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Preview: HIV+ Triathlete: Til I Drop

HIV+ Triathlete: Til I Drop

Scott Simpson is an HIV+ triathlete, student and inspirational speaker avoiding real work so he can find more time to train and learn. A former party boy, Scott has gone from the fictional national drinking team to the real Canadian national triathlon tea


Team4HIVHope Shout Out!

Thu, 23 Jun 2011 08:53:00 GMT

My buddies on Team4HIVHope are rockin' the road as they race across America on their bikes!

Spare a thought for them as they battle saddle sores, the elements served up by Mother Nature, and the lack of sleep inherent in racing non-stop across the continent.

They are currently at about the halfway mark and no doubt their bodies -- and minds -- are starting to feel the effort of the previous days. Exhaustion and pain must be abundant.

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Ironman Louisville Race Report: Never Give Up

Wed, 1 Sep 2010 16:52:00 GMT

Pre-race recap:

First Ironman: Wisconsin 2004. Sick heading into the race. Couldn't consume calories or fluids during. Woke up in the back of an ambulance after I passed out half way through the bike. Later diagnosed with parasitic infection.

Second Ironman: Wisconsin 2005. Very, very rough day but managed to stave off unconsciousness to get to the finish 11 minutes before the midnight cutoff. I am an Ironman.

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Gay Games Race Report

Thu, 19 Aug 2010 19:54:00 GMT

It has been a whirlwind of racing the past few weeks. I had two races in one of the local race series and had a much improved bike segment and finished fourth in my age group in each race so was feeling a little more confident in my chances of getting onto the podium at the Gay Games.

Making me less confident was finding out that the guy that beat me for the gold medal at the previous Gay Games (2006, Chicago) was returning. My interrupted training and lack of taper added to my doubts about podiuming in my 45-49 age group.

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I Am a Delicate Flower

Fri, 16 Jul 2010 03:24:00 GMT

"My name is Scott, and I am a delicate flower."

There, I said it. Admitting it is half the battle, right?

OK, so after I was sick for a few days toward the end of May which necessitated a few days of zero / easy training I jumped back into heavy training. That lasted almost a week and then I was knocked down with more illness. My life came to a complete stop. And I thought to myself, "Jeez, Louise, my immune system is like a delicate flower."

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American Triple T Race Report: Sick Puppy

Mon, 31 May 2010 12:38:00 GMT

For those not in the know, this is 4 races in 3 days and totals just slightly more than the ironman distance. Many folks use it as a training weekend for their ironman race this summer. Some are racing in the team division, but like most, I'm doing the solo version.

It all starts late Friday afternoon with the prologue super sprint: 250 metre swim, 5 mile bike, 1 mile run. Saturday consists of an olympic distance race (1500 metre swim, 40 km bike, 10 km run) in the morning followed by another olympic distance race in mid-afternoon. The twist for this third race is that the bike is first, followed by the swim, and ending with the run. Then Sunday tops it all off with a half-ironman race: 2 km swim, 90 km bike, 21.1 km run. The bike courses are notorious for the hills, hills, and more hills.

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The Good News Is ...

Sat, 8 May 2010 21:37:00 GMT

"The good news is that we didn't find anything that would make you sick. The bad news is that we didn't find what was making you sick."

So went the beginning of my most recent doctor's appointment. He went on to say that no tumour was found -- whew! -- and that although I have thickening of my left adrenal gland wall, it is not indicative of a medical condition. Since its been 5 weeks since I've experienced any symptoms associated with the 5 weeks of illness and I've returned to full-on training -- and recovering from hard days very well, better in fact then I was recovering pre-illness -- meant that mentally I had pretty much put the illness in the past. I told him that I was just back to the med induced nausea and all other symptoms had ceased.

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Back in the Saddle Again

Mon, 29 Mar 2010 19:48:00 GMT

I was hoping to give this blog entry a title with a super positive spin, something like -- "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands" -- because I hadn't had any 'anxiety' attack episodes for an entire week, only bouts of nausea -- and they seemed to be lessening as the days passed -- and mild abdominal pain that failed to recur mid-week. Sunny skies.

Alas, I had another episode late Saturday for 30 minutes, so my mini theory that the episodes had occurred over 10 days with their intensity peaking in the middle -- such that if graphed it would reveal a bell curve distribution -- is doubtful. Unless I attribute the most recent episode as an 'outlier'.

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Ambulance Ride and the Grim Reaper

Mon, 22 Mar 2010 16:26:00 GMT

Well, it has been an up and down week -- physically and emotionally.

When all this started 5+ weeks ago, the most severe symptoms were profound fatigue and feeling very crappy all the time (much to my chagrin, I don't have a better word then crappy). But not nauseous, as I never felt like I was going to vomit and the crappy feeling didn't seem to emanate from my stomach. As the fatigue and crappy feeling started to lift in the last couple of weeks, I was able to be more functional.

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From Saddle Sores to Bed Sores: Felled by the Flu?

Mon, 15 Mar 2010 18:23:00 GMT

Well, not really -- I was never on the bike enough to get saddle sores, nor immobile long enough to get bed sores, but I have been battling something that I was attributing to the flu. And if I don't get better soon, getting to the start line of Ironman Louisville is in serious jeopardy.

So that's why I haven't updated in so long -- 4 weeks ago today I woke up feeling crappy, not nauseous, just very crappy without energy and spent the next several days on the couch. Kind of pissed that I got the flu again -- I just had the (self-diagnosed) flu 3 weeks earlier, but ultimately I was glad I had gotten those H1N1 and seasonal shots before the holidays.

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Graceful I Ain't

Mon, 22 Feb 2010 14:29:00 GMT

I bet on average that I trip/slip and fall, or crash, at least once a month. I'm not kidding -- I am that klutzy.

I fell again this week while running. Actually I was almost at a standstill when I went down and somehow landed very hard on my right calf. I have been very wisely avoiding my usual ravine route because its ice covered and have been sticking to the dreaded asphalt streets. However, a full bladder necessitated a visit to the wooded ravine and I very slowly and gingerly made my way a few metres over the ice path toward a tree when my feet went out from under me.

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My First Triathlon: Passion Stomps Ego

Tue, 16 Feb 2010 16:29:00 GMT

As a former fat bastard, pack a day plus smoker and party animal extraordinaire, my initial foray into the world of competitive athletics was inauspicious, to say the least.

My athletic background consisted of ... wait, I have no athletic background. Growing up on a farm with hours of chores every day negated any opportunities to participate in after school athletics -- there were cattle to be fed and dung to be disposed; in one end and out the other. While these were physically demanding chores, by no stretch of the imagination did I ever consider them to be athletic activities. They don't give out medals for shit shoveling.

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Triathlon Training: Nasty, Brutish but Not Short

Mon, 8 Feb 2010 18:45:00 GMT

Life is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short". That's according to philosopher Thomas Hobbes. Cheer up Chuckles, you didn't have it so bad.

I have officially started my ironman training which means the 'get fat and slow' part of my training season has come to a screeching halt at 173lbs and many missed workouts, but not meals. Mmmmm -- chocolate. Alas, it is now time to buckle down (coz I can barely buckle up) and start into long base building workouts. As such, I have recently bumped up the volume and frequency of workouts, especially on the swim and bike, and implemented hard-day/easy-day rotations.

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Transitions: Life, Lemonade and Triathlon

Mon, 1 Feb 2010 20:30:00 GMT

In triathlon racing there is a transition zone; an area where athletes transform / change from swimmers to cyclists and then from cyclists to runners. The goal of the athlete is to get through the transitions, T1 and T2, as quickly as possible. It is free time you can gain over your competitors.

In life we go through many transitions, some of our own making and we eagerly seek, like choosing to pursue higher education or to change careers. While other transitions are forced upon us: mourning the loss of family or friend, or being laid off from your job, being diagnosed with a serious illness. Regardless of where the locus of control lies that initiates the transition, either internal or external, adaptation to the new situation is fundamental for success. It seems it's always about Darwin's theory.

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Lassie, Haiti and the Animal In Me

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 18:23:00 GMT

It has been kind of rough going for me the last few weeks with some challenges that have interfered with my life/training. First, I had a minor cosmet -- er, medical procedure that prevented any swim training for just over a week. Most recently I've been battling the flu -- but not H1N1 or seasonal flu coz I got those shots -- and have missed 2 days of work and 3 days of training.

But the most dramatic challenge was while I was out for a run earlier this week. Two Border Collies, one medium, one large -- the latter looked a lot like Lassie -- barking aggressively, ran toward me along the path in the nearby ravine. The owner yelled at the dogs but they paid no heed. I continued running as both dogs came closer, barking loudly. I'm used to dogs running up to me while running -- they usually want to play or they stick their nose in my crotch as way of hello -- but these dogs were quite aggressive in manner. Nevertheless I held my running line as they came to either side of me and, truth be told, I was now consciously hiding my fear. But maybe they could smell it.

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Pretty, Witty and Gay

Tue, 12 Jan 2010 17:52:00 GMT

Don't you just hate the type? I know, I know, its really just jealousy because they're more attractive, or at least less unattractive, then myself. And cleverer -- and not just book smarts either, but interpersonal and street smarts too.

But, I can hold my own in the gay department. I'm told that kittens know I'm gay. I'm so gay that I assume it's self-evident to one and all. So I'm always shocked when anyone who has known me for a while says they didn't know I was gay (ed. Ha, as if). My knee jerk response is "What? Did you just meet me?" I'm mean, like really, even Helen Keller knows I'm gay. Haven't you heard my 'accent', the way I talk? The way I walk? Hell, for that matter, the way I run?

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Something Spiritually Sexy

Wed, 6 Jan 2010 20:32:00 GMT

I did not have a personal definition of the word 'spiritual' for the longest time. For me, the word was packed with religiosity and based on belief in angels and other ethereal beings. So not my cup of tea. I like mine green and evidence based. Then I went to a workshop on spirituality conducted for, and facilitated by, HIV+ people about 6 years ago. If memory serves there were about 20 people, mostly men, in the group.

After introductions and a feeling of safety, confidentiality and mutual respect and support had been established, the facilitator spoke briefly about the inherent subjectiveness when attempting to define spirituality. The facilitator then asked each participant to state their personal definition of spirituality. Some people did indeed refer to a god or some higher power, albeit socially constructed in the context of religion. Others spoke about a sense of being part of a whole of the materials of the universe. Others expressed connections to family, friends and/or community as being spiritual. But none of those seemed to quite speak to me; to what my mind was conjuring.

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My Mother: Tractor Pull Queen

Mon, 21 Dec 2009 16:51:45 GMT

The alarm goes off at 5am, but I'm already half awake, listening to talk radio, callers blathering on about aliens and crop circles and 9/11 conspiracy theories. I drag myself out of bed, trot across the heated floor, which the soles of my hard working feet relish, and throw a slice of bread in the toaster.

Spread some peanut butter and jam on it and plop myself in front of the tv to watch the morning weather forecast. Midway through breakfast I swallow the 3 little pills that keep me from certain death and mutter to myself as I do twice each day; "Dream as if you will live forever. Live as if you will die today." The dog looks up at me to see if I'm talking to her.

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Triathlon Is Primal. Night Sweats Are Modern.

Mon, 14 Dec 2009 18:51:45 GMT

The other night I was watching the science show Nova on PBS -- it was about our evolution and how we became bipedal. The theory goes like this: our ancestors succeeded because they had access to meat and fat that allowed our species to grow big brains. To catch this meat they would track and chase an animal to its exhaustion and then easily kill it. Unlike our naked ape selves, having lost much of our body hair to promote sweating and internal heat regulation, hairy animals cannot perspire through their skin and unless they stop running and pant, they eventually overheat. Our lack of body hair is an adaptation to the long distance running necessary to secure high calorie food. The documentary included a video clip of bush men from Africa hunting for food: chasing an antelope-ish type animal for 4 to 8 hours until it had overheated and could run no more and became an easy target for their spears. This is known as persistence hunting. It reminded me of triathlon.

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Me, Obama and the HIV Travel Ban

Tue, 8 Dec 2009 20:10:45 GMT

I have got to confess -- it's a huge relief knowing that the United States, with President Obama's push, is going to lift its travel ban on HIV positive people from entering their country. Definitely a major reason I was finally willing to start this blog. What I found particularly insightful was his acknowledgement of the negative impact the travel ban had on the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Colour me paranoid, but I had felt that publicizing on the net that I was going to be travelling to the US for an ironman triathlon could potentially have had me placed on some sort of HIV blacklist by an official or an AIDSphobic individual and stopped me at the border. Training 20 hours a week for 10 months for ironman is a huge time, physical and emotional commitment. Add in equipment expenses, entry fee, travel and accommodation costs and it could all come to naught if I was blacklisted.

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Here We Go!

Wed, 25 Nov 2009 17:06:45 GMT

Why have I decided to write a blog?

Mostly to share my triathlon training and racing journey as I prepare for Ironman (IM) Louisville 2010, but I also figure, by being public about living with HIV, I can help educate people and reduce stigma and discrimination. In short, effect positive change. Life's too short not to be following passions. The grim reaper lurks closer every day. Maybe that's whom I'm really racing.

I am a former pack-a-day tobacco smoker, heavy drinker (National Team) and partier (you name it, and I've probably smoked, snorted or swallowed it), and have weighed as much as 240 lbs whilst subsisting on chips, cookies, and cakes. Ah, good times.

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