Third Time's the Charm: Ironman Lake Placid!
Surgeries are behind me (hopefully forever!), and I'm doing well. I've unfortuantley have two blips with Small Bowel Obstructions that have been painful and taken more out for some time, so the fight continues. I've enjoyed the chance to train & return to my fitness level, so 2017 was a great year. My primary races were the Colorado Marathon (May) and the Boulder 70.3/Half Ironman (August) with Team Challenge. I have also enjoyed taking the role of Coach for Team Challenge Denver. I guided two seasons of participants to the New Orleans Rock 'n' Roll Marathon (February) and the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon (July).
I'm looking ahead to plenty of excitment in 2018. I'm coaching my 3rd season for Team Denver to prepare the team for two events: Surf City Half/Full Marathon (February) and the New Orleans Rock 'n' Roll Half/Full Marathon (March). Along with that, I will be deep into training for my next big endeavor - my 3rd full Ironman 140.6, Ironman Lake Placid on July 22nd!
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:
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.
My New Purpose
I'm feeling GREAT with surgeries behind me. 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've filled the role of patient, honoree, athlete, and coach. I began coaching Team Challenge Denver in 2016, and our current team is training for two events in early 2018.
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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