October 26, 2007

Don't Get Old, Kid

As I have posted before, my Mom is in assisted living. And it continues to make me feel like the jailor. The other day she had a bad morning. She wanted out. She wanted to "go home" she told the aids. They said she hit the staff, which I can't visualize because, as horrible as it sounds, she doesn't pack a punch. She's 84 and weighs all of 100 pounds. It is more likely that she swatted them than launching a right-left combo.

I write this not looking for someone to absolve me of my sins. The choice, although the most difficult of my 45 year old life, was for her to live alone, live with myself or my brothers or go to assisted living. We chose the latter because we felt that it would provide the best care for her at this time. There really wasn't any choice.

But when I heard the director of the facility explain my Mom's behavior the other day as maybe she was "feeling trapped", I shake. A big lump of feeling guilty is sitting in my brain right now. It just sits there and waits and pokes me on the shoulder when I forget for a nano-second where she is. And it's her own words in her own voice I constantl hear. Words she has been saying for the last 10 years that really have meaning and relevance now:

"Don't get old, kid"

October 23, 2007

Addiction, Part 1

Is it an addiction?

My new favorite t-shirt that I picked up at the Ironman store this year in Lake Placid says:

"Life is Simple. Swim. Bike. Run. Eat. Sleep."

Is there anything else? When you are in the middle of training, does it seem like there is anything else? Actually, a better shirt might be:

"Life is Not Simple. Irritable. Irrational. Stressed. Tired. When will it end?"

Why not? That's how we feel when training seems to drag on and on. However, when we cross the finish line and our bodies make their way back to being normal again, a peace sets in. We're elated. We want to show off all that we have earned. When the family makes a remark like 'Oh no, you're not wearing another finisher race shirt or hat or both!' My daughter sums it up with 'it's their badge of honor. They all wear them.' True. We wear what we've earned on our sleeve, er, back and head. And ankle too. Many of us after finishing an Ironman head to the neighborhood Tattoo parlor and get the ultimate badge of honor, the M-dot. I thought of doing this. I even felt the pressure from two friends that got their's. But everytime I mentioned it, my youngest daughter would start to cry. I think she equated a tattoo with a life of crime and possible jail time.

So, the training drags on and we pray for it all to end. Race day arrives and maybe, the race doesn't go so great. Like me, maybe we're bent over at Mile 10 of the run with the dry heaves praying even harder for it all to end. Or maybe we crashed on the bike and the raspberry hurts like hell and the end just can't come quick enough. Thoughts of quitting enter our heads. But we don't and we push on. At this year's Ironman in Lake Placid, I was at about mile 15 when I spotted a guy with the finisher shirt on. It was a beautiful shade of faded Hunter Green. It was sweet looking. At the time I was battling with myself about dropping out. I was beyond the dry heaves but my stomach was in distress. It would have been so easy.

"Hey, is that this year's finisher shirt"


"Well, now I have my inspiration to finish"

"Oh, you have to man...there's no greater feeling"

"I know.." I managed to whimper. And so, I pushed on in search of another badge of honor. But we still talk to ourselves: "This is it. I'm done. No more Ironman's. No more long distance Tri's"

And then we finish, we're happy and we're not signing up the next day but we're not talking like our triathlon career is over either. We stand there in the middle of the road not committing to anything either way. Then the next more is when the Addiction sets in. We miss it already. As the weeks go on and the glow of our race brightens, the feeling grows stronger, the Addiction grows and festers inside of us. It's then that we realize that we're hooked. The only cure, fortunately, is more Swimming and Biking and Running and Eating and Sleeping.

October 18, 2007

So Many Triathlon Memories

I read a great article by Steve Jonas in the current issue of USA Triathlon Life, the official publication of the USAT. The title was "Why a Good Story Matters". It was about his individual triathlon experiences and stories. It got me thinking about why I do Tri and the special memories that I have. Steve explained that he can't remember every race he's ever done but there are certain races that stand out. Everyone has their own reasons why they do triathlon. For me there are many reasons: great way to stay in shape, sense of accomplishment, the pain (HA HA), etc. But the overall best reason is simply: I just enjoy it! There are so many memories and so many more to come. If my injuries don't slow me down, who knows, maybe I will keep going until I'm 70.

My first Tri is a great one because my mantra was: how hard can the swim be! I hardly trained and when I got 500 yards out from shore and had to resort to swimming on my side, I found out quick. Needless to say that was a rude awakening to the sport. But when I finished, I was hooked. My first half ironman was memorable. It was an enormous high to finish the Eagleman in 2002. I had a very bad sunburn afterwards and my race number was tattooed to my arm for about 1 year. No joke! I've done 5 more Eagleman's since that day. My first and second Ironman finishes are the gems of the catalog. The first because I had a smile on my face the entire time. The second because I had pain on my face most of the run coupled with the dry heaves at Mile 10. But, oh to finish an Ironman is a magical moment. My last race is a showstopper too. Right there at the top. It was only a sprint but it was my 17 year old daughter's first. I'll never forget that one. It's a whole new dimension now.

Triathlon is a lot like life. It's more a journey than a race. Just start and just finish. The journey can have many highs and many lows. But we just have to work through them and keep pushing. There are so many memories that have been made and so many still to be made. Thank you Mr Jonas for reminding me of that.

October 11, 2007

Sports Dream

I'm excited. If you're like me, you have sports dreams. Some of the ones on the top of my list are seeing the Mets play the Cubs in a weekend series at Wrigley, the Giants or Jets or Packers in the Super Bowl, Mets in the World Series, being at the Masters, finishing the Ironman World Championship in Kona, etc. Another one will be realized this weekend as I head to Notre Dame with my daughter. She's a senior in HS and is interested in seeing the campus. The dream? Notre Dame vs Boston College on Saturday. Can't wait! I think we might surprise them.


ND 27 BC 24 ....on a late field goal.

October 03, 2007


This post falls into the "Living...." part of the Iron H blog.

On Friday, July 13 my brother went to my Mom's apartment to check on her, after she didn't return our phone calls for several hours. Looking through the front door, he could see her lying on her bathroom floor. Breaking in, he found her alive, face bloodied, arm broken, rib cracked, bruised and confused.

Fast forward to this day, after 16 days in the hospital and about 40 days in a rehab center, my Mom at age 84, is now living in an assisted living facility. Physically, I would say she is fine. She's about 95% of what she was, which for an 84 year old woman, was very good. She was spry to say the least. It was only two years ago when she tried using my daughter's pogo stick. We still talk about that one!

However, she has dementia and is considered a "flight risk". Just this year, prior to her fall, she would often walk the 3 miles to my brother's house from her place. Our decision to place her into the "safe care" unit of this assited living facility did not come easy. I feel in many ways that I took her freedom from her. And as triathlete's we know what freedom means to us. She is happy at the facility, I believe. She knows she has an apartment but doesn't demand that she return. However, I still can't get over what I feel we've done to her.

I'm going to use this blog over the next several months to talk about her and the decision we made. I keep dreaming that someday, she will be cured and could return to an apartment setting. But I know that is not being realistic. I'd like to get a bigger house and bring her home. The problem is she is a Long Island Girl and I live in Jersey. And Jersey is not her home. But we'll see. For now, I visit her as much as I can.

October 01, 2007

In mourning...over the Mets

I love my wife. I love triathlon. I love the USA.

But I bleed NY Mets blue and orange. For all diehard Mets fans everywhere...today is a national day of mourning. The much hated Phillies skipped over us and took control of 1st place. Hats off to the Phils for sweeping us umpteen times but in the end..we beat ourselves. The division was ours and we let it slip away. And now there is no post season..no potential World Series win...which would have been our first since 1986. The only solace is the Braves are out as well.

I'll probably be watching the playoffs with one eye this year...rooting for whoever is playing the Phillies and the Yanks.

Just wait until next year....