I love reading inspirational blogs and FB posts from people who have overcome or are still suffering from adversity to undertake and successfully complete an amazing feat of athletic endurance. This is not one of those posts – at least not yet, I’m not sure, I have to vent first.
I can honestly say that this has been the most frustrating first 5 months of any year I can remember. Back in January we registered for the Esprit Half Triathlon with high hopes of racing under 5hrs for the first time on a flat, fast course in Montreal.
The best laid plans -eh!
Wed 20 Feb – started with a chest infection – antibiotics and no exercise until 02 March.
Mon 04 March – diagnosed with obstructed bowels and hospitalized for 5 days – not a pretty sight – gentle exercise resumed 16 March.
Wed 03 April – swam and ran early AM from the Aquatic Centre and walking back to the car slipped on the only bit of ice in Saint John and landed hard on my shoulder and elbow. Diagnosis = 12 weeks rehab & physio. I believe the medical term is that I f—-d up my rotator cuff? Can only sleep with a pillow under my arm and can’t swim front crawl, run without pain or ride without worrying about falling on it again.
Sat 27 April – 2 miles into a gentle run and I feel a knot starting in my right calf warming up for the Brent Kelly 8k. Walked back to the car. I couldn’t even manage a DNF in this race as I had my first ever DNS. Still nice to have some firsts though!
This is the philosophical part of the blog where I don’t give into all this negativity and state my goal to return bigger, better, stronger and faster than ever before? Nope – I’m pissed. What’s the saying, sick and tired of being sick and tired. Forced to cancel our vacation to Florida, withdrew from an Ultra that I had been training for as well as an Olympic Triathlon and our Esprit registration (as Helena also has a poorly and very painful toe). Can’t swim except for a pathetic version of the doggy paddle, some breast stroke and kicking, lots of kicking and who doesn’t love kicking in a 50m pool? Can’t run, tried a series of 1 min run/walks today (08 May) and had to walk home after 12 minutes which included a 5min walking warm up after gentle stretching.
I can’t seem to catch a break this year and I’m angry, really had to catch myself today as I nearly snapped at Helena with no good reason except that I’m angry, frustrated and generally pissed. I actually think that this may manifest itself in a very, very mild form of depression. At best I’m in a funk and at worst, my year of racing is behind me now.
My Sister-in-law, Flo, might call this a SNAFU – Systems Normal, All F—-d Up
Its at times like this that I realize how important training and racing is to me, how the structure, the routine of swimming, biking and running keeps me sane, erodes the stress of work, keeps me happy and broke all at the same time. Its who I am, its what I do and I’m not going to change.
The first thing I have to do is accept that I am 52 years old and understand that I don’t bounce back as quickly as I used to. Having said this I firmly believe that being fit helps enormously with recovery from illness. While the obstructed bowel was the most painful experience of my life, (I sat in ER with Helena and remember saying that I would be happy to just find a quiet corner and die, and I meant it) after 5 days in hospital I was able to do my first little fart and was discharged from the hospital. I believe that my fitness returned me to my normal routine much quicker than someone with less fitness. Quick enough so that I could injure myself again as soon as possible, that’s how fit I am – duh!
Follow this with 6 weeks of a soft diet, sorry, a Vegan soft diet, everything pureed, smoothies galore, bland cereal, white bread, white rice, white pasta, if it was white I could eat it. I discovered fries (chips), McDonalds were bland and tasteless, Burger King was much better but I do confess to ordering and eating a large portion of Five Guys fries, they sat in my stomach for days – not recommended. Daryl Steeves makes the best fries and bagels by the way – head over to his house if you need a Vegan soft diet.
Anyway I digress, where was I, Oh yeah, feeling sorry for myself. I tend not to dwell on my age, I swim better now than I ever have, ride as strong and fast as ever and run – OK I can’t have all 3 but you get the point.
So, what can I do, well I can ride on my trainer and outside now that the weather is improving. This time last year I was up to 140k on the bike in preparation for Ironman Mont Tremblant and on Sunday I was thrilled with a 30k ride. Our sport is humbling, its hard to bluff if you are not fit, nowhere to hide in the pool or on the road and I stop to check my wheel isn’t rubbing on my brakes – its not damm it, it must be me! Admit it – you’ve done this as well?
I’m thinking of spending the summer getting strong and flexible. Earle Burrows (my physio) once said I was remarkable. He actually said it was remarkable how inflexible I was but all I heard was remarkable. However, as I age I really need to maintain and improve my strength, conditioning and flexibility to allow me to swim, bike and run. We have P90X Yoga, Insanity recovery, and PIYO which we love to do. I also have all the exercises that Earle has given me over the years that I should start to do again – that’s a workout in itself.
I’m the luckiest guy in the world. My brother Keith winters in Spain (where did I go wrong) and we have an invitation to Valencia for November this year for MotoGP (Motorcycle racing – another love of mine – watching, not participating) and 2 or 3 weeks of cycling. No point going there without a bike and I need to be fit, so I’m pretty motivated to ride with Keith again on the Spanish roads, enjoy a couple of coffee rides and see if we can get a 100k in or maybe even a 100 miler if fitness allows.
Am I going to let this get me down – not a chance in hell, I have too much to be thankful for. When I’m injured or sick or both there is always that one person who is worse off than I am. Yes, my obstructed bowels were painful and humiliating and I still feel sympathy for the nurse who had to give me an enema and the intern over whom I vomited when the NG tube went up my nose and down my throat and then all the bile in my stomach came up my throat and down my nose. But I’m going to heal, my shoulder will heal, my calf will heal, there’s plenty of people out there dealing a with much worse hand than mine, people with serious depression, life threatening illness’s, broken limbs, the big C and all the stuff that people keep bottled away inside.
I have no glory at the end of this blog, no amazing come back to write about but I want to complete Ironman Mont Tremblant next year (did I mention my bike crash last July and my Helena’s miraculous last minute marathon to get us to the finish line). I want to go under 5hrs for a Half distance triathlon, I’m intrigued by running an Ultra, I’ve run 50k but how would 50 miles feel or longer, would my calf’s object, can I break 20 minutes again for 5K (almost certainly not as my calf will most certainly say screw you and object). Can I ride 200k again in 1 day, can I break 11hrs in an Ironman, can I be fitter, healthier and stronger than I am now – yes absolutely.
I’m not sure I can do any of the above but trying and not succeeding is way better that not trying at all. I think I’m feeling a little better now, its good to talk about stuff, get things off your chest, I’m focusing on what I can do, not what I can’t do, focusing on what I can do to get me back swimming, cycling and running, my best days are still ahead of me – thanks for listening.