July 30, 2007


Caption: The swimming is the hardest part.

In a little less than a week, El Cabrero is going to try something stupid. You may well ask, so what else is new? Let me be more specific.

Next Sunday, I'm planning on trying to finish a triathlon, a questionable action under any circumstances, with a (literally) broken heart. How broken? Let me put it this way: when I read an article about Dick Cheney a while back, I learned his heart (or functional equivalent) had an ejection fraction of 35%, which is 5% better than mine.

One of the symptoms for my condition is "sudden cardiac death," which sounds like it could be serious under certain conditions. Earlier this year, I got a shock box installed, which may come in handy when cars need a jump start.

If I had a different heart, I'd use it, but as Donald Rumsfeld, mad poet of destruction, once said, "You have to go to war with the army you've got."

The fact that I wound up with this condition shows that the universe has a sense of humor. I've always been physically active, haven't smoked in years, am not obese, and only drink as much alcohol as is absolutely necessary.

In the three years before I had bypass surgery in 2004, I'd done two marathons, three triathlons, three Charleston Distance Runs (15 milers), two half-marathons, and several smaller races.

Like Dylan said, "They'll stone you when you're trying to be so good."

Paradoxically, though, finding out my heart was almost totally blocked made me feel a lot better. I kept wondering why I was getting slower and slower. The news did wonders for my self esteem. After all, anyone can finish an endurance event with a functioning heart, but it takes a real man (or an idiot) to do it with a crappy one.

NEW NOTES. One blog that is always thought provoking is Jim Lewis' Notes from Under the Fig Tree. Here's the latest.

OTHER VOICES. An interesting development over the last year or so has been the emergence of evangelical voices that have broken with the religious right on issues such as poverty and climate change. This latest example is even more surprising.

STICKING TO THE RELIGION THEME, here's an op-ed on the subject from yesterday's Sunday Gazette-Mail by Perry Mann in which he suggests that churches should do more to deal with the problems of this world.



Brecht said...

El Cabrero,
Well, you certainly have gumption.
I am sorry to hear about your heart condition.

You seem both intelligent and sensible, so I'm guessing you have done your research and know exactly what you're doing. Even so, it seems a bit foolhardy to me, because a stroke or worse can happen with so little warning. Is there a significant risk factor?

El Cabrero said...

Hey Brecht,
Thanks for the note and good wishes. I think in my condition, the biggest risk is being sedentary. My goal is not to do it fast (which isn't an option) but just to keep going.

The biggest challenge for me is to make it through the swim--I'm not much better than the man in the picture and he's not much better than a rock.

If I get through that, I'm pretty sure I can eventually finish it.

Plus, I've tried to prepare for it. We'll see.

Anonymous said...

Good luck, you crazy old goat (herd.)

We on dry ground salute you. (Although the motion may look more like scratching our heads...)


El Cabrero said...

Thanks, Chrissie! I would use a goat skin as a flotation device, but I'm not sure they'd go along with that.