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 http://www.teamblazespokane.com/ 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) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15302723
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.
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!