or Mt. Whitney day hike, I can use some of the material above to show her what else I COULD have done. She should be fine with whatever I initially planned. That electroshock therapy looks mean and I would not get in the water at an event called Arctic Enema.

    Also, great idea about working in NZL or similar location. Pay might be lower, but as long as it delays taking withdrawals from the FIRE stash, that’s worth a lot!

    • I like it! Look honey, I could do something much, much stupider than the somewhat dangerous plan I’ve laid out for you.

      Working in NZ would more than cover our living expenses, and allow our portfolio to hopefully grow; at least we wouldn’t be subtracting from it at all during our time down there.


  • At first I thought you must have had a few REALLY bad days! I ran a few marathons but they are tough on your body too! We decided we wanted to be able to travel and walk in retirement – so we’ve hung up the running shoes. Had a hip arthroscope and that was no fun to recover from… husband had both knees. I’m sure you’ll find other fun to attend to!

    • Interesting take, Vicki. Did your husband also run marathons? Congrats on yours, by the way.

      I had the same concerns when my wife convinced me to start running in my early thirties. I looked into some of the published studies, and discovered to my surprise that running did not lead to increased rates of arthritis or orthopedic surgery.

      In fact, I believe runners had fewer issues, and I believe the results were controlled for weight, etc… It’s been years since I looked into it, and I don’t have the reference handy, but it was enough to convince me not to worry about wear and tear, at least for casual jogging, 5Ks and 10ks, etc… Frequent marathons may have a different outcome, though.


      • There was a recent article even about Ultramarathoners not having a higher rate of joint problems either. I wish I had the reference handy. Part of this was believed to be that in general UMers run at a more “measured” pace and except for the elite, elite, most also include some walking.

        Studies also show that building up the muscles around the knee with strength training provides a lot of support and certain calf exercises can help alleviate problems with the Achilles. I have had problems with both and adding that stuff to my routines has helped. I actually tore my left calf, 7-years ago (I think), and even though I have experienced problems here and there, my new training regimen seems to be helping quite a bit. The story behind the calf tear is semi-humorous, now, but that will have to be told another day. :O)

        Sorry, exercise and fitness has become a passion of mine so I get excited when such topics come up. Not trying to take over your post.

        • I didn’t mean the running caused those things but the running seems to aggravate the arthritis that exists in those areas too (which they found during the surgeries). We both seem do better with walking but may re-consider when we have some time to research more! We really miss running (although I was more of a jogger – I swam competitively for years!) We both ran Chicago and the Marine Corps – he ran 3 others including Boston!

  • Haha, awesome setup PoF! You had me going there for about 20 seconds!

  • Haha you got me there. I haven’t done any races personally but would love to do one one of these days. Some crazy fit friends of mine have done the kneenacker and Vancouver 100 and placed on the top 10. Too crazy for me though.

  • Darn you PoF! Just for that I’m going to drink the celebratory bottle of champagne I got you for retirement. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice…

    Bummer about the shoulder man, heal quickly.

  • Donna

    Yikes! Maybe you should stick with home brewing – ever dislocate your shoulder doing that???

    • No, I havent. Donna’! Although there’s at least a theoretical risk of injury while enjoying the fruits of my labor. I’ve learned to enjoy in moderation, which pretty much eliminates that possibility.

      I wouldn’t say homebrewing is without risk, though. There’s a lot of pouring of hot liquid, and lifting and carrying 50+ pounds of it around, at least with my setup. There are more sophisticated setups with pumps and whatnot, but I like to do it the old fashioned way.

      I hope I don’t have to announce my retirement from that someday.


  • solvefinance2016

    Like everybody else above I was very fooled.. Gotta have that sense of humor!

    Locum tenens sounds interesting both in the name itself and the meaning. Looks like you’ve given post retirement plans a lot of thought. Could it possibly have been inspired by Mr Tako Escapes’ post on the importance of having a post retirement plan?

  • I definitely recommend hitting your FI number at a minimum before embarking on any outside the box adventures, unless you are truly ready to be Done and have a great Plan B. Working until 38, with your savings rate and discipline, should get you there.

    Thank you for the compliments and well wishes, but I’m still in the game for a few more years. I’d offer up a high five, but I may suffer for it.


  • Haha count me in as another one fooled. I would say pick up some badminton but that’s probably not going to go well with all those shoulder dislocations.

  • I have to admit that you got me – hook, line, and sinker, PoF. Nice job!

    I don’t blame you one bit for your “retirement.” I’m a runner myself, and I’m terrified of Tough Mudders and similar events. I’ll stick to running in a straight line with no obstacles. Like my investment strategy, boring runs suit me.

    I’ll share a quick story about one of my most interesting races: After about three months of dedicated training, I stood at the starting line of a 50 mile ultramarathon. It was a nice October morning, except it wasn’t. It was COLD. If I recall correctly, the temperature at 6AM hovered around 38 degrees F.

    I was doing well in the race up until about mile 20; you know, when people who are running 50 miles start to get loose and limber. I felt a painful twinge in the IT band in my right leg, and the pain continued to radiate in a pulsating fashion around my knee cap. I stopped, stretched it out, thought everything was OK, and continued. About 2 minutes later, the pain returned. I said I would make this a quick story, so here’s the rapid conclusion: I tried to tough it out, thinking I could manage on sheer force of will alone. I made it to the aid station at mile 31, where I met my wife. She saw how much pain I was in and made me consider that I could do permanent damage, so I dropped out and got a fancy DNF.

    When we got home, the pain was still severe. I had to crawl up and down the steps of our townhouse for the next two days.

  • Budgetnazi

    Hahaha. You’re a brudder from anudder mudder. I retired 10 minutes after my only TM! Love your blog.

  • VagabondMD

    Well-played, you got me, too. I have been running for years and enjoy trail running a lot. I just this spring completed with first OCR/mud run, with a group from work. It was a lot of fun, but I am going to stick to the trails, at least as long as the joints hold out.

  • Hey POF,

    This got me and was confusing, as I’d literally just read your other topic, lol. Good luck with your ideas, ANY of them sound good.

    All I can say, is that New Zealand AND Australia would both be fantastic places for you. Australia if you prefer hot weather, New Zealand if you prefer cooler weather (you could easily holiday into the other country). I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by both countries – Australia is a fantastic place – feel free to DM on Twitter if you have any questions about ANYTHING :). Looking forward to see what you do..


    • Thank you for the offer, Tristan! I will definitely keep that in mind. I put out a couple inquiries via email this week to staffing agencies to see if the type of job I want (outpatient, no call) is available there.

      We definitely prefer cooler weather; New Zealand is likely our top choice, but we’ll hae to see what’s available.


  • I think that this is the definition of “click bait” in this community! I have done 1 obstacle race so far (and nothing as intense as you have done) but wouldn’t mind trying at least one more sometime in life.

    • Made you look! And comment!

      The races are fun. I never would have guessed I would enjoy rolling through mud under barbed wire while being jolted by live wires, but the experience is… well… exhilirating! Especially when it’s a shared experience among friends.


  • “On the second obstacle, the Berlin Walls, I felt a pop which I have since self-diagnosed as a likely dislocation at the costochondral junction of the right 8th rib, which still smarts 10 days later” – hilarious! Nobody but a doctor would know what the heck the costochondral junction is.

    How do you plan to get in shape now?!


    • Yeah, that’s where the bony part of the rib meets the cartilage portion. It was a definite “pop” as opposed to a “crack” and not enough bruising to be broken. I could have gotten an x-ray but the treatment plan wouldn’t have changed. That plan, by the way, is “suck it up.”

      I haven’t been able to do any upper body strengthening, but I’ve got a couple physical therapy appointments lined up. I tried running for the first time since the Mudder last Saturday, and that went well enough. I don’t think I’ll be in any sort of routine until after summer vacation is over, and life becomes more orderly.


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