Quest for Ironman Part 4: We All Have Our Reasons

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We all have our reasons for what we do and why we train. I liken my fight against heart disease to Gandalf, and his memorable “You shall not pass” scene.

This is my fourth installment of Ironman training, and the end of week fifteen. In five weeks I’ll be competing in—and completing—the Ironman Coeur d’Alene. I thought I’d add a little something to everyone’s vocabulary in this article: “GPS.” No, I’m not referring to the Global Positioning System some of you are familiar with. I am instead talking about “Gel Pack Spooge.”


“GPS” is that unfortunate phenomenon that occurs when you’re trying to fuel while keeping one hand and one eye on the road. You tear open the pouch with your teeth and put it to your lips only to discover it didn’t open properly. A firm squeeze to get things flowing is all that’s needed, but unfortunately the resulting rapid expulsion of said gel spurts out violently, all over your lips, up your nose, and maybe in your mouth if you’re lucky. Your poor riding buddy can also run victim to “GPS,” when the gel streams off your cheeks and is carried by the wind onto their new cycling glasses. As the gel dries, you find your gloved hands permanently affixed to you aero bars as if coated with super glue, which is unfortunate because the truck and trailer that nearly sideswiped you has now pulled over and stopped in front of you because the driver needs directions. Good luck freeing your hands to hit the breaks. Ah, the life of a triathlete.

And now for the real GPS. Have you used the “routes” option when logging your workouts on BT? It really is the greatest thing. Just click the “globe,” listed with your other “quick links” icons, and there you are. You can plan or record your running and cycling courses and get the total mileage of either route. When my HRM/GPS was out of service, I used this feature to find my total mileage, and even toyed with it to plan future rides. Plus, it’s interesting to see an overhead shot of where you live. If I’d have known they were doing a fly-over, I’d have tanned with trunks on.

On a more emotional subject
I’m a loner when it comes to training, in part because of my schedule, and in part because I don’t like to wait for people when I’m ready to go. But, I’d talked with my friend Chris last year about riding together after he found out I took up tri training. He’s much more experienced at cycling then I am, and I thought it would help me immensely if I rode with someone who actually knew what they were doing. We never made that ride last year because in April of 2006, doctors discovered a brain tumor behind Chris’ right eye. The surgery was a success, but as you can imagine Chris was out of action for a long time.


By September, my tri season had reached its end and I had injured my knee running ten miles on a sloped road—the ol’ IT band syndrome. It took until mid-November before I could run without pain, mainly because I kept trying to run on the knee and never gave it a chance to heal. Winter soon set in, and even though Chris was back to work, the weather made riding miserable.

Now comes the good part. Toward the end of April, I was walking with my wife, Carol, through the ICU area of our hospital. We spotted Chris at the nurse’s station and went to say hello. He and I talked about finally doing that ride, and made plans to do it in two days. The significance here is that on the day we spoke, it was my two year anniversary from successful open heart surgery, and the day we rode was his one year anniversary from brain surgery. I couldn’t help but think of this as we rode along, both of us survivors of sorts: still optimistic enough to believe we had a full life ahead of us, and still willing to train for it.


I let him lead for most of the ride as we wound our way through Oregon’s beautiful Willamette Valley, in the area of Eugene and Springfield. As we made our turn to ride back into town, I realized we would cycle through north Springfield and right past my cousin’s old house. The significance there is that my cousin, Nellie, used to own a bean field right behind the house we were about to ride past, and in 1966, when my dad was diagnosed with heart disease, Nellie hired him to cut down the old bean vines after his employer had fired him. On September 12, 1966, my father died in that bean field, suffering a fatal heart attack.


Fortunately, I was riding behind Chris at this point and was free to cry as I scanned the grassy expanse and wondered where in that field he took his last breath. As we rode on I suggested we take a different route back to our starting point and Chris let me lead. I soon realized we would ride past the house where, on July 5, 2005, my mother passed away from the effects of lung cancer. All this was not lost to me as I thought of my deceased parents, my surgery, Chris’ surgery, our survivals, and my upcoming bid to be an Ironman. It was a lot to take in but I can’t help but think it will all somehow serve a greater purpose, and that someday I will be sharing this and other stories as I make my way across our beautiful country motivating and inspiring others to live a healthy lifestyle.

I promise
I know I promised to share more nutritional information and tips when I submitted my last article, but I had no idea the above mentioned event would occur, and I really feel it’s more important to share that right now than food issues. We all have our reasons for what we do and why we train, and I’ve given you a glimpse into why I do what I do and write what I write. If I didn’t try to motivate others based upon my experiences, however sad or trying they seemed, then I feel those experiences will get the best of me. If, however, I can take even the low points of my life and use them for good, then I, not death, will win out. I liken my fight against heart disease to Gandalf, and his memorable “You shall not pass” scene. I’ve made the same declaration against heart disease and have taken my stand too.

We’ve all “inspired” a BT friend, or received a pat on the back from one, and I believe that’s one of the best things about this website. So please consider this my way of reaching those of you I’ve never contacted. I again promise to give you some sound heart-healthy nutritional advice in my next article, which will encompass the next four weeks of training instead of five. Until then, I hope in some way you can glean encouragement and motivation from this “food” for thought. Good luck, and may your gel pouch cooperate.


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date: June 11, 2007


I love my family, football, tri training and racing, seeing heart patients smile when I share my story with them . . .


I love my family, football, tri training and racing, seeing heart patients smile when I share my story with them . . .

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