reflecting a bit, and sending thoughts out to ‘dick dime’

Results for the Roots Rock 50k were finally posted earlier this week.  I finished 5th overall, in a field of 16.  Naturally in a larger field, I wouldn’t have gotten into the top ten, but it still feels good to be in the top third of the field overall in my first official 50k run.  I’m pretty sure I could improve by about ten-fifteen minutes, but am happy with the effort and the results.

I’m very pleased with last week’s MS Ride experience with Kayla.  I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to see my daughter ride well during this event which we’d worked towards together.  My hope is that we’ll do this ride again next year, increasing the distance over time.  It’s a great way to incorporate long-term goals, with physical activity, all for a good cause.  My real hope is that we’re able to convey to the kids just how fulfilling this combination of factors can feel.

Also heard that Kayla has chosen to run cross-country for her school again this year.  My hope there is that she has lots of fun, and puts her ample heart into this.    Experience tells me that when we find something positive to do that with, we’re definitely happier.  It’s been fun watching her kick into training mode to prepare for her first meet this week.

About a week ago, I got some mail from a woman who’s good friend (and former spouse) had been involved in a serious bike accident while training in Colorado.  Richard Paradis (aka Dick Dime) sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), including some axonal shearing in his right hemisphere.  From my brief reading, this is a type of diffuse injury that can affect different areas of the brain, and is caused by trauma.  He’s an accomplished athlete, a competitive triathlete and a sub-3 hour marathoner.  Richard and his training partner were both injured while training for the Ironman 70.3 Championships.

Although he’s doing much better now than several weeks ago, the road ahead is long and somewhat uncertain.  Brain injuries are hard – we rely a great deal on clinical diagnosis, rather than systemic checklists which tell us exactly how things are looking.  There are indicators, predictors, and statistics, but it can be nearly impossible to know for sure how you’re going to be affected in the long-term by injuries like these.

For an athlete like Richard, it can be difficult to afford yourself the time and space to recover.  We get very focused on goals that can easily be quantified, and recovery from TBI often cannot be easily quantified.  It’s based on a wide range of things, including remapping of neural pathways to undamaged ones, and recovery from injuries beyond the brain as well.  He is apparently fairly lucid, but is having trouble with memory and fatigue.  And frustration.  I remember these feelings myself.  Adding to the difficulty is that Richard does not have health insurance coverage.

On the positive side, Richard has a great bunch of friends and supporters helping him.  And he has the mindset of an endurance athlete, where you judge progress towards goals over the long term.  Based on my experience, this should make a huge difference.

I’d like to tell Richard and his friends to know that the body and brain are miraculous things, in their ability to recover.  And that the early stages of recovery are often very difficult.  While the brain does it’s harder healing work, sometimes not much progress is visible.  I remember feeling exhausted after getting up and walking for five minutes.  I remember sleeping a lot.  And I remember longing for a glimmer of what I’d been able to do prior to my injury.  It’s also very difficult and humbling being dependent on others for even the most basic of things.

It’s hard to wait for recovery.  It’s hard to believe in yourself when you’re exhausted and fearful about what the future holds.  More than anything, I’d like to give Richard and his friends the gift of hope.

II don’t know him, but based on what I’ve heard, he has the mental focus and physical ability to recover as best he can.  In a way this is just a much more difficult endurance event, without a finish line.

In any case, I’m definitely keeping Richard in my thoughts.


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