Six Questions with Steve Archdekin
In September of 1993, the eighth to be exact, Steve Archdekin came down with what he thought was a case of the common cold.
Little did the Brampton, Ont., native know was this common cold turned into a full blown case of rare form of arthritis called, Reiter’s Syndrome.
However, instead of letting the disease get the better of him, Archdekin decided to forget about all his aches and pains and live life.
Despite all the pain Archdekin experiences simply walking down the street, he refuses to give up my athletic nature and competes in as many triathlons as I possibly — including the Nelson Cyswog’n Fun seven times.
He’s also started a charity called International Triathlon for Kids, where Archdekin plans to swim, ride my bike, and run around Canada, USA (including Hawaii), Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and parts of Europe to raise funds and awareness for the children’s charities.
But Reiter’s Syndrome shelved that idea for now.
However, there was Archdekin back on the circuit last month in Portland, Ore., competing in the Portland Half Marathon.
The 13-year resident of Beasley talked with The Nelson Daily Sports Editor Bruce Fuhr for a feature called Six Questions.
TND: Once again tells us about the disease that has caused such hardship your limitations and how it has affected you during the past year.
S.A.: Easy way to put it is that I have two different types of arthritis — in every joint in my body even my face and skull, as well as in all my tendons and ligaments —fusing joints, and osteoporosis. I also have a mystery stomach issue that started a couple days before I left for Portland.
I have a patella femoral syndrome in both knees and damage to both ears. My kidneys hurt and so does liver and bones and skin. I was also supposed to die the day I was born.
This year was one of the worst pain years I have ever had. For the first several months I was basically terrified of being awake because it hurt so much yet I was only able to sleep about 15 minutes at a time only twice a day, so I couldn’t even escape pain in my sleep.
Even hurting like that I was still totally at peace and genuinely happy, which goes against everything we are taught to believe is possible, but it is.
Walking and standing took every bit of concentration I had. I’d often collapse because legs couldn’t hold me up. I also was collapsing from simply breathing because of the pain caused in ribs when chest expands and contracts.
I was still collapsing as recently as the end of August. As soon as that started loosening its grip I was looking at getting out racing again.
Pain has taken a lot from my life.
I have only slept one night through since 1993. Every waking second my body is at war with itself, and when I can sleep it jolts me awake because it hurts so bad.
I live in a constant state between awake and asleep — a kind of surreal world. I average about two hours of sleep the night before every race I have ever done.
TND: Why do you like triathlons so much?
S.A.: Because they’re so awwwwwesoooome! I love to swim, I love to ride my bike, I love to run. A triathlon is the one place where I get to do three of my favourite things all at the same time. Plus I ‘m an athlete.
My pain has nothing to do with that. I was an athlete before and I am now. I don’t want to be alive without athletics as a part of my life because a life without athletics is no life at all.
TND: Talk about the race in Portland. How did you feel during the race and were there any quirks experienced.
S.A.: I was psyched to get racing again. I also had a very badly pulled right hamstring going into the race, but that’s just little chintzy loose change next to real pain — a pulled muscle is just for little Nancy-boys to whine about . . . ain’t nothing to me!
Within the first half kilometer my liver started hurting so bad I was almost in tears. My body was already screaming for me to stop, but it didn’t realize I still had over 20 km to go and I wasn’t stoppin’ for &^%$! It didn’t take long for my Terry Fox stride to fall into place before I got outta the first kilometer.
My hamstrings felt like they had razors slicing them up. The pounding on my knees, feet and ankles because of my Terry Fox stride was excruciating.
I was in an all out fist fight with the pain in my body. Felt like Ali-Frazier 3 — the battle for the ages. My pain kept trying to take me down but I kept punchin’ it in the mouth. No way that was stoppin’ me.
Pain and death tried to take my chance at life on the day I was born and I kicked their ass to win my chance at life. . . now that I got it I’m not goin’ down easily. Not without an all out slugfest fight!
Needless to say the half marathon ripped my body to shreds, but it was easy, it’s only running after all. What’s easier than that? It’s one of the first things we ever learn as people and never forget how to do.
Sure I can’t really run, and it hurts too much to do more than just on race day, but it still ain’t nothin!
The race was super last minute even though i had been working on it for months in ways. Moreso, I was working on a pitch to Adidas for a TV commercial. Because my body was sooo beat down it sabbotaged the rest of my life so I had to raise the bucks to get down there.
I didn’t get near the support I used to around here, but thankfully through the generosity of Maclean-Taylor Chiropractic, REO’s Videos, Packrat Annie’s, my friend Paul, and another friend Nancy I was able to get down there.
I wasn’t able to buy my plane ticket until Friday afternoon though, then drove through the night to Spokane and flew out at 8 a.m. Saturday morning. I went straight downtown Portland to get my race numbers and such, then raced the following morning.
I went to Adidas on Monday (a whole other story) and then flew home Monday night. It was a blurry whirlwind to say the least, but I pulled it all off and made it work!
TND: What was the weather like during the race and where (in Portland) was it held.
S.A.: The race was in downtown Portland, Oregon. The start finish was right where they were doing the Occupy Portland, a two square block park that had every square inch of grass taken up for a tent city.
It is a pretty spectacular event. People were dressed up in costumes. They even had a face painting area to get people to look like zombies and stuff (each year they have a themed event for costumes).
No race I have ever been to has come even close to how kick-ass this was for ambiance for everyone involved (competitors and spectators).
There was also a 10 km and 5 km and a kids race too. I don’t know the numbers from this year, but last year was over 5000. They have an amazing band set up in a park on the waterfront where the rest of everything was all the after food (entry into race got you a bowl of chili and tw beers),
There was a 3 1/2 time cut off for the half marathon. Knowing the state of my body, especially after the year I’ve had and the fact I haven’t run in three years, I knew I’d be fighting for last place and it’d be a close one for me to make the time cut off.
I was right. I didn’t finish last (I think I was third last) but I was the last official finisher under the cut-off time.
I made it by 1:01 as my time was 3:28:59 as I looked up at the clock right as I was crossing the line. Sweet, I got under the time!
TND: What about your International Triathlon for Kids venture? Any luck with the major sponsor? Did you get a meeting at Adidas?
S.A.: I barged in on Adidas with no appointment on Monday.
They wouldn’t let me in the building. I wan’t taking no for an answer. I didn’t bust my ass for months, fly down there, drag my crippled ass through a half marathon and stagger over there just to have some secretary toss me out in 10 seconds…helllll no!
I formed a plan of attack and ended up talking to a couple guys and gave them each one of my bio-kits and told them what I was trying to do, and the idea I have for a TV commercial for Adidas.
The first guy came out looking for me about 15 minutes after I talked to him he ran around the building, then crossed the street to find me at the bus stop.
He wanted me to stick around for a few days til some big-wig guy got back from the mother office in Germany. I said I couldn’t but that i would fly back for sure no problem. Don’t know how I’m gonna afford to do that, but I can’t afford not to . . . I want in to Adidas so bad.
The second guy I spoke with gave me a pair of shoes, told me who the person was that i needed to see, said he would look at my kit and then personally give it to the woman who was the person to see. It was very promising.
Even if I don’t hear back I at least got the name of the proper woman to contact about everything so that was a victory in itself. Now I can send her a bunch of stuff and earn my way in as I’ll be documenting as much of what I do as I possibly can. I have no doubt that I’ll get ’em and get that commercial, either this winter or next winter. But it’s gonna happen.
TND: What’s on the horizon, more races, healing from the last race?
S.A.: On the horizon? I want to get my body fixed as much as I can so I can get out whuppin’ down triathlons again next year.
More immediately I am only focused on swimming in the lake under some pounding snowstorms this winter and catching the footage on print film for my wetsuit sponsor, and in video to give to Adidas.
But I’m only doing it for myself for the fun of it. I used to loooove kayaking in blizzards, but since my spine is fusing Ican no longer sit up straight so I had to give that up, so now I want to get out in the water in my wetsuit and watch the snow pound down…and listen to the little flakes…gonna be soooooo good!
I’m gonna try to do a bunch of racing in Portland next year. All that I can afford. I’m goin’ all in after Adidas! I’m also thinking about doing the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October next year, but only time will tell on that.
I’m also started to write a book after repeatedly being asked to do so for over 14 years. Seems like now is the right time for that.