December 29, 2006

Slow Road

I woke at 0200 this morning with a pounding head and a 103 degree gift from my kids. I layed in bed for an hour and a half before leaving the night and offering myself to today. And as I passed the time in Melissa's dark, quiet New Orleans house, these words invaded my mind. Katrina? Maybe... Indiana? Maybe... You may not understand this, the product of a tired and fevered mind, and that's ok. It's here, so it's there... For me, for you...

So far away
I know you're awake,
remember the cloak of night
in passion red?

Take the slow road,
Better than No road, and
I'll be here for
You my friend,

Pull the iron handle
Off the map
And turn me Circles in
Your head.
Security of two;
Vanity like the mirror
Growing dust behind
Your bed.

Take the slow road,
Better than No road, and
I'll be here for
You my friend,

Hidden in your
Knowing eyes
Muted desire by
Your wisdom led.
Security of two;
Vanity like the mirror
Growing dust behind
Your bed.

Take the slow road,
Better than No road, and
I'll be here for
You my friend,

I'll Wait 'til we Begin.

Take the slow road
Better than No road,
Take the slow road,
Better than No road,
and I'll be here 'til we Begin.

December 26, 2006

New Orleans, Race Calendar, and Music!

Exciting things are happening at My Daily Spin.

The troupe and I are leaving tomorrow for New Orleans for a couple of days, and then we'll spend a week playing in the ocean at Daytona Beach. On the 1st we all will compete in the Get Your Geek On New Year's Triathlon. I will do the super sprint 400 y/10k/2.5m and the kids will do 50y/1m/0.5m.

On the 8th, my inaugural triathlon training season will begin. Last year, I did a couple of tri's but only had a few weeks training before each. There was no training season or, honestly, even a true triathlon season. For me, the game started late and I was never really prepared; but, I winged it anyway. This year, I will be prepared...

I'm still refining my race season calendar. There will be a race of epic proportions added for June, which I will detail in the coming weeks (but, for a teaser, it requires a trans-ocean trip and mountains... lots of mountains!) And it looks like the Mercedes Half Marathon will likely be cancelled to avoid me pushing my run mileage up too much too fast and re-aggravating my IT band.

The troupe will compete in the Mercedes Kids Marathon on February 11, and they are all training hard. They are doing a few half mile runs each week in order to get the required 25.2 miles done by the time of the race. Then they will do the final mile of the marathon on raceday. You have to be 5 to race, but my 3 and 2 year olds are training with the older ones anyway. There motivation is equally inspiring and amazing!

I got on a bike today for the first time in a month for about 10 miles with no knee pain, and then followed that with my first pool session with fins. Heh, too bad fins arent allowed by IM!

Click on the TriJack Audio tag on your left to listen to a kick-ass tune from The Presets, Girl and the Sea.

Enjoy, and thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin.

December 25, 2006

We Wish You a

Merry Christmas! Wishing you and your family all of the best and brightest...

December 22, 2006

The Journey

Periodic reflection is healthy. You have to know where you have been to know where you are, and where you are going.

The last 12 months have been amazing, maybe the most healthy and rewarding ever for me.

3 years ago, I was living in my 8 foot square office at the hospital. Now, I have a house and this year I finally made it my home.

I travelled with my kids this year to Disney World, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Detroit, Cincinatti, Atlanta several times, and Memphis twice.

We listened to the ghosts of Union soldiers in Gettysburg, and we were Chocolate Factory workers for a day at HersheyWorld.

We were spelunkers through miles of underground mazes at Mammoth Cave National Park, and we hiked around Bushy Lake in Alabama.

We walked the land where Abraham Lincoln was born, and where he spent his boyhood. We journeyed to the Ford Theatre where he was cowardly killed, and we stared in awe at his likeness where he is memorialized.

We sledded on a toboggan at more than 30 mph in 10 degrees, over and over and over again, until our feet and hands and nose were numb and blue.

We cheered at a half dozen Auburn University football games, and we went for the 5th straight year to the North American International Auto Show.

We camped in tents at Lake Martin and in our backyard, I taught the kids how to tube behind our boat, and we hiked up Cheaha Mountain.

We toured the home of William Taft, and we were led by our Congressman, Representative Spencer Bachus, on a tour of the United States Capital.

We saw the travelling Broadway productions of Annie twice, and Beauty and the Beast, and we saw the Atlanta Ballet perform The Nutcracker.

We ran on the mall in DC; and, we studied the Jefferson, Washington, and World War II memorials.

We spent 2 separate weeks at the beach in Sandestin, a week at Daytona Beach, Florida, a day at the Georgia
Aquarium, and we made countless trips to the Birmingham Zoo.

We met Sir Topham Hatt and rode on the "real" Thomas the Train, we sat on the first row at the Wiggles, and we went to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Without the kids, I made additional trips to Orlando, Panama City Beach, Nashville, Indianapolis, Chicago, and New Jersey.

I camped and canoed Lake Toxaway in the North Carolina mountains, and I caught a fish (for the first time in years) at Lake Martin.

I made 4 road trips greater than 1000 miles, 3 greater than 1500, and 1 greater than 2500 miles (with just me and the kids).

I went to Sea World, a Cubs game in Chicago, a Barons game in Birmingham, the Indianapolis 500, and the Aaron's 499 at the Talladega Superspeedway.

I ran 2 5k's, a sprint triathlon, an olympic distance triathlon, and a marathon.

I spent more than 110 hours sitting in car-line, taught Emma to ride her bike without training wheels, changed countless diapers, and taught Anna to use the potty (finally!).

I built a solar system with Emma, took Anna and Tess to ballet class twice each week, and helped Aidan spot every tractor known to man.

I read more books, mine and the kids, than ever before in the last year.

I worked 1700 hours and took care of about 5000 patients in the Emergency Department at UAB, easing suffering, making life a little more tolerable through laughter and the occasional morphine shot, and even saving a few lives.

I re-discovered a passion for writing and found an outlet for that passion (thank you T - miss ya! ;) ).

I met thousands of people, enjoyed the company of hundreds, and even found a couple of kindred spirits along the way.

A lot has happened in the last year. I am a very fortunate person, and I constantly am reminded of that. I have worked hard to put myself in this position. I have sacrificed when necessary, and I have trudged through many sleepless days and nights.

Despite everything that I have, and everything I have done over the past year, both for myself and my kids, I am so optimistic that the following year and years to come will be even more fulfilling.

My kids are amazing. I like them, as a group and individually, and I know they like me. They, more than any other motivating factor, make me want to do and explore and learn and live. I want to, nay I have to, offer them the world.

So thank you, thank you so very much for sharing this time with me. I hope you continue to journey with me, with us, on our future adventures!

December 20, 2006

The Naked Shake

I need some help with this one - I think I have a locker room stalker....

I've been using the same gym for a couple of years now, and, for the most part, it serves my needs and supplies towels (what's with most gyms not doing this now, anyway??) without piping in too much JT (sorry Bolder).

There have been a few scary locker room moments, like the time I turned the corner to find a naked super-clydesdale - well, I say he was naked but in truth his pannus was so big it draped his maleness, so I guess he was kinda covered - standing dripping wet in the doorway of a stall staring at the john while he was brushing his teeth. Uhm, yea, still not sure what the hell he was doing, but the image haunts me to this day...

But lately this different guy keeps showing up in the locker room. Now the first time I encountered Hairy Dude, with ape-like fur head to toe that would ensure winter outdoor survival for a week even in IronJenny's neck of the woods, I was showering and he was showering and he apparently started talking to me.

I thought he was mumbling to himself and not to me, so I finished up and hurried away thinking this guy was kinda loony and I really didn't want to be standing around naked with him.

HD followed. As I was towelling off he saunters up and starts talking, and this time there is no doubt I'm the target. Ok, just a nice guy, kinda weird to start a random conversation with someone you don't know while you're naked in the shower, but hey - to each his own... And maybe I actually do know him and I don't remember - happens all the time, right? No big deal...

So I went on with my day, and all was well. Until a few days later, same scenario. In the shower... Naked... Alone... And then he walks in, and I immediately feel awkward. HD starts talking to me, and I reluctantly converse for a few seconds before hurrying away. I dress wet and get out of the locker room before he exits the shower. Getting a little alarmed now...

Then, Monday, I was gathering my stuff from my locker and about to dress when HD apparently exits the shower and walks straight to me, naked as a jay bird...

He asked me my name, thus confirming that my memory hadn't failed me and further confirming that this guy was nuts. We exchanged names, and he - gasp - extended his hand for the shake...

Ok, I had to stop this crap right there - I will not shake hands while naked, and I definitely will not shake hands while naked with another naked guy.


His hand dripping wet was extended, waiting for my reciprocal movement. I didn't know what to do; I felt like Ralphie with his broken glasses trying desperately to concoct a story to tell his mom so she wouldn't know that he really did shoot his eye out.

The moment seemed to last forever. I looked down at HD's hairy hand, and then looked to the side and then...

I did it... I had no choice. I feel ashamed, I feel violated. But I did it. I shook his hand. Naked... Two men... It just ain't right.

I think I might have to find a new gym...

December 19, 2006

Time to Clean

I hate to clean, but I need things to be clean. I must admit, I'd much rather someone else clean for me. I had Chris, who came a couple of times each week to clean my house and do laundry, but she had to leave a couple of months ago.

So I've been doing household duties myself for a little while now, and I suppose it isn't all too bad. Like most things, once you get past the initial 5 or 10 minutes that suck, you get in a groove and then everything is easier.

But that has gotten me thinking more about cleaning; and, I realize there are many aspects of my life that need to be cleaned.

So, as I start transitioning to 2007, I have decided to try and clean and eliminate some of the waste from my life.

The easiest and probably most obvious place to start is all of the material waste I have accumulated.

It pains me to admit this, but I have become greedy. Or maybe I always have been greedy, but the last few years I've had the means to flex that greed.

Now there was a time when I was frugal and spendthrift. In college my parents would give me $5 that would last me for weeks (thank God my friends supplied me with endless beer!). My diet staple was rice, for all 3 meals.

In fact, my roommates would laugh at me because my entire diet for months at a time would be rice with a variety of, uhm, well, rather nasty toppings. I had rice with Parmesan cheese added to it, rice with catsup, rice with mustard, even rice with (yes, this is true; and, yes, I laugh at it too) grape jelly.

In medical school I lived with no water, or heat or electricity, for months at a time. I simply had no money, so I learned to adjust and tolerate it.

When I lived in Ann Arbor during residency, I would recycle religiously. As sport, I would try to fit an entire week's worth of trash into 1 small kitchen trash bag. I biked to work when feasible, and my car at the time nearly topped 40 mpg.

But something happened to me when I started making more money, and I think it probably happens to alot of people.

Suddenly the sport of frugality adopted due to the constraint of necessity was replaced by the vice of wastefulness triggered by the possibilities of excess.

The frugal car was replaced by the gas thirsty sport sedan. And soon after, the sport sedan was joined by the Suburban, and then the Suburban was replaced by an even more thirsty LandCruiser.

And the sport sedan for months now has just sat in my driveway, staring at me, constantly reminding me that it is being wasted while I rack up thousands of miles in the SUV at 12 miles/gallon.

I looked in my garage recently. There are 4 wheelers that haven't been ridden in years... There are perfectly functional beds that were replaced just because something else caught my eye. Waste...

In my closets, there are years worth of clothes that are stashed away, the victims of the next season's fashions. Waste...

In my outside storage room, there are two perfectly functional lawnmowers, even though I have been paying someone to mow my lawn. Waste...

In my shoe closet, I have enough shoes to make nearly any woman jealous - I'm talking alot of shoes here. And there are maybe 3 or 4 pair that I've worn in the last 3 months. Waste...

Material waste...

And I shudder to think how much time and energy I have spent to accumulate this waste. And I know that there are better ways I should have spent this time and energy.

So one of my goals for 2007 is to stop accumulating, and to begin shedding the material burdens that have anchored my need for more.

No more. No more waste. No more accumulation.

It's time to focus on necessity... It's time to clean...

December 18, 2006


I sometimes think I'm the luckiest guy in the world.

Anna had her 3K class Christmas party today, so I joined the group to eat pizza and make smiley-face cookies.

I was the only dad there, which has stopped surprising me. I've been going to these class parties since my oldest started pre-school 4 years ago, and I can count on half a hand the number of times I haven't been the solitary dad.

But being the only dad there isn't exactly why I feel lucky. I mean, it's not like I'm cruising the school trying to pick up her friends' moms. Heh...

It's that I'm able to be there at all.

That I have a job that gives me the flexibility to set my own schedule and work at night... That I have the ability - I have no idea why or how! - to go through the day sleepless after and before working all night so I not only can take care of my kids but can participate actively in their events...

That I have the desire to sit on those tiny little pre-school chairs with a dozen 3 year olds jumping on me because I'm the only dad there; and, after all, dads are for jumping on...

Life is complex. Parenting is complex. It's easy, way too easy, to continually look to the future for a time when I'll have more money, or the kids will be out of diapers, or when the kids will be out of the house. Then, then everything will be perfect.

But if you always look ahead, look to the future, you don't see what is in front of you, what is now. And now, I've discovered, is pretty damn amazing, even when I'm getting jumped by a bunch of 3 year olds.

And that makes me the luckiest guy I know...

December 15, 2006

Get Your Geek On Triathlon Training

TriJack and troupe will be in Daytona Beach, Florida for the Get Your Geek On New Year's Triathlon. We haven't solidified the details, but we will have a late morning (maybe 11?) start based out of the Ocean Walk Resort. All 4 of the troupe will be competing, so ours will be a toddler-friendly distance...

Anyone in the Daytona area is welcome to join us to ring in the new year, tri style!

Ocean Walk has indoor pools for those that want to do the chlorine swim, or, as the name suggests, is beachside the Atlantic Ocean for those that prefer the salt swim.

The troupe is training hard for their first triathlon experience, as you can tell from the linked video. They have a 25 yard swim to complete tomorrow, then Sunday a brick... Ya gotta start 'em young, right? ;)

December 14, 2006

Listen to This

It isn't often that I'm introduced to a musical talent or song by which I am not only impressed but absolutely blown away. My friend KB told me about the Decemberists a few months ago, and I finally got around to downloading and listening to a few tracks last week.

Wow! I had to have more, then even more, and; before I knew it, I had their entire discography in my library.

Colin Meloy has a timeless voice, and each song weaves a multi-layered story that is as much instrumental ear candy as lyrical bliss.

If you haven't indulged, check it out. Click on the TriJack Audio tag to sample Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect from their 2002 disc entitled Castaways and Cutouts.
Crank it, and enjoy!

December 12, 2006

Changing Lives

I changed too many lives last night.

I don't like to change lives, because that usually means someone or their kid is about to die, or has cancer or a heart attack, or was murdered or raped.

I'm an ER doc. I take care of people when they are having the worst day of their life, and I never know how their day is going to affect me until the day after.

If I wake without detailed recollection of the night before, then it likely was an uneventful shift of colds and sprained ankles and gunshots to non-vital body parts.

But when I wake, like I did this morning, and immediately remember the people that abruptly entered and left my life last night, it usually means there was a lot of bad news. And it usually means that while they left me physically, they're still with me for the next few months and maybe years...

Like the 30 year old runner - yes, a runner, apparently 15 to 20 miles most weeks, and yes, 30 years old - with no health problem and no family history of early-age health problems who had what we call a widowmaker - a heart attack in the the worst possible anatomical location of the heart, the kind of heart attack that frequently kills people on the spot without even a chance of survival. He is alive, as of this morning, but he will never be the same.

Or the 56 year old guy with sudden onset of progressive leg weakness over the last couple of days. When I saw him, he couldn't even shift his legs in the bed. It royally sucked to tell him he had metastatic prostate cancer with spinal cord compression, essentially eliminating his chance of walking his daughter down the aisle at her January wedding. If he's alive for it...

Or the 42 year old guy who fell back off a ladder from a 2nd story roof, landed on his back and broke, nay shattered, his bony pelvis in such a way that he will have years of multiple staged surgeries before he has even a chance of a normal life.

Or the lady, and her 2 children and her in-laws, who sat sobbing but silent in disbelief when I told her that her husband was dead after he fell asleep driving and spun his car off the road into a tree.

Life sometimes sends us reminders that we are here on borrowed time. Nothing is really ours; we just use it and enjoy it for a few years and then it's gone. We're gone...

So we have to use what we have, what we are given, and make it count. There are no re-do's, there is no second chance. There is no time for regrets, and no place for re-living each yesterday.

There is only the here and now, and maybe there is a tomorrow.

And that, my friends, lets me appreciate everything I have, and everything around me, in a way I can't possibly describe... It keeps me satisfied, and it lets me know I'm complete even when I feel shattered.

And I couldn't ask for anything more...

Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin.

December 11, 2006


"I cannot believe you didn't drown..."

My swim coach didn't exactly say that, but she could have summarized her critique of my observed dolphin-like prowess, or not, with that simple statement.

Now, to her credit, and mine, she did recognize that I have incredible potential to compete with the likes of the Thorpedo.

"You move well through the water..."

And that was as positive as she could be...

She then told me, over the course of 45 or so minutes, the slight position changes that I could make that would make me go from a struggling 2 minute 100 yard swim x 1 to a slick, shark-like beast with sub 50 minute ironman swims. Oh, wait... That was what I dreamed last night she told me...

But let's get back to reality...

So on my first session with her today, my coach told me, in no specific order of importance, that I would do great if I could just do the following:

Get my head higher... Keep my elbows up... Don't bend my knees so much when I kick ("STOP RUNNING WITH YOUR KICK!!!") Rotate your body more... Rotate your body evenly, your hips and your upper body together as a unit... Keep your elbows up... Breathe... Breathe every 3rd stroke, always... Keep your ankles plantar-flexed... Keep your eyes focused in front of you...

Hmm. This is going to take some time! Well, at least she layed it all out for me... No sugar-coating this ego... Give it to me like you see it, and I'll take it and run... Or swim...

So, I think I have some work to do in the pool.

And with that huge list of things to work on, and about a dozen drills which she swears will help, I think I better just go jump in a lake... And swim!

Thanks for joining My Daily Spin.

December 10, 2006


I had just completed a solid hour of vigorous stretching when I stood up and my old friend ITBS made an unwanted visit.

For the month prior to and the few days after my marathon a week ago, my iliotibial band on my right knee had been hurting. Oh, I've done everything you're supposed to do - ice, elevation, ace-wrap, scheduled ibuprofen. I even considered injecting myself with celestone to decrease the inflammation, but decided that may be a little over the top.

But as I walked away from the gym today, it occurred to me that my body has rejected what I have been doing to it. Muscoloskeletal pain that isn't from a particular injury - like getting hit by a car, or tripping on the pavement - is usually from overuse or misuse, or a little of both.

Think about it, our bodies are essentially the same. We all have the same iliotibial band, the same patella tendon, the same bony pelvis, the same femoral condyle. Unless your anatomy is surgically altered or congenitally misaligned, you have the same anatomy as me as Norman Stadler as Lance Armstrong.

So why would some people have ITBS from preparing for a marathon and others don't? The answer lies in how you are preparing - your running form, your rate of mileage increase, your recovery times. To perform well over any length of time, you have to have proper form, proper pace/timing, and proper rest. If you don't do these things the proper way, you will develop an injury or pain. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when. Overuse or misuse leads to injury.

I have overused and misused my body, and it is rejecting me. And then it occurred to me that overuse or misuse also is the cause of rejection with relationships.

Think about the reasons you have rejected, or were rejected by, previous significant others or potential significant others. Now I'm not really talking about the platinum double D type you lusted over at work for a couple of months until you saw her picking her teeth with the corner of a manila envelope...

I'm talking about the girl who shared your passions; who always knew what and when and how to say the right words; who had a smile that could disarm nuclear tension, and a confidence that could not be broken; who made you laugh and who laughed at you... That's the girl... That's the girl I'm talking about.

Why is there rejection from the apparent perfect person for you? I realized today that it's a combination of overuse and misuse. So for a relationship to work properly, just like for an athlete to work properly for any duration, there must be proper form, proper pace, and proper rest.

I think the proper form portion is fairly easy to understand, but hard to do. You have to have the zone 1 base relationship training mastered, and you have to consistently build on your zone 1. You have to be respectful, and considerate, offer criticism constructively and reluctantly. You have to be able to open yourself, to let yourself be loved and respected, which I think sometimes is harder than its counterpart. You have to give your time, and make her feel like it is truly hers. Proper form... Perfect form...

Proper pace and proper timing are requisites for a relationship to work and not end in rejection. You can't jump straight to zone 3 or 4 early on, or you will never develop the zone 1 base necessary to sustain it.

And both persons have to be at a point in their life when they can and want to pursue a new relationship. I think this one hits me harder than the others. She has to be at the bottom of the mountain to start the climb. If she is still falling from the last unsuccessful climb, then it will be impossible to start a new one until she hits rock bottom and recovers. And recovers...

Finally, for a relationship to work it needs rest. It's inconceivable and harmful to expect two independent people to want to /need to /have to spend all of their time together. You can't grow as a couple unless you grow as individuals. And it's hard to grow as an individual if you don't occasionally exercise your individuality.

That's what it takes, at least in part, to make a relationship work, and it's the same thing that it takes to make a trained body work. You have to nurture each, paying attention to form, timing, and rest, or you will be rejected.

So I learned today that I've been rejected by my body; and, I think I may have gained a bit of insight into what it takes for a relationship to work...

Not bad for a day of stretching. Now it's time to go ice my damned knee!

Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin.

December 8, 2006


Exciting things are happening at The Daily Spin. I've added two races to the schedule, the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta on July 4 and Ironman Wisconsin on September 9.

I'm looking at possible races to add in March, maybe an olympic distance tri (open to race suggestions?) versus a cycling century. The other idea floating around in this way-too-active thought process is the Arizona Desert Cycling Camp mountain week on 3/31 - 4/8. Seven days of climbing the southeastern Arizona and New Mexico mountains with 74-103 miles per day. Wicked! Anybody participated in this camp?

I now have some of the best coaches in triathlon, Roch Frey and Paul Huddle at, guiding my preparation for Ironman. And I have my first session with my swim coach on Monday!

My 6 year old daughter Emma ran her first ever half mile run this afternoon in about 5 1/2 minutes to start her preparation for the Mercedes Kids Marathon in February. My 5 year old daughter Tess also is registered, but when she realized today that she would have to run and couldn't ride her bike for the race she lost interest (for now...)! She's too cute!

Until next time, thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin!

December 6, 2006

News from Heather Fuhr

Ok, I promised some exciting news...

So I was in the ED last night talking to one of my residents about a patient. Nothing too exciting or life threatening, so I am checking email while we are formulating the best management plan...



I see it...

Heather Fuhr... Yes, read it again, I had to... Heather Fuhr... As in superbadasswoneverytriathlonyoucouldeverimagine Heather Fuhr... As in Kona champion Heather Fuhr... As in 15 time Ironman winner Heather Fuhr...

An email to me... Read it again, I had to... An email to me from Heather Fuhr confirming that yes, I have a slot in... drum roll please....


Oh yea, it's on baby! It is so on...

Time to Rest

This will be hard, much harder than anticipated. I need to take a few weeks off and let my body rest.

The problem is that I don't really feel like I need to rest my body. I want to train. I want to run... I want to bike... I want to lift and swim and stretch... I want to feel the adrenaline pumping through me, screaming in its chemical tongue to run harder... Faster... Better...

I thought that when the 26.2 was done, I would be ready, mentally and physically, for a break. But the mental part just isn't here. Not now... Not yet...

But my body says rest, so mind must comply.

Well, not completely. While I PT my ITBS and recover my hip flexors, I'll still be doing a little swimming, God knows I don't need any swim time off. I need to; no, I must learn some decent swim technique if I am going to survive these long course tri's in the up-coming season.

Which brings me to some exciting news about a particular filled IM race that I am trying to find a way in which to compete. If I'm able to do what I am thinking, I'll have some super-cool stuff to report soon!

So check back often, and thanks for joining me on My Daily Spin.

December 4, 2006

Josh's Girl, (or Mistress Chemo)

My friend Josh has started losing his hair from the chemotherapy that hopefully will conquer his cancer. This is one of the many battles he's fighting. Check out a new My Daily Spin feature, an mp3 download of the following text, with extras. To listen, just click on the Trijack Audio tag.

She sneaks in and takes you when you least expect it. You know she's coming, and you know what she wants. You just don't know when, or how.

It almost always happens in the shower the first time. She gets the first pieces while you are distracted by steam and heat. You turn off the water, look down, and you know what's happened.

Then she leaves, but you know she'll be back. You wonder when, and you wonder where.

You don't tell any of your friends, because you want to see if they can tell that you are in some way different, if she has affected you as much as she has affected your perception of you.

And then she strikes again, in the shower. This time she leaves no doubt what it is she wants, and she takes it freely and aggressively.

Her visits become more frequent. She strikes when you are asleep, and you don't even realize it until you wake. Empowered, she then strikes anytime, any place.

She stays until her hunger is satisfied, until there is nothing left of you to take. Then she moves on.

And you are left hairless and conspicuous, and everyone who sees you points and whispers. They know, and you know, that you are sick, maybe dying.

But they don't know that when she took the good, she also took the bad. And you can see that the good is gone, but you have to wait months to discover if the bad is gone.

If she did take the bad, and it is gone, she'll be the best girl you've ever had. And if not, if she only took the good but left you with the cancer still eating at you; well, maybe there's another girl to give you a twirl in the shower.

Rich and I showing love for a brother...

December 2, 2006

My first marathon - the report

Goal #1 was to finish. Done. Goal #2 was to finish under 4 hours. Done.

My 4 kids, my sister, and I arrived in Memphis Friday night just in time to visit the Expo and get the race packet. There were icicles hanging from the city fountains in front of the civic center. Icicles. Icicles and I don't get along...

There were so many eating options along Beale Street and Peabody Place and an electric atmosphere; but, we settled on the kid friendly chain across the street from our hotel. After 90 minutes of awful service from a friendly but overwhelmed server (I swear my 6 year old daughter was taller than this lady...), we got to sleep at a kid friendly 2230. Except of course I didn't sleep. Not then anyway...

Race morning finally arrived. I was so excited that I was out the door at 0530 to see if there was some miraculous overnight global warming sensation. No such luck...

I started in the 3rd wave, and everything went smoothly. I latched onto the 3:45 pace group and cruised through the 1st 2 miles. But I felt pedestrian at that pace, probably from the amazing atmosphere and bands and the cool weather (which I was starting to realize was actually my friend!)

So I picked up the pace, and I ran 7:45 pace for miles 3 through 7 or 8. I realized then that I needed to pay more respect to those unknown miles, 20-26, and slow it down.

So I backed down to around 8:30-8:40 pace. I still felt great! And I had my big goofy smile on frequently enough to get more than a few comments from the volunteers/supporters about smiling through the pain.

Oh yea, the pain. Hmm, what pain? Its funny... Every run over the last 4-6 weeks my right knee had pained me for miles 2 or 3 until 7 or 8, then been ok after that. It had been getting a little worse, and the cold weather seemed to exacerbate it. In fact, when I was going to the Expo the night before, it hurt just walking. Ditto on race morning.

But now I had gone for 7 or 8 miles and my knee was great! A couple of hints of the pain, but basically nada... I was stoked...

Now I had needed to pee since I was at the starting line. Note to self: just go pee; don't worry about losing "your spot" at the front of your corrall. And I tried at mile 15, but both porta-johns were occupied. Mile 16 brought me relief, but brought on the aches.

When I made the pit stop, it was the first time I had stopped running since the start. And as soon as I sprinted out of the aid station to catch the group with whom I had been running, I knew I'd made a mistake by stopping.

Suddenly my hip flexors ached, and then my feet ached. And then I could feel the blister over my 1st MTP on my right foot. And when the physical aches begin, the mental aches follow close behind.

My pace dropped. At mile 20, I did what I was hoping not to do: I walked. I walked for about 3 or 4 minutes. And when I started running again, everything - EVERYthing - was stiffer and more sore. I made a vow to not walk for that long again.

For mile markers 21 and 22 I walked the aid station, then started running after each. And then marker 23 came, and I knew, I knew I was going to make it. I had more than 30 minutes to go 3.2 miles and still finish under 4 hours.

And then something funny happened at mile 24. Completely unexpected... I ran through the aid station, and I knew I was so close. And I broke down.

Oh, physically I was fine. But something happened emotionally. I kept running, but I was crying. And not even crying really, but maybe even bawling. Face contorted, eyes blurry, tears flowing... Crying.

My dad... I wanted my dad there with me. To run with me. To see me running, finishing, flourishing... It was strange; I was crying just like the day 10 years ago when we buried him.

I passed the 26 mile marker, and turned right into the AAA baseball stadium for the finish. Never have I been so happy to get in a baseball stadium!

After sprinting through the finish, I stumbled over to the chip-takers. The girl reached down to cut my tie, only to find that at some point along the 26.2 miles my tie already had broken and my chip was lost. Heh...

So, technically I guess, according to the St. Jude Marathon, I didn't complete my goal #1 - to finish. I guess I won't be an official finisher, because my chip is somewhere on the streets of Memphis.

But I have the soreness, and I'll soon I'll have the photo - the photo of me running, nay sprinting, under the FINISH sign in 3:55.45.

December 1, 2006

The door

In the end, when all is said and done, when I have no more races to run or patients to heal, when I have no more breaths to inspire and no more sights to behold, let it be spoken that I was never afraid to open the door.

We only have one go around this world.

Opportunities come, and then fade away. Desires burn, then flicker out. We are beautiful when young, then wrinkle and sag when old.

If you don't look on the other side of the door, you'll never know what could have been. I want to look. I need to look. I have to look.

That is why I'm running 26.2 miles tomorrow. I have to look.

November 30, 2006

What I need

I do not care how you look with make-up.
I need to see the sweat
beading and dripping
salty and rainlike
off your arms
with every

I do not care what clothes you wear.
I need to see the scars,
the marks, the divots
and tags that make
you a warrior
and show that
yes, you

I do not care how much money you make.
I need to know what you will
do when you have nothing
and noone and you
are lonely and
cold and

I do not care when you finish.
I need to know that you
bled, and screamed
and fought
the demons that
battled to
make you

I do not care what kind of medals you won.
I need to know that you were there, and
you gave every ounce of your being
to the cause. And that,
that is what I need.
What I need
To know
I need

November 29, 2006


I am giving the 10 reasons that I desire to and will finish my first 26.2 during the final 10 days prior to the race. This is the 8th in the series.

The people we meet are the true rewards for our journeys. So many people have made me who I am, have helped to define my goals and my dreams. I owe so many so much for putting me in a position to compete in and finish my first 26.2 in 3 days.

Rex taught me that no matter how great the pain, no matter how horrible the suffering, it will pass; everything does (and he taught me this after he left me lying in misery with a broken leg for hours trying to convince me that no, it really wasn't broken!).

Mark S initiated my interest in multi-sport, and thus led me to this marathon, by way of a simple challenge, 6 months ago. SB introduced me to the StJude Marathon and told me of its relative flatness (thank you thank you thank you!)...

JB made me realize that my aches and pains were oh so minor compared to his metastatic cancer, and made me realize that every day has to be respected as if there are no more...

CR taught me that life and endurance racing both require pacing, and if you sprint for long enough you will burn. Every time... Always...

Tracy has taught me that sometimes I'd rather be the mare than the cowboy, especially when the cowboy is flying through the air and the mare is minus a 200 # load...

And the guy with advanced Parkinson's Disease who I see almost daily at my gym, who walks independently but at a pace so slow you think he is static, has taught me that patience is a fundamental attribute for athletes in training, and in life...

NS and CS have been absolutely invaluable helping me with the kids when I was in a pinch, in order to fit in training sessions before work, to go to the hospital all those crazy hours, and even to watch them at the race...

I owe so much... And I am so thankful to have this chance... Many others have helped me along; these are only a few.

For all of you who have helped with your wisdom, with your strength, with your time and with your love, I am running Saturday for you... Thanks for coming with me for My Daily Spin...

November 28, 2006

Reason #7 - Pace

I am listing the 10 reasons that I desire to and will finish my first 26.2 during the final 10 days prior to the race. This is the 7th in the series.


My friend Chris R is only a few years older but much wiser than me. He noticed a couple of years ago that I was working way too much, and he told me to slow down. "Life is a marathon, not a sprint..."

I listened, but I am still young and still occasionally feel invincible, so I kept working too hard and too much. And then a year or so ago I took his advice, finally, and slowed down. I quit 1 job, I stopped lecturing, I stopped directing the med student rotation in EM... I started doing what I liked most from the beginning - seeing patients... And pacing myself...

I've always wanted, needed, to be more flexible... No we're not headed anywhere dangerous with this. Kids, keep reading... Seriously, I am so unflexible, my muscles are so tight, it's awful... I have trouble even touching my toes with my knees straight.

Many times I have started stretching routines, but each time I have been discouraged by a couple of weeks work with no measurable results. I was trying to sprint to get results...

Over the last 6 months since I started training, I've stretched more than ever. Not with a goal to become more flexible but with a goal to not be so damn sore after hard sessions. But you know what? I've become more flexible... I can touch my toes now... I can extend my back in ways I never thought would be possible... I'm not exactly Cirque de Sole material, but I'm proud of the results. It took pacing myself...

And so this marathon to me is an affirmation that there is nothing in life, or almost nothing, that is most pleasurable, most rewarding, in sprint form. If the results are instantaneous or come without significant effort, they probably are undeserved or will be underappreciated. If it takes great effort, the reward will be great.

And you cannot try to finish 20 years worth of work in 5 years. You'll kill yourself. And I can't run a marathon at 6 minute mile pace... I'll collapse before 5k is done.

I finally have learned about pace... In racing and in life...

Florida Ride, Part II

After apparently forcing the intruder to jump to his death, I was stoked to hammer. 65 degrees at 0930 in the morning and not a cloud anywhere... Perfect!

Now, my previous long ride was 43 miles, although on some seriously kicka*s hills. So I was not sure what to expect from my body when exposed to 100+ miles.

The first thing I noticed... Wind... Ohmigod the wind...

Now I read a ton of blogger race reports from the Florida Ironman, and EVERYone mentioned/complained about the persistent headwind over the first 40 or 50 miles of the bike. Surely that wind isn't there all the time though...

Wishful thinking...

Ok, now I was riding those same miles, and the same damn headwind was making me feel like I had a parachute attached to my bike... Does it ever stop??

Yes! It stopped about 50 miles in, just as I turned on Hwy 231 and took a break for fuel. Re-energized and without the wind fighting me, I felt surprisingly great for about 15 miles until.... No!! More headwind... What a tease she is...

Another 10 miles of wind fighting me...

But like all else, it too passed. And I was free of the wind for the final 30 miles. Its amazing how fast 30 miles can fly by when it's relative to a 100+ mile journey.

And when I made the final turn onto Front Beach Rd, and my hotel came into sight, I thought I would be exhausted. But for some reason, despite this being the longest ride of my life by 61 miles, despite having been in the saddle for 5 and a 1/2 hours, despite having a sunburned nose and wind-parched lips; despite it all, I felt amazing.

I wanted more... If I hadn't reached the scheduled end of the trip, I could easily have been convinced to keep on riding.

What had seemed impossible now was done, and I was laughing at how easily possible it actually was...

I learned alot from this 104 mile bike ride (I started/finished 1/2 mile from the race s/f, and I didn't ride the 3 1/2 mile down and back portion... thus, 104/112 completed).

I learned that you can think about it and plan it and dream about it, or you can just do it. On 2 days notice I rode my bike more than a century! There was no planning... No specific training... None...

I learned that the wind can be your worst enemy, or make you feel like Lance... And when she is your enemy, you know she is to blame... But when she helps you, when she is helping to push you along, she doesn't get her props...

I learned that after mile 75, every crack in the road, every unexpected divot and crater, sends little cattle-prod shocks directly to my knees... And I curse, repeatedly, with every stretch of light gray road I see approaching because I know, my knees know, that light gray road means more shocks...

I learned that I can keep a reasonable pace over a 100 miles and NOT feel like ass the next day. I visited the hot tub a couple of times on the night of and morning after the ride, but I felt great... Maybe I should have pushed harder.

And I learned, finally, that there is a squirrel, or there was a squirrel, lost and weary and hungry on the Florida beach going from room to room in search of nuts... Heh, I think he found 1 in my room...

Thanks for joining me on my daily spin...

November 27, 2006

Florida Ride, Part I

My weekend plans to visit friends in the Midwest were cancelled at the last minute due to an acute case of nonparatusitis; luckily, it looks like eventually there will be a full recovery and, I suspect, all effected will be a stronger group than ever before.

So I was left on Thanksgiving Day with the prospect of a weekend with no kid responsibilities and no work responsibilities. Wow, a weekend for myself!

Now what. Hmm. I thought for awhile... Nothing... A little later... Still nothing...

And then it hit me, like numchuck to the nads. Ok, maybe it didn't hurt all that bad.

I was registering for the Florida Half Ironman when I had an epiphany - I'll drive to Florida and ride the Ironman bike course!

112 miles of biking... The longest I had ever ridden was 43 miles a couple of months ago... I have a marathon in a week... Hmmm. Ok, let's go!

I called my friend Mark, the only other guy I know crazy enough to drive 6 hours on 1 day notice to ride untrained for 112 miles. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately for him, he was tethered by pager to work for the weekend.

So, Friday I set off for Panama City Beach. I knew the trip would rock when I saw this old, lonely tree 30 minutes into the journey. Now I'm a sucker for trees. I like climbing them, occasionally falling out of them, but especially looking at them. My favorite ones are the old, dying trees with no leaves... I call them the horror movie trees...

So I knew I was in for a wicked good time when I saw this tree.

I made it to PCB, found a hotel on the beach, and then made it to the ocean just in time to watch an amazing sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.

I went for a short run on the beach, then laid in the sand and watched the stars appear.

Later that night I went across the street to the theatre and saw Casino Royale, the new James Bond flick. I was entranced the entire show, and I don't usually enjoy Bond that much. Must admit, I was thoroughly impressed that Bond was poisoned with digitalis while playing poker, walked to his car, hooked an AED up to himself, shocked his pulseless heart back to a sinus rhythm, administered digibind into his IJ, then was back at the poker table within 5 minutes. Now that, my friend is a man... Take that Macgyver...

The next morning, I was about to start my ride when I had an intruder. Yes, an intruder! Someone, believe it or not, actually walked into my hotel room through my balcony door! Still I have no idea how he got on my balcony, or from where he came. There were no trees anywhere nearby that he could have climbed; and I was on the 11th floor!

When I glanced up and saw him, he froze. Our eyes met for what seemed like 2 or 3 minutes, although I'm certain it wasn't actually longer than a second or 2 at the most. I had no idea what he wanted, and quite frankly I was a little frightened. Definitely shocked...

Slowly I stood up off the bed and started creeping toward the dresser, where all of my valuables were sitting. He stood motionless for another second, then dashed for the door through which he had entered.

I jumped toward the dresser and grabbed my camera, thinking that at the minimum I wanted a photo of this guy for proof that he had broken into my room.

He got out the door, and I gave chase right behind... He was cornered on the balcony... I had him now, and he had nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide.

Still incredulous, I snapped a photo. And then he turned and jumped over the rail. From the 11th floor!

Now I don't know for sure what happened to him. I looked down, but saw no signs of any carnal damage on the ground 11 floors below. And before I went for my ride a few minutes later, I walked down and studied the ground below my balcony. Nothing... He had vanished...

Was this all just a dream? I pinched myself... Definitely for real...

I checked my camera, and there was the proof. I wasn't crazy after all...

And so I started my ride...

Reason # 6 The Kids

I am listing the 10 reasons that I desire to and will finish my first 26.2 during the final 10 days prior to the race. This is the 6th in the series.

The Kids

I don't think I'm the kind of dad that pushes his kid too hard. Each kid is unique, and that uniqueness is influenced by so many variables I couldn't begin to name them all.

My 6 year old girl loves motorcycles and 4 wheelers and catching bugs and writing stories. Her 5 year old sister could care less about any of that; she wants to put on make-up and a fairy outfit then clean my bathroom (good kid, eh?)

I recognize that each one of my kids will develop their interests, and talents. And they will learn to enjoy some things, and hate others.

I think my role is to expose them to as many opportunities as I am able. Let them see the world... Let them see the people... Let them see what and why and how different people interact with the world. If I can offer them nothing else, I want to offer them the world... The world is their playground.

So I don't think I ever will make my kids run, or compete. But I want them to see that I love competition. I want them to know that they can run, and bike, and swim, and compete. I want them to know that if they put forth the effort, they can do nearly anything they want.

It is so important to me that my kids see me cross the finish line in 5 days. Because they may not realize it for years to come, but if their old man daddy can run a marathon, they can too.

And that's all I want; for them to realize that almost anything is possible...

That, my friends, is reason #6 - the kids...


Exciting news! As of tomorrow, November 28, 2006, my blog will have a new url and a fresh new look!

You may have noticed some gradual changes over the last few days, and you may have even caught a glimpse of the new site during one of the test runs.

But tomorrow, will be unveiled! So, update your favorite list and come back tomorrow to check it out!

November 26, 2006

Reason #5 Step 2

I am listing the 10 reasons that I desire to and will finish my first 26.2 during the final 10 days prior to the race. This is the 5th in the series.

Step 2...

My eventual goal is to become an Ironman. I want to swim 2.4 miles, bike for 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles within 17 hours.

To do them all together, I first must be able to do each of them individually. I've cycled for nearly 112 miles (heh, 104 miles yesterday! details coming soon...); that was step 1.

Step 2 will come in 6 days, when I complete my first ever 26.2 mile run.

Am I nervous? Yes... Am I afraid? Yes... Do I anticipate pain? Hell yea... Will I back down? Not a chance...

And after Saturday, when I cross the finish line in Memphis at the St. Jude Marathon, I will begin work with my new swim coach (details coming soon, but I am stoked to say the least!!) toward step 3.

So, reason #5 is completion of step 2 toward eventually becoming an Ironman.

November 25, 2006

Reason #4 Not Every Race Needs to be Won

I am listing the 10 reasons that I desire to and will finish my first 26.2 during the final 10 days prior to the race. This is the 4th in the series.

Not Every Race Needs to be Won...

For a long time, I told myself that I didn’t need to compete in or do something in which I couldn’t win or be the best. If it was worth my time to do, than it was worth my time to prepare to win.

I think this attitude contributed to me not previously competing in a 26.2.
But I’m older, and I’m wiser. And I know that if you keep waiting for that perfect opportunity, or if you don’t do something until your outcome is assured, you’ll never have or do anything.

You see, I’ve learned that I don’t always have to finish first. Its ok to not make the Dean’s List, as long as passed your classes.

And its ok not to know why someone is dying in front of me, because I am only human, just like him. And although I am trained to diagnose and treat and save, I will not always have the right answer, or sometimes any answer. And when that happens my responsibility is to involve specialist physicians who may or may not know the answer, and to tell the patient that yes, you are dying; and yes, I am doing everything in my power to save you; but no, I truly do not believe that your illness or injury is survivable. And that’s ok, because I don’t always have to win... I only have to be honest, with myself and with my patient.

And its ok to not be able to have the most beautiful, perfect girl for me... I can give and give and give, but receiving is a privilege I won't always have. Or, maybe it is meant to be and it will be, but the finish line is so far in the future that at times it is difficult to visualize. But even if I don’t finish 1st, even if the race moves at tortoise pace, I have to start and keep running to have a chance...

In just 7 days, 1 week from today, I will finish a 26.2. I can guaran-damn-tee you I will not win this race. But you know, I will win... I will win because I will be there. I will win because I will finish. I will win because I know I don’t have to finish first, or in the top 10 or 100 or even in the top 1000, to win...

Heh, we had a little joke we used to tell in medical school. "You know what they call the med student that graduates with a C average?" Doctor...

And you know what they call the last place finisher of a 140.6? Ironman.

I know now I have no need to finish 1st. I just want to be in the race, and I just want to finish...

Reason #3 Timing

I am listing the 10 reasons that I desire to and will finish my first 26.2 during the final 10 days prior to the race. This is the 3rd in the series.

Timing. The timing is right for me to do my first 26.2. Right now. In fact, I wish I could do it tomorrow and not a week from tomorrow.

I transitioned from “I’m too busy to exercise” to “training is one of my highest priorities” over the course of the last 13 months. I was spending too much time indulging myself on food and probably a little too much alcohol. But mainly I was working too damned much. I needed to change.

Necessity turned reality when I found Crossfit. Suddenly I was in the gym 5 or 6 days a week, and I woke up each day with training anticipation like I’d never known.

I added boxing training to Crossfit in April or May of this year. My body loved me for the extra torture. I suddenly had a physique. Me, a physique… Unheard of…

Then I discovered triathlon… And I realized the path I wanted to follow. I did two tri’s over a couple of months, and then the short-race season was done in my area.

But since I had just really started 3 sport training, I wasn’t ready to call it a season and allow myself to start a dormant off-season. I needed another goal for this year to keep me happy and keep me training. Thus, the marathon.

This 26.2 on December 2 allowed me, forced me to continue training, to channel my newly discovered energy and passion for the multi-sport training life.

Near-perfect timing… Reason #3 why I am competing in, and will finish my inaugural 26.2 in only 8 days!

November 23, 2006

Reason #2 - Proof

I am listing the 10 reasons that I desire to and will finish my first 26.2 during the final 10 days prior to the race. This is the 2nd in the series.


Not to anyone else, but to myself. Proof that I can endure despite mental and physical pain to accomplish this 26.2. Proof that I can finish what I start.

You see, for some reason, I move from one thing to another rather quickly. In fact, I do everything (heheh, well, I'd like to think not EVERYthing...) quickly, and on an accelerated pace. I finished high school when I was 16, although I didn't actually graduate. I got my bachelor's degree in just over 2 calendar years after dropping out of high school.

I was heavily involved in politics, even serving as the president of my local Young Democrats group, for 2 years during medical school. But I haven't been involved with organized politics since.

I've written 3 books, but haven't even attempted to have them published or distributed.

I raced cars for about 12 months. Open wheeled Indy styled cars... Absolutely loved it, but I didn't pursue it for a variety of mediocre reasons.

I've tried to train for marathons before, but stopped due to time constraints, or injuries, or that most apathetic reason of all - simple loss of desire...

I was married for 7 years, and couldn't even finish that...

So I need some proof. I need some proof that I can finish this athletic endeavor, no matter the price. No matter the pain. No matter the loss of desire that I am absolutely certain will hit me when I am standing at the start line and it is 35 or 40 degrees, nor that which will hit me right about mile 20 or 21 when butcher knives are stabbing me in each of my knees with every step...

I need some proof that I can finish this 26.2 in order to solidify for me the idea that yes, yes I can and I will finish a 140.3 and realize my ultimate athletic goal of becoming an Ironman...

So, reason 2 is Proof. Not to anyone else, just to myself...


To read a story, and
Then write my own...

To hold the hand of my 5 year old
When she finally learns to skip...

To look myself in the mirror
And like the man staring back...

To know a woman so beautiful
That every other looks so plain...

To help the homeless, and the sick
And dying, and the lost...

To take my children to their
First ballet classes...

To have a house, and to
Make it my home...

To have friends call me
When I haven't called them...

To have complicated feelings, and
Have someone who understands...

To have a mom and a dad
Who never asked why...

To have 100,000 soldiers
Risk their life for me... for me...

For these things, I am thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 22, 2006

Reason #1 - Dad

10 days... 10 days until my marathon. 10 days until the fulfillment of a 21 year old dream. 10 days until I will either flourish or flail, but finish nonetheless. 10 days.

As I count down the time until raceday, I'm going to start a list of 10 reasons why I am competing in this most challenging athletic adventure I've ever attempted. Here is the first reason.

My dad. My dad and I ran together only 1 time ever. I was maybe 15 or 16, it's hard to remember for sure. I was at his house, and we were watching a football game. At least I was watching a football game; I think he was reading a Louis L'amour book.

In fact, there must either be a million Louis L'amour books or my dad must have read the same ones over and over because it seems like almost every memory I have of him at home he was reading one... Hmmm.

Anyway, somehow we started talking about running; and, being the ever-confident teenager I challenged him to a 1 mile race. Now I knew my dad didn't run. In fact, I don't think I ever had seen my dad run prior to this event...

But my dad was a good sport, and he accepted the challenge. We climbed in his van and drove the neighborhood to mark off a 1 mile course. Nearly flat, no traffic; it would be a nice fair race for us.

We went back inside to get ready, and my dad downed another drink for a last bit of fortification. And then we were off.

Oh, we were slow, in retrospect. But we ran. Mostly together, but occasionally he would creep ahead. We teased each other, and laughed as much as we could through embarrassingly heavy breathing.

And then he stumbled, tripped over his feet. And my dad fell to the street. And he tried to get up immediately and shake it off, but it wasn't as easy as he thought it would be. And he stood there, bent over, hands on knees, panting.

He said he was dizzy, but I knew even then that he was just drunk. He staggered a couple of steps, and then leaned over again with hands on knees. He was bleeding from the hands and there was street gravel buried under the skin on his knees.

2 kids on motorcycles stopped and asked if we needed help. He shooed them away. No, no, there's nothing wrong here...

After a few minutes, he staggered the rest of the way home.

I never saw my dad run again; it was only a few years later that he died suddenly and unexpectedly. But there is almost never a time when I run when I don't think at least a little about that little race with my dad.

You know, in a way, I think it was the biggest race I've ever run. That race taught me about alcoholism... It taught me about pride... It taught me about stubborness... It taught me about love... It taught me about being a dad...

I loved my dad, despite his flaws. He was an honorable and decent man, and he had an amazing and quick smile. When I look in the mirror, the man that now stares back at me looks eerily like him. And when I have a problem, I find myself wondering what my dad would have done, and that's more often than not what I do.

I miss him terribly. And I wish, oh how I wish he could see me in 10 days running our race 26 times over. He would be so damn proud of me...

November 20, 2006

lapped by the granny

My swim has become stagnant. For months, I have been at the pool 3 or 4 times a week.

I have done drills... I have swam countless 50 and 100 yard repeats... I have swam distance... I have kicked more, and less... I have breathed every 4 touches, and every 3... I have watched Ian Thorpe videos... I have practiced water balance... I have counted strokes...

And despite it all, I have made little progress...

I still get lapped by the old grey-haired ladies. Now imagine, if you can, a 31 year old guy who looks even a few years younger with a reasonably muscular body, cut abs, and shoulders that can handle repeated sets of 25 strict pull-ups at a time. He jumps in the pool and starts swimming a 100. Grey-haired granny with a pannus and more wrinkles than a daytime soap opera jumps in the next lane 30 seconds later and STILL finishes her 100 first.


So I've decided to let my swim rest for a couple of weeks. In less than 2 weeks I have my 26.2, so my body needs a little extra rest anyway. I will put the swim on the back burner and try not to think about it.

After the race, I will start anew. Fresh beginning. This time, though, I think I might swallow some pride and ask for help from someone who knows how to swim. Heh, with my luck, my coach will be the wrinkled granny that kicks my butt every Monday afternoon... Sigh...

the new road...

Sometimes you need to take a step back and reevaluate where you are and where you have been, and then determine the best way to get where you are going. Pull to the side of the road and check out the old Rand-Mcnally.

Now don't get me wrong, I, like most guys, don't like directions. I don't like looking at maps. I have been endowed with a Y chromosome that allows me to know how to get anywhere, and everywhere, without so much as a consideration of latitude or longitude, or even street names and landmarks.

I've been travelling this road that looks perfect - recently paved, beautiful (as in ohmigod beautiful) scenery, thought-provoking road-sign messages, the whole 9. But the road is new; its only been finished for a couple of months.

And like all new roads, there is still work to be done. The workers still have to place the "Slow: Men at Work" signs and those damn orange barrels out in certain places at certain times. They have to check the pavement, again and again, for confirmation that yes it really is ready for travel.

And sometimes, as if out of nowhere, there are occasional street signs that still denote the name of the old road. The final vestiges of a by-gone era. These signs hold on to their rusted posts, weather-beaten, dinged and dented, knowing that they will linger until some burst of cleansing wind sweeps through and topples them, and buries them in the sand below not to be forgotten but simply to stop being a reminder of what has been and can be no longer.

And I know, because I have once before travelled upon a similar road, that this road will for many months and years have occasional slow-downs, and occasional traffic jams, and occasional diversions and merges, and even the occasional collision.

But the road, the road is magnificent; even with its idiosyncrasies, even with its growing pains. And I am pretty damned convinced, probably naively, despite having just turned onto this road, that if I, and the road, take it slow and allow the necessary tweaks and refinements that before you know it, there will be an HOV fast lane that opens just for me and her, and there will be a smooth, unhindered journey forthwith.

So I think I will travel this road, and see where it takes me. The Rand-Mcnally will stay in the glovebox. No need to stop for directions.

Besides, I don't really have a destination in mind; I'm just here for the journey...

November 17, 2006

2 weeks

2 weeks...

Just two weeks from now I will drive to Memphis, Tennessee with my 4 kids and my sister. The next day I will run in the Memphis St Jude Marathon. Maybe I'll walk for some of the 26.2 miles; that will be ok. But I will finish. That is goal one.

You know in 5th or 6th grade when the teacher makes you write an essay about what you want to be doing in 5 years, or in 10 years, 15, 20 etc? When I was 10 years old, I said I would run a marathon by the time I was 15. No kidding, I really thought I would back then.

And by the time I was 20, an ultramarathon!

My friends all said they would be professional baseball or football players; I said I wanted to run... I guess there is credibility behind the adage that you are what you are, and what you are never really changes that much.

I didn't make my marathon at 15. Life provides many challenges, and I had my fair share early on. I was tested and tempted, but I passed. It passed. Like all else. It always does, right Rex?

And so I am 31, not 15. And I have responsibilities that far outweigh those from my teenage years, even though the weight of the world sure seemed to rest on my shoulders back then.

And I run, but I've learned that I am not really a runner. And I realized that its ok, and maybe even healthy, to do things, even if that isn't really who you are or what you are about.

In 2 weeks, I'll finally fulfill a 21 year goal. 21 years... 21 years it took me from the time I said I wanted to run a marathon to do it.

In a way, its been a marathon to get me to the starting line, so anything that happens after the gun is gravy.

If my IT band flares, and I walk; so be it. If I start too quickly and bonk at 20 miles then struggle in; so be it. I will finish... I WILL finish...

Now, my true goal, my everything is going just as I hoped and visualized goal, will be under 4. But miles 20-26 are unknown to me, having only run a max long of 20. So while my 20 mile pace says under 4 is very possible, my body may revolt at the last 6 miles.

But ya know, it won't matter. Because I will cross the finish line. And, even if I walk the whole damn thing I will run across the finish.

And my son and 3 little girls will see their daddy cross a finish line for the first time, something that obviously would not have happened if I had completed my original goal...

And that alone makes a 16 year delay worthwhile...

November 16, 2006

just fiction - part 1. The Dream

I think it was the dime-bag whore who did it... But it certainly could have been the rain water-logged dead man whose fetid stench woke me Saturday night. Never thought I would find a dead man in my bed, but I guess I am long past my homophobe years.

In my world, you can't too much be a homophobe. An addict is an addict, and if a queer has a hit that you need, you either buddy up to him or you light him up. Doesn't the fuck matter which, as long as you get your fix.

And man do I need one now...

It's 4 am... I was asleep, for a change, but I woke to a nightmare, or dream I suppose, since it seems like my whole fucking life is bloody nightmare right now, and no dream is nor can be any worse, so they must all be dreams at this point.

Any the fuck way, I was cotting in a shanty-house over on the east side, just a stone's throw from where the pushers blasted those 3 calvary last week, when this damned fool comes pushing himself into the room yelling at me to "give me the fuck his woman..."

Now I've had my share of women, most of whom I wouldn't exactly say I am proud to have tipped their cone, so to speak, but I had no bloody idea who the fuck this bloke was nor who his damned woman was. I roll over and before I get a word out of my crack parched mouth I have a fucking piece poking in my balls.

If you ever want to scare the piss out of someone push a Glock into his nads and pull the trigger... I never screamed so loud in my fucking life... You would have thought I'd just gotten my scrawny ass put in the hole with some lonely goons in San Quentin.

So I piss myself, the fucking pistol makes that tin click of an empty magazine, and before I know it the fucker's woman, or I assume it was his woman, is running in the room yelling at me to leave him the fuck alone... Leave him the fuck alone?

What the fuck is going on here?

She pulls out a piece, skips my balls and points the damned thing straight at my fucking chest and squeezes and I hear the loudest thing ever, like I imagine a cannon must sound when its fired in a bank vault or something... I hear the bang, then feel a burning deep in my chest... Fire...

I have just been mother fucking shot... I look down and there is blood, oh shit there is blood, there is blood every fucking where. Oh shit what have I done... I put my hand on my chest but the blood just pours out around my hand....

I grab at a pillow beside me, the cock and his cockette scamper off. I put the pillow over my chest and then roll over onto it... Maybe the pressure of my body on the wound will stop the.... Shit it's still fucking pouring out of me like a fucking geyser...

I raise up onto my hands and knees, feeling a pool below me on the sheets... I look down and they're abso-fucking-lutely soaked in sweat.

I feel my face, my arms, my legs.... I may as well have just gotten out of the shower... Shit I'm freezing covered in all this shit...

I remember my dream, and for a brief moment I'm thankful its just sweat I'm covered in. A very brief moment...

Fucking whore did this to me, damn her...

November 14, 2006

Self reflection

I like reflection. I like looking at where I have been, and where I want to go. So I decided to do the self-discovery exercise below, and to share it. Here’s a look at where I have been… You'll notice this is only 50 things about me; I promise to deliver 50 more soon!

1. I'm a Cancer. I don't know exactly what that means, but maybe you do. I think I've been called a cancer before, in a not too nice way, but I guess that's a different post entirely...
2. The first time I was drunk I was 9 years old. My dad and I sat outside and drank tequila shots with Miller beer chasers.
3. I hold a grudge against only 1 person. He probably doesn’t remember me; but, if I ever see him he’ll never forget me.
4. I’ve never been in a fight. Ever. Once, while playing basketball, a “friend” decided he wanted to “play fighting.” He hit me in the eye; I stared at him. He hit me in the other eye; I still stared. The next day I had two black eyes.
5. I despise, to the core of my being, interpersonal confrontation.
6. I once delivered a baby in the parking lot of a home improvement store – by c-section.
7. I got my first motorcycle when I was 10 and have been in love with them ever since.
8. I snow ski on black diamond trails.
9. I gave a speech to members of Congress in the United States Capitol.
10. I lobbied in Washington, DC on behalf of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
11. When I was 16 I dropped out of high school. Since then, I have earned a Bachelor of Science and a Doctor of Medicine degree. I never did get a high school diploma or GED.
12. I started medical school when I was 19 years old.
13. I have a sister 4 years older than me who is one of my best friends. I have an adopted former step-sister who I haven’t seen or heard from in more than 10 years. I miss her.
14. I’d rather be with 1 or 2 people than a larger group almost always.
15. I hate to clean, and to organize, but I like things to be both.
16. Cats are ok, as long as they aren’t mine and aren’t in my house.
17. I was a vegetarian for 7 years. I was in Seattle in 2002, and everyone in my group was having sushi. It looked so damn good and I couldn’t resist… I’ve eaten meat ever since.
18. I believe that the words you choose say a lot about the person you are.
19. I’ve flown on more than 50 helicopter med-evac missions. I’ve landed in corn fields and on freeways; and, I’ve flown over Lake Michigan during an unexpected snowstorm with zero visibility.
20. In high school, I was a state champion fossil identifier and insect identifier. No kidding, we really did those kinds of things in Alabama!
21. My favorite song is Nothing Else Matters from Metallica. It became my anthem in high school, and it still is.
22. I have a passion for watching anyone, any event, where the players have perfected their craft.
23. I love going to the ballet, the symphony, and the theatre.
24. A pet peeve is when someone won’t take a position and defend it, even if I disagree with the position.
25. My car once had 4 spare tires on it at one time. Yes, they laughed.
26. I’ve been to every state in the US except Iowa, Minnesota, Maine, and Alaska.
27. My first kiss was on the cheek from a Guatemalan girl in the 1st grade.
28. I’ve crashed a racecar at 140 mpH.
29. When I was in medical school I lived for 3 months in an apartment with no running water, no gas, and no electricity. For some reason I didn’t have many visitors.
30. I’ve been a track physician at Talladega Superspeedway for nascar races for the last 3 years.
31. The only thing I don’t like about my body is my crooked nose because I can only breathe through one nostril. I resolved this year to fix it; I think I’ll resolve again for next year.
32. I have no heroes.
33. I keep things, even trivial things, way longer than I should.
34. I don’t return things I buy, even if I realize immediately that I don’t need it. I also hate to sell things.
35. I’ve written more than 100 poems/stories about suicide, but I have never once seriously considered it a personal option.
36. I quit playing baseball in 1st grade when I got a black eye.
37. On my football team in junior high school, I was one of the smallest players but could bench press more than anyone else.
38. I believe that everyone needs to have something about which they are passionate. A life without passion is no way to live.
39. My favorite writer right now is Donald Miller, because he helped me develop an understanding of and acceptance of my spiritualtity.
40. I dislike organized religion for myself; but, I believe in an omnipotent and omniscient God.
41. I’ve been in police custody once. When I was 16 my friends and I were passed out intoxicated on a public tennis court surrounded by smashed bottles. The amazingly understanding officer took us home instead of jail.
42. I’ve broken 6 bones: 2 in my leg, my thumb, my nose, and 2 different toes.
43. I’m more insecure than I like people to know.
44. I have season tickets to Auburn University football games for the last several years – War Eagle!
45. Scooby Doo is my favorite cartoon.
46. My favorite color is black; yes, it is a color…
47. My eyes are blue, with a thin orange stripe around my pupil.
48. I’m driven to activities that force immediate and uncompromised focus.
49. I like a woman who knows she is beautiful, but is still flattered when you tell her so.
50. I have an avulsion to uninvited shoulder massages. I have to be in the right place, mentally, and maybe physically, to be massaged…

So that is, in part, where I have been. I think I'll have more places to tell you about sometime soon; but, for now, for today, I'm done reflecting...

November 11, 2006

zone 1

The more I train, the more I discover about myself and my life. And about the dynamics of life and relationships.

I was riding my bike, about 10 miles in, when I decided to do a few high intensity miles. I pushed from early zone 2 all the way to nearly max heartrate for 10 minutes, then dropped the intensity and finished the session. And I realized while I was recuperating the interval that relationships have to be treated like training sessions, in a way.

In endurance sport, most of your training is zone 1 and 2. Now to race well, you have to put in your share of zone 3 work, but that is a relatively smaller part of the equation. And come race day, for a long event like my eventual IM goal or for a century bike ride or for a marathon, most of your work is done in zone 1 or early zone 2.

Most of the time in a relationship, especially early on, should be spent building your base; just like most of your time spent training for endurance support, especially early on in a particular season, is building your base. We all understand the training base required from which we launch into higher mileage and more intense mileage as we get closer to our races. The same can be said for relationships.
Sure, there are the occasional zone 3 moments in a relationship, those passionate high intensity moments that tend to launch you to near max heartrate, and I think it is fair to say most of us enjoy those moments more than their zone 3 training counterparts. But a relationship can't be all about the zone 3 - there has to be a lot of zone 1 to build the base on which the zone 3 can occur.

But what exactly is a relationship base?
I think it is the phone calls just to say hello... the time apart when you are thinking about her... the random flowers... the thank yous and the you're wonderfuls...the giving her your time while making her believe it really is hers... the time spent together at the grocery store, and the companionship on a cross country drive... the door that she never has to open herself... the recognition that she is your best friend, and the ability to treat her as you would your best friend.

That is the base... That is what must be there, the zone 1 training... A relationship can't be built on zone 3, just as a racing season can't be built on zone 3 training. It just won't work.
But I think that happens alot these days, and I think it is an easy trap to fall into. The relationship zone 3 is easy; it requires no work.
But a relationship without a zone 1 base doesn't stand a chance of success. It just can't happen, I believe...
And so I learned this while riding my bike today. If I want to someday have a relationship that works, I need to concentrate on zone 1...

Body Control

My body took control today. Mind told body this morning that they were going to run 20 miles. Body reminded mind that they had just gotten home from the hospital, that they had been awake for 24 hours, and that they needed to sleep for awhile. Mind relented, assuming that body would be ready to wake in 5 or 6 hours, as is the norm for us.
13 hours of wow-I-didn't-know-the-world-existed sleep later, mind and body awoke and together realized they couldn't fit 20 miles in this afternoon before it was time to once again save lives at the hospital.
So they agreed to postpone 20 miles to tomorrow.

I Know

Later today I will run 20 miles.

It will be the longest I ever have run at one time. A far cry from the 3 mile runs I skipped every month or 2 while doing crossfit simply because I hated to and couldn't run for distance, and that was less than 6 months ago.

I know what I will feel.
I know that I will start running, and I will try to breathe only in and out through my nose.
I know that at 1 and a 1/2 miles I will need to start exhaling orally.
I know that between miles 2 and 3, I will think that I have been training too hard and my legs will feel too weak to run much further.
I know that by mile 4 and a 1/2 I will laugh at myself for thinking I needed to stop at mile 3.
I know that miles 5 through 10 will flow by nearly effortlessly.
I know that around mile 13 my knees will begin to ache and I will either wish I had taken pre-run advil, or be thankful that I did.

I know I am strong.

I know that I have the aerobic capacity to run for 20 miles, or for 25 miles, or dare I say even 30 miles.
I know I can make my legs carry me, and I know I can put one foot in front of the other.

And I know I can fight.
I know I can shut out the demons that tell me that I cannot run any further.
I know I can swallow the bile that begs me to stop.
I know I can spit fire at the wind and the rain and the cold that try to stand in my way.

And I will tell them all with the fury of a thousand bolts of lightning that there is nothing, and there is noone, who is capable of keeping me from my quest, from my flight to my destiny.

November 10, 2006


Not every summit can be Everest; but every summit deserves at least a moment or two of recognition... Cheaha Mountain on a spring-like November afternoon...

November 8, 2006

races, and lessons learned...

I was 16 and still intoxicated from the previous night's indulgences when I ran my first race, the Jubilee Cityfest 5 miler. I learned several things from that race which have stuck with me over the years: 1. Don't try to eat a peanut butter sandwich just before you are about to run 5 miles when you are intoxicated. When it comes back up, the peanut butter sticks in the back of your throat and gives you a near death choking sensation that tends to impede your race progress. 2. Don't decide to compete in a race at 3 am on the morning of the race when you have been drinking beer all night... 3. An orange after racing rocks...

I've always enjoyed races much more than the preparation involved. I hate running, but I love the race. Preparation runs are lonely; and, I don't like running with someone else except for that rare occasion when their pace exactly matches yours. Then it's more fun. But even with a partner, I've never been a talker. You know how some people will talk for the entire run - drives me f*ing crazy. If I'm running I want to focus on running harder, or more efficiently, or something... I don't want to listen to someone telling me about their Aunt Josie's birthday party for an hour.

Over the years my decision to do a race was usually decided the day before the race. Kinda like deciding to go to a movie for most people, I would decide to go run a 5 or 10k. I never ever thought of actually doing any real preparation for a race before my friend Mark challenged me to try a tri with him this past summer. Then, of course, I had to learn to swim and buy a bike so I had to prepare.

I think I'm going to try out a new modus operandi for race planning. I'm going to come up with a list of races in which I WILL compete in the next 12 months. That way, I can plot my training path as well as hold myself more accountable to achieve the goals I have set. So, that being said, my goal races for the next 12 months include, but are not limited to, the following:

12/02/07 St Jude Marathon, Memphis TN
02/11/07 Mercedes Half Marathon, Birmingham AL
4/15/07 Powerman Alabama duathlon 8k/53k/8k
5/20/07 Ford Ironnman 70.3 Orlando, FL
August 07 Steelhead 70.3 St Joe, MI

There... Its in writing, so it will be... And if all goes well, and I am healthy, next year - IM full course...