Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A mind is a terrible thing...

I am still having a hard time wrapping my mind around racing, what it does to me. To my head. My greatest asset is my deadliest enemy. Every morning I open my mind to the possibilities of the universe and feed it positivity through prayer, affirmation and meditation. I sit here in front of this screen and feel quite sane. And yet I know all to well, that when between a starting line and finishing line, I will do everything possible to kill myself if only to finish a race.

So why is it that regardless of how fast or slow I am, I have this death wish? It's something I consider every day. I have talked to multiple doctors about it. "Just stop." How easy. How....simple. No silly race is worth months or a lifetime of recovery. And yet, I do not stop. I have not stopped. I still don't know if I can stop and listen to this rational, quite normal voice in my head.

Is it still okay to puke over my handlebars while I'm riding?
Is it still okay to puke while I run?
Is it still okay to push my heart rate into the 190's to catch someone in front of me?
Will I recognize the warning systems like, not urinating for hours, headaches, tremors, seizures, cramping, lack of breath, unable to bend my legs, pain in my lower back and torn ribs?
Will I still use trigger words to subconsciously unlock a place in my head where there is no time, space or pain, only extremely focused effort until the wheels fall off?

Realize that I don't like pain, at all, but I can ignore it. I fractured my tibia with 12 miles left on the bike, in a triathlon. I got off and ran 6.2 miles in utter agony to finish the race. Though it was an Epic Fail, I pushed myself to the point of death in my last race, "He probably won't make it till sunrise," they told my wife in the ER, and yet here I am. Still recovering 13 months later.

I consider that comment on a daily basis. I know that everyone else sees the absurdity and clarity of the statement. I see the letters, read the words, recognize the enormity of the sentence and yet still seek...something that I may never find, may never exist. I don't know what it is. So I think about it. Hoping it will come to me as it has I am quite sure clearly come to you.

I can't even mention some of the thoughts I have had this year regarding racing. It may horrify you. It horrifies me. Mentioning some of these to my closest friends they almost physically recoil in shock as if to say, "Have you learned nothing?"

I have learned mortality. I don't think I have mastered control. And that is what is going to determine my capacity to enter a race next year. I am only now trying to bend my will around the thought of racing in a context that does not involve pushing my physical limits to an absolute limit. To a finality.

To continue to want to race is a contradiction. But one I continue to ponder.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Public Interest BS

Slightly tongue in cheek and sarcastic and yet somewhat seriously, here are some of the observations I have made lately, mostly from television.
  • The big three television channels refuse to show condom commercials. I have no problem with that. But why am I subjected to tampon commercials? I really have no desire to see 30 second ad's mostly sing song crap with a bouncing red dot all over the darn screen. Please stop. Really. Stop.
  • Why do car commercials have to come with a banner along the lines of, "Professional driver. Closed course"? How necessary is this? You mean driving down the road in a SUV at night with three buddies is really that dangerous? Oh, right. I am supposed to assume that they are filming the commercial on a real road and its normal to drive up buildings and lights stream like a LSD trip.
  • Along the same genre. Gee, T-Mobile, you mean you're not supporting or encouraging subscribers to cut down telephone poles with a chainsaw when they become members? I just assumed that a responsible business would not need to encourage such behavior.
  • Look. I think that it is important that people understand what side effects their prescription drug may cause them, but I don't need some 25-35 year old female on screen or using a voice over telling me things such as, "rashes, incontinence, anxiety, frothing of the mouth, back spasms, sleep driving, crossed-eyes and death", may be the result of me taking something for hay fever. This is what pharmacists are for. I highly recommend them.
  • Stop making commercials that force me read them. I don't want to read commercials. I don't even want to watch most of them. INXS, you caused all this with your damn video 'Mediate'. But at least you said the word written on the board. Now its just dumbed down to me having to read what they want me to for 30 seconds.
  • While your at it, why are commercials three times louder than television shows? I can barely hear a conversation of something I want to watch, stop making me turn around halfway to the kitchen on a break cause the volume has now shaken the windows.
  • In Arizona I have to sign a federal document and use ID to purchase sudafed. Yes, sudafed the cold medicine. You see, sudafed is used to make the drug crystal meth. But so is 5 gallons of window washer fluid. You ever purchase five, I said FIVE gallons of washer fluid at one shot? No. Ever buy one pack of Sudafed? Of course. The point is that there are many chemicals that are much less common purchases that go into the making of meth. I'd rather they tracked those items, like oh, gallons of battery acid. When was the last time you bought a gallon of that? Oh yeah right, never.
  • I was driving in my friends Mazerati the other day. Sweet ride. Cost the same as my first mortgage. On his sun visor is a non-removable heat treated patch reminding him how to put on his seat belt correctly. Hello? Don't you think this is sort of already a part of our culture? Sure people elect not to do, it but does there have to be a permanent reminder stamped on a visor on a car that costs over $100,000? Plus every new car has that ncesant ding dong chime when you drive three feet without clipping in. I checked on my own car, its a federal crime to disingage the dummy chime or dummy light.
  • On local morning news shows, female metoerologists always stay in studio but the men spend a few hours a week going to locations like public school and small businesses. Female forecasters we are supposed to be taken seriously, male forecasters are supposed to make us laugh. How sad. Male forecasters are the circus clowns of the morning news.
  • Aside from actress Jane Lynch (manager in 40 Year old Virgin, dog trainer in Best in Show) who can do no wrong, I can't stand the commercials for Glee, the new summer series on FOX. This show looks horrible and sounds horrible. Like most glee clubs it will sound cool and then die a quick, shamefull death because it's not cool. In real life the people that are in glee clubs are the ones that can't make it onto the cheerleading squad, band or choir. That's why it's a club and not an activity worthy of a varsity letter. A word of advice, no one is every going to tap into high school agnst and adversity like Freaks And Geeks. Even if the high schools in both shows have the same name.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A boxers brief

Being half-Hawaiian has it's advantages and it's disadvantage. I can eat my weight in pineapple and sushi. I love coconut pudding, haupia if you please. If I ever listed my nationality for anything I'd have minority status. But I am built in the traditional Hawaiian mold; thick legs, wide hips, powerful shoulders and arms. Regardless of how I train I keep these traits. And Mighty Mo was born with these same traits.

Needless to say, the usual Tighty Whitey brief underwear does not suit our build because the leg holes are too small and as taut as my rock hard tri-gut is, waistbands on underbrithches are always a subjective feeling. Why else do you think so many Islander wear swim shorts all the time?

Low and behold the Wall Street Journal did an article on the decisions men must make in their options for under britches. Finally a reason to post on such things!

I spent my years trying different makers and styles finally finding boxer briefs. My current favorite is Ex Officio's version of the boxer brief found at REI. Much like the WSJ article, I never imagined paying $25 for a pair of underbritches, but damn if these things ain't the best things to wear in oppressive heat, sweat or back country environments. And they fit me great.

Now to the Mighty Mo. Mo has gone commando almost since getting out of diapers. He's six. For mostly the same reasons, the waist band and legs are too tight on tighty whiteys and the regular boxers still left him with heat rash on his thighes. Damn our cursed genetics; all the build, none of the color.

Now with the temps over 100* until Halloween we are forcing his hand to wear some underbritches and not deal with heat rash all summer. He is digging his new 'boxter griefs', Polo I might add. Tre' chic'. He says they look like daddy's racing shorts, (my tri-shorts and not tre' chic').

TMI for a post? Perhaps. But mens underbritches are a billion dollar bidness now. And I take comfort over fashion any day. Treat yourself guys. And chicka's, the Ex Officios make a great gift. Hey, were always trying to buy you this stuff, how about a kick back for us ;)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

a return

There are just some places you go to, like an old running route, where you feel either resolution or resignation.

Now in your life, if you come to this place at all it is your 5th, 6th, 7th choice to run or never run at all again. Once this route made you seem strong, you maybe hit your first goal here with your running. Your first 3 miles without stopping, your first PR at that distance. The memories of the route are still good but inside you feel you've matured. Going here is like going back to elementary school, whether your ready for it or not you never remember the toilets being smaller than regular ones.

I ran an old course this week around a large park, one of my first running routes when I moved to this part of town. It used to be too small and I have to run several laps but now its just enough. I didn't really want to be running this course but it's important to have multiple routes in your daily plan, you never know when you can't do the workout you want but have time somewhere and and somewhen else in a day.

I didn't challenge myself like in the past, I savored it. I remember the hot runs, the cold runs, the settings suns and rising, runs that elated me here and runs that left me blistered or hurt. Today however was just a get out and run run.

I want to be further along in my recovery. I reboot in 2010 and I dare not even now give it too much power in my mind. For all the times I plotted races here and made this place my first post-race route, this day was just a day to enjoy and that seems far to rare for us competitive people.

There's treasure everywhere.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Retreat to succeed

The other morning I woke up at my usual time, feeling unusually beat up. It was an effort to climb out of bed at oh'dark thirty, hell not even thirty, that'd be sleeping in! I went downstairs and did the easy stuff, mediated and affirmed for a bit and then changed into my running clothes and headed out the door.

It was a beautifully dark morning, warm, birds singing. By all accounts what should have been the perfect time for a capable run. But I was not feeling capable. I felt...wrong. Off. Sore in spots that are not usually sore. It was not going to be the run I felt worthy of my time. After a few minutes I turned around a walked home.

Now, training experience provides that you should never judge a run in its first 15 minutes. But I know that regardless of what I know, sometimes you have to make a decision to go in another direction based not on a gut feeling, but something deeper. I think sometimes our 'gut feelings' are not snap judgments but actually us talking ourselves into doing something we fear. For example a gut feeling is not like driving down the road and all of a sudden multiple sensor lights start going off and you immediately pull over. Its more like the low gas light comes on and you wonder how far you can go before you need to fill up, pushing it just enough but ultimately knowing you will lose the battle and fill up your tank.

On this particular morning I decided I had enough immediate feedback loops that stopping was my best option.

It turned out to be the best decision. Had I continued my run, I would have missed a crucial moment with my son that would have stressed out Mistress and I was able to leave for work completely caught up with morning responsibility's and still had plenty of options during the day to sort out my decision.

Later that day, I tried it again and had a good workout. I retreated from one training session and the change in direction of my morning routine was the better for it. It was a skip in the routine, not a stop, not a reboot, not a recrimination. Ever forward, I like to say.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Mo Update

Haven't done one of these in a while so thought I 'd add a picture of both kids. A trip to the eye doctor discovered Mo needs glasses. He picked out some very stylish, (read: expensive glass frames).

In all things Mo there is humor. So here is his eye appointment. His school teaches words and letters a bit differently so he wasn't able to use the normal eye chart. Not to weird for the office to deal with, so they upload the symbols. The assistant asks, "What do you see? (On this line is a teddy bear and a man). Mo begins to tell this elaborate story about a dragon chasing a man and the man hides in a cave but the dragon breathes fire into the cave, the man runs out and the dragon eats him. This goes on a couple more times until the assistant levels the room and mommy explains how the test works.

In the end, he needs the glasses.

Its been over 100 degrees the last several days so we have been spending a lot of time in the backyard pool. Getting it ready for summer mostly but getting in several hours of playing. Mo loves to swim, not the best at it but he sure does try hard. Mistress and Mae haven't been in yet but that will happen this week.

Mo, Mae, DanBear

Friday, May 8, 2009


Oh man, I could easily go through all the negative people that have tried to knock me off my stride this week. This economy brings the worst out of people. Focusing on the negative is a bummer and a cause/effect of Common Man Syndrome so I instead will focus on some positives.

I got some free money this week! About $500 worth. How you may ask? I found two expensive items I truly felt were lost and needed to replace out of pocket.

What are these two precious items. The first is my eight year old Camelbak M.U.L.E. and the second my Polar S625X heart rate monitor watch.

My MULE has been on almost all my adventures. It is the perfect way to carry water and some gear. I have run thousands of miles, climbed up 12,000 foot mountains and down into the Grand Canyon with that thing on my back. To me a Camelbak is a required life item.

Everyone has their preferred heart rate monitor and as a former sponsored triathlete of Polar I am slightly biased but the 625 is the greatest triathlon HRM ever made. It is more versatile and compatible to triathlon than any other watch thus created. No other watch I have ever owned can be as modified to my specific endurance pursuits than this watch. Missing for several months I was dispondant but resigned to buying another at a significant investment because I like it so much.

So what do I do with my new found windfall? Celebrate for sure. I have my original gear back, every scratch and tear a memorable story. I am most likely going to count my blessings and put it in savings.

There's treasure everywhere.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Voices in my head

Another morning, another pre-dawn run. As I ran through my neighborhood alone, I picked up the scent of fresh cut grass wet from overnight sprinklers. The sound of a lone bird chirping the pending rise of the sun just a hour or two away.

Then I heard the footfalls of someone running behind me.

I am the only one out here, which means that I am the runners target. I am not fast enough today to be the rabbit but I really don't want to be passed on this lonely stretch of road. So I step it up. If this person is going to pass me, they are going to have to earn it. I calculate that living where I do, that my pace should keep me ahead but I am laboring, easily a minute faster per mile than normal. I can't let up. My head is high and my chin tucked. Feet land under me and I have a high kick. If I get passed I will look like a proud runner not some hugging, puffing heel striker.

I see the oncoming lights from two cyclists and I grunt a 'Hi' when we come abreast, getting one back in return. Like waiting for the lightening after thunder I begin to count in my head, waiting to here something from the two cyclists or runner behind me. I can then calculate how far ahead I am. I hear nothing.

What an arrogant bastard this runner is. Or is too out of breath to say anything.

A quarter mile ahead is my turnaround. There is 25% chance this runner behind me is going the same way I am. I pray he goes another direction because I am tired. I can't turn around for fear of seeing just how close this person is, losing a precious moment of ground. I can hear their breathing and occasional discharge of spittle and its enough. I reach my turnaround and now as I double back I hold my head high and pray the person behind me doesn't follow for I will surely be passed.

No one is there.

Could it be that it was all in my head? It must have been. I look at my watch and the time is good. I always try to negative split my morning runs but not sure I can today. I don't need a shadow to spur me on and I give it my best. But I wasted so much energy on the way out.

I negative split anyway.

Monday, May 4, 2009

A recap of 14 months

I was at a birthday party for a true friend and tri-buddy, Hardcore Mike, this weekend. A lot of the team is suffering from some sort of endurance injury; swim shoulder, runners knee, ITB, etc. Of course they're all still training regardless of slings and boots and braces. Compared to them I looked pretty damn healthy.

Some new people to the team were there and having recently trained with the walking wounded and now seeing me they wondered why I'd been slacking considering some of more crazy stories about my training and racing. So my exploits begged the question from these new members, "So why arn't you doing (insert race here) with everyone else this year?" And after some goodhearted ribbing, some yelling over to the wife to ask when I could train hardcore again followed by some cursing and strong admonishments from several others I would relate this story:

"Fourteen months ago, Ironman Arizona, 40 miles into the bike course, my body told my mind to stop racing. Something was terribly wrong with it. My mind said, No. My body decided to cramp up its legs until it felt like I had tasers in each quad and calf and I couldn't stand up without falling. My mind said No. My body said I will shut down your kidneys and liver. My mind said, No. Friends and medical professionals along the course pleaded with me to stop. My mind said, No. My body finally decided to seize up my heart and my lungs, pleading with my mind, PLEASE STOP. My mind said, No, there is still time on the clock and I will not stop moving.

My mind forced my body to go more than 60 miles past exhaustion. I was taken off the course 8 miles from the transition area and all I wanted to do was get off my bike and run a marathon. Even with my race over, my mind would not let my wife take me to the hospital, it was just a bad day. Several hours later an ER Doctor told my wife, Be prepared, he may not make it to sunrise. My mind said, I will never give up.

And here I am, fourteen months later. Alive. My body still recovering from its physical defections, doing the right thing against a mind that would not listen to reason. I am told by all mainstream doctors and experts to never train or race again, it will most likely kill me. I am slowing coming back but today my body is still too damaged and weak to fight my mind on a race course. Maybe in 2010 my body will be strong enough to fight my mind, but until then I have a lot of healing and listening to do."