Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Yeah I'm thinking again...hate that.

I really need to stop doing thinking, especially when I should be in bed. But after a pleasantly surprising day running, I'm stuck remembering the surgery that started it all. I've written about it before, so I'll just leave a link here which describes the circumstances.

Pectus Excavatum

As a parent I want nothing more than to protect my children. When I asked my parents why they agreed to let me have the procedure at the age of 12 (I was actually in the hospital on my 13th birthday), my mom gave me the short ,"well you wanted it." I'm really glad they let me, but obviously I had no idea what it meant. I mean I was 12. They trusted me to Dr. Ravitch (the inventor of the procedure used on me). The improvement in my athletic performance was immediate as my chest expanded. Middle of the pack runner in my class to almost the best. In essence a huge part of my life as I know it started that day in March. I just wonder if I could do it in my parent's place. At the time the thought was that it was mostly a cosmetic fix. We know now it wasn't, but that's hindsight. I still have general numbness and an impressive scar. It was a big deal. My parents are smart people. They understood it was a big deal. Could I do it?

Hopefully I won't have to find out, but no doubt there will be something. That's just life.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that the first non-family visitor to my bedside is one of my Facebook friends. Thank you for the comic books Charlie. I've never forgotten.

Sunday, November 08, 2009


The most amazing thing about the last week is that for some reason I didn't get sick. Yes, I've washed until my skin cracked, and downed enough vitamin C, zinc, magnesium, echinacea and goldenseal(yuck!...naaaasty!!) to bottle my pee and sell it in a health food store, but seriously I've been so covered in the kids germs that I think the only logical explanation is that I already had H1N1 antibodies in my system. Either that or someone/thing/(insert your divinity here) wanted me to learn a lesson.

For the first 3 or 4 days I held up pretty well emotionally. I was patient and nurturing. Even after Leanna went down sick as well, I kept going. Pee on the floor at 1:58AM? No problem grab a mop! Dropped the roasted chicken on the floor just before dinner? I'll cook something else! I was "Super Dad!" And then the wheels fell off. I'm not sure what proved to be the final straw, but by Friday I was breaking. Come Saturday I was Jack Torrance typing "all work and no play makes Joel a dull boy" over and over and over. I had hoped to get out and run a race Saturday, just a 5k x-country, short but long enough to reduce the stress, but was unable to do so. I was bitter and brooding and I felt trapped. I hadn't interacted with the outside world in almost a week. Had Leanna not rallied a little I'm not sure I could have kept it together enough to make it through the day. Come this morning I needed to get out for an hour. I didn't tell Leanna, but I was going to run part of the race course to see if I indeed could have won yesterday. In the final assessment, no I would not have won. Maybe 3rd, but this was real trail running and it was hard, so hard that I crossed the finish line (still marked on the ground), walked a little and hurled. And in that purging all the anxiety and demons swiftly departed.

Parenting is more tough than any race...any. Kids are unbelievably relentless. You try so hard and when you lose it you feel guilty and on par with the worst people in the world. I started the week with images of a #1 Dad coffee mug in my stocking at x-mas. I finished the week thinking I'd be lucky to get coal, and my kids would never want to be close to their crazy Dad who yells a lot again. No #1 Dad here. Pipe cleaners and homemade play dough can't cover up human frailty.

The last week has been one of the most humbling and educational experiences I can recall. Tomorrow I head back to work and despite everything I'm not "jumping up and down" about the prospect of being away from the family. I really love my family and despite everything would rather be with them and going crazy than without them.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

November 1 already?

I can't believe it's been a quarter of a year since I felt like an athlete (Lake Placid at the end of July). Time sure does fly. With the arrival of November I'm beginning (along with my "experiments") my 2010 pre-season training. It's fairly unstructured except for the experimental stuff, and is aimed at keeping the neuron's firing and metabolism from grinding to a halt. My current weight is 160, which is about 8 pounds above my IMLP race weight. My z1 running pace (pace on the flats at 135bpm) is about 7:08 per mile. By comparison I was at 7:28 per mile last January. I hope to pretty much keep things where they are now. I'm starting some lifting to try and increase my power more, as that is clearly my limiter (well, that and time to adequately train for an Ironman). I'm not racing Ironman in 2010, so my training schedule will be closer to what I need to be successful. The focus will be 1/2 Irons with an 'A' goal of finally getting under 4:30, and maybe returning to the World Championships in Clearwater next November.

**Best and Worst of 2009**

Let's start with the best:
3) The return of my inner competitor 4 miles from the finish of Mooseman. It was almost an unconscious reaction. A guy in my age group passed me and I was pretty well resigned to holding pace and just cruising in. Then I caught an almost imperceptible hitch in his stride and something clicked. I just buried it and starting running scared. It was like high school cross country again. I "heard" footsteps behind me. Every time I sensed I was slowing I pressed the pace. By the finish I had destroyed that guy by minutes. Truly invigorating.

2) Similar situation at IMLP, but not an age group competitor and only 2 miles out. I put a minute on a guy in the last 3/4 of a mile. I crushed the finish in a manner I did not think was physically possible after 10hrs of racing.

1) Post finish at IMLP, when the volunteer came looking for me to tell me my family was trying to find me. When I looked there was Dylan on his Grandpa's shoulders searching for me. It just doesn't get better than that. A really difficult race in which I raced as hard and well as I could and then was able to enjoy the accomplishment with my family. That's what it is all about!

Non-racing #1: All the great QT2 teammates I met this year. I'm proud to call my friends.

The worst:
3) Racing the 10k in Hyannis in February. I really should not have raced because I was still sick, but I was soooo tired of being cooped up inside. The wheels fell off big time half way.

2) The Hawaii roll down at IMLP. 105 damn seconds (2 places) away from achieving a life goal: to race Ironman Hawaii. Ultimately it was a blessing. I and my family needed the rest of the year to address things.

1) The month of June. Starting with my call home after Mooseman and going into July, I lived and trained through the worst stress I can remember. We're all still here, and though the road still seems terribly long, we're moving forwards.

I'm hopeful for 2010, because I need to be. What choice is there really? We used to make fun of my Dad for being so idealistic, but as I get older I realize that you really need to be because being too much of a realist makes one pessimistic and ultimately makes one lose hope. We all need hope.

So here's to hoping 2010 is the best year yet!