Note to the reader: There are two topics in this blog: 1) LSCOL 2) Why I am an idiot. They are not related. Half of you will skip the first topic, even though you shouldn’t, just because you want to hear why I’m an idiot. The other half will not bother reading the second topic, because you’ve assumed I was an idiot all along. You may now continue on to enjoy this blog post.
Last week I was re-united with the Lone Star Circle of Life Bike Tour. For the last two years, I rode the entire week with the team, covering 500+ miles of Texas roads. Each day we would stop in a Texas city and meet organ recipients, organ donor families, marrow recipients, marrow donors, people who have donated gallons of blood over a lifetime, and people who work every day to help the people who need marrow, blood or organs. Basically you exhaust yourself completely and then tell the most emotional story possible, so it guarantees that you become a sobbing pool of thanks. You end up feeling a lot of things that you normally wouldn’t admit to yourself. And you make a huge difference in the lives of the people you meet, who are willing to overlook the fact that you’re hugging their kids while wearing sweat-drenched bike shorts.
This year, because of my Ironman training, I couldn’t participate in the tour, but I did have the chance to be a “day rider” and ride with the team around New Braunfels and on up to San Marcos. The ride took us through some great Texas hill country, with a brief segment on the Devil’s Backbone.
I have always preferred to ride alone – being in the pool or being on the bike are moments for me to purge all the angst and frustration that build up on a daily basis. I can work my problems out in my head as the miles go by. This year, training with T3 I’ve found great teammates that have pushed me harder than I would by myself. And I’ve enjoyed training with them a ton. But I have to admit that the day with this team, because of the experience over the last two years, is a completely different experience. Just getting to be on the same road with the team is a privilege. Just to give you a few examples – there’s Kevin, a marrow donor whose gift saved someone’s life; Keith, who works with families who have just lost a loved one and are making the decision to donate and save other lives; Joe and Becky, whose son received a heart transplant. And the ride is a great experience – we laugh a lot. Kevin’s nickname, because of European jersey sizing, was “5X” one year. Keith and I still reminisce about our synchronized wipeouts over wet railroad tracks last year. Joe and Becky are the first to smile and get a laugh out of anyone.
Thanks for letting Dennis and me ride with you for the day! And thanks to Debbie Mabry for being the driving force behind the ride for all 13 years. We love you, Debbie.
Why I am an Idiot
Since my transplant, I have taken immunosuppressive medications at least two times every day, which act as anti-rejection meds to prevent my body from rejecting my transplanted kidney. With a lowered immune system, one side effect is that I do get sick a little easier than the average bear. And the average human. But my immune system has not reduced my stubborn denial that I do not get sick. About six weeks ago, ragweed season hit Austin, and I became a mucus factory – my immune system makes my allergies worse, so I invested in 1000 shares of Kleenex stock and began the fun cycle of trying to keep my system from being overloaded by “drainage” and all the fun stuff that we allergy sufferers experience.
Two years ago, when I had a string of sinus infections, I finally told myself that when certain symptoms did not go away after four days, I would see a doctor. Well, the weeks of September went by, and my allergies got worse, and presented all the same symptoms, and I told myself that I was fine and it was just allergies. One morning I was walking to my car and gagged, and threw up all my breakfast, just because my throat was clogged with junk. But, “it’s just allergies.” Finally I decided to see my allergist to fight back. After 10 minutes of discussing the likely allergic reaction I was having to certain pollens and my vocal chords, my allergist said “but let’s do a quick exam just to confirm what we think.” 15 seconds later he said “You have a serious sinus infection.”
So, for the last five weeks, through the most intensive period of my Ironman training, I have been pushing my body harder and harder, all while dealing with a sinus infection. There were times in swimming when I could not get a breath – normal sets became “breath control” (where we breathe less often). Some sets became “Bryan stops because he can’t get air.” During training we constantly talk about “listening to our bodies.” I guess I was listening but decided that my body didn’t know what it was talking about. And that, is why I am an idiot.
Bonus Topic: Ironman Update
Less than two weeks from now I’ll pile into my Pathfinder and drive to Tempe, Arizona, for Ironman Arizona. The race is November 21st. Taper has just begin, and I am excited. Strangely, I am not nervous, but maybe that will come at some point. I feel like I’ve done everything I wanted to get ready. Physically I believe I’m in shape to do it. And I know it’s going to be harder than anything I’ve ever done. I know the last 13 miles of the run are going to be more painful and brutal than any miles I’ve ever run. There are things I cannot control: weather, mechanical failure, and squirrel attacks. So I do not worry about what I can’t control.
On a related note, Kyle Garlett, a cancer survivor and heart transplant recipient, who was making his second attempt at Kona (Ironman World Championships), was pulled form the course early during the bike segment, because of low blood pressure. Kyle’s courage to even attempt the brutal Kona course amazes me, and he shares a great deal of the ups and downs in his blog. It’s people like Kyle who are in my mind as I train, and who have inspired me to take this on. Kyle, thanks again for the incredible spirit you bring – I don’t have 10% of the courage that you do.