Monday, September 19, 2011

It wasn't until later, maybe even as late as now and probably a bit longer to get a real grasp on what happened. I would be lying if I were to say that I don't miss the way it used to be, that I don't want to ride my bike for 4 hours anymore, that I don't mind not running (full speed) on a single track trail or down the basketball court for that matter, but from where it was two months ago....I will not complain!

Let me try to put some comprehension to all this, both for myself and you:) Last week, on Thursday/ Friday, it was 8 weeks...that's it 8 weeks. I have to say it twice because of the need to remind myself! I feel so good right now that I would not only like to, but also feel it's possible to (on a slightly lower level) resume my old schedule. Although due to the obvious, some scared issues, and the fact that I am enjoying the heck out of "daddy and husband" time, it is is safe to say I will stay with the "Lazy Larry" version of my former self for a while longer.

I left off in the last post right about the point where there were these angels in my room with me, and they made me feel really comforted at a time when I really needed them most! Now I don't rightfully know who they were exactly, but I have my suspicions...Someday my wish will be to hover just over those nights and get a glimpse of who all was in that room with me (it's not like I haven't already asked to dream about it anyway). The suspicions all come from leading this other life that is not really surrounded with racing, competing, and triathlons so much. See, I've always known that there will come a day when I wasn't  fulfilled by triathlon, wasn't as fast anymore, or just didn't want to work as hard at it anymore. Never would it have been because I didn't love the sport, think it was a healthy alternative for being your average middle age dude, nor the time constraints involved with training (my wife and kids can attest to all the late night rides and runs). I never really gave much thought to an injury, especially one of the nature as mine being the stealer of life as I knew it....yeah I said it! There has been exactly 2 out of the 60 days that I have felt that way...the second being a few days ago.

I remember when I started doing this crazy/fun as hell sport some 20 years ago. There was a guy named Bobby Gonzales and he was so super fast! He was in his mid 30's when I began at age 20 something. I can remember saying to myself, "I wanna be that fast someday"! I would train endlessly and do countless extra laps or extra times up Aggie Mountain because I wanted to win races just like him when I was older. There were races when I would out split him on the bike, then there came a time when I would not only catch him, but also pass and put time into him before the run....only to get run down by this freak who could run a damn low 16 minute 5k off the bike! What I remember most is that when Bobby was around 42, he was practically unbeatable (around here anyway). He was the first semi local person (El Paso) to win a Tucson series race, everyone in the tri community knew his name, and at races he was the MAN to beat! My point is I am about to be 42 and as fast as I had ever been. The plan was in place and the puzzle only lacked a few pieces, which were in my reach. God had other plans for me. Plans for me to be a better Mike then I feel I was. See, for me anyway, there was something which went hand in hand with winning a few races and the ability to compete in some awesome locations. This thing I talk about?? ATTITUDE, you know the racers edge, the chip on your shoulder that whispers in your ear, "You're the man - Don't back down from anyone - You're here to win, give it your absolute all, or die trying...slowing down is not in the cards". I both hate to admit it yet I take ownership for the way I was (at times)...what am I talking about? Being in shape, being granted love for competition, and doing well in our sport gave me a self imposed and skewed vision of myself. I, at times, and mostly during competitions, would let this other dude out of the bag...Want confirmation, This past year at Trifest, "The Boss Man" and long time friend Seton Claggett  told the story of the time I went off course, he went and picked me up, tried to get me back in the race (xterra), only to have me say cuss words as I zig zagged my mtn. bike through the forest with a full head of steam. Lucky for me a few years ago I took a look in the mirror and I wasn't too comfortable (to say the least) so I made a little change. Mostly in the way I acted at races and I couldn't be happier that I did! See, when I was "all jacked up" in the hospital, a few weeks when I got home, and even now, I received my confirmation in the form of e-mails, phone calls and hospital visits! I can never even begin to explain how much it means to me to hear how people I race against look up to me or that a prominent coach tells his athletes to emulate my attitude. YES, I did it right, left a little footprint in the southwest tri community, and reaffirms that the last 20 years have gone to wonderful cause, THANK YOU!

When I got home, I tried my best to remain positive and hold on to the reflections made in the ICU. Three of the hardest things for me were: 1. Seeing my training diary on the table where I left it. 2. My pre-race play list on my i-pod. 3. Going into the garage and seeing all my bikes hanging there.....It didn't take too long for things to get better, ie, 1. My diary went from hour run, 3 hr bike ride, etc. to 20 min walk and an actual diary. 2.Really cool thing happened with my play list-I played it over the system at cardiac rehab and the older ladies (70-80) digged it! They were bobbing their heads, riding the stationary bikes, and walking on the treadmill with rhythm :) big time! As for number 3, well for the most part the bikes are still in the same place I left them two months ago, but they are spotless. The one bike I have gotten on is my old Rock hopper with the tag along attached. Levi and I will sneak out on the roads and ride for an hour. Trying to put a positive spin on hardships can take a person places they never thought possible... it's a good thing. I am getting a grasp on triathlon from every angle and I am here to say that I am excited to look at it through the eyes of a beginner again...Talk about full circle :)

Now for the warning signs...which I rationalized, but might help someone else out in a similar situation. After some flashbacks, research, and phone calls from unlikely places; I am able to draw some conclusions...for myself anyways. Back in 2009 I noticed there was just something not right during the swim portion at Deuces Wild, I had a panic attack in the water and thought I was going to have to drop out. It got better and I finished the swim and the tri, but I after that I went to the Dr. and he gave me an inhaler. Exercise induced asthma...that would explain why it was was getting harder to start my runs and why my feet would get numb during some runs, and why my swim was falling off the charts lately, and why my hand and feet were getting numb and cold when I was swimming.....right? As athletes there are always answers for issues like these....too little body fat to stay warm in the 79* water, just need another pair of shoes that are a bit softer, and it's normal for my left arm to get tingly while riding because being in the aero position could cut off some blood flow.....shake the arm out get back down and ride even harder right?? No, Dumb Ass! These were your warning signs, but please understand, every time I would feel a little off, my legs just didn't have it....there would be a really good race result and I would decide that would serve as my check up. No need to go back to my cardiologist when I just sprinted in 105* weather and was fine right?? Yeah, I have known about a heart condition since I was about three years old, it's known as aortic stenosis (murmur). My aorta is bi cuspid and there is really no stenosis of the actual artery, but it needs a name. I had always gone to see my cardiologist every 5 years to get checked out, but my good friend, heart doc, and fellow triathlete,  Dr. Richard Meltzer, passed away back in 2006 (may he rest in peace) just after my last visit....I bet he would have known all the signs! I think that the straw that broke the camel's back was crazy wk out I did. I thought my swimming needed a little revamping so I got a sledge hammer from the pawn shop and proceeded to beat the crap out of a humongous tractor tire.....for the next two nights as I slept, I remember my feet being really cold. Again, I should have known better. With all this what I believe happened is that I had a clog or plaque or something already there blocking flow and when I hit the tire for like a half hour in the mid day sun... well, it ripped all that stuff out. I felt it! It was like something (worm like) on the bottom of my heart expanded then contracted...then, well that part pretty much SUCKED!

Hopefully this post can help another athlete or anyone for that matter be more vigilant of the warning signs. I have always wanted to be a person that people look up to and respect. Never did I think I was going to turn into someone who thought they were better then anyone else, but that's just the nature of the beast sometimes in competition...thin line between cocky and confidence I guess. I know both sides of the pendulum now and I will say with all honestly that if it meant going through what I did to get to the place I am right now....well, I am okay with it and if you really want to know the truth, I am at peace with myself more now then ever before.   

Monique took this picture last about foreshadowing or someone trying to tell me something??  Either way it's how I feel now.....a great big shiny new way of looking at things that comes from deep inside my heart :)  

1 comment:

  1. nice reflection mike thanks for sharing the warning signs. Dave rutledge