Thursday, February 16, 2006

Because I can...

Ever since I made the committment to race an iron distance event (140.6 miles) people have asked me "why?". "Why would you want to do that?" "Why is that fun?" "Why not try something a little easier on your body?" My answer has always been "Why not?" With proper training, perseverance, mental toughness, and a little luck "Why Not" go for it and complete what is considered to be the hardest single-day sporting event in the world. Recently my answer has changed a bit. Instead of responding with "Why not?" I've found myself saying "Because I can."

I see so many patients who struggle to breath every day. People who smoked for 50 years, young patients with genetic diseases they had no control over, and those who were exposed to chemicals/allergens/etc. For so many of these folks simply getting dressed in the morning can prove to be the hardest thing they can do all day. I'm not implying their struggles are not significant. Rather, I fell blessed and fortunate that my body allows me to push the limit every day. Of course my dad's perseverance has motivated me to go just a little farther or just a little faster even when my legs/heart/lungs say no. Often, the montra chanted deep inside my head becomes "If he can struggle through the day I can finish this [run, ride or swim] strong. Don't give up! Go harder."

Each time I leave the house for a workout I remind myself how lucky I am to be able to train and drive myself that much harder. I can't predict what will happen in the future. I could get hurt. I could get sick. I could burn out. In the past I may have indicated I do this for the love of fitness, the thrill of competition, and the establishment of lifelong friendships. The reality has become I want to be an Ironman because I can...swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles...all in one day.

An interesting few weeks

Have not posted any thoughts in awhile. Plenty has been going on however. The training is progressing without difficulty. I have really tried to increase my running mileage in a steady fashion. Currently running about 20-22 miles per week. Amazingly my speed has picked up in the past month. Knock on wood, thusfar no serious aches/pains/injuries. I have missed out on a few long Saturday rides due to weather (rain and cold). Hopefully the rainy weekends will end soon.

Received some unexpected and concerning news about two weeks ago. Unfortunately my mom has been preliminarily diagnosed with what appears to be multiple sclerosis. The final diagnosis is dependent upon a few additional tests but her (and my dad's) neurologist feels that it is likely going to be MS. It was quite a shock to hear the news. I was able to fly to San Antonio to accompany them to the doctor but even being there I had a hard time comprehending what I heard. My mom has always been the rock that remained stable throughout all my dad's struggles with his Parkinson's Disease. Suddenly she is faced with a battle against a progressive neurologic disease as well. Doesn't seem quite fair that this had to happen to her. Fortunately she is a strong woman and has adopted a great attitude about the situation. She understands that there are many other diagnoses that this could have been, all of which are worse than MS. In her favor is her age and the fact that her symptoms are very mild at this time. A life changing event such as her diagnosis certainly makes the Ironman seem a bit trivial.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Half-way through base training

Week 5 out of 10 of my base training is now complete. Overall, no big complaints or problems. My knee is holding up well. The family is adjusting to my training volume. However, I am doing the majority of it early in the morning or after the girls' bedtimes. I feel like I'm in almost as good of shape now as I was at the end of last year. The next 5 weeks will complete the base training phase and then it's time to add some volume/distance/intensity. I'm looking forward to the challenge.

The weather this winter has cooperated completely. It has been warm and dry. So far only had to miss one long ride due to rain. Hopefully the weather pattern will hold for another 6 months.

Recently had a near crash on the bike. We were in a group and one of my friends went down in front of me (at about 20 mph). Her head and shoulder hit the concrete hard---creating a noise I can't seem to forget. As the group scattered to avoid the wreck I found myself heading for a T-bone collision with one rider. After he squirted past I suddenly was riding straight for the downed rider. Fortunately my brakes worked and I was able to swerve to the right. In the end she required about 10 stitches and will need some time to heal and recover. We are all glad she is okay and will be back riding with the group soon. A crash like that could have been much worse and it certainly makes you pause and remember to try and ride carefully (not that she wasn't being careful...just bad luck).

This week Rachel (my 4 year old) announced she wants to race in another triathlon. She was quick to inform me that she wanted to race for the "fun part" and not the medal. I bet the finisher's medal won't hurt any. Jenny is strongly considering running a half-marathon and Kate (the baby) has learned to say "Bubba." Everything is good with my girls.

I ran 9 miles this morning at about 5:30 am before going to the hospital for rounds. I tried to keep it easy and smooth. I really hit my stride between miles 6 to 9 and felt like I was gliding over the streets. My pace was 8:35 per mile. Nothing great but about 45 seconds faster per mile than last year. Just need to persevere on. The season is early. Until next time.

167 days until Ironman Lake Placid. The picture above is the swim start at last year's race.