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.