This is all becoming very confusing and I am not sure where I am going in the future. Some changes are happening for sure, some personal, some professional, a lot medical, and it has me feeling a bit lost and rudderless. I have been feeling like this for awhile (yeah … I know … shocker right? I keep SO much to myself!) but it is reaching a breaking point and some decisions on where I am headed need to be made. Some are hard decisions … well … all are heard decisions … but they need to be made and they will be made.
I have spoken on the podcast and some on here about the medical issues I have been having, and it is starting to really interfere with training, and when training is interfered with race plans are soon to follow. I have mentioned a few times before that a big part of my psyche is built around the fact that I have never DNF’ed a race. This is because I am slow, but it was something I could hang my hat on a proof of my toughness and perseverance. At least in my mind. With the way I have been feeling I was seeing the distinct possibility of a DNF in my future, and I am not liking it … not even a little bit.
The medical issues, in case you are not a listener to the IMYO podcast (and if you’re not … why the hell not?? Look under Ironman:Year One on iTunes, Stitcher, etc or go to IMYearOne.com) I have been diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis with x-rays showing signs of degeneration in my L5-S1, wrists, hands, and ankles. This, while not good, explains a lot of the issues I was having during races … back pain … sore ankles and feet … now it all makes sense. My specialist put me on Methotrexate but the inflammation did not subside as much as she would have liked (my C Reactive Protein was 11.2. It should be under 5.) so the decision was made to start me on infusions of Remicade. This will be done with a load in the beginning for a few months followed by infusions every two months … forever.
The net net of that diagnosis is that I am under orders to not run until the medication gets in my system and the degeneration is halted. It cannot be reversed, but it can be treated to the point that it doesn’t progress.
So, as someone that struggles with the run as it is, not being able to run, or lift weights, or anything (as they put it) that puts pressure on my joints, not being able to do it doesn’t sit well mentally. Yes, I can always go on the elliptical, or (God help me), pool run, but mentally I know that I am not running. So, decisions have to be made. Do I go ahead with a race knowing that may not finish it? I know I can swim and bike, but do I go into a race knowing that after my swim and bike I’ll either be walking the run or dropping out and getting that dreaded DNF?
Then the doubt starts creeping in … have I done enough … when is it time to call it a day and not move forward. Some have been contacting me and asking me why it is I feel the need to do an Ironman. That is a harder question to answer than it appears. The pat answer of “because I have to” doesn’t quite cut it … because to be frank I don’t have to. I have been thinking on this a lot.
I have failed in a lot of things in my 50 years. Marriages. My oldest son. Financially. I have made a lot of mistakes, as we all have … but this was one thing where I was succeeding. I know that I have never stood on a podium, or even finished in the top ten at any race, but I was training as hard, or harder, than most of the ones that did, and I was completing these races, even when the pain was so bad I could barely walk afterwards. I know this is hard to understand for those of you reading this that run sub-9:00 miles and think that’s a “bad race”. I was talking about that online recently and a friend of mine at work put it aptly. he called it “Humble Bragging” and I liked that, because even if that is slow for you, it is not slow by anyone’s definition, so by saying “oh I had a bad day … I could only manage a 8:45” is being “humble” but at the same time bragging about how fast you are (and you know you are because if 8:45 is an “off” race that means you are much faster than that). Let me also say, as I said online, that this is not directed at anyone. I was just noticing it Sunday night on DailyMile. There were many many many people saying it.
Side Note: From Urban Dictionary a Humble Brag is Subtly letting others now about how fantastic your life is while undercutting it with a bit of self-effacing humor or “woe is me” gloss. i.e. “Uggggh just ate about fifteen piece of chocolate gotta learn to control myself when flying first class or they’ll cancel my modelling contract.”
After all these failures, and finally finding something I could get better at and succeed at (even in my small way), to have to face another failure is just too much. But I am also not an idiot, so I will make that decision when it comes.
But not now.
Now is not the time to make the decision.
One of my favorite sayings is from Batman (go figure): “People think it’s an obsession. A compulsion. As if there were an irresistible impulse to act. It’s never been like that. I chose this life. I know what I’m doing. And on any given day, I could stop doing it. Today, however, isn’t that day. And tomorrow won’t be either.”
I will keep training and doing as best I can with what I have right up until the final hour. I have pulled out of the half marathon I was in this weekend (though part of me still wants to go try it, even if I have to walk), and I am probably going to pull out of the Great Floridian 70.3 on 3/22 unless this medication works quickly. I have written KC and told her that I will be going on my own from now on (but to her credit she understood and has offered her advice and guidance). But the Ironman … no … I am not ready to call that one yet. Not yet. I need it to stay there, if nothing more than to be a target.
So … a lot of changes coming in ways I don’t want to get into here … at least not yet. It’s too raw at the moment and I won’t be able to give it the justice it deserves, so somethings I will keep to myself. I am confident that, for the most part, I am well supported by the friends I keep who I kow are going to be honest with me (God love them). In any case I will always be here to help those trying to lose weight and trying to change themselves, though this blog and through the podcast. If nothing else, I can be proof that you can change, and if it comes down to it, that the world won’t end if you don’t do a race. Inevitably, if that is the decision, I will let some people down, but when it comes to it I have to live another 20 years with this body so I will have to make the decision with that in mind.
And it is my sincere wish that I don’t lose the resoect I have garnered to this point.