Friday, December 24, 2010

Thankful, Inspired & Blessed in 2010

As 2010 comes to a close,  I reflect and celebrate all that I'm thankful for this year.  As many of you know I've had probably the one of the most challenging, yet inspiring years of my life.  I started the year with great health, loving family and supportive family/friends. 

Unfortunately,  life has a way of not always going as planned and I experienced a few bumps in the road.  My health challenges began in June during the Boise 70.3 when I started to pass a kidney stone on the run and soon realized all my goals were now out the window, however I felt it was important to finish what I started and get to the finish time.  As I was recovering from this experience I began to notice shortness of breath as I tired to run.  I told my wife I thought something was wrong and she said, "go to the doctor", so I did and they took some blood, etc., sending me on my way feeling everything was fine. 

Two days later I realized everything wasn't fine as I attempted to participate in a practice triathlon with Team Blaze Spokane Triathlon Club ( which is an inspiring and support group of people who I get the pleasure of coaching.  As I got off my bike to run as I had done a thousand times before I began to cough and cough while feeling light headed I finally had to stop after 2.5 miles.  Needless to say I was frustrated and knew my body well enough to now something wasn't right.

As I returned home still coughing and I notice that I was coughing up blood.  I was somewhat concerned, however Tristin was persistent that we go to the ER.  So, before I knew I was being admitted to Sacred Heart Medical Center for follow up tests.  It was during my 3 days at SHMC that an Echo Tech noticed my Mitral Valve wasn't closing properly, which could explain some of my symptoms.  This set in motion probably one of the most difficult times in my life when I felt like my future was out of my control.  I was initially diagnosed with possible HCM or Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy and Mitral Valve Prolapse.  This caused me to react the only way I knew how which was to learn as much as I could about the unknown.  It was a scary time to think I was being to told to never swim, bike or run again and triathlon were now part of my old life.

I was frustrated and needed more answers.  I feel so blessed to have connected with Dr. Eric Anderson as he didn't realize it at the time, however the :45 minutes he spent with me made huge difference in my mental outlook on the situation.  He's not only a great sport medicine doctor, he's also a father and amazing athlete.  He could relate to me desire to continue to be active and offered to facilitate my care if the heart tests were inconclusive. In small world twist it turns out Dr. Anderson is my neighbor, however hopefully I'll only see him that capacity in the future!  Thank you Tom Deheart and Heidi Peterson for the referral.

In October,  after what seemed like an eternity of more questions than answers I completed my 5th heart test and I now had some answers as to why I was experiencing fatigue and my body wasn't allowing me the freedom to do all that I enjoy.  The interesting aspect of now having the answers relates to the fact that now I had to make some decisions about my future.  As this process began in June when I first met with the cardiologist the thought of surgery was something I strongly resisted, however as I learned more about the process I realized at 37 years old I desired the ability to live a long and healthy life free of restrictions. So, the reality of having robotic heart surgery was becoming more realistic.

I remember feeling more nervous than at any other time in my life when met with the heart surgeon for the first time.  He asked me if I was prepared to sit on couch like a normal person and let all this exercise go?  My response to him was again a question, do you feel like this is living?  After that brief exchange we began to discuss my options.  Unfortunately, my Mitral Valve was so compromised to the point that a basic repair might not be possible which I'll admit was tough to hear.  Tristin asked the Dr. Swick about how confident he was that he could repair the valve?  He paused for longer than I would like and  replied that he was 70% sure he could repair it. 

As many of you know that have supported me through this journey through heart surgery, I ended up having to make difficult decision which I felt 100% confident with my mechanical mitral valve put in if the repair didn't work.  Other than having to take Coumadin the rest of my life and hearing a slight ticking noise when I exercise, I feel so thankful to be on the road to recovery, healthy and alive.

(The amazing piece of art created by team Blaze member Mason McCuddin (Thank you!) was an ideal reminder with the names of all the club members inscribed as to how many people were lifting me up and supporting my through my surgery!  It is also a reminder as to the fact I literally put my heart, my life in the hands of god and through him was Dr. Siwek was successful with my surgery. I'm so thankful to be on the road to recovery!)

As a coach of several athletes I feel fortunate to be able to guide on their individual journeys in setting and reaching goals.  Recently, I had the pleasure of coaching and being inspired by two amazing athletes that I also consider good friends.  They both accomplished different goals and helped me to maintain a positive spirit through their actions.

(Norma with Tristin and I)

Recently, Norma qualified for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater and finished 10th in her Age Group.  She continues to set goals, improve and inspire with her focus on consistency.  Over the last few years she has qualified for the Boston Marathon and 70.3World Championship!  I look forward to coaching her for IM CDA in 2011!

(Chet#10459 is standing next to me after the Honolulu Marathon and Charles Dias on the far right)

Chet recently lived out his dream and repeated his 20 x Ironman effort from 12 yrs ago. Chet contacted me about a year ago and ask me to coach him through this amazing event.  Starting on November 13th and concluding on Dec. 12th, he completed a 48 mile swim, 1200 mile bike and 524 mile run!  Chet did an excellent job of losing +30 lbs and finished what he started!  He proved to many that anything is possible if you stay positive and focused as the mind is a powerful thing.  As an example of the good in people, Charles also pictured above supported Chet everyday for 28 days taking time off work and away from family to assure the Chet accomplished his goal.

(Ultra Marathon finish March 2010)

In closing out the year, I've learned so many valuable lessons this year about faith, positive mental focus, friendship and family.  Life isn't fair and no one every said it would be, however I feel if we all just take time to reflect, support and give back to each other the world becomes a better place. In life we will all experience bumps in the road, although I truly feel it is how we respond or react to this challenges that defines us.  I knew that during this journey the only thing I could control is the ability to maintain a positive outlook and spirit.  This wasn't easy, however through faith, friendship and family I knew I wasn't alone.  Words can't expressed how much I appreciate all the support and encouragement provided to me through this bump in the road.

As I look forward to 2011 with wide eyed optimism I'm reminded through my 5 yrs. of all the good and simple things in life. Each day he's learning, growing and inspiring! Thank you little buddy!

Words can't express how much I appreciate my awesome wife for blessing my life with unconditional love and support! You're my best friend, partner in adventure and wonderful mother!

All the best in 2011 and remember to enjoy the journey!

Team Blazer Fun November 2011

Thanks for reading, encouraging, inspiring, and supporting!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Road to Recovery

Words can't begin to explain how good it feels to be alive and on the other side of this surgery.  Of course I always try to think positively, however with any major surgery there is no guarantee. I prayed for the best case scenario which in my case would have been to get my mitral valve repaired.  I knew going into the surgery the valve function wouldn't allow for a routine repair due to the fact I had mitral valve prolapse and mitral valve regurgitation.  I had prepared myself for both the repair and replacement options. 

After 4hrs of surgery the surgeon came to my wife (Tristin) and explained he wasn't pleased when they tested the valve function after the repair.  The valve function had improved, however he wasn't sure it would hold up over time.  So, he confirmed with her again that I would in fact want a mechanical valve.  He also gave the option of taking up golf and just changing my lifestyle completely, which Tristin quickly informed him wasn't an option.  Thanks honey for being my #1 support!

My surgeon headed back into finish the mitral valve repair.  So, all together my surgery took about 6 hrs and they stopped/started my heart twice. (crazy when you think about it!) I did put my life in someone else's hands and feel fortunate to have Dr. Siwek in Spokane.  He's an amazing surgeon, however I hope to have to never use his services again!

Once I finished surgery on Nov. 15th, I spent until 9pm at night with tube down my throat (probably the worst part of the whole experience).  I stayed in the ICU overnight and then at 8am the next day they wheeled my upstairs to my own room.   I was so thankful to be making progress, although the first day everything was moving slow.  It was great to have so many family and friends visit me in the hospital.  I knew I had many amazing people in my life, however this experience once again confirmed it.

On Nov. 16th, I think I walked 150 ft twice during the day, my throat hurt worse than anything because of the tube irritating plus I had fat lip too, but I wasn't complaining as I was glad to be feeling alive!  I didn't have much of an appetite, coughed all night and popsicles/ice were amazing treats.  I used the spirometer and spend most of the day sleeping. I was coughing a lot (painful!) and running temperature.  That night sleep was rough due to the sore throat and coughing.  The highlight of my day was seeing family and friends throughout the day!

On Nov. 17th, I didn't sleep well due to the coughing/sore throat and multitude of tests, although it was again great to see family and more friends come to visit me.  I really start feeling better and walked more the double the distance of the day before.  I tried to eat, but that was limited to jello, pudding and apple sauce.  As the day progressed I continued to run a temperature of 100, although they did remove the big tubes from my neck!  I started to look forward to all the little things that indicated I could get out of the hospital! At the end day three I thought I might end up there until Friday due the fact I still had a few tubes in my chest, although I just kept trying to do as they instructed and found the coughing did finally start to subside!

On the Nov. 18th during the rounds the PA said they were going to try to get me out of there today!  I was pleasantly surprised and now I just need a few chest tubes removed!  I was finally able to get out on the hospital and home by 2pm!

It's hard to imagine that one week ago I had heart surgery, although I pleased to report I'm getting stronger each day!  Yes, I'm tried and sore, but more importantly I feel blessed with life!  I'm realistic and I know I have a long road of recovery ahead of me.  I've been getting a ton of rest and I've had time to think about all the fun adventures that I want to plan in the coming years.   My #1 goal initially is to make sure I'm completely healthy before I jump back into my active life too soon.

I'd like to share two amazing resources I came across through this process to help me during this experience.  I found people that are dealing with a similar surgery too provide amazing perspective and support.  If you know someone that is dealing with any life changing decisions regarding heart surgery I encourage you to share these two websites.

My road to recovery is just beginning, yet my life is fulled with endless possibilities.  I've learned so many lessons through this process about myself.  I only hope to continue to grow as husband, father, son, friend and coach to live my life in a way that inspires and supports others.  I realize that I want to live a life of giving more than I take.

In moving past this bump in the road I realize the challenges of life have a way of providing insight into the true character of people and importance of family & friends.  Thank you all for supporting, encouraging and inspiring me through this process!

Enjoy the journey!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Heart Surgery

In life we all come to a crossroads or point in life where we need to trust that the decisions we make are the right ones.  For me that decision like this surgery has mentally weighed me down for months, although fortunately I've had family and friends to pick me back up.  My surgery and decision is now only days away.

My surgery is scheduled for a robotic mitral valve repair which now has become more routine (so I hear) although this is my heart and I really hope the repair is successful.  Before I go into surgery I have to let Dr. Siwek (my heart surgeon) know if I want a biological or mechanical valve if the repair doesn't work.  I've read endless research articles and talked with others, although this is my decision.  The list of Pros vs. Cons has consumed my thoughts lately.  The reality is that I won't know until I wake up after surgery of the outcome, so I've tried to prepare for both outcomes.

So, what would you do?  I hope everyone reading this doesn't ever have to decide.  I can go with biological valve and probably be fine for the next 10-15 or so years, although it would eventually have to be replaced.    Ultimately just like anything in life there is no guarantee.  I could get the mechanical valve and it might last the rest of my life, although it might not.  If I decided to go with mechanical valve I'd need to take blood thinners for the rest of my life and I already don't like to take anything. This really is the most difficult decision of my life and I hope by Monday morning I can make the decision with more confidence than I have now.

I've had so much on my mind lately that I feel I'm running the race of my life mentally everyday.  This surgery is serious business and as much as I'm trying to pray for positive outcomes my life will literally be in the hands of another.  Scary thought!  I know the surgeon is excellent, however like anything in life there is no guarantee.

I find myself for the first time in my life truly reflecting on my journey through life from a different perspective.  I'm asking myself questions that I've never really thought much about due to the fact this major surgery and I have more anxiety than I've had at any time in my life.  I've tried through this process to maintain my spirit, focus on the things I can control and come to understand that god truly does have a plan for all of us.

But the questions are still there.....Why me?  What am I suppose to learn from this?  What will I change in my life moving forward?  How did I go from feeling in the best shape of my life in June to heart surgery?  How can I use this experience to help others?  Are my parents/wife/son/family and friends proud of me?  I know the answers to some of these questions and plan to resolve others after surgery.

OK, OK.... enough of these questions.  My point is that I think all of us take life for granted at some point and forget to enjoy the little things or small successes along the way.  I know I have a long life to live, so I pray god will let me continue to inspire and touch the lives of others. It may be through supporting my family or helping teach people to live a healthy life of balance with goals to be all they can be.  I encourage everyone to find a way to give back and take time to enjoy the journey through life.

Did I think at 37 yrs old I'd be having heart surgery?  Of course not, however one thing I've learned through this process is that life is completely unpredictable.  All I can do is maintain a positive outlook and spirit as I put my life in the hands of others.

I'm going to Sacred Heart Medical Center on Monday, Nov. 15th at 4:45am to prepare to have surgery at 7:15am.  I'll be in the hospital for 3 to 4 days.  Thank you to everyone that has supported me through this bump in the road journey through life.  I feel so fortunate to have such an amazing support system of family and friends that will here for me when I wake up after surgery. 

Thanks for reading and remember to enjoy the journey!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Patience, Heart & Spirit

I recently celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary with my amazing wife by running the Portland Half Marathon on 10-10-10!  We spent a fun weekend with family and friends.  Despite all the rain during the run we were able to share another special experience together. 

As we drove back to Spokane after the run I reflected on the last 10 yrs with all the highs and lows knowing how fortunate I am to be with someone that loves and supports me.  My wife has taught me to be patient and realize what is truly important in my life.  She is a wonderful mother, friend and she has special spirit that is contagious.

After we returned to Spokane the reality set in that my appointment with the surgeon to discuss my future and literally put my heart in hand was here.  I've had about 6 weeks to reflect on the news provided through my last visit to the cardiologist that I needed mitral valve repair surgery.  As my appointment with the surgeon became a reality today and my anxiety was at new high.  I'm ready to move passed this bump in the road, however when I was waiting to meet with the surgeon I had so many thoughts about the future racing through my head.  When the surgeon came in and ask about the how I felt about sitting on the couch the rest of my life I immediately responded by saying I didn't feel that was living.  All I want is the ability to be free to live a long healthy life.  If I can do triathlons and run marathons again that would be a bonus, although I just want to live without restrictions.

The surgeon explained that I had a few options....
#1) Robotic Mitral Valve Repair Surgery
#2) Robotic Mitral Valve Replacement Surgery if the repair doesn't work

Robotic Mitral Valve Repair Incisions

How is robotic heart mitral valve repair different from traditional surgery?

Three tiny incisions (holes or “ports”) are made in between the ribs

The robotic arms and a tiny camera are placed through the ports

Motion sensors are attached to the robotic “wrists” so the surgeon can control the movement

Instruments are placed in the robotic arms

The surgeon sits at a computer and looks through two lenses, one for each eye, connected to two cameras inside the patient. The surgeon has a three-dimensional and magnified view inside the patient’s body. The surgeon uses pedals to control the cameras and the surgical view. The surgeon’s hands are used to control the tiny instruments inside the patient. The surgeon is always in control and there is no chance the robotic arms will move on their own.

When my ever questioning wife ask about the odds the repair would be successful the surgeon put my odds at 70%.  I would love to have heard 100%, although the reality is if I don't have surgery my life will only become more limited.  It's surreal to think I felt in the best shape of my life in June and now I'm praying that this surgery works to allow me maintain a healthy quality of life. 

I've learned so many lesson through the last four months about maintaining a positive spirit and outlook.  I figure I only have one journey through life and I want to feeling like I'm living.  This experience has completely tested my patience, expanded my view of faith and provided me with life perspective.  I appreciate all that I have in my life and look forward to all my life that is before me.  My heart may be in need of repair, however my spirit will remain strong.

My surgery is set for Nov.15th.  I can't express how fortunate I feel to have such an amazing support system of family & friends that continue to help guide me through the next phase of this life changing journey.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Glass Half Full

Reece (1st day of school age 5)

I've always been fascinated by the mind-body connection and how that impacts all areas of life.  As I continue to sort through the reality that my body isn't going to heal itself I've reached out to various means to help me deal with the mental side of these new physical limitations.

I'm so fortunate to be surrounded by an amazing support system of loving family and friends to pull me through the days when my mind will run a race that has no end.  The one thing I've realized through this process is the importance of being thankful and appreciative of all the wonderful aspects of my life.  The last 3 months has been tougher mentally than I could have imagined.  I've gone from feeling in the best shape of my life with the freedom to push my physical limits to wondering what the true meaning of my life involves.

I've never really bought into the spiritual side of life.  I believe in God, although I've never felt the need to go to church as a means to show faith. Is this wrong, maybe or maybe not.  My point is that I feel everyone has to believe and live within their comfort level.  My comfort level has never been through going to church every Sunday and especially when I felt that was forced upon me.  This summer I've found through reading more about examples of faith and talking to friends that I'm more at easy with some of the "why" questions.

I learned that God does have a plan for all of us and although sometimes it seems he gives people more than they can handle if they are willing to open up he will guide them through their faith and lead them to the answers.  I've read two great books recently...."One Month to Live"  (Thank you Kim for sharing this great book with me as it's really helped to bring my current life into perspective) and  "Running on Faith" is the other book I'm currently reading which I also highly recommend for anyone that has any doubts about what is truly possible in life.  The book is close to my heart as it relates to the parallels between endurance sports and life through the perspective of someone that was guided by his faith to overcome all physical barriers in life through his will and mental strength.  Ok, I'm not going to ruin it for anyone, however I encourage you to read these books as they've really helped me to refocus and feel like I'm still living my life albeit through a different lens.

This has never been more clear than through my recent Cardiology tests and appointments where I was told that my mitral valve in heart was in fact in need of repair.  I've tried not to live in denial this summer, although I must say when I went in for this last test on August 30th I had almost convinced myself that I was feeling better so my heart must have just healed itself this summer due to my relative inactivity. I was hoping they would say everything looks great and you can go back to living your life with no restrictions.  Unfortunately, I didn't hear those magic words and I feel I didn't initial hear the "glass half full" message either.  It took me a good week or two after talking to family and friends to realize that having surgery with a good thing.  Thank you all for the inspiring words and perspective as I needed to hear it. 

The reality is that in my situation the glass is half full.  The Cardiologists now know what is wrong with my heart and the surgeon can hopefully fix it!  I went back to my Cardiologist today and he explained the next steps in this process involve going to see Dr. Siwek (Cardic Surgeon) that has come highly recommended by all my doctors and friends in the medical community which is reassuring.  So, now I wait to meet with the surgeon and discuss literally putting my heart in his hands.

Life is truly a journey and each day I try to learn something from those people that touch my life.  Recently I've learned that although sometimes the news isn't what we want to hear in my case the glass is half full and my spirit and faith is stronger than ever.  I can almost see light at the end of this race to overcome this minor life detour. Enjoy the journey!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 30, 2010

My Life, My Roller Coaster Ride

I've always been a fan of roller coasters as I live for adventures and experiences, although this summer my life has been on a roller coaster ride with more twists and turns than I have ever imagined.  The last 10 days have continued this unpredicatable journey I've come to know as my life.

On 8/20, I was excited to get off my heart medicine in preparation for my upcoming heart test.  I don't like taking anything and especially considering the medicine makes me feel fatigued/sluggish I'd rather not take it.  Maybe it was psychological, however I've felt better the last two weeks than I have all summer.  I felt so good in fact I started to run again, albeit only 3-4 miles at a time.  I felt like I was living again!  I decided that I should sign up for the 1st Annual Priest Lake Mtn. Bike Triathlon, however I had strict orders to keep my heart rate below 150.  Usually in a normal triathlon this would be relatively easy as I found out earlier this summer in Chelan.

The triathlon started with a super short swim(350m) in Priest Lake.  As my wife (Tristin), myself and 5 of our Team Blaze friends stood at the edge of the lake and waited for the start my wife reminded me this was not a race for me.  I agreed, although deep down I wished I could push myself and race again like I have done all my life.  As the race started I opted for a self compromise, I would swim hard for the first 100m and then cruise realizing the rest of my day I had to be smart about my heart rate. When I reached the beach after the short 5 min. swim to my surprise I had a 30 sec. lead.  I must say with all I've been through this summer it felt great to hear the cheers and soak in my short lived moment. 

After the swim, instead of racing to the transition and starting the ride as quickly as possible I took my time. Once I got on the bike I soon realized with a mile climb up 750ft. it was going to be tough to keep my HR to 150, however I reminded myself this wasn't race for me, so I needed to be smart and take it easy.  The bike was hilly, but it was beautiful and I felt a sense of calm to be participating again.  I think the 20+ athletes that passed me on the bike were somewhat surprised when I encouraged them on as they flew passed me, although this why I love triathlon as everyone is out there giving there best on that day.  As I finished the bike I was surprised as how good my legs felt!

Starting the 5K not knowing what to expect due to the fact I really haven't run all summer, I was pleasantly surprised to realize I could still run!  I was able to run at 7:30 pace at 150 HR!  I was even able to pass 8 athletes on the run!  It my great to see Tristin and all the other Team Blaze athletes out on the course and be able to participate again! I truly enjoyed the experience and felt like I was living again without limits.

I woke up Sunday morning and felt great with no soreness!  Tristin and I then joined our awesome neighbors Daniel & Kimberly to a run on the Bloomsday course which was my longest run of the summer!  I can't begin to explain how great it felt to be living life on my terms again.

Now fast forward today (8/30) and my heart test.  I must say I was hopefully optimistic as I've been feeling much better lately and I had hoped they would say everything has really improved over the summer.  Unfortunately, my roller coaster didn't go the direction I had hoped.  After the TEE, I was told that my Mitral Valve is worse than they thought and even at lower heart rate the valve wasn't functioning properly.  So, what does this mean?  Two cardiologists have recommended that I have surgery to correct/repair the valve.  I'll be honest this is tough to take as I've always lived my life knowing I could just train harder or study longer to overcome challenges my life, however now my roller coaster and my life are at the fork in the journey.  My will to overcome this challenge isn't possible.  I have my next cardiology appointment on 9/17 to determine my options for surgery. Did I ever think that my life at 37yrs old would involve heart surgery?  Of course not, however there is nothing I can do about it which is frustrating, scary and unfortunately my life as I know it.

I truly appreciate all the support and inspiration from my wife/son, family, friends and ahtletes I coach.  I have realized that life truly is a journey full of highs and lows, although it's a challenging time I can only try to press on with a positive spirit. Enjoy the journey and don't take life for granted!

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My Puzzling Summer

Reecer finished his first triathlon! (July 2010)

I recently celebrated my 37th birthday which was a great weekend with family and friends.  As get older and hopefully wiser I'm reminded of the simple things in life. If I forget I have my 5 year old son to make sure I know all about cartoons, trains, snacks, naps, night time bedtime stories and wet pull ups.  If life was only that simple forever.

Reece Kids Triathlon 8-8-10
My summer health diagnosis continues to leave me and unfortunately the experts puzzled.  As I went back to the Cardiologist last week his first words to me went something like this, "Hello Scott, my puzzling patient".  Ok, now when your Cardiologist (somedays I still can't believe I have one) refers to you as puzzling patient it doesn't do a lot for the confidence.  Oh well....that is my life currently. 

I've had so many tests performed on me this summer I feel like an anatomy project.  Due to my puzzling diagnosis I have to go in for another test on 8/30 which is basically a combination of two other tests I've already been through called a Dobutamine Transesophageal Echocardiogram.  The Cardiologist is trying to determine why my Mitral Valve isn't functionng the way it should when my heart rate is above 150. 

Here is what my puzzling summer has involved.  I love taking vacations days off work to go have tubes stuck down my throat, however hopefully is almost over. 

I've been trying to research and consult from NJ to California due to my original diagnosis of HCM or Hypertrophic Cardiomypathy.  I'm not in the clear yet and currently trying to get Stanford HCM Center to look over my medical record as I have some symptoms, however not the genetic history. I can honestly say all of this has truly given me a new perspective on not taking life for granted.  Does it make it easier to accept, deal with or understand?  Absolutely not, however I owe it to all those that love me to not try to act like it's all ok by putting myself at risk. 

As I sort through this puzzling journey I've been on this summer I've learned many things about the importance of the simple things in life, the strength of my family and importance of great friends that although scared for me, they call, email, text and continue to be there for me.  Thank for you all and remember life should be about the simple things!

Thanks for reading and enjoy the journey!


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chelan Man Triathlon "Participating vs Racing"

My life has been on physical and emotional roller coaster ride since June 12th, however this weekend really helped to again put my new life perspective in place.  I've been somewhat programmed since my first swim race at 5 yrs to be very competitive.  I've always enjoyed the challenge of racing and trying to do my best in all areas of life.  I've found recently that I wasn't sure how I would handle "participating" as opposed to "racing" as my health and new heart condition diagnosis have left me with little options.  As I prepared for the  Chelan Man Triathlon I found myself for the first time at total peace with the idea I wasn't trying to win the race, my age group or even focus a time.  All the factors that have motivated and helped me to set personal goals for the last 30 yrs were now completely irrelevent.  My journey was now about supporting my wife by participating with her for the first time in over 100 triathlons instead of racing for my own personal goals.  I must say I really enjoyed this special experience.  I plan to support Tristin by participating with her in the future!

Now on to our great family weekend at Lake Chelan.  First off this was the first time we've camped as a family and after some initial challenge with our HUGE borrowed tent it was an awesome weekend. I think everyone in the club at our campsite could have fit in there as it was like 10 X 16, so we had plenty of room.

Chelan is a beautiful area for a race and we enjoyed the weekend of multiple races. I coach most of the 10 TB athletes in some capacity that participated in the various races, so I enjoyed seeing all them race and most importantly have fun! Everyone did such a great job and all the athletes went faster than I predicted!

As for my race, I truly enjoyed the journey. I signed up for this race before I knew about my heart condition, however I still wanted to participate, so Tristin (my wife) agreed if I raced with her I could still do it! As we approached the swim it was CHOPPY! I'm glad I don't have problems with the rough water as this was a rough swim. I started out at solid pace for 200 and then backed off as I remembered I'm not racing so I need to slow down and swim easy. I came out of the water and started my :07 T1, I must say it was great to take my time and not feel like I had to rush! When Tristin exited the swim without her wetsuit I was nice relaxed and ready for a ride with her.

We did the ride together for the first time ever which was really fun! Tristin rode like a champ and averaged 22 mph! We were passing many athletes in wave 1 and each other the whole way! As we approached T2 it was awesome to have so much Team Blaze support from our fellow club members that raced on Saturday!
We had a speedy T2 and started our run together. I was trying to push Tristin just enough without pushing too hard. We had a nice steady run as we tried to figure what place she was in. During the run it fun to see other Team Blaze athletes the Lund family competing as relays out there battling as David and Nicole ran with their kids. As we came to the finish on the downhill we had Reecer run to the finish with us which was great to finish as a family!

I truly enjoyed the journey and felt great at the end with an average HR of 125!  I highly recommend the Chelan Multisport weekend as a must do race. If you camp it's very affordable and fun to stay with other club members. Although we might stay at the camping area a little closer to to the start/town, which you must reserve early as everything fills up fast. If you want to do any of these shorter triathlons you need to sign up early as they all filled up about 6 weeks before race day.

After our race, Reecer did his first tri which provided great fun for all as most of the Team Blaze members stayed and supported him as he flew the Team Blaze colors wearing his little jersey. He did an awesome job and most importantly he had fun! He finished and said he wanted to do it again to get another medal, so we knew it was positive experience for him.

I learned once again this weekend to enjoy the journey through participating vs racing!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Perspective from the heart

This post has been written is my head so many times it's hard to put into words, however here I go one word at a time. Just like how I plan to live my life one step and one day at a time as I continue my journey.

I started this journey into lifelong fitness when my mom taught me to swim at 4 yrs old and signed me up for The Dalles Swim Team.  This fueled my internal fire to challenge myself and I soon realizes I was competitive.  I've always been fortunate to have enough physical ability to work hard and reach my goals. Initially after swimming in college and gaining 40 lbs after college I just wanted to lose the weight, however my first dreadful Columbia Gorge Marathon in 1998 only fueled my fire even more.  I lost the weight and felt great!  Over the last 12 years I've raced all over the country while completing over 100 triathlons including Xterra World Championships, 3 Ironmans, 15 marathons including Boston and 1 ultra marathon.  I've truly lived life and enjoyed the journey my way.  I feel so blessed to have accomplished my goals and most importantly meet some incredible people along the way.  You see life isn't about money, race times or material things it's about the experiences and special people we meet along the way.

As I reflect on this new life perspective I've felt literally like I've had a gut wrenching last 4 weeks.  It all began while I was training and coaching for the last 6 months with all my awesome Team Blaze friends.  I felt like I was back to the fitness level I had worked so hard to get to after a bummer knee injury I suffered last year after I accidently fell down a spiral stair case and thought I tore my meniscus only to find out I had 3 deep bone bruises and needed to take time over to let it heal. So now I fast foward to the week of June 7-12th. 

I'm trying wrap my mind around all of this as 4 weeks ago my good friend/training partner and I were doing 400 intervals with my HR at 172 and I was able to even carry on a conversation. We were talking about our Boise 70.3 goals, race strategy and current fitness levels. We were planning for our summer race adventures. Everything indicated that I was more fit than ever!

Then Boise 70.3 arrived on June 12th.  I felt great and really enjoyed coaching and racing with 20 other Team Blaze athletes.  As some you of realize at Boise the wind was brutal on the bike blowing 25-30mph, although I still felt great through mile 50 then I realize, uh-oh I didn't hydrate well as I approached T2 to start my run my hamstrings locked up with cramps and thought oh-no this is going to be a rough 13.1 miles.  Little did I know that was the least of my worries as I started to feel pain in my side right as I started to run this didn't feel like side stitch, it felt like a knifing pain where someone stabbing and twisting a knife inside.  I continued to try to run/walk and soon the pain became more than my mental toughness could handle.  I was frustrated, light headed and short of breathe.  Little did I know when I reached the finish line albeit about an hour slower then planned that my world was about to change.  As reflect back on Boise, I'm glad I finished the journey and completed the race.  I taught me again about never giving up.

A week after Boise I really thought everything was moving in the right direction and I felt much better after a few days off, however I then started having a few challenges while running. This situation became more serious on Wed. night June 23rd during a Team Blaze practice tri when I felt fine swimming and biking trying to take it easy and then I took 10 steps on the run and started coughing and as I tried to run around Medical Lake I was coughing up something orange and ended having to walk the last 3/4 of mile. My legs felt heavy, I was frustrated and light headed, although my awesome team mates were there to walk with me and get me some water. I coughed all the way home and noticed in the shower I was actually coughing up blood. So, my amazingly supportive wife said we're going to the ER now! So, I was admitted to SHMC for few days last week having every test done try to figure out what is going on with my body. They came to the general conclusion that my mitral value has a leak which isn't life threaten although scary all the same and I also may possibly be experiencing SIPE (Swim Induced Pulmonary Edema). I received an inhaler, they scheduled another test on 7/1 to check out a leaky mitral value in my heart and look into a rare condition called SIPE (swimming induced pulmonary edema)

 As many of know I went in for a stress test yesterday and honestly had an prayed that the ECHO I saw at SHMC was wrong. Unfortunately that wishful thinking was wrong. As they gave me the drugs to speed up my HR to 156 I soon realized the test confirmed my worst fears. This was again the intial diagnosis.

In basic language for some reason my heart isn't able to function like it should when my HR is elvated above 150. My heart has thickened over time and my Mitral Valve in my heart isn't effectively closing like it should which has lead to me to where I am now. Basically I've experienced almost all of these symptoms since Boise 70.3 on 6/12.

It's my understanding that the test on 7/6 will confirm this initial diagnosis and check for other issues.

I'm trying to stay positive as it's the only way I know to deal with this situation. I've ask myself a 1000x why and why now? My answer so far is that things happen for a reason and although I still searching for my reason I do know I'm loved and supported through all of this as I sort through the future. As we all know life has no guarantees and we all experience bumps in the road which I feel give us incredible perspective and guide on our journey to understand who we really are deep down. Is all this fair, no, but one thing I learned while playing sports is that life isn't fair and hard/positive attitude doesn't always get us to the finish level with our goals met. Does it mean we failed, no, it just means for some reason it wasn't meant to be.

I truly appreciate how fortunate I am to have family, lifelong friends and awesome athletes that I consider friends/family that are supporting me and my family! You see my son Reece is so small he doesn't really understand about the reality of this situation which is probably for the best. All he know is my engine isn't working quite right. You see kids help give us perpsective and bring us back to reality with their honesty, innocence and spirit. Years from now I hope to swim, bike and run with him as I'm not going to let this change my spirit.

Thanks everyone for all the support and providing me with much appreciated perspective. As I told Reece I'll be ok and my engine (train talk) just isn't working like it should. So, I'll press on trying to hold on to my positive spirit, loving family and supportive friends as we all should do trying to do our best to be the best we can be one day at a time.

Hawaii 4/2/2010
My life is a journey and my heart has truly given me perspective as I move forward on my journey one step and one day at a time. Stay safe, be positive and remember to enjoy the journey!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Watching an Ironman

What I love most about watching an IM is pure and genuine determination that is on display for all to see. You see in an IM there is no where to hide as it's your journey, your race done at your pace.
If you haven't done IM you'll soon come to understand the many parallels to a roller coaster with many highs and lows as you make the journey to the white line while Mike Riley says those four famous words, "You are an Ironman!"

What I learned at IM CDA 2010 is that no matter how tough conditions with heat, wind, chop on the lake people press on with the heart of champions no matter the pace, no matter the place. If the bike won't shift (sorry Lora) or the seat falls off or watch dies on the swim(sorry Gretchen) or the dreaded stomach issues/knee pain intensify (sorry Beth) people find a way to dig deeper than ever before and finish the journey.  Some luck on race day doesn't hurt either!

I also observed that no matter how much you prepare and plan sometimes things are out your control. Yes, unfortunately Steve's journey was cut short after getting hit by a car on the bike course at mile 40, however his spirit wasn't broken and he stayed to end to support all his follow Team Blaze members. The most important thing is Steve is OK and I know with his positive outlook and spirit he'll finish the journey some day.

Once again I learned that IM is not about the swim or bike, instead it's all about properly pacing the swim and bike to set up the best 26.2 mile you can!  I've found the last 7 yrs. racing and coaching IM that :10 too fast on the bike and poor hydration/nutrition usually leads to :45-:60 slower on the run if you blow apart at mile 18.  So, again a fast swim or bike time mean nothing if you're walking at mile 18.  Race smart and have plan the reflects your training!

Watching IM every year truly motivates me to be a better husband, father, coach, athlete and friend. It reminds me to be thankful for all the wonderful freedoms and positive/supportive people that are in my life.

John Collins the founder of IM once said,

"There’s a little voice in the back of your head telling you that it’s okay to stop. If you keep on going you win, if you listen to that voice, you lose."

IM is truly a physical and mentally journey that will test your limits but teach more about yourself and the goodness in people than you ever realized when you had crazy plan to pay $600 for chance to take a ride on the IM roller coaster.

Enjoy the journey!

Coach Scott

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Boise 70.3 *Finishing What We Start*

The journey while training and racing the Boise 70.3 Half Ironman was one I'll never forget for many reasons.  As I was suffering through the run I kept remembering something my parents taught me long ago which I will pass on to my son which involves making a commitment to do your best and finish what you start!  This experience reinforced many parallels of life as we al know life doesn't always go as we plan, however I feel we learn much more about ourselves through the trying times. 

Where do I begin....the good, the bad or the ugly?

We had a great group of friends in Team Blaze Spokane Triathlon Club ( began the journey training for the race over 19 weeks ago.  Everyone trained consistently through wet, cold weather weekend after weekend and arrived on race day ready for the 70.3 mile challenge ahead!

As for Boise, everyone did great considering the conditions on the day and all 21 TB athletes finished through broken bones, Kidney Stones, dehydration and cramping!  Kimberly, Kevin, Bill, Anne and Tia completed their first 70.3!  Anne, Gretchen and Staci all placed in the top 10 in their age groups!

As a coach I'm very proud of the consistent effort, commitment and determination all of you showed in training for Boise and racing in brutal windy conditions on the bike! In 10 yrs. of racing triathlon/marathons I've only raced in conditions that windy once at the Las Vegas Marathon in 2003 and the porta potties/aid stations all blew over!

I truly appreciate the support and encouragement all of you provide to me as an athlete and coach. Seeing the improvement in all of you motivates me. Thanks Brett & Tobin for all the great workouts! Maybe we can all turn it around at Chelan!

As for my journey....
 I felt really prepared and fit for this race, however as many of you know things don't always go as planned even when we train and follow a realistic plan.

I had an OK swim and bike through 50 miles, although the wind was brutal 25-30mph the whole way, I obviously didn't hydrate enough. I ended up with both hamstrings seizing up off the bike and severe pain in my right Kidney. As the run progressed the pain worsened until finally the last 5k I could only walk while short of breath/light headed and hold my side to manage the pain. After being taken to the med. tent the doctors determined based my symptoms I was passing a Kidney Stone, which explains the intense pain and other related symptoms. It's very frustrating as I really felt ready for a good race, however I hope everyone can take away the importance of hydrating consistently in hot and windy conditions. I don't want this to worry anyone, however instead reinforce that triathlon hydration/nutrition is as important as swim, bike and run. Adjusting to the conditions on race day is key!

I'm sore, disappointed/frustrated, however I'm appreciative of all the support shown to me during the race. Thank you Penny/Tristin/Gretchen for trying to get me to run with you, and everyone else for the positive thoughts. I tried to stay positive at the end, however I was in complete survival mode.

We truly have a great team made of athletes that continue to encourage and support one another. As for me, I'm went to the Dr. yesterday which reinforced the what the Dr. at the race sight diagnosed I was passing a Kidney Stone during the race. I get the rest of the lab results back tomorrow, so hopefully I'm through the worst of the ugly side of this experience.  My pain has starting to subside, so I'll be back in the pool and on the bike soon!  As for running, I'm going to give it a week as I'm having flash backs to a painful 13.1 mile experience I hope to never repeat.

I try to learn something from every race or journey preparing for race. This experience was definitely reflective of the good (all the great friends in TB), the bad (tough race conditions), and the ugly (my 13.1 mile painful nightmare at the end of Boise 70.3).

Lessons learned.....
*I truly enjoyed the journey training more than the race.

*I need to learn someday to hydrate better on the bike!

*Kidney Stones are brutal and I don't ever want to experience that pain again!

*The results don't always match up to the training/fitness.

*After I regroup mentally and physically I plan to race fun short triathlons the rest of the season.

*I know I can get through any tough race or workout and finish what I started!

Healthy training,

Coach Scott

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Enjoying the Journey

I'm finally setting up my Blog. It's only taken me 2 yrs, however I'll start to share more about my journey.

I recently was able to get my Team Marathon powered by Snickers sponsorship renew from the 2007-2008 seasons. ( Last year I hurt my knee, which was a major test in patience as I couldn't do anything for 3 months. So, I feel blessed to be healthy again, living back in Spokane and coaching an awesome group of supportive triathletes in Team Blaze Spokane Triathlon Club. ( )

I often talk to athletes about keeping life in perspective and truly enjoying the journey! We all have different motivations for heading out the door to the pool, lacing up the shoes or climb on the bike on a rainy day. The key thing I've learned over the past 10 yrs while competing and coaching triathlon is that we all need to not take the journey for granted. Keep it all fun through adding social elements to your training. Triathletes by nature are fun and social group. I enjoy sharing in the journey with others.

A few years ago my son Reece was born premature and hospitalized for his first 6 weeks of life,then I almost lost my beautiful wife to complications during a life change miscarriage, last year my father-in-law battled and survived a major cancer scare. Recently, I've had a childhood and lifelong best friend who's mom was always such sweet and kind person to me growing that lost her courageous battle with cancer. She will always be close to me as I observed how she managed tragic life challenges while staying strong keeping life and family as the priority. You will be missed by many lives you touched and your sweet nature will live on through your daughters and grandchildren.

My reason for sharing this life touching information is due to the fact it all reminds me to keep my own life in perspective. Enjoying the journey to me takes on many meanings, however one thing I know for sure is life should be lived to the fullest as you never know when you will see your last sunset! Hold your little ones/family close and love each day like it was your last!

All the best to my friends racing Boise 70.3 & IM CDA! Thanks Brett, Tobin and John for pushing me on the bike! Thanks to all my athletes I coach for inspiring me everyday! Thanks for my wife & son for always keeping life fun!

Enjoy the journey,

Coach Scott