Monday, September 14, 2009

Why?

I got 45 miles on the bike yesterday. it was as awesome as you might imagine 45 miles on the bike could be. Made pace with the splits, 15 miles in 45:13, 15 miles in 45:21, 15 miles in 44:38 avg about 20 mph (15 miles in 45:00 is 20 mph - just so Glaven knows). Fun times, ah tell ya

The hip is still twinging a bit. It's just enough to be annoying, but could be really painful if I try to run again too fast. This has me annoyed.

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Why do we do all this crazy shizzle?

Something has been disturbing me lately. Melanie (2nd Chances) and I have become close friends over the last year or so, and she had a tragedy last saturday that I'm sure some of you already know about. Mel's a single mom who works from home like I do. Her son Terron is 10, almost 11 years old. Last saturday Terron's dad, C, suffered a fatal heart attack. Of course I never knew C, but his death has been weighing on my heart lately as I wade through this hip pain.

Here's what we know. C was a smoker (sound familiar?), overweight (I lost 40 lbs last year), and only 34 years old when he died. I'm 34, people my age don't have heart attacks. Mel also informed me that he had diabetes and refused treatment.

That could launch a whole 'nother discussion about US health care reform, and just because you provide health care for everyone doesn't mean they will actually take advantage of it. C knew he needed to stop smoking, lose weight, and watch his diet to control diabetes and he did nothing. He could get all the insulin and other help he needed with no additional cost and he did not take it. So I'm not accusing the guy of being a health nut. But dying from a heart attack at 34 years old was not in his plan for controlling his diabetes, I'm sure.

I made the choice almost 2 years ago to lose weight and stop smoking. My dad's dad passed from a heart attack at 60, which is still young. And I have to tell every doctor that asks about my family medical history about it. Terron will have to tell every doctor that his dad passed from a heart attack at 34, and when he's our age will have to undergo a bunch of tests that might not have been needed if C had taken better care of himself. So I am feeling sorry for Terron's future hassles.

I swim bike run to fight my own demons. Smoking, overweight, high cholesterol, cancer, and when training gets hard I am forced to remember why I do all that crazy stuff. Sure I don't have to race as much as I do. I don't have to cover the long distances or keep challenging longer races like the half iron coming up. But that keeps me focused on a goal. When I take 2+ days off (no workouts thursday, friday or saturday.... thought I was going to start shooting people on saturday) it makes me very jumpy, and snappy. not too pleasant to be around. I don't like the way I feel or the way I talk to others. These are my demons, this is why I keep putting in the miles. If I didn't it could easily be Kelley telling you about our girls instead of Mel telling us about Terron. So C's death combined with my hip/ITB pain/running layout/lack of pool has left me with biking only. And mixed emotions.

And then there's Joe (rockstar tri). Joe's a real rock star taking on the challenge of triathlon for the first time at 48. And he's finished 2 half ironman's, the second one just a few weeks ago. Then he was out on a training ride on his bike when a car ran him down. He survived thank God, but after a few days in the hospital he's still discovering new aches and scratches. The sad and scary thing about bike/car accidents is that the car always wins. Bikes are designed to shatter (not splinter, b/c after the car runs you over it would suck to have shards of carbon splintered into your rib cage), so at least new bikes have safety built into the design. Joe was lucky.

Kelley's dad goes to a gym every sunday for one of the classess offered, and the instructor was a top age group triathlete. Until she was run over by a u-haul on the bike a few months ago. She is still in the hospital. She told Mickey that last week she could run 12 miles, now she was happy she could stand up for 12 minutes. Her injuries were more severe than Joe's. Box trucks like that are significantly heavier than cars. Her bike shattered.

My rules for the road are to stay off. I don't like outdoor workouts when it's too hot anyway, but now that fall is in the air I'm itching to get back outside. But there are rules. I don't run on roads besides cars because my lungs have to work hard enough without sucking exhaust. I like to go to the lake at Furman or some trails for my outdoor runs. I do not bike solo on the roads. My 45 miles yesterday was on the stationary at the gym. Long milage like that takes a lot of country roads, and I'm amazed how boring it is riding the same roads over and over again. A 2.5 mile loop in the neighborhoods is great to run. Hit it 3 or 4 times and that's a fantastic run. Ride the same loop twice and it's amazingly boring. So you have to find a long route, and I refuse to ride with less than 3 people. A group of 3 is much less likely to have car interference than a lone rider. Even two people riding can get separated, but with 3 or more it isn't as likely.

Generally riding is done through neighborhoods or down country roads, so there isn't much exhaust sucking done. But finding safe, challenging routes and consistent riding partners is incredibly difficult. So I stick with the stationary bike & treadmill, and sign up for rides like my upcoming Tour de Peach that include police support. Cycling as a community is gaining awareness amongst motorists, but we still have a long way to go before it is truly safe.

So if I don't bike, or swim bike run, there's weight issues, diabetes, smoking, and heart disease. If there is cycling etc there's cars mowing down people like they are pissed off about it. Seems like there's no way to win. And that has been weighing on me lately. Don't get me started about boats interfering with open water swimmers. ouch. And don't get me started about stupid cyclists that don't wear the right safety gear like helmets or blinking rear lights. or swimmers who wear a black westuit and dark swim cap in open water and expect boat drivers to be able to see them. But when you're dealing with people that know better and choose........ fuggit about it.

I'm just going to go out there and run my races, and execute my training plan. As long as I stay focused on my goals and hitting my milestones that's the best I can do. Yes I have to play it smart and safe. My heart breaks for Mel and Terron. And if I get run down like Joe then that's the way it happens. Everything is risky.

That reminds me, Kelley is convinced I'm going to die at B2B. Made me take out extra life insurance before the marathon and everything. I, of course, disagree. But she actively encourages me to drop the race because she doesn't want to be a widow yet. Her paranoias about death run far and wide, she also gets scared changing light fixtures out. I am gaining confidence about B2B with every workout, but she's still scared.

Have a great week! Sorry for the downer post, but like I said this has been weighing on me lately.

16 comments:

Amber (Girl with the red hair) said...

Ugh - that is so, so sad. 34 is incredibly young. One girl who's blog I read wrote about her dad having a heart attack a few weeks ago. He was in his 50s and an avid biker and healthy eater! But, still, can't fight genetics apparently? I have heart disease on both sides of my family so that is the main reason that I try so hard to exercise and eat healthy!! It's hard when genetics AREN'T on your side...

Wes said...

Great post, Ceej... We all do triathlon for our own reasons, and I hope some of your reasons are them purty little girls, Kelly, and of course, Glaven :-)

The only thing that scares Dee Dee when I tri is the swim, and you've already proven that you can swim the distance (Oly vs HIM).

BTW... if my wife was making me take out extra life insurance, I would be sleeping with one eye open ;-)

Lily on the Road said...

this is NOT a downer post CJ...we all exercise for our own reasons and yes we all take chances while cycling, running and swimming, and yes we all have an expiry date (or as I call it a shelf life).

But honestly, you have to get out and live your life, every day!!

You can't stay wrapped up in cotton batten and sit on the couch. In "C's" case, he made his choices too, my heart breaks for Terron and for Mel, but you can't make someone do something they chose not to do....however sad.

Please know you are on your life path and we never know when it will end nor how (that is a good thing)...

Now, get out and enjoy your life with your wife and kids...you're doing GREAT!!

GeorgiaSnail said...

Great post CJ...15 months ago I weighed 245 pounds, the doctor told me I had "very high" Cholestrol and I couldn't run for more than three minutes without stopping. I did not want to begin taking heart med's at the age of 34. I needed to make a change...I battle daily with the urge to sit on my a$$ and eat a whole pizza....Saturday I will complete my first marathon...I want to be around, not "a round"

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

Not sure what to say. I've had a lot of the same thoughts this weekend. But I do think your wife needs to be comfortable with you doing B2B. You probably need to talk through that more and make a decision that workds for both of you.

RockstarTri said...

John,

Thanks for the shout out and I, from where I'm looking at it, don't think this is a downer post.

I feel I was lucky and am still lucky. A bit banged up but I expect to be back in the saddle soon. Running and swimming will be a little longer.

You ask a question that everyone should answer honestly for most pursuits in life (including racing and training), "why are you doing this?" Most of us aren't going to win the race in the conventional sense of winning but there are "wins" that we achieve along the way. We need to know what we consider winning, what we hope the risks (knowing there is "risk in everything" as you state) and what the rewards will be. I think I know what they are for me. That's why I'm going get back in the game when I can, probably a little more cautious and wiser though.

I'm surprised how many people ask if I was wearing a helmet (I always do). Safety counts but sometimes bad things happen. I think my gains in fitness helped me survive this crash. Some could look at it that bad karma put me in the place where I was in the accident while others could look at it that good karma made my injuries less than they could have been. I would have preferred not to have this experience and am thankful that I'm coming out of this OK.

I'm sure I'll win my next race. I'm sure you will too.

Rock on.

Jess said...

I feel the same way about a lot of safety stuff, especially being a girl. I have no real problem running by myself in the daylight, but that only happens on the weekends. Weeknights I usually have to wait out the heat or it's dark already before or after work in the winter. It makes me nervous, but it's what I love, so I guess it's the trade off we make as athletes.

Mel-2nd Chances said...

THANKS CJ. *hug* I've obviously been doing a lot of thinking lately too... and you're right, there's risks whether we do or don't. Keep doing what you're doing, you've come a long way in fighting your demons (we all have them).... hug your girls everyday.

Alisa said...

OMG I'm not caught up on Mel's blog that is heartbreaking news.

I'm afraid of biking with cars!

You should be proud of what you've done to prevent Kelley from being a single mom. Keep up the good work! Training on a stationary bike and out on the roads both have their training benefits---I say keep plugging away!

Missy said...

Not a downer at all, it's just a vent on why, why you do this or that. You made a choice. There's nothing to say that a truck won't run me down tomorrow but I'm going to keep on keeping on and do everything as safely as possible. You must do B2B, you'll be fine...we'll all be there to get you to the med tent for your IV. I'm a big fan, btw.

I hate it for Mel...

Amanda said...

Great post, it really helped me to change my perspective and I think it'll help get me out of this running-funk. I too have plenty of diabetes and heart disease in my family, and it's so true that in a lot of ways those are our demons to outrun/bike/swim so to speak.
I am terrified to bike on the road, I stick to our neighborhood and sidewalks and always wear reflective gear when we do runs in the dark. We have one chance at this life, and we have to make the most of it. Oh and I also have an irrational fear of changing lightbulbs...I just cringe everytime.

teacherwoman said...

Sorry to hear about the hip. What's the dealio?

So sad to hear about a father losing his life at the young age of 34. wow.

Al's CL Reviews said...

Today I was just thinking that I can't wait for noon on Saturday, and all my training/tri-ing will be over.

This post reminded me I have a 10K in 3 weeks. Why did I sign up? Weight, fear of unknown health issues, etc. and to continue on this journey.

I don't like riding on the road either. Paths are much easier.

Jess said...

We all die. It sucks, but it's true. Therefore, it seems best to go having done what you loved in life than to have missed opportunities, chances or people.

sarah said...

That is so sad. 34 is young. I lost my Dad young (55) of a heart attack and heart problems run in my family as well. I know that I think of that often when I'm working out and is part of why I started my weight loss journey 11 years ago (the first time around).

I enjoy my runs inside, too. I feel safer. People drive like maniacs. Wait-they are maniacs.

Great post. I feel motivated. I need to workout.

Calyx Meredith said...

Interesting post CJ! That risk/reward line is hard to walk sometimes which is why it's really important to stay grounded in your own personal "why". When you know your why's it's much easier to decide which risks (like riding anywhere near cars & trucks) are worth it. I understand Kelley's fears/concerns for you. I think there is something about having young kids that makes us a little more protective of the people we love all the way around. Listening to her and validating her right to be concerned while also finding a way to do what's important to you - that's the trick. I wish you the very best with all that. And I look forward to seeing you both at B2B.