Posted by Editoress on 07/10/03
Mark Walters Interview
Late in the spring, we began to notice that Mark Walters wasn't showing up in either race results or Navigators team reports. This is unusual, since Mark is normally one of the top performers for Division 2 Navigators team, and was hoping to build on his brilliant win in Philadelphia last year at the USPro Championships. We finally had a chance to catch up with Mark just before GP Cycliste de Beauce to find out what was going on.
CC - You've been missing from the results so far this year, more than we are used to, and we have heard that you discovered that you have a medical condition.
MW - It's called Hashimoto's Disease. Your body starts to think that your thyroid is a foreign body, and begins to develop antibodies, and effectively starts to kill your thyroid, so your hormone levels decline. Thyroid problems are common, mine is more rare. Eventually, if left long enough it could kill you.
CC - How did you find out that you have this disease?
MW - Since Navigators is a Division 2 team with the UCI, there are medical exams that are required, including a number of blood tests. We were in Italy for early season training and racing when we had the tests done and it showed up right away in the thyroid hormone test. Then it was rechecked with a second test.
CC - Prior to finding out that you had Hashimoto's Disease, had you noticed anything different about how you were feeling, your fitness level, and indications that something was "off"?
MW - I felt okay, but I felt cold all the time, I was never warm. The thyroid hormone controls the metabolism. Mine was too slow and my weight went up, I came back from Italy at 168 pounds, and normally I am never higher than 164. It affects oxygen metabolism, sugar metabolism, everything. On the bike I felt okay, but my endurance was really bad. At 120 K I was suffering, and at 130 K I would hit the wall.
CC - How has it been dealt with since the condition was discovered?
MW - I started on medication right away in Italy. I take a thyroid hormone, it's a life long thing. I get a blood test every one to two months to check my hormone levels.
CC - What changes have you seen since you started the hormone therapy?
MW - It takes a while, but I started to lose weight and I'm down to race weight. My endurance is coming back as well - I felt really, really strong in Philly until the last two laps. At the start I couldn't do consecutive hard days of training, but I'm starting to work back up to that. I sucked that I had to miss the Tour of Georgia, but I wouldn't have been able to do it. I'm hoping to get results at Beauce, but it's also experimental to see how I can go day after day.
Post interview update: Mark continues to improve, finishing 10th overall at Beauce, with 2 top-ten finishes. One week later, he was fourth overall at the Road Nationals, second Canadian.
"I feel good"
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