Racing and Raising $$ in my Backyard
I'm a patient. I'm at athlete. I'm a coach. I'm a counselor. I'm an honoree. I'm a mentor. I'm a blogger. I wear many hats that demonstrate my endless support to the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation. As horrible as IBD is to patients and their loved ones, this disease has brought me into an amazing community and allowed me to share a lot with all of you.
I'm training for the Boulder Half Ironman (70.3) with Team Challenge n 8/4/18 and using this as a way to fundraise for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation. Your support and donations are of amazing value and make me smile each day of my life.
A Quick History...
I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease/Ulcerative Colitis in 2002. It's been a difficult disease to deal with, but I chose long ago to take control by maintaining a positive attitude and an active lifestyle. I strongly believe that my active lifestyle is a key weapon to fight the disease. The symptoms can be difficult to manage and impossible to control, but I don’t let this disease control my life or beat me mentally.
IBD complicates my training and negatively impacts my performance, but I don't allow the disease to stop me from training, racing, or enjoying the life I choose. I’ve had many rough training experiences since long sessions of swimming, biking, and running aren’t conducive to immediate restroom access. My symptoms worsened in 2015 while training for my first Ironman, so I made the tough decision to move forward with a series of surgeries to remove my large intestine.
Training & Surgery
I was at a deficit in prep for Ironman Wisconsin as related to my training and health, but I was fueled by a strong mental drive. It took me more than 14 hours and 30 porta potty visits, but I crossed the finish line full of pride and emotion. It was one of the toughest days of mental and physical challenge that I've experienced while also one of the most exhilarating and memorable days of my life. Two weeks after IMWI, I had my first surgery to begin removal of my large intestine and create an ileostomy. Surgery #2, 10 weeks later, removed the remainder of my large intestine and reconstructed my small intestine to create a J-pouch. Surgery #3, 12 weeks later, was a successful "take down" of the ileostomy and returned me to a fully connected GI system.
I'm fortunate and grateful that the surgeries were completed without major complications. It was a painful, uncomfortable, sedentary six months, but I'm a stronger person from the experience. As I moved through the process and recovered from the final surgery, I was motivated by my desrire to resume training. I made the decision before the first surgery that I would get back into the water, get on my bike, and throw on my running shoes as soon as my body would allow. I would be a stronger person mentally and physically.
Surgeries are behind me, hopefully forever, with the 3rd completed on 2/29/16. Overall, I'm doing well and I have no regret that I chose the surgical route. I've unfortunately have two blips with Small Bowel Obstructions that were very painful and unexpectedly took me out for a few weeks. I had a tough period from Nov. '17-Feb. '18 with serious hip pain and debilitation that made it difficult for me to even walk and do my daily routine around home. I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, an auto-immune like type of arthritic disease, which causes the most problems to large joints (like my hip/SI joint) and the spine. I began a new biologic drug (Cosentyx) in February which has worked well and allowed me to resume my activity level without the pain.
My Fight Won't Stop
I'm not stopping, I'm deeply committed, and I'm even more motivated as I continue with Team Challenge as an athlete, a run coach, and a patient/honoree. Here's a bit of my story and MY WHY for supporting this organization:
My New Purpose
I'm more committed than ever to the new purpose I began in September 2015 with sharing my story prior to IMWI. My story, blog, Facebook page, and conversations have become tools for me to educate, motivate, and encourage an active lifestyle. No matter what you're facing, you can maintain a level of control even when the situation is dire.
I’m heavily involved with Team Challenge, the endurance training program of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. I also enjoyed the role of Coach for Team Challenge Denver. I guided three seasons of participants to the New Orleans Rock 'n' Roll Marathon (February '17), the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon (July '17), and NOLA again this year (March '18).
I've met an amazing group of people through the IBD/Crohn's & Colitis Foundation/Team Challenge/Camp Oasis community. I can share countless stories of patients and their families/friends and battles against the ugliness of IBD. It's life-impacting. It's pain and discomfort. It's unexpected diagnoses and new problems. It's also a story of inspiration and the human spirit, and I always push my message of resisting, fighting to set and achieve your goals, and to show that we can win as humans in the battle against IBD.
This fight against Crohn’s and Colitis is deeply personal. I’m excited to continue to share my story as I coach Team Challenge Denver and train for Ironman Lake Placid in July. To help my fight, I’m asking for donations to support the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation mission and research initiatives. Thank you for your support and for following my story.
You can also follow at my blog (https://lukeygtri.wordpress.com/) and via my Facebook page 'Luke vs Triathlon'.
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are both major categories of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD). IBD affects an estimated 3.1 million Americans. These chronic diseases tend to run in families and they affect males and females equally. Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract and may affect any part from the mouth to the anus. Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory condition limited to the colon, otherwise known as the large intestine.
The Mission of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation: To cure and prevent Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis through research, and to improve the quality of life of children and adults affected by these digestive diseases through education and support.
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