The last couple weeks have been pretty quiet on my blog. I didn’t even write a full race report for Austin. Partly that’s because I read Ethan Brown’s race report and thought it was well written and pretty much covered my race as well.

What Ethan didn’t talk about in his race report is how I wasn’t able to keep up in the first part of the run because my hip was really hurting. The MRI last week showed that I have what the doctors are calling a “Stress Reaction” in the neck of my femur. It’s not a stress fracture, which is really good, but I still have to keep weight off my leg for two weeks.

Upon hearing this news, Bob Havrilak, who I stayed with in Hawaii for 8 weeks, hopped a plain to Seattle and threw me in a car with him headed for Canada. Bob knew that an athlete without an exercise fix will go nuts (depression, moodiness, and all the other signs of withdrawal from a drug), and he figured he could distract me through the first few days of it.

Wednesday morning, after a swim in Lake Washington, we headed for British Columbia, straight up I-5. About 4 hours later we arrived in Squamish, a small town near Whistler, where we were scheduled to test fly a small amphibian aircraft. Since I don’t have a pilot’s license, I just got to sit in the passenger seat, but it was my first time flying in a tiny plane like that.

After the test flights we drove back to Vancouver. On the way we picked up a hitchhiker, though he only needed to go a few miles up the road. The temporary travel companion was an Aussie who was in his final week of a six month journey all over the west coast of the US and Canada. He had spent the winter snow boarding at Whistler, then surfed down the coast to San Diego, hiked through the mountains on the way back, and was heading for Europe in the morning for another six month journey. I have to admit, the  unplanned and uninhibited life really does sound appealing at times. No structure, no limits to what the day can bring, no morning workout, or afternoon recovery… Sometimes I think that must be the ideal life – I just wouldn’t enjoy it without a purpose.

In Vancouver, Bob and I checked into a hotel and walked around searching for dinner (I was crutching around, and not really walking, but I’m not sure if that’s really a word.). I love Vancouver. The city is fairly clean, the people are beautiful and nice, and it’s different enough from the US that the people watching is more fun. Bob, on the other hand, is the type of guy who will hand a buck to anyone that asks for it. We made it a block from the hotel before he realized that we wouldn’t have enough for dinner if he kept handing dollar bills to all the pan handlers. Having grown up going to school in downtown Seattle, and living in New York City, I’ve long since learned to say, “no, sorry” without interrupting my conversation or stride. I also know that Vancouver has a decent assistance program for people living on the street, and I feel that supporting those programs is probably a better way to feed the needy (and more assuredly not going to buy drugs). Regardless, the pan-handlers ruined the experience for Bob. You can tell that it hurts him to see people suffering, and not be able to help.

In the morning we headed up to Horse Shoe Bay, just north of Vancouver, and hopped a ferry over to Vancouver Island. I stood on the bow of the boat looking for orca whales for the entire 90 minute voyage, but saw none. The purpose in going to Vancouver Island was to visit Scott Mihalchan and his wife Leah. I met Scott briefly at Adam’s memorial service in Hawaii, and once saw him hand cycling around Diamond Head. Until last week, however, we had never spent any time getting to know each other. Scott really deserves more than a mention at the bottom of a catch-up blog post, so I’m going to keep it short and write a few stories as their own blog posts.

Scott and Leah are really wonderful people. They live in Mill Bay, on Vancouver Island, which is where Scott chose to live based on the mild climate. Scott is a respirator dependent quadriplegic, with a partial fracture in his neck. He’s taught himself to use his arms and even stand. He’s also an athlete (he only uses the respirator at night), a cook, a sports car enthusiast (or maybe he just likes his own sports cars), and a hilarious person.

Up until this point on our trip I had been pretty down on having to take time off training. Scott really changed that around. And it wasn’t just because he let me ride his hand cycle up a monstrous hill (they seem bigger on hand cycles). Long story short: by the time we caught the ferry back to Washington, I was in a much better mood than when we’d left.

Published by Ben

Ben Collins Professional Triathlete

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  1. for training while doing nothing on one leg you might want to check with emilio desoto. either directly at his company, or back posts on slowtwitch. he’d done in an ankle, i think, while heliskiing in b.c. and developed a means of running on crutches…including at least one race, as i recall. all while not involving the one leg or messing with the healing process.
    this too shall pass. all shall be well.

  2. If you can find someone to lend you an arm bike for a ride I’ll hit it with you. People in cars never try to run over the people on arm bikes (unless they think they are a recumbent rider of course). Sorry to hear about the injury, but I’m sure you’ll come back stronger and more bitter than ever :-). If you need something to focus on in the meantime, check out the Aqua Zone Portland Mile. It’s an open water race with $25k purse, sounds right up your alley.

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