I know it's been a while...about a year or so to be more precise. I guess I should have looked back at the last post and see where I had left off...seems like the thing I should have done, but it's me and and I am finally coming to believe that just maybe...rarely do I do the things that make sense or chose the path which would be easier, but I do have my reasons and that is what I am going to try and explain with this post..
A year ago I remember the summer coming to a close, throwing a one year post heart issue party,inviting my friends over, having some beers, and just wondering what I was going to do next?? I had just started a new coaching venture at a brand new high school and had been running pretty regularly at a pretty easy pace for about a month or so. I remember thinking that maybe I could give my hometown race another shot...it was only a few weeks away. At that point there were just too many uncertainties I guess. Bottom line is I decided not to do it...for whatever reason I backed out. I didn't regret it because that's the decision I made.
Let's move forward a year, well the Socorro Chile Harvest Triathlon is two days away and this morning I called my buddy (race director), told him to seed me with a 5:50 swim (400 meters), put me in the 40-44 age group, and I'll see him there. No promises how I will do overall because to tell the truth I don't even know. I do know that over the past year my fitness has returned enough to still go pretty darn hard on the bike and bring my swim time down to about where it was when I won the race a few times, and I know that I can run a 5k at 10,200 feet elevation (21:00). I also know that I have yet to put all three together in row...I don't really know how I will react if and when I get passed on the bike, if I run short of breath, if I get any weird pains in my chest area (although those have all but subsided), I guess I just don't know how fast I will be or how comfortable I'll be about letting myself hurt the way it "should". I feel I have done enough to race the race, but being out for two years and only training somewhat correctly for the past two months probably is not enough to do what I used to...and I am ok with that. This will be triathlon number 202 for me, but that number doesn't really matter anymore...it's like numero uno and I have no real way of calming my nerves before this one. Let me explain, come into my mind before a race...before a normal one that is...see, its very normal to be nervous before a race and I was a little scared, but I liked the fear because it kept me sharp and fast and ready. To calm myself I would just remind myself that I was an All American, I was ranked in the top 3% in the nation, that I am the Bad Ass, that it was the other 97% that would gladly trade places with me...that's how it was and that's how I made it work...period. It never let me down thinking like that, but now, all that is out the window...and I am HAPPY about that. Brand new, one last time, savor the moment, build a new me out of it...That's how much it means it me!
As for why?? I mean I've heard it all and I guess it comes down to being comfortable with my actions, being able to live without regret, having the ability to still take a bit of life and dictate for yourself the outcome. Being able to look an athlete in the eyes, tell them to give me all they have, to help someone fight their fight and expect they will because they believe and trust in me...and all the while knowing that I DAMN sure practice the words that come out of my mouth! See, I feel that the kids I coach, The people in the SCAD survivors group I belong to, my beautiful friends fighting their afflictions, my family, and all my wonderful friends in and out of the triathlon community deserve the best Mike I can possibly be. Don't get me wrong now, let me expland (explain/expand) It's something deep within me, something that does not let me rest (like normal folk), something that burns...and although now it has been a nice warm glow it still likes to be fed every now and again. The one thing it does not like is the life of living in anger or regret over never giving it a shot when I truly know I can or the depression of not being able to...If I am to be my very best then I hopefully, with the grace of God, become a true inspiration to many and this is best way I know about being just that..no more no less. I mean how you gonna listen whole heartily to someone who's preaching about picking yourself back up, dusting yourself off, starting over, making a better, starting a new...if they never themselves have had the misfortune of being struck down. The way I see it, you're the lucky ones, you get to pick yourself up and make shit better based on solid experience. In a weird way I am a glad all this landed on my plate because I will have an even deeper respect for those who struggle and try to do right, those who refuse to let an ailment/injury/affliction define who they are and their capabilities, and yes...sorry to say, those middle of the pack age group triathletes...My hats off to man, all of you.. I just ask one thing... Accept me back, if I shut it down early due to whatever then know that my biggest victory in all this came just getting to the starting line, please know how long the road was getting me back to your community, and please know how much I have at stake... Just welcome me with a big hug and let's get it on. Know this, I would NOT be at the start line if I didn't think I could pull this off without there being a glimmer of my former racing self... I just wouldn't, but yes I am still scared of the unknown....but that's what life is about :)