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...

November 6, 2006

why I live

Today was supposed to be a swim day. But cloudless blue skies and 65 degrees begged me for a run, and I just couldn't say no. Part of that living in the moment type training that is good both for the body and the soul...

I try not to over-evaluate, and overanalyze, as a general rule. I accept that things go wrong, that I do and will f**k up royally, again and again, and not because I'm a bad person but because I'm a a person. And I accept that I am mortal, that there will be a time when I am in too much pain, or too sick, or too weak, to walk to my mailbox or to tie my own shoes. And I am not afraid.

Josh has worked with me, occasionally for me; and, I'm lucky to say has been my friend, for several years. He is younger than me.
He was diagnosed a few weeks ago with metastatic cancer.
He started vomiting one morning, came to the ED to get some phenergan and a bag of IV fluid, and we found a nasty invasive cancer eating away his organs.
23 years old...
Now chemotherapy and radiation therapy and operations...
I'm sure JB never thought in a million years he would be struggling to live, but he is. He will.

And it sure as hell makes me want to run just a little bit harder...
And it allows me to cry... And smile... And love and hope... And dream...
And to reach out to someone who needs me, and to open my soul when I realize I need her...
Because I am mortal... And I am not afraid.

And that's why I live...
Not breathe and eat and sleep, but live...

November 4, 2006

midnight musings

I've had a story rumbling around inside me for a few months now. I don't know why it decided to bubble its way to the surface at midnight this am when Anna woke me crying after she hit her poor head on the porcelain sink while she was trying to pull up her panties after going potty (another reason I'm thankful to be a guy, by the way - no worries about bending over in the middle of the night...)

I used to have a crush on a girl, a lady, named Robin. Oh it didn't last long. I have a few rules about my crushes, and one includes trying to stay clear of those who happen to be married. Especially married to big guys. And cops, especially undercover ones. And guys that carry guns. Well, Shane was all of those, so my crush on Robin was over as soon as it began.

I liked Robin I think more for what she didn't do on one specific occasion than for anything she ever did. You see, I'm a sucker for courage... And strength... And independence, most of the time... And standing up for what you think is right when everyone else says you are wrong.
I didn't know Robin when this happened, but it happened. Its been a year probably since I heard about this, 5 years probably since she did it. Wow...

Where I Belong (Robin’s Song)

His daddy was a rich doctor
I was just adopted
By a teacher who could
Never find a man.
He gave me all I’d ever need
I was so in love with him.
He was the one I’d
Dreamed of for so long.

And it ain’t right.
And it ain’t wrong.
Sometimes love just seems wrong.
And it ain’t right.
And it ain’t wrong.
I’m looking for the place I belong.

A hundred family,
Friends, and us
Gathered at the Tower
There in France.
Four o’clock the bells they rang
He stood in front with a wedding ring
I watched the whole thing
Through my tears.

And it ain’t right.
And it ain’t wrong.
Sometimes love just seems wrong.
And it ain’t right.
And it ain’t wrong.
Looking for the place I belong.

Sometimes I don’t know why
I do what I decide
But I just turned and
Ran as fast as I could.
All the way to Charles de Gaul
Hopped the first plane that I saw
Took me back to Huntsville
To my home.

And it ain’t right.
And it ain’t wrong.
Sometimes love just seems wrong.
And it ain’t right.
And it ain’t wrong.
Still looking for the place I belong.

And it ain’t right. And it ain’t wrong.
Someday I’ll find where I belong.

November 2, 2006

my moment

I've never been an alcoholic, and I've never been to an AA meeting. But I have heard often of the moment of clarity that can occur through the fog of alcoholism, a moment that allows you to visualize the path to recovery.
I had a moment of clarity this morning about 800 yards into my swim.

I realized that to swim well, you must have good form.

Now that sounds pretty damn simple, but the more I thought about it the more layers of understanding I was able to peel off the complexities of my life. I suddenly understood why, or at least one of the reasons why, my relationships haven't worked even though I felt like I was trying so damn hard to make them work.
I always have valued endurance. And I always have thought that if you endure, you will conquer. This concept has been ingrained into me since early childhood. If you just read the vocabulary list enough times, you will be able to remember the words for the test. If you go to the weightroom more than your teammates, you eventually will press more than they can. If you start early and put a little money away for a long time, you will retire wealthy. If you can tolerate 4 years of college then 4 more years of med school and then another 4 years of residency then you can be an emergency physician. Endurance led to success.
And what better sport for someone, in whom the concept of endurance leads to success is ingrained, then triathlon?
It all started to fall apart when I realized that for me there was not a direct relationship between time spent in pool and either performance during race or perception of improvement. This troubled me. The bike was easy - ride a long time and you will be able to ride a long time. Run a lot, and you will be able to run a lot. At least that is what I always thought. My mediocre-at-best results I attributed to lack of natural talent.
So I started talking to some friends who were swimmers, and even had a pool session with a friend who was a several time NCAA All American and former NCAA national champion swimmer. She told me some things I was doing wrong, and I tried to correct them. But I still thought that if I just swam enough, I eventually would learn to swim efficiently. Extra work surely would equal better performance. It didn't.
Finally I turned to my favorite resources, Google and youtube. On youtube I studied Ian Thorpe's stroke. On google I sought out and found tons of comprehensive info on proper form, on drills to develop muscle memory and form.

I learned to prolong my stroke.
I learned that my swim golf score was very close to my embarrasing too-high-to-count real golf score.
I learned to use my forearm and not just my hand during the catch and pull.
I learned to rotate my body along its horizontal axis.
I still haven't learned how to breathe, but I guess I haven't drowned yet (that will have to be the next research topic)...
The last few weeks I have started to apply these concepts; and, like any new athletic movements, these too have felt amazingly awkward.
Until today...
Today I didn't think about swimming downhill - it was just happening. I didn't think about entering the water elbow high - it was just happening. I didn't think about extending my lead hand before I pulled - it was just happening.

And then my moment...

Endurance alone doesn't always work. If you seek to have success and happiness at your destination, you have to have proper mechanics and good form during your journey.

I used to tell myself (and others) that I never thought I would get divorced because "I am committed to being committed." Endurance. No matter what, I will stick with it and that dedication will make it work.

A relationship is intricately effected by an infinite number of variables. You can't read a book and make a relationship work. You can't do a google search and make a relationship work. You can't youtube a video about a loving couple and expect your relationship to be great. It just ain't that simple...

For a relationship to work, it takes both persons being dedicated to and constantly striving to achieve perfect form.

Perfect mechanics.

One person can't make it work. And sticking with it just to stick with it won't make it work. It takes constant and mutual attention, constant and mutual research, constant and mutual flexibility, constant and mutual understanding, constant and mutual sacrifice, constant and mutual work.

Thank god learning proper swimming form isn't as difficult as making a relationship work. If it were, I wouldn't stand a chance.

But we live, and we learn. And we love, and we learn. And those we love, we sometimes lose. It isn't always our fault, although it frequently seems that way.

Relationships are complicated.

For me, today, I moved a step closer to someday maybe having a successful one...