Transplant Athlete
Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's eve used to be a huge party for my family, but since I've moved down south it's been pretty tame, I stay home and go to bed after midnight. This year won't be an exception, but I'm looking forward to tomorrow. It's Crista's Weenie One Hundred (Miss Fortune's Hundred Miles). January 1st marks the official start of my training year. The week before Christmas was a recovery week and then I got sick, so it has been a two week recovery period. I'm chomping at the bit to train.

ABL, her family, and my family understand that my weekends between January 1st and June 10th are precious and sacred. From here on in I'm turning up the juice.


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Thursday, December 28, 2006
  How To Run Out Of Gas

I'm not sure if I see the world through rose colored glasses or I'm in the right place at the right time, or it's The Force, but I like to think that things work out for me. For instance: When I was selling SolidWorks, my employer decided they wanted out of the business at the same time that other companies were leaving the business, I was able to build a company to fill the void. When my kidneys failed, my mom turned out to be match and I didn't need to wait x number of years to get a kidney.

It's that feeling you get when you're running late and you get all green lights to your appointment. It's catching your connecting flight when you're two hours late. It's the Anti-Irony.

Because of that, I tend to go through life a little bit...I don't know, expecting that things will work out. You know, just get things in motion and be where you need to be and good stuff will happen. Start running and the QB will get the ball to you.

It pisses ABL off to no end. She tends to worry about the worst case scenario, so she works herself up into a tizzy, and then just when all seems lost BAM something good happens. And she hates me for it. On the way home from the Nightmare that was Christmas in New Jersey, my low fuel light came on on Route 70 about 3 miles before we got onto 295. I know the truck can go about 30 miles when the light comes on and there's usually a little bit left in the tank and I know it is at least 34 miles on 295 to Exit 2 (Deepwater). Deepwater usually has cheap gas, but more importantly, its about halfway home so it's a great place to switch drivers if needed. The math doesn't look good, but I decide to go for it.

30.31.32 The miles fly by at 65 mph I can see the exit ahead. When we were about 1/4 mile from the exit, the cruise control cut out. I tapped the gas and nothing happened. I put it in Neutral and pulled onto the shoulder. I then hit the flashers and we coasted down 65, 60, 55, 50 mph. We were at the ramp and ABL wigged out thinking we'd be stuck on the ramp. I was a bit concerned myself, if the ramp had gone up to the overpass, we wouldn't make it. We were in luck, we hit the top of the ramp doing 20 mph. The sign said the EXXON was 0.1 miles on the right, coming around the turn we saw it. We coasted down the ramp. We turned into the driveway and curved around to the pumps and we ran out of momentum about 30 feet from the pumps. So I got out and pushed. Adrienne got behind the wheel and about halfway to the pumps I realize she's either pulling up to a pump with a car at it or she's going to pull up on the wrong side. At this point I'm not waiting in line and I'm not going to try to back it up when she realizes she's on the wrong side, so I stop. Tell her to head for the empty outside pump. When I resume pushing, I'm joined by two of the guys who worked at the station.

And that my friends is how you run out of gas the right way.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006
  How To Lose Weight Over The Holidays.

One Word: Gastroenteritis...Or as I like to call it GastroInterruptus. We think the kids picked it up at the Dulles Mall Totland. Thursday night Q would vomit, we'd get her cleaned up and back to bed and then 15 to 30 minutes later RJ would blow. We'd get him cleaned up and back to bed and then 15 to 30 minutes later Q would blow. AD NAUSEUM.

They both seemed better Friday afternoon, so we figured it was a 24 hour bug. They were still fine Saturday, so we decided to go ahead with our plans to drive up to Jersey to see the family. We got to mile marker 103 on I-95 when RJ blew chunks all over the back seat and Mommy. The fun started when we hit heavy traffic another mile down the road and the closest exit was 5 miles down the road. Truck stops have everything, including towels, oxi-clean for upholstery, and paper towels. But RJ wasn't done yet: Diarrhea. Clean up. Vomit. Clean Up. Diarrhea. Cleanup. Vomit. Clean Up - all at exit 109. We finally made it to my parents house after 7 hours on the road.

On Sunday, RJ was still sick, so we took him to the ER to get an IV. On the way home from the hospital, I got nauseus and spent the night vomiting. I spent Christmas day vomiting. I wasn't having the worst Christmas ever, that honor would have to go to my dad's Cockatiel, Elmo. He's PININ' for the FJORDS now. From what I understand, my sister's dog CALA knocked the cage off the stand and the bird got out. Elmo's wings aren't clipped and he's a capable flyer, so he must have been stunned when the cage went down. The bird had been staying at my Grandfather's house, so both he and my father were real upset.

On Tuesday, my dad got sick. I know he was sick because he came home from work after just two hours. That has never happened before.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006
  My Medical Results

  • Hematocrit 35.9 (low, but tolerable)
  • Serum Creatinine 1.7 (A little high, but within my normal)
  • Immuknow Test 88

Some will remember that I took the Immuknow test last year and scored an incredibly low 114; well I came back and was able to score even lower on the test this year. This test measures my immune system response to tell the doctors how effective my immune system is. Normal is around 500. They think that transplant patients should have a level between 225 and 524. That means that I'm most likely getting too much immunosuppressive medication.

They've cut my Prograf back to 9 mg per day from 10mg per day. That's important because the Prograf is nephrotoxic, it can damage the very thing it is meant to protect.


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Tuesday, December 19, 2006
  Knock Out Kidney Disease

I realize that my last post probably doesn't have much impact. So I'm going to put it in perspective for you. 1 in 7 people have kidney disease and don't know it. Based on my web stats, that means there's about a 1000 of you people reading this who may have kidney disease and don't know it. Does your doctor check your kidney function? Ask him/her at your next visit, if they don't check it, ask them too. Its a simple blood test.

Again, this means YOU, get your kidney's checked.

The stats from the NBC4 might also be a bit misleading. I said that out of 600 people, 66% will have at least one abnormal test. That's because the population that visits the Expo has several risk factors that predispose them to kidney disease. In the general population, the average number of people with kidney disease is closer to 14% (1 in 7).


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Monday, December 18, 2006
  NKF Knock Out Kidney Disease

Free Screenings for the early detection of Kidney Disease and its leading causes at the NBC4 Health & Fitness Expo on January 13 and 14 from 9am to 5pm at the Washington Convention Center. Each Screening participant will receive tests for: Cholesterol, Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Anemia, and Kidney Function plus each participant will have the opportunity to discuss their test results with a health care professional. One in Seven people walking around has a kidney problem they don't know about. You may have a kidney problem and not know it. Come to the Expo and get checked out.

Around 600 people will be screened and an estimated 2/3rds will have at least one abnormal test result.


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Sunday, December 17, 2006
  Get To The Point Century

Today was fast, flat, and warm. A combination that made for some smoking speeds. My on bike time for 103 miles was 6 hours and 15 minutes. We took some long breaks and an even longer lunch, so I was out for the whole day. As a test, I used a BreatheRight strip on my nose and found I could breath through my nose up to a heart rate of 190 bpm. In the past, I would be panting like a dog trying to get enough air into my lungs at that rate. I have a really oily nose, so the strip came off about 30 miles later, but the point was made.

Why is nasal breathing so important? A couple weeks back I went to a discussion with Jim Fox, a local coach. He pointed me towards the work of John Douillard and his book, "Body, Mind, and Sport". In it, John explains that we were designed to breath through our noses and we only breath through our mouths as an emergency measure. The problem with exercising at a high rate and breathing through the mouth is that it tells your body there's an emergency and in an emergency, your body is stressed. The stress causes all sorts of problems and keeps you from reaching your full potential. He covers the proper way to breath and exercises to help you incorporate the breathing into your workout.

Around the 90 mile mark, I started to really feel the miles and my form broke down, including the nasal breathing...That was around the same time we got passed by a '66 Nova in Badass Black with a hood scoop, roll cage, and those super fat drag strip tires on the rear. Later, as I was coming home, the Nova pulled up alongside me at a light and it had that awesome V8 low idle sound...
putaw - putaw - putaw - putaw - putaw.

The ride ended with Santa Claus waving to us by the side of the road and a beautiful sunset. We went to dinner in the 'hood' (beltway exit 7A to Allentown Road) at a place called Topolino's which was next door to a Topless bar (which may not have had better food, but I bet the entertainment was better).


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Friday, December 15, 2006
  Conte's In Arlington

I went to the opening of the new Conte's Bicycle & Fitness in Arlington owned by Kristen & Scott McAhren, Mike Davis, Greg Thomas and Jody Bennett. It's a great looking facility and they are fully stocked with Mountain, Road, and Tri bikes, plus the usual accessories. They had a great party with tons of food and beer. Unfortunately, I've ballooned up to around 175 (from 157 in June), so I was nibbling on the carrot sticks and the fruit.

There was at least one guy who wasn't concerned by his weight (as evidenced by his waistline)...He'd pick up a beer at the bar, do a lap around the bikes in the center of the room and end up back at the bar for another beer. I guess thats' a good way of getting your exercise in or slowing your intake.

My buddies (Martin Phillips - 2005 RAAM teammate and Mike Wheeler - 2005 RAAM Crew Chief) had helped the owners here and there as the store was being put together and were loosely helping out during the night. I think I convinced those two to join me on a century this Sunday.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006
  A New Beginning

Recently, the Race Across America (RAAM) was sold by Jim Pitre and Lon Haldeman to a group led by John Hughes and Fred Boethling. I think Lon was probably burnt out on RAAM, and Jim Pitre as the majority owner was taking on a lot of the workload by himself.

John and Fred have made a flurry of announcements including the hiring(or appointment) of Jeff Stephens as the Sales and Marketing Director for the race. As any business owner will tell you, nothing happens until somebody sells something. In the case of RAAM, there wasn't anyone specifically tasked with selling advertising space, licensing the logo, and pursuing joint marketing. We were told that the race wasn't broadcast on TV because RAAM couldn't sell the advertising space and we were also told that the entry fees don't cover the costs to put on the race. Jeff Stephens should be able to bring in the kind of cash that can get the broadcast back on the air.

There were some logistical issues that were evident by the part time nature of Jim Pitre's ownership that I think will be solved under the new owners. RAAM as an entity needs to be a year round thing. Terry Zmrhal was brought on as Race Director. Since he won't have to go in search of funding, and doing the million other things that Jim Pitre was doing, he should be able to get things moving faster. Ideally, he should have a crew working on the upcoming race and another group working on the following year's race. Again, all of this takes cash, which Mr. Stephens is tasked with finding.

As a successful business person, I think Fred Boethling is uniquely suited to bring RAAM to the next level. I hope he can duplicate the success of the World Triathlon Corporation (they own the IRONMAN Triathlon).


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Tuesday, December 12, 2006
  CM Is Right, She Is Trying To Kill Me

A couple of months ago our dryer started making a less than encouraging noise. I hit the internet and found that it was likely the blower fan. So, I took the dryer apart and the blower was free wheeling on the motor axle and slamming into the sides. I ordered the new parts and they arrived yesterday. The top of the dryer opens up like a pez dispenser and then the front panel unscrews and pops off.

So, I had ABL hold the top while I worked on the dryer and she dropped the top on my head. I then decided it would probably be safer to work behind the unit and you guessed it, she dropped it on my head again. At that point I figured it was safer to work alone...
and I should probably start sleeping with one eye open...


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Sunday, December 10, 2006
  Berryville Century

I was getting ready for the ride when my daughter woke up crying. I went in to see what was wrong and told her I was just going for a bike ride. Through the tears she said, "There's nobody to take care of me." She clearly thought ABL was going to work and I was abandoning her. I told her mommy was sleeping and invited her downstairs for some cereal. While we ate breakfast she asked, "Daddy can I come on your bike ride race?"
"Maybe next year sweetie." I tucked her into bed with mommy before I rolled out the door.

The sunrise was amazing, but it was wicked cold out. I had glanced at the weather report recently and for some reason, I thought the temps would be around 25 going up to 45. In actuality, the ride start was 17 degrees. The difference? When the ride start is 25 degrees, it doesn't take long before it rises above freezing, so you don't have to worry about waterbottles and camelbacks freezing. Since I wasn't aware of the true temps, I failed to clear my camelback hose before starting and it promptly froze up. My waterbottles weren't fairing much better as I was soon treated to a Perpetuem flavored Slurpee. Luckily, the area was really flat and we made good time to the first rest stop where I was able to get the camelback hose thawed.

You ever put your pants on in the dark and you realize later you missed a loop with your belt? During last weekend's century, I had two links in my chain freeze up, which made it difficult to pedal. The chain would slip or bounce out of gear. I rode the last 13 miles around 8 mph. So I degreased the chain which didn't help, so I popped out the offending link and then rethreaded the chain onto the bike. Unfortunately, I went on the outside of one of the chain guards on the rear derailleur and it bounced out of gear twice before I realized the problem and fixed it. The chain guard is carbon fiber, so I didn't hear any noise, in fact the newly cleaned and lubed chain was ultra silent.

Lunch was at the Bon Matin Cafe in Berryville. The bank clock across the street said it was 32 degrees out. Bill (those are his pictures in the link above) pulled away from Rudy and I just after Lunch. Rudy and I worked together to try to catch him and Rudy got pretty close, but Bill rode away without us. We later met up at the final rest stop. I got dropped again when I stopped for a bio break, but I caught Rudy about 7 miles from the finish. We averaged around 15 mph with about 4000 feet of elevation gain compared to the 6500 from last week and 13 mph until my flat tire and chain meltdown. My legs have felt surprisingly strong (obviously my speed has suffered), Like I never stopped riding.


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Wednesday, December 06, 2006
  She Loves Me

When I told my wife I wanted to start a business, she said, "Go ahead." When I told her I wanted to bike across the country a couple of months after my transplant surgery, she said "You're crazy, Go ahead. " 24 Hour races, brevets, Team RAAM, Solo RAAM..."Go Ahead." In fact, I don't think I've ever heard her say "no" to any crazy adventure.

I've been watching "Everest Beyond The Limit" on the Discovery Channel. I said, "Doesn't that view look amazing..."
"Yes it does and No you cannot go."



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I've gone through kidney failure twice. The first time in 2000, my mother donated a kidney; and again in 2008, I'm on dialysis waiting for a breakthrough in immuno-suppression medicines before seeking a new kidney.

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Warning Signs for Kidney Disease:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Burning or Difficulty when Urinating
  • Frequent Urination at Night
  • Blood in your urine
  • Cola or tea colored urine
  • Swellig of the eyes, ankles, or feet
  • Lower back pain unrelated to physical activity

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