Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia vs. Training for the Ironman World Championships?

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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:

Twitter: @Broken3athlete

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