“Fabia’s Big Ride” 2017

Posted: October 7, 2017 in Bike
Tags: ,

It’s become something of a tradition between HRH  and I to plan a few Adventures together over the course of the summer and this year we were fortunate enough to have four such adventures: participating in the Across the Lake Swim in Kelowna, British Columbia, snorkeling out to see the Sherkston Shipwrecks in Lake Erie (click HERE), HRH‘s first 50k Big Move Ride (click HERE) and this, our 2nd annual Daddy-Daughter Ride (click HERE for last years ride).

The original plan was to cycle from our home here in Ridgeway out to Dunnville (70k) for lunch but seeing as how we haven’t been out cycling together as much as we did last year what with my not being able to ride most of the summer n’ all, we decided to forgo the distance and settle for something fun and scenic instead.

I first discovered the Lakeshore Rd. route back in June while exploring the greater Dunnville area on my long Ironman rides and then again with a fun little ride with the wife last month.  I was sold on the relaxed route through the remote Haldimand County cottage country which skirts along the shores of Lake Erie: scenic, smooth paved road, and zero traffic to contend with.

Perfect for relaxed afternoon of cycling with the kiddo.

All aboard!

We departed from Selkirk Provincial Park around 1:00pm after the rain showers had passed over for the day.

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From there it was a straight shot along Lakeshore Rd. straight back to Dunnville.

Easy peasy.

With little to zero traffic to contend with, we more or less had the entire road to ourselves meaning that we could take out time and ride together, enjoying the autumn color, the interesting cottages, old barns and vasts spans of farmland, the infinite number of crazy ass squirrels, more statuettes and garden gnomes than you could shake a stick at and, oh yes, mermaids.

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Thought I was kidding, did you?

There was lots of other cool things to see as well.

Eventually we stopped at about the half way point for a quick lunch of Subway and gummy worms on a cute little pagoda overlooking the lake.

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Over the course of the next 20k, we more or less just enjoyed each others company, the scenery, a stupid amount of windmills, and the fact that there was zero wind blowing off the lake.

Oh, and we even had a little lie down with some pigs.

Here’s some other shots of the journey.

Of course, there was also the “almost there” treat as well:

Appropriate, right?

So after a little more than 2 hours worth of cycling (give or take another hour or so for stopping, picture taking and whatnot), we arrived safely in Dunnville to hook up with mommy again who had spend the afternoon Thrift store shopping.

Mission accomplished.

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Sure there was the whole snafu of arriving back to a dead battery in the car and the whole drama that ensued getting it charged in order to get home but, hey, that’s fodder for an entirely different blog post.

Now the planning begins for next years trip.

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16681781_1605888902760929_1085829283789604340_nThis has not exactly been a banner year.  As far as I’m concerned, 2017 can bite me and 2018 can’t come quick enough.

The real capper came late last week with the heartbreaking news that a dear friend, a training partner, and a personal inspiration of mine passed away tragically.

Steve Apps will be sorely missed.

It was on an early Sunday morning eons ago when Coach Bill asked me to move over into the next lane with Saskia, Devin, and a guy named Steve.  I’m pretty sure they closed the pool later that morning due to a sudden “pool fouling”.

I was that nervous.

Saskia was all business and Devin just talked endlessly.  Seriously, Devin would practically swim beside you during fast intervals and yap on endlessly about the night before, String Theory, or his take on lactate threshold training in spinning, or simply whatever it was that happened to occupy his mind at that precise moment.

Steve was different.

He laughed.

A lot.

In between sets, lengths, drills, whatever.  There was always some zinger being thrown around the pool in someone’s direction (often mine).  It made the fact that I was practically drowning at the time seem like it was even fun.

That was Steve’s Modus Operandi to a tee:

“Have fun in all things you do”.

 

I barely kept up through those early days but Steve was encouraging, in between well placed ribbing and teasing.

Steve was different  than these other A-type personalities.

He was fun.

(Even if I did want to kill him sometimes for making swimming look so damn easy.)

If we were really lucky, we’d also get a chance to hear Steve single along to George Thurogood in the spin class later that same morning.  Coach Bill would have us spinning our bollocks off at a ridiculous pace when there would inevitably come from the back of the room:

“And then she was so nice,
Lord, she was lovey-dovey.”

And then there would be that contagious laugh.

When we took to the road later that Spring, I learned how to ride my bike (gears, braking, etc.) on group rides that Steve helped to organize and lead as one of the founders of the original TryForce group.  Afterwards, there was always Starbucks, laughter and lots of healthy, good natured ribbing.

Have fun in all things you do.

Steve was more or less the reason why I took my first crack at a half Ironman distance triathlon.  He went into it of course to have fun, while I was bit more methodical and demanding of myself in terms of finishing.  In short, I managed to complete the event in a not-so-stellar time but he definitely had more fun.  Truth, I more or less fell apart during and directly afterwards while Steve finished with a big smile on his face so, yeah, he had it right all along.

Have fun in all things you do.

Fast forward a few years and Steve isn’t racing much thanks to a busy work travel schedule.  Our relationship had more or less evolved into making regular recommendations through Facebook regarding local craft brews, and then again in our kitchen for our annual Christmas Open House.  It was through these idle kitchen chats that ended up with us partnering together this past April to complete the Frank & Friends 10k Swim for Strong Kids (click HERE).

Steve was looking for a challenge while I was looking for company.

A perfect match, right?

It was.

In the lead up, as always, Steve had his own unique approach to training (click HERE) but when it was all said and done, dare I say it, it was as much fun as you’d expect anything you did with Steve would inevitably be.  It was certainly the most fun I’ve ever had swimming 400 long, boring laps in a pool anyway.

Steve just had that effect.

Of course, we celebrated with a few pints and good food.

Have fun in all things you do.

Besides his laugh and tips on tasty beverages, it will be these type of reminders that Steve offered and  completely embodied that there is more to triathlon than just swimming, biking and running.

There is Life.

Triathlon is not solely Life itself, but only a means with which to better enjoy and celebrate it.  That’s a difficult concept to grasp and I know that I, as with others I suspect, have struggled with comprehending that in the beginning when we were first initiated into this crazy sport; particularly given our often rigorous personal training regimens.

It was always about the training.

Steve was a powerful reminder that Life came first, as well as all the fun things that will inevitably come along with it.  Understanding this principle of “triathlon as fun”, something with which to embrace and enjoy life, was an important epoch in my own development into a triathlete and future family man; one which I am trying hard to follow now and apply on a daily basis.

Moving on without Steve to constantly remind me to focus on the fun and thereby enjoying the process as a whole, is going to be hard.

I’m going to miss doing laps with the guy.

I’m going to miss his early morning zingers.

I will miss his addressing me as “Nasher”.

I’m going to miss his great beer recommendations.

Mostly, I’m going to miss that laugh.

R.I.P.

The Big Move 2017

Posted: September 11, 2017 in Bike, Lifestyle
Tags: , , ,

After a more than disappointing end to this competitive season, I’m just beginning to feel a little semblance to how I was back fitness-wise in June before my wee accident (click HERE).

Throughout this two month period of adjustment, knowing that this year’s ride was going to be my 9th consecutive year volunteering as the “Tail End Charlie” for the Big Move Cancer Ride 100k event, well, let’s just say that it has kept me inspired to get back in the saddle as soon as possible.  And I have.  Where I’ve definitely cycled in some tough situations before – both physical and environmental (lest we forget 2015’s challenging ride click HERE) – I feel good, this morning’s weather looks good, Daisy’s been oiled and the tires are pumped up, and ‘ol Thunder n’ Lightning are rarin’ to get under way as I’m excited to see what this year’s event has in store for me.

Let’s get this party started.

As per usual, I was up early and making a breakfast of eggs and toast and washed it all down with one too many cups of Joe.  What’s different this year is that instead of volunteering, Hailey and Kelly are riding the 50k event and seeing as how their ride doesn’t begin until later in the day, I’ll be arriving on my own and starting my ride before they even show up so no family selfie this year.

Sorry.

As per usual, by 7:30am the grounds around Club Roma is a hive of activity with everything in the process of setting something up, securing something down, moving something over there, then moving it right back again and, well, let’s  just say that there is butt ton of stuff going on.

As per usual, pedaling is my jam so I just stand around drinking coffee.

I kind of feel like the grasshopper among the ants but, hey, once that ride starts at 8:30am sharp, my work officially begins and doesn’t let up for the next six to seven hours, so this relax time with a warm beverage helps to get me mentally and physically prepped as well as providing an opportunity to get myself and my bike all squared away and ready to go.  And then, of course, with just mere minutes to the start I will inevitably have to go to the bathroom one last time forcing me to take off my entire kit one more time and put it all back on again but, I digress…

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Such is the routine.

There are some really cool parts that I love about being the “Tail End Charlie” as these rides.  For starters, it’s a very powerful feeling to be situated out at the very back of the pack for the opening speeches before the ride even gets going.  From this vantage point, you can see everyone’s motivation pinned to on their backs; bibs listing all the names of those for whom the cyclists are riding in memory of.

Think about that.

Cancer sucks and it’s just plain stupid how many names there are.  It’s an overwhelming feeling.  I can’t even fit all those who have been affected in my own life on my bib now, so I just go with this nowadays:

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So, really, you’re not just riding with the cyclists themselves but each and every one of those people with whom they are carrying along for the journey as represented by the names written in black magic marker.

How can that not both upset and  inspire you?

This year I was very lucky to be partnered with a friend, Karen Natho whom I first back in the early TryForce days and have since maintained a friendship with since then.  Let me tell you this about Karen: not only is she the nicest person you’re ever going to meet, but she’s also among the toughest triathletes I know so having an opportunity to ride alongside her and pick her brain was inspiring in and of itself.

It also bodes well that Karen can also keep up her end of a conversation over a 100 kilometer bike route as well.

Here we are at the beginning almost looking like a Before and After pic:

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It’s a bit of a different route this year but it’s the same monster climb up to Rockway Glen that starts it all off.  The climb up the escarpment is the first and most significant challenge faced by the riders.   That typically means there is a lot of coaching and encouraging up this segment of roadway.

Being a decent climber myself I am usually able to do all that but seeing how my legs currently may or may not be up to their usual strength yet, this morning I’m even kind of looking at this hill myself like:

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I did manage to get up it however, as did everyone else.

Check #1 off my sweeper’s “To Do” list.

It’s also usually around this point that the little “Lantern Rouge” group of riders, begins to form at the very back.  This is another terrific aspect of being the “Tail End Charlie”, in that you typically get to meet a new group of people each year very, very well, as you will inevitably get to spend 5-6 hours getting to know them as you are riding together.

This year I was fortunate to be riding with not one, but 6 riders belonging to the same family; 4 year old Nova was riding along with her mother and dad was riding with the two boys in tow.

Here’s they are:

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Here’s why they ride:

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Talk about parenting being done right.

Shortly thereafter, Karen and I met up with Maggie and Kelly, a Niagara teacher and banker, and it was with these two girls that Karen and I would end up riding with for the remaining 70-75 kilometers – not that needed us mind you.

I wish here now that I had some interesting stories about all the difficult trials and travails  we had to endure together over this years 100 kilometers in order to get our little Lantern Rouge  back to the finish line safely and successfully, but I don’t.  Sometimes Karen and I rode with the girls, sometimes ahead of the girls and sometimes behind, all depending on who wanted to chat with who.   Of course, as is tradition about being at the tail end of the ride with me, you also have to endure 5 hours of my endless stories and Maggie and Kelly definitely weathered the storm admirably.

Karen didn’t have a choice.

Dare I say it, however, that the going was easy-peasy and before we knew it we were more than halfway around the course and rolling into the ‘First Incounters’   Rest Stop in Welland, and you know what that means:

Honestly, if the Big Move ride wasn’t what it was, the bib on the back my vest might have well read: “I Brake for Cookies”.

Truth!

God bless the long standing volunteer Martyk family for making their rest stop along River Road at Becketts Bridge what it is, something to be enjoyed.  Many hugs were passed, good cheer was spread and, tragically, many cookies met their fateful end, but soon we were a-rollin’ on.

Heading back into Pelham and St. Catharines, Maggie and Kelly wanted to commemorate their longest ride at the 88k mark along Maple Street.   Balloons were even procured for the occasion out of the sweep van riding behind us.

“Always ready” we are at the end.

Here’s the big moment:

And, again, we continued on with high spirits.

Only another short 12 kilometers to go.

Here’s a few more photos of the day:

I’m going to change the story a bit drastically here, as there wasn’t really much left to tell of my own.  The girls made it back, Karen and I rolled over the finish line in last place (my 9th), a delicious pasta and meat ball lunch provided by Club Roma was crushed, and our day officially ended on the same high note that it started.

Here’s the proof:

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DisclaimerThe pasta lunch didn’t last long enough for a photo.

The other story unfolding today involves Hailey, my 12 year old step-daughter who had managed to complete the entire 50k ride on her own, including riding to the top of Rockway Glen on her own thanks to a little encouragement provided by the 50k sweep team.

Thanks Nicole, Christina, and Paule!).

Here’s some pictures of my step-daughter’s own Big Move experience:

This was a huge milestone to cap off her Summer with and I’m thrilled that she was able to do that as a part of the same incredible event that I am also very passionate about.  We have one last big ride to look forward to together later in the Autumn, so she is currently very jazzed about it as she is extremely confident to take it on.

Great job, sweeps!

And a very sincere and heartfelt “Thank you”  as well.

Maybe in the future, Hailey and I will evolve into a “Father and Daughter” sweep team on future Big Move rides.

Who knows?

Definitely something to look forward to in the coming years though.

See you all next year and until then:

Happy Riding!!

Note:  For a little more insight into this years event, please check out this video HERE.

Exactly two months ago today I was in the shape of my life when, poof!, it all disappeared and my life instead took on a completely different type of “Ironman” adventure, one that included having seven titanium pins inserted into my left hand.  Not exactly the beginning, or end for that matter, of the 2017 triathlon season that I was hoping for (click HERE for a reminder).

These last two months have certainly not been easy and I have to contend with and endure some very difficult low points but I’m coming through it now; I can begin to see the light at the other end of the tunnel.  I figure then that having been exactly two months, it was time to post some sort of follow up on the healing process overall and shed some light on where I currently stand in regards to getting back on the ‘ol proverbial horse as it were.

The first four weeks were certainly the hardest as I struggled to simply deal with the situation (click HERE for that reminder).  Thankfully, I have more or less come through that now and am beginning to look to what the future holds for me in regards to the next challenge.

(Insert image of a mythological bird taking flight over smoldering ruins here)

The first issue needing addressing is the weight issue.  This was inevitably going to be the case as sitting around in an EZ-Boy unable to do anything isn’t exactly the key to maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle.  You know what you don’t want when you’re forced to sit around bored and incapacitated?  Salad.  Well, not unless you substitute all the lettuce and spinach for, oh I don’t know, Cheetohs.  And then swap the tomatoes, onion, and cucumbers for, say, Skittles, Gummy Bears and, peanut butter cups while you’re at it.  There.

That makes me feel superb.

So, yeah, I’ve put on a few pounds.

This was always in the cards of course as part of the post-Ironman recovery process, but at least I would have had one momentous accomplishment to look back on and be proud of in order to justify my laziness.

Without that, I’ve just gotten fat.

Period.

This change towards a healthier diet now that I’m beginning to be more active again will begin immediately.   Coupled with that, I am going to begin my regular (if not daily) core regimen to begin building back lean muscle and prepare my body to once again (three times the charm!) handle the rigors of all my off-season training.  This was likely the smartest thing I did all year in preparation for Ironman so I aim to reinitiate that program.  The upshot to all this, is that I also need to regenerate the muscles in my left hand and forearm, so this is also an excellent add-on to my regular physio treatments.

Speaking of building muscle, the biggest challenge at the moment is dealing with the severely atrophied muscles in my legs.  When this whole shit storm erupted, I was cycling stronger than I ever have before with a strength and endurance that I had previously never imagined and was on track with being able to accomplish a sub 5 hour 30 minute Ironman bike pace.  Now that power is gone.  Rather, I have the power, but I can’t maintain it for any significant length of time.

I just don’t have the wherewithal to do the long distances at the moment.

But that’s okay seeing as how my “riding season” was already aimed at being “fun” anyway, in just being able to get out and ride with Hailey and Kelly and I can do that once more.  I still have The Big Move to look forward to where I will once again be serving for the 10th time in the capacity as a “sweep” rider, then Hailey and I will attempt our second annual “Daddy-Daughter Bike Adventure” (click HERE for last years’ account) come October.  This year the plan is to ride out to Dunnville for brunch (approx. 65k).   I still slip in the odd ride on my own however when time and schedule allow and I’m confident that the legs will return in time.

The major challenge right now is swimming where, essentially, I am back to square one.

For anyone who swims (like, really  swims) they will understand that swimming is all about form and having an immediate “feel” for the water.  The current lack of mobility and muscle in my left hand in part with the severed and regenerating nerve endings after the surgery mean that I’ve now lost this instinctual feel for the water.

however, now that I’m back in the water, the goal is to reacquire this feel and regain my form ASAP so that means drills, drills, paddles and more drills.  Getting in the pool 3-4 times a week, even for short distances (1500m-2500m) is a big priority for me right now, having once prided myself on being an accomplished swimmer.

I really  want to regain that confidence in the water once again.

Running.

Gah!

I was just getting to a place where I was beginning to feel like a runner after years of trying to make peace with it.  Running for me has never been easy.  Having said that, by mid-June I was running off-the-bike comfortably and strongly with no adversity, or what’s commonly called among triathletes as “cement legs”.  That was definitely huge progress after nearly a decade in the sport.  While I might not have been the fastest runner in the field, I was consistent and running with decent form.

Now, with the added weight of two meaty man tits to contend with, that form and consistency have all but evaporated.  As with cycling, it’s back to the beginning and as with swimming, that means drills, drills, and more ABC drills.  Fortunately, the intense heat and humidity of summer has more or less passed so getting out now for easy(ish) short runs around the surrounding area – even it’s just to visit the neighborhood cat (click HERE) – isn’t the most challenging thing I need to get geared up to accomplish.  Once my legs muscle begin to return I will amp up these weekly runs to once again include regular fartleks, hill, speed, tempo and even long distance workouts through the week.

So, physically, I’m coming along nicely and have taken my first few tentative steps (and strokes) along the comeback trail, so to speak.

Mentally?

That’s a bit more daunting.

While I believe that I am on the right path, I’m still impatient and often find myself feeling angry or jealous of others around me who all still in their peak fitness and accomplishing great things.  I mean, it’s not them that I am angry with, but the circumstances if that makes sense.  I have done all the hard work already – twice – and still have nothing to show for it.  And now here I am again dealing with another (more major) setback.

It’s a hard thing to swallow regardless of how well things are going at the moment.

But as my chiropractic guru at Legacy Health & Fitness (also HERE), Dr. Kristin Burr who, I might add, has put this battered and sometimes broken body back together again more times than I can count, mentioned to me last week:

“You’re a real athlete now that you’ve had to deal with this type of serious injury and your ability to get past this is what’s going to define you as an athlete going forward.”

Huh.

I never thought of it quite like that.

Wise person this Dr. Burr.

But it’s true.  Everyone loves a comeback.  If I can manage to remain patient and not get too weighed down by the incredible psychological mire of doubt, regret and frustration and somehow successfully accomplish all the things I’ve mentioned above (not to mention finding a job) to reacquire my prior “Iron fitness” and – fingers crossed – once and for all complete this Ironman goal, that will be friggin’ huge.

HUGE.

I am very fortunate in that I already have the right team and the successful plan to follow (click HERE), I just need to be able to follow through and pull the trigger once the stars manage to correctly align themselves…whenever that happens to be.

THAT will be something truly epic.

And so that’s my motivation and mental state at the moment:

Be patient.  Be smart.  All good things to those who persevere.

We can rebuild him.

Again.

Hi.

You might remember me as the “Bike Mount Guy” from posts in previous years (click HERE). This is what I usually love to do except that this year, I haven’t been doing it so much because, well:

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Nuff said.

(click HERE for a little reminder)

What this means then is that I have been doing a lot of other stuff with the SunRype Tri-Kids instead.  I have done what’s known as “looping”, “crowd control” (aka dealing with over gregarious parents) and, well, everything really.  Today, seeing as how I’m beginning to heal a bit I was actually the “bike captain” helping to escort 400 plus kids around, roughly, a 1.5k course up and down Elizabeth Street in Port Colborne, Ontario.

Sounds like fun, right?

It is.

Sure you’re pedaling for 5+ hours at a time in hot, humid weather, dealing with skipped chains, flat tires, the odd collision and/or accident, the odd gregarious parent (funny how that comes up again), and everything in between but, man, what a rush!

Kids are awesome and say the most amazing things.  Never underestimate a child’s ability to break something down in the heat of the moment to the absolute essential component to what’s really  important.

Take Dylan for example.

I cycled up behind Dylan (8 years old) noticing he was really laboring and having some difficulty getting his pedals to go around smoothly (ie. His bike had about 30-40 years’ worth of rust on it so that the chain had actually fused itself to the cogs on the wheel set).  In this case, I typically open the conversation with something along the lines of “hey buddy, how’s it going?”  trying to ascertain if the athlete is in fact okay, frustrated, tired, maybe needs a little encouragement, or just an “easy out”.

Dylan’s response?

“My dog’s name is Sammy”.

Umm.  Okay?

So I probed a little deeper.

“Are you having fun?”

“Yup.”

Who am I to argue?

Then there’s 5 year old Elizabeth, who seemed to have a rather exasperated look on her face.

“Everything okay, Lizzy?”

The response:

“Yeah.  The colors on your shirt are the same color as my nanny’s hair.”

Okay then.

And so it goes.

Questions of “How many more loops do you still have to do, buddy?”  will inevitably be met with “my cat eats Fruit Loops”, and inquiries of “’is this your first triathlon?”  are responded to with “my favorite color is blue”.

The randomness is absolutely delicious and totally made my day.

Who has time to worry about being tired, hot, hungry, your sore butt, or God only knows what kind of chafing is going on that you’re not yet even aware of yet, when you have these conversational tidbits to keep you entertained?

Other conversational gems over the course of 85k of bike marshaling include:

“Did you know that warts come from frogs?”

“My daddy’s growing a beard too.  Mommy says it’s itchy.”

“When I’m done I’m going to be a veterinarian.”

“I’m pretty good at math you know.”

 

Remember, this is during the triathlon.

It all might make about as much sense as that past trend of wearing flannel and a toque during the hottest part of the summer but, man, it really does pass the time rather well.  Sure there are times when the conversations were a bit more comforting and direct if the athlete is struggling for whatever reason or has just fallen and ended up with skinned knee or a boo-boo of some sort but, in most cases, kids compartmentalize things really well.

“Holy smokes, you’re doing so well!”

“Did you know that my dog barfed this morning?”

Awesome.

“Just keep pedaling, man.”

I love my job.

Meowing up the Wrong Tree

Posted: August 16, 2017 in In Transition, Run
Tags:

As of yesterday, the bones in my left hand have officially healed and the process to restore mobility and strength continues in earnest.  There have been some definite improvements overall but, well, let’s just say that I am resigning myself to the notion that my baby finger might be permanently locked in a position where if I  ever find myself sipping tea with the Queen, I will be perfectly suited for the occasion.

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What this really means then is that I can now begin to return to my usual physical routine albeit, it’ll be some time yet before I can acquire any normal purpose and, therefore, results (ie. fitness).

But, hey, at least I can  do stuff.

In fact, I have  been doing stuff already, namely running.

I have forgone the normal weekend long distance marches and hard interval routines to simply getting out and getting my legs back accustomed to moving again.  Getting to burn off all the excess calories that I’ve started to amass over the last month and a half of sedentary lifestyle is certainly a plus as well as man tits are not an attractive feature in my humble opinion – “Dad bods” be damned.  So, really, I’ve retired myself to running short distances for the time being around the neighborhood and just trying to get accustomed to regular activity.

Baby steps, right?

Short as these runs may be, Crystal Beach is not without it’s perks.  It’s actually a quaint lakeside town crammed with cottage style houses and beach homes and where all the roads are tightly interlaced haphazardly in a way that it’s relatively easy to get lost and explore; something I don’t really do much of on my long distance hauls out into the surrounding countryside.  Here it’s pretty much guaranteed that there will be something interesting to see given that it is now in it’s now full bore into it’s tourist season.  that means with every beleaguered step I am greeted with beach goers and the smells of sand, surf, BBQ, suntan lotion and copious amounts of wafting pot.

It is what it is and I’m not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing.

Anyway, on one of my regular routes through Crystal Beach I pass by (at exactly the 1.85k  or 4.35k  mark, depending on which direction I set out from home in) the residence of a local friend and one of my biggest fans lately:  Ally the Cat.

She’s always there.

Here she is on her usual window sill perch whenever I pass by:

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Cute, right?

Typically, I have been running lately in the afternoons when there’s more “people-watching” to be had but, unfortunately, this also means that it’s frickin’ hot and by the time I see Ally in her window I’m pretty desperate for a drink.

But does Ally care?

Of course not.

Any requests for a liquid refresher are always met with the same response:

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Nada.

Even when I beg (oh, I beg!).

Not.  A.  Damned.  Thing.

I think she may even enjoy seeing me suffering just a little bit.

And by this time, I am usually suffering with the midday heat and humidity and leaking fluids like an over-saturated sponge.

Not that Ally cares mind you.

I can even read it in her deadpan kitten face:

 

“Uh-uh fat boy.  You ain’t getting any of my water!”

 

And, believe me, the thought has occurred me in times of utter desperation to try and crawl through that window in order to get to her water bowl but that’s likely going to be a hard sell to the responding police officers who will inevitably be called to the scene by the neighbors…

…so I usually just keep running.

And so it goes day after day after day; me passing by a window, begging for water and being mocked by a kitten.  At least that’s what’s going on in my heat-frazzled brain anyway.

Maybe I really do need to consider running more in the evenings when it’s cooler.

It has been almost four weeks since my big Iron Disaster and three weeks post op after having seven pins and screws inserted into my left hand at the same time I should have been crossing the finish line; becoming a 7x Titanium man instead of a 2x Ironman.  So, yeah, once again this has not exactly been a stellar year competition-wise and I’m still struggling to make sense of it all.

As it with the whole Grief Cycle, first comes the Denial and Isolation Stage.  And, believe me, there was lots of that in the Emergency Room and in the days following the accident as I remained hopeful that I would somehow still be miraculously able to pull the race off.  I remember begging – pleading – the responding EMR’s to give me some sort of reassurance that it wasn’t so bad despite the blood fountaining from my elbow and my baby finger which was sticking out at an odd right angle away from the rest of my hand.

Of course, it wasn’t meant to be.

Shortly afterwards, I entered into the Anger Stage and here is where I really excelled; especially after realizing that had I been able to to compete there was a very good chance I would have won my age group and perhaps even podium-ed over all in potentially 3rd place.

And that’s some hard shit to swallow let me tell you!

If there was some sort of lesson to be learned here, I wasn’t seeing it yet.

Likewise, during this period most peoples’ attempt to have me see either the good or the positive in the situation pretty much fell on deaf ears – I simply was not to be consoled.

Among the worst of the standard adages offered to me was “Well, it could have been worse”.

Well, yes, I could have ended up with a more severe break or perhaps ended up sliding under an an oncoming truck and being dragged for another kilometer or so before being deposited by the roadside for vultures and crows to pick at so, sure, I suppose it’s true that it could have been worse but I didn’t want to hear it at that point.

The other common sentiment was “this is your bodies way of telling you something?”

Pardon?

Tell me what  exactly?

That it hates me?

Couldn’t it have chosen a different and less painful way of telling me the same thing or, better yet, waiting another eight days to tell me which – if you remember – was the plan all along?  Or was it trying to tell it me that it felt that I needed more hassles going through the metal detectors at airports?   Whatever it was, my response to my body at that point would inevitably have been the same:  “Gee, thanks body.  Fuck you too!” 

The problem with this sentiment was that this disaster was more of an environmental and mechanical issue than it ever was my body creating some sort of resistance.  My bike slipped on a slick metal surface so if anything, my body was the victim here but, again, thanks.

And then there’s the people who tried to console me with “hey, at least you can have a relaxing summer now”.

These people in particular I wanted to judo chop in the throat.  Clearly these people have never had metal pins inserted into a major appendage so that can’t shower unless they have a plastic Subway bag wrapped around it and can’t even do up their own pants in the morning without assistance.  Similarly, they have never had to squeeze out a stool as stiff and dry as a mason block thanks to the amount of Percocets they’ve had to ingest in order to keep the pain at a manageable level so that they didn’t try to chew off their own arm in the middle of the night.

Sure, real relaxing…but cheers for that.

Thanks.

The other thing I heard quite often at the time was “everything happens for a reason”.

The fuck?

What possible reason could there be for my having to blow two years of hard work and perseverance for Fate to totally screw me (pun intended) seven days before the big event unless it was just trying to fuck with me?

I wanted to donkey punch these people.

“That’s Fate’s way of telling you that you’re a dick.”

 

Remember this was all during the Anger Stage.

But I’ve had the benefit of time now while being firmly wedged in the Depression Stage to mull it over and attempt to look at the situation a little more objectively.

What is there to be learned?

What can I take away from this whole epic shit show to make me a better person and, hopefully, a triathlete?

Then I had a very humbling experience during my first rehab appointment at the Shaver Hospital.

At first, I was firmly focused on my own pathetic circumstance as I tried to wiggle my baby piggy and feeling very low considering that I was at my peak fitness just a few days previous.  Let’s just say I was feeling very, very low at this point.  But then I looked around at some of the other patients in the room in the middle of their own rehab.  Around me there were people learning to walk with a new prosthetic and unfortunate souls with their arms stuck inside cell regeneration machines after having acquired horrific burns.

And here I was worried about being able to bend my pinky finger and riding my bike by the end of summer.

Really.

What an asshole.

It kind of put a new perspective on things in that, yeah, maybe I did get off pretty lightly and things could definitely have been worse…a lot worse.  I guess that’s what those people were trying to tell me when I wasn’t willing to listen.  Sure I might still struggle to put my pants on, but at least I still have legs to put in them.  Maybe I can’t wiggle my little finger right now but I still have it and it will  heal.

I will  ride again.

Maybe what I was supposed to learn was how fragile my body is and that perhaps I should appreciate it a little more when it is able to do the things that I was able to do just one week ago.  Maybe this was supposed to teach me to enjoy the experience leading up to the event a bit more than I have, rather than stressing about what my body was not able to accomplish in the moment.

Let me explain.

While I am confident in my over all training plan and that it did ultimately help me acquire a fitness that I have not enjoyed in the past few years (in fact, I was both cycling and swimming better than I ever have before), I spent a stupid amount of time worrying about either what I wasn’t doing enough of, or fast enough, or hard enough, or whatever.

I was more often than not focused on the negative rather than the positive.

I mean, give yourself some credit dude.

You’re doing it!

Period.

Full stop.

Maybe this whole situation was intended to be a lesson in humility and will serve to help me grow into a better appreciation for the whole training process and ultimately become the Ironman I believe I can still be and want to be.  After all, the kind of athlete I admire is the one who takes setbacks in stride and rises above them only to return better than ever (not unlike Paula Findley who is finally getting back to a winning form after a disappointing turn of events at the 2012 Olympics – click HERE).

This is far from the end for me in this sport; it’s just a minor setback that happened to come at an inopportune time.

Hopefully, this is just the start of better, brighter and more successful things to come.

Finally…

Acceptance.