March 15, 2014

Hatfield Hell Weeks

Yea, that sums up the last 2 weeks. I'm not even sure where it started or who it started with, but all 5 of us had been hit by something that sucked. It probably started with Riley, which is usually the case since she is a daycare part-timer and constantly brings home kid germs. I'm thinking it all began with her perpetual runny nose and mild cold, which eventually hit Char. Char got the usual sore throat, mild know, just feeling like...blah. The real fear is keeping these bugs away from Caleb, which was hard to tell because he had several colicky sessions. Avery and I usually manage to fend of the daycare stuff...usually...

Anyhow, a cold seemed to hit me a week and a half ago as I fought the annoying clogged sinuses, itchy throat, feeling rundown, etc. It never seemed to hit me full force, which it usually doesn't anyhow. I'm thinking that it's a combination of my decent immune system and the fact that I eat Airborne all day during the annoying 2 weeks that this stuff seems to linger. But then things got real- Riley got a stomach bug. That started with her usual waking up in the middle of the night but this time it included vomit- like 4 rounds of vomit- 2 of which covered both of us! We got through that somewhat ok (mostly because of Char) only to have it come back a day later. I was home early from work on a Thursday (still a little under the weather) to help Char take care of the 2 cranky little ones. Riley surprised us with a big barf on the living room floor followed by an even bigger one on me while we were laying on the couch. We thought she was better. Guess not. Good times.

Then on a Friday, to complicate things even more, my usual lower right back pain escalated into lower right flank SERIOUS PAIN. I fought it through the weekend with a cold and a cranky Caleb and a recovering Riley. I don't think Char felt too great either so we had an awful weekend. Oh yea, during that time I had Avery for the week so I had to take her to her middle school city championship game on Friday night and travel soccer games on Saturday and Sunday. By the time Sunday night hit we were all exhausted. Char from carrying the load with the little ones, Avery from having 6 soccer games that week and myself from the debilitating flank pain and an annoying cold. But the cool thing was Avery's middle school team won the city championship! That was clearly the highlight of the last 2 weeks.  

Monday I got up still in serious pain but had to take Avery and our neighbor to school. I got into the doctor that morning only for them to not really know what was wrong other than it was not kidney stones. They set me up with pain killers and muscle relaxers and a return visit to the spine specialist. I'm pretty sure this pain is related to a lower back injury that I've been fighting for a few years now. Anyhow, the pills did not alleviate the pain at all- they only made me sleepy. Great. So Tuesday I got up still in pain but figured I'd go to work anyhow since I had to take the kids to school. When I went to check on Avery, she was still in bed but I noticed vomit all over her bathroom. Oh crap. Things are not good when Avery throws up because she faints beforehand. To make a long story short, Avery fainted 5 times that morning and couldn't keep anything down. She did, however, recover the next day but still stayed home from school. Her mom took her to the doctor to make sure this was nothing out of the ordinary (she was diagnosed with vasovagal syncope a few years ago) and to make sure she didn't hit her head when she fainted twice alone. Fortunately, we had her baseline concussion testing done last year for sports. She has to get retested Monday but unfortunately she cannot play soccer until then. She has 2 travel games in Gainesville today that she will now have to watch. Poor kid. That morning was absolute misery because I was in pain, semi-sedated, but totally freaked out by all of Avery's fainting episodes. Real stress.

Ok, so after 48 hours I stopped the pain meds because I was tired of being sleepy and because they were not helping the pain anyhow. I also needed to go back to work. Over the next few days the pain gradually decreased, which I was hoping and expecting that it would. But the story does not end here. Char started developing pain from breastfeeding and ended up seeing the doctor for antibiotics. And the 2 little ones were not sleeping at all. They were cranky as hell throughout the night. Paranoid that they could have ear infections since they seemed to have minor colds and had trouble sleeping, we took them to their pediatrician to double check and also give us peace of mind for the weekend. They both ended up clear- so I say money well spent on 2 co-pays to reassure us that they are not sick too. Things are finally starting to turnaround!

So here I am on a Saturday morning looking forward to a good weekend. Riley and Caleb did not sleep well last night but they are in good spirits now. Actually, all of us are on the backside of our individual misery...hopefully. The weekend weather looks great so I'm looking forward to playing outside! I know I have yard work on the slate today but hopefully I can find a little time to get on my road bike Sunday. We have a little shopping trip planned today- we need to get out of this damn house! Kentucky plays today in the SEC tournament and if they win and Florida wins that will mean a meeting in the SEC Championship tomorrow. That will be especially cool because my brother-in-law's family will be coming up to visit for the day from Gainesville and they are all Gators! Either way, Go Big Blue!    

I'm really not sure why after all this time I decided to hit my blog for this but when I recapped the past week or so in my mind- I thought I had to get it into words so that I could fully appreciate what we just endured. Not that this was anything that any other parents haven't been through, it was just that it was so much in such a short amount of time! We sure as hell earned some parenting stripes this week!

September 4, 2013

8 Hours of Labor

Ah, a race recap. It's been exactly 5 years since I toed the line at a mountain bike race. And to be exact, it was this race that was supposed to have been my last race ever. I raced the 8 Hours of Labor in 2008 on a co-ed team with my wife Char and although we finished in 2nd place, something went very wrong with my body that day. To make a long story short, I ended up at the Mayo Clinic with a diagnosis of a heart disease called HCM. You can find all of that story in the 2008 archives in this blog. Anyhow, I clearly had a score to settle with this race. I really wanted to do this race again- but this time on a solo mission and a better outcome. So it works out that 2013 is finally the year that I made it back! My goal for this race was simple- finish comfortably and finish strong. But my bigger goal was to be an ambassador for heart disease. I want people with heart disease to see that we do not have to be as limited as once thought- we can get off the couch and overcome our ailments and supposed limitations. This is why I am so proud to be a part of Ironheart Racing. They inspire. They motivate. The demonstrate the outcome of determination through athletes like me. It was important to me to make a good showing wearing the Ironheart colors and to be able to punch heart disease square in the face! 

I sorta been riding a decent amount this year, mostly on the road with a good mix of group and solo rides. I got on the mountain bike here and there but not as much as I'd like. I also ran quite a bit through the winter but it tailed off into the summer. I probably averaged about 4-6 hours a week on the bike up until August, which actually isn't that much, but my fitness was ok. Hell, it's hard to find time to ride a lot when you are married with kids, finishing up college, buying a 2nd house, working full time and then some, etc, etc... At the start of August when I decided to fully commit to this race, I swore off beer and ice cream and picked up the volume on the bike. I eased into 4 and 5 hour road rides on the weekends. My biggest weekend was 3 weeks before the race when I hit a 5+ hour 100 mile road ride on a Saturday followed by a 3 hour mountain bike ride on Sunday. Getting through those rides feeling good overall and good about my hydration and nutrition, I knew I would be ready to at least pedal my bike for 8 hours around the woods.

The week of the race while I was tapering, Riley got a nasty viral infection and did not sleep well 6 out of 7 nights. So going into the race when I should be recovered and fresh, I was tired as hell. Whatever, my mind was made up to do it. I had already spent a grip getting my bike overhauled and put off a ton of family time to ride. The payoff was coming regardless. We had a weekend trip planned for Gainesville to spend with family, so the race fit in quite well. Considering Riley's age and that Avery was staying back in Jax for a soccer tournament, this race was a pure solo mission- especially considering that the time investment that day would be more like 12 hours. I would have to support myself for the day but I wasn't worried about that part at all. It actually fit perfectly into the personal nature of my mission.

The day before the race I got to the trails at San Felasco to ride the course and register. I had not seen the Bergers in a few years, so it was very nice to catch up with them. I had gotten to know them well when I raced heavily from 2004-2008. For those who do not know the Bergers, they are the southeast mountain bike race promoters that own Gone Riding, which is first class all around and hosts countless races year round. Anyhow, as I got out on the course, I was pleased with the flow of the trail- nothing too difficult and not too many steep climbs. The course was a little over 7 miles and would take around 45 minutes at my "race pace," which was perfect because I had set up my nutrition plan in 45 minute increments. Also, my bike was working great, which is always a huge relief. I was also able to set up my tent along the start of the race course, which would make for easy transitions to change out bottles and grab food.

Race day- got up early, ate my usual bagel with nutella, a banana and half of a Monster. I got to the park at a decent time, setup, got kitted up, and ran into my Velobrew road race buddy Drew Miller. I never thought about or even asked who was going to be at this race because I was so focused on my mission. Anyhow, it would work out great that Drew was there. I really had no idea how Drew rides in the woods- all that I knew is that he is always fit and fast as hell on the road bike. It would turn out well that we would ride much of the day together. Having him there squashed a big part of the mental aspect of the race during the race.

The race starts as a mass start on foot with a 100 yard run to your bikes. I had no intention of running fast because I had a long day ahead of me, and also running sucks. The start of the race was a jam up once we got on our bikes but would clear up a few miles into the trails. Drew and I rode together and chatted for a while, keeping a comfortable pace. We would keep this up for a few laps and the more tired we got, the less we talked. I was very aware of my pace, heart rate, hydration and what I was eating. After the 5th lap I got a little cramp in one of my hamstrings while I was changing bottles. I was annoyed but was able to stretch it out and keep going. As the day went on, my stops between laps lasted a little longer but I was intent to not be stressed. In hindsight, this lackadaisical approach probably cost me a lap. Anyhow, mid way through the 6th lap, I noticed that Drew slowed quite a bit but I pressed on fearing that the cramps would set in if I didn't keep a consistent pedaling cadence. I waited for him after the lap and he said that his knee was giving him problems and was calling it a day. I thanked him for the ride up to that point and took off aiming to knock out at least 2 more laps.    

The 7th lap was tough. Cramps attacked my groin, hamstrings and quads. I fought through them even though they hurt like hell sometimes. I've learned just to pedal through them because they will eventually go away. As I finished the lap, I began thinking about ending the pain and suffering and just chilling under my tent and drinking a Coke. But the more I thought about it the more I thought about how far I've come to even be here. Wait- did I ever mention how hot it was?!? It was in the 90's all day! Florida heat, baby! Anyhow, as I finished the lap and rolled towards my tent to grab a new bottle, I noticed people at my tent. Yes! A morale booster! I dropped my bike and greeted my family- Char, Riley, Al, Courtney and Blake. I chilled there for a minute, gathered my bearings, drank a Coke, held Riley, gave her some Coke, told them about my day so far and riding with Drew. Al took a blood sample to test my lactate levels, which were fine. Man, I felt great! I took off for an 8th lap (my goal) feeling good and somewhat renewed. I began to reflect that lap how I felt 5 years ago not knowing what was going wrong and how I felt now after I had once been told that I would be limited to brisk walks and golf for the rest of my life. I was riding my bike in the woods, loving it, and feeling a huge sense of accomplishment. I tackled my demons. And just like that the cramps came back and I instantly didn't care about any of that stuff- I just wanted to be done. I then started thinking about the time and if  I would have time for one more lap or even if I could finish another lap. I wasn't sure about the cutoff time and sort of hoped that I missed it and would have to stop anyhow, making my decision easy. When I got the the finish line, I asked the guy there when the race ends. He said I had around 50 minutes to get back and if I didn't the lap wouldn't count. I thought about it for a second and thought, "hey man, I did it- I accomplished my mission. I feel good right now." So I called it a day. I didn't need to push myself into a potential dangerous situation like I did in 2008. I was coming out on top this time.

Its funny that I still have not stopped thinking about doing that 9th lap. That's the competitor in me- going a little harder, a little further, a little longer. Hell, I did what I set out to do. I finished in 7th place among amateur men and 15th overall. Not bad for somebody with my schedule, lifestyle, and supposed bad heart. But still, I honestly wanted to do better. I will next year though, watch.    

August 23, 2013

Few and far Between

Its funny how I can forget about this blog for month's on end and then stumble across it when I'm home sick from work- er, when I'm home from work with a sick kid. I don't really have too much to report that I have not mentioned on the usual social media spots- Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. But to recap- Avery started 8th grade this week at James Weldon Johnson College Prep and Riley moved from a home daycare to a Montessori preschool just outside of our neighborhood. And of course Riley is already sick 4 days in! Anyhow, it is simply nuts that Avery is already 13 and Riley is almost 2. It's sometimes not fair how fast time can move, especially when your kids grow up so damn fast...

Char just left her job with SEDA Construction after 10 years to finish her teaching degree and pursue a career as a teacher so that she can be on the same schedule as the kids. This is such a noble endeavor on her part and I am so proud of her putting in the time and making such a bold move. Oh- speaking of kids, we are expecting a baby boy this December! He will be almost exactly 2 years younger than Riley. Char always wanted a little girl and a little boy so she is set! And yes, this will be our last! Still haven't decided on a name but it will come to us in time...

We bought a new house this past spring down by the St. John's river in St John's Landing Estates. The location is so nice and secluded- we absolutely love it! We have really enjoyed walks and bike rides over to the pool and dock on the river. Its been fun watching dolphins, ships and looking for manatees. There is a canal in our backyard and it has also been fun seeing the critters in it- fish, turtles and gators. Actually, there is a ton of cool wildlife back here because there is quite a bit of undeveloped land along Mill Cove and the river. The views from our front yard are so nice- we can see Mill Cove, the river, downtown and the Dames Point bridge. We still own our 3 story townhouse over in the St John's Town Center and are currently renting it to Avery's mom. We feel really good about that investment in such a booming, promising area.

Training- I have been staying steady on the bikes all year- except for about a month in May when we moved. Right now I am "training" for an 8 hour endurance mountain bike race Labor Day weekend. The race is called the 8 Hours of Labor at San Felasco in Gainesville. This was the last mountain bike race I did in 2008 before Mayo discovered my heart issues. Now that I have the whole heart thing under control, I am pretty excited to make this my return at this race. The last time I was there things did not go so well so I am out for vengeace! I am also excited to fly the colors on my new race team, Ironheart Racing. I would like to increase my role as an ambassador for heart disease and inspire heart disease folks to live an active and healthy lifestyle as possible. It is important to show folks that they CAN DO IT and that the mental component is half of the battle. I did a few road races and road crit races last year with no problems, but I am simply eager to get back to my roots on the mtn bike. I also plan to hit a few fall Florida State Championship cross country races while I can before the baby gets here. I've had to get some work done to my mtn bike to get it ready, and Bicycles Etc has helped me out quite a bit getting my old Gary Fisher race ready. I am pretty excited about having my fork and shock rebuilt by Suspension Experts too. It is almost like I have a new bike!

Avery just started travel soccer season with JFC on the U14 premier team. It looks like she will be one of their primary offensive weapons playing forward. They opened their season in the local Adidas Cup, finishing runner-up with Avery scoring all of their goals. She has really blossomed into quite the athlete and does well in soccer with her combination of size and speed. I really, really enjoy watching her play! Oh, she has also joined Instagram so if you consider yourself a friend or family, go check her out!

Oh, almost forgot- I graduated from the University of North Florida this past spring with a bachelor's in business management. I am so glad to get that done and over with! Now I'm just not sure if I want to finish my bachelor's in electrical engineering considering that I have that half done or if I want to go straight to a master's. Either way, I'm taking a damn break! I do want to get my project management certification as well as working towards a black belt in six sigma, which I have already started.

Anyhow, not sure if I will start filling these pages again on a regular basis or if I will continue to just pop in every blue moon. Either way, my Facebook, Twitter and Strava feeds will stay active and I will try to figure out how to add an Instagram feed. I've been having quite a bit of fun on Instagram- its such a cool concept.

Ok, that's beyond enough...I'm out...

January 28, 2013

Social Media

Yea, so its easier to just keep up with me on Facebook and Twitter. Besides Strava, those are the only things that stay updated on this blog. I'm not sure where I'm going to pick back up in here but I am thinking when school ends in April and I am racing bikes, I will start putting some racing and training stuff in here. For now, the other social media outlets are a handful but I manage to keep them updated regularly. Stave simply mirrors everything that I put in Garmin Connect, so I am working out somewhat regular- 4 days a week with a combo of running and riding. Either way, I am itching to toe the line!