Saturday, May 23, 2009

"That Call"

As you may have heard, Steve Larsen died this week while doing a track workout in Oregon. The autopsy is inconclusive, but ruled out a heart issue or blood clot. For those of you that didn't know of him, he was a great biker who made his way into triathlon. He helped Lance Armstrong in the late 80s win a World Championship, was a 2x World Champ in mountain biking, won IMLP in his first IM, and led Kona at one point. He swam like a rock, absolutely blasted the bike, and ran something like a 3:10 (?), too slow compared to the other elites in Kona. Most importantly, Steve seemed like a great family man. He leaves a wife and 5 children, the oldest 13 and the youngest are twins at age 2. I listened to an interview with him on a Competitor Radio podcast (btw, one of the better ones out there) about 6 months ago. He was gettng back into serious training as an age grouper and beating all sorts of pros. However it was more important for him to make it to a kid's soccer tournament than put in a 5 hour ride.

I mentioned this to Christine last night. I could see in her eyes that she was nervous about me pushing so hard, so long, for so many days. Will she get "that call" sometime? Back in the summer of 1990, we were living on Cape Cod while I taught sailing and she worked at a camp. One beautiful morning on a long 20 mile ride (my, how things have changed!), while down in the aero bars, I came to an intersection. The crossroad had a stop sign, I didn't. The car stopped, never saw me, and pulled out right in front of me. I hit the left front wheel, dented the hood, and fell to the ground. The bike was wrecked, and the helmet cracked. She got "that call," that morning, and met me at the hospital. Fortunately I was basically fine, other than soreness for a few days that prevented me from starting an outboard engine.

Think about all of the things that can go wrong when we're out there. Swimming is probably fairly safe. The bike has all sorts of things that can go wrong. Traffic, high speed flats, potholes, rider to rider contact, sand, ice, etc, etc. Running problems are probably confined to personal physiology, although maximum effort sets may bring those issues to the surface.

So there are risks in what we do. Are the risks greater or less than if we don't train like we do? I suppose the risks are different.

Leah (8) rides horses and is preparing for tomorrow's first show of the season. Last year, she competed in "lead line," where there's an adult holding a line to the horse. This year, she's on her own in the ring with other horses, presenting all sorts of additional variables and complications. We think riding a bike can be hard- try competing while sitting on a 1000 pound animal that has it's own damn ideas as to what it wants to do while everyone stares at you. On Thursday, she was thrown from the horse three times. I would expect maybe one per month, but this was three in one day. Obviously, that didn't help her mounting performance anxiety. Christine saw the last two falls firsthand. It's amazing that she got back on Wizard, but she did. Yesterday, she went up to the barn and just walked. Today it was some walking and trotting. Both were fine, so there's hope.

Nick (12) skateboards and snowboards. Obviously all sorts of risks there. Christine herself rides horses and has been thrown.

Holy shit. Until writing this, I had no idea the four of us took so many risks. It isn't consistent with the fact that we're a fairly conservative family.

There's a gentleman at our firm that is widely respected in the industry. He talks to us every couple of hours from the floor of the exchange. 9/11 was devistating for him. Since that day, at the end of every day, he says,

"You know the rules. Keep yourself safe. Put a little joy into your life and those around you that may merit it. And never, ever...that's never ever...pass up an opportunity to kiss someone you love."

Make sure you kiss your family as you head out the door.


  1. Great post. It's so scary to think of having such a loss occur. Time with loved ones is so precious and should be cherished.

  2. What always gets me is that it can be sudden and random. How did Steve Larsen actually die? Not the heart, not a clot, not an accident.
    I know that you're getting at the risks inherent in the things we choose to do... but it's the things I can't control that make me worry about loss the most.

    And also, you are right in that sometimes we take for granted the time we have with those we love--and don't cherish, and don't give the goodbye kiss. And that is not okay.

    On a lewd note though, does that quote about kissing mean that I can kiss everyone that I love? Maybe you should define love... That could be a whole new post! jk

  3. ohh...I do know this feeling. Mark flies....It scares me, I'll be honest. And after the crash on my head last year during urban/epic, I know that feelign first hand. You just never know. And like Mary said, it is the things that are out of our control that are the scariest.
    Take time every day for those we love..absolutely.

  4. Yeah, it was funny when I realized that swimming was probably the safest of the 3 sports I did (I really didn't like it much then). But the only thing that's sadder than someone unexpectedly dying doing something they love is them dying because of some drunk driver or something stupid that could have been prevented. Unfortunately, the latter seems more likely where we are and the only consolation I have is that we have everything (insurance, wills, POAs, etc) in place in case something should happen. In the meantime, go on living and never take your loved ones for granted. Great post.

  5. Thanks. I love the quote:

    "You know the rules. Keep yourself safe. Put a little joy into your life and those around you that may merit it. And never, ever...that's never ever...pass up an opportunity to kiss someone you love."