Monday, February 15, 2010

Why We (I) Do It

Indulgence takes on a whole different meaning in this photo from 2002 conquer Castlewood 2nd place finish

Man, my body is sore. It has been a month now, this build up to core fitness. And while it is a good kind of sore in a bad way, or vice versa, I haven't been able to sleep all that well. This because my planks and lower back, ribs, shoulders and neck have gone through hell at the hands of my trainers: a collection of hybrid and kettle bell workouts, plus the traditional weights, road miles and continuous stair stepping to assimilate the paddle action on the hobie. Nothing has gotten so bad that I have to make excuses, however. I am over the hump and I feel friggin marvelous!

By the way, the Hobie is the boat of choice that I will use in the MR340, the 340 mile self propelled boat race from Kansas City to St. Charles on the Missouri River in July. It is not just a casual deal that you can toss the flesh in to. As a fairly decent cyclist I should be able to handle the endurance. I will certainly adjust my training to handle the mental toughness and get my core in better shape.

Sitting in the boat for (my goal of) 60 hours of (an 88 hour max), will be what is tough. So the Nutriformance folks are seeing to it that the pain is doled out in smaller amounts during the 5 months prior the race. I have never had trainers before, so this is new and keeping me much more accountable. The body fat is dripping off, a re-composition is taking place. There is definition where it was soft, I am putting on bulk at my age. So this is a good sign. I still have testosterone! Word.

At 48 I feel my body coming back to where it was when I was in my prime, 38. I feel a "Geezer" achievement brewing up in this bag of skin. And I do need to give credit to "Grandmaster Geezer" Paul Krewet, the 60 year old masters freak of nature athlete, and a most interesting group of friends and family for the motivation to be the best I can be. Young and old folks inspire me to no end. We know why we do this stuff.

***Sob Story Below***

In 2000 I did my first bicycle race, a mountain bike race at Castlewood State Park in West St. Louis County. Now it is 2010, ten years after my achievement of transforming my fat and considerably unhealthy ass to that of a competitive athlete. It is time again for a new beginning and for the purpose of spreading the word to my community; the benefits of an active lifestyle.

I am signed up for several regional races this year and plan on hiking the big ditch (Grand Canyon) a couple of times with noted guide and wolf expert, Bruce Corey, of Scottsdale AZ. Wapiti is kicking in to high gear and we are leading several trips, climbing a couple mountains, one a 19,000 foot volcano in Ecuador. Might as well do something great. Why else are we here? I mean really?

It was 12 years ago that I embarked on a new way of life after getting myself in to some serious trouble. Not legal trouble mind you, not financial trouble yet, although it wouldn't have surprised me if either of the two were to be the outcome of my indulgent lifestyle. I was in trouble because the only thing left that could insure my ability to take care of my family, find fulfillment, learn and/or achieve to any level, to do any great thing, was in jeopardy. It was my body that was in trouble, and it was crying out for help. I wasn't much for listening back then.

At 240 lbs., I don't think I looked all that bad. Yes, I was doughy, my face was full, my clothes were perpetually changing to larger sizes over time, (I had a 38 waist). I wasn't "that bad" compared to the severely obese images we have come to see on TV's Biggest Looser or those Discovery Channel documentaries where the wall has to come out to get the people to the clinics. On the exterior my health issue would have and had been going un-noticed. My health issue was that which would ensue because of my lifestyle of hard work and hard play.

I am indeed a little embarrassed to say that the only significant recreation during my twenties and most of my thirties was that which was found in a bar. There, I said it. Bottom line was that the only thing that I really knew how to do well was purvey the lifestyle from behind the bar as my job, or lean up against and talk shit with the folks on the other side after work. I had grown up in bars and restaurants. My father owned bars and restaurants, and he and others from my childhood were whom I emulated. I was pretty good at it.

It was the culture that I subscribed to by choice, and it was killing me. The smoking, drinking and indulgent "perspective" of all who belonged, kept me there. It was really quite awful, the lack of optimism and despair that I encountered while living my life as whom, it is now quite obvious, I was not supposed to have become.

I would work for 12-15 hours each day to earn money, and rather than go home to my family, I would stop off at Smitty's, a local bar a couple hundred yards from the house. I would often forgo the family life in exchange for the time spent with the culture of indulgence, dependence, and "opportunity passed over". This was where I was headed, right next to the guy with the laryngectomy who still smoked Pall Mall's through a hole in his neck.

Nope, I looked to find release the best way I knew how and on every chance I could get. And no better time to do that than when my wife and kid were out of town with the mother and father in law. I spent the evening with my buddy Dan O'toole at the now shuttered, Danny O'tooles Bar and Grill at Westport Plaza. It was an opportune time to play hard after working hard all week. It didn't matter to me that I had a cough that was persistent. I was 36 years old, I could still shake off a virus. But I really wasn't feeling very well at all, and I stayed until well after midnight playing poker with the boys. I don't remember much after the drive home, coming up the stairs from the garage and falling on to the couch.

It was around 9:00 AM that I woke up between the couch and the coffee table with a ringing in my right ear. It was so loud that I thought it was the phone ringing. I stood up only to fall face first into the corner of the couch. I had no balance and my arms wouldn't raise high enough to cushion my fall. I eventually stumbled to the kitchen counter and searched for the thermometer that I had used a couple of times earlier in the week. I had a fever earlier in the week too, a nasty cough and lingering headache that would surely give most people the signal to back off. As much as I hate to admit it, there was a lot of indulgence through all of it. Since The girls were out of town, it was time to play.

I couldn't read the thermometer and the ringing was getting louder in my ear. I stumbled again and eventually passed out on the kitchen floor, laying there for almost an hour while trying to control the situation, the ringing later turned to pain. I couldn't think of what to do, how to do it. It was surreal the unfolding of things. It was a dangerous situation and something was seriously wrong. I have never felt so alone without the power to help myself. I needed help and it was a coin toss as to call my wife's cousins, Marcie and Tim, or dial 911. I called Marcie in order to avoid the spectacle. When she arrived my temperature was nearly 106, not kidding. My hearing was completely gone in my left ear and I couldn't stand up. She took me to the hospital where I would stay for the next 4 days with pneumonia.

Y'all want to know what happened next?...An angel appeared! Not shittn.

More later...

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