A Note from Fatty: I wanted to update you on where things stand with Cigna and my son. A couple weeks ago, I wrote that they had declined coverage on the program he’s attending to help him overcome the debilitating depression he’s been fighting ever since Susan’s cancer came back.
Well, we escalated it through all the appeal levels there are available. Cigna said “no.” Each time.
So last week, my HR Representative at work asked for an independent review. Those take a little while, during which I continued to send my son to this program. I figured I’d pay for this, somehow. He’s improving; the program’s worth it.
On Friday, I was actually visiting with a counsellor at this program when the finance guy burst in.
“I have ridiculously good news,” he said. “The independent review sided with us. Cigna has to pay for the treatment, up to today. And that decision is final and binding.”
I was so relieved. But of course, that meant that the battle was just going to start again, starting the next workday.
And then, yesterday, I heard that Cigna had approved — this time without the reviews and appeals — another week of this program.
I’m sure that at some point — sooner than later, I’d guess — I’ll have to ramp up the battle again. And no matter what, this is going to be expensive for me; even with Cigna covering, my portion of the program still comes out to be about the same as an extra house payment each month.
But it’s still true: for now, we’re covered. Which is really great news.
So I’d like to give a big shout-out to someone I’m almost certain doesn’t read my blog: Keisha S, the incredible HR Rep at Gartner, where I work. She doesn’t know me (or didn’t ’til now), but took on my problem as if I were her brother.
I tell you. So many people have gone out of their way to do good things for me. I am a fortunate person.
Today, I am packing.
I am piling up pretty much every cycling-related item I own, and putting it in a truck. Tomorrow I’m driving to Leadville, getting ready for my sixteenth annual racing of the Leadville Trail 100 (Here’s last year’s race report, in case you’ve somehow missed my 1.5-decade-long obsession with this race).
I love this race. I dread this race. The course. The effort. The tradition. The annual wrestling match with my demons. The people.
More than anything, the people.
It’s the people who make any cycling event good. And somehow, it seems like big races and events bring out the best in everyone. As if during the course of the ride, by pushing all your anger and aggression into your pedals, you end the ride with nothing but the good parts.
Facing the Unknown
As the race gets closer, I’ll be nervous. I’ll lose sleep. I’ll fret and second-guess myself. I’ll ask myself, a thousand times, whether I’m in good enough shape to finish the Leadville 100 on a singlespeed in under nine hours.
But I’m not worried about whether I’ll finish. Sure, something could happen: I could crash out (it’s happened). I could have a catastrophic mechanical (it’s nearly happened). But I know my fitness and the course well enough that I am pretty sure I’ll get across the finish line before the twelve-hour gun goes off.
But not everyone knows that about themselves.
There are people who, right now, know the cutoff times are at the various aid stations, and are worrying about those times much, much more than I’m worrying about that magical nine hour mark.
There are people who are thinking about the twelve-hour official finishing time. There are people who are thinking about the thirteen-hour semi-official finishing time, after which officials begin sweeping the course.
Those people are a lot more stressed about this race than I am.
But they’re still showing up. And they’re contesting this race. Even though they don’t know whether they can finish it, they are still going to give it everything they have, in a bid to stretch themselves and find out what they can do.
There’s a remarkable, admirable courage in that.
In any big race, everyone suffers. And there’s a certain temptation to see egalitarianism in the suffering: everyone’s suffering over the same distance.
But that’s deceptive.
You don’t suffer over distance. You suffer over time, multiplied by effort. And everyone’s trying hard.
So by my math, the folks in the back are suffering more. Way more.
But they’re doing it. They’re accepting that they have to work harder and pay a greater price to get across the finish line. And they do.
As far as I’m concerned: the greater the battle, the more heroic the return. I love watching racers come in across the finish line — totally ruined, but simultaneously totally triumphant.
The Nature of the Course
Leadville is an out-and-back course. You ride out 51 miles, and then ride back 52. Or something like that.
What this means is that as you get near the turnaround point — which is also the highest point in the course (12,600 feet) — you get to see the people ahead of you coming back down the trail.
When I first started racing the Leadville 100 — back when just a few hundred raced it — there was an awesome tradition in place. Those returning from the turnaround would cheer for those still marching up to the turnaround.
As the race has gotten bigger, not as many people do it anymore. That’s too bad. If I can — if I have the lungs and am not in mortal peril because I’m going faster than I should — I’m going to yell for the folks marching up as I come down.
Because they deserve it, for one thing. And because I love it whenever I get a cheer from a stranger. It makes a difference.
I’m pointing all this out not just because I want to give kudos to the guys in the back — although that’s part of it. I’m also writing this to myself.
Because the day after I completely give everything I’ve got trying to get under nine hours in Leadville, The Hammer and I will be starting the Breck Epic — six days of mountain bike racing.
And honestly, it’s going to be a stretch to get across the finish line in time.
I’m going to be one of the guys at the back. I’m going to be one of the guys who’s suffering more than the people who finished hours earlier. I’m going to be one of the guys who is going to be happy just to get across the finish line.
And I have a suspicion that if I can do it, I’m going to be incredibly proud to be one of those guys.