Thursday, July 31, 2008

Control what you can

In the ever increasing effort to be something more than I am, nutrition is a part of my foundation I must often strengthen. I am sure the doctors in Seattle will have something to say of my plans but I like to hash things out online.

My normal eating without watching numbers, is most closely associated with The Zone diet, 40% carbs, 30% protein, 30% fat. After IMAZ this has skewed a bit higher in the carbs and fat as I let myself indulge for a while.

I am not an Atkins Diet guy and I like what the Paleolithic Diet For Athletes offers but regardless of their self supported claims, I believe a diet too high in protein is detrimental to my kidneys. I am a proponent of Volumetric eating, filling your stomach with fluids like water or soup or low calorie vegetable/fruit servings before eating regular meals so that I get full faster.

I have done enough long term self testing over the years to know what hurts my body and what my body could care less about taking in. I know dairy is a liability for me, I am somewhat intolerant of milk and thankfully ice cream. (If I was not scared of eating ice cream I'd be a lot heavier today). I know that my body can care less if I drink a couple diet cokes a day. A year without it and changing nothing else, I felt exactly the same and lost no weight.

Truth be told I eat pretty good but I eat to much. Portion control is my downfall. Well that and impulse eating late at night. I am a top heavy eater, meaining I can eat more calories at night than during the day. I can go long hours without eating or drinking during the day which is also not good for my kidneys.

The changes I will be attempting with my nutrition are pretty simple. Eat small portions. Eat often. Drink water every hour. Eat lean meats. Eat more vegetables. Eat more fruit. I mean this could not be more basic.

Alcohol is already dramatically reduced. And I don't have the sweet tooth I used to, though it may still cause me some problems. I love sandwhiches so whole wheat bread remains in my program as will some rice but I will manage those down from current totals. I love pita and hummus. I am going to start working around pasta as much as possible. I love potatoes but they are not seen very often. I can eat cheese but if I take them out of my sandwhiches and off my pasta toppings, that will solve 75% of my intake. Have no fear of Vitamin D deficency. Because of the testing in Seattle I am on 4,000 IU's daily.

Its a long road to health and the physcial manifestation of it is seldom indicative of a positive internal diagnosis. I have none many people who look overweight be in significantly better shape than skinny people. I know model perfect bodies with inside syou wouldn't wish on your worst enemy.

I know that when I get my insides right the outsides follow. I suppose that goes for more than just my nutrition but also my mental and spiritual health.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cross this line

When I have a firm goal in mind, like an 'A' race, its much easier to train scared or at least have a sense of completion for all the hard work.

One of the major shifts I have made in my mind is that I am not invincible. I don't have the iron constitution that I thought I had. I am not fast or strong or have much endurance right now. I also don't have a defining moment to coalesce all the hard work I need to generate to bring all that back together. What is a soldier without a mission?

So I guess it becomes a date in time. A point in the future to look forward to that involves some consistency, some effort, some established obstacles to get to and judge my progress. I suppose New Years Day is as good as any.

I don't have any goals yet. I don't know if I can lose weight or improve my endurance or my strength. So I am not writing anything long term down on my mirror in dry erase marker. Another change in my future. I am always someone who when I came up with a goal, I told everyone about it. I made myself accountable to many, especially myself. This time I am just saying, "I will not be like this at that point."

I will be envious and self conscious of that I have no doubt. Its hard to think I once was and now am not. Nor will be some things ever again. I suppose if or when I am able to, I will be more aggressive and set up nominal goals. For now I think consistency without over exertion is my overriding training principle.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Let it begin

Excluding a false start on Sunday, today I begin my new training regimen. Or began perhaps. I woke up this morning and did a one mile...something. I wouldn't call it a run, wouldn't call it walk, as I had to keep my HR below 140. If their was any structure to it, it would be a :90/:30 (seconds) jog/walk. Boy its not easy jogging in Zone 1.

I came home and did 2 x :30 planks, 20 push ups, 20 sit ups, 20 leg lifts, 20 flutter kicks. For a very first back at it workout from home, I hope it is consistent.

The main thrust of my workout today will take place in the gym. 1 set of 15 repetitions on circuit equipment. One or two exercises per body part. Then I hope about 30 minutes on the bike keeping my HR once again under 140. I think that will be fairly easy.

Like I have said, this is the very beginning of someone who has been the ultimate distance in triathlon and now just glad to be able to do something. Expect more training profiles and comments as I continue to learn what I can and can't do and hopefully motivate someone out there who doesn't think they can do it at all.

Monday, July 28, 2008

back at it, later

Yesterday I caught up on all my yard work. Took just about 3 hours. I wore my HRM and kept myself compliant to what the doctors have said. I also followed the hydration plan. As you could guess, I wore myself out.

Later in the in day around 4:30p I fell asleep on the couch. Mo started to get loud so I went upstairs thinking I'd nap for another hour or so. Sixteen hours later Mistress started pushing me out of bed for work.


I rarely nap, let alone sleep for more more than eight hours in a night. I am shocked. I knew that the detox process would leave me feeling drained. I knew that that much outdoor work had left me exhausted. But who knew....

Today was supposed to be the first day back to scheduled training plans but I am going to pass on today as a recovery day. Tomorrow will be the New Beginning for my training.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Do you believe?

I have always said, "I don't believe in ghosts, but I have a ghost story."

I was on the island of Tinian, in the CNMI, training my military unit. This island saw a pretty fair size battle when liberated in 1944 from the Japanese. The two atomic bombs, Fat Man and Little Boy, that were dropped on Japan were loaded on the bombers there.

Over the course of a couple nights on the island we continued to hear bolts sliding forward on rifles, safety's being switched off, whispers, snickers, things you may or may not hear around soldiers. Someone would always blame someone else about noise discipline and everyone accused would deny it was them.

One night I was scouting some routes and checking the perimeter, when I came back to the Patrol Base where people were sleeping. The whole place was in total chaos. People I trusted swore they woke up to find themselves being carried off by three or four people. One man was crying, happy to be alive, believing that he had been bayoneted after begging for mercy. Almost everyone frantic and adamant that they had been under attack by people inside 'the wire', pulled from their place of rest. None of the sentry's spotted anyone coming or going from our area, except me and my ranger buddy. A call in to the TOC (Tactical Operations Center) confirmed no one was near us.

The next morning the news got back to the hire ups at the TOC. I was there. The XO (executive officer) mentioned he got up to take a leak and didn't hear anything around that time of night. One of SEALs who was out all night teaching teams how to probe and work along the beach at night, came in to report and get a cup of coffee. He over heard the XO mention the potty break and remarked, "Yessir, good thing you had your security team with you. You were almost pissing on my gilly suit. I could have reached out and grabbed your leg. If you'd have been alone, I'd have taken you out."

The XO said, "I was alone. I don't have a security team." After a few moments of silence, I gave myself a whole body shake to get the creepys off me and everyone sort of went their own way. Over the next few days, those that were apart of the 'incident' keeping trying to talk it out. They were all convinced, absolutely, that they were under attack. People seeing other people being pulled and pushed and fighting against another person but unable to assist because they were also being pulled or pushed or fought with.

I don't believe in ghost, but I got a ghost story all right.

How about you guys? Every been around something like that?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

through the clouds

Personal Note: I wrote this stream of conscious. More like a dumping of thoughts than a cogent post, looking for that spark that would guide the daily discussion I wanted to address. In the end its whats on my mind and I let it out. I have hovered over the 'delete' button many times considering how this would come across if I did release it to the world. Its not a post theme I usually take. Nor think that anyone would be interested in reading. On the other hand, it may resonate completely with the fears we all hold in our real lives.
I have things on my mind that I know if talked to my mom today I would have to address. And I don't want to. I am very confused about that. I'm not in a bad place with mom, in fact I have a great relationship with her. But I have been avoiding her. Sorry mom. Its true. You want to congratulate me and show me love and I don't feel worthy of it.

There are things in my life that I am still coming to terms with that scare the bejesus out of me. Some of this I write about on the blog. Some of this I have not. But I will. Its invevitable. And you may congratulate me too, even if I don't think I want to hear it.

Normally I am such an optimistic person. And for the most, in all honesty, issues I have today are not nearly as negative or permanent as what many people are going through today in this country. Which is why am conflicted about feeling the way I do. Why should I feel low, or full of trepidation? I have an income. I have a house. I have a strong marriage and good son. I have friends. I get pleasure from a great many things. Just yesterday I reconnected with a female friend from high school that helped me with my head injury. I hadn't talked to her in maybe 15 years. That gave me such joy. Just out of the blue.

Yet my insides are all screwed up. I feel paralyzed with many feelings and emotions that I suppose when their all distilled down equal fear. And in a world where I was once three steps ahead I suddenly find myself needing to engage tremendous energy to make one move just to catch up with where I really should be.

I don't feel depressed, more fatigued. Like I am one step slower. I don't feel discouraged, more sorry for not being the whole, engaged person I need to be for Mistress. I have talked to her about this, all this crappola I have created around me, and she has been the strength and support I have needed.

Its a facade I suppose in the way my day carry's on. I have my smile and blame the creases in my forehead along with the rubbing of my temples on the very real and painfull detox I am going through with my kidneys. I continue to encourage people and inspire them, but feel like a hypocrite. I am writing and saying to them what I want to hear myself. Like an affirmation, say it enough and it will come true. Encourage enough people and you will be encouraged yourself.

The people I have reached out to recently like my dad, my godfather, my friend Greg, have reminded me that life is ephemeral and if we don't prepare ourselves every day for the negative things we will see and feel, we will always be drifting downwards. That darkness can never defeat love, kindness, goodness and fun when you remember thats what really important for a beautiful life and share it with others.

I have been ignoring myself or stuck paralyzed unable to react. Not being the man of action I usually am. Someone who runs into the breach, seizing the day and throttling it.

I guess I need to talk to my mom..."Hello. Mom its me..."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A shot

I felt like I got tricked on my last day at the clinic. Let me just say that spending six hours a day for two straight days with three highly qualified doctors is enough to make anyone's head spin. Mine was crazy spinning. The questions, the comments, the upcoming bill, of course the tests themselves, all led me to long bouts on my back, looking at the ceiling of my room and wondering, "Do I really need this?" I could simply NEVER workout again and most likely be just fine. Except for, you know, turning into a big fat pig and feeling like I was missing a body part.

But the last day was a cruel unintentional trick on me. The previous two days I had been hooked up to an IV drip the whole time I was there along with other sticks and pokes. I hate needles. I have mentioned before that I get anxiety attacks when I see needles for me. Even if someone walks by with a needle I ask, "Is that for me?" The second day ended with several shots to my back and buttocks. Like a sick optometrist, he would stick a finger in my back and ask, "Is it more tender here, or here?" Where ever it was most tender is where I got a needle in my back. But I was told the third day would not involve any more needles. They lied.

The last day started with acupuncture, which is not as bad for me as needled syringes. I was told I might feel a quick electrical shock at my ankle target as it was a spot attached to the chi of my kidneys. I was expecting the typical prick and slight twist that usually comes with each insertion. Yikes! It felt like I touched a light socket. I kid you not it was that strong and went away as fast. The body is an amazing thing. Thank god, it was only one stick that would do that.

I also found out that I was going to get a liver detox flushed through my IV. I held up my arms, smirked and told them I didn't have an IV in me today. That's when the other doctor came in the room with a tray. Dirty trick.

A side effect of the detox, mostly composed of anti-oxidants, was a massive headache. I was nauseous. I gagged a couple times. I wasn't allowed Tylenol, god forbid I ask for Advil. It lasted far into the day and into my flight back. I was crippled. I was told that the headache was commiserate with the level of detox so I guess I needed it.

I don't know what was worse for me, the IV needle in my arm or the hatchet in my head. Again I could just NEVER workout again and be just fine. That couch was starting to look mighty comfy...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Let it blow, let it blow...

If you have spent any time in the military you may have read the title as you sang the Jody,

Let it blow,
Let it blow,
Let the cold wind blow,
From the east to the west,
3rd Platoon is the best.

Last night a microburst hit Casa de Comms. It only lasted about 15 minutes but the winds were close to 60 mph and a weather gauge in the area showed almost an inch and a half of water fell in that time.

Looking through the rear of the house we could see the rain and wind pick up dramatically, until it went horizontal. It sounded like a frieght train in a tunnel. What was slightly surreal is that on the horizon the sun was still setting and the sky was a dirt brown, so the back drop was not your typical gray stormy stuff.

I thought I had left a window cracked in my car so I went outside, and the street was a river. I called Mighty Mo over and stood in my gutter which was a torrent up past my calves. He declined to do the same.

We lost power a few minutes later, (who won American Gladiator the triathlete or Brick?) that lasted for several hours. The wind snapped wood and steel power poles like twigs trapping several cars. In my neighborhood I saw several down trees and more snapped limbs. My garbage can is missing.

We got out the candles and a few flashlights. I felt Mighty Mo would feel safer with a torch in his hand. He decided to check all the doors and windows to make sure they were secured and that no water was leaking in. After satisfied that the house was battened down, he called Grandma to make sure she was save or needed anything. My parents live about ten miles away and it didn't rain there.

For his first real situation in a 'weather crisis', Mighty Mo did really well. Very brave for a five year old.

In two powerful storms this monsoon season we have now equaled the entire rain fall of 2007.

Clinic follow up

After two posts on how each day went, I felt it best to describe how it ended.

A positive side was that Mistress and I came up with enough available credit to cover the cost of the visit. It was a very stressful phone call for me, I felt like a failure to my wife for incurring such a bill. I will say this about Mistress though, I did not have to justify or get her buy in. She trusted me, she trusted our process and the road signs we took to get to the clinic. I know I have fought with her over much less spending issues and in this regard I felt she lifted me up when I needed it.

I was not only told but shown through their actions that this visit is just one part of larger process. I have unlimited access to each doctor should I need advice or consultation on my recovery. I have a real team vested in my interests. Having seen such a medical board work for my son, I respect this set up. When all the tests have been completed and reviewed I will get a binder with a complete copy of everything that was done. I also took dozens of pages of notes in my personal journal.

Many of the tests are still at the labs, the results of which will not be seen for several more days. As I was told, they are testing everything from esoteric to absolute to find why my body is reacting and doing what it does.

Part of the initial testing they did, led that the rhabdo., kidneys and liver failures showing up the way they do could be the effect of something and not the cause. There is some thought I could have a rare parasite that I picked up overseas. Its a stretch but possible. It or something else may be causing an obstruction below my kidneys that backs urine up into them and speeds up my condition.

They do not think the renal damage is as bad as western medicine believes it is. I will never be 100% again, of that there is no doubt. However they believe that I can have a recovery that long term should not decrease the quality or quanity of my life, barring some new considerations I must make to exertion.

The road to recovery starts with a medicinal profile repairing damages done to my organs in the past. This first phase I am in lasts ten days and the results could be loosely compared to chemotherapy. I may feel as fatiqued and neasous. I won't be loosing any hair or weight. I then have a phase two and three that are not quite as dramatic.

This week I am taking my HR when I wake up. This will be the base for the workouts I start next week. If my waking HR is +5 bpm over base, then my workout the day before was too much and I need to take a rest day or scale the effort way back.

I am also doing a nutritional intake journal: food, water, drugs, also including physical condition (fine, headache, pain w/ location) and how I feel emotionally. Once this is completed and compared to labs that tested nutritional deficencies, it will help blue print a better nutritional profile for me to follow and also delve into training and recovery protocols.

Some of the tests were quite surprising. On a test that read energy levels released by the body, I was told mine was some of the highest they had ever recorded compared to names like DeBoom, Reid, Hincapie, Lieto and Landis. I constantly was through the roof, though they were quick to point out that these tests did not determine genetics and God given talent of which it is clear, I am quite pedestrian. It could also mean that my body can not regulate energy expenditure and this is another test that shows that I am burning up my kidneys through some sort of whacked out internal process.

I am my own exercise coach in this, though they recommend that I obtain a trainer or coach for oversight. Its clear I have the ability but not the perspective or discernment over my volume or manage my effort. My training partner, Jeff, who is a doctor, chiropractor, acupuncuturist, sport therapist, weight loss coach and acredited USAT triathlon coach, is going to do this for me. Either it will be a great benefit for my recovery with my coach right there training with me or Jeff is going to be a huge enabler pushing me further than necessary just so he's not out there alone.

I am not to train outside. Not for a while. Swimming is okay as long as I keep it short. Everything else is indoors. Based on current doctrine I need to stay below 140 bpm. Which to me is the lowest end of my Zone 2. Lowest. In the beginning its going to be almost impossible for me to get any cycling or running done indoors but having done HR training I know that it will pay off later. My HR will stay the same and the effort will go up.

iNew gave me perameters to train 'inside their box'. The next several months are truly just the smallest possible steps to a return to fitness. They believe the earliest I could toe any start line at any distance is nine months. Thats agressive to them. Fine by me. I have an opportunity to someday get back into the mix and that is good enough for now.

I must say the cost was staggering but I am not dissappointed in the slightest for my decision to go to Seattle. I learned so much there. I had so much effort and attention put into my health and future well being. It is, in my case, money well spent. I have never had so much medical attention for so long a period of time. Six hours a day for three days, and the times I was not there they were compiling and consulting each other on their individual findings. I look forward to the final results of the time there. I expect to be surprised, disappointed and confused. I'm already happy.

Monday, July 21, 2008

In the beginning...

How many times have you thought to yourself, "If I only knew then what I know now"?

Faced with the prospects of NEVER being physically competitive again, not participating in any meaningful way with the training that continues with my friends, I went to hell and back to find options that countered modern medicine. I found out 'hell' is a actually a world famous clinic in Seattle run by three super smart doctors.

In the near future I will flesh out my thoughts regarding the results of this trip. The most important statement, the only one that matters today, is that I have a future in endurance sports that does not limit me to the spectator side of the course.

I get the rare opportunity to do this all over again. Start from scratch physically but certainly not mentally or emotionally. I have finished an Ironman and finished three other Ironman macrocycles. I shouldn't do another Ironman. Not even the best in the world advise me having that goal. In fact the next nine months to one year is nothing but rebuilding my body. A slow and steady reconstruction of my foundation, repairing and replacing the missing biochemical processes that fail my body when I need it most on the race course.

But. Eventually. Hopefully. If all goes well. A half-ironman late next year might be possible. But that is not the begininng.

The beginning is where I am at right now, the preparations made BEFORE even making my first stroke, pedal, step or lift. Remember all those forms that ask if you have received a doctors consent before undertaking physical activity? We are all guilty of marking 'yes' when we know damn well we didn't. I have personal training degrees. I have finished every level of triathlon race a person can do. Yet, this time I put the pencil down at that question and went to the doctors and am following their advice before starting another program. It involves me looking at all the pitfalls I made as a past triathlete and avoiding them this time around, mostly in regard to volume and effort. My quality of life is quite literally on the line with each workout. Right now I have a greater than 20% chance of dying on a workout if I push it to hard. So I don't have the luxury of blindly, half-assedly, following a training plan and finishing a race on guts alone.

I don't mind saying I am in a unique position here. For the vast majority of athletes their mind is weaker than their body and quit much sooner than they should. I am the reverse. I can take my body to extremes that people will never go to because my mind will shut off unimaginable pain when its focused on completing its mission. As my last race proves, I can push my body to Death's doorstep. This quality does not make me faster or stronger or give me a higher percentage of victory over others. The reality is, it is a hyper focus that disrupts rational behavior and crucial neuro-muscular feedback. It is reckless.

All hyperbole aside, I have been given (another) rare opportunity. I will be able to exercise again. I can't control how my body breaks down but I will take control of the areas of my life that will allow me to step over the line and go against the clock once again. I will focus on the the balance and management of effort, the consistency of training, the nutrition, the rest my body needs. The Zen of triathlon.

I have already visualized me crossing a finish line. As Steven Covey says, "Begin with the end mind."

Friday, July 18, 2008

One sided

All my blogging and email reading in Seattle has been through my phone. For some reason I've been unable to send emails but can recieve them.

Thank you for the messages, they have been a boon to me. Since yesterday its been quite emotional for me. Stress and money and the unknown do that. Reading the emails has kept me smiling.

I hit 100,000 veiwers this week. I am as always humbled.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Clinic visit recap, Day 2

Today I learned about Chinese medicine and the eastern philosophy to treating the body and that I still don't like needles. The damage to my kidneys is of course the object of this trip, but the cause of the damage is still unknown, but were getting somewhere. Some of it may have to do with contracting a rare parasite when I was overseas. This is around the same time as the heat stroke. There is only one lab in the country that can test this and they won't be able to do it until next Thursday.

The clinic is not willing to point fingers at any one medical group, but they have all been pretty adamant that my care thus far has been horribly mismanaged. Tests and follow ups that should be standard were never done, from 1993 all the way through Ironman 2008. In contrast I have never had three doctors working almost exclusively on me for six straight hours a day for three days. I can't even get a doctor to stick around for fifteen minutes when I go to them.

Whatever the cause, the analogy in a metaphysical, eastern philosophy sense, is that my body is now represented by 'fire'. It is something I am drawn too by nature. The reddish hair, I'm a Leo, I'm one of those guys who radiates heat and sleeps without covers, I live in the desert, I like hot drinks, I like hot baths and spa's, spicy flavors, fear and anger have fire status as well. Whatever I want to believe in or chose to want to categorize, in eastern medicine the kidneys hold the water of the body and I burn my up. Being drawn to Ironman, an event and training regime that naturally breaks down the body through catabolism, (heating the muscles) was in some ways destined. Some of these tests I have done look at energy flow and energy patterns. Mine show to be way off the chart of normal. Which means my body has a problem regulating the adrenaline in my body which is, yup you guessed it, controlled by the kidneys.

I will be leaving here, broke, but with a plan. Nutritionally there is much that can be accomplished. Not necessarily in changing the diet but how and when and why I need to eat and drink. For a long time I have used the affirmation that, "food is for fuel, not entertainment," which is a good way to live but doesn't address the needs of the body or the plan I need to overcome some of these dangerous things I have done to myself.

The good news is that unlike every other doctor I have spoken too since April, these guys are certain that I can train again for races. It may take years of planning and training in a way I have never done before but eventually yes it looks like a half iron race could happen at some point down the road.

There is already talk of a second trip up here. The next one would only be one day but it would be an out patient procedure to look at my kidneys, something that couldn't have been done this trip. I am actually coming up in August for a company retreat about an hour from downtown and if I can actually do it, I may skate for an afternoon for this three hour deal. Did I mention that the scope they use goes up my urine tract? Um yeah, I want to go home after a freaking blood draw, and they want to put me under for three or four hours, stick a device up my what-o to check me out and then drive an hour back to an unfamiliar place and sit through meetings. I am kind of hoping that this test is not necessary or that I can do it down in Arizona somehow.

Thanks for all the kind remarks guys. It makes days worth it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

clinic visit recap, day 1

To start, Seattle is beautiful right now. Second, and this a positive to me, I saw more non-hispanic minorities on the bus ride from the airport than I have in a year in Phoenix. It refreshing to be in an urban area.

It wasn't hard to find the clinic, it was less than a mile from the terminal. I used the gps in my phone for the first time. Can I get a tech-w00t.

Spent six hours there today. In full and somewhat anxiet-tis disclosure (i made that word up) this medical bill is going to be close to $7,000, not including travel exspenses. All out of pocket. Yes that hurts me as much as it would hurt you.

After a lot of talking and quite a few tests I do think this will be a productive time. They are asking questions that haven't been asked, doing tests that haven't been done. Telling me and showing me that my body is not processing or recovering properly in ways that haven't been illustrated before.

I am not scared for the future any more. After today its a bit more immediate. One of the tests still ongoing as I go about my night is not going as anyone expected and the doctors have called concerned since I've left.

All I can do now is get a bite to eat and walk up to REI, a sanctuary for me. I start a long day of testing again tomorrow and told to get a big breakfast.

The good news is that I will leave here with a plan. I will be back to training for triathlons soon.

Have fun

A view afield

This trip to Seattle I am not renting a car, I will be using public transportation to and from the airport and a combination of taxi/buses/feet around town. Part of this decision is financial, this medical visit is expensive. Also, I booked a hotel about a mile and half away and can walk to and from the clinic gathering my thoughts and enjoying cooler weather. Lastly, I would not mind trying something new. I do not have a history of using public transportation and this is sort of a trial run on how I can adapt to traveling abroad, ya know in case I get on Amazing Race, in a familiar city.

BTW, the Phoenix public transportation blows. Hard.

I am looking forward to hoofing it. It simplifies my decision making. Mistress has come to terms with me ignoring all our friends on this trip but has given me two mandates. First, I must go to the REI flagship store and second I must enjoy a nice seafood dinner. I love fresh seafood.

BTW, the Phoenix seafood scene blows. Hard.

I am sure I will have plenty of time this evening to post some thoughts from the days events.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Going Deep

On Wednesday I fly to Seattle for my clinic visit. I have never had a trip like this before. I fly up and go straight there and into three days of testing and consultation and fly straight back when I am done.

I have been told to bring lots of patience, "Yesterday was sunny, today its raining." I guess that's some zen quote meant to roll with the punches and be even keeled about life. As most of you read in my posts and the readers comments back in April and May, I was very uneven and in denial.

Its taken me three months but I am finally in a better place about this. They are telling me already there is no doubt that based on the information I have sentthey are seeing real damage to my kidneys. To what level is part of what this trip is about.

I like that these doctors are real about my prospects but optimistic. They want my life to have balance and know that fitness is important to me. They hope the results of all this allows me to have fitness in my life, if that the direction it takes. They want me to keep my definition of myself open, again some zen type meaning how life is in constant change. My prospects to a full recovery are zero but the opportunity to return to some regimen of swimming, biking, running and weight lifting is there.

Right now thats all I ask. I don't need to finish any more races, just let me practice with my friends and really, deep down, complete a missing part of my life. Exercise is as much a part of me as the love I have for my wife. Without it, I feel lost and unfocused.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Spewing it out of me

My company holds a Fitness Challenge for its employees once or twice a year. Over the weekend we had our second one of 2008. In the past as a competitor I have finished in the Top 10 against employees ten years my junior. Unfortunately for me, my abilities as a facilitator and considered the most fair person in the company, I end up being the 'Race Director' and head judge for the events.

Of course this year, there is no way I could compete in my condition so being the RD was a no brainier. However each days we have held this event, I get full of adrenaline and I start to shake and have anxiety, much as if I was competing myself. Since IMAZ I have also felt this way when watching and cheering my friends as they compete in triathlons. I mention this because on every one of these days, when I go to urinate the color is very dark, almost brown. My body just being in proximity of exercise starts to break down.

If my body is shutting down just from the close observation and enthusiasm for fitness events, what does this bode for my own comeback to training? I'd would think that I'd be more excited for my own workouts and races than for someone else. I am really hoping my trip this week gives me some answers.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Rocking and Rolling

Last night one of the strongest monsoons in a decade hit town. In my area we had winds at over 40 miles per hour, gusting to 60 mph and two inches of rain in one hour. Lots of sideways wind, lots of toppled trees, lightening and thunder.

We don't really have seasons but monsoons do make up for drizzly months of spring. It was really nice to walk out this morning to temperatures 20 degrees lower than normal.

I am not sure I fleshed this out and will do so before I leave, but I am flying out next week for three days of testing. When I this started this process of getting treatment, I told my contacts that I will go anywhere in the world, South Africa, Sweden it didn't matter just get me the best. Who knew the best would be in Seattle?

Mistress and I grew up there, married there, still have lots of friends there. This is not a trip I wished I had to take and am very serious about what I will be doing there with testing and consulting that may affect the rest of my life. I got a room about a mile from the clinic and plan to walk there and take taxi's from and to the airport. While Mistress is fully supportive of the trip, she wishes I would stay or see some of our friends.

I see her point but honestly I just want to focus on me and not think about link ups or dinners or socializing. I have no idea what to expect, only that I want to focus on me and getting better. My only outside desire is to spend a few hours at REI's flagship store. A home away from home.

More on the trip next week.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Moving along...

Feeling better today. Not 100% but haven't felt 100% for a while anyway. The cold is leaving my head and hopefully not going into my lungs or gut. Weird thing about this cold is my urine is bit more clear. Not all clear, but closer.

Lots of changes on the horizon. It is not often that a man can look at a calendar and know that life will take such dramatic turns. Usually these happen so fast or unexpectedly that you don't have time to have fear or consider outcomes. Its different than an Ironman. You see that date and focus all your energy on that date, but its only 17 hours. All the inconsistency's of life can return after that.

I am very much full of fear for some outcomes, know it will be hard for some changes to take hold and very much at peace for others. The best I can do is keep an inner calm and trust in my God. I expect that my entire personal life will be scrutinized from how I eat, to what I drink, to how I train, to what I train, to how I will relax, will all be stretched and torn and pieced together again.

At least you'll get to read about here.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

On top of it all

I am convinced the only thing worse than a summer head cold is meeting with lawyers. Having to deal with both on the same day has pretty much driven me to the bottom of a Robitussin bottle.

Thankfully all I had to do was drop off documents that were subpoenaed for someones personal claim. As I was being notarized Mr. Shyster Lawyer asked the notarizer to make a copy of a single page. She got up to do so and Mr. SL realizing she was occupied with me, said, "Don't worry, I will have my receptionist do it."

I looked up from the table and said, "Why can't you copy it yourself?"

I thought the young lady doing the notary was going to cry in joy.

Mr. SL walked out of the room looking more wystful than angry. The notary whispered a "Thank you", as if it was usual for Mr. SL to order people around like lackys. I suppose this goes back to my Chivalry post last week. Also, of the three prayers Mighty Mo's has memorized, one is, "A Mann protects the weak." Indeed.

I just can't abide by people in power who walk over others, subjegating them. Any effing moron can lift a copier cover and hit a button. To ask his receptionist to do it when he is doing nothing for twenty seconds and is already up, is ridiculous and needed to be addressed.

Mr. SL came back as if nothing was the matter, lawyers have the best poker face, we had a rather nice conversation about the documents, he had another receptionist validate my parking on the way out and walked me to the door shaking my hand. I really have nothing (nice) to say to lawyers, as I think everything you say to them is admissable in court, so as I shook his hand in leaving I said, "Hope the case goes the way you want."

It was at this point that he got a very powerful look in his eyes, like a lion having finished off half a zebra, and I quickly put the glass door between us. Being sick today has not made me braver. Maybe a bit more grumpy though.

Must be summer

I caught one of those damn brutal summer colds. As all of you can attest its hard to just get out of bed let alone be creative. Life's on autopilot for the next few days.

Have fun.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Life Lessons

Having spent some time the last few months trying to look at my life and how to adapt to a new paradigm, I am constantly amazed that what works best, for me, is what I have done in the past that worked. In my instance, it is not so much a reinvention but a separation once again of the wheat from the chaff. Below is a list of things that I think any person can apply to their life and be the better for it.

1. "You are today, the sum total of your best ideas!" The situations you deal with today or have dealt with in the past are because of you acting on what you thought was, "A Good Idea." I think sometimes the opposite of baggage, is savings. Think of all the other things you be doing or thinking of if you weren't juggling three maxed credit cards? Think of the emotional stability you could enjoy if you learned to process or even forgive a past transgression. (It once took me ten years to forgive one person but it can be done). If you got a DUI last week, that was your best idea at the time. If you spent too much money over the weekend, that was your best idea. If you met the person of your dreams in the most unlikely place and pursued that person until you both created a wonderful life and future, that was at the time, your best idea. All of us have a conflict of good ideas dozens of times a day; Subway or BK, apple or ice cream, sleep in or swim. Your action on what you think is best is why you're at where your at. You are on your way to your goals or moving further away from them because you're acting on what you think is your best idea. You can clarify your best idea by relating to your Chief Definite Aim, "Do my actions reflect my goals?" Maybe even add, "minute to minute." to the end of the statement. By doing this you will realize what you want to do and how that will affect you are often two completely different realities.

2. "Why stand when you can sit, why sit when you can lay down?" Sitting on the couch until late at night is not getting anyone closer to a healthy life. Rest is as important to a balanced life as exercise. Even if it is impossible to sleep, get in bed at the same time each night. What you do between getting in bed and falling asleep is up to you.

3. Read. Almost every study shows that challenging the mind or stimulating the imagination, does more for our brains than almost anything. The world seems to have two types of people, those that love to read and those that never do. But the 'never do's' don't usually hate reading, their just not interested in what they see and don't have the habit. While laying in bed, read for thirty minutes; trashy novels, history, fiction, or autobiography's. Want to climb a mountain or run a marathon, there are so many great books and essays that will speak to you. Start off with reading something that you watched and liked. Books on movies can seem pedestrian but often give much more back story to the characters and often times have completely different story lines and more satisfying endings. Movies often start from books, Dracula, Frankenstein, Lord of the Rings. Read a classic. Don't know what a classic is? Its generally a book that you know the title or a character but have never read. In all Barnes and Noble bookstores is a stand alone shelf with their reproduction of classic works from Mark Twain, Kipling, Jane Austen, Jules Verne, HG Wells, Jack London and may more. Have you ever read Hemingway? What did Catch-22 really mean?

Start a home savings account. Not for a home, in your home. There are much smarter people than I when it comes to money, but I know that a lot of people save nothing. I also know that much like a weight loss program, if you don't see results you begin to get discouraged. I suggest two savings programs. First you need a clear plastic gallon jug, water jugs do quite well. Now put all you coins in them when you get home. Oh, you've heard of this one? You may even have one. When was the last time you dropped into it? One tip is when recieving change for a transaction ask for the new gold one dollar coins. I find I am less likely to spend coin than I am bills. Usually business will only have one or two in the till anyways and is a great bump in the bucket. Have a reason for your coin collection like a vegas trip or a vacation or Christmas presents and celebrate cashing in. Also, pay yourself to read. Reading is as much an investment in your time as any positive thing you do and you should be rewarded for it. Use a $5, $10 or $20 book mark for each book you read. You are investing several hours into the book, think of how much you would have spent had you been doing something other than reading. Then take your book mark and put it in a book for safe keeping, something ironic or subtle. When you reach fifty or one hundred dollars, trade the bills up. It can get quite substantial. This is your disaster fund. If you have to bug out fast or bail someone out fast, you have the resourses on hand to handle the situation.

Wake up 3 hours before you need to be at work. It is important to start the day off right, not just for breakfast, but mentally and physically, even spirtually. By getting up early you give yourself plenty of time to get ready, pack a lunch or snacks. It also allows you uninterupted time to get in touch with yourself. Stretch. Read ten minutes of the bible. Create affirmations about how you want your life to be. Write. Run or do some push ups and sit ups. 15 minutes of exercise guarantees clarity and gives you a sense of accomplishment before the battle of the day begins.

Begin a GTD, Getting Things Done, list. Sit down every day either before going to bed or when you wake up and write down in the order they come to your mind all the things you need to do for the day ahead. Then reorder the list in priority of importance, not what you want to do, its not a popularity plan. By getting the most important things done right away you will find that your life for the rest of the day will go more smoothly, especially at work. I have found that by doing the first 20% (or the most important things on your list), that the remaining 80% usually take care of itself. The next time you create your GTD list add the items from the previous list that did not get done. You may find that they never get done, in which case they solved themselves by your new focus or they really were not that important anyway. You may find that there are too many things on your list to do get done in one day. Thats okay. Maybe you assume to much responsibility and need to find a better balance, the list will discover that. Maybe you worry too much and what your focusing on is not really as important as many other things. Maybe you really are as lazy as people tell you. As you complete your task, don't cross it out, write, "Done" next to it or an appropriate response that you attempted to complete it, "LM" next to a phone call, "Cxl" next to a canceled meeting or appointment.

Pull some weeds, really. Again getting up early allows you the ability to connect with yourself on a personal, physical, spiritual level. By spending five minutes pulling weeds you are connecting with the outdoors and sensing accomplishment. Your also doing housework. If you don't have a yard, then water your plants or start a herb garden over your sink. Its not about keeping everything alive, we all know plants don't last forever, its about connection and growth.

Its okay to let the dishes rise in the sink. Life is not dependant on how clean your house is. hour to hour. However take pride in where you live, even if you don't like the crappy, cramped place your in right now. Make adjustments to your life and finances to move up. Start something every day towards improving the situation. Waiting for the timer on the microwave to chime, wash something, put something away, wipe something off. Vaccum or sweep during commercials. It is envitable that situations will arise where you will have less time than needed to clean your place up before someone sees it. Small daily steps may not make the mental conviciton any better at the time but may lessen the effort that needs to be done when it counts.

Make TiVo work for you. TiVo and DVR's have revolutionized television watching. Of course you can work your usual comfort shows but don't hesitate to record shows that teach you something with a bit of humor or excitement. A one hour show can be watched in under 40 minutes when you fast forward commercials and slow spots. Dirty Jobs, Mythbusters, the history channel, Trading Spaces, as examples all do an excellent job of teaching you something while making a point.

Working out is obviously a key to living a good life. How you choose to exercise is secondary to consistency and finding just the right exercises each and every time you train. It must be challenging and appropriate to fitness goals and the capacity of your health. It is my empirical belief that aside from a medical condition, no person is more than six months away from being in the best shape of their life and looking they way they want to work. It takes sacrifice and investment but it is in my opinion a fact.

An incomplete list to be sure. Each of us is as different in our needs for success as the next. This is not the list of the lazy or univested, these are not the foundations for a life of excuse or addiction. This is a means of betterment. Creating in simple steps a life of purpose.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Failure of Greek proportions

I am not a fan of the Olympics. I enjoy and appreciate sports coverage leading up to the games and the spotlight our country puts on current and raising stars, however the Olympics themselves have for years has been a global bashfest on America, giving international reporters a veiled opportunity through sports to bring this great country down in global public opinion, which already suffers a great deal.

America celebrates success and even through it aspires to be great in all things, Americans appreciate a sports loss in which the victor wins fairly and with honor. America aches for victory in all its own endeavors, perhaps because as a free country we are naked and transparent in our desires for champion behavior. Champion like behavior invokes strength, it invites the awakening of untapped potential and the concept of betterment. However in countries led by dictators, usurpers and socialism, champions are at least ignored or conscripted and at worst imprisoned, enslaved or beaten.

The quick reasons for slacking of anti-American sentiment in the games this year is that its easier to describe the negativity of our economy, the global oil issue and China is a fertile punching bag with its own disasters such as uprisings in Tibet, earthquakes, algae blooms, pollution and lack of dissension.

The Olympic games of the past were meant to be days of equal contest, festivals and celebration amidst contestants. Athletes are to supposed to be impartial ambassadors, for the sport however their speed, strength and ability are now considered extensions of their own countries power. In the current global politic, there is no doubt that anti-American bias exists and an American medal is another chance to bemoan success of our ideals or personal bias against government policy of the USA.

We have seen in recent World Cups, Pan-American games, Goodwill games and the like that anti-American sentiment is more important than competition. For example a 2004 USA v. Mexico soccer game in Mexico when the spectators cheered "Osama". The chant occurred again when Miss USA went farther than Miss Mexico in a beauty pageant.

I suppose at this point I should cover my ass and make clear that I am not anti-athlete and wish all Olympians the best race they are capable of with no recrimination by their country for their finishes. Thousands of athletes have devoted their entire lives for these games, sacrificing more than any sane person thinks reasonable. I do not believe the karma of a country is witnessed through athletic pursuit in the games. Conversely and contrary to upcoming media hype, the humanitarianism and goodwill of a country is not dependent on where it sits on who has the most gold, silver or bronze medals for the day. China's deplorable human rights positions and energy plans are not going to be different if they win the most medals, nor will America receive any better press if they do so.

I will watch the games to some extent, the events that appeal to me the most. In the end I only wish that they are not marred by terrorist attacks like in Munich and Atlanta. And personally I hope the Chinese government loses billions in revenue further eroding their ability to project a false sense of global unity. But that's a political bias and not an athletic one.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Birthday America

Amidst the merriment of today do not forget that in 1776 some of the greatest men this world has produced created a document that declared for the first time in history that the people of under their government could pursue happiness, liberty, justice and capitalism without usurpation and with guaranteed freedom.

I love this country, our United States. Happy Birthday to the most generous country in the world. It and we have provided more food, more money and more aid to more countries than any other on this planet. We have sacrificed the lives of more of its citizens in the defense of freedom and protection of democratic values than any other nation that has ever existed.

We have provided shelter for the bereaved, the weak, the oppressed and the poor from all over the globe. We stood up to tyranny on our own soil and our foundation of democracy has been duplicated by free thinking people ever sense, seeking to uplift themselves from colonialism and despotism.

A toast to the greatest nation on God's green earth. Let freedom ring!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A long lost trait

I know that my behavior is strange. I hold doors open for men and women. I pick up things people drop and retrieve them. I put my shopping carts in their proper place and never leave them in a parking stall or kicked up on a curb. I say 'bless you' when people sneeze in stores. I pick up litter.

I am not stating this for my edifice. I don't need or want pats on the back for what I consider good manners.

Today is a managers meeting. Its held in a conference room directly off my office. The other days of the month the staff here uses it to hold meetings and it can be fairly disorganized. I take it upon myself to rearrange the room before our meetings and set up the twenty tables and forty chairs. I clean everything off, wipe everything down. I am an owner of this company.

Usually when managers show up for meetings, they start grabbing the 'nice' chairs for themselves. The ones with padding or arm rests. Other than making sure the ones holding the meeting have nice chairs I can care less. I certainly don't care about my own comfort, though I do save a place for myself next to an outlet to power my laptop. While a senior manager may make sure he and the two production owners running the meeting have nice chairs, he doesn't care about the other four owners in the room, or his own people.

If a meeting is planned to run long, I will order lunch. Today is grilled steak or chicken with an oven baked potato from a friendly take out place. Its clean, quality food, with very little seasonings and extras. I'll get a wag on the people showing up and order a couple extra just in case. If there is extra at the end I give it to employees who have helped me with things around the facility during the month.

I usually serve the food. I try to wait till everyone else has been fed before getting in line myself, my people should eat before me.

I don't see these examples in anyone else in my company. No one rushes to the food line to make sure my partners are fed first. I say this because honor goes both ways. When a leader makes an effort to be solicitous and care for his/her people, at some point the people should recognize this and the leaders will find the people taking care of them.

I certainly am not a paragon. I spend to much. I think I am pretty selfish with my time. But I have Honor. I understand Duty. I have purity of thought. I think the word used to be Chivalrous.

Maybe someday I will explain the why and how I feel honor bound to imbue this virtue, but its a longer story of struggle, triumph and in the end getting the girl.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Ants at work

Geesh. I get out of my office and off the net to actually work last week and I come back to over 500 posts on bloglines? Holy Crap. Thank goodness half of them were news feeds.

Truth be told its a bit like Christmas. I sometimes prefer reading a whole week of posts from a single person than one at a time. Its like opening a whole bunch of presents instead of just one.

A ton of bricks

I did a quick little workout yesterday. 15 minutes in the gym. I also did handyman work around the house. I woke up this morning feeling like I got my ass kicked in bar fight. Crap this is hard to cope with. Over the weekend, my ten minute jog and 20 minute OW swim and some work around the house, caused me to sleep for 11 hours Saturday night, completely sleeping through the bike ride I was going to do with the team on Sunday. Oh well, I needed the rest. Have I mentioned that I am going on 80 days since IMAZ and I still haven't pee'd clear. That is getting frustrating. I drink over a gallon of water a day right now.

I did a blood test yesterday and sending in a hair test tomorrow to the labs. I got an email from the clinic in Seattle asking me to schedule a trip there this month for 2-3 days. I have a feeling I am going to get what I wished for and I am going to have to make a LOT of changes to my training and nutrition.

I mentioned handyman work. I am the absolute worst handyman in the world. All I wanted to do was fix a sink pop up and rewire three light switches that all work the same light (4-way switch). In all things creation, be it food or fixing, multiply the standard time to do things by four and that's my speed. After spending time under the sink and at Home Depot, I got the wrong size pop up (but it was 'universal') and then the next day at Lowes, I got the right length but the wrong width (again a 'universal' unit). Arggh.

When Mistress came to see how I was doing on the light switches, two up stairs and one downstairs, maybe the fifty times I ran up and down added to my body being hammered today, I was proud to say that after two hours I got everything working they way they were before I started but had not solved the problem of closing the circuit so all the light switches worked and not just two of the three. Oh, and I didn't shock myself this time. I am here to tell you that the fear of being shocked by an outlet is worse than the hard tingle you get when actually zapped.