Tangents are done- Thanks for hanging in there.
I haven’t written for a while and with good reason. As most of you know, I was injured in a bike crash 7 weeks ago. Besides the usual road rash and bump in the rib, I managed to separate my shoulder and start to feel sorry for myself. I won’t lie, it’s been lonely since my move to Atlanta and getting injured meant taking away the one thing I did have…triathlon. Injuries have a way of not only knocking you down physically but mentally. No matter how hard I tried and even still today, the pain, the impatience and all the bullshit that surrounds it sometimes gets to me. So why write now? I met a person who not only inspired me, but made me realize the experiences I’ve had since this happened, the people who have been there for me and the fight to get back is more rewarding than I could have ever imagined.
Her name is Elaine Honsa. Elaine is the grandmother of someone VERY special to me and I had the honor and privilege to meet her a few weeks ago. Obviously Elaine doesn’t get around as well as all of us athletes anymore, however, when we arrived, she not only stood up from the chair she was in, but grabbed a hold of her walker and by herself, made a special trek back to her room so that we could talk in private. As we made it down the hall way I couldn’t help but be humbled at the effort this lady was willing to put forth just to spend some time with us. Inspired…in awe…honored. After some catching up with her granddaughter, Elaine said something that I needed to hear, that I had forgotten and that would instantly pull me out of the haze and funk I had been in. I was walking around and looking at the pictures all over her room and outside of her door. One in particular was a black and white of this beautiful woman (Elaine) sitting on a pylon at a marina. With a smile that would light up any room, Elaine told us about the picture and continued to say; “It’s the memories in life. I have such great memories!” There was no mention of money, cars, houses or any type of material item. What trumped the list and what she cherished most in her life were her experiences and the people who she was surrounded by. I cannot thank Elaine enough and I think of her often. There is a picture she painted hanging in my girlfriend’s house and when I see it, that moment, those words and that incredible lady all come back to me. Thank you Elaine.
So here is how it went down:
One week after the crash I had enough with lying around and being a burden. With my one arm in a sling I decided to put Chicky on the trainer, fix what I could and just spin. 4 hours later I was ready to ride hahaha! You might think that falling off a trainer is damn near impossible…allow me to put that theory to rest for you. I did get a workout done and finally had a sense of accomplishment even if there was spoke sticking out of the front wheel and the handle bars were crooked. (go ahead and laugh, it is funny) As the days went on, so did the trainer rides and finally a week later I decided I was going to try and run. Keep in mind the temperature here is one million, eight hundred fifty thousand, two hundred and twenty five degrees and I am wearing a stupid black sling, in serious pain and trying to run. The scene: Ryan dressed in bright blue Newtons, black shorts, a bandana and a black sling, all while running down highway 92 trying not to bust his ass by tripping. Oh yeah!! Not only did I look stupid, but it hurt! Just like the doctor said it would. Grrrrrrr! That is pretty much how training would go for the next few weeks. Doctors would say no, I would push as much as I could, my arm hurt and my attitude sucked…until what you read above.
One week out of Ironman Augusta 70.3, and just like every other major race I’ve entered I am injured. We all know of Ironman events, but Im thinking of starting Ryanman events. This is where your training is going well and then out of nowhere Tanya Harding comes out of the bushes and whacks you with a baseball bat in any given area. Then you race. Honestly I don’t feel bad for myself but c’mon, one race without injury would be so nice. It’s all relative and I realize millions of people have huge problems, real problems they face daily, but regardless this is upsetting in my world.
This blog is about my journey, but without certain people, that journey would have ended a while ago. People that were there, who are selfless and people that I cannot ever repay for without them I wouldn’t be writing this and I need to acknowledge them.
First and foremost my amazing girlfriend, Tami Liptak. After driving over 2 hours to rescue me from hospital hell, she hasn’t left my side. No one has ever been there for me like her and nothing I say can express my appreciation for all that she has done and put up with. Doctor visits, painful sleepless nights, dealing with medications that make me unbearable… but never once did she lose her patience and never once was she not there for me completely. I could write pages upon pages of what she has done but it still could not show how much this incredible girl put up with. Thank you Tami!! I love you! You are truly incredible! Tami is running the Chicago marathon for charity. Check out he site and donate if you can. (http://www.active.com/donate/nfchicago2011/TLiptak1 )
Dr. Chris Webb. Always my friend and always the voice of reason to me. I trust him and looked to him for help. Even on his birthday(which I didn’t even realize) his concern was for me, finding me the right doctor and helping to facilitate my rehabilitation. You are one amazing friend Chris. Thank you! (http://www.chirowebb.com )
My coach, Dr. Suzanne Atkinson. She used resources to get me information, checked in on me and has continued to work with me the entire way through this. I am as prepared as I possibly could be given the circumstances and although the original goal has been changed, crossing that finish line WILL happen! You Rock Coach!! Thank you!(www.steelcityendurance.com )
Ok, enough of the sappy stuff, lets get onto race day. Yes I am still racing. Why? Because I said I would. I’m a man of my word and I committed to this race months ago! DNF doesn’t exist for me!!! In one week I will be swimming mostly one armed, riding hard and possibly running with that sling on. My goal is to finish but more importantly to have fun. This race is extremely special as I will have two very important people at the finish line waiting for me, Tami and Wendy. I have never had anyone at a finish line before at a large race. (Not Syracuse, and not at the 70.3 World Championships) Although I was surrounded by good friends, having family and someone incredibly special to me at the finish will push me through anything.
On race day, Tami will have my phone so give her updates and keep her busy as its going to be a long day for a spectathlete in my corner. Thank you to everyone for all of your messages, thoughts and support!
R A C E O N ! ! !
The Pittsburgh Triathlon Club is the best!! Principles make it so. Confused as to why? Allow me to fill you in. When a small group of us got together and started the PTC, the basis for it was unanimous; an entity that supported athletes within the multisport arena in and around Pittsburgh. As I remember looking at everyone in the coffee shop that day, I saw abilities that ranged from no experience to over 4 years competing. The 2nd official meeting I saw more newbies with no experience and added tenured Ironman Kona competitors to the group. As the months went on, we repeatedly increased in all aspects of membership, the reason was simple. The PTC was based on the principle that helping each other would help our sport and would lead to bigger and better things for everyone.
Do you remember the people who didn’t believe? The ones that ignored us and chose to alienate themselves? It didn’t matter, we reached out to everyone and kept our hand out, knowing this was the right thing to do, the possibilities were endless, the benefits astronomical and potential was limitless. How about the support from local and national businesses? Myself, Chad and Sean would beat down doors to get our name out there and find that much needed support. Thank you to BikeTek, Fleet Feet, Steel City Endurance, Coach Chad Multisport, Fuel Your Passion, The Athlete’s Eutopia, Over the Bar Bicycle Café, Eckerd Siemans, Rudy Project, XTerra, EGel and Beaker Concepts for taking a chance on the unknown group. Or how about those first PTC kits we got? I still wear mine...proudly!!
This group is not without its serious athletes. (pay close attention to this part) I mentioned Chad Holderbaum, he has qualified for Kona countless times by going 2nd at Placid, and AZ and now I see he won overall at Musselman, how about the top 5 performance (Elite) at St. Anthony’s, Eagleman…the list goes on and on. Kim Schwabenbauer, first amateur woman in at Cozumel, top 10 at New Orleans, Eagleman, St. Croix and more. Beth Shutt – huge wins at WV, Eagleman, Cedar Point, etc etc. Ill just keep naming, Chris Nocera, The Cornmans, Matt Mauclair, Chris Rotelli, Seriously I could name drop for paragraphs, but that is not purpose of talking about them. What do all of these people have in common? They all give freely to the PTC. They help whenever they can. They support the club by giving talks, taking leadership roles, helping out at events and most importantly – they take others under their wing at races to make sure their club members are ready to go. PRINCIPLES!!! Selfless!!! We all know they are fast, hell they themselves know they are fast, but rather than act like tri-snobs and be pretentious, they give back.
All of what I write is known so why go into it when the majority of people that read this are PTC members anyway? Because it bugs me and- this is my blog damnit! Oh and maybe… I MISS YOU GUYS!!! I miss my training crew – James Wrubel, Sean McBurney & Chris Rotelli. (except running and riding hills with Chris. “If you sing again, I will stab you”) I miss people like Sarah putting OWS together on Friday nights and going to get dinner after with Nikki and Bergin as we all smell like the Allegheny. How about the drills and free clinic that Suzanne Atkinson puts on prior and then swims with everyone just because she enjoys it! I miss walking into BikeTek, getting greeted by Franklin and bullshitting with Frank and Angelo. They put themselves out there for me from the start and took great care of the PTC. I miss Tuesday night Crit races and watching Lee-Ann blow kisses as she destroys the entire pack and getting to ride that same oval on Thursdays chasing Chad until I puke. I miss figuring out the world’s problems according to Ryan with Ken after masters.
There is very little of that here. I ride alone a lot and when I see other triathletes I wave but get nothing back. I run and see guys or girls in tri kits and will say hi and try to see where they train or who with…but nothing back. The groups have no continuity and the discounts…yeah not even close. I shouldn’t be surprised. When I arrived here I was fortunate enough to talk to someone who let me in on the scene and pretty much told me all of this. The problem though, I have trouble accepting it. I haven’t met a single person here who could take any of the elite’s in Pittsburgh, so I have to ask: Why so serious? You gain nothing and lose so much.
My advice to PTCers, don’t take what you have for granted. Step up and continue to give back, continue to grow what you have. People like the ones mentioned above and others that give night and day like Jill Schapiro are rare, and Pittsburgh is lucky to have all of you!!!
Angelo told me numerous times that the PTC was unlike any other triathlon club he had ever known. I was proud of that and even prouder to see it continue. Bravo!! So Im thinking about changing it up down here. A prior mentor of mine told me if I didn’t like something, change it. Hmm, considering launching something big, something Atlanta has never seen and something that will bring that camaraderie back to the sport I love here in the Atlanta. There are triathletes everywhere, why are we not working together? Race day is race day, go hard and reach your goals, but wouldn’t it be nice to do this with the help and support of others?
I have some friends here at The Sports Factory, North Atlanta Multisport Club, Endurance Concepts and The Atlanta Tri Club. Im thinking this is a great start and a fantastic group to get things going!! Beware Atlanta multisport athletes, you may just find yourselves becoming a part of something bigger…