Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Recovery from Normal.

Recovery From Normal

Just over 2 weeks ago I completed the most grueling bike race in my experience thus far – the infamous and legendary Leadville Trail 100.  I’ve already written of my experiences of such, with its tremendous highs and lows, struggles and overall sense of overcoming extreme adversity and the amazing lessons associated with this.  Basically, it served up a hefty dose of whoopin which took me to a very deep and dark place for many hours – this is what I look for in these ultra-endurance races because this is where I need to go to learn more about who I truly am.  The result of this is best explained as True Bliss; not because of accomplishment, ranking, placement nor accolades, but because of what I have learned.  It is a surreal sense of well-being, pure joy and connection with all and everyone – Heaven, really.

One of the unfortunate side-effects of these races with me is ‘The Dip’ which occurs about 2 weeks after my big races.  It is best described as a deep dark depressive hole from which I find it very difficult to escape.  Because the after-glow-feel-good effect of elevated endorphins (dopamine and serotonin) is so intensively high in the week following these events, the supply gets exhausted and I crash….resulting in depressive symptoms.  This manifests as lethargy, reclusiveness, less desire to participate in activities, an aversion to exercise, lack of engagement with my wife and kids, less focus at work, wanting to sleep in and avoid my morning time practice of prayer and meditation.  This hit me like a freight train this morning…and it sucks…

In previous years I have been stuck in this for many weeks and it only gets harder to escape as time goes on.  So after a few hours of personal pity-party this morning, I cowboy’d-up, put on my Five Fingers and went for a 1 hour trail run on one of my favourite routes.  Initially, my mind fought it but after about 30 minutes the shift towards joy started.  Awesome, I have ‘slayed the dragon’ early this time!

On this run, it was revealed to me the beauty of experiencing this.  I caught a brief glimpse of the depressive symptoms that many in our society live with everyday – this is the sad reality and normal for many adults and kids. The effect of the endorphin rush from my run this morning with its amazing feelings of joy was not a boost for me – it was a return to my version of normal, to what I experience every day.   

This reveals some basic truths about depressive symptoms.  Contrary to common beliefs, they are not due to ‘chemical imbalances’ nor ‘bad genes’, but rather due to lifestyle imbalances.  As taught in our office, it is critical to continually work on improving how we Eat, Move and Think as taught by Dr. James Chestnut to build a strong foundation in health.  This is what supports proper nerve function, balanced hormone levels, ideal endorphin levels and decreases neurological stress which causes spinal subluxations (misalignments).  As Chiropractors we do not treat depression, however, by educating people to make improved lifestyle decisions and by optimizing neurological function by adjusting the spine the body will heal and return to its natural state of health.  This is what everyone deserves and why everyone needs Chiropractic care!


Wishing you Peace,

Dr Mike.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Leadville 100 Colorado

Hello everyone!

On Saturday, August 11, 2012 I was able to participate in a race that has been on my list of goals for a number of years – the Leadville 100 Trail MTB.  This is a 100-mile mountain bike race in Leadville, Colorado that is legendary for its altitude (starts at 10,000 ft and goes up to 12500 ft) and its difficulty.  It has become immensely popular in the last few years and attracts many pro-riders from the mountain and road bike disciplines.

I felt very prepared in that I had been training for over 8 months.  After arriving last Wednesday, I did 2 pre-race rides up to 11,000 feet and felt great.  I was ready and confident in being able to finish the race – for most, this is the goal: to finish in under 12:00 hours to receive the coveted belt buckle – many do not finish, including some pros.

Because I had made it into the race via lottery entry (over 10,000 apply!) I started at the back of the pack of 2100 racers.  This meant a very slow start as I was stuck behind many slower riders.  Eventually the pack thinned out after about 30km’s and I could pick up the pace.  The repetitive climbing was relentless and ended at the turn-around point on top of Columbine Mountain at 12,570 feet with a final 3000 foot 1.5 hour climb.  Oxygen was noticeably thinner at this point, compounded by cool temperatures and 70+km/hr cross-winds.  I actually felt pretty good at this halfway point with my legs and lungs, but not my stomach.  Unfortunately, with these long races, sometimes your stomach stops functioning and you get very nauseous – this happened to me 3 hours into the race.  The only thing I could do at that point was to switch to water only as I could not eat any food without risk of vomiting – I, however, knew I was in trouble because my energy would eventually run out – and this is exactly what happened with 55km’s left to go: I hit “the wall” and my body shut down…

I have hit the wall only once before and it’s extremely unpleasant; indescribable to those who have not experienced it.  Your body feels as if it is 1000 lbs and your feet are made of lead.  All you want to do is stop…but this was NOT an option for me – I had promised myself, my wife and my kids that I would finish this thing and that is exactly what I set out to do.  It took every ounce of focus I had to carry on and ignore the voices in my head telling me to stop.  I was crawling along at 10-15km/hr and walking up the climbs barely moving at all…but I kept going.  Even though I was on track for a sub 10 hour finish at the halfway point, it now looked dangerously close to not making it in under the 12 hour mark. After “bonking” I had 4 major climbs to do, which were massively punishing: after the third, I assessed my time and realized I needed to dig deep, deeper than ever before if I was going to get in under 12 hours – at this point I “dropped the hammer” and entered the “pain-box” like never before – every shred of my physical being was screaming at me as I picked up the pace to 35-45km/hr for the last 15 kms.  The last climb was relentless as I obsessed over my clock: 8 minutes to go, then 6,5,4,3,2…I stood out of the saddle and sprinted the final 750 metres with a strength not of my own to cross the finish line at….12:02…. I collapsed in the finish area, obliterated and crushed that I had missed it by only 2 minutes…

The race organizer was there and helped me up; I shared my story of bonking hard 55 kms out and digging deep, not ever giving up… He looked at me, smiled, hugged me and said that this is exactly what the Leadville 100 is all about: Digging Deep and Going Further than you think is possible…because of this, he awarded me a belt buckle because he said I had earned it!!!

Lessons for me learned during this race include never giving up even though at times it may seem impossible to reach your goals: perseverance, trust and action are all that are required to make it happen.  I also realized once again that when I think I’m done, I really have so much more left within me.

The reason I do these races has very little to do with the race itself: nothing to do with placement, competition nor acknowledgement.   It has everything to do with learning more about my abilities and my limitations such that I may become a better husband, father, chiropractor and man – this allows me to learn more and be more such that I may serve those in need to a greater degree in the purpose that has been bestowed upon me in this lifetime.

Dr. Mike.