Saturday, January 9, 2010

I did do it.

So I did complete Ironman Cozumel but obviously stopped blogging about it. Training takes a lot of time, and my level of ambition has boundaries. I writing a narrative of the whole event, which I will post soon. It was an incredibly full experience.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Scary Scary Onionman (1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run)

I am back from my first triathlon of the year and a 2+ month blogging hiatus. I haven't stopped, I just spend a huge amount of time on the activity, so I just don't feel like writing about it.

Here are my stats from Onionman:
Total Time Swim Transition Bike Transition Run
3:05:10 0:41:19 4:01 1:24:01 1:34 0:54:15

These are not what I hoped, but I do have a story.

For some mysterious reason I completely freaked as soon as the race began. In the two events I did last year I expected to be a bit bothered by the pummelling madness of hundreds crashing into the water and swimming at once, but I wasn't. For some reason yesterday the same activity turned my into an irrational hyperventilating mess. I did have a new wetsuit and I did have a bit of weirdness around diabetes care (I forgot a lancet so I had to use an old safety pin out of Emily's shoe to poke) but I have always broken the 'nothing new on race day' rule. This was just an out of the blue loss of clear thinking. Actually it was more visceral than a problem of thinking. My brain was telling me that my reaction was stupid and there was obviously nothing to be terrified about, but everything in my respiratory system begged to differ. I would try to stick my head in and swim, but I could barely swim a stroke and my head would come out of the water with a wheezing inhalation. Of course, as this was happening I was being run into by what felt like thousands of angry dolphins. I just looked at the pictures and was amazed at how uncrowded it really was. This pattern of stop, start, attempt to swim, gain a few yards via doggy paddle went on for about the first 400 yards of the 1500 yard swim. By that point I didn't have to be concerned with the army of pummeling swimmers, because there were so few around my anymore. Finally, at some mysterious point, I was able to actually swim. Luckily, I didn't think too much about the people in row boats along the route who would have rescued me instantly if I have signalled. I'm not sure if it was pride or fear or perseverance, but one of those kept me in self propulsion. It may have been light years from ideal, but it always remained self propulsion.
I never quite felt right the rest of the event. Through both the bike and the run I had a bit of a squeezed chest sensation. I never quite stopped gasping for breath until I crossed the finish line. But I did cross the finish line. This is what training does. Mentally I fell apart, but training kept my on autopilot enough that my emotional malfunction was not enough to derail.
The best I felt was at the end. I have to thank Barb Fox, who beat me last year, for making (yes making) me sprint to catch her the last 1/2 mile. Finally at that point I went from fixating on how much I thought the experience sucked to how much I love doing this.
Here is what makes my happy. I completely lost reason and the apparent ability to do something that I have been completely unable to do the vast majority of my life and did not stop. I was able to recover and finish. It did not look how I wanted and it was not my exact desired outcome, but I did not stop.

Here are my times again.

Total Time Swim Transition Bike Transition Run
3:05:10 0:41:19 4:01 1:24:01 1:34 0:54:15

Here are my times at the exact same race last year.

Total Time Swim Transition Bike Transition Run
3:16:20 0:40:19 6:15 1:29:35 2:05 0:58:05

I presented myself with a catastrophically shitty start and I progressed. This is love.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Zero to Marathon - Part Two

Today I went for a 40 mile bike ride in amazingly shitty weather. I love things like that when they are over. Back to shitty experience that had good sides after the fact .......
I really don't recall deciding that I was going to go from a totally incapacitated, at death's door state to running a marathon in a matter of months. It was more of a matter of hating the state of helplessness. It was really just not something that I could tolerate and increasing my ability to move was the only way out that I could see. I started gradually by slowly riding an exercise bike and weight training with 5 lb weights or no weight at all. I just kept increasing. I initially just showed up in my basement and did this. At some point it escalated from this to really slow, short jogs. This gradually increased to running. I wish I could convey some amazing motivating mindset that propelled my through this initial phase, but there wasn't one. The amazing lack of energy and high and low blood sugar spikes as I learned to be insulin dependent was difficult, but something made me keep moving. I do think that inadvertently the diabetes helped, because this felt like the only control over my body I had. I guess that it the insight to my motivation. I abhor lack of control and this was it for me. Yes a need for control and a chronic disease were my inspirations to fight my way back to health. I am grateful to take what I can get even if it isn't necessarily attractive or heart warming.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Zero to Marathon - Part One

Yesterday I used restraint and ran only 10 miles. This was my 'getting back into running' post marathon workout. I love that this is the point that I am at now and I have thought of where I was four years ago.

At that point I had run a few marathons and my lifestyle was drastically less harmful than it had been in my 20s. The worst thing I had going was on and off bouts with cigarettes, though not ideal, a huge improvement. My health was very good except for hepatitis C. Though this was asymptomatic, I wanted it gone, so I embarked on the only know remedy of interferon and ribovirin.

This treatment has pretty horrendous side effects and only has about a 45 percent success rate for those with the genotype that I have. I was 11 weeks into the 48 week course of treatment when I was hospitalized with very serious and initially unclear complications. I had already lost a lot of weight and was generally constantly nauseous from the normal side effects, but I really couldn't begin to count the times I threw up the last few days before I went into the hospital. The only thing I had any desire to ingest was orange juice, which I would later find out was potentially the worse thing I could take in.

Initially I was admitted because of dehydration and my memory is relatively fuzzy from that point. Test revealed that I had pancreatitis and that levels in my blood where wildly off and I was moved to intensive care. My pH balance was far enough that they used the phrase "incompatible with life" a number of times to describe my general state of bodily fluids. Another thing that was discovered that my blood glucose levels were initial unmeasureable, but after giving my insulin lowered to somewhere in the 800s (100 is normal and most people only deviate around 20 above or below that).

I was conscious during this but I was amazingly altered and incapacitated. There was about a four of five day period where I did not really move. I was aware, but it never occurred to me to do things live roll over. I also was hallucinating pretty wildly, but it didn't occur to me to mention it for a few days. When I did the doctor said that there were so many potential reasons for it that we shouldn't worry unless it didn't go away. I think it did in that the ceiling doesn't generally bounce back and forth and turn colors anymore. Luckily I had seen things like this before so it wasn't too shocking. One thing I do remember pretty vividly was the look on people’s faces when they looked at me. As someone who loathes causing distress to the point of obsession, causing those expressions of shock and worry was not comfortable even in that state. Emily and friends and family recognized this as the serious ordeal that it was, but I was blessed with a weeks of lack of perspective before I would realize the meaning of "incompatible with life".

My blood eventually became compatible with life. When I left the hospital my levels weren’t all normal, but they would be except for one. This experience destroyed the islet cells in my pancreas leaving me permanently a type one diabetic.

It was sometime in late January when I came home. At that point I could walk, but I was weakened beyond anything I thought possible. I previously never had any reason to understand that your legs don't have to be directly injured make them just not really work. I will never forget the first time I walked around a block. Emily had to walk with me in case I wasn’t able and I barely was able - a fucking block!!

That is enough for now. Obviously this story gets way better.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Back from Austin

I am back from Austin where I ran my best marathon post diabetes - 3:55:27. My goal was to do it under 4 hours, so I am thrilled. I have never made a marathon time goal. I have always missed by a minute or two, so I'm happy as a clam. The best part is that I am not injured. I have never run a marathon without feeling a lot of pain for at least a few weeks. I was sore and walking funny for a few days and then woke up on Wednesday morning with nothing.
Now I need to earnestly move on to focused triathlon training and HOPEFULLY will be more motivated to continue the blog.
I promise my next entry will move back to the more juicy and entertaining mode.
One nice thing is that I rode my new Cervelo P2C for the first time outside today. All that aerodynamic carbon is amazing. I felt quick and stealthy like silent deft gazelle.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

If I Pause Just a Little the Blogs Seem to Stop

I haven't meant to not blog since Christmas, but it just happened. This a 'just type something' blog.
I have been training. In fact this is the first time in my life I feel I might have bordered on over-training. Last week was the first time I exercised in the morning and evening on the same day. I am in an odd intersection of the high point of training for a marathon and really ramping up the training for the triathlon season. I can not fully do both so I am learning to prioritize. This is another area where I have no great history of success. Thankfully I have people who tell me what they think. I don't really follow anyone blindly - not even Lance (the Captain Jack's Triathlon Club coach), but with the direction I would probably do way to little or kill myself with overexertion.
Speaking of overexertion - I am off to run 19 miles on a muddy trail. At least I have a fuck-up sense of fun, so I will like it.
Hit me again.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Happy Holidays from the Christmas wonderland of Westport, Connecticut!!
I have spent Christmas in various circumstances in various locals. Glorious present filled mornings in Idaho, rehab in Auburn, dope sick in Spanaway, writing angst ridden stories about Santa's decent into homicide in Louisville but a yuletide moment in Atlanta always replays.
It was 1993 and my girlfriend and I were at Robert and Crystal's apartment. Robert and Crystal were a charming combination of white trash, urban, violent, junky heroin dealers. One thing most people don't realize about long term opiate addiction is that you are usually just sticking it in just to feel normal. The initial reasons for experimentation are long gone and you are just avoiding the inevitable excruciation that stopping will bring. At this point many add in regular binges of cocaine to actually feel something and if you are already a junky it's not going up your nose like the wild kids at a frat party. You are smoking of shooting it. Robert and Crystal preferred to smoke their coke, mostly because uncollapsed viens were at a premium. These were my friends, my contemporaries, my store if I couldn't scrounge a car to go to Proctor street were the dope was cheaper.
Smoking crack is a very focused activity. When you are smoking crack, you are smoking crack - that's it. You just sit in a circle waiting your turn, wishing the the other person would hurry the fuck up so you could smoke some more crack. You would take a hit, feel AMAZINGLY good for about a minute and then wait again.
I wasn't smoking crack that day, but Robert and Crystal were. This haunting memory is just the moment that I was walking out the door. I had gotten my dope, gotten well and as we walked past their room I gave hearty 'Merry Christmas". I looking into the room and saw just how much an expression of the season meant. Everyone was staring at whoever currently had the pipe. The idea that it was a day the signified giving, sharing, God's ultimate loving gift was pitifully insignificant compared to 'I'm gonna smoke some more crack in a minute.' For some reason the reality of our situation blasted through the dope and I knew what we were. It was temporarily horrific.
I have been in much worse situation when you look at the circumstance, but the most poignantly awful are generally self contained realizations or self delusions. Sometimes the moment of truth juxtaposed with events before and after make the experience even more memorable. I was obviously a less then healthy place and Robert and Crystal were dead by June. This was the world in which we lived.
You may wonder why I told just a depressing Christmas story. To put it simply - I am not there anymore because miraculous things can happen. Today I ran through the crisp snow lined streets of my lovely wife's home town after a peaceful brunch.
May you all have a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year and say a prayer for Robert and Crystal and those like them and me. Pay attention what you have got.