I suppose I should christen my new website with some kind of explanation of why I feel I need a new site. To most I am probably just a has been athlete who just kinda vanished.
I built a new homepage to reboot ME and as motivation to focus on blogging and refining my writing. I really have no interest in rehashing the shit that has been much of the past 7 years. I want to quit looking back and commit fully to everything I am doing now. I tend to get mired in past regret and I’m sick of it. However, I am a methodical writer. For me to move forward I need the catharsis of looking back and laying it all out there.
Because it is a lot to unpack I think a chronological bullet list will suffice. When/if I feel like it, I may expand on some of the below.
So, here we go.
I was in the best shape of my life but putting myself in a massive hole at the same time. For much of the year I was fortunate enough to train with my Specialized teammate, Rasmus Henning in both Denmark and the Canary Islands. It was by far the best summer of my life. I achieved great fitness, and lived in Europe for a prolonged period, something I had always wanted to do. However, I had began the year chasing the Olympic dream and short course ITU racing and transitioned directly into long course Ironman and 70.3 racing when I realized I would not be making the Olympic team. While the long course route may have been a better option, the immediate switch from high intensity and low volume to high volume and moderate intensity was too much and dropped me into a chronic fatigue state that would eventually lead to Epstien Barr.
In February 2011 on my way to skate ski at Eldora I was blindly hit by a car coming out of a parking lot across two lanes of traffic. This lead to a fractures in the transverse process of three vertebrae and hidden nerve impingement which would cause issues in my running in the years to come.
While trying to get back to a basic level of fitness 3 months after the car accident I noticed a hint of tightness in my calf mid-way through a run. A few miles later one step was fine the next the calf locked up and caused a tear to the soleus which was ultimately revealed to be lingering nerve issues from the car accident. This would lead to 3 months of rehab and the loss of much 2011.
After a terrible racing season in 2012 that saw me either drop out of races or perform well below my capabilities I was left wondering just what the hell was wrong with me.
Halloween of 2012 would reveal the mystery, and very nearly kill me.
My throat had been swelling up for a couple of days. I had gone to an urgent care clinic and was told it was Strep Throat and it would go away. Literally I was told I should not have bothered them with it and I should quit complaining. Two days later I woke up struggling to breathe, unable to speak, and with a throat so swollen and painful I could not swallow even water.
After going to the emergency room I was shuttled quickly into an operating theater for emergency throat surgery on a peri-tonsular abscess caused by a virus that would turn out to be Epstien Barr. After the surgery I was informed had I waited any longer there was a very good chance the infection could have spread to my brain stem which is usually fatal. The only “cure” for Epstien Barr is total rest and recovery. After a 2012 race season which saw inexplicable fatigue, injury, and complete lack of motivation this made perfect sense and frankly I was happy to have someone tell me to just STOP.
Moving to Canada
By the summer of 2014 I found myself still not fully recovered from Epstien Barr, fat, depressed, and wondering “what the fuck am I doing with my life”.
So, I started asking myself. “If I can never race again, and I am frustrated as hell watching all my friends in Boulder live the life I can’t, why am I still here.” I started considering options. And, yes that statement is as bleak and foreboding as it sounds. Depression is for real, and that’s as far as I’ll go with that for now.
The other option asked “if I could live anywhere in the world where would it be? If I could do anything what would it be?” The answer was Vancouver, Canada for the place. The what, was not so easy.
I reached out to friends and connections in the area and was able to land a coaching job. Unfortunately Canada had been planning to change their contract work visa policy. This was had been announced to take effect in 2015. However, when I reached the Canadian boarder in August I was told Canada had made the change early and I was refused entry. With all my stuff and my cat in the car, my apartment in Boulder up for sale, and an apartment and job awaiting me in Vancouver I was stuck. The only option was to head to my parents place in New Mexico in hopes of working with my immigration lawyer to find another option. There wasn’t one.
Who’s That They Say You Can Trust?
Here’s where it gets real fun.
In September of 2014 my condo in Boulder sold. I was considering taking it off the market by my mother had cosigned way back in ’99 when it was purchased and wanted out. I was not able to buy here out as all my finances were tied into the condo, and after the previous few years health issues etc. my savings was depleted. So, I figured I’d just sell the place and then figure out the next step.
Owning property in Boulder, CO is normally a good thing right? Buy early, sell after it appreciates. Put a bit of work into the place and increase the value… yeah, normally that’s a great plan. And, it is exactly what I did. I figured after all the shit of the previous 3 years, this was my salvation.
Unfortunately, I now know I was far too trusting. I had closed my US bank accounts to move to Canada, probably not the best idea but I was all in for a fresh start. So, when the condo sold, my share of the sale was transferred into my mother’s bank account. Nearly $80,000. But hey, its my mom right? Only a few hours after closing I was informed she would be keeping all the money.
$300 and a Tank of Gas
After learning I’d just had every cent to my name stolen I remembered I had a check for $300 for selling some old gear on ebay. So, with a $300 check and a tank of gas I left New Mexico heading for Denver, and hoping the old Subaru could make it that far on one tank.
Luckily, and this is the silver lining, I had began dating an amazing girl earlier in the summer. I was certain it wouldn’t work out as I was moving to Canada and so on. I was hoping she would tolerate me for a few days at least… she has been good enough to put up with me for a few years at this point. 😉
Even Nature is Against Me
I arrived in Denver on November 3rd 2014. I had found a part time job, and was in the process of launching DirtTRI.com and coaching a couple of athletes. Things seemed to be looking up a bit, although I was in the midst of suing my mother for my share of the condo sale, which was exceptionally slow moving.
Then on a particularly windy spring night a 8 inch diameter and 12 foot long branch broke off a tree and fell on my car causing damage just short of a total, which actually is the most expensive possible outcome.
Like most, I had been skeptical of depression. I figured it was just something you need to get through, probably made out to be worse than it really is. After several years dealing with depression I now know it is a very real thing. I can accept it is something I have to fight. I can tell you I’ve had the darkest of dark days of the “very nearly…” variety. However, while I do want to put that our there I am not prepared to go into detail. Suffice it to say dealing with depression is a long battle, and something that I am just now feeling I have a handle on. Hence, why I am launching this site and relaunching DirtTRI.com.
Yeah, the last several years have been shit in most ways. I went from being a world class athlete capable of podiums in 70.3, XTERRA, etc. Life was good, the trajectory was headed in the right direction and then BAM everything took a nose dive.
All I can say is, yes, that is what happened, and looking backward, ruminating on regret and “why me” won’t help.
I am physically and structurally healthy. I am detained, I had several years off or nearly off. I’m “too old” by most peoples standards. etc. etc. etc.
But fuck it! I’m not done. I’m not satisfied being forced out of the sport I love. However, I also know much more now than I did 5 years ago. I know that Epstien Barr and everything else came from trying to do too much. I know I need to pick a format and focus on that style of racing. I know that format will be XTERRA and mountain biking.
Its interesting actually. I am more hungry and motivated now than I have ever been. Even at 200 lbs and with only minimal unstructured training I can feel the capability is still there. The ability is not there yet, but the capability is.
That is why I built this page, and will be blogging consistently. I went through a dark patch, but I’m not done. There is much I want to do competitively, in business, and in life in general. I know now I am not alone in frustration and depression. I think I might have something positive to contribute to other’s battles.