Tuesday, November 3, 2015


From the 380 mile first date
...and theme of the year 2015

I posted exactly three times in 2014 and this will be my first in 2015.  Change has been the "reason for the season" since I last posted regularly.  This year was so difficult that I mostly felt the need for privacy.  But now I want to share because I see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I see that this road is going some where amazing.

So. Much. Change.

This year has brought so much change.

It actually started in November of last year when I met a wonderful man who was as fast on a bicycle as he was intelligent.  We went on a 380 mile ride that had 18,000' of climbing and many miles of dirt roads because... how better to get to know someone than to be pushed to your breaking point in their company? :/
From the tour with Mr Fastandawesome

In December, the love-sick Duck went mountain biking with said fast and intelligent man, henceforth know as Mr Fastandawesome.  Because I'm not so savvy in the skills department, I toppled over at the entrance to a rock garden and accidentally put my hand out.  I tore a tendon in my arm which took me out of work for a while.  I was also diagnosed with advanced arthritis.  This news came at the same time as a call from a friend offering me an opportunity to get involved with a triathlon/endurance start up that would grow into a coaching and timing/events company.  I said yes.  What did I have to lose?  The next thing I knew I was being trained and prepped to start coaching athletes.  I lined up a mentor and before I knew it, I had my first athletes.
iTri365.com :my new professional home.

My new professional colleagues

Then in January, my vaccinated self contracted whooping cough.  That had me laid out for two months.  If you have ever had whooping cough, then you know.  If you have not, it is hard to imagine how sick it makes you.

In March, I traveled to Mississippi for work and aside from one little blip in my health that sent me to the ER, I managed to stay pretty healthy.  While I was there had some very cool rides on the beach.  I was able to get some wonderful photos from that trip.  Upon returning, I went to my first stage race with my new team.  We did well.  Despite still being weak from the illness, I placed 2nd in the time trial, won the road race, and was 4th in the GC.  The team put 4 people in the top 5 of the GC and won each individual stage with a different person.  It was a great day to wear green!

Winning the sprint to win the road race at Corsicana

In April, I became sick during a stage race and had to withdraw in the final stage.  The next day, my beloved dog Wilbur was killed in an accident.  That night, my illness turned into a kidney/UTI infection and landed me in the hospital.  That was a weekend that took some time to recover from.  Meanwhile, the man I met had become a cornerstone of my life and cared for me and loved me through this terrible time.

Good Bye Little Man... I'll miss you forever.

In May, I was able to do start working a bit more but I was plagued by repeated asthma attacks.  It was getting terribly out of control.  I raced a few times in a local crit and on the track.  I had mixed result ranging from being very competitive to getting dropped immediately, depending on the state of my breathing on any given day.  My ability to train steadily declined and so did my fitness.  In the last 4 weeks leading up to the state TT where I hoped to defend my title, I was so ill that I was averaging about three hours a week.

The TX state championship finally arrived in June.  I finished the ITT mid pack with a sad time several minutes slower than the previous year.  The next day was the TTT and I was terrified that my body would betray me and I would let my team down.  But I held on.  We finished as a team and won the title.  I was a state champion for the second year in a row, but this time as a member of the winning team.... FRESH racing!

FRESH Racing on the podium!! TTT win!

That was my last race of the year.  I decided to take an indefinite amount of time off to heal and address my issues.  Over the summer, it became clear that my breathing issues were linked to stomach issues that I had made a lifetime career out of ignoring.  The stomach issues were likely reaching a crescendo because of the NSAID therapy I was doing for the arthritis.  I began to pursue answers in that direction as my health reached an all time low.  In the meantime, the coaching business was growing like a weed.  I found myself with more and more clients as my athletes racked up more and more podiums.  The business, iTri365, was a thing... a real thing... and I was starting to believe I had found my purpose.  I was also coming to believe that my ability to make a living braiding had finally reached its end.  I hurt too much, was too sick, and was no longer interested in leaving the wonderful man that I had met to wander around the country from show to show like a vagabond.

itri365 TRIBE!! 
During the month of July, Mr Fastandawesome and I took a vacation.  Like all things this year, the vacation was themed "Get As Far From The Comfort Zone As Possible"!  In other words, he took me to the top of the world!
Mt. Assiniboine

Top o' the Nub

August came and my break from braiding and change in approach to my health started showing some improvement.  Mr Fastandawesome raced the Leadville MTB 100 and I found some glimmers of my old self running crew for him.  It was an amazing experience!!  I found a bit of love and a bit of skill developing as I kept returning to the trails.  But my breathing was still bad and I was very weak.  Still, I figured I had to start back somewhere and I knew what it would take to come through it.  Fitness is no mystery.  It's simply a process.

Mr Fastandawesome being, well, fast and awesome!

In September, after we returned to Austin, I started riding a bit on the road and began a program of light running.  I continued to work with a GI specialist and we started considering a possible surgical fix.  That involved a series of tests to determine if I was a good candidate.  I made up my mind that I would take whatever time I needed and return to health... and racing... next season.  Since my deductible was now paid, I decided to also have my shoulder looked at since I had been dealing with pain and reduced range of motion for years.

I wanted to try the new S5 as the change in the geometry looked promising for me.  I borrowed a bike from the local shop and took it for a spin.  I went to the Veloway to test it in a safe place, free of cars.  As I rolled into the first turn during my warmup, the front tire exploded and I went down.


Ambulance ride hard.

Trauma ward hard.

I had shattered my eye socket and ruined my shoulder.  48 hours later I was in surgery having my face put back together.  My shoulder would not require surgery... or rather the MRI revealed so much arthritis that surgery would have a poor prognosis.  I also had ruptured my bicep tendon and torn my labrum. Not to mention lost a lot of blood.


I have been coming to terms with certain uncertainties.  I don't know if my vision will ever be normal again.  I may never regain feeling in my face.  I have some scars.  My shoulder injuries will take 6 months to heal to a state of pain-most-of-the-time.

I have arthritis in my hands, shoulder, knees, neck.... I will live with pain for the rest of my life.  I have scars, nerve damage, and plates in my face.  And I have met the most wonderful man I have ever known and he has stood by me through these difficulties unflinchingly.  I will never be able to make a living working with horses again.   And I have a great new job that I love.  Wilbur is gone.   And I am raising a delightful puppy named Sprout.  For every black cloud, there is more than a silver lining... there is a wide open door to the future.  I have seen my old life fall away and a new one that is better than I ever imagined growing in its place.

I have no regrets.  I keep looking forward and that is where I will go with this blog.

Where ever I go from here, I don't go alone.

1 comment:

  1. You inspire me. You have gone through so much and remain positive. Thank you!