"Freedom and responsibility we speak of easily, nearly always without recognition of the iron courage required to make them effective in our lives." j. glenn gray

Monday, June 8, 2009

Training Lesson No. 1

OK, I'm in REALLY bad shape. But, I guess that's why we train...right?

I went out and spun-up 39.3 miles averaging 15.3mph and figured "not too bad" considering we've got a pretty stiff SSW wind blowing today. I got back and drank a bottle of water and rested for 30 minutes figuring I'd start my yoga adventure and then shower. Well, I've never attempted yoga but I have always heard that it is a great, low-intensity way of building core strength and flexibility. I went by the library last Saturday and picked up a copy of Lilia's Yoga for Beginners on DVD and figured, "yup, that's me... a beginner" (to quote my good friend Dao).

I figured the best place for me to attempt this maneuver would be the bedroom as there is plenty of floor space, it's cool and quiet and I can close the door to the dogs and kids and other interruptions. That part of the plan came off without a hitch. I propped up the laptop and popped in the DVD and Lilia and I began to get to know each other a little better. It wasn't too long though before I was cussin' 'ole Lilia... and me and my back and my legs and the Coriolis effect and the Moon's geosynchronous orbit and the construction practices of sub-prime contractors!

The warm up went pretty smooth with a little breathing and some flailing about of the arms and shoulders. I was thinking, "hmm, this is a snap." Well, then we attempted what Lilia called the "plank position," which should have been a clue since you make planks out of what else but HARD wood, duh! I have this problem that crops up on occasion when I attempt to stretch a muscle while simultaneously exerting force. What happens is pretty spectacular for any observers that happen to be in the area. My muscles cramp with such force that my entire body contorts and is accompanied by grotesque facial expressions and some very colorful language. I've even been known to make up entirely new words and even entire phrases when this happens.

See, when I broke those 3 vertebrae they didn't just crack and lickity-split fuse back together. They actually exploded as the force caused compression fractures resulting in the vertebrae ending up in many little pieces with, what seems to be the majority of them coming to rest in my spinal cord. Spinal intrusions they called them and it took the surgeons several hours of an 16-hour surgery to pick them out of their resting places without doing additional damage to my spinal cord. The vertebrae were then fused/grafted back together with strips of bone taken from my hip. The vertebrae have healed but along all those little fissures where the cracks were there are now little deposits of calcium material that forms like a little stalactite. I believe they called them "bone spurs" and whenever I exert force enough to cause them to come in contact with my spinal cord... yeah, ouch! I get these really bad shooting pains and my muscles tighten, twitch, feel like they are either on fire, being electrocuted or having warm water poured over them (that's the least painful one but often leads me to think I've just pissed myself) and sometimes cramp.

So, when I stretched out my legs and then lifted my hips... BAM! My legs locked up like a Seargent at the Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier. I thought I was going to cry. I immediately fell back to the floor but couldn't move to get my legs to relax enough for the cramp to stop. Usually when they are this bad I have to have TC rub the cramps out for me but she was gone. So, I just lay there cussin' 'ole Lilia until they calmed down all by themselves. After a little rest I figured I'd finish up with a little less intensity... remember "I'm a beginner." Well, every time I attempted one of the postures involving my legs they would begin to cramp and I would back off. At this rate it will take me approximately 944 years to attain any level of yoga ability.

Perhaps, I should ride then carry on the rest of my day and perform yoga or resistance training in the evening after my muscles have had time to relax and the swelling to go down a bit. I have increased my water intake and while riding I use an electrolyte tablet in each water bottle. I'll try doing the yoga in the evening tomorrow and see how that works. I'll just do what I can and hopefully over the next few weeks I'll start seeing some results.

Ride On!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Mission Helping Hand

For years I have wanted to launch a major operation to help the cause of Veteran's Advocacy. While I have often helped my brothers-in-arms on an individual basis, I have always wanted to do something on a larger scale. As a Disabled Veteran myself I know full well the frustration and confusion while transitioning from service to civilian life and all while you are healing, mentally and physically, you must continue to be vigilant of your rights and healthcare when dealing with the VA and other government agencies. Often times it feels totally overwhelming. I have always sought to help my brothers-in-arms. It is an aspect of my character that I hold in the highest regard. It is engrained in me just as strongly as is the love and care of my immediate family. This will be, by far, my largest ever single contribution in an effort to raise awareness of the plight of U.S. Veterans, the need for third party Veteran's advocacy groups and to raise capital for two of these groups.

I plan on riding my bicycle approximately 1,600 miles from Houston, Texas to New York, New York in an effort to raise awareness of the 31,000+ Veterans who have been wounded in the Global War On Terror, to raise awareness of the treatment of these Veterans and of all Veterans by Our Country, and, to raise $5.5 million in capital for the Soldier's Angels and Wounded Warrior Project. These two organizations provide for Our Troops on the battlefield and, in the case of injury, in transition from battlefield to rehabilitation to civilian life and beyond.

Thus far I have a plan and a bike. I am fine tuning each and preparing myself for this mission. Over the next 10 weeks I will be communicating via this blog my plan, my route, my training, my gear and contributions made towards this missions end. Then, during the ride I will be posting my daily progress along with photos, video, interviews and other cool stuff. You can check out Soldier's Angels and Wounded Warrior Project through these links: and . Please help out by contributing what you can... from a cheer of good luck, to friendly advice, to a room and a shower along the way, to a capital donation. All proceeds from this mission will go directly towards Veteran's Advocacy.

Tune in tomorrow...