This is long, around 40 pages, so I wrote this little preface just now (Nov. 2019)
A few things have instigated me putting this up. I still have never read it. It is raw as raw can get. Only a few people have ever read this, which was the year it happened, so it has been awhile. It moved them all though. One of my friends, who didn't read it, was moved to tears just from hearing another friend tell her about it.
It was the third race I had done, and as much as it hurt, it was one of my favourite ones I ever did...not for a sense of accomplishment or anything like that, but more about the process.
As I eluded to, it became instant legend. It made my reputation precede me for years to come from people who were there, or had heard about it second hand. (I had been approached about it a lot.) This race also kicked off a crazy chain of events in the years to come.
A bunch of people have commented how much they like stories of my journeys this year, well, this is the story of stories in my triathlon life.
**Photos are not too synched up with storyline.
Coming out of the water, you can see the pain written all over my face.
CYSWOG'N'FUN 2005--Nelson, BC (3rd race, #242)
***i started writing this the day after the race, but in all, it took me over 3 weeks to finish writing. i didn’t write it start to finish. i wrote it in pieces, scattered all over the place, just following what i was inspired to write at each given time. this is also unedited. because of all this, i’m sure there is repetition, and probably stuff that might not make too much sense at times. (such is life--giggle, giggle) maybe i’ll fix it later, maybe i won’t. after all, it is just written for me; but in past, people have asked if they could read what i have written about the races i do. so, if it makes no sense to you, sorry ‘bout yer luck. (giggle, giggle)
***oh yeah... one thing whoever reads this must be aware of, although all done in good fun, with no harm meant, there are a whack-load of curse words. they were driven a lot from my pain, and in keeping with a perspective of humour that i think i really needed to help get me through the race. as the race wore on, and my pain just kept sky-rocketing, my locker-room mouth got unleashed more, and more. (giggle, giggle) just thought i’d warn you, so take it all in stride with a grain of salt so-to-say.
yesterday was epic. there are probably many other ways to put it; but this seems to be the simplest, most direct way. i guess i could also say, dramatically epic... sweet. (giggle, giggle)
the past year had bin a little crazy. i spent about 15 months in bed, that sorta ended around mid-february. obviously, last year’s race happened during that time (as i wrote about after that race). since february, i have bin on a roller coaster ride between whooped-down, and super whooped-downness. amongst the rest of my body, my shoulders had just bin crushing me down. i could barley lift my arms at all. the slightest thing could give me the hardest time. in early may, a friend was over for a visit. i made us some food. when i dished hers out, and was bringing it to her, my left arm just barely brushed by the handle of an empty pot on my stove. that was enough to make me almost wipe out. that was how messed up i was just from my shoulders. they seemed to permeate everything i did. for over a year, i could only sleep for 15-30 minutes at a time. i couldn’t roll over in bed. in order to do that, i had to get out of bed (which was a major struggle), and then walk around for a bit, just so things could settle down for a bit so i could lay down again for another 15-30 minutes of sleep. my energy is always sucked dry, as i am always dealing with pain in every part of my body. it takes a lot outta me just to do nothin’; but i also have to live my life too, so that sucks even more from my empty tank. it’s hard to replenish myself when i can barely sleep, especially when all factors are taken into consideration. even still, i find a way to keep givin’ ’er. (giggle, giggle)
as the spring wore on, and within the blink-of-an-eye, turned into summer, i started feelin’ a bit better. sweet. “i hope things keep up this way, ‘cause that’ll make this year’s race easier than last year.” those were the kind of thoughts that i would constantly get flooded with. like i said last year (i think), i don’t celebrate holidays, or my birthday, or anything like that. leading up to the first race i did 2 years ago, CYSWOG’N’FUN turned into the only day i look forward to each year. it kicks ass. it never really leaves my mind. this is mainly because the first race i did was about a 9 year dream come true. after, i guess during, that race, i got myself addicted. pretty sweeeet stuff. yeah. so, anyway, i said to myself, and others too, that if i could pull off the race the way i did last year, then i could probably do it every year (unless my pain does what it did to me during the summer & fall of 2002--then there would be absolutely no way).
i always keep my bike on my winter trainer in my house from november til april. i could barely ride it this winter though because i couldn’t really reach my handle bars, and the rest of my body was just hatin’ it too. i was psyched when my driveway finally melted off in mid-april (i have to snow-shoe in to my house from early november til sometime in april). the second day i was able to drive my car all the way to my house, i loaded my bike up, and went down to the highway. sweeeeet--i get to ride on the road again. there is a small 4 km loop by the highway. i figured i would just try do do some laps there rather than try an out-and-back ride. that way, if i just couldn’t do it, i would never be far from my car, so i could get to it without it being a huge ordeal. well, i was psyched to get on my bike. i like riding on the road way better because it’s easier on my body. with my winter trainer, i am seated the whole time; but when i am on the road, i get to stand up to ride as often as i want, which is way easier on my back. riding is tough on me regardless though. it hurts my wrists, arms, shoulders, and upper-back to hold me up on the handle bars. it crushes my lower-back to lean forward to reach my handle bars. it really hurts my hips, bum, knees, ankles, and feet to pedal. it also crushes my neck to watch the road. all this is just skeletal stuff, it’s not even factoring in what it does to my muscles, tendons, and ligaments too. even still, I LOVE TO RIDE MY BIKE. one thing that makes it all more difficult though, is that my bike frame is a bit too big for me. that obviously does me no good at all. it’s hard for me to get it together to buy a new bike though, as all my $ goes to trying to fix my body (and that gets quite expensive). like i said though, I LOVE TO RIDE MY BIKE, so what’s a guy gonna do? anyway, as soon as i took the first few revolutions on my pedals, i realized instantly that it wasn’t really gonna work out. sure, my back hurt, but it was my shoulders that did me in. i had to struggle, and fight as hard as i could just to hold myself up on the bars so i wouldn’t collapse off my bike, and topple to the ground. because of that, i was only able to pull off one of those 4 km laps, and that was it. my final analogy of it all, was that even though I LOVE TO RIDE MY BIKE, i couldn’t get any speed up to get exercise out of it, and i just hurt waaaay to much to enjoy it. so, that was it, my bike was shelved for, what turned out to be, 3 months (i wouldn’t get on it again til the week B4 the race).
Stopping to see which direction I am going
with this new found knowledge on how my body was reacting to my bike out on the road, i started wondering if i was gonna have to do the race like last year--just wing it.
the swim-leg of the race is the deciding factor of the race for me. if i don’t feel confident in the water, than i won’t do it. with the way my shoulders were killin’ me, i just knew that training for the swim was not gonna happen. the pool was closed for renovations anyway. i figured i would just see how things were in the lake in early july (or in the pool if it was open by then). because of that, i didn’t really think about the swim at all until the summer drew closer.
since i was in bed for 15 months, i felt like i lost a lotta time with my life, and i didn’t want much more to slip away if possible. i wanted my body to at least be semi-functioning for the summer, and maybe even the early fall, then i would be glad to just kick back, and hibernate for the winter when i got snowed-in again. the only way i really saw this as a distinct possibility was if i got some more of the shots in me that i got from the hospital i went to in mexico in the fall of 2002. since they are so expensive, i could only pull together the funds for 4 or 5. because of how fast, and dramatically they worked when i got them B4, i figured that 4 or 5 would be all i needed to get some good momentum goin’ for me. it ended up that i could only get 4, and not 5. i was ok with that. originally i was hopin’ to get them at the end of april; so i could have all 4 in me B4 the race (i get one a month). well, i wasn’t able to raise the funds i needed ‘til early may. by the time the money left my hands in may, the shots didn’t get to me, until mid-july. then i had to wait for my naturopathic doctor to come back from vacation so she could stick me with the needle. i finally ended up gettin’ my shot on july 19th. a few days later i was to go to penticton with my folks for a week (23rd-30th). that was were i was planning to do my training in the lake, and on the bike. i figured i would try to swim as much as i could from sunday to friday, and hopefully get on my bike sunday, tuesday, and thursday.
the day B4 i got my shot in me, my left hip, and kidney started just killin’ me. sitting just crushed me down, making walking an absolutely agonizingly hard thing to do. sitting down actually made everything agonizingly hard to do. it was the worst thing i could do. i mean, this hip/kidney thing was (is) nuts. it rippled through everything i did. laying down put way too much pressure on my hips. sleep was killing me. that area on my left side felt like somebody just kicked me as hard as they could, leaving a dull, thunderous sensation that just seemed to just stay. it set of a chain reaction that felt like a stream of electricity riveting through my whole body. it would make me light headed, and almost feel like i was gonna throw up. it also made me lose my breath, and feel like it kept tryin’ to chop my legs out from underneath me. this would happen on its own every 5-10 minutes if i was laying down; and was even worse whenever i would sit. walking around was the only thing that let it ease up a bit; but even then i couldn’t escape its effects. thinking that my whole body was already in crazy pain, and layered with fatigue, as one might imagine, i could only walk around for so long B4 i had to sit, or lay down. standing still has not bin an easy thing for me to do for many years. the longer i stand still, the more gravity seems to try to beat me down. i get a compressed feeling within my skeleton that only increases with intensity with each passing moment. the picture that always pops into my head is me kinda feeling like a crunched up accordion. (kind of like what happens to the coyote when a rock falls on his head when he’s chasing the roadrunner--giggle, giggle). the worst of the compression feeling is in my lower back. that is also the area i have osteoporosis. my waist-line always feels like i’m just gonna snap in half (a crazy sensation). also, for the past long while, when i am standing still, my knees, and the lower half of my thighs start going numb. i don’t mean numb in exclusively as a feel nothing sensation. it’s like they are mostly numb, but also laced with excruciating pain as well. like my lower back, this only increases with each passing moment that i am standing still. so, basically, the worst things for me to do are to stand still, sit, lay down; and i can only move around for so long. with no rest, it makes for a pretty interesting recipe. i guess that recipe adds up to what my life is; or at least what my life has bin for the past 12 years.
So much of the swim I had to do on my back
as it stands, the top of the list of the worst things for me to do is to sit down. because of the trip i was to take right B4 the race, this weighed heavily on my mind. “how am i gonna hold up sitting in a car for 4 1/2 hours, when doin’ it for 10 minutes kills me?” that was the constant question in my mind. i had to make that ride twice. obviously, it was the return ride that i was most concerned with.
anyway, i finally got in the pool the day B4 i got my shot (the same day my hip, and kidney decided to be my latest big issue). that day, i didn’t even try to swim. i knew how my shoulders felt, and i knew there wasn’t any point in trying. i did try to swim the next day. “yeah, right. good one,” is pretty much what my shoulders said. (giggle, giggle) i tried the next day. i still couldn’t get more than 3 strokes in. i thought to myself, “ooh, man, this year could be ugly--giggle, giggle.” finally, on friday, 9 days B4 the race, i was able to pull off almost 2 lengths of the pool. wuuuu-haaaaaa, i could do more than three strokes. sweet. almost 2 lengths of the pool only meant not quite 50 metres though. hopefully, within the next week i would be able to instil some sorta somethin’ in me to let me know that i would be able to pull off the extra 450 metres i needed to complete the 500 metre swim.
my folks showed up the day B4 we were to go to penticton. i got my mom some spa time at my spa. while my step-dad and i were waiting for her, out of observing me a bit, he said, "you can barely stand up. how are you gonna do a triathlon?" i heard liz laughing at that in the reception. (she gets quite amused at the perils of my life--an ongoing joke between us) i just said to him, "you'll see. this isn't gonna stop me."
i headed to penticton with my folks 8 days B4 race day (saturday). my hip, and kidney was showing no signs of improving. instead, that issue just seemed to get worse. my hip and kidney was doing something that i really can’t stand--they were causing my body to do its strange cease-up’s. what i mean by that is this: my body gets a surging jolt of a kind of dull & sharp electric pain that is so intense that my body freezes. i can’t inhale, or exhale; and i can’t move either for 5 to 15ish seconds. if i’m at the end of an exhale when it happens, i end up gasping for air that i can’t get to because of the inability to inhale or exhale. this turned out to be a critical issue for the race.
the car ride was tough on me like i expected; but, at the same time, it was not quite as intense as i thought it would be. once at our cabin though, sleeping, and sitting hurt very badly. no matter what i was doing, i had cease-ups crushing me down all the time. walking was very slow, and laboured. even as little as a centimetre change in my stride pattern was enough to make me cease-up, and almost wipe out. simply stated--”OWIE!” my parents were busy being tourists, going out every day driving all over the place, checking it out. i wasn’t into that, so i just stayed at the cabin. that gave me lotsa time to rest, and go about things at my own pace. except for two different family reunion days, i literally did 6 things only: ate, slept, read, walked my doggie, rode my bike, and swam (in a WARM lake).
knowing that typically, the week B4 a race should be spent more focused on light training, stretching, etc., i had to basically roll ALL my training into those 7 days. i stuck preety close to the plan that formed itself in my mind. i was on my bike on sunday, tuesday, and friday (instead of thursday); and i was in the water on sunday, monday, tuesday, and thursday. i also took my doggie for 2-3 good walks every day.
this is how things basically broke down for me... for the most part, riding my bike was pretty good. although a bit laboured, my shoulders were holding me up pretty well. they didn't stand in the way of me digging in. sweet. digging in was something that i had no choice to do 'cause where i rode was ALL HILLS. aside from me having poor endurance conditioning, the hills didn't give my muscles, and joints too many problems. my shoulders were a bit tight, and so was my lower back. a bigger issue tahn that were my wrists. they ached quite a bit; but nothin' too serious in a comparative value from what i'm used to having to deal with. my big crushing issue was my clogged up liver. it took no time at all for it to seriously cramp up, and start hurting real bad. i pushed through it as much as i could, for longer than i probably should have. if i wanted to dig a bit deeper, and charge even harder, i know i could have; but i had to keep in mind that i didn't wanna screw myself up for the race in a week. i listened to my body, and heeded the warnings in my mind. then i turned around, and charged back up, and down the hills.
when i was almost back to the cabin, i almost rode off the road. i was chargin' down a hill. chargin' hard. "wuuuuu-haaaaa!" just up ahead, i saw a deer on the shoulder, on the right side of the road. i had two thoughts: 1: sweet. look at that kind deer. 2: please don't run in front of me. that would suck for both of us. (giggle, giggle) i kept chargin' though. since i had my thoughts somewhat on what the deer was gonna do, i wasn't entirely focused on the road ahead of me. all of a sudden, "WHOA!" i came flyin' too fast into a tight, blind right-hand corner. hammerin' on the brakes, just short of locking up, i slowed enough to swing wide, and barely stay on the road. all i could do was hope, and pray there wasn't any vehicles coming from the other direction. if there was, i'd get launched over the hood forsure. when i realized i was gonna stay on the pavement, and that there weren't any cars comin', i gave myself another, "sweet." (giggle, giggle) then i went home, took a siesta, and went swimming.
Last as fuck, with a lake to myself
swimming was way easier than it was only days earlier. although the lake was pretty warm, i swam with my wetsuit on so i would be used to the buoyancy, and try to get used to the constriction around my chest. each day, the first few strokes were tough. i had to figure out my own adapted stroke--one that worked for me. once i did that, i could get myself in a gruuve. my shoulders were working much better, so that meant i could use my arms ok. they weren't super powerful strokes, or anything. that didn't matter to me. all i cared about with this training was to see if i would be able to pull the swim off. after all, i only had to do a measly little 500 metre swim. that isn't too far. well, my shoulders, were real tight in the water. they were worse in the water than on the bike. they were strong enough to not really be an issue though come race time (if they stayed the way they were). my hips hurt a lot in the water. obviously, the worst of it all was in my left hip/kidney area. they gave me a few jolts of pain, but nothin' too bad. they were mostly tight, and somewhat sore. still, they weren't gonna be a real problem either for only 500 metres. (if they stayed the same) i don't think i ever swam 500 metres during the week. i was just testing myself to see how things were working. i worked my way up each day. by the last day, i probably swam about 300-350 metres.
the worst part of the swimming for me was my breathing. since i have such shallow breathing from the constant pain in my rib-cage, it made things tough to breathe with a tight wetsuit on. i instantly felt like i had cement in my lungs. it didn't take me long to realize that it could be my lungs that could be my real threat during the race. since i am never in any hurry during the races i do, i would just pace myself at whatever my body could handle. during race time, i wouldn't just sit back though, of course i would charge (to my level of charging). in the thick of charging, i would still have enough sense to do it properly for what my body could handle (then push it a notch or two further--could there really be any other way? giggle, giggle).
throughout the week, i built up some good confidence within my swim, and my bike. i figured out what should likely be my biggest downfalls, and how i should go about dealing with them. i already knew that my biggest issue was gonna be my stagger. oops, i mean... ...my run. (giggle, giggle) i never try to run B4 race time. that's just stupid. i can't run. i know i can't run. i tried a couple times last year, and that was a bad call. i do know that i can walk through anything though. just look at what i have had to do on my driveway in the winter time. i have had to walk that 1.4 km journey up 500 vertical feet in waist deep snow with a big-ass pack on my back, or dragging a heavy-ass toboggan load of stuff behind me. i have had to do that when i've felt waaaay worse than i did this summer. that's why i insist that if i can get through the swim, land will never stop me during a race. sure, it might take me awhile; but i'm never in any real hurry. (time-wise that is. i will always charge as hard as i can for my own internal issues--no sense in doin' a race if you're not gonna charge it.) anyway, walking was a real hard issue for me. even still, i was taking my dog for at least two 45 minute walks each day, and one shorter one. no matter how much the stagger, i mean, the run would hurt, i would get 'er done (eventually). so, there it was, i was all trained up in 6 days. (giggle, giggle) bring on the race!
i guess my last concern would be to see how the 4(ish) hour ride back from penticton was gonna beat up my body. yeah, sure, it kicked the crap outta me, but what's a guy gonna do? (giggle, giggle) there was no sense dwelling on it, i just had to deal with it.
we went straight from penticton to the park. i had to get my race package. sweet. i was so psyched watching them set up the bike racks, and seeing the bright orange fence barricades. "check that shit out--THE TRANSITION AREA! WUUUUUUUUUUUUUU--HAAAAAAAAAAAAA!" it was all becoming reality again. i could taste the race in the air. it resonated within me. i was gettin' charged up. i got in line, and got my race package. the girls taken care of that were psyched to see me back again. "i wouldn't miss it. i got myself addicted." those girls kick ass. full-tilt kick ass! (giggle, giggle) i asked them if the course was the same. they said they thought there were some changes. "crap," i thought. i had to miss the meeting. oh well, i'd just read the maps, instructions, and figure things out in the morning.
around 6:00pm i told my folks i had to take off. i had to get home, get my stuff together, and try to get some good sleep. then i left. B4 i went home, i had a few chores to do. mostly, i had to get some proper food for the morning. i also needed to get a bottle of gatorade, so i could put it in the freezer (to be nice, and chilly for race time). after i did whatever i did, i went home.
Finishing the swim
i was pretty drained from the trip back from penticton; so i was feelin’ like i was gonna get to bed at an ok time. i got home around 8:00pm. just so i didn’t really have to think in the morning, i got all my stuff together right away. i was gettin’ psyched while i was goin’ through my race package. that was makin’ it all a reality again. i put together my number on the elastic thing that goes around your waist for the run, and the bike. one of the cool things about livin’ waaaay up in the bush like i do, is that i can walk around naked whenever i want. (i have bin busted by the hydro meter guy B4 though--giggle, giggle). sometimes i’m too sore to deal with puttin’ clothes on, or takin' them off.. sometimes i just do it when i get around to it, etc. (like when i just start doin' stuff B4 i deal with the whole clothing thing.--giggle, giggle) well, on this night, i wasn’t quite naked. i put on my elastic number thing around my waist. of course i was just laughin’ about it. i had images flashing through my mind of the hard-core athletes who do it a lot, and take it super seriously. although i also take it seriously, i highly doubted that they walked around naked with only their number tag on. "if only they knew." (giggle, giggle) it was almost kinda like the tribal natives in africa, or the amazon--with a strap around their waist, and a simple cloth attached to it. (sweet--giggle, giggle.) once i had that on, i started yellin’, “ali buma ye!“ over, and over. (“ali buma ye” is what all the people were shouting to muhammad ali when he was in zaire for the legendary “rumble in the jungle” fight with george foreman. “ali buma ye” means, “ali, kill him!” the people would follow ali wherever he went, yelling it the whole time. by the way, i love ali. he is one of those guys who is seemingly bigger than life.) so, there i was with only my race number on, yelling, “ali buma ye” over, and over. i was gettin’ charged right up. then i put my number card on my bike, still yelling. i got some gatorade, and put it in the freezer, so it would be chilled for the race segment on my bike. then i went outside to sit in silence, give thanks, and just feel all the emotions running through me. soon after, i set my alarm, and went to bed.
Ali in Africa
unlike last year, this time i was able to get a pretty good sleep--maybe 3 1/2 hours in a row, then another 1 1/2 hours after that. sweet. i was so happy about that ‘cause i was pretty sure that 40 minutes of sleep just didn’t cut it last year. i woke up at 4:00am with adrenaline pulsating through me. “ALI BUMA YE! ALI BUMA YE! ALI BUMA YE! (another plus of livin’ deep in the bush, is that i can yell, and scream any time of the day i want without disturbing anyone) i went to my pile of stuff, and grabbed my checklist of things. i went through it twice. “ali buma ye!” i was bangin’ my hand on the counters, and walls, my car, anything really (that i wouldn’t wreck by hitting it). “ALI BUMA YE! ALI BUMA YE!” i said that non-stop the whole time i was gettin’ ready. i ate some food, and finished packin’ up my car. then i laid out on my bed, my 2 lance armstrong books, the big newspaper article of him just winning his 7th tour, a kick-ass photo of him i just got, and the photo of wendy ingraham, and sian welch crawling to the finish of the 1997 ironman hawaii--in a triathlete magazine i have (quite possibly my all-time favourite photo). i put on some jack johnson, and sat down. i read through the rules, and maps quickly. there was a change to the run this year. it was easy to make out on the map, but i decided not to think about it til i got down to the park. then it was all business again. i drowned out jack, “ALI BUMA YE, ALI BUMA YE, ALI BUMA YE, ALI BUMA YE, ALI BUMA YE, ALI BUMA YE.” i was even yelling it while i was brushing my teeth. i didn’t care that some spray was makin’ it out, there were more important things goin’ on (plus my house was a write-off from all the reno’s i’ve bin doin’.). “ALI BUMA YE, ALI BUMA YE, ALI BUMA YE...” i was even incorporating my doggie, and kitty kat’s name into it. my doggie, honey bear’s nickname is “girlie bear,” and my kitty kat’s name is elfie; so, it was, “GIRLIE BUMA YE, GIRLIE BUMA YE! ELFIE BUMA YE, ELFIE BUMA YE!” i was super charged. finally, it was time to go. i tied up my “girlie buma ye.” i gave her a big hug, and yelled, “BIGGEST DAY OF OUR LIVES! BIG--GEST DAY OF OUR LIVES GIRLIE BEAR!” with that, i got in my car, and started the 12-13 minute drive down my driveway. the whole time i was yelling, “ALI BUMA YE! ALI BUMA YE! ALI BUMA YE!” every time i said, “buma ye,” i would honk my horn in unison with the syllables. “ali, honk, honk, honk.” i did that for 6 of the switchbacks. i didn’t for the last one ’cause i didn’t wanna bug anyone at around 5:30am. i didn’t stop screaming though, “ALI BUMA YE! ALI BUMA YE! ALI BUMA YE!” soon, i started to feel like i would lose my voice if i kept it up, so i stopped. well, that lasted for about one minute. i was too charged! “ALI BUMA YE! ALI BUMA YE! ALI BUMA YE!” i pretty much did it for the whole drive into town. sweeeeeeet!
when i parked my car, i got my bike out right away, loaded up on it, and went to the park. i wanted to get my bike racked where i wanted it, then i would come back, and get my other gear later. right away though, i noticed that my air was low in my front tire. “crap.” i gotta get that one figured out. other than that, i was feeling pretty good (considering all the problems my left hip, and kidney area had bin giving me for the past 13 days). i started gettin’ quite focused. all my thoughts were on the race even more than they had bin all morning. i wasn’t yelling anymore, internally, or externally. instead, i was just feeling it all with mass intensity. i was feeling how my body was moving, working, and feeling. with the way i was able to swim, and ride in penticton (something i was totally unable to do last year B4 the race), i started feeling that my race time, and fluidity would be improved upon last year. like i said last year, after the dramatics of last years race, i thought it would be physically impossible to go any slower. so, i started thinking that this year’s time would be somewhere in between last year’s race, and the year B4 (when i hit the top 20). i was so psyched.
it turned out that i was the first person there. sweet. that means i get my choice of spots on the rack. of course, i go for the spot right in the corner against the fence that is the closest spot to the bike exit. i like it there, so i don’t have to drag my bike all the way through the transition area. that spot meant i had to drag it the least amount of distance possible. (so kind) since that spot was against the fence, i am able to somewhat sprawl my stuff out along the fence, and still not be in anyone’s way. (niiiice) so, after i racked my bike, i went to check out the new start to the run course. it wasn’t hard to do, but maybe, just incase, i should check it out with the map just to make sure. so back to my car i went to get the rest of my gear. once i got there, i got all my stuff, and turned around, to take it all to my bike. at that time, more people started arriving. my focus was deep. you could really feel the flavour of it all in the air. mmmmmmmmmm--sweeeet!
i dropped my stuff off and then went to get my timing chip, and my arms, and legs marked with my number. with that done, i had my mind focused on the run course changes. i went back to my stuff, and searched through it for my map. i glanced at it quickly, then set out to walk the start of the course, just to make sure i got it right. it was easy to figure out ’cause it was well marked with arrows, cones, and signs. all we had to do was go along the lakeside path til we hit the mall parking lot, then turn up to the main road. from there, it was back along the road to the bridge; and all was the same as usual. sweet. no worries.
walking the lakeside path i still felt pretty good--kidney area not hurtin’ too bad. i just was getting more, and more mentally focused. anticipation was startin’ to wash over me. i thought about the previous ones i had done. the first year was filled a certain mystique for me; and last year, because of no training, and what my body was doing, i had a bit of apprehensions laced through my emotions, but still had anticipation within too. this year i was psyched, and sorta curious about how things would be. still super psyched though.
the one thing i knew i had to do B4 i could let my mind find as much ease as was possible for the time was to get some air into my front tire. if i didn’t get that done, i would have had that rollin’ through my mind over, and over, and over ‘til i got off the bike; and i wouldn’t feel too good about it. so, i got back to my bike, then i started walkin’ through the transition area looking for a pump to borrow. i found a sweet one. there was a guy standin’ beside it, so i asked him if it was his, and if i could borrow it. he said it wasn’t his, but whoever owned it probably wouldn’t mind. “cool.” i grabbed it, and hurried back to my bike to get that taken care of. when i was done, a guy at the other end of the rack i was on asked if he could borrow it. i said, “it’s not mine, but sure.” i was hopin’ that everything would be cool. when i brought it back, whoever owned it still wasn’t there; so i just figured, “no harm, no foul.” then i thought to myself, “sweet, i got that taken care of, now i can relax, and settle fully into my focus.”
even though i was there 2 hours B4 start time, the beginning of the race just seemed to sneak right up on me. after i returned the bike pump, there was only about 15 minutes left B4 the start. i took time to give each shoulder some lovin’ with my laser. when that was done, it was time for the final task, “wetsuit time.” “damn, do i ever hate puttin’ that thing on, and takin’ it off.” i was jokin’ with a girl racked beside me that it was probably the worst part of the whole race. even still, i would not consider doin’ our race without it--dang our lake is chilly. actually, it’s super freakin’ chilly. when i finally got the thing on, i grabbed my swim cap, and goggles, and headed for the start area in the water. when i got to the timing mats, i asked for some help zippin’ it up ’cause i didn’t feel like the struggle i usually have to go through to do it myself. once that was done, across the timing mats i went, down the steps, and into the water. i was the last one in the water, and like last year, i went to the back of the pack for the start.
this was it... ...once i’m in the water, i feel like that’s the point-of-no-return. i took a quick scope of where the buoy’s were. then i put my goggles on. next thing i knew, everybody was on their way. “whoa!” i don’t know if i’m goin’ deaf, but i didn’t hear the start signal this year. the other 2 years, they announced the one minute to go mark (maybe it was 30 seconds); and everybody would start yellin’, and screamin’ all psyched. then they would count down 3-2-1-GO (the go would be signalled with an air horn, or something). not this year. maybe that all happened, but i was just outta my mind or somethin’. (giggle, giggle)
well, everyone’s goin’, so “i guess i should get to it. here we go again.” as soon as i got horizontal in the water, B4 i even did my first stroke, i was hit with one, and only one thought, “daaaaaaaaaamn--our lake is freakin’ freezin’!!! holy crap!” here i was used to small, shallow, and super warm skaha lake. apparently it was time for one BIG-ASS-REALITY-CHECK! (giggle, giggle). even though only my arms, and shoulders were fully exposed, my body wasn’t impressed. “oh, well, suck it up, and give ’er!”
i was instantly outta breath within maybe 10-15 metres. there could be a few factors involved with that: my shallow breathing patterns, might tight wetsuit, and the cold were probably the main ones. my poor cardio conditioning didn’t have time to kick in yet; but i did start to get an uneasy feeling that that was gonna make things super tough soon enough. probably by about metre 25-30 i felt like i had cement in my lungs. daaaaaaaaamn. i could barely breathe. it was all quick hyper-ventilating type breathing. very shallow, and very fast. (in my reflections since the race, i have realized that i’ve gotta try to do somethin’ about that. there is a device that i’ve seen in triathlete magazine that i think i’m gonna order that is supposed to help train the lungs.) as i was goin’ through my breathing issue, i soon realized that my arms were startin’ to cramp up. i was doin’ ok though. all that was soon to be wiped right from my mind because of what happened next...
about 50-70 metres into the swim, my left hip, and kidney area said “FUCK THIS! you wanna do this you foolish idiot, well then, I‘M GONNA MAKE YOU FREAKIN‘ SUFFER!” then it unleashed a HUUUUGE pain that rippled through my whole body, and made me have a major one of my body cease-ups. for about 6 or 7 seconds, i couldn’t inhale or exhale, and my body just stopped moving. it wouldn’t work. my head went under the water, and next thing i knew, i was screaming in agony while my head was submerged. as i said, with my cease-ups, most always i end up gasping for air. well, as one might imagine, gasping for air when you’re under the water isn’t the best thing a guy could ask for. (giggle, giggle) i sucked down some water, and coughed it up at the same time. it felt like i drank down half the lake. it was some crazy stuff. even with that goin’ on, i still felt fine in the water. what i mean by that, is that i didn’t feel in danger or anything. our swim is parallel with the shore, and isn’t very far out. i also had the security of my wetsuit; and of course, there are life guards in kayaks, etc. all over the place. maybe that might have bin a bit different if i was doin’ the long course, and i was in the middle of the lake; but i wasn’t. i decided to roll over on to my back, and swim that way for a bit. since there was no way i could do a full back crawl, i just sorta fluttered my arms out to the sides of me, and kicked. kicking was a bad call. that caused another cease-up. yahooooo, another jolt of electricity feeling pain. it was a hard thing to do, but i rolled over on to my belly again. zap. another jolt. i end up vertical in the water. my head went under again. i screamed in pain again. “fuckin’ fuuuuuuuck!” i started thinkin’ about how long i still had to go B4 this swim was over. “daaaaaamn. this is gonna take forever.” then, when my head surfaced again, i looked ahead to where the last buoy was B4 i got to make the turn (the 1/2 way point of the first lap). "crap." (giggle, giggle) on i splashed, got zapped, and screamed. it didn't take me long B4 i started gettin’ quite frustrated with my body. i also started thinkin’ about how long my time for the swim would be. when that thought hit my head, i said to myself, “this is freakin’ embarrassing! what a freakin' joke i am!” i really started feelin’ embarrassed about it all. i guess i had a good reason for the terrible time i knew i was gonna end up havin’, but i still had that sense of embarrassment wash over me. i had no time to focus on that thought though, as i apparently had a lotta work to do B4 i would finally be able to get out of the water.
A second look at what the swim did to me
finally gettin' to the 1/4 way point, and makin' that first turn felt somewhat good. it felt like i was finally makin' some progress. even though i had that feeling for a brief moment, it got replaced with the notion that i still had 3/4 left to go, and it wasn't gettin' any easier. my pain was getting worse, and worse, and worse with every passing moment. the dramatics were snowballing like crazy. the electric jolts of pain were more intense, and happenin' more, and more frequent. i soon realized that i couldn't really be horizontal in the water. being horizontal just made my hip, and kidney get worse. so, there i was bobbin' up, and down like a buoy for, pretty much, the rest of the race. my head would go up, and down. above water, then below the water. every time it went below the water i would scream. each scream got progressively louder, and more intense...
i started to kinda established a bit of a pattern. after my head bobbed up, and down 3-5 times, i would suck it up, and pull off 4 or 5 front crawl strokes. ZAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAP!!! cease-up. gasp for air. drink down some water. scream in pain. wail, and flail my arms to somehow try to get further along. bob up, and down. use every bit of strength i could just to roll onto my back. flutter my hands. ZZZZZZZAAAAAAAAAP!!! cease-up. drink water. cough it up. somehow find strength, where there was none, just to roll over onto my belly again. ZAAAAAAAP! cease-up... over, and over, and over, and over for all of that 450ish metres. daaaaaaamn... "how am i really doin' this?" i was actually really amazed, and impressed with myself. i still had that sense of embarrassment within me though...
about 3/4 into the first lap, i started thinkin' about jackie. "damn. she's lucky she didn't do this as my partner, 'cause this is a pretty pathetic performance..." then i started gigglin' to myself about that while i had a picture of her in my head. "nothin' like havin' a strong teammate." (giggle, giggle) thoughts of her totally lightened my mood. see, in april, i laid down a challenge to the whole spa, and chiropractic practice. i said, if i could do it through crazy pain, none of them had any excuses (especially since at least one of them have said for the previous couple of years that they were gonna do it forsure the next year. then the next year...) for about 1 1/2 days, there was talk of a few teams being formed. since jackie is a crazy sport-nut like me, it seemed she was the best chance for the challenge being met. she loves to run, and ride her bike. (sweet) she isn’t a swimmer though; so i said she could use my swim time. so, for some of the swim, i had pictures of her in my mind. i saw her waitin' for me in a deserted transition area, thinkin', "where is that fuck of a team-mate of mine!” then i would start laughin’, and of course, drink down more water. that was good water to drink though. (giggle, giggle) i remembered givin’ her a condition if she was to use my swim time. that condition was that she better not hope to win, ‘cause it could be ugly (especially since, at the time, i couldn’t lift my arms much higher than waist level). did i ever call that one. who knew it’d be this crazy. from that point on, visions of jackie were laced through all my thoughts with my swim; and that kept a kinda comedic flow amongst the terrible pain, and chaos i was goin’ through. ZAAAAAAAAAAAAP! “damn, would she ever have her work cut out for her if we were gonna have a respectable finish! then again, she better not make me look bad, or else...” when i had that thought, i started roaring with laughter for a split-second. then it was like, oh yeah, don’t forget, ZAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAP!!!
finally, i made the turn to start the 2nd lap. “well, that only took for freakin’ ever. now i only gotta do it one more time! sweet. (giggle, giggle).” needless to say, the second lap was worse than the first. it wasn’t just enough that i was just barely clinging on; but of course, i had to swim way off course. zig-zag, zig-zag, zig-zag. maybe i just didn’t think it was a hard enough challenge, so i thought i’d give myself some more distance to swim. (giggle, giggle) ZAAAAAAAAAAAP! ZAAAAAAAAAAP! ZAAAAAAAAAAAP! ZAAAAAAAAAAAP! i started laughin’ about how i’d give jackie shit for such a poor performance. “c’mon jack, stop makin’ us look bad, and get to it! C‘MON! C‘MON!, C‘MOOOOONNNNN! maybe i made a bad choice here in pickin‘ such a weak team-mate” (fuckin’ roaring laughter) drink the lake dry. “hey, sweet, now that the lake’s dry, i don’t have to swim anymore! wuuuu-haaaaa!” (even more roaring laughter, followed by, gulp, gulp, gulp.) ZAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAP! wailing, and flailing. “damn you jackie, stop makin’ me laugh, and drink this damn lake up. are you tryin' to kill me? what kinda imaginary partner are you?” (giggle, giggle) i guess it was a good way to stay hydrated, ‘cause the last thing i needed was to get myself all dehydrated. (giggle, giggle) ZZZZZAAAAAAAAAAAP!!! “holy crap--this fuckin’ hurts! i can’t wait til this damn swim is over.” well, there was only one of two ways that that was gonna happen, one stroke at a time (no matter how ugly it was), or quit. there was no way i was quittin’, so i only had one choice, SUCK IT UP!
towards the end of the 2nd lap i found myself amazed. somehow, i wasn’t in last place. “how is that possible? i’ve bin dying in excruciating pain since 50-60 metres in, and i still was ahead of someone. crazy. oh well, i’m still not done yet.“ ZAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAP! “this is freakin’ ridiculous! i am gettin’ close though.” i was so excited to be around the last buoy. “sweet. i can stand up now.” then my body said, “hell no you can’t. i’m gonna whup you one more time!” ZZZZZZZAAAAAAAAAAAAAAP! “crap. you mean there’s more water left in this freakin’ lake to drink? didn’t i already suck it dry by now?” (giggle, giggle) don’t let my humour fool you though, ’cause i was in some of the craziest pain i had bin in for months, and months. EXCRUCIATING PAIN!
finally, i got to plant my feet, and stand up. h-o-l-y shit! i thought i was in pain when i was swimmin’ (or whatever you call it that i just did). uh-uh. when i put my feet down, there was an absolute explosion in my hip, and kidney area. i thought i was gonna collapse right there. i mean, i could barely stand up at all. i just couldn’t wait to get outta the water, and that turned out to be even worse than when i was in the water. i couldn’t believe it. well, maybe i could. i know what i’ve bin through over the years... with all this goin’ on, i emerged from the water cursing, and swearing. i was so bitter with my performance... my mom was standin’ right at the water when i came out. i barely paid any attention to her though, as i had some crazy issues goin’ on, and some pretty intense focus. i basically needed to stare through concrete to be able to keep myself from collapsing.
so, there i was hobblin’ up the beach, then up the stairs. as i was goin’ up the stairs, a course marshal said somethin‘ like, “hey you got that over with.” as soon as i stepped up from swimmin’, i was lookin’ ahead to the run, and just knew it was gonna kick the shit outta me. with that in mind, and a smile on my face, i replied to the guy, “i’m just gettin’ started.” even though i was so hurtin’, the thought of stopping NEVER ONCE OCCURRED TO ME--ABSOLUTELY NO WAY!!!
walkin’ up the stairs was agonizing. i guess it all was. i had a HEAVY LIMP. daaaaamn. it seemed like the biggest task in the world just to lift my feet up into the foot buckets. unlike the previous 2 years, there were only 2 foot buckets. i checked that out B4 the race too. the last 2 years, there were buckets at almost every bike rack, and so i usually waited to rinse my feet til i got back to my bike. since i was so long in the water, i had the transition area basically all to myself. when i came to the foot rinse, since there were only two of them, i found myself wondering if there was a whole lotta congestion there when there were lotsa people comin’ outta the water at the same time. “oh well.” after i rinsed my feet, and started hobblin’ on again, a girl came up to me, and asked me sorta what my issues were. i said, “head-to-toe arthritis.” she said she has asthma, and had to drop out after the swim. that was a bummer; but there was no way i was gonna do that. i didn’t care if it took me all day, i would finish the race. PERIOD!!! so, off i went, hobblin’ towards my bike.
i felt so mangled that i really struggled to get wetsuit off. it was takin’ forever. i was just way too sore to be able to bend down to use my hands, and arms to help get it off. that meant i had to mostly try to get it off using my feet. that is no easy task, let me tell you! at one point i heard something with the wetsuit that didn’t sound right. “hmmmm, what the hell was that?” i was already upset, and embarrassed with the way my swim went; so something just didn’t sit right with what i thought i heard. when i finally got the damn thing off, i saw that i ripped a big hole in the crotch--FUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK! was i ever bitter--cursing, and swearing. my mom, and step-dad were right there, but that didn’t matter to me one bit ‘cause i was freakin’ pissed. i was bitter with what my body did in the water. i was bitter that i could barely walk, and i was super bitter that i just ripped my wetsuit. a ray of light did shine through though, ‘cause while the wetsuit ordeal was goin’ on, i noticed a dog by the water that looked like my doggie, honey bear’s sister. sweet. i tripped out on that for a bit, even to the point where i pointed it out to my folks. then i was like, “oh yeah, right, i’m doin’ a race here” (giggle, giggle, giggle)--always keepin’ things casual--’magine that. niiice. that lightened things up a bit. “ok, let’s get back to business here,” was the next thought to run through my head.
with the wetsuit off, the next thing i had to do was get geared up for the bike. to get my shoes and socks on is no easy task for me either. this is how it basically went: kneel down, grab sock. stand up, put it on. kneel down, grab shoe. stand up, put it on. kneel down, tie it up. grab other sock. stand up, put it on. kneel down, grab shoe. stand up, put it on. kneel down, tie it up. then grab number, and helmet while i was down there. then stand up, put number on. put helmet on. grab some gatorade from holder on bike. drink some. put it back. kneel down, grab water. stand up, drink some. toss the bottle (all the while i was cursing, and swearing that i ripped my wet suit; and still checkin’ out the dog). grab bike, and go. sweet, i made it through T-1.
once i walked my bike to where i could get on it, i was faced with yet another challenge in my mind, and body. i always load up on my bike with my left foot on the pedal, then i swing my right foot over the seat. since it was my left hip, and kidney area that was so messed up that i could barely walk, i started wondering if i would be able to load up on my bike without falling off. this was a REAL concern. it was a shaky mount-up on my bike, but it worked out.
as soon as i was on the bike, my focus turned to my next reality check--how was my liver gonna feel, and was it gonna be a real problem that could really hold me back? well, it didn’t take long for that question to get answered, because my liver whupped me down B4 i even got to the bridge. “CRAP!” (giggle, giggle) this thing just wasn’t gettin’ any easier. i guess that’s the story of my life, ‘cause if i have learned anything, it’s this, “my life is not about the easy way out.” like always, i just suck it up, and deal with it; so, once again, that’s what i did, ’cause i wasn’t quittin’. there is no way i could let myself do that. i just couldn’t live with myself if i did. now it felt like, “the race is on...”
Always easy to find my bike in the Ghost Town Transition Areas
just after i crossed the bridge, almost instantaneously, “ALI BUMA YE.” it slammed into my head, and went over, and over like a broken record. “ali buma ye! ali buma ye! ali buma ye! ali buma ye! ali buma ye!” over, and over, and over, and over. it just wouldn’t leave my head. it was laced through every thought i had even when it wasn’t at the forefront of thoughts in my head. “ali buma ye.” niiiice...
aside from my liver issue, the bike leg bike was easier for me than last year. i wasn’t passed as much as last year either (not that i ever had a problem with that). i still had lots of fun as usual. i was again talkin’ to myself about those who passed me. the ones who did, just blew by me. as i was gigglin’, i would say to myself, “is that all you got? you ain’t nothin’!” see, still havin’ fun ’cause i’m such a fan of it all, and love it so much. same as last year, i was slobberin’ on myself checkin’ out everyone’s kind bikes. sweet. i would also say to myself when i would get blown by by people on their kind bikes, “sweeeeet bike, maybe you should go learn how to ride it!” (gigglin’ the whole time of course). wuuuuu-haaaaa!
one of the great things about the ride is that it was sorta nostalgic. the bike course is where i have done most of my ridin’ over the past couple years. even though riding has bin mostly a tough thing for me in certain ways, it only makes me think good thoughts, and fills me up with kind sensations to tour along that route. all my ridin’ there has bin 100% because of, or for the triathlon. whenever i am triathlon focused, i get overtaken by some crazy sense of purity. it’s such a magikal thing from my perspective. having to wait 9ish years to finally pull one off was a long time comin’, and a long waited dream come true. it was something that told me that dreams do come true; and in its own way, it gave me a sense of hope that i will be able to meet the dream of someday shedding the pain that lives in my entire body. i think this concept is what all the people who are negative towards me doin’ these triathlons have no comprehension of understanding. aside from me just loving it to the very core of my being, no matter how pain-filled it might be for me, it does give me a sense of hope. that is something that is definitely priceless. it’s something you can’t buy, and something that people can’t instil in you no matter what they say. this concept alone is one of the deep rooted energy sources that helps me fuel myself along my path in life. i also think it’s kinda somethin’ that most people will never know about, although i really wish they would; but not have to learn it the way that i did. i know what my body means to me now; and when it gives me a window, no matter how big, or small, i jump through. and even though i am filled with pain, in many ways these thoughts help me transcend it. i guess that it isn’t just the ride that is nostalgic, but rather the whole concept of the triathlon for me. it crushes me, but it helps me transcend, and find a pure sense of freedom. who wouldn’t love that? that’s why i will never stop tryin’ to pull these things off. sweet.
if you add that to it all, even with a whupped-down achin’ liver slowin’ me down, the ride kicked ass. it took awhile for me to do, but it seemed to fly by. my arms, from my hands to my upper back were sore; and so was my neck, and lower back (and of course, my liver too); but it didn’t really phase me too much. i just took it one moment at a time, and enjoyed myself. “ali buma ye! ali buma ye! ali buma ye!” another thing that made me laugh, and giggle, was the concept of “no chain.” when i was in penticton, i read lance armstrong’s book, “every second counts.” in it, he was talkin’ about “no chain.” that was basically when they felt so good on the bike that it was like there was no chain there to give them any resistance, so they were able to fly along effortlessly. even during tough moments, and stages during the tour de france, and training, they (him, and his team-mates) would bring up that term, kind of jokingly, to lighten the mood from the gruelling pain they were going through. sweet. so, “no chain” rang through my mind quite often. it would always make me pick up my pace as much as i could; or maybe even a bit more than that. “no chain! ali buma ye!” “screw this pain crap, i’m gonna hammer, charge, and push til i’m walkin’ the tight-rope of my limitations.” niiice.
the race is one entity; but it can be broken down to 5 different parts, each with their own beginning, and ending (swim, T1, bike, T2, run). triathlon is wonderful that way: it’s full of new beginnings, and with each beginning comes an ending; so in that context, it is full of many little accomplishments that lead up to a big fatty one. sweeeet! for me, i always break stuff down, ’cause it just seems to make things easier that way (i will touch on this a bit more during the run part--having to do with terry fox). i take the race all moment by moment, and segment by segment. so when the bike came to an end, i had another new beginning on the horizon, T2. with that in mind, it’s always nice to be crossing back across the bridge for the little home stretch of the ride. “sweet. i made through that part.” i hit the “no pedal zone,” and coast on in to the dismount area, my body ready to be off the bike. my next challenge was to dismount from the bike without falling off. i was a little shaky doin’ that too (just like gettin’ on); but as soon as my left foot hit the ground, my hip said, “NOW I’M REALLY GONNA MESS YOU WITH; SO YOU’D BETTER BRACE YOURSELF FOR WHAT’S COMIN’ NEXT!”
daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn! the 15 metres from the dismount to where i racked my bike was agonizing. my arms felt like lead when i was rackin’ up my bike. whoa! (giggle, giggle) i took off my helmet, then i took a moment to grab another drink of gatorade from the bottle on my bike. during that moment, i had to really turn on my focus like i think i never have had to do B4. i knew all too well what lay ahead, maybe not in the form it came, but i’ve bin through A LOTTA CRAZY PAIN in many forms through my whole body over the years, so i was no stranger to how intense it can get; and i knew to the very fibre of my being, that this was gonna be another one of those epic times. i knew that as soon as my hip/kidney gave out 60ish metres into the swim; and then had it re-hammered into my head when i first stood up comin’ outta the water. during T2, i was also immersed in an immediate brief reflection of the ride. that reflection was that i was quite impressed how my hip/kidney felt, and held out. i was actually amazed. “so kind, but now it’s on with the hard part...”
my brief little plan was to stagger through the transition area, so i could kinda gather my shit to start the run. once i was over the timing mats, and on the path, i would start to give ’er... “alright, let’s try ’er out, and see if this plan will somewhat unfold ok.” so, off i went... dang, the stagger through the transition area was long, and slow. my limp was massive, and very obvious. people were yellin’, and screamin’ for everyone. i didn’t really look at anyone though. i don’t really like bein’ the centre of attention. it sorta overwhelms me, and kinda trips me out. since i was in so much pain, i had to FOCUS HARD; so i just stared at the ground about a body length in front of me, and got things started. after a short eternity, i made it all the way through the transition area to the timing mats (giggle, giggle). once i crossed the mats, the same course marshal guy who said, “hey, you got that over with,” said, “hey, your bike time wasn’t too bad.” i told him, “this is where it gets crazy.” then i got out on to the lakeside pathway. i was glad to be outta the transition area. hmmmmm... this is kind of a strange thing that i can’t really explain, even to myself. i love the supporters. i love how all the people are out yellin’, and screamin’, and cheerin’ everybody on. i think it’s so amazing. SO AMAZING. even still though, i really like bein’ out on the course where it’s all mellow, and chilled out. that’s where i find the most focus. i would be bummed if all those supporters weren’t there though. dang, why do i find that so strange...
anyway, gettin’ out on to the pathway was nice. the chaos of the transition area was replaced with the wonderous serenity of the lake, and mountains. the sun was shinin’ down, and feelin’ kind. i didn’t really try to run ‘til i got past the little rolling hill just after the washroom building that was on the other side of the timing mats. once the course flattened out i got filled with a flashback of last year’s run. the thought was of when i was alongside the safeway parking lot. that was where i got so disgusted with myself for not running that i started cursing, swearing, and yelling at myself out loud. ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTED WITH MYSELF that i still wasn’t trying to run again after the 3 failed attempts right at the start of the run course. then, as much as it hurt, i just sucked it up, and started my slow, limping/stagger run. that vision totally hammered into my mind. next thing i knew, i was cursing, and swearing at myself again. “ali buma ye,” and, “no chain” were also running through my head. so, of course, i sucked it up, and tried to run. within 3 steps, i almost collapsed. “FUCKIN’ GOD DAMNED FUCKIN’ FUCK!! FUUUUUUUUUCK!” i was so bitter with my hip, and kidney area. even worse, i was bitter with myself for not tryin’ hard enough. so i sucked it up and tried to run again. 2 steps in, and i almost went down. it was then that i realized that my running pace was the same as my walking one. i still wouldn’t let myself walk though. i just couldn’t do it. i just couldn’t live with myself if i did (or so it seemed).
all this turned up my focus as high as it has ever bin. i needed every bit of mental strength i could possibly muster up just so i wouldn’t collapse. it played a bit in my mind that i was maybe 100-125 metres into the 5km run that this was all happenin’. that made things a bit crazier; but as always, it took it in stride with some good humour... looking at the ground just in front of me helped pull me further into a serious zone of focus. my mind decided that the only way i was gonna get through all this, was to only look up when i crossed the line. that was it. except for what i was doing, I NEEDED TO TUNE EVERYTHING OUT, and take it one step at a time. that was the ONLY way i was gonna make it. that’s when another thought/image slammed into my mind. it was of terry fox. i remember seeing a documentary about him. at some point, he made reference to once being asked how he was gonna manage to run all the way across our big country. he said, “one day at a time. one mile at a time. one step at a time.” when that came into my mind, everything else got washed out, except for the pain of course. one could take a lot from those words. they can be a strong metaphor for life. at the moment, they were the words that filled me up, and showed me the proper way to go about this race. those words also run through my mind when i'm draggin'/carryin' a particularly heavy load through terrible snow conditions up to my house in the winter.
even with a super strong focus, and with everything tuned out, i guess, out of my peripheral vision, i enjoyed all the other competitors zoomin' past me. it was sorta hard to miss them, as probably 3 out of 4 of them would say some encouraging remark as they blew past me. i still don't know what to make of comments like those. i guess i love them, but there's that whole thought of not much likin' to be the centre of attention of things. i also think that there's nothin' really special to what i'm doin', so i don't really feel deserving of all that was being said to me. i don't think i ever responded to anyone. that came out of me just concentrating on what i was doing. the only time i was responding was when people kept asking me if i was ok, or if i needed the paramedics. "no thanks, i'm fine. actually, i'm doin' great." that's one of the best parts of the race. it's fun to watch the expressions of people when i look like death is knockin' on my door, but i tell them i'm doin' great, and lovin' it. (giggle, giggle) if you ever wanna know what a confused expression looks like, well that's it.
about 1/2 way along the water path, there was one guy who said, "stop, it's not worth it." i didn't respond, but that fuelled the fire within me. i could see where he was comin' from within his ignorance of the situation. when i say that, i mean, most people thought i had strained muscles, a sprained or torn somethin', etc. they didn't know my situation. if i didn't have all the illnesses i do, had a healthy body, and then looked like that, it would be a different story for me. i'm smarter than that. B4 i got sick, and had regular sporting injuries, i would rest 'til they got better. then, when i was back, and better than ever, i'd go give 'er again. my whole illness picture is different than that though. i do listen to my body. i know my limits. sometimes i push them. sometimes i give in to them when i've bin maxed out for too long. sometimes i tell them to go to hell 'cause i feel like doin' stuff. sometimes they lay down the trump card and fuck me up for months at a time. so, when i do get a window, no matter how pain-filled, i sometimes jump through, other times i crawl through. sometimes i get through no problem. sometimes i crack my head on the window sill, but still get through. sometimes the window slams down on my ass when i'm havin' a hard time gettin' through. i keep tryin' though. i mean, i could just lay around doin’ nothin’ in a climate controlled cushy bubble (as it seems my brother thinks i should do), and still be in unbearable pain throughout my whole body. if that’s the case, i might as well add some more pain to do some things i love to do. even if it means me gettin’ crushed down, i know i’ll bounce back to my regular whupped-down state in a few days later anyway. if i can get bed-ridden for weeks just from turning on a light, or sneezing, or even inhaling, why not run the same risk from at least doin’ something fun? this is what everyone doesn’t seem to understand. i mean EVERYONE. it doesn’t seem to matter who i tell, and how many times i tell them, they still question why i would wanna do stuff like our triathlon. that is somethin’ that really frustrates me. i can pour my guts out to someone about it all, and have them get overtaken by tears of inspiration, then i say i’m doin’ the triathlon again, and they say, “you’re crazy. i don’t know why you would do something like that...” as trying to explain in words doesn’t work (even when, at the time, they say they understand), my internal response is “GGGRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!”
anyway, so when that guy told me to stop, and that it wasn’t worth it, i thought to myself, “IT SURE IS. if you only knew...” that inspired me to grudge on even harder. so, i picked up the pace. i turned my top speed from about 1/2 km/hr to about 2/3‘s km/hr (giggle, giggle). just like a flash, i took off lightning fast. (giggle, giggle, giggle) “if you stay right there, 20 feet in front of me, and give me about an hour to catch up, i’ll come and whup you like you‘ve never seen--if i can still move my body parts.” (giggle, giggle) that’s the kind of thought that easily passes through my mind, and helps me keep everything all too light, and casual. seriously though, i thought to myself that if he knew my situation, he would probably have different thoughts about it all. to me, it was absolutely worth it.
i kept staggering along. actually, if i was staggering, i would consider that stylin’. i guess, in retrospect, i was stylin’ the whole time just ’cause i was suckin’ it up, and doin’ it, no matter how long it was gonna take me. i was still frustrated with myself though. i was cursing at myself sooo much. probably way too much. i said, “fuck, and m*****fucker” more times than i could possibly count. that was one of those classic times where, “if i had a dollar for every time...” i didn’t mean anything by it. it was just my internal drive kickin’ myself in the ass. my pain drove a lotta those words outta my mouth, and i think the NHL lockout had somethin’ to do with it too--a year’s worth of pent-up super-fanism needed to get out somehow. (GIGGLE, GIGGLE). so, over, and over, i would keep cursing at myself to go harder, faster. “SUCK IT UP! stop fuckin’ up and run. you’re a fuckin’ embarrassment!” so i would. two or three steps later, ZAAAAAAAAAAAP! “MUTHA--FUCKA!!!” even in those 2 or 3 steps where my brain was sendin’ those messages to go faster, which made me go faster, in all reality, my pace never changed. if it did anything, it went slower. still, though, even if it meant goin’ slower, i would still feel better about at least trying to run, than just givin’ in, and walkin’ instead. that just wouldn’t do. how could i look in the mirror if i did. “fuck that! i’m givin’ ‘er. i didn’t sign up for a triathlon to wuss out. i signed up to charge it AS BEST AS I COULD no matter what that meant!” so i kept chargin’.
after who knows how long, i finally got to the 1km marker. i started howlin’ to myself. “CRAP! i thought i was at least 1 1/2 km in. fuckin’ crap. this damn thing just gets fuckin’ easier, and easier.” (giggle, giggle, giggle, giggle) ZZZAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAP! “fuckin’ 1 km fuck! fuckin‘ fuuuuuuuck!” (giggle, giggle) i was laughin’ out loud at that one. how could i not??? shortly after that i had to deal with my shirt. the whole time on the run, my shirt was really pissin’ me off. there’s no other way to put it. since it was mandatory to wear one, i was stuck with it; so i kept tryin’ to make it comfortable; but it just wasn‘t workin‘. even though it was really gettin’ to me, it was a nice little break in thought from the pain i was goin’ through. yeah right, ZZZZAAAAAAAAAPPPPPPPP!! (giggle, giggle) finally, i was gonna take it off. “who cares if it was against the rules. i was fine with them just DQ’n me. i’d just go across the street, and finish it anyway.” i thought about it though, “if i take it off, then i’ll have to carry the stinkin’ thing; and i’m definitely not into that.” i ended up takin’ one arm out of the sleeve hole; so i had one arm through, and the other side was just restin’ on my shoulder. that was way better than B4. i would still rather not have it there at all, but i made the best of it. at least i had that dealt with. now it was off my mind, and all i had to think about was, ZZZAAAAAAAAAAAAAP! over, and over, and over, and over...
i just dug in, and gave ’er shit though. “damn-ass beat-up body, you think yer stoppin’ me, FUCK THAT! yer not stoppin’ shit. throw as many ‘zaaaaaaaaaaaaaps’ at me as you can, and i’m still gonna whup this triathlon down.” i didn’t care if it took me all day, ‘cause nothin‘ was gonna stop me. (that was a very repetitive thought in my mind) “one step at a time til the finish! terry fox whupped over 5000km, rick hansen whupped down the world; so as if i‘m not gonna whup this little race down.” every step was like, “take that. and that. and that. then it would say, “TAKE THAT YOU COCKY FUCK! ZZAAAAAAAAAAAAP!” then i would have to catch myself from collapsing, so i wouldn’t tumble to the ground. a few deep breaths, and i was back, and better than ever. “is that all you got? that ain’t nothin’!” then i’d get 3 or 4 more steps in. then ZAAAAAAAAAAP! it was a pretty repetitive process that only got worse with every step. i still wasn’t deterred one bit though. i just stared at the ground, and grudged on--LOVIN’ EVERY MINUTE OF IT! after all, that’s the reason why i was doin’ the whole thing in the first place, ’cause i love it. wuuuu-haaaaa!
i finally got past the safeway, and ‘round the corner by the shell station. what do you know, the ambulance guys were there. whether they were waitin’ for me, or not, i don’t know; but when they saw, they got out, and came right for me. “are you alright?” “totally. i’m fine. it’s nothin’ serious. it’s just arthritis.” somethin’ told me they weren’t convinced that i was ok, ‘cause they kept comin’ for me. that kinda pissed me off. tryin’ to convince them i was fine was takin’ my much needed concentration away from what i was doin’. i just wanted to be left alone to focus on what i was doin’. i didn’t wanna have to keep explaining what the hell was goin’ on. i know everyone’s hearts were in the right place; and it was nice to know they were concerned for me; but damn, “i’m ok just leave me alone,” i thought to myself. i was never really rude about it to anyone, at least, not at that point. (i think i was gettin’ aggravated with my parents later). after i said whatever i said to the ambulance guys, i finally was gonna say no more; so i just looked down ahead of me, blocked them outta my mind, and kept goin’.
the shell station was the point where i could really notice the beating my whole right side was taking. my right knee was killin’ me ’cause it had to take all my weight since my left side wasn’t really workin’. each step on my left side was causing a collapse, so my right leg had to catch me so i wouldn’t fall. that’s a lotta constant off-balance shock that seemed to be goin’ right into my right knee. every muscle on my right side, from my foot to my skull were cramped up like crazy. both arms, and shoulders were messed right up too. after the swim, then havin’ to hold me up on my bike, it seemed like a lot to ask of them to be used as kind of a balance pole (like tight-rope walkers use). believe it or not, i needed to use them like that to help me stay upright because of all the near collapsing i was experiencing with almost every step. i kept tryin’ to shake out my arms for the rest of the run. it didn’t really do anything though. i tried to concentrate on keeping my shoulders relaxed too. yeah right, ZZZZAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAP! “oh yeah. right, right, the zaps.” those damn things made it impossible to keep relaxed in any form of the very concept of the word. oh well, “ali buma ye! ali buma ye! ali buma ye!” ZZZZZZZAAAAAAAAAAAAAPPP! “no chain! ali buma ye! terry fox! rick hansen!” no problem. zzzzzzzzzaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaap! “ok, minor problem.” (giggle, giggle)
the next block after the shell station was an aide station. “sweet.” i was psyched to squeeze a wet sponge over my head, and take in a bit of fluids. i had a deep sense of sweet in my mouth for some reason, and by that point, the thought of gatorade did not sit well. it was water from then on it. the one thing i wasn’t psyched about though, was that the aide station meant more, “are you ok?” questions, which i had enough of (even though, like i said, it was all out of the goodness of their hearts, with concern for my well-being). they didn’t even wait for me to get there. they started walkin’ towards me. “it’s ok. i’m fine.” “REALLY?“ “yes.“ i appreciated it every time, but it did drive me nuts too. “if i need help i will ASK for it,” is what went through my mind every time. EVERY TIME. i’m not shy about askin’ for help if i need it. i know when i need to; and this definitely was not one of those times. i kinda wished i could have a billboard on my front, and back that explained the whole thing, so i could just zone out, and do what i had to do.
after the aid station, my best gruuve of the whole race hit me. it was laced with, “ali buma ye, terry fox, and rick hansen” too. it seemed to be real quiet, and peaceful. it seemed that i couldn’t hear the traffic on the road, or the people runnin’ past me. the only thing i could hear were my grunts, and cries of agonizing pain. they seemed to be a part of my rhythm though; so, in their own way, those pain-driven cries were soothing, and gave me a sense of comfort. it was then that my pain snowballed to a point where i had tears in my eyes. (strange sense of comfort huh? giggle, giggle) that happened a few times--actually, more than that. i sucked ’em back, and kept gruuvin’ though.
soon, a crazy thing happened. for the 3 blocks after the aid station, as painful as everything was, a feeling of bliss filled me up. right up! i mean, ALL THE WAY UP!!! it was an overwhelming sensation. i was in so much pain that i had tears running down my cheeks, but i was so zoned-out, and lovin’ it that a huuuge feeling of bliss permeated every fibre of my being. how messed up is that? it kinda struck me strange; and i didn’t quite know what to make of it. it was sooo beautiful though. i mean, SOOOO BEAUTIFUL. that is where i felt, “this is what it’s all about.” i didn’t mean, “just what the race was about“, i meant, “WHAT LIFE IS ALL ABOUT!“ i felt that right to the very foundations of my core. it made nothing else matter. it didn’t matter that the zzzaaaaaaps had turned into one big constant thing. it didn’t matter that my muscles were just whupped. it didn’t matter that my right knew was takin’ an absolute beating. none of it mattered, ‘cause i was in the ultimate place of bliss that nourishes everything that makes life worth living for me. i was unstable, and hobbling. my insides were in complete chaos. even still, i was in a complete place of peace. my insides, on another level, the one that REALLY COUNTS, were euphoric. (that is the place i was comin‘ from when i was showing an expression of thanks to jackie’s best friend, jeannie) it’s like takin’ all that is beautiful in life from the beginning of time, compounding it, then magnifying it, then have it all absolutely explode within. the ultimate state. i kinda feel uneasy writing about it, ‘cause it’s a place/sensation where words just should not be able to try to go to, or try to explain, for they could never do the sensation justice. i guess, it was even waaaay better than the ultimate state for what we can conceive of it to be. when i was in that place, that is what i wish i could just rip right outta me, and give to all those negative people, etc., so they could finally see what i cannot seem to explain to anyone. that’s what i would put on the billboard i wished i could have on my front, and back. i wish that state could have lasted forever, or at least for the rest of the race. that wasn’t to be though; but at least i had those 3 blocks. there ended up bein’ a hidden reason to why goin’ so slow was so sweet, ’cause it made me able to enjoy those 3 blocks for a long-ass time. sweet--like you don‘t even know. (giggle, giggle) thinkin’ of this right now, a picture keeps flashin’ in my mind. i guess, if there was some way to express what i am talkin’ about, it would be about a couple who desperately have bin trying to have a child for years. as time passes, and efforts keep failing, finally, conception is realized. then after the long road of pregnancy, it finally happens... after a long, and trying labour, the new born miracle is placed in mama’s arms. even though she’s just exhausted, and painfully whupped from it all, the ultimate state of euphoric bliss rushes through every fibre of her everything. (in no way am i forgettin’ the daddy. in many of the ways, he feels the same, but like every mama can attest to, the boys don’t have to pee out a softball--giggle, giggle.) i know i can’t know what it’s like to have a child; but i’m comin’ from the place of pure pain, and exhaustion through my whole body, that even though its still there, it just seems to get washed away with that ultimate euphoric bliss. sweet. thinking about it, maybe it wasn't for 3 blocks that i got to experience that purity. it might have just seemed that long because of how slow i was moving. it seemed like way longer than that though; but i guess the true distance... nobody will know. all that matters to me was that i got to reach, and feel that experience the way i did. like i said, it made everything else not matter, and filled me up with the most magikal of sensations. (so kind. so, sooo kind.)
the thing that finally knocked me outta that was when i saw my step-dad, terry. i saw him walkin’ towards me from about 1/2 a block away. he said, “well, i’ve made a decision. i’ve decided that next year i’m comin’ back, and doin’ it with you.” well, bein’ in absolutely no place for a conversation, i said somethin’ like, “oh yeah.” conversation is not something i was into in any way with any person. kinda like a doctor doin’ brain surgery bein’ asked something like, “hey, what was our golf score on that course 2 months ago?” he’d probably be kinda like, “now’s not really the time, i’m kinda busy here.” well, maybe it wouldn’t quite be like that, as i wouldn’t be havin’ the potential to carve someone up the wrong way in the most delicate of places; but you get my point. basically, “just leave me alone to take care of business here.” terry walked beside me for a bit. he was sayin’ the odd thing to me, but i don’t think i heard, or responded to any of it. the only thing knocked back in my mind was excruciating pain, and “one step at a time.” that’s it. not too much later, he just sorta slowly walked ahead of me, leaving me in his dust. (giggle, giggle)
i was finally approaching the bridge. it was time for more of the chaos again. people yelling, and screaming. me havin’ to cross the road with incoming bikes. of course the timing worked out, that even with how slow i was movin, i came to the road right when someone was chargin’ in on their bike. “crap, now i gotta stop. hopefully gettin’ goin’ again won’t be too bad.” in times like that, for me, momentum is everything. EVERYTHING! even with how slow i was goin’, i still had momentum. (oh yeah, one thing that was a struggle the whole way on the road part of the run was the sidewalk curbs. they sucked. hard stuff. for each one, i had to come to a sort of staggering stop, and figure out my stride to get down off the side walk, then back up. see, even a centimetre change in stride pattern, when i’m feeling well, is enough to make me collapse. obviously, i wasn’t feeling well, and those curbs are more than a stinkin’ little centimetre.) anyway, the bike was gone, and i was back, and better than ever--staggering along all whupped-down. ZAAAAAAAAAAAP! “right, right. those things.” oh how my body can keep me humbled. (giggle, giggle)
so, here we go again. people yelling, and screaming. every person i passed said somethin’. every other one of them, perhaps more, asked if i was ok, or if i needed paramedics, etc. that’s definitely what i wasn’t looking forward to as i approached all the people again. i just wanted to get past them, and onto the bridge. that whole, “centre of attention thing” came into mind again. as i was in the condition i was in, it was pretty hard to miss me comin’. it wasn’t like i was come, and gone in a flash (sweet--a flash. that has become sort of a new nick-name for me from all this. so kind, so kind. giggle, giggle). maybe i was. maybe i was goin’ around, and around the course so fast like a flash, that everyone just saw me in slow motion. (wuuuuuuuuuuuuu--haaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!) just B4 i got to the bridge, i heard one of my friend cath yell out to me. she was standin’ there with her son finn (sp?) i just heard her, and didn’t see her, as i was just staring at the ground in front of me. i looked up though, and saw them. with a big smile, i said, “hey you.” then i looked back down, and kept goin’. my mom was the last person on the grass B4 the guard rail. i had almost passed her when i heard her say, “i don’t know how you’re doin’ this. you’re amazing.“ i didn’t know she was there either til i heard her voice too. i just caught a glimpse of her out of the corner of my eye, as i kept plowin‘ along.
it felt good to finally be on the bridge. it was a new element to the race. another one of those new beginnings. my shoulders, and arms were super tight. i kept trying to shake them out. that didn’t do anything though, except almost make me fall. then, zaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaap! i’d buckle, let out another gasping grunt, then try to catch myself B4 i went down. with my right side almost numb from so much arthritis, muscle, and tendon/ligament pain, it was gettin’ harder, and harder to use my right leg (and that was my good side). i don’t think i could bring my left foot past my right. that’s how crazy my stagger was. from havin’ to bear the lopsided weight of my whole body with every step i took, my right knee was fallin’ to pieces FAST. (on top of the 2 different types of arthritis in my knees, there is my patellafermoral syndrome too, which, of course, was outta control.) like i said, it just kept gettin’ easier, and easier. “terry fox. terry fox. terry fox. no chain. ali buma ye.” ZZZZAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPPP! buckle down. catch myself. start goin’ again. “terry fox. terry fox. no chain. ali buma ye.” ZAAAAAAAAAAAP! buckle down. catch myself. get goin’. ZAAAAAAAAP! a definite pattern. i felt like it seemed like somethin’ was tryin’ so hard to crush, and hammer me down. “fuck that, you ain’t hammerin’ shit!” “oh yeah.” ZZZAAAAAAAAAAAPP! “that all you got, you fuck!” “ALI BUMA YE!” ZZZAAAAAAAAAAAAAP! “TERRY FOX!” ZZZZAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPP! “fuck you!” i kept the notion of “no chain” in my mind. at this point it made me laugh, and giggle though, ’cause there was definitely a chain (attached to me--draggin’ terry fox, lance, muhammad ali, and rick hansen behind my staggerin’ crippled-ass. thunderous giggles). i still dug in deeper, and deeper, charged harder, and harder, even though i was really goin’ SLOWER, AND SLOWER! (giggle, giggle)
as soon as i was on the bridge, a new thought/feeling came absolutely slamming into my mind: the traffic. i was on the right side of the sidewalk--the traffic side. it was RIGHT BESIDE ME. i was so slow, sore, and unstable, that pick-up trucks, vans, and especially RV”s, and big-ass trucks were literally blowing me backwards a step, sometimes two, or at least forcing me into a stand-still. all the while, i was still gettin’ ZAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPED with every step i took. i was super sketched out at times. a vision of me possibly droppin’ into traffic played in my mind. i thought i should just move beside the rail, but for some stupid reason, i didn’t want to ruin the flow of the traffic for the rest of the runners. so i just focused hard, dug in, and charged. even though the feeling was there, especially when i noticed the big-ass vehicles comin’ from my peripheral vision, i couldn’t nourish it. EVERYTHING had to be focused on what i was doin’. that was the only way everything was gonna be all good....
like the whole run, 3 outta 4 runners would say something to me. the number of those who were asking about paramedics was finally fading away. the tide was finally turning there. sweet. it was mostly just words of encouragement. i still didn’t respond. i just charged. the guy who passed me early on the run, who said, “it’s not worth it,” passed me on his way back across the bridge. “with a sorta sarcastic laugh, he said the same thing again.” like B4, i knew he was only thinkin’ of my best interests from his ignorance of my situation’ but i still had that casual, “thanks, but fuck off” thought in my head. “you think i’m stoppin’ now, you’re outta your freakin’ mind!”
when i was about 1/3 of the way across the bridge, i saw the ambulance drive by again. “oh crap, not those fucks again.” (giggle, giggle) i hoped i wasn’t gonna have to fight them off again. “just leave me alone. i’m fine.”
(as i’m writing this, i think maybe next year, at the pre-race meeting, i think i might wanna address the crowd, and tell them B4 hand somethin’ like, even though i might look like i’m on my death-bed, i’m doin’ just fine. actually, kickin’ ass, and lovin’ it. i’ll get there eventually; and nothin’ will stop me. maybe some of you might remember that from last year. and, maybe the race directors could tell the same thing to the ambulance guys. <that is if i can get the courage to get up there, and say something. the race is nothin’, you wanna see me get whupped-down, just get me up public speaking.--giggle, giggle>)
anyway, i quickly put the ambulance guys outta my mind. i didn’t need that on my mind either. i needed to focus where i needed to as i was bucklin’ step after step, and i didn’t think i needed the challenge of bucklin’ into traffic.
soon enough, on top of everything, because of my messed up stride pattern, and the added force, and pressure from buckling down with every step, my feet were startin’ to feel some blister sensations comin’ on. “sweet. another thing to try to whup me down; but we’ll see who gets the last laugh. you freakin’ feet might take a good bite outta me, but i’m gonna kick your asses too. you ain‘t stoppin‘ nothin‘ you fucks!” (giggle, giggle)
the rest of the bridge was more of the same. it was all just zap after zap after zap after zap. it seemed like my hip and kidney area was just tryin’ to annihilate my entire will to live. i mean, just suck it right outta me. the rest of my body was joining in on the assault too. then my feet said, “fuck it, everyone else is doin’ it, why not us too;” so they joined the attack. like always though, it wasn’t phasing me in the way of quitting the race. why the hell would i do that? i was lovin’ it waaay too much. “sweet, i’m doin’ a triathlon. how kick-ass is that? could life really be any better? hell no!” i guess maybe it might have bin better if i wasn’t so hurtin’, but that wasn’t my reality, so there was no point sinkin’ into that thought. maybe i wouldn’t be appreciating it nearly as much if that were the case anyway. maybe the ‘off-the-charts’ excruciating pain i‘ve bin in over the past 12 years have shown me how much sweeter the flavour of life really is. (after all, it is pretty yummy if you let it be. giggle, giggle) that is a lesson i am sure that i could not have learned any other way, at least with the intensity i have. at some point during those past 12 years, i have had this thought run through my head, and fall outta my mouth many times: “the world doesn’t stop spinning ’cause i feel like a bag of crap, so i just gotta keep on goin’.” a thought nice and elegantly put, i know (giggle, giggle); but for me, something that has helped me find some strength when there is none to be found anywhere.
as i just wrote that last sentence, i had a flash of a time that would suggest that it is not entirely true. what i mean, is that there is pretty-much always strength to be found--at least to keep going forward with things. i remember a visit to some friends 8 years ago. in the middle of the night, i had to go to the bathroom. my bed was on the floor. for about 5-10 minutes, i remember trying to stand up. i couldn’t. i could get as far as on my hands, and knees. standing wasn’t working. i couldn’t get past my hands and knees. after figuring out that that wasn’t gonna work, i decided i had to try to crawl. every time i would lift one arm, or leg to move forwards, i would collapse. it seemed i had to keep both hands, and knees planted at the same time, or i wouldn’t have the strength, and stability to keep myself upright. i HAD to go to the bathroom though. “there’s gotta be a way to do this.” somehow, i figured out some kinda somethin’ to get myself the 15 feet i needed to go to get to the bathroom door. that whole process took me probably another 10-15 minutes. my next challenge was to pull myself up to the toilet. since standing was outta the picture, i had to get myself up, and turned around just to sit on the damn thing. eventually i did. sweeeeeeet relief. (giggle, giggle) then was my next issue, i gotta get back to my bed. i was stuck on the toilet though. every time i tried to get up, or even just try to sorta slither off, and down to the ground, my whole body would veto me. since i didn’t really wanna spend the rest of the night on the toilet, i had to keep tryin’ to figure things out. it took 5, or 6 tries just to get me to the point where i could collapse to the ground. i was back on the ground, stuck at the base of a freakin’ toilet. yahoo. (giggle, giggle) well, i eventually made it back to bed. the whole process of going 15 feet from my bed, to the bathroom door, into the bathroom to pee, for like 30 seconds, then go back to bed took over 1/2 an hour. i made it though. i just had to take the time to figure things out. i just needed to find the proper strength in, in the proper place within me; and then tell my pain to fuck off, ‘cause it wasn’t stoppin’ me. i’ve had to do that thousands, and thousands of times over the years. this race was no exception. like i said, “just another day in the office.” while the race was going on, i would have thoughts like that bathroom experience play through my mind. they would show me where i have bin so many times in my life; and yet, here i was, still givin’ ’er, and not takin’ shit. of course, there have bin times when there was no way i would even be able to possibly entertain the notion of doing a race. the summer of 2002 was the epitome of that thought. if one was to read about the first 2 races i did (one in my own training, and the nelson race of 2003), they would see what i mean by that. that is why, even as whupped as i was during this race, i still had a window of opportunity, one that at times i couldn’t dream of. when i got a window, i’m goin’ through it. it’s a rare thing for me to forget that. THAT IS FORSURE! it is my fuel. it played so much of a part in what got me that far in the race, and what was gonna take me right through to the end...
Never in doubt, the finish was inevitable
the end was gettin’ closer. another finish, and another beginning. the first pass of the bridge was over. “sweet, there is an aid station comin’ up.” of course, it’s the same thing as B4, “are you ok?” “i’m fine. i’m doin’ great.” a few more puzzled looks. a couple people came over. one gave me some water, and the other squeezed a sponge over my head. sweet. i love those sponges. i was offered some gatorade too, but it was just too sweet at that point for me, “no thanks.” off i hobbled. this time, the ambulance guys stayed in their truck. “sweet.” i think that’s the point where i noticed my mom was following me. i heard her talkin’ to the aid people up behind me when i was already past, and on my way down the hill. i remember her saying, “you have guts that i will never have.” i think that’s untrue. i think what i was doing could be done by anyone within my situation, given my past (of such an athletic nature). i think everybody has that in them, they just gotta accept it, unlock it, and let it flourish. i don’t mean this in the realm of a race like this for everyone, i just think it comes down to whatever really nourishes their soul, and not wantin’ to let go of it, so charge after it through adverse circumstances. we all have it in us. i know this ‘cause i am nobody special...
anyway, now, it was time for the hardest part of the race, the stinkin’ little hill down to the turn-around by the water. since i was so unstable, i had to be real careful with my steps. because of the momentum the downhill creates, and the increased pounding it puts on ones body, i knew how easy it would be for me to tumble down the hill. if that had happened, it would not have stopped me, but i still would rather not take the spill if i didn’t have to. so, i had to make my way down the hill the way one would down a slippery icy hill in the winter--slow, and careful. with that in mind, i was still chargin’ the best i could--at top speed. it was just took even more of a mental play. all my zaaaaaaps, and near collapses were much harder to deal with. they kept stoppin’ me dead in my tracks on the way down. it took everything i had not to tumble. i had to watch for loose gravel, pot-holes; and even the tiniest of bumps on the road. they could all spell disaster for me. needless to say, i finally got to the bottom. sweet. i just had to go around that little orange cone, and then try to make it back up the hill. after i made the turn, and got some strides in, i saw my mom comin’ towards me. she started to say somethin’ to me. all i said was, “i’m kinda in a zone right now.” there was nothin’ in me that wanted any part of a conversation with anyone. she asked if she could walk with me. i said, “up to the bridge.” then i just kept goin’, and said nothin’ more. by then, i noticed terry comin’ down too. he started to talk with me too. i said nothing. my mom told him i was focused, and couldn’t really talk. i just looked at the ground in front of me harder than i did B4. like going down, on the way up, i had to watch for any loose gravel, pot-holes, and uneven ground. going up was just as hard as going down, but for different reasons. i wasn’t dealing with the momentum pulling me down into a front tumble anymore. i could have gone backwards quite easily though. i also had the muscular differences everyone would have from charging up a hill, rather than charging down it. i was super-psyched when i got to the top. another finish, and another beginning. from there, all i had were 2 segments left: the bridge, and the home-stretch. “so kind,” i thought to myself.
the aid people came to give me more water, and sponges. they weren’t hounding me about how i was doing though. i think my mom & terry musta told them a bit about what was up with me. whatever the reason, i was glad to go through at least one group of people without having to lay down an explanation that everything was ok. after i had a drink, and a sponge, i started my return journey across the bridge.
i was glad to be running (yeah right--giggle, giggle), well, staggering along the rail side of the sidewalk this time. it freed that falling into traffic thought from my mind, so i could put more focus on trying to put one foot in front of the other. like i’ve said several times, that was getting harder with every inch i went. that’s not an exaggeration. there were many, many, many steps on my left side that were no more than an inch at a time. even that seemed like too much. it was a good thing i had all day to get ’er done. since it was takin’ me so long, the day was moving along, and therefore getting hotter, and hotter. i could feel the sun burning down. “niiiice.” i love the hot sun. i thrive in 30C+ weather. i still wished i didn’t have my freakin’ shirt to deal with though. oh well, no time for thoughts about that anymore either.
goin’ back along the bridge was much the same as on the way there, just more painful, and slower. there were still a few people out on the course. as one of them blazed by me, they said, “you’re what it’s all about!” i didn’t fully know what to make of that. to me, what i was doing was nothing special, after all, we were ALL DOING THE RACE. so, i sort of had 2 thoughts. 1: “cool.” 2: “we’re ALL what it’s all about.” then i just kept on hobbling, and thoroughly enjoying myself. even though i was still out on the course, i was getting nearer to the finish. the closer i got to the finish meant only one thing, soon the race would be over. when the race is over, it means this, and only this, “next year’s race is as far away as it can possibly be,” and that’s a thought that makes me sad. so, after everything, B4 i even got to the finish, i was starting to feel a minor form of emptiness just knowing that soon things would be done; and the one day i look forward to every year was soon gonna be a long time in the distance. when i was on that part of the bridge run, i knew there was no way i wouldn’t finish. it was just a matter of time. because of that, i was ok to entertain a thought i didn’t have the strength to earlier. i still focused hard though.
about 1/2 way across the bridge, some race course guy came up to me, and started talkin’ to me. of course, he asked me if i was ok. grrrrrrr. “yeah, i’m fine.“ he didn’t leave after that though. he kept walkin’ beside me, and talkin’ to me. i don’t think i paid any attention to him. i just wanted him to leave. all i wanted was to do ‘MY’ race, then i would talk afterwards. he said he wished he could finish the race with me, but the rules wouldn’t allow him too. “sweet,” i thought. with that, he walked on ahead. i was happy to just be back in my own little world. needless to say, my body was slowing thoroughly. the blister sensation on my feet went into serious overdrive. for a good part of the rest of the way, all i could think about was gettin to the finish so i could get my shoes off, then stick them in the cool epsom salt foot soak buckets. “oooooh baby, is that ever gonna be sweeeeet!”
my folks were walking just ahead of me on the other side of the bridge. for reasons that weren’t their fault, i wasn’t too happy about that at all. i could see them out of my peripheral vision. it started driving me nuts. the thought of my brother permeated everything i did. i could hardly concentrate. all i could see in my mind was of them telling him about it, then seeing what his reaction would be. (we are having some issues right now) he says i’m totally selfish for doing things like this triathlon; and because of it, i am a complete leach to society. (it goes much deeper than that) it was frustrating the hell out of me; but there wasn’t really much i could do about it. i had already bin feeling a bit of that when my folks were walking up the hill with me. i thought i made it clear that they could follow me to the start of the bridge, then i’d see them at the finish. instead, there they were in my peripheral vision. so, all my thoughts of “terry fox, no chain, ali buma ye, no chain, one step at a time,“ were replaced with a furious anger towards my brother. it was driving me nuts; i had a feeling that if i said something, whatever came outta my mouth probably wouldn’t have been too nice (and that wouldn’t be fair to my innocent by-standard folks). i said nothing. i looked down. i kept going. not too much longer later, mom yelled across, “you’re 2/3 the way across the bridge.” i stuck my left arm out to her, and as i shook my hand, i snapped at her, “don’t tell me. i’ll look up when i’m done!” then i looked down, and kept going. i was boiling inside. i shouldn’t have let it get to me like that; but from the way my brother talked to me, and what he said, the last time we spoke, it left me feeling like, “if he wasn’t my blood, i would find it way too soon if i never saw him again.” i just couldn’t wash it outta my head. gggrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. my concentration was disappearing faster than a sinking rock. all i wanted was to get across the bridge, the my mom would be on the other side of the road; once she crossed the road, she’d probably just walk down the stairs to take the short cut to the finish...
i tried what i could to keep my focus up, as my body would not let me forget what was going on within it. i couldn’t afford not to focus on what my body was doing. all the zaps were still getting worse. the near collapses, that would stop me in my tracks were STILL INCREASING. “just stare at the ground, and grind it out!” with about 1/4 of the bridge left, i noticed someone coming up to me again. it was someone on a bike. i realized who it was. it was darryl (i hope that’s his name). he works at the used sports store in town. he’s a total bike-head. he’s the guy i get to tune my bike, and got to do a custom fit for me. he’s a pretty kick-ass guy. of all the people who came up to me during the race, to ask me how i was, etc., he was the only guy i was completely ok with. he just strolled up slowly on his bike, then turned it around, and strolled alongside me for a minute. he said, “i think you’re ok; but there’s a bunch of doubters up ahead that made me come see if you are ok.” i smiled, “yeah, i’m fine.” he strolled beside me for a few seconds. we exchanged a few words. i don’t think i made any sense. then he said some kind of encouraging good-bye, and took off. that seemed to clear my mind a bit. as crazy as it sounds, it just felt real good to be back to the regular ZZZZZZZZAAAAAAAAAAAAAPS, near-collapses, and then me trash talking my pain, “you ain’t fuck all you mutha fucka! that all you got?!?” i guess that seemed to be a sorta zone-like-meditation theme for the race for me. in that way, i realized how comfortable it felt when i fell back into that zone state.
when i got to the end of the bridge, there weren’t too many people left. i think the ones who were there were watching me come along the whole time. they were still screaming, and yelling my number. i was blowin’ there minds. just as i was passing it, i noticed cath coming up the stairs that ended beside the bridge railing. she was yelling some more stuff for a few moments. then she said she was goin’ back down, and would see me at the finish. i kept trudging along. when i made the turn off the main road, it was another ending, and the final beginning. the home stretch. the course woman who was at the spot to tell me where to turn, said, “you’re amazing steve. you’re truly inspiring.” i don’t remember her name, and i barely remember her face. all i know is that she remembers me from the other 2 years, and i do remember her face when i see when it’s race time (this year, and last; and forsure again next year).
well, here i go. one short block, then it’s the last stretch along the side of the park. ZZZZZZZAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAP as bad as ever. stopped in my tracks from a near buckle. that was the pattern for every other step i took on my left foot for the rest of the way. i was focused pretty hard. i was having fun. it was almost done. i had that semi-sadness feeling swirling within me; but also a rush of pure bliss. ZZZZZZZZAAAAAAAAAPPPPPP! “FUCK YOU. see, i told you, you ain’t shit. as hard as you tried, you couldn’t whup me you fuck! i’m almost done!” “oh yeah, ZZZAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPP! take that!” “that all you got?!?” i was back in that zone. then i heard a familiar voice saying proud(ish) thoughts to someone. i looked to my right. it was my mom still following me. “damn you adam you good-for-nothin’ fuck!” (adam is my brother) my focus vanished that fast. just like that. the only thing that pulled my mind somewhat away from those thoughts was of the course woman at the corner of the street (the last turn to start along the road beside the park). she was super kind, and SUPER ENCOURAGING. i forget how she knew me; but she did. everything she said had something to do with the word inspiring. “steve, you’re so inspiring. inspiring this, inspiring that.” inspiring, inspiring, inspiring had a part of everything she said. “who, me?” i thought. “whoa.” it was pretty overwhelming. she came and gave me an ice cube to suck/chew on. at that point EVERYBODY was yelling for me. the energy of that was super thick in the air. the sense of overwhelmingness was gettin’ crazier, and crazier. “thanks; but stop it, i’m no one to inspire. don't let what your eyes see fool you. i'm just a guy havin’ some fun. A LOTTA FREAKIN' FUN!” that’s kinda where my thoughts were at with it. apparently everyone didn’t see things the same way i did. i was blowin’ people’s minds. the same woman who gave me the ice cube, came back saying inspiring this, inspiring that, as she put a cold wet towel on my shoulders, and neck. that felt good. actually, it felt sooo good. after that, another girl came up to me. she said she knew exactly what i was going through. she said the same thing happened to her at the penticton marathon. i didn't really have anything to say to that. she obviously had absolutely no idea what i was going through. after she tried to reinforce to me that the same thing happened to her, she went over to that course lady who put the towel on my back, and told her the same thing. there was nothing i could say to that. she was walking fine at that point, which meant one thing to me, “she had no idea what i was goin' through". i found it highly doubtable that she had arthritis in every joint in her body, as well as tendons, ligaments, and affecting muscles too. like so many, she was just ignorant of my scene. i’m guessing that she had some major strained and/or spasming muscles, or a sprained something. possibly even tendonitis too. i’ve seen that whup people down B4, and it isn‘t pretty when the body gives out like that. actually, that can get right damn ugly. i live with worse than that kinda stuff everyday though. i have so many muscle spasms throughout my whole body every day that they are a freakin’ joke to me. (i don't see what the big issue is with them. when i hear regular-joe people, or even pro athletes complain about them, i kinda laugh to myself. i guess that just shows where i'm at with all my owies.) i have so many of them, all over my body, all the time, that now they kinda feel cool. muscle spasms are almost like a built-in massager to me now. (giggle, giggle). well, i didn’t have anything sprained, but i had everything else, plus the arthritis’ and patellafermoral syndrome, etc. when she came up to me and said that, then said it almost braggingly to that other woman, it kinda struck me a bit “gggrrrrrrrrr” inside. i guess that’s a personal thing that i need to work on. many people, a lot of them being my friends, have said this kind of thing to me in the past, “now i know what you feel like." i say, "oh yeah?" they say, "yeah, i had a rough sleep last night, and woke up with a sore neck, and back; and now i know what it's like to be like you.” "really???" then they wake up the next day, and feel fine. every time i hear that, i can’t freakin’ believe it. i don’t think i’m gonna comment on that anymore right now, it just blows my mind way too much...
anyway, coming down the park road, i was still semi-distracted by my mom, which i still had mixed feelings about, as i was glad she was there, but i felt bad that it was her that was triggering a negative emotion that was based within my brother, and most definitely not within her. at that point though, the distraction was becoming less and less, because the finishing energy was thick in the air. the closer i got, the louder the finish area became. people were waiting for me along the sides of the streets. yelling. screaming. i was in so much pain that i was fighting tears from rolling down my cheeks. there was a roar in the air that snowballed with each step i took. with about 50 yards left, cath, and finn were there, and started walking along with me. that’s when finn gave me the runner-up highlight of my day. in the most curious of tones, and even body language, he asked me, “why don’t you go faster?” cath, and i both laughed. i think, from the expression that came from cath's mouth, she was maybe 1/2 laughing, and 1/2 horrified (casually of course). i said to finn, “i’m tryin’ buddy, i’m tryin’.” then they took off ahead of me to watch me cross the line. yes, that’s how fast i was going. with me running at top speed, i got dusted by a 5 year old kid casually walking. this has got to be the root of where the new nickname, “the flash” popped up for me. watchin’ him casually walk away made me laugh to myself. on the outside though, there was no mistaking the pain written all over my face. even still, smiles couldn’t hide themselves from me. they come way too naturally. i blew people’s minds by doing that. i heard them commenting absolutely dumbfounded that i could be in so much pain, barely standing up, yet still smiling. “unbelievable!” the way i looked at it, was that i insisted the whole time that i’m absolutely lovin’ it, and havin’ a shit-load of fun! i wasn’t gonna let some pain ruin that, no matter how crazy it was.
the place was absolutely erupting as i made the final turn from the road to the entrance of the park. i only had about 10 yards to go. everyone was goin’ nuts. i looked up. when i saw everyone, i looked down again. that was that whole “centre of attention thing” again. it was so overwhelming. i felt more tears filling in my eyes. they weren’t tears of pain though. i don’t know how to describe them. they were full of emotion derived from all the people waiting, and cheering for me. like i said last year, “movie quality drama.” this year was waaaaaaaaaay past last year though. even with about 5 yards left to go, my body said, “i’m still not lettin’ you off yet you fuck!” ZZZAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPPP! it was one of the worst ones yet. so, almost there, with only 5 yards to go, i got stopped in my tracks, and started to collapse to the ground. my everything was waaaaay beyond fucked up. that last buckle just crushed my right knee. the air disappeared from my lungs. i was still able to catch myself though B4 i went down. i paused for a moment as i tried to find a way to get some air in my lungs. i was gasping for it, but nothing was coming in. my rib-cage was in chaos. the pain wouldn't let me inhale, or exhale. luckily, i'm a seasoned veteran, so i knew i just had to be patient for a few seconds. it made me crack a smile though. i kinda thought to myself, "of all the places to finally bail..." the whole time, everyone is freakin’ out, and goin’ nuts. i’m tryin’ desperately to hold on. my emotions are totally overwhelmed by the reception from everyone. i get my shit together...
i cross the line!
APPLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUSE erupts. i mean, ABSOLUTELY ERUPTS! the whole place goes fuckin’ crazy. people are coming up to me in tears shaking my hand, and giving me hugs. “i’ve never seen anything like that my entire life!” “you’re incredible!” “you’re amazing!” over, and over, and over. a lady came up to me and said, “i get to do the honour of taking your timing chip.” i was glad ’cause i wouldn’t have bin able to reach down to get it. i wouldda buckled forsure; and then probably be stuck on the ground. (giggle, giggle) officials were swarming me. everyone else was stickin’ their hands out from behind the rope barriers to shake my hand, and pat me on the back. it was so crazy for me, that it just started to become blurry. when that happened, the one face that i did remember was a big guy with a real warm smile. this was his 4th, or 5th year doing the race. he was a cancer survivor; and i had remembered him from the past 2 years. he had his hand outstretched, and i did make a point of it to go over to him. then the blurriness went sorta full-til. being totally maxed out, and overwhelmed, i just looked down in front of me for a moment. when i looked up, cath, and finn were standing in front of me. she had her arms open, and gave me a big fatty hugs. she said something to me, but i have no idea what she said. it was such an emotionally overwhelmingly thing, that all i could do to keep it together, was to just put my head back down, and try to walk to my bike. all i wanted to do was get my shoes off, and get my feet in the cold epsom salt foot soaks. this turned out to be a huge challenge. my legs didn’t work anymore. “shit. how’m i supposed to get all the way to my bike, and back to the soak area?” i guess, “one step at a time.”
Sranding ovation at awards ceremony
my mom came up to me, and said, everybody else gets to give you a hug, i wanna give you one too.” i hugged my mom, then started towards my bike again. terry gave me a bottle of water. i guzzled 1/2 of it in about 1 second, then kept staggering towards my bike. all i could think about was takin’ off my freakin’ shirt, and shoes. i had complete tunnel vision towards one thing--SOAKIN' MY FREAKIN' FEET! when i finally got to my bike, i was psyched. first thing i did was toss my shirt to the ground. "sweet. finally done with you." takin’ off my shoes turned out to be one of the hardest things of the day though. i kept trying to bend down to get to my feet, so i could untie my shoes. i couldn’t do it. the pain wouldn’t let me. each time i dipped down a couple inches, i got such a surge of pain, that it forced me back upright, which was no easy task in itself. "hmmmmmm...." i am not stranger to having to find a way to dress, and undress myself. that's why i often walk around with no clothes. often times i'm just too sore too have to deal with puttin' them on, and takin' them off; so if it's warm enough, i just don't bother. besides, i'm in, and outta bed so much, that it just gets to be a huge pain in the ass. (literally. giggle, giggle) anyway, this was just another one of those times. "since bending down isn't workin' out too well, i guess i should try lifting my feet up to my hands." so i tried that. no success with that either. like bending down, i had to keep bailing out, and grab the bike rack so i could keep myself from wiping out.
aside from tryin' to figure out how to get my freakin' shoes off, i was kinda thinkin' about what my folks were thinkin' as they were standin' there watching me. they never really to get to see me like that, and how i go about tryin' to deal with it. it is one of the reasons why i think it's good that we live so far away from each other. it's hard on my mama as it is, but she is VERY ignorant of a lot that goes on with me in regards with my body. for her to see it first hand all the time would be way too much for her. i told her that seeing me do the race might be a hard thing for her to do. i told her that it will very likely get pretty dramatic. i didn't know it'd be this dramatic; but it didn't surprise me. i've bin worse. waaaay worse. nothing surprises me anymore when it comes to seeing how fast, and hard a body can get just freakin' whupped if it wants to. like a lotta people, my mama doesn't (or maybe now, didn't) understand why i would even do the race. i tried explaining. i won't anymore. she just thinks it's being stubborn (at least, that's how she described it when i just spoke with her a few days ago). stubborn has nothing to do with it. it's all about fun, love, and one way i can give myself a pure sense of hope. anyway, it felt kinda strange having my folks hovering around me like that when i was tryin' to deal with my shoes. in many ways they feel helpless. times like that though, i don't want help. when people usually try to help with things like that, (helping me to walk, or get out of bed, or a chair, etc.) it actually makes things way worse. i just gotta figure it out for myself. sooner or later i usually do. this is something my folks don't fully understand, especially when they are just comin' from a place where they wanna help however they can. i don't much talk about my pain, etc. with my family anymore. i pretty-much just talk about being tired 'cause i haven't bin sleepin' too well. i don't really get into the depths of the reality of the pain i am in. i used to; but a couple years ago, everyone made it quite clear they don't really wanna hear about it anymore. my mom, my brother, and very especially, his wife. my dad is somewhere out in space when it comes to all this. after 10 years of bein' whupped, he still didn't know what was wrong with me, and had to ask me why it looked like i had a sore neck. they told me i should talk about other things instead of dwelling on my pain. i told them i don't dwell on it, and they would see that if they saw me in my day-to-day life. i don't really talk about it with friends too often. the few i have usually become so overwhelmed that they just can't look me in the eyes anymore. when i see that, and feel their energy totally change, i just drop it. some friends have bin so overwhelmed, that they make me stop talking about things, 'cause they can't take it anymore. i guess i figured that if i can't really talk with my friends about it, i should at least be able to talk with my family about it... i no longer really do. that's another story; but it had a part in what was goin' through my mind as my mom, and step-dad were standing there watching me tryin' to deal with my shoes...
anyway, somehow, at some point, i got my damn shoes off. "sweet. now i just gotta make the journey over to the massage, and foot-soak area." it felt so good to have my shoes off, and the grass squishin' between my toes. with my momentum gone, it was hard to make my legs work again. "c'mon you fucks! just work. i swear it'll be good for all of us." i got 'em goin', and started my stagger. daaaaamn. that was some hard staggerin'. once i was away from my bike area, and on my way to the massage area, people started comin' up to me again. "inspiring this. inspiring that. amazing this. amazing that." still completely overwhelmed, i just said, "thanks," and kept hobblin'. all i could think was "FOOT-SOAK."
B4 i got to the foot-soak spot, the highlight of my day happened. joe, the guy who runs the "triathlete in training" program from the pool, came up from behind me with his wife (she kicks ass. she's one of the girls who i was talkin' about when i got my race kit. i think her name is debbie). he started saying some kinda "inspiring something." as he was approaching me from behind. then he tapped me on my shoulder. when he did that, i started to totally buckle to the ground. he was horrified, but i was instantly laughing. "oh, don't worry 'bout that." i found great humour in that. he, and debbie said another "inspiring this, inspiring that." i said, "thanks; but that was just another day in the office. you should see what i do in the winter when i feel worse." they just smiled, shook their heads, said some kinda "amazing something," then left me in their dust as we both said good-bye.
joe, by the way, always finishes the race last. he is ass-whuppin' awesome though. he's done some ironman's, and a whack-load of other races. he just traditionally finishes last at our race. he just encourages everyone out there. i forgot to mention that he came up, and ran beside me for a bit on my first pass across the bridge. i know i said that darryl was the one guy that i was ok with comin' up to me, and talking; but at the time, i forgot to mention joe. i had no problem talkin' with joe at all. i had to assure him that i was ok. he asked if i was doin' the long, or short course. "short. it's physically impossible for me to do the long course." he laughed at me. we exchanged a couple more words, then he took off; and i got back to grudging along.
finally, i got there; but i was in for a rude awakening: no foot-soak. i looked all over the place. then i noticed the buckets piled up. i went over to check them out. nothing. empty buckets was all. i had only one thought, "MUTHA-FUCKA! WHERE THE FUCK IS MY GOD DAMMNED FOOT-SOAK? i earned that shit, and i want it!" well, it looked like apparently people who take a long time don’t get to have foot soaks. i was SUPER BITTER about that. “what the fuck is that all about?!? my feet are absolutely killin‘ me, and because i took a long time, i don‘t get to have a foot soak like everyone else. THAT FUCKIN‘ SUCKS! SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKS!!!" the past 2 years there were lots of foot-rinses for when we came out of the water (some right away, then one at the end of EVERY bike rack). this year there were only two right at the beginning of the transition area coming out of the water. last year, i got a foot-soak. of course, i didn't take nearly as long. this year, SHIT-OUTTA-LUCK! i was bitterly disappointed with the race organizers for that. everything else was great; but that was like a kick in the gut for me. BITTER. oh well, "i guess i'll just line up for a massage." i hobbled over to the line-up. it wasn't too long, but i didn't feel like i could stand anymore. there were a few chairs at the front of the line. sweet. "i'm goin' over there." when i got to the chair, it took me 3 or 4 tries just to be able to sit down on it (it was kinda like when i was tryin' to take my shoes off). i got 'er figured out though. i had a huge cease-up from my kidney, and hip. zzzaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaapppp. the pain surged throughout me with lightning speed. just like always, it knocked the air outta my lungs. when my body finally figured itself out, it felt nice to sit. while i was chillin' out, people were still comin' up to me, pattin' me on the back, sayin' inspiring this, inspiring that. i don't fully know how i reacted 'cause i was all too mushy in my brain. i was blissed-out, and sad that it was over too. like every other time, i probably just said thanks in a low-key kinda way.
everyone in the line-up was watching me. when a table opened up, they all said i could go get my massage next. i said that it wasn't my turn, and that i was ok to wait. all of them insisted that i go next. i said thanks, and then started the long process of trying to stand up, so i could begin my hobble over to the table. it took me a few tries to be able to get upright outta the chair. then i had to make my legs work again. although it was for a good cause, i'm sure my legs were cursing me out. it took me a little bit, but i eventually got over to the table. "oh crap. now i gotta get on the freakin' thing." that was a tough thing for me. very tough. i tried to get up on left side. nope--zaaaaap. i tried right side. nope--zaaaaaaap. back to left. zap, zap, zaaaaaaaaap. the girl who was gonna give me my massage asked if i wanted some help. "no thanks. i have to figure this out for myself." i told her i go through this kinda thing almost every time i get in, and out of bed--especially over the past couple weeks. "no worries, i'll figure it out. just give me a sec." it seemed like everyone was still watching me try to pull this new feat off. (giggle, giggle) it took a bit; but through massive cease-ups, and crushing pain, i got it all figured out. once i was on the table, i needed a couple seconds just to get some air back into my lungs. once i had that worked out, i kinda worked a little bit at aligning my body in sort of a straight line. (instead of the mangled mess i was while layin' there tryin' to get some air back in my lungs) ok, i'm back, and better than ever. (giggle, giggle) the massage was done with me on my back the whole time. that was cool, 'cause i didn't think i'd be able to roll over onto my stomach anyway. the kind of massage she did was light, and non-intrusive. i was into that. i also had another massage lined up later anyway. the massage itself was nice. it was kinda blurry though. i don't really remember too much, except for trying to keep in a position that would cause as little pain as possible.
when the massage was done, i had to figure out how to get off the table. it was pretty messy too. first thing i had to do was to roll onto my stomach. i tried rolling to my left. nope--zaaaaaaaap. i tried rolling to my right. nope--zaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaap. she offered to help again. "no, trust me, i have to figure this out for myself." (that is all a part of what i meant when i said it does more harm than good when people try to help me walk, get up, lay down, etc.) as sweet as the massage was, gettin' off the table undid everything that was done. that is nothing new. (jackie sure has a magik touch though... ...or so she thinks. GIGGLE, GIGGLE, GIGGLE... no, really, jackie gives the most kick-ass massage's ever--except she doesn't work on sundays. damn her. giggle, giggle)
at some point when i was hovering around the massage area, one of the race guys came up to me. he said he was a race guy (i forget his name--definitely not my strength). he said they were gonna give me a survivor award. he asked me if it was ok with me. "sure, i guess; but that has nothin' to do with me. it's up to you." he said, "well, we want to give it to you; so what's your story." i kept it simple, and just said that "i have a couple different kinds of arthritis. it's in every joint in my body, plus tendons, and ligaments too. basically, there isn't one place on my body that doesn't hurt." i might have mentioned that i had done the race B4. maybe he asked me if it was my first time. i said that this was my third year. he was surprised by that. was it like this last year. i said it was totally dramatic, but not like this year. i told him i could barely stand up after last year's race too. i think i blew his mind. (giggle, giggle)
after the massage, i started thinkin' about gettin' my gear to my car, and about lunch. i didn't know what i wanted to first. i just knew they were in separate directions, and my legs still didn't want to work. getting to my gear was a challenge enough. getting it to my car seemed like a near impossible challenge. "oh well, one step at a time--like all the other times i've done my hard-core livin'." my folks seemed a lot less casual about it than me. i was reluctant for the help at first; but after awhile, i let terry go get my car. mom, and terry got my gear to my car, so i could start makin' my way across the park to the food line. B4 i took off, i asked if they could get an envelope, my meal ticket, and my big-ass straw hat. then i started my next journey.
as i staggered across the park, more people were still comin' up to me. "inspiring this. inspiring that. amazing this. amazing that..." since i don't see myself that way, i just get overwhelmed by it. i think to myself, "who, me?" i mean, how many times can a guy hear that in the space of a few hours B4 it totally trips him out?
as i was gettin' closer to the food line, they started announcing that the awards were starting soon. damn legs, go faster. (giggle, giggle) by that point, my folks caught up with me. i put on my big-ass straw hat, then got the envelope. i told them to go ahead, and get in line. a couple of the race people thought i was leaving. i think they didn't want me to go without me gettin' my award. "no, i'm just workin' on gettin' to my food. i'm not goin' anywhere." "good." for one of them, i took out the story i wrote about last year's race. i gave it to her, and said if she wanted to read it sometime, it would kinda explain things from my perspective a bit more. (i had bin in touch with that race director, alwine, for a couple months. she has arthritis too). the guy who came up to me, and asked me if it was ok to give me the survivor award came walkin' by. i stopped him, and gave him the other copy of my last year race story. i told him, "if you're into it, this is last year's race dramatics." we talked for a brief moment again. i said how last year i couldn't swim 2 days B4 the race, and how i couldn't stand for the first 3 hours of my day the day B4 the race. i told him that this year, i couldn't swim more than 3 strokes only 9 days ago. "believe me, i tried." "you couldn't swim 9 days ago?" "no; but i did stupid thing... ...i got myself addicted to triathlon." i laughed as i said that. i blew his mind again. he kinda shook his head, then kept goin' to wherever he was goin'; and i continued off to the food line.
once we got our food, my folks went for a picnic table in the shade. i said, "i'm goin' over here. they're doin' the awards." they said, "there aren't any tables." i told them that i was gonna stand to eat, and that i don't like to sit to eat. (my body doesn't like me to sit, so i stand a lot of my time. when i am at home, i stand to eat probably 80% of the time.) i didn't wanna be in the shade either. i LOVE the sun. (we get ripped off up here. if we're lucky, we get 6 weeks of real summer every year. that just doesn't cut it, so i soak up what i can while i can.) i staggered behind the awards table, and over to a nice sun-shiny spot off to the side of the crowd, and awards. everybody else was sitting in the shade. i thought to myself, "man, they're crazy sittin' in the shade." i remember thinkin' the same thing last year too. oh well.
i just stood there eatin' my pasta as the awards stuff started. almost as soon as the awards stuff started, a band started playin' on the other side of the park. they didn't drown us out at all. it just seemed like a nice backdrop to things. the first tune they started with was, "the weight," by the band. pretty sweet stuff. they actually played a few pretty kind tunes. "the weight" is one of those all-time classic super-kind tunes. one of those tunes that seems like everybody has had a special moment happen when it was playing. needless to say, i stood there gruuvin' to it as i ate my pasta, and watched the awards. to not gruuve would just be criminal. there was a little girl dancin' to it in front of everybody. that was so, so kind forsue. who doesn't love watchin' little kids gruuve like that?
there were lotsa medals given out for a bunch of categories. everyone sat there, clapping for everyone. there were probably over 200 people watching--competitors, as well as family, and friends. i guess, i was up next. the guy who came up to me to ask me if it was ok if they gave me an award was doing the MC'ing (i remembered him doing it the past 2 years as well. he has actually participated in EVERY one of the nelson triathlons). B4 he announced my award, he said, into the mic, that since i was moving slowly, i should start making my way up there. so, in just a pair of short swim shorts, bare feet, and a big-ass straw hat, i statrted the journey up to the awards table. as i was staggering along, he started saying something about the survivor award. he said that i have arthritis in every joint in my body; and that this year was the 3rd year i have done the race. he also said that he was talking to me after the race, and i told him that i couldn't swim just 9 days ago, yet i did it anyway. then he said, "a truly amazing story." by then i was up to the awards table. as this was goin' on, EVERYBODY STOOD UP, AND STARTED YELLING, AND SCREAMING! all of them. they gave me a HUUUUUUGE standing ovation that lasted for who knows how long. it was like time kinda stood still for me. i could see them all out of my peripheral vision, but it was WAY TOO OVERWHELMING. i didn't really look. instead, i just kinda kept my head down, and went straight for the lady who had my award. when i looked up at her, she said, "amazing this. amazing that. inspiring this. inspiring that." she also said she was absolutely honoured to be able to give me the award. then she said, "just look," and motioned with her hand for me to turn and look at what the crowd was doing for me. when i turned to face them i was so overwhelmed. i mean, SOOOOO OVERWHELMED. there were over 200 people standing, and goin' all too crazy. i didn't really know what to do. all i know is that i started to feel tears coming on. i stood there for a second, kind shell-shocked, and totally full of emotion. that whole centre-of-attention thing was happening again, but unlike anything i have ever experienced. i mean, full-tilt. i couldn't really believe they were doing that for me. were they ever yelling, and screaming though. i felt the tears glossing up my eyes. i knew any moment they would start travelling down my cheeks if i stayed up there any longer. so, without knowing what else to do, and the only way i guess i knew how to say thanks, i blew a big kiss to the crowd. then i high-tailed it outta there at a break-neck speed of about 1/3 km an hour. it was as fast as i could go. they still stood standing, and screaming as i hobbled away. a few more words of "inspiring something" were spoken on the microphone. then a few more seconds of yelling, and screaming...
THAT WAS ONE CRAZY EXPERIENCE. because of that centre-of-attention thing, i was glad when it was over. for the next week, or so, whenever i thought about it though, tears would fill up in my eyes, as a crazy rippling sensation would pulsate through me. like i said, totally overwhelming. TOTALLY!
soon after my very dramatic award, the awards ceremony came to an end. i had a massage booked for about 45 minutes later; so i made plans to meet with my folks after my massage was done. then we went our separate ways. after that, i had to make my way across the park to get to my car. "c'mon legs, you gotta start workin' again." "what do you mean you fuck!" my legs weren't too impressed. "it's ok, we're goin' to get a massage." "you better not be lyin', or we're gonna take you out!" "fair enough." as i made my staggering journey across the park, more people were still comin' up to me, "inspiring this, inspiring that. amazing this, amazing that." like most of the time, at a loss for words for such an underserved compliment, i just simply said, "thanks," and kept on my way.
the staggering journey was a very "thick" one so-to-say. i mean, on that final journey back across the park, i was already in deep reflection of the day. i was sad that it was over. i was more than blown away from the way people couldn't say enough inspiring this, and that to me. i had no idea what to make of the standing ovation when i crossed the line, let alone when i got the award. then, of course, my body was just taxed, maxed, and right fuckin' whupped. through that immediate reflection, as i was there staggering, i felt more tears coming on. they never broke down my cheeks, but they were there none-the-less.
sure i was in a lotta pain. i mean, it hurt bad, REAL BAD; but that is something i am used to. i wasn’t gonna let it get in the way of me doing something that i really love to do.
during the awards, they gave out two for a couple of local people who have each had a spinal injury recently. (mary-jo fetterly, and ed--from summit fitness) i don't remember what the awards were for. i remember when they were talking about them, rather, introducing the awards, they mentioned a motto of ed's, and mary-jo's. i have later thought about that. i guess, if i was asked, i don’t really know, but i would probably say something like this: “don’t take your body for granted. appreciated it, and use it while you can, 'cause you never know what could happen next.” i'm not sure if that encapsulates what my feelings are, but i definitely know that one should not take their body for granted the way soooo many of us do. i mean, even when i was bed-ridden, i said i would never take my body for granted again. all i wanted to do was to be able to walk again, and i didn't care how much it hurt. that's why i say land will pretty-much never stop me. i will walk through anything. with this new found perspective, i thought forsure taking things for granted was a part of my past. i couldn't be more wrong. during the summer, and fall of 2002, i got schooled VERY QUICKLY. within 2 days of feeling a sore neck, i couldn't move my head anymore. i couldn't even open my mouth all the way. i kept choking on my food because i was too sore to swallow it down. because of that, it would get stuck in my throat. my eyes would water, and my breathing would stop working at a regular rate. even though it gave me excruciating pain, i eventually coughed my food back up... it was a very intense 4ish months. VERY INTENSE! apparently i was outta my mind when i thought i wasn't taking my body for granted. i never thought twice about how lucky i was just to be able to simply chew, and swallow food. well, my body basically told me to stop thinking i had that figured out, 'cause it just HAMMERED that lesson into me as deep as it could, and knocked out any sense of finished learning on the subject i thought i had. i have never forgot that. i think about how lucky i am every time i eat something. i think about it every time i turn my head to talk to someone, or look for traffic, etc. i think about it every time i bend down to pet my doggie. i now truly know what my body means to me, and how much we all take it for granted, even those of us who may have travelled the crazy roads of illness.
so, if anybody reads this, "DON'T TAKE ANYTHING YOUR BODY DOES FOR GRANTED! ANYTHING! from the big stuff, to the super-tiniest thing you would never think to think of. it is all a miracle of the grandest proportions. DON'T TAKE IT FOR GRANTED 'cause you just never know when it might not be there; and especially how fast it can happen. trust me."
2003 swim: 12:44 bike: 48:07 stagger: 31:12 total: 1:32:02
2004 swim: 15:20 bike: 1:00:32 stagger: 44:18 total: 2:00:10
2005 swim: 32:04 bike: 1:06:19 stagger: 2:04:55 total: 3:43:17
last year, i thought it was physically impossible to go slower than i did. apparently i was wrong by 1:43:07. my stagger alone, this year, was slower than my whole race last year. fweh. it's a good thing i could care less about my timing, or i'd probably be pretty horrified. (GIGGLE, GIGGLE) is it crazy that i have had more fun with each successive year? i already find myself wondering how next year'll go. i guess i'll have to wait and see what gives out, and what holds together on race day. any way it turns out, i'll be chargin' as hard as i can, and LOVIN' IT like you don't even know. wuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu--haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!! kickin' ass like there's no tomorrow. (GIGGLE, GIGGLE) "one life to live. one step at a time!"
in retrospect, i knew my hip, and kidney area would eventually work itself out (to some degree) as all my intense malfunctions usually do. this is what the ambulance people, and everybody else were ignorant of. this hip/kidney development just came at terrible timing, as far as the race was concerned (is there really ever any good timing for something like that to happen?). i guess it was just one more test for me to take on; and is a great example of when i say that my life is not about the easy way out.
it did hurt REAL BAD, there is no way i could ever deny that. it also felt SO SUPER-KIND though too. i mean, the pain didn't matter 'cause i am in pain ALL THE TIME. the only thing that mattered was that i was doing something that i loved--something that nourishes my very soul. to ask for more than that in life is just being foolish, and selfish.
i just talked to my mom (2 1/2 weeks later). we were talkin’ a bit about the race. she said that when people saw me comin’ outta the water, they were almost in tears watchin’ me. they asked her, “can’t you stop him?” i don’t even know what she said about that, ’cause i spoke right up, “HELL NO!!!”
i apologized to my mom for bein' a bit snappy. that took her by surprise. apparently she didn't notice it at all. i still felt like i was a bit snappy towards her; and i definitely felt it at the time; so i made sure i apologized for it.
i might think about makin' a shirt kinda like this for next year so i won't have to keep explaining how awesome i'm doin':
I LOOK WHUPPED,
BUT I’M FINE,
KICKIN’ ASS, &
it's now 3 1/2 weeks later. i just finished writing everything above. there is a lot more i can add to this. i might add more later, kinda filling the holes so-to-say; but for now, this is as much as i'm gonna do. besides, i don't even know if it makes sense 'cause i haven't even thought about re-reading it, and doin' an editing job. i just re-live it in my mind, and FEEL it in my soul. (the kind stuff. sweeeeet.)
my body bounced back to its regular whupped-down self in about 3 days. just like that. i knew it would. i only wish everyone else could understand that.
This weekend was the 17th annual Nelson Road Kings car show. It is a two day event on the second weekend in September every year. It starts with a parade on the Friday night, and the main event of the show on Saturday afternoon. The cars that line downtown are pretty spectacular. There are bands playing, lots of prizes, and of course, the air is filled with the smell of food being sold. The patios of local restaurants are packed as well, and the weekend is closed off with a big dance on Saturday night.
The car show is a widely attended event that draws out tons of people from all different ages, and walks of life. It has become one of Nelson's highly anticipated premiere events every year. For any information on future events, becoming a member, or photo galleries from years of past, you can find it all on their web-page.
Nelson Road Kings
P.O. Box 1130, Nelson, BC V1L 6H3
Phone: (250) 551-5848
Nelson Visitor Centre: +1 250-352-3433
'73 VW Beach Bus
'61 Chevy Impala
'68 Chevelle Malibu
'69 Pontiac Trans AM
'67 Pontiac GTO
'65 Chevrolet Corvette
'67 Chevy Impala
'67 Camaro SS RS 496
'42 Ford Cabover
'73 Ford Mach 1 Mustang (For Tiffany)
'34 Ford 3 Window Coupe
'36 Ford Woody Wagon
'66 Shelby Cobra
The Brian Kalbfleisch Trio
A couple video clips I took of the boys playing some Neil Young songs.
"For the Turnstiles" www.youtube.com/watch?v=DucCvf5YJg0
"Losing End" www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qYrLtjgCTs
'64 VW Bug
'66 Ford Mustang
'56 Ford T-Bird
'30 U Plymouth
50's Cadillac 2Dr HT
'23 T Bucket
'62 Chevy Nova SS Convertable
'57 Chevy 150 2Dr Sd
'71 Chev Pick Up
'55 Chev 150 Sedan
(This started as a few sentence Facebook post to go with four photos, but I just kept writing. No editing. Just raw, honest writing...)
Sifting through thousands and thousands of photos. Seeing these definitely stirs up some emotion. They were from when I did the Vancouver marathon in May 2008. I did the race with not one second of training because it simply hurt me too much to run. I didn't see the big deal of running the same(ish) distance from Nelson to Salmo though, after all, it's just running.
Completing the marathon was never an issue or a problem, nor was it ever in question...just a simple matter of one foot in front of the other, and eventually the finish line finds you.
I got a stress fracture in my right foot around KM 18-19, which means I finished the last 23-24 KM on a cracked up foot...on top of no training and all the rest of the crazy pain and stuff in my body. I was a mess, but even still, it was no big deal to me despite all of that.
I remember staggering down the road along one of the waterfront parks in the city, and receiving a standing ovation from a full Sunday morning breakfast patio at some restaurant. (Yes, that tripped me right out!) I didn't care how beat up I looked like to everyone else, I still didn't feel like that was warranted.
(I have been told many times over the years that it isn't right for me to express that because my completing like I do, through the circumstances I do, evokes a real sincere emotion from people, and I am diminishing that whenever I say it is never deserved, nor warranted. It feels like such a complex contrast of perspective and emotion I find myself in amidst all of that between my point of view, and that of others. It just overwhelms me so much past how I really know to handle. It's definitely quite humbling!)
I hopped on the Skytrain and bus back to Biggsy and Deanna's after the race. By the time I got to their place I could barely move my legs. Dave found me out front gigglin' while unable to navigate the short 3 or 4 inch step in some part of their walkway or something like that. Needless to say, he found me stuck on his front path with legs that didn't work. :)
It was a tough drive back to Nelson. Tara and her folks saw me across the street from the El Taco patio the next day, and I will never forget the looks on their faces. Those people have seen me through some shit unlike anyone else, but even still, every so often I find a way to up the ante on that, and this was one of those times. They were horrified...but I just shrugged, laughed, and hobbled away with my slice of pizza from Thor's. (Something they have also become accustomed to. :) )
I went onto crutches right away for a firm set amount of time. I had to scratch some triathlons I had lined up, but I wasn't missing the one in Wasa Lake that was six weeks after the marathon. I was pretty upset about missing the races I did, but I did get a special pedal made for me and my bike refit so I could still ride with my cast on. My pedal was made from a mountain bike pedal, snowboard parts, screws, and skateboard grip tape. I still have it. It's pretty stylin'! Drease and Darryl, at Boomtown Sports in Nelson, took care of me.
I lived in the bush then, so I was crutching up and down the mountain over logs, rocks, and through long brush and all sorts of bush-y life. Of course, I got charged by bears a few times crutching in the bush 'cause I'd still try to sneak up on them to watch those beautiful creatures.
Other than riding with my cast on, and crutching through the bush up and down the mountain, I did everything right. I had broken the same bone in the other foot several years earlier, and was not given good advice, so it never healed fully correctly. This time I just laid around with my foot up, except for those other two things.
Above photos by Phil Best: www.bestphotos.ca/
Because Interior Health is so speedy, it took me 4 weeks to get an appointment for a bone scan. By then my foot had healed to where it didn't show up on the scan. (I stayed on crutches for another week just to be safe.) The doctor happened to be walking by when I was still on the table, so he looked at the results from the radiologist. He came into see me all perplexed. My foot was fine, but then he tried to argue with me that I had a broken rib. I assured him that I didn't have a broken rib. He argued me otherwise.
(Trust me, I did not have a broken rib. I have bruised and cracked ribs, and even pulled muscles between my ribs, and all of them make it really hard to breathe, cough, sneeze, and laugh. This was nothing like that.)
That was the moment I learned the flaws, or more correctly, the loose results of a bone scan. He said what it really does is show "hot spots" that can indicate broken bones, cancer, arthritis, and some other thing that I forget. It was one of the many times I had to go up against a doctor trying to tell me something was wrong with me that was not. (I have dealt with that countless times over the past 26 years.)
Anyhow, much to my physiotherapist's dismay, less than three days off of crutches I raced again in Wasa Lake...just outside of Cranbrook, BC. (Off crutches Thursday afternoon...racing Sunday morning.) I compromised though by doing the swim and the bike (with my fancy pedal) and took myself out of the race at the second transition before the run.
It was the season I bought a trophy and medallions to give to the athlete who transcends adversity to compete in each triathlon I was at. (I competed in 10 over 15 weeks coming off of the crutches.) That turned into a whole other experience that really overwhelmed me as well because of how amazingly it was received. Goodness!
Presenting the Spirit & Determination Award (Named after an award I received at the 2009 Christina Lake, BC Triathlon.)
I never made it to the next season when I had some epic global aspirations because I got beat down by a freakin' goat of all things. It is a crazy story that everyone instinctively laughs at initially, but inevitably end up horrified by the time I get to the end of the story and what it meant to both my body and my life.
I went on to lose about five and a half out of the next six years of my life. It is impossible to describe what happened to my body during all of that, but it was real, real bad...even for my body's already crazy standards for pain. I have not been the same since.
When I happen upon photos and memories like these, they definitely evoke my own sense of emotion...mostly of letdown, failure, and even longing to the missed potential I have always believed that resides inside me.
As time rolls on, and my body gets more and more worn down, it gets harder and harder to draw upon the strength that I don't have to find the fortitude to forge through the obstacles in front of me and the impossible standards I set for myself. Regardless of ever worsening conditions and breaking down inside my body, I still have an unbreakable belief in myself for doing something truly remarkable. I've tried so hard and been knocked down so many times, but I still believe it is there regardless of any failures or stumbles I might have repeatedly face-planted on.
I don't believe in impossible. As so many people know, I don't give a damn what others say about the unaccomplishable things I dream up. I cannot ever compete with anyone, so I am only left to compete with myself, but inside what that notion entails, I just know there is something inside that is longing to be released within me that has never been done before by any human.
Travis Hauck... 3rd overall, 1st in his age group. World Champion!
In the past week, I have had three friends that have left a very indelible impact on my mind and in my heart...
Travis, who, after winning the National Cross-Country Mountain Biking Championships last summer went all in on a year long journey with the goal of competing in the World Championships in Quebec this summer. Unfortunately, he blew a tire about half way through his race, and DNF'd. It was a crushing blow, but he regrouped and overcame his adversity by signing up for a 60km race the following day that was separate from the world's, but at the same site. It was a huge stacked field from around the world, and Travis won his age-group, and took third overall. In the face of that adversity. He carried himself like a champion to refocus, and took down that race, and as far as I am concerned, became a 60km cross-country world champion himself. (Although he firmly disputes this with me, and I completely disregard the technicalities in the face of the matter. :) )
Sarah, who, also overcoming adversity through injury, just qualified for the Ironman 70.3 Triathlon World Championships next weekend in Nice, France (Bib #1378);)
Sarah and her husband, Rob, after finishing Ironman Arizona at the end of 2018
...and then Leo who needs to hit top 30 in the world rankings over the long qualifying process to get to the World Cross-Fit Games. In his words...
"No the qualifier to get into those competitions is right now. They release workouts every Wednesday and you have until Monday to do them, video them and submit them... ...top 30 get the nod. I’m currently 10th in one and 5th in another."
He has to keep that consistency up until sometime in the spring. I asked Leo for the link to his youtube channel so I could watch them. All I had to do was watch the first one to get stunned into disbelief! You hear around town how much of a beast this guy is, but when you actually see it, it's a whole other thing! I'll let you make your own mind up about that.
Old photo I scooped from Leo's Facebook page.
All three of these incredible people are stratosphere's beyond anything I could ever chase down, but even still, all there have found glimmers of inspired-ness from the way I have thrown myself into the athletic meat grinder of my own making. I am so humbled by them, I could never put it into words. They are three legit, world level bad-asses...and then there is my doofus self!
I am so inspired by Travis, Sarah, and Leo, but I also feel like I have been living a lie within myself when I see what they are all bringing to a fruition of reality, when all I do is have stumbles. I don't give a shit about all my body issues, they are irrelevant towards my standards for myself; but I somehow find myself living in the ever widening gap between a constantly breaking down worn out pain-filled body, and aspirational standards that surpass my imagination.
The biggest fear I have is seeing that gap widen more and more as my body slips further and further away, dying before I really tap into the potential I know I have. I am well aware of the scope of the unfair pressure I put on myself because of it, but I don't care, because it is never gonna change. It shreds my mind to pieces every day, but is also the very reason why photos and stories like that Vancouver marathon exist. I know I have pulled myself through shit that only the very, very rare few do, but for me, it is still not good enough...my aspirations that I refuse to let go of are just too big.
These three people have given me something to really think about. Stumbling onto these photos cemented it. I know my body keeps trying to get in my way, but my mind is thinking up some new shit...especially after messaging with Leo a couple days ago.
Tomorrow is gonna spark the beginning of some kinda something that I have ideas of right now. Tonight I will sift through it and share what that entails with the three of them. The only thing I really know is that it is gonna be hard for me, hard on me, will hurt me, will inevitably injure me, and test every bit of mental and emotional fortitude I have inside of me.
(I began something like this in the spring when I got cleared from surgery by my doctor, but a massive life change turned my world upside down this summer, so I was forced into some adjustments...and also took the first real vacation I have had in 13 years.)
Time to focus the intensity again to drive myself insane going after the dreams that lie beyond my imagination. Hopefully the next two years are the most intense, painfully exhausting, yet undeniably rewarding years I have had. Only time will tell how that all plays out, but the only way to find out the truth of it all is to dig in and go after it...
Coming into the finish of the final stage of the 2019 Trans Rockies Classic
At some point earlier this summer, I asked how Travis' legs were doing, and where he was at with everything leading up to the world's. He said he wasn't where he wanted to be.
(Trav works hard, and he is an amazingly committed family man. As intense as he trains, he doesn't let that come in the way of his priorities...the life of his family!)
While I was on my summer wanderings with my doggie, I would think about him, and his preparation towards August...especially with those thoughts in my head of him not being where he wanted to be. Charging the world championships is a huge thing, and I wanted for him to be able to go there as prepared as possible, peaking at the right time, to lay smackdown on everyone else.
I do realize it is weird saying what I want, but the truth of the matter is that I want him to win, and in order to do that, he's gotta have everything aligned perfectly. In that respect, yes, I do want him to be as prepared as possible.
At the end of July, Travis popped up on the radar again right before the first stage of the Trans Rockies Classic. I was around home a bit then, but coming and going all over the place still, so I wasn't overly accessible.
It wasn't the first pre-race post he put up that got me, it was seeing his day one results that triggered something in me. I was elated for him, but that feeling of shittiness from missing out had punched me right in the gut.
That was that, I couldn't take it anymore. I was to the point where, how can I even call him a friend if I don't get out there and go see him at some point during those six remaining stages. Immediately after seeing his post, I started looking into it all. I sunk right into the Trans Rockies website: www.transrockiesclassic.com/
Quite quickly, I took a screenshot of his results from Day 1, and posted it on his page.
After I did that, I looked at the course. Before I saw the dates for each stage, I messaged Travis to ask him if there was a rest day in the middle. There wasn't
When I was looking into it deeper, I was kinda getting a little deflated with each stage's start/finish locations because I had some casual commitments that wouldn't let me get to any of those places. Everything turned around when I got to the last final stage though! It started in Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, and finished in Fernie, BC on the Sunday. (July 28th)
"That's the one!"
Image from the Trans Rockies Classic website.
Even though I couldn't fully commit until I figured a couple things out, I instinctively knew I was going. I couldn't miss it. I'd be so upset with myself if I did, and it would eat at me. (I can be my own worst nightmare.) I messaged Travis that I was hoping to go, and in part, I wish I hadn't as I would rather have just shown up.
(I had just done that to my friend from Whistler when she was playing in a charity hockey tournament in Kelowna the previous weekend. Debbie was on the ice when she saw me, and her legit, double-take reaction of shock was worth the overnight drive!)
Yaaaay for Debbie!
I couldn't escape the thoughts of my brief 12 year history with Travis. I mean, somehow in all of that, I was standing next to him in the hospital room when Tobi was being passed Caden from their nurse shortly after he was born. (That is a hilarious story from my point-of-view that I will tell another time; but I will say that I have never felt more out of place in all my life.) I just love those guys so much, and I couldn't miss him racing this time. I felt like I'd be letting him down, even though, in his nicest guy ever language, Trav would tell me to go fuck myself for even entertaining such a notion.
So, it was settled, I knew that whatever I had to figure out would somehow work, and I'd be on my way to Crowsnest Pass for the start of the final stage...and then drive into Fernie for the finish.
I left at somewhere around 1:00AM to drive through the night. I gave myself enough time to poke along and take a break or two if I needed it.
Crowsnest Pass is right in the Rocky Mountains, hence the name of place, and is just over an hour east of Fernie. I was really tired, and my butt was super sore, so I pulled over about 30 minutes west of Fernie to take a little break. That would give me a smooth final little 90 minute coast into the small town.
I timed it so I would arrive at about 7:15AM so I could park my van, let my doggie out, and then find my way to the race area with some time before the 8:00AM start. I woke up from my little siesta with the perfect amount of time to get there, so I looked at my dog, and said,
"Sweet! We totally nailed it, Fennario!"
About ten seconds later I got reminded once again of how big of an idiot I am, and realized I forgot about the time change. It was an hour later than I thought! Our perfect arrival time of 7:15AM was actually 8:15AM...fifteen minutes after the race start, which would be perfectly the worst time to show up!
I turned back to Fennario to say,
"Well, I fucked up again! Daaaaamn! When'r you ever gonna straighten me out?!"
In a way, I wasn't totally surprised that I messed that up, and I'm betting that if you asked Travis, he'd likely concur with that notion, "Yup...big surprise there!" I was pissed off though...like, really, really mad at myself...so upset! There I was, just letting down my friend again.
Since there was nothing I could do about it, I just crawled back into the bed in my van and went to sleep again. I was too mad to be awake anyway.
Immediately upon opening my eyes, I cursed myself out several times. Apparently that seemed to be the theme of the morning.
I took my time driving the last 30 minutes into town...stopping along the way to take some photos.
When I got into town, I started looking for my friend's school bus craft shop she has parked downtown that's called, Ace Ferguson. That bit of meandering led me to the skate park. I had to get out there to poke around and take some photos.
Inevitably, I was thrust into reliving some nostalgia from when I was a little kid in the 80's charging on my skateboard. (If I wasn't all crippled like I am, I'd still have one to play on.)
I noticed there was a lotta commotion at the bike shop right across the train tracks beside the park. There were all these little kids with their bikes, and their parents signing them up for some kind of race. I had to go check that out.
Being in the parking lot of GearHub Sports was fantastic. It reminded me of the Kids of Steel events at triathlons I have done. You see all these little kids with streamers on their bikes, some dressed as super heroes, and all that fun stuff. It's so great to see. I have always loved that.
Kids Rally Registration at GearHub Sports: www.gearhub.ca/
I asked what the event was, and where it was located. They told me it was a kids rally. The Kid's Bike Rally was in its 13th year. The registration was at GearHub, but then there was a bike decoration station at the Fernie Bike Park that was right across the street from the skate park. The rest took place by the rec centre and finishing area of the Trans Rockies race.
I love that stuff so much. Seeing the young kids out to give 'er is so amazing. I'll never not love that.
One thing I realized there was that no matter what the kids event I might see, or stumble into, I always get reminded of this one little girl in the Kids of Steel triathlon in Summerland, BC years ago in 2007. (About 5 days before I met Travis and Mike) She was having trouble getting into the water for the swim. She wanted to so bad, and kept motioning herself into the water, but couldn't bring herself to do it. She was turning around in half of a panic, pleading with her parents, and crying. Even still, she wanted to do it, and we all knew it. She just needed to find that millimetre of a push within herself, and she'd be fine. Everybody on the beach got behind her. The volunteers in the water were incredible. We were all going nuts cheering for her. She finally found the strength to get in and do the little swim course. The applause that we generated for her was really something else. When she stood up at the end of her swim, she had the biggest smile on her face, and the whole place just erupted! It was awesome. I felt so fortunate to be a part of it, and I have never forgotten her. Being in the parking lot, watching all the kids registering for the bike rally, brought all of that back again.
Gotta love kids who charge!
My little bad-ass hero in the stripes!
Being at the kids registration area definitely wiped clean all the frustration I had within myself for screwing up the time change and missing Travis' start at Crowsnest Pass. (It's nice to feel not pissed off. Haha.)
I went back to get in my van to drive over to the finishing area and check it out. After being such a dipshit in the early morning, I had to make sure I had everything all set for when Trav would be coming down the finishing chute. I wasn't missing that for anything!
I scoped it out, but had lots of time before his estimated finishing time, so I found an excellent shaded area to park. Fennario and I then walked the few blocks away to Ace Ferguson to see Kate and her kick-ass bus!
We hung out with her for quite awhile, but then with about 30 minutes left til race finishing time, we strolled back to the park area. I put Fennario in the van, rolled the windows down, and put out her water for her. With my doggie all styled out, I walked over to the finishing area.
I walked around wondering where the ideal place to see the end of the race would be. The finish line was in an outdoor hockey rink. I decided that the best place to be was right where the dirt met the opening to the boards of the rink. That way I could see him pop outta the bush and he would ride right past me, only a couple feet away, and unobstructed. Perfect!
I asked one of the race officials about the estimated time that they would be arriving. I told him that Travis said it would be around (whatever time he told me), and he confirmed that. The official then said that Travis had been on fire!
I told him I had driven from Nelson just to see Travis, and also told him of my time change screw up. I welcomed him into making fun of my stupidity with me, and he happily obliged. We had fun making fun of me for a couple moments. (I earned it...might as well embrace it!)
From that moment on, I planted myself right where I was, and was not moving for anything. Not a damned chance!
I was around 20-25 minutes early, so I had some reflective time on whatever my brain wanted to wander through. I looked a bit at the summer I had been having, but really I was just thinkin' about Travis, and the bigger picture of this Trans Rockies race he was leading.
I know how hard he works for all of this, and what it really means to him. Seeing his positioning at the top of the leaders board for this grueling race made me happy, but not necessiarily for the Trans Rockies itself. I was looking at what it was all saying about his overall conditioning for the World Championships later in August.
He was never far from my mind during all my summer journeys, and until this race, the only information I had was him saying he wasn't where he wanted to be with his training earlier in the season. Leading this insane 7 Stage race that averaged 79km in distance and over 6000 feet in elevation gain each stage told all the story one needed to know about his conditioning...
I got really, really happy for him. Super, super psyched!
I looked back to that wintery dinner of us sitting at his kitchen table, when he looked me right in the eyes and said with such conviction that he wasn't going to the worlds just to compete, that he was going there to win. I stayed with that image in my mind for a bit.
I know how much he has put into it all. That idea reaches further than all the long hours he puts out on his bikes. Before I had come over for that dinner in the winter, Travis had sent me the sponsorship/media packet he put together. (He emailed it in a pdf.)
Travis has always commented on my writing, and knows I have a done a bunch of sponsorship/media for myself, and have helped other people with that if I'm ever asked as well. He'll send me stuff like that because he knows I love it, but he also asks me what I think about it. (Quite flattering!)
The kit he put together was amazing! When I saw him next, he put the hard copy in my hands, and we got into it. He worked hard on it, and you could tell. It was so well done.
From my own experience, I know first hand how much goes into putting those sponsorship/media kits together, whether that being the time, or the mental and emotional energy. They don't just happen on their own, and you cannot just whip them off. I loved seeing it. I loved that he sent it to me, and then put it directly in my hands when I saw him shortly later.
It's more than the obvious that speaks to me about Travis, it's the fine unseen details of his passionate, and fierce commitment towards what he is doing. It is infectious!
Make no mistake about it, going to the world's is a big deal to him...past the obvious to what so many others might see!
That's the stuff I was staring into when I was standing there waiting for him to come down the finishing chute. It's also why I was so pissed off at myself for missing the start of that final stage. I know how much it means to him, I know how much he has put into it, and he's someone I give a shit about; so I just found myself swimming in thoughts of happiness for him because of the way he laid it down for the Trans Rockies. Trav completely annhialated any of those apprehensions he might have had quietly swirling when he told me earlier in the summer that his training, and body, was not where he wanted to be.
I understand that kind of mental toll in this respect. I can't speak for him obviously, but I know all about the far depths of the spirit one gets submerged into when pushing into the ultimate extreme. The things one's mind can do when treading within that realm can be absolutely brutal, so I can only imagine where Trav's mind was at fighting through everything when his body wasn't where he wanted it to be after the countless hours he poured into it all.
Of course, I could be 100% wrong!
I almost felt a sense of elation when I was standing there waiting for him. Despite the 7 days of hard pounding on his exhausted body, it had to be some sort of big release to crush down the Trans Rockies the way he did! Good bye apprehensions, hello world championships!
If I'm being completely honest, I gotta say, I was getting a bit emotional. I was glad that I came to see my friend finish this epic race that was the big springboard testing ground towards the world's. (That is a fabricated thought within my mind, he has never implied such a thing to me.) Outside of being able to go to Quebec itself, if there was one race to come out to see him finish, it was this one.
There was a little comedy yet to come...
An elderly couple walked up and stood beside me. We started talking right away. They were super sweet. The lady was firing off all the questions. She asked me if I was from Fernie. I told them that I had driven overnight from west of Nelson to see my friend Travis finish the final stage. I then had to explain the deal with it being the final stage, and what that meant. They were pretty blown away by the scope of the race, and also were pretty psyched that I would drive that far just to see my friend wizz past us for all of 15 seconds.
The comedy played out when they both asked where the racers came out from to the finish area. I pointed down to the brush with the cone markers along the ground. She then asked if they would know where they were going. I told her that I have done a bunch of these kinds of races, and that I have never looked at a map, and never had a problem as courses are always marked. I then said, "These guys race all over the place, they know what they're doing!"
The couple were diggin' it, and stayed hangin' out til the boys came charging through. Well, seems she was right, because when the boys popped outta the bush, all three of them went the wrong way...they took a right instead of going straight.
All three of us started laughing. She totally called it! I turned to her and said, "Well, you totally nailed that one, huh?!"
It was most excellent!
Back on track to bring it home!
The three of them got quickly back on course and blew past us into the finishing chute in the hockey rink. Trav was out front, and in his words, "I couldn't resist," pulled a huge wheelie on his bike into the finish line.
It was great!
Once he was finished, he had to give interviews for their media and such. He had cameras right in his face. I loved watching it. Lil' bad-ass!
I walked to a different spot on the outside of the rink to take some photos while he was doing all of that. When I saw it winding down, I went back to where I originally was by the entrance that they biked into as it was also the way they came out. That's when I got to see him and talk to him finally.
For some reason, I was kinda at a loss for words. I wasn't even sure of the last time I saw him, and even considering everything, I still didn't have much to say. I remember thinking about the way I get whenever I have finished triathlons, and I think I let that get in the way of any conversation with Trav.
My races are a spectacle for exact opposite reasons of Travis, but I get swarmed by people at the finish line. It totally overwhelms me, and really I just wanna unwind, chill out, and much to my friend, Shelby's, dismay, eat ice cream. Talking to people is the last thing on my mind. End even when I see close friends at races, I don't have too much to say to them either. I know for sure, that got in the way of any kind of proper conversing with him on my end. I was also aware of the grind he put himself through, so figured he might be a tad bit tired.
We small talked for a bit, but made plans for me to come over for dinner before he left for the world's in Quebec. With that, I took off straight for the ice cream stand...The Happy Cow!
I talked to that lady for a bit. She was selling these amazing home made ice cream sandwiches. The ice cream was bookended by two fatty, fresh baked cookies. Daaaamn, they were good.
I saw Travis walking by somewhere when I had just gotten mine, so I yelled over to him to see if he wanted one.
(Also, much to the dismay of Shelby. In a small, little way, I kinda offered it to Trav in total defiance of Shelby... The story behind this is that Shelby is a naturopathic doctor, and really close friend I have known for over 30 years. She doesn't have a damned thing against ice cream, but said it is the last thing your body wants/needs after doing something like a triathlon, or in Travis' case, a grinding mountain bike race. Well, stick it to the man...haha, Shelby!)
Travis was all over the offer, so I grabbed a second one to give to him. We indulged together. I got some guy to take a photo of us cheers-ing our sandwiches, but for who knows what reason, he didn't know how to push a simple button on a camera to take a photo, and screwed it up. I was bummed when I discovered that at home.
We talked for a minute or two more while shoving ice cream in our faces, and with that, I was on my way.
Before we parted ways, without him knowing, I took a photo of his shoes, and his skinny little calves. I always love looking at his legs because they're so gawd damned savage! Whenever you see photos of him on the podium, he's always the tiniest guy up there.
I come from the triathlon world, and even though it is extreme endurance, I am used to tree trunk legs, so I have always found it most excellent looking at Travis' little legs. Those lil' fuckers are like unassuming assassins! Don't mess with them 'cause they will whup your ass all up over the place!
Even though I messed up getting to see Travis off at the start of the stage, I was really happy about having been there. I never saw the whole getting emotional part coming, but I embraced it because I love the guy and was just so psyched for him.
I let Fennario help me with the last of my ice cream when I got back to my van. Then we walked back over to say good bye to Kate before we left town.
A few last post race photos!
Keep chargin' Trav! I was glad to see you race for 15 seconds!
I must begin with the 2019 Trans Rockies Classic, and bounce around from there...
I had been intermittently following Travis' race during the last week of July. He was competing in the Trans Rockies Classic. It is a pretty gnarly mountain bike race in the Canadian Rockies. Consisting of seven stages over seven days through the rugged mountains with crazy elevation gains and descents, it's not for the faint of heart!
Being into triathlon the way I used to be, it was always inevitable my world would collide with Travis. For the first several years of my racing, I knew who he was, but that was about it. It wasn't until I was flying to Ontario to do a duathlon in my hometown of Wasaga Beach in September, 2007 that I really met him though.
Out on course along the beach.
Coming down the finishing chute and talking to a reporter after the race...
As per usual, I was the last one through the gate at our airport, and they gave me a tongue-lashing for it. (Nothing has changed...that happened when I went to Chicago this past June.) I was told I was lucky to get my bike on the plane because there was less than usual luggage that day, otherwise I'd be screwed.
I went into the waiting area, and sat down pretty much right beside Travis. He was flying to Las Vegas with Mike Seniuk for some kinda conference-y something.
I barely had my ass on the seat before Travis was lookin' at me with a huge fat grin, and saying something about my bike in the box, at which point we fell into conversation about racing.
At our layover in Calgary, the three of us had lunch, and carried on like we'd already known each other for quite some time. (Mike's cousin, Jackie, had been a really good friend of mine for years at that point, so we were instantly comfortable with each other.)
That was all it took! Just like that, Travis and I were instant great friends.
So, fast forward to this summer, 12 years later...
I had still yet to see Travis race in all that time. Yes, there is the thought that he mostly races far away, but even though I would consciously think about it, that was still never a good enough excuse for me to miss out on his bad-ass-ery!
In a kind of overreacting way, I had a mini little meltdown, and sorta snapped at myself for only being reduced to seeing his photos with written race updates and conclusions over the years. If I am being truthful, I actually started feeling like a pretty shitty friend for never having seen him race, especially considering how supportive he has been of me in all my triathlon endeavors for so many years. There are two instances that I take note of the most...
-The first was when he got sponsored to do the La Ruta race in Costa Rica in October, 2011. It was a crazy, crazy 4 day stage race. (Like the mini Tour de France of mountain biking.) While he was down charging that course, I was in Portland, Oregon for a half marathon, and then going to try for some sponsorship at the Adidas North American HQ. We were both messaging each other in total support...taking away from what each of us was doing to cheer on the other. (By the way...he grabbed the leader's jersey, and podium'd overall.)
-The second time that stands out was in late summer/early fall of 2015 when I did 31 triathlons under pretty grueling conditions. (All told, I bailed hard once, battled severe hypothermia in our freezing lake with no wetsuit for the back half, had many injuries, and then got hit by a car on my second last day.) On my final day, Travis came out with Caden (his two year old son) to watch me during my last swim. He was yelling at me out in the water from the park. If that wasn't enough, they got in his truck to follow me on my bike course...honking his horn and yelling and screaming out his window.
You see, Travis is the most solid of guys! I've even put it into writing before that, "it's almost sickening how good of a guy he is...just be at least a bit of a prick to give the rest of us a chance." (Haha...Something like that.)
As far as the triathlon meat grinder I have repeatedly thrown myself into, and all the crazy stuff I think up within that world, regardless if I am successful or not, Travis has always been 1000% supportive of me...quite actively and verbally. In a way, it kind of trips me out when he says what he has about me because he is a legit bad-ass.
Me, glued together with wraps and tape before the 2007 Nelson Triathlon.
Photo by Phil Best: www.bestphotos.ca/
Travis is definitely a local legend around here, and the racing circuit he charges on. It would be quite a fitting nickname if one were to call him, "Mr. Podium!"
He charges insane races year after year, and after all of them, you see podium photos and stories pop up on his Facebook account. Then there is me, "Mr. Last Place, Nowhere Near the Leaders Guy," who Travis supports without restraint. (I mean, I'm not just last place, I'm last as fuck!) The two of us have always seemed to have a circular connection of mutual inspiration. We have both been quite vocal about it, to each other, and outward to the world.
Personally, I have never felt like I have earned, nor deserved that for myself, but with him, it is beyond undeniable how incredible he is. Plainly stated,
"Travis is a mountain shredding mutherfucker!"
I hang off the stuff he does. I love talking to him about all the different facets of what high level racing entails. (There's more to it than one would think.)
Truthfully, I feel very humbled in his presence, and all this stuff never leaves me when I'm in thought about him.
(He inevitably floats through my mind when I am out charging through unbearable pain, and those thoughts actually give me strength to transcend anything a course, or my broken body might throw at me.)
There's sooo many great things about the guy, but no matter what, I'm always dialed into Trav's racing life. Even if we are talking about things completely irrelevant to that, it is still automatic as something lingering on my mind! I'm never unaware of the levity of being around Mr. Podium!
(I don't own rights to any of these photos, so if you see this and one is yours, shoot me a message so I can happily give you credit.)
I'm not too sure when I started realizing this, (It has been for awhile now.), but every time I see more of his racing stories, photos, and results online, or talking with him about them in person, I've started to increasingly feel kind of shitty that he is always out to support me, but I had never been out to see him goin' for it. (Except when he would pass by my last-place-ass on the bike portion of the old Nelson triathlon many years ago.)
I haven't liked that feeling, and it has eaten at me somewhat. I've always kept that to myself, but it is there, and it is real that I have started feeling kinda shitty around him because of it.
(I can only imagine him reading this right now. Haha...suck on it Trav! Your impact is real!)
I had been on my own adventures all over the place this summer, so I had not seen him in quite awhile. Since he won the National Championships last summer, and was committed to going to the World's this summer, I had never lost sight of his journey. There's no way I could. He was always close to my thoughts!
I was at Travis and Tobi's place for dinner sometime either side of the Christmas holidays. He and I got carried away talking about the world's. When we were deep into that conversation, with the most conviction I have ever heard him speak, Travis leaned forward to look me right in the eye, and told me that he isn't going there to just race, he is going there to win.
"I WANT TO WIN!"
A total a freakin' bad-ass! What more can you really say?!
I am writing this holed up in a dive hotel in southern Wyoming in the midst of a three week road trip with my doggie. It is basically an agenda of simply being on the road to wherever, whenever. The only thing on the agenda was to go to Colorado to see an old friend I haven't seen since July 9, 1995. The date is easy to remember as it is the day of the final Grateful Dead show in Chicago.
Since I was going to be in the area, I got tickets to the final two shows of the Dead & Company tour that was finishing in Boulder, Colorado. In quite often typical road trip fashion though, I have had some crazy break down stories on the mountain passes east of Vail. They definitely put a huge fork in the road for the journey I have been on. There is no doubt about that.
I missed the first of the two shows because of it all, but was able to get in for the final one last night. It was an incredible concert, but that is a story all of its own. What I will say about it is that while I was swimming through the height of bliss for that string of hours in that stadium, thoughts of seeing The Wild Turkeys at Starbelly Jam!
Dead & Company - Boulder, Colorado - July 6, 2019
Starbelly is a festival back home in Crawford Bay on the East Shore of Kootenay Lake, BC on July 19. This is their 20th year!
Last night, the festival, and The Wild Turkeys, had both found their way into the stream of all my thoughts of what The Grateful Dead has meant to my life: Everything it has given me, and especially all the people it has brought my way!
(The vast, vast majority of people in my life are due to the trickling effect of that band. It is doubtful I would even be living out in BC without it.)
It made me smile when the Turkeys came into mind while I was gruuuvin' in that stadium. I love the Wild Turkeys! I haven't seen them too many times, but that's mostly because I don't get out much. It is a band of local guys who all share a passion for the band I love so much, The Grateful Dead. They just have fun covering their tunes, and only play shows around our area.
**I wrote something about them last year.
As far as I am concerned, The Wild Turkeys are quite synonymous with the Starbelly Jam festival as they have played there many times over the years, dating back to the first year the festival was held. That was in July of 1999...the same year I had moved to the area.
I moved to the West Kootenay on May 1, 1999. It is no secret that I live and breathe all things Grateful Dead related, so my impending collision with the Turkeys was inevitable, and the first time I saw them was only weeks after my arrival to the area. They were playing at The Royal on Baker Street in Nelson. It was the simple 'Steal Your Face' image on their poster that grabbed my attention, and drove me to going to their show, of which my mind had been to before it had even happened.
Timmy was the first one of the boys I met in the band. That was when a bunch of us were all crammed into the little band room downstairs after the Fat Cats show at The Civic on Vernon Street in town. (Renamed, "Finley's Bar & Grill" by great new owners since around 2003.) He and I were sitting at the same tiny table, and were immersed in all the fun with everyone else.
**It turns out that some of the guys are tied heavily with the Fat Cats, which naturally extended a further branch towards them as The Fatties are really good friends of mine.
The Wild Turkeys - Some fantastic West Kootenay boys!
As for Starbelly Jam itself...
Phot0 by Louis Bockner - www.facebook.com/lbockner
I have very vivid memories of Starbelly, but they are not from me being there as I have never been!
I lived with Christa in Queens Bay for the first three years I lived here: July 99 to April 2002. (Q.B. is five minutes from the ferry to the festival, but on the opposite side of Kootenay Lake.)
My tiny little 14 foot cabin on Christa's property in Queens Bay, BC
Back then, Christa had an ice cream truck, and she hit the festival circuit hard! Her traveling partner was her daughter, Hazel, was only 7 months old then. I'd always see them preparing for, or returning from, whatever festival.
It could get quite comical looking out the window of my little cabin to see Christa up and down the ramp carrying all her stuff in and out of the truck because Hazel would be at her feet the whole time. Mostly she just wanted to help her mama, but she was a baby, so it was like walking through a moving mine field for Christa.
Her arriving home from festivals was one of my favourite ways to hang out with Christa. I would come and play with Hazel, and kinda run some interference so Christa could get stuff done. I'd just be hangin' out talking to both of them...mama and baby. It was fantastic. I love those two so, so much!
Top: Christa and Hazel during 1999/2000.
Bottom: Christa, Hazel and I skating on the pond at the Balfour Golf Course - December 31, 1999
(These are the only photos I have of the two of them.)
I had heard great things about Starbelly right from the beginning. Each year I lived in Queens Bay, I house sat for Christa while the festival was on, so I did not attend. Her stories of it, upon coming home from the first one, added to the whole picture of the West Kootenay region for me.
In the years since the beginning days of the festival, other things have also kept me away as well. After I left Queens Bay, I moved deep in the bush, up the mountain, west of Nelson. All told, it was about an hour and fifteen minutes away (When factoring my gnarly driveway.), so it was no longer just a short pop down to the ferry kinda thing to get to.
Even back then, I had many friends who had Starbelly marked on their calendar as an annual event they were not missing. There was always great music, and lots of other things to do for everyone. It was equally great for the individual, as well as families and their kids. The tales coming out of that festival every year grew and grew.
Above three photos by Louis Bockner - www.facebook.com/lbockner
Aside from the housesitting for those who would be attending, my body's epic journey of pain was a big contributing factor on my missing out on Starbelly!
My body first fell apart in 1993, but in June of 2002 stuff happened that I could never express into words...the worst it has ever been. (I'm not getting into the depth of that here.) I have never been the same since.
Despite all the craziness in my body, I dug into dragging my banged up self through triathlons. I was hooked right away from the first race I did! I didn't care how much it hurt to do them, I just found them liberating and invigorating. (Just as with my body, my triathlon life is a massive story of its own for another time as well.
Fundraiser at Save-On-Foods with Tiyenna (She totally bailed me out to help me pull this off.)
I got so much from the triathlon world, that I wanted to start giving back to it somehow, so in 2007 I did my first ever fundraiser at Save-On-Foods. I wanted to raise some bucks to buy a trophy to donate to our local triathlon. (It was for the athlete who overcomes adversity to race.) The date given to me by the grocery store was the Saturday of the weekend of Starbelly Jam. I missed another one!
Even though they beat the living hell out of me, triathlon had taken over my life during my summers for some years, so festivals were not a thing on my radar. There was also another massive life turn that came when I got beat down by an animal on June 30, 2009. That set off a chain of events where I ended up losing about five and a half of the next six years of my life. It also left me with more permanent changes within my body as with my 2002 breakdown.
It just seemed to be that something was always keeping me away from the festival, but the stories from those who went never ceased to keep rolling in!
I have always been intrigued by Starbelly, and even with never having been, I have grown an attachment to it in my own way. This will be their 20th anniversary of the event, so it seems like the perfect year for me to attend for my first time.
(It was on hiatus for one summer a few years ago, and even never having been, it left me a bit sad to know it would not be happening. I was delighted to hear it would be returning when it did.)
Timmy showing me his new amplifier last month.
I went to Timmy's house a couple weeks before I left on this road trip down to Colorado (and the ensuing wandering). He's such a great guy. He was showing me his new amplifier he had just gotten, and was super psyched on. He invited me to come to their jam sessions leading up to the festival, but unfortunately I'm unable to attend because of my road trip in the States. (There could be a likelihood that I roll into the festival straight from the USA.)
This road trip I am on has seemed to add to the nature of attending Starbelly Jam to see the Wild Turkeys. I have been some gorgeous places on my trip, but back home in the West Kootenay is really a special place! It is so damned beautiful and full of so many incredible people...and it's home!
When I was riding that train of bliss in the Dead & Company show last night, and having the image float into my mind of being at Starbelly watching the Turkeys play gave me a nice feeling of my home...one of rippling warmth. It made me smile more, and painted more happiness into being there gruuuvin' hard in Boulder last night!
The Wild Turkeys at Starbelly Jam is in eleven days, and I can't wait!
Starbelly Jam Society
Box 15 Crawford Bay, BC
West Coast Grill at The Prestige Lakeside Resort
No photos as I had not intended to write about my meal here because I only went to meet with a friend who was staying there. It was so terrible all around that I couldn't let it go though.
The easy thing I will start with is my friend. He ordered french toast with bananas, but they brought him kiwis instead. He was visibly upset about this as he picked them off and was kinda cursing out each piece as he did, and saying something along the lines of how can they mess up a kiwi with a banana?! They also charged him for two teas when he only had one.
Of the two of us, he was the one who got the good service...
I ordered a very simple classic breakfast: over easy eggs, bacon, sourdough toast, hash browns.
The food didn't take long, but as soon as it was put in front of me I zeroed in on the eggs. Those things were...how do I put it? The only way they could possibly have been more overcooked is if they were charcoal black and crispy. The yolks were hard, like, can't even cut up with a fork kind of hard! That totally defeats the whole purpose of an over-easy egg, as the whole point of those is to dip your toast in the oozing yolk.
I was immediately put-off by it as I have always felt that if you're in a building called the Prestige then your food better be prestigious.
My friend used to be a cook for many years, so he knows what's up with good and bad food, and he didn't even hesitate saying that he was gonna get me new food. I told him no, that I don't send food back unless it has a hair in it, or it makes me sick immediately. (As an example...spoiled cream or the like!) Then I explained that if I send it back, that they're just gonna throw it out and I am not OK with that. I'm kid of the 80's who saw countless times a day on TV the little kids in Ethiopia with bloated stomachs and flies flying around them from desperate starvation; as cliché as it might sound at times, I am very aware of people around the world who don't have food, and would do almost anything for those shitty eggs. For me to have them thrown out is not acceptable. My friend said they need to be held accountable. I told him they will be, and quickly refreshed his memory that I write about food.
(A lesser reason I do not send food back because of quality is because I have known many, many cooks over the years, and have heard too many nightmare kitchen stories of what can happen to sent back dishes, so I don't trust round two of rejected food for a second.)
I wasn't really eating the food too much. I was more in disbelief of how terrible it was while trying to break up parts of the egg with my fork. I ate a hash brown here and there and talked with my friend about the garbage quality. That kind of took over the theme of our conversation.
When I had only eaten one slice of toast, a few hash browns, and a bit of one egg, without asking if I was done, the server just showed up and took my food away. My friend and I both said I wasn't done with it. He didn't hear us I guess, which was quite impressive as we both said it clear and loud enough for anyone standing only two feet from our table to hear. He then dropped my fork on the ground, picked it up, and put it on the plate as we both repeated ourselves that I wasn't finished. This time he heard us and started handing me my plate back with the fork that had just fallen on the floor sitting right in the food.
In my mind, I was like, "Seriously?! You're really gonna give a plate of food that has a utensil in it that you just dropped on the floor?!"
His hand was outstretched with the plate, but I wasn't gonna say anything until it got to the table to see if he would actually give it back to me. Thankfully he retracted his arm and realized what he had just done. He hesitated for a moment pondering what to do, and then apologized, and said he would get me some more food.
When he was gone back to the kitchen I looked at my friend and said, "I kinda just wanna leave." That was when my friend was looking at his bill seeing that he had just been charged for two teas instead of one.
The food didn't take long, but I wish it took a little bit longer because this time the eggs were well under cooked. They were disgusting...like eating snot. When my server asked me if there was anything else I needed I told him a fork would be great because I didn’t have any utensils.
By this time, my friend had to leave for a meeting, so I just sat there by myself eating gross snotty eggs. While I was doing that, my server had walked by and taken the cloth napkins off the table. I was thinking to myself at that point, “I’m not freakin’ done yet.” He then realized I was not done, so he put down my friend’s used napkin for me. He then stood there confused as to which one was which and picked up my friend’s and put mine back down, but to me, all I saw was his hands all over it, and I more impressed that he just kept finding ways to take bad and make it worse. It was quite impressive, especially knowing that he had been a server there for many years.
It was a huge mistake to eat that second round of eggs because now I feel terrible. There is this sludgy, slimy film from my mouth right down to my stomach, and my belly feels like I just ate some rocks.
That was quite possibly the worst meal/service combination I have ever had. Needless to say, when my friend is in town again, we won't be eating there again. It's really too bad because it is such a nice location, especially the patio on the water, but it's just not worth it. The disappointment is paramount to virtually every dining experience in that place.
When I left the restaurant, I walked straight over to the Front Desk to ask if I could borrow a pen. The lady said, "Of course." I just wanted to write down 'kiwi instead of banana' so I would remember that mistake with my friend's dish. I didn't finish writing 'instead' because I was kind of distracted talking to the woman at the desk. She asked me how I was doing. I said, "Terrible, now!" With some alarm and definite concern in her voice she asked me why. I told her that I just had a terrible meal and service at in the restaurant. It kind of stopped her in her tracks, but she did ask me if I wanted the manager's card. I told her no...that I know who he is. I thanked her for the pen and then walked off and went about my day.
The very first meal I ever had that The Prestige in 2000 I remember looking at my friend I was with then and saying, "This is not very Prestigious." After so many failed attempts at meals there, I gotta say that I am done with it. I won't waste my time or money going for a meal at The Prestige Lakeside Resort in Nelson, BC. The rooms are great, but the food is just one let down after another, and the lesson has been learned.
I clicked on Brittany's Facebook page to message her about playing some tennis. When I saw her profile photo it punched me right in the face with some imagery that I couldn't really make sense of. I can't really grasp the words because it speaks of so many things that are beautiful about life, but I still put down some words in a vain effort to try to capture what this image spoke of...
**Photo by Natasha Thaesler
"The Radiance She Shines"
She smiles with a radiance
It is penetrating
A beautiful being
On a forested road
Language of her body
Speaks of a loving soul
Free with passion
Embracing life in essence
Emittance in substance
Of a light touch
In a light sense
Caught in stillness
In a moment of happiness
Suffused in wonderment
Infused in astonishment
Symbolizing everything right
In a simple expression
She gives purpose to gratitude
The gratitude of hope
Hopeful in its depths
Dispelling chaotic notion
With beauty in simplicity
The simple notion of optimism
That is elated in contentment
Thoughts stripped down
To their purest formative meaning
Like eternity bottled in rhyme
Her image in this time
Symmetry of perception
In the gratitude of hope
Luminously found within
The radiance she shines
I saw this photo of Kimberley about 20 minutes after she posted it with these words:
*insert inspirational song lyrics here*
I wrote this in about 5 minutes. The words fell out quite easily...
"A Girl Named Kimberley"
She is a girl
As kind as they come
With her smile
She lifts you up
Softening hard rock stone
Comforting hurting souls
With an essence of beauty
Inviting in her kindness
Embracing in her warmth
She makes you remember
Everything that is good
Forgetting everything that ails
Living in such a way
To see freedom in oneself
Illuminating a path within
Through the way that she walks
In strides made up of balance
Written in the pages of harmony
Penned in the ink of her heart
The beautiful words of life
That make everyone remember
And everyone to see
The natural wonders
Such rippling kindness can hold
Effortless in giving
In doing nothing
Just from being
Her beautiful self
A self of warmth
A self of radiance
A self of worth
Given unto us
The lucky ones
Fortunate to have known
A girl of this magnitude
A girl of this kind
A girl named Kimberley
A girl so kind
Winter really held on in the back end of the season this year. It sure took its time saying good bye for another year to say the least. After some hit and miss days towards the end of April, it finally seems like we are in the clear for the warmer weather to stay upon us here in the west.
(The east sure might have some disagreeing thoughts about that as they are still getting hammered by mama nature. Haha...suckers!)
It's an early start to today, and as I look out the window I can see it is a gorgeous day in the making. I have time to spare, so I decide to take my curiosity up to the rooftop patio that is advertised here at The Savoy Hotel in downtown Nelson, BC.
There are 12 rooms in their boutique hotel. I had the Junior Suite
I leave my room and make my short way to the stairs at the back end of the beautiful guest common area on the floor hotel floor. Nobody is stirring in the hotel yet, so everything is nicely quiet. It makes me feel special, like I am the king with a whole floor to myself.
One of the nice things about The Savoy Hotel is that it is completely dog friendly in all their rooms, otherwise I would not be here because my doggie comes with me everywhere I go.
When you open the door, this is what you see...
The two of us head up the stairs to the roof. I could say I simply opened the door, but really I opened my expectations, because as soon as the door swung wide it revealed a gorgeous first sight for my doggie and I. She led the way, and I followed her outside.
The patio is much bigger than I had pictured in my mind. It is very spacious, but feels intimate at the same time. A nice balance! The views all around are spectacular. They kind of just hit you right upside the head and force their way into your mind, taking over all your thoughts.
My timing was perfect too as the sun had just crested over the mountain ridge sitting behind the top end of town. Clouds were non-existent, so the crystal clear blue sky was wide open. A blank canvass for another day of possibility!
As I walked around looking at everything, and taking it all in, the early morning air was filled with songs from the birds of spring. The springtime birds sing the best songs because it just seems like so long since they have been soundtracks of the day. Their voices were quite predominant too as the town was still barely waking up, and without the real traffic sounds to start the day. It was all too peaceful. What a great setting to start the day! I was like a king on top of the world in my own little utopia.
I went to look at their hot tub in the corner that faces west. The railings are made of nice planked wood on two sides of the patio, but they had they good foresight to make the railings out of glass for the hot tub area so as to not obstruct the view...and what a view!
Knowing Nelson as well as I do, the hot tub is in the perfect location for the end of day sunset down the valley above the river. Just absolutely sensational!
Thinking about that, one might assume I am on the wrong end of the day for that experience, and although true as far as the sinking sun, and the way it will colour the sky, seeing the sun crest over the ridge on the other side in the quiet morning is equally spectacular.
There are changing areas and showers at the bottom of the stairs in the back end of the common guest area, but they also have a washroom/changing room right off to the side in the hot tub space. There is a water fountain too for those moments you might be a tad bit thirsty from soaking in the hot water. It is a total gem of little spot for sure.
(The water in the fountain is all on the same building system that has a high end water filter for all the water in the rooms, restaurants, as well as down in the Bloom Nightclub. All of it!
**As a side note, off of the guest common area there is a beautiful sauna as well. It is the traditional kind as far as being able to pour water over the hot rocks to let off steam rather than an electric sauna. I love those kinds infinitely more than the electric ones.
There is also a BBQ up here on the patio that is good to go for any guests who wish to give 'er on that and Q up a feast!
Their tables and benches are all hand milled wood from their farm down at the Salmo River Ranch about 50 minutes south of Nelson. (The ranch is also home to their Shambhala Music Festival, which is coming up on its 22nd year this coming August.)
Grains of wood on the handmade tables
The patio is only open and available to the guests of the hotel, so it really embraces that intimacy for its guests. They have pretty good hours too as it is open from 6:00am until 10:00pm. I believe they made the opening hours to benefit skiers in the winter time so they can have time for a nice little soak before they head up to Whitewater to catch first chair on the fat powder days, and pound some fluffy white pillows of winter bliss. (Shhhh...keep it a secret!)
All in all, just from the sunset hot tubbing alone, there is no place like this rooftop patio in all of Nelson. They really crushed it on this for sure! I'm glad I came up here to start my day. Such a beautiful way to ease into the world for another go at it!
Back down to the common area, and on with my day...
198 Baker Street
Nelson, BC, Canada
Stuff Writin' About Kinda Guy
I am a simple guy who likes to dream of the impossible and go after it. I have found fun in writing about my journey as well as other things that inspire me too.