Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia vs. Training for the Ironman World Championships?
10 years ago, I was a fat-ass. Seems harsh, but to me the first step to fixing the problem for me was admitting it. I worked in a sedentary job, and had totally given up on exercise. I had sleep apnea (surgery), really high blood pressure (meds), and obstructive pulmonary disease (abdominal fat keeping me from taking a deep breath).
In retrospect, I would have killed to have Drew tell me what to do. My weight loss journey was not as structured or as efficient as Drew’s, but I stuck with it. Although I know I weighed more than 300lbs I don’t know how much because I avoided scales like the plague.
As I lost weight, I started exercising, which mostly involved hyperventilating. After a while, I took up jogging which went well until I developed a stress fracture. When I broke my fibula I bought a bike. Death by swim was my largest hurdle in starting my life as a triathlete. About the same time, I met my first swim coach and my friend and longtime training partner, who pushed me to enter my first triathlon exactly 7 years ago last Saturday. I wasn’t ready, nearly drowned (not really), but kept pushing. That led to more races and longer races and great life adventures.
By 2007, I completed my first Ironman and broke down crying when a finish line medic prodded me for how I felt after my finish. I told her I was GREAT! She kept asking how I ‘felt’. I told her “I used to be a fat-ass and now I’m an Ironman.” She cried too.
My journey took a left turn, after spending most of the previous year on anti-biotics, I was diagnosed with CLL or Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia January 31, 2012. CLL is an incurable disease that will likely require me to get a bone-marrow/stem-cell transplant at some point down the road.
After being told that my treatment would not start immediately, I started planning for my next event although I didn’t know what it was at the time. By February, thanks to my buddy/training partner John (Juanito Blanco) and Ryan Dolan at Tyr Sports, I received an invitation to race in the Ironman World Championship in Kona Hawaii on October 13, 2012.
My Cancer Doc has cleared me, and is excited as I am for Ironman Kona. I have spent the last several months trying to balance my health, rest, and training. I have been enjoying training more than ever. I don’t believe in asking questions like, why me. I can’t change my condition, but I can control what I do with it.
My journey would not have been possible without a supportive wife, family, and friends. I don’t know what I would have done if I had to face a serious medical challenge while I was fat and out of shape. But, I know that I am a stronger person now, and that I can do things that used to seem impossible.
Please feel free to follow my friend Kevin on this incredible journey: