Insights into my personal life.

This blog includes the personal details of my experiences as a recently diagnosed Type I diabetic and the impact of that diagnosis on my endurance athletic pursuits.

Please understand that I consider myself to be a work in progress. I am willing to share both my successes and failures, so please do not take my words to be professional dietary or medical advice. This is a blog, this is only a blog. I research my choices carefully, and take my health very seriously. The choices I make are my own, I am doing the best with the resources and support that I have. If you have questions or concerns feel free to comment, but please be constructive and understand that this is my life. I value it dearly.

My goal is to live a happy, healthy and active life where I can balance my internal drive to push my physical limits and the challenge of safely maintaining stability despite the challenges of Type I diabetes.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Stay-cation. Sort of.

I've been spending this week in FdL with my father.  He's suffering from Parkinson's Disease and has a lot of limitations.  Normally I wouldn't use the word suffering, but it is what it is.  He can barely feed himself, he can barely dress himself, can't get out of a chair when he wants to.  It's strange for the man that could fix anything and everything to be in this state.  I even feel bad confessing these things.  Maybe it goes back to the schoolyard "my dad is better than your dad" stuff.  Who knows, but it's hard on me.  (Like it isn't on him).  

I feel bad admitting that it's hard on me.  I can't imagine how hard it is for him.  But, and a big but, he has always been the most humble man I've ever known.  I can't recall a single time where he's been 'Proud' or bragged about anything.  Sure, he was successful, but damn if you'd know.  He has the gift of relating to people.  He worked sales and dealt with anyone for maintenance men to well, more or less anyone who he could find to talk to.  He has a gift for casual conversation - which was often frustrating if our family was in a hurry to get anywhere (especially on vacations).   

Now I know he must be frustrated.  He strains to move soup from bowl to mouth.  Drinking without a straw is impossible, putting on socks?  Shit, that's tough!  But I just walked into his room and he was busy making his bed.  Perfectly folded over sheet.  Comforter, well, I helped him with that.  Huge patience.   I'd like to think I'd have the grace to deal with it.  But I don't know that I do, or would.

So onto cheerier topics, look at this cool spider I found:

So I like to get away from things at times.  Running or riding (and sometimes I've been rumored to swim) provide chances for me to clear my mind of the troubles of the world.  I love to explore and just see random shit.  Here's some more... granted this is from a ride this spring in Monroe:

So today I went out for a nice mind clearing ride.  I love Autumn.  Sure it was cold, but a great change of pace from this summer's relentless heat.  I dressed like I was XC skiing.  Bib tights over my shorts, wool socks, full neoprene booties, and my favorite iP Amphib jacket, oh and my dryfit toque under my helmet (Canada eh!)

My ride headed in a similar direction of my last exploratory ride of FdL.  Of course I start up hill (that's where the best views are).  View of Lake Winnebago below:

So, it was a beautiful day.  Hella windy.  I might be the only person who likes wind.  It motivates me and I had time today to think about why... Tell me I can't do something - - - well, screw you I can.  That's how I think about wind.  People always think that wind is picking on them, they don't realize it's windy to everyone.  Wind happens (just like shit).  Deal with it.

So I rode into the wind.  There were also some hills.  Here's a photo of one:

What's better than a ride?  Crockpot soup after a cold one!  Been feeding my old man very well this week.  Nothing but the best for the man who made me who I am.

Much love.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My life - In rides.

Similar to those who create autobiographies of "my life in pictures"; I was thinking about some of the wonderful rides I have been on in my life - and how if I put them together, I would likely be able to tell an interesting history of my life.

I had a lot of time to think on my ride today.  I am currently taking a week off of work to spend time with my father in Fond du Lac.  My mother is currently traveling with my sister Kari to Park City, UT.  My mom doesn't get to travel very often anymore so it's a fun opportunity for her.  Although she's not on a complete vacation - Kari just had twins, so I'm sure there is some childcare work in there - but that's what Grandma's are for.

With that I find myself in Fond du Lac.  My parents have lived here (two different houses) for probably 10 years.  It never felt like home to me so I've never really taken any time getting to know the place.   But now that I have a week here I decided to bring a bike.

A little recent history here.  It's the triathlon off season for me.  I injured my left ankle early this year and my running had been very limited.  I've built myself a run training program which was intended to address this.  My goal was to hit the trails and build back into ultrarunner mode.  Well as soon I got all the details figured out, something stupid happened to me.  I sprained my ankle.  Again!  This time playing goalkeeper; which was a compromise in hopes of preventing such injuries.  Oh well.

Well it wasn't the same ankle and it isn't as bad this time.  I'm 3 days post injury and can walk around fairly well.  And I can comfortably ride my bike - depending on the shoes.  I have some commuter bike shoes that are stretchy and account for my sausage shaped foot quite nicely - these shoes are for my commuter bike (which is spd-platform).  So I decided to ride my commuter.

A little history on my commuter.  It's sweet.  It's an 80's Apollo Gran Tour.  Got it 2nd hand in Vancouver in like new condition.  It's a road bike, chromoly frame, downtube shifters, 6 spd freewheel.  I've added a classy looking pair of full wrap fenders, a rear grocery basket (which I'm hoping to replace with something custom made and nice)  Functional bike, but still something that I can work out on.

So that was my steed for the day.  Low tech, humble.  Felt like the good old days when I just got into riding.  There is definitely an exhilaration to heading into unknown territory alone.  Now to the route itself.

Headed east into a headwind.  Nothing too special, but the scenery was nice.  Fall colors are at peak.  Eventually I worked my way into the Kettle Moraine Forest towards the town of Glen Beulah.  I turned back to the west and found some amazing smooth roads, nice rolling hills, and a nice tailwind.  I reach a point where I was just relaxed and happy to be on a bike.  Passed through the town of Mt. Calvary.  That lead to later research in the difference between "calvary" and "cavalry" - totally different thing (thank you wikipedia).  Strange what can be learned as a result of a ride.

Other than random thoughts, there were no thoughts of training, no discomfort in my ankle, no worries about life.  Just me in the moment.  I wish others could find this state of mind - I can't really describe it - but I need it.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Shit Happens

A lot on my mind lately.

"Shit happens"   But I need to remind myself that there is an important nuance to this phrase.  Shit Happens is different than "This shit always happens to me?"   There is a level of acceptance with the the first one.  I'm thinking of this after catching a passing interview on NPR last weekend that was really well timed.  There was an interview discussing the perception of pain in subjects who were receiving a shock.  

Each patient received 3 shocks.  A three shocks were of the same intensity - but the people did not know that.  All they were told is that they were either receiving a shock 'from the wall' or 'from a person pressing a button'.  Interesting enough, those in the group who received that shock from the wall interpreted each successive shock as less painful. Classic habituation to the stimulus.

However, those who thought there was a person responsible for the shock they received rated each successive shock as MORE painful.  Same level of shock for all conditions.  I find this interesting.  My interpretation is that there is a level of feeling victimized which alters perception.  My conclusion.  In situations in which we are not in control, it is better to accept what is happening rather than feel victimized.  

With that in mind I through my hands up and accept that I am powerless. I cannot control everything in my life.  I must admit that this mentality has helped me lately. There are things that I can control, but I need to realize how limited that is.  I can control what I do, I can control who I see, I can control how I feel (most of the time). 

To anyone reading this (I know I have a limited audience), what I am alluding to is my control over the health of my parents.  My father has been struggling greatly with Parkinson's Disease.  Over the past month he has gone from functional to a level where he cannot care for himself.  It is incredibly difficult for me to observe.  He was and is the strongest person I know.  The man who knows how to fix anything, could talk to anyone, cares for everyone.  He's a humble man with a gigantic heart.  He is strong, he is funny, he is soft-spoken.  He is the man whose image I can only hope to honor.  He is my motivation to be a better person. 

And while my concern is certainly with him, I really need to care for my mother as well.  She is the one in the trenches.  She has been by his side for 50+ years.  She often gets overlooked and taken for granted like many mothers.  She has her own struggles with arthritis and diabetes.  But she too is strong.  So strong that we take it for granted.  In a family with outspoken daughters and soft-spoken sons, my mother has taken her share of grief from her children.

My mom is the hardest working person I know.  (I find it eerily Freudian that the only person I know with a work ethic near hers is my wife)  She worked multiple jobs, long hours.  She raised 5 children while she obtained her Masters degree in counseling.  She worked as an addictions counselor and family therapist.  But she never had just one job.  She'd work for Kohl so that she'd be able to get discounts on clothes to get us for Christmas,  she had side jobs with Avon and Pampered Chef.  She never asked for credit, she just plugged away.  She listened to everyone's problems all day, then came home to care for us.

Part of my ability to accept everything occurring now is knowledge of how truly blessed I have been to have such amazing parents.  I fully accept that I am a both a momma's boy and the apple of my dad's eye.  I've had a special relationship with both - and I'm not sure that is normal.  My parents had me later in life and were well broken in. They exposed me to tons of amazing experiences, where able to provide for me (spoil me rotten).  I never questioned that they had my best interests in mind.  To me they were always a hybrid of parents and grand-parents.

So what can I do to help them.  I'll do my best.  First off, I need to hold strong to the concept that I am not a victim here.  I am not able to help if I can't be strong for them.  It's my turn to give back - not because I owe them, but because they deserve help.

Friday, June 29, 2012

I'm a bad blogger.  I didn't even write a post for Ironman Canada?  Bummer.  I guess I've been so busy and the event was memorable enough that I'm safely excused.

Update on the last year since I've posted.  Moved from Vancouver to Madison.  Gave up the hectic Sports Junkies bikes/skis/consignment gig for an opportunity of a lifetime to coach with SBR Coaching.

While retail was hectic, it hasn't been much easier to get in workouts.  I REALLY enjoy coaching.  So now, despite being surrounded by computrainers, treadmills, kettlebells, trx's, amazing bike roads and warm lakes, I have been fitting in fewer workouts.  How? Well, I really like my job.  I catch myself doing work rather than wanting to 'skip out' and get in workouts.

There is a theory that all the great Tour de France winners come from unhappy and/or abusive pasts.  These are the hardmen of the world with chips on there shoulders, something to prove every day.  Insecurity is a very powerful motivator. I've been there - but I'm not there now.  Right now I'm rather content with where I am as an athlete.  I feel like I've proven that I can do well over any distance.  I know I could do better, but I also know what I'd need to do to do better.

I have worked very hard in the past to earn the times that I have posted.  I've nailed nutrition, paced well and gotten the most out of my body for nearly every race I've done.  My biggest opportunity for improvement continues to be my running.  There won't be any magical breakthroughs this season there.  My running has been and will continue to improve steadily each year - if I'm patient.

My aggressive goal for the year was to improve my ironman run split to reach the 3:30-3:40 range.  I had the fitness for it last year at Penticton, but 95 degree heat  required that I moderate my pace.  I was set up to go for it this year, but a severe ankle sprain in February probably eliminated that chance.  If I were to have gone for it (3:30) this year, I would have needed to have hit the run training hard 6-9 months out.  With a sprained ankle which while finally pain free (it still swells post workout) I am realistically 4 months behind.  Reality is that this year's run goal is just to hold onto the form that I had from previous years.  Sort of a bummer, but there's no shame in a 4:20 ironman marathon.  Don't get me wrong that I'm calling it quits on trying to go faster, I'm just being honest with myself.

These sound like sandbagger excuses, but I know my body.  There are reasons why I will do well and reason's why I know I could do better.  Like I said, I really like my job.  Coaching and helping other's figure out to get faster makes me happy.  I've gladly shifted this season's focus from me, to the athletes I work with.  I am content with that shift in balance.  Triathletes are known to be a bit selfish with their time - it's almost required if you want to get the most out of your racing.  If your priority is on 'you' getting faster, one must realize that making 'you' your priority is requisite.

Pressure.  One of my greater concerns as a coach starting out is that I'm an unknown.  I haven't been in Madison for the past couple of years and while the tri-scene is very dynamic, many people simply don't know who I am.  If I were an athlete looking for a coach the difficulty with the decision is understandable.  Athletes want the best out of their performance, and they need coaches that can guide them there. But how do you choose a coach?  Most of it is word of mouth.  It's difficult to choose someone who you might not have heard of.  Now in the triathlon business how do you hear about people?  And I'm just being honest here, most people aren't looking in the yellow pages - they are looking at race results.[topic for future discussion, my thoughts on being fast as a requirement for being a good coach].

My placement in the results of a race should not be used as a quantifier for my skill as a coach. Coaching and training can pull in separate directions when it comes to time management.  But here is the thing, people who NEED coaching often don't understand the difference.  What I want anyone who sees my results to understand is that it represents the path that I have followed.   If anyone is going to judge me from my results, look at all of them.  If you look at them and notice how I have improved steadily every year.  I have finished every race I've entered [future discussion topic - hint: there is an appropriate time to call it quits].  I have not had mechanical or physical breakdowns - great, now I'm due.. knocking on wood.

I have not been fast from the beginning.  When I started I was slow and out-of-shape.  But I have progressed.  I know how painful it can be and challenging it is to 'race' at the back and middle of the pack.  It can hurt just as much as leading a race, but for longer.  I've gotten to where I am now because I like that 'hurt'.  That hurt is part of my passion for the sport.  The hurt is what makes it special.

On the topic of hurt.  This weekend is a great opportunity - and the reason for this rant.  Verona Triterium is tomorrow.  I'll be working to help set up the course today.  I know this course well, well enough to understand that I am not ready to take on the Olympic distance course.  I will be racing the Sprint.  I will save the Olympic for next year when I can have a better pre-season training geared specifically for it.

Tomorrow is my new debut.  I will be racing.  And while this is a low priority race as far as my season, I feel all the pressure to treat race day with respect.  It's been difficult to be surrounded by races every weekend and not be racing myself.  Here is my chance.  Judge me if you want - but I'm doing it for me.