Craig Pettigrew

On June 5th, 2008, I was diagnosed with what turned out to be stage 4 stomach/esophageal cancer. After a year of treatments, including chemo, surgery, radiation and more chemo, my surgeon took me into a room at City of Hope and told me in no uncertain terms that I had to get to the gym and get in shape. Blood flow was crucial to keeping the kind of cancer I had at bay.
I was scared to death, and later I found out that I had been scared to life. Through a friend, I connected with a triathlon coach, who got me started running, cycling, and strength training. Swimming was quickly ruled out as I lost the sphincter muscle that holds food down, making being in the water perpetually uncomfortable. Running I could do, and strength training was a must. But even though I only owned an old bike from the early ‘90s, I was starting to enjoy cycling, even though I was struggling to go 13 mph.
A few months later, I bought a decent road bike, and decided to train for a century. While I got better and stronger, I soon realized that the cycling training I was getting had its limitations. I did my first century in March of 2010 (Solvang) and was truly hooked; what I was missing was someone to help me push myself beyond what I had already accomplished. When it came to the bike, I knew I was capable of more, but I came to realize that my regimen was not going to put me on a faster track to continued success.
Through the same friend, I found out about Andrew. I didn’t know what to expect, but I found out right away that this was going to be far different from the cycling training I had been getting.
To me, this was a new world: CompuTrainers, wattages, computers analyzing every aspect of my pedal stroke. Immediately it was clear what was wrong with my cycling (and earlier training). Thank God Andrew was there to guide me, and to shape both my body and my mind toward this new era of training.
Improvements were seen almost right away. I had much to work on, but I had a clear path to follow and concrete exercises and drills to do. Gangly form and an uneven pedal stroke got worked on and fixed. Andrew knows how to step up my training without me really noticing; so when I do my time trials as a measure of how much stronger and faster I’ve become, I find myself always surprised that, after three years, I’m still getting better. Each time I test myself I find that I’m still improving – at my age (58) and after what I’ve been through, I find this to be an astonishing fact.
I owe all of this improvement to Andrew’s genius as a coach, as a teacher, and as someone who knows not to treat me as an older, cancer survivor. He pushes me hard yet leaves me feeling exhilarated after each session. I look forward to making the very long trek from my house in La Crescenta to Andrew’s gym in Westlake. It’s time very well spent.

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