No, I don't mean irregular as you may think. Here's the back story. A few years ago I had some trouble with an irregular heart beat - AKA Atrial Fibrillation (afib). In fact, after needing to be shocked back into rhythm (known as cardioversion) in Dec of 2007, I decided to get into shape and a year later decided to race tris as a way to set fitness goals. I was going a long great - did my first tri earlier this year (Cascade Lake) and got the bug.
Well, three weeks ago, seemingly out of nowhere, my heart jumped back into afib. I was devastated and, to say the least, very depressed. As those of you reading this in the medical community know, afib is relatively common, but not in men of my age. It is not heart disease, but an electrical problem in the heart muscle that causes it to beat irregularly. The trouble is, it also makes your heart beat faster and consequently can make you fatigued and get short of breath much easier. While my Dr did not restrict me from training all together, he told me to take it easier than I would normally three weeks prior to a race. He scheduled me for another cardioversion for the Friday a week before the race and said if my heart did not go back into rhythm as a result of that procedure I could not race.
Well, the cardioversion worked and my heart is back in rhythm. Now, the trouble was, I only had a week to train and while I know tapering isn't really needed the week before a sprint, I don't really like to train hard that week. Plus, I hadn't really trained hard for the two weeks prior because of all of this. Add to that, the fact that the drugs the doc has me on to help keep my heart in rhythm slow my heart rate, so my aerobic/anaerobic zones are all screwed up.
The day before the race, my wife and I – along with Loretta Trumble and Mike Colohan and their families from the club went up to North East MD for packet pickup and to hang out overnight before the race. Although they may not have seen it, I was terrified of racing the next day. The fact that I hadn’t been able to train like I normally would have for the last three weeks, the drugs I was on screwing up my training zones, and the worry that something bad may happen on the course, resulted in absolutely no sleep the night before (and I apologize to my wife for keeping her up most of the night tossing and turning).
Prayer got me through it though – I have a very strong faith and I asked God to keep me strong and help me through (even though this is an individual sport – I don’t think that is cheating). By the time the alarm went off I was calm and ready to race.
The race report itself is very basic. I had a decent swim (16:36), and excellent bike (52:28), and a better than I usually do run (28:42). Even my transitions were better (T1-3:58 – including the 300 yard run from water exit; T2- 1:52). I beat my last tri time by almost a full two minutes and each leg was a bit longer than the last tri. I finished very strong and even challenged three other runners to a sprint to the finish in the last 200 meters. We went by so fast; the announcer couldn’t see our numbers to call out our names.
The result of all of this is now I know that regardless of what happens to me physically, I can do this sport. Set backs are part of life and you simply need to set your mind to getting past them. If you are a believer, you also know that God will be there with you every step of the way. In this case, He sent Kimberly (my wife), Loretta, and Mike to encourage me and push me. Thanks guys, so much, for that! I love you all! Good luck to Loretta and all the ladies this weekend at IG. I’ll be at Gatorade Hill water stop encouraging you!
God Bless and Great Tri!