Category Archives: July ’10

12 more hours of thought

I have always understood the inherent danger of life. We are surrounded by danger and as much as we fight death, the nature of the world is that life is extremely fleeting. Nothing about it is secured or guaranteed. But I am willing to accept that for the ability to live. But when unnecessary risk is taken to limit to possibly of me continuing on my journey, I am rightfully ticked.

When I was on the Appalachian trail hiking surrounded by freezing temperatures, hostile animals, intestine-eating parasites, and horrific storms, I felt a different sense of danger than I experience here in the world we have become accustomed to. My friends and I all agreed that we felt significantly safer in the woods than we did in civilization. People just sometimes don’t understand the dangers of what we consider civilized life. We are trained to believe in the safety and comfort of this world because the reality is too hard to handle.

Eighteen months ago, I became victim to this and was caught speeding at 97 miles per hour. But once I saw the Mythbusters drive a car into a concrete wall at a mere 3 miles an hour faster, I decided against seeking that thrill again.

Humans drilled the heaviest and strongest stuff we could find out of the earth and attached an explosion powered propulsion machine to it and called it a car. No matter what the crash test rating is, there is still an absurd amount of danger in driving and being a pedestrian for us to treat the action as lightly as we do. Firstly, we have speed limits for a reason. Period.

Second, have you ever wakened from a deep day dream while driving, realized you had switched lanes several times, taken many turns, driven through several traffic lights, and do not remember anything about these actions? I have and I fight to not do it again. We just zone out while driving as if we are on a straight track home. But many times that unconscious driving leads on a detour to the emergency room or even a new home buried in the earth.

This morning I wrote about an experience with a motorcyclist that did this same thing. He needed to be at work in three minutes and was willing to sacrifice leaving his children for an early grave to get there on time. He yelled and screamed at me accusing me that it was 100% my fault. And yet I had no fault other than being at the wrong place at the wrong time that could have led to disaster for me.

My teammates and I watched a bloody broken man be put on a back board and taken to the hospital. I have always thought about the guilt of causing someone else harm out of utter negligence. I have thought about how I would much prefer be the pedestrian hit and killed by a drunk driver than the drunk driver who survived after killing an innocent pedestrian. Of course I don’t have to worry specifically about this situation but it is just an example. Rather, I am simply emphasizing my point that I am unsure if I could handle living with that sort of guilt. I wanted to emphasize to my teammates today that we did nothing wrong because I sure know that initially the blame wore on me. But the more exaggerated and absurd the upset man’s argument became the more I realized it had been totally his fault. None of us should feel at fault for any bit of what happened this morning. It was hard enough to witness something like that, much less feel guilty for it.

I listened as I stood there redirecting traffic around his shattered bike and broken body. He repeated how it was our fault. He continued pointing fingers and saying how if it had not been for his bike handling ability, he would be dead. But I saw the incident and I saw a gut force squeeze on the rear brake sending him into a fishtail instead of using the more effective front brake. I wanted to say something. I wanted to start the fight with a broken man. But he was on the ground and I was standing, shaken but not broken. So I kept my mouth shut to let him realize this all on his own. He may come back with a vengeance and honk at every runner or get as close as possible to us in attempt to claim dominance over public roads. But he may come back and realize that we have just as much right out there, especially on a low traffic, low-speed road. And maybe, just maybe he’ll give us our space and slow down next time.

Near miss

At 8:57 this morning, my life almost changed forever.

First it was the yelling squeal of rubber slipping on hard pavement. With no time to think I saw the man’s face glimpse out from behind a teal car slowing down in front of us. They had just merged off 288 onto West Creek Parkway and were going way too fast. We were running two abreast hugging the shoulder. Yeah it is a dangerous place to be running, solely because of the law breaking speeding and negligence of prominent and necessary yield signs.

But I did not sense any danger until moments after the incident had fully occurred.

The man’s face went back behind the car and what felt like an eternity later, his motorcycle slipped down to the ground, his foot grinding underneath it like a soft nut shell between two stones. His bike skidded coming straight for us. Our frail legs ran towards the mass of metal like bowling pins waiting to be slammed. But when his bike finally came to rest a few feet past where we stood, we all were in the grass having in unison narrowly avoided the incident with a quick timely jump to safety.

The cursing began as soon as the blood began to spurt out of the man’s face. His left brow had been punctured and dragged across the ground and squirted blood like some special effects from a cheesy gore movie. It was obvious from the immediate yelling and accusations that he was fine though. He grabbed his helmet off his head and threw it into the grass.

“What the f*%$ were you all doing running in the middle of the road?!”

The driver who he had narrowly avoided colliding into her rear bumper came running back to see what happened. A driver that had seen the whole incident came with a first aid kit to cover the wound on his brow. Other than a few cuts and most likely a broken foot that had been smashed by the weight of his bike and the friction of it sliding on the pavement, he seemed fine, just very upset.

The team began redirecting traffic around the accident and slowing cars exiting 288 to prevent a repeat of the same incident.

While I stood there waving cars on, I realized the closeness I had come to an extremely severe accident. I’m running with a cast on and I’m fortunate that my mountain biking accident did not result in worse injuries. But the tiny break in my thumb was the end to my invincible mentality. I am not indestructible and 500 pounds carrying the speed that it was at me is a lot of momentum. With my feet fixed to the ground and the solid metal of his bike ramming my shins would have surely turned my bones into gelatin.

I would have gone from being one of the top level triathletes in the state to being unable to walk from a silly motorcyclist’s rush to get to work on time.

I stood there listening to the anger and blame of the man on the ground. I wanted to say something. I wanted to defend myself and my teammates from the accusations. But he was the man on the ground headed to the hospital, not me. The negativity continued to wear on me. I kept hearing how it was our fault because we were running at a busy time of day in a dangerous place on a high-traffic road. I knew that we had done nothing wrong and yet I knew that was not enough. I had almost lost my legs and the motorcyclist was lucky to be in the condition he was in.

We had not broken a law, sure. And he had. But I will not be running at that place anymore, not because I know I am not breaking a law, just because I don’t want to be the one to make the headline news. I don’t want to be the one that gets drivers to slow down on West Creek Parkway. It is not a cause that is worth the danger.

The past 24 hours

Last night I laid awake in my bed for hours running today’s race through my head over and over. It is not a technical course, there are no tight corners and I only touch my brakes once the entire bike leg. And yet for some reason, my fists remained clenched, palms sweating, teeth grinding. I was a nervous wreck over a fun local race.

I had a goal and I knew it was on the verge of absurdity. But I could not get it out of my head to let my body get the rest I needed to actually follow through and make that goal become reality.

Finally I remembered, think about surfing. I left my competitive world of triathlon for the beach. The nice silk waves drifted underneath me with a cooling mist from the breaks a few meters away. I watched the sun rise over by the sky rise hotels down the beach. And with no more memories, I was knocked out from the exhaustion of a long day.

I sometimes take myself a little too seriously.

I wanted a podium position today and I was disappointed with dropping out by one place. I had a goal and when everything began failing, I lost my style. I became to serious, lost my focus and even with my fourth place overall, I was disappointed with my performance across the board: emotionally, mentally, and physically.

The difficulty began mere minutes into the race, about halfway through the swim when my cast caught on the lane line and I inhaled a massive gulp of pool water. The action of breathing in water was not what led to my struggle today but rather how I reacted. I have dealt with adversity in races plenty often and while I would not say that I am a master of handling stress, after five seasons I think I have learned some resilience. Everyone deals with mini upsets such as a kick in the face or a dropped water bottle. But what breaks the race nine times out ten is the reaction after the incident.

And today my immature inability to cope with difficulty led me to a stressful, miserable morning of racing.

On the next leg of the race, when I watched my target ride away from me on the bike, I lost my inspiration. I should have accepted that it was not going to be my day from the little handicap of a broken thumb. Okay, so maybe I have some stubborn tendencies. When my primary goal rode out of sight, instead of  changing the game plan to maintain a pace to the finish, I inherited a pessimistic attitude that was destined to lead me to failure.

It is over fourteen hours since I crossed that finish line and I have had a lot of thoughts whizzing through my head. Mainly the question I had for myself is, did I really race as poorly as I initially thought? I compared my time today to my time on the same course two months ago. Yeah I did awful in that case. But just for fun I went back and looked at my results from two years ago. My time today with this obnoxious hindrance on my right arm would have led me to first place in July of 2008.

Okay so maybe I did not do that bad. And so then I thought, wait a minute, where do I get off saying I had a bad race? Of course its not going to be perfect, I’m not in perfect shape, primarily I’ve got metal holding my thumb together. But I did race for fourth overall in a race of nearly 500 competitors. For the circumstances, physically I did pretty well. My disappointment is with my performance on the internal spectrum.

To get to the point, I am embarrassed about my embarrassment today. It took me a while to understand what I did today because I did fail at accomplishing my goal. And it took me a while because I was not willing to use an excuse that I still have not accepted was my primary obstacle today. I raced in a fun local triathlon today and I did not enjoy myself. That is the only thing I should be embarrassed about.

Season Five, Part Two

And the start of the rest of my season begins.

With the stitches out and a hard cast covering my weakest link, I went for my first run in twelve days. I knew that the first few hundred meters would dictate how much fitness I had lost or how stale I had become in the preceding three weeks since the accident.

So when my legs flowed gracefully underneath me I knew my body had not reacted bitterly but rather appreciated the rest and relaxation.

With my fitness in top shape still, I need only to shed a couple pounds, return to the swimming fitness I had before and build on the cycling and running speed I have acquired this summer.

My Achilles heel surprisingly has not been the swim this season. I had always struggled with swimming but this year, having focused on the aquatic leg, I gained speed and form that I have never had before.

My anaerobic threshold in running and cycling has limited me however. Surprisingly, that element that makes triathletes fast is my weakest. So while I can hammer a sprint distance triathlon and perform at the verge of my VO2 max, when the race is lengthened, my speed suffers. I have never had a solid olympic distance race. So we’ll see how the rest of the season goes after the speed bump slowed me down. It kept me on my toes and I’m ready to train hard for another few months.


My thumb is broken. Well, its in two pieces that are binded together with two pins drilled straight across my thumb. I’m sick of feeling broken. I’m tired of being cramped in my house watching my family go out and play. It’s incredible what a break of such a tiny bone can do.

I’ve got the company of four dogs laying around the room and the Tour de France entertaining me on the tube.

Yesterday I stood up, walked a couple paces and collapsed to the floor. I called to my mom, “Thanks for the low blood pressure!”

Being prepped for surgery last Thursday, one of the machines surrounding me began beeping, whining that my heart rate was too low. I must be dead, 48 beats per minute and dropping.

I’m so happy for the way my body has performed and the first two decades of my life have been. But I am sick of being kept from doing what I love to do when nothing within me mentally or emotionally dictates that I should slow.

I am excited to possibly race 3sports triathlon with a cast on. Of course I wish I could have done my best but the drag on my arm and the time off from training will be my pitfall. I know I can earn a podium position and with what I have been through these past couple weeks I will not be disappointed.

I have struggled to fill the void in my day that work and training filled before. Mostly I have commited my time to eating and watching t.v. I definitely am not proud of what I have not accomplished but I only have to maintain my sanity till Friday and hopefully I’ll be back training hard, prepping for the Age Group National Championships in Alabama in September.