Monday, December 19, 2011

2011 Recap

Reecer the elf was looking cute as could be on his last day before the two week Christmas break.  The night before the last day of school Reece decided he wanted to make all the other Kindergartners in his class bell necklaces.  It was one of those proud moments as a parent when you see that your child even at 6 yrs old is starting to get it and understand that it is important in life to give more than you take.  He felt so good about giving all his little friends a holiday bell necklace.

This year he has been an absolute trooper with me recover from heart surgery, yet he's been such a great kid and continues to bring joy to all those around him.  He's physically grown so much this year,  lost not two but three of his top teeth and three of his bottom teeth. At one point I called him "gummy", although as Christmas approaches he now has a mouth full of new permanent teeth! 

He started Kindergarten this year and really loves school! He actually listens really well according to his teacher! (we're still working on this at home=))  This last year was highlighted by Reece's new house/play structure in the back yard (thank you Grandpa Fred), playing soccer, completed 3 triathlons, catching his first fish and snorkeled/surfing in Hawaii. 

Reece's big catch!
Tristin's 2011
The year started with Tristin taking care of me as recovered from heart surgery, which was not an easy task. I'm not a very good patient as I don't handle being sick or injured well, although she wouldn't let me get down and continued to encourage me to focus on the positive. She would consistently remind me that I needed to take it one day at time and focus on my life ahead.

Tristin taught full day Kindergarten, although unfortunately her job was only one year and ended in June. She continues to amaze me with her persistence in trying to get another teaching job. As everyone knows the job market is terrible, yet she continues to stay positive while substitute teaching and look for a full time job.

Family mtn biking in December proved to be a fun, yet cold experience.

Hopefully 2012 will bring Tristin the opportunity to inspire and shape the lives of young people again through full time teaching job!  Reece & I are very fortunate to have such an amazing wife and mother in our lives.  She is truly a positive light to all those around her.

Team Blaze had 32 members take on Ironman CDA 2011 and all finish!

My year began in recovery mode after my heart surgery to replace my mitral valve I began the road to recovery with the support of my family, friends and inspiration from Team Blaze Spokane Triathlon Club members.  In February when I finally received clearance to exercise again I couldn't even lift my right arm above my shoulder and my first swim I looked at Tristin after 50 yds. and said, "I have long way to go".  In her always glass half full response said, "you now have all the time in the world". 

Going through and recovering from heart surgery provided me with endless life lessons about what is truly important.  Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I learned how truly blessed I am to live the life I do.  It's so easy to take everything for granted until it's all sudden almost all taken away. Life doesn't always go as planned, however I've learned the only thing I can truly control is attitude by finding the positive in every situation.
Team Blaze members training in Hawaii (Gretchen, me, Tristin, Kim, Tobin, Lora and Diane)

In April we took a Hawaii "trication" with Team Blaze friends was exactly what I needed to get me back on my feet again! We spent 8 days training and playing on Oahu and built some amazing memories! It was on this trip I started to reflect on goals for 2011, yet some of them seemed crazy even to me.

I've always been determined and willing to work hard to overcome. At a young age I've always been so internally driven to win and push the limits, yet when I was recovering from heart surgery I was truly starting over with so much uncertainty.  I knew I couldn't jump back into my old life, although I needed to have some goals to start living again.  So, I wrote down three goals and kept them to myself which included: 1) Inspire and help others #2)complete the Ironman triathlon again #3) Run the Portland Marathon (ideally in under 3:15 again).  As I coach and athlete I feel goals are key to motivation and focus in staying consistent with training, however after just having heart surgery 3 months before who was I trying to kid or convince?  I was determined to prove that anything is possible!

Goal #1-Inspire & Help

In order to reach my first goal I needed to view my heart surgery as a blessing.  This was initially challenging as I spent day after day sole searching as to why this was happening to me, yet over time I came to accept and understand everything happens for a reason.  Once I came through heart surgery I realized god was giving me a 2nd chance and I needed to make the most of it.  I made the decision to use it as vehicle to inspire others and connect with groups like Ironheart Racing Team.  I was able to turn my situation into a positive and share my passion for helping others through my gift of coaching to give more than I take. I continued to help people quit smoking through my job as an Outreach Specialist at Alere Wellbeing and help people reach their fitness/life goals through coaching triathlon.

Some the amazing members of Team Blaze Spokane Triathlon Club giving back to our community though volunteering at 2nd Harvest Food Bank. 

Goal #2~ Ironman

After getting my doctors to give me their blessing so long as I didn't "race" the Ironman, now the only thing left was to convince my wife.  I was pleasantly surprised when she said OK as long as you take it easy.

 The only problem was that I wanted to complete IM CDA which was only 6.5 months after heart surgery and I only had 6.5 weeks to train.  I had more than one person question my sanity.  "Did you have heart surgery or brain surgery one person ask?"  I knew this was just the challenge I needed!  I was already coaching +30 athletes and club members participating, so why not get out there with them and enjoy the journey?  I had a great time training with everyone the last 6.5 weeks before the races and surprisingly arrived on race day in decent shape. 

Norma and I after IM CDA
The IM CDA 2011 was my 4th IM, yet unlike any other as I wasn't racing it, but instead I was supporting, encouraging/inspiring others and living my life again!  I truly learned during my 140.6 mile adventure why people do the IM. It's all about the journey or process and everyone has something different that motivates them to persevere through the challenges of the day.  When successful these inspirational people of all ages and ability levels join this select group by reaching the white line in the middle of road at mile 140.6 to call themselves an Ironman.  It's an emotional and amazing experience to finish an IM, although when it's all said and done it's the process and journey that leave a lasting memory.  I will never forget this amazing experience and friendships that developed along the way!

Goal #3-Marathon

So, I had completed goal two and now I was super motivated to start training for the Portland Marathon, although I had no idea what to expect as I was now entering uncharted waters. Training for IM CDA was actually simple as I wasn't trying to go fast. Now I had time goals and I didn't really know what was possible. Everything was going great training and I ran with my neighbor who just happened to be an athlete I was coaching so it worked out great. My times were getting faster and training volume was solid. My confidence was the highest level it had been in 15 months then I strained my calf 3 weeks before the marathon. Hindsight is 20/20, yet now I realize I should have just rested after the injury until all the pain/tightness was gone, but of course I didn't and somehow convinced myself that running the marathon was a good idea.

I actually felt great running with the 3 Team Blaze athletes at the beginining of the marathon and then all of sudden my calf was tight by 13 miles and by mile 18 I was reduced to a painful run/walk, although I was determined to finish what I started no matter the result. In retrospect I probably should have stopped at mile 13 and avoided tearing my calf in two places which resulted in yet another recover period of no running for 8 weeks. Now that my claf has healed and I look back I'm glad ultimately that I finished the marathon to partially meet goal #3 albeit much slower than planned.  In the future I learned that if I'm injured the only way to get healthy is REST.

As 2011 comes to a close I'm hopeful that my roller coaster ride of health challenges and injuries are now behind me. Life doesn't always go as planned, however I've learned the only thing I can truly control is my attitude. I feel truly to blessed to be surrounded by some amazing people that support and inspire me to be a better husband, father, friend and coach.

Ironheart Racing Team members and I signing up for IM AZ.  All of us have gone through heart surgery and plan to participate in Ironman Arizona on Nov. 18th, 2012
In looking forward to 2012, I'm motivated to continue to set and achieve new goals. (still thinking about those now)  I want to inspire and encourage others to reach their goals by realizing that anything is possible if you consistently dedicate yourself.  Remember to live life to fullest without limits, keep it positive in 2012 and enjoy the journey!

Happy Healthy Holidays and thank you for supporting!

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