Saturday, May 21, 2011

Chasing the New PR

Ironheart Classic Run

I've learned so much about life, faith, family and friends over the last year.  As many of you know last June my journey through life took an unexpected turn.  I had coached and trained with 20+ members of Team Blaze Spokane Triathlon Club for the Boise 70.3 Half Ironman.  I felt the training went great and I thought I was ready for that "great day" we all search for in triathlon when all your hard work comes together.  Unfortunately, my day didn't go as planned.  I make no excuses as when we train and race we hope for the best and sometimes things happen like strong winds or kidney stones in my case that we can't overcome.  It was during this race that my life and perspective about life truly changed.  While completing the run during  Boise 70.3 IM, I sudden began to feel a sharp pain in my side/lower back that didn't feel like a normal side stitch and continued to become more painful moving to my groin.  This was obviously not the way I had envisioned my day, however even though I was struggling I thought I should finish even though it was an hour slower than planned.  I learned at young age through my parents to always finished what you start, so I pressed on and finished albeit literally in shock. 

About a week later after returning to training I began to feel short of breathe and dizzy, which I ignored due to my competitive drive. I should have listened to the warning signs, however fortunately for me about a week later I started coughing uncontrollably and began to get dizzy again at Team Blaze practice tri.  I was frustrated and when I returned home I realize I was coughing up blood and my wife said,  "we're going to the ER!'  After arriving at the ER, again fortunately the ER Dr. noticed irregular EKG and I was admitted to the Sacred Heart Hospital.  I spent the next 3 days in the hospital as they tried to figure out what was wrong with me. 

Fast forward to Nov. 15th after months of frustration and fatigue, I was scheduled for mitral valve repair heart surgery, which ended up resulting in mitral valve replacement surgery.  I spent the next 10 weeks unable to do anything except recover and reflect on life.  I learned to have a greater appreciation for the gifts given to me.  It was during this process that I realized to be truly happy and fulfilled in my life I needed to share my gifts and inspire other to live an inspired life!

My recovery has been a long slow process and taught be to be patient.  I began my road back to "Chasing the New PR" at the end of February.  At this time I couldn't lift my right arm above my shoulder, so my comfort and stress reducer which had always been swimming was even challenging.  I began with 15 min. elliptical workouts, 20 min rides, floating/kicking/single arm swimming in the pool and before I knew it my fitness started to improve!  I then took a trip to Hawaii in April with family and friends training for Ironman CDA, on this trip I realized I had a long way to go and during the week I actually got stronger! 

Upon returning to Spokane, I started thinking about the possibility of racing again.  I was told last July to forget about triathlons and running races as it would be selfish of me to continue due to the risk.  Fortunately, I had been given the misdiagnosis of HCM (Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy).

I decided through this process to get involved with organizations like Ironheart Racing Team  and Nick of Time Foundation to raise awareness about heart health and screening in young people to prevent sudden cardiac arrest. 

On May 21st, decided to participate in my first race since heart surgery to support these awesome organization and test my fitness.  I decided to run the 4 miler, although after recently deciding to sign up for IM CDA knew I needed to run longer than 4 miles.  So, began the day with a longer than normal warm up of 4 miles, which basically involved running the course.  I thought I could comfortable run 7 min. pace and actually didn't even wear my Garmin, so I would have no idea of my pace.  I decided to run by feel considering I was in fact "Chasing the New PR!"  I was pleasantly surprised to be running with the faster group, so I figured I must be doing OK!  After I reached the 2 mile turn around I realized they were all running the 8 miler, so I was in 1st place.  When started heading back all the other runners were cheering me on including my wife (Tristin running) and son (Reece riding his bike).  As ran back I too encouraged other runners in return although when I reached mile 3 mile I was getting tired and mustered only a wave.  It had been almost 1 year since I'd felt that deep in your gut burning feeling of knowing your pushing it!  I was trying to focus on turnover and breathing while not getting caught.  As I approached about 1/2 mile to go I looked back and saw another guy trying to run me down, so my competitive juices kicked and I decided if I put a surge on thinking I could maybe trick him into thinking I wasn't tired.  (Oh the mental games we play when we're tired!)  When I could see the finish I looked back and realized I was going to run a solid first race back at 6:20 pace and win the first running race of my life!  As I told a fellow Team Blaze member recently, when you win or PR you cherish it as we can't control who shows up instead we can only control our own training and effort. 

It really felt great to be chasing the new PR!  Now I need to keep the fire burning as I only have 5 weeks to IM CDA and I'm excited to truly enjoy the journey!

Thank you to my family and co-workers at Alere that came out today to support this awesome event.  Great job David Watkins for putting on a great first event with the Ironheart Classic  Our family enjoyed our trip!

Thanks for reading!  Remember to enjoy the journey and live an inspired life!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Balanced Life Recovery

Life can get busy sometimes and I can't believe it's been over a month since my last blog post. I continue to feel blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life and feel like life is finally returning to a balanced state of normal.

I've recently had some great adventures with family and friends!  We took an trip to Oahu, Hawaii in April as a family with friends in our Team Blaze Spokane Triathlon Club joining us for an awesome vacation!  We were able to do all the things I love which include: exercise, laugh and spend quality time together in paradise!

Each morning we got up early and I worked out with some of the athletes I coach.  It was fun to be out there again training with others and enjoying the warm weather!  It was during this week in Hawaii that I started to feel the my fitness and health was finally returning after heart surgery. During the week I regained motivation to exercise as I finally started to regain fitness and it didn't feel like a struggle! 

Reece & I sharing one of our favorite family activities going to the water park.  I'm amazed at how brave my little buddy can be!  Now that he continues to grow like a weed, he's tall enough to go on the scariest slides in the park!  He continues to keep Tristin & I on our toes and bring so much joy into our lives.  Being a parent as most of you know isn't easy, but kids can literally touch our heart like nothing else. 

Team Blaze bike training in Hawaii!  We had some great rides, laughs and life memories!

It was during this week I started to think maybe I could try to do IM CDA 2011? I kept this thought to myself for about a month, yet continued to feel something pulling toward the white line at the end of the IM 140.6 mile journey. I realize some people will say Scott/Coach Scott, you're crazy you just had heart surgery in November, so wait for next year. Yes, I know but....

Reece's Red Lion Soccer Team

I decided this Spring that my life wasn't busy enough, so I decided to coach Reece's soccer team as I wanted him to have positive experience with being part of a team!  The Red Lions are a fun group of 5-6 yr olds that had never played soccer before, however in the last 6 weeks the kids have really improved! Our focus is on having fun and learning that exercise can be fun, however they have been developing skills, scoring lots of goals and winning too! (oh wait, we're not suppose to keep score =)) This experience has once again taught me that in life by giving we shall receive joy in return.  Good times!

Tobin, Suzanne & I @ Race for the Cure 5K

 After we returned from Hawaii, my wife Tristin had organized a Team Blaze Race for the Cure Team!  We all know someone that has been impacted by cancer and recently this has unfortunately impacted the lives of our family and friends.  Tristin unfortunately got sick before the run with a bad cold, so I decide the night before to run the 5K in pink with one of the athletes I coach and show my support. 

Last weekend as we usually do, we tried to cram in family fun!  Reece had always talked about wanting to go fishing, so we signed up for Kids Fishing Day through WA Fish & Game.  As you can see by the photo Reece was super proud of his big catch!  I think the Rainbow Trout was at least 16-18" and 5 lbs, which will provide great memories and conversation for years!

(Norma my IM CDA 2011 race partner, Tristin & I )
Norma (an athlete I coach and inspiration), Tristin & I. At the end of June Norma will be one of the 18 athletes I'm coaching this year for IM CDA. I plan to complete the bike and run with her as it will her first IM and my 6 month anniversary of my heart surgery!

As I mentioned earlier in my blog post I've thought about participating in IM CDA 2011. Yes, I know some of you are thinking is Scott/Coach Scott crazy???? Well maybe..... however I was told last year I could never swim, bike and run again, so completing this IM for me is my way of saying life should be lived on our terms. For me this is another step in my life to feeling free to live and possibly inspire others along the way!

When you fill out a the IM race application they ask you serious of questions which really got me thinking about the "why?". So , here is my reasons for wanting to take on this 140.6 mile journey to the white line.

Significant Personal Achievements

Returning to full health and recovery after mitral valve replacement surgery in Nov. of 2010.

Why have you sought Ford Ironman Coeur d'Alene entry?

In 2010, I was told I could never swim, bike or run again due to an initial diagnosis of an enlarged heart and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy which fortunately was a misdiagnosis. I was however diagnosed with severe mitral valve prolapse and regurge. This required robotic heart surgery in Nov. of 2010 to replace my mitral valve with a mechanical St. Jude mitral valve and require that I take coumadin the rest of my life. The IM CDA 2011 will be about 6 months after surgery and reinforce to me that I'm living on my terms again. I want to inspire others to enjoy the journey through life, never give up and follow their dreams/passion for living! I feel blessed to be alive, healthy and inspire others to realize anything is possible!

Interesting facts about you

Father, husband, coach to 150 athletes 27 of which are racing IM CDA 2011!

Please share significant information relating to your Ford Ironman Coeur d'Alene training or participation

I had heart surgery on Nov.15th 2010, so I began this IM journey with zero fitness when I got clearance to start exercising again in February. As I began to exercise I couldn't even lift my right above my shoulder and running 1 mile was tough as I had lost all fitness, although I had some tough days I always remained optimistic that if I took the right approach I could return. Over next three months I became inspired by all the athletes I coach and decided I wanted to support and share the journey with them. So, on June 26th I'll be out there completing the IM journey to reach the white line in the road.
 It's been encouraging to see how the fitness has slowly come back as last year I was told to forget about my old life of endurance sports, which I refused to accept. I'm swimming as fast if not faster than before, although I've been really consistent and specific with swimming 3xweek. I really haven't biked that much 2x weekly (one interval/one longer aerobic ride), however two weeks ago I rode 60 windy miles averaging solid pace and HR. The running has FINALLY (test in patience) started to come around as I ran 6.5 mile @ 7:15 pace yesterday and recently ran 15 miles run @ 8 min. pace! 

The nice thing with doing IM this way is that it hasn't been hanging over me, plus I have no pressure to go faster than I should and end up having a suffering negative experience. Instead I can support other club members especially on the run!  I'm truly looking forward to the joining the other 27 Team Blaze athletes that inspire me as a coach and athlete more than they realize.  Ironman like life is truly a journey with highs and lows, however after you complete the journey you learn many life lessons along the way!

Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

Sunday, June 26, 2011
2.4 mile swim / 112 mile bike / 26.2 mile run
IM CDA race day for me isn't about chasing a PR, instead it's going to be a long day of enjoying the experience and supporting those that have supported and inspired me through a challenging last year of heart surgery.  I better start training, as I only have 6.5 weeks until IM!  Remember to enjoy the journey and live an inspired life!

Enjoy the journey and remember to live an inspired life as anything is possible if you mind to it.

Thanks for reading!