Thursday, December 29, 2005



Can't I have ONE Dr's appointment that doesn't involve some kind of drama?????

Went in for my yearly GYN appointment 3 weeks ago and had the typical yearly exam. Physical, PAP smear ... run of the mill. I went back to discuss some things with my GYN yesterday and she said, "No PAP results yet but everything else looked good."

TODAY I get a phone call that the PAP came back abnormal and can I come in for a BIOPSY next week?

I must have scared everybody I passed on the street today on the way home. I know I would be scared if I passed a woman who was talking out-loud to herself and saying things like "Leave me the F*CK ALONE!! YOU DO NOT GET TO STAY, THIS IS MY BODY!"

Odds are high that the abnormal PAP is nothing to worry about but as you can imagine my anxiety level is a little higher than usual and frankly, I am simply sick of having pieces of my body (skin, blood, now internal parts) taken every week.

I'm off to Spin Class to work out some anxiety. Living STRONG DAMNIT!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Gear Revisited

I am so excited about the gear that I got in the mail just before I left for the holidays that I simply had to follow up and share.

First up is a new bathing suit. I needed to find a new one because the straps of my speedo fall right on top of my port and rub. *Very Distracting*

I will be the *MOST* stylish woman in the back of the pack with my new Zoot triathlon skirt and rash guard! Not only that.. I will be protected from the sun "not so friendly" rays.

Last Item: Tanita Ironman Scale - To help me keep track of the 20 extra pounds that I have found in the last 6 months of chemo, that I now plan to *lose*. 6 months on, 6 months off *I hope!!* That simply 1 pound a week, a very manageable goal.

Happy Holidays!

My living room floor is covered in laundry!! It was a wonderful Christmas in VT with Jim and my family. Lot's of fun stories to share over the next few days.

Just wanted to take a moment and wish each of you a WONDERFUL HOLIDAY SEASON!


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

JINGLE all the way....

I got *NEW* GEAR in the mail last night!! YEAH! I love presents to myself. I'll list my gear later today but for now, here are soem pictures from 10 of this past weeks 16 miles of running!

JINGLE ALL THE WAY, BABY! Holly at the Jingle Bell 10K on Dec 11th

Holly and Nancy running in DC at the Christmas Tree Run - Dec 16th ... picture by *Jeanne*

More later ....

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Days Like This...

I'm sure even Lance has days like get out on the road, ready for your workout and you quickly discover you have nothing to give. You may be ready mentally but physically, you can't generate the power you need.

What do you do on days like this?

Today I made the choice to cover the distance, no matter how long it took me. Today I had to accept that the pace was going to be S-L-O-W but I still covered my 6 miles. While I was able to manage intervals, they were not any where near what I would consider close to a "run" pace so I am considering the workout a "power walk" for the sake of recording mileage.

It was a beautiful, sunny, cool One hour and thirty minute walk with some run intervals. Some days you take what your body can give and are thankful.

Thankful and Living STRONG!

Friday, December 16, 2005


I simply want to SLEEP for at least 12 hours. I guess I did a little too much this week .....

I didn't get in bed last night until well after 11:30PM. These co-workers had better eat every last Magic Cookie Bar !! How is that for some *Holiday Spirit*? Just 5 minutes until the University Holiday Party begins (and the WEEKEND too!)

*YAWN* I'm off to socialize!

Hope everybody has a GREAT DAY! I will check in later this weekend.


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Tagged Twice!

Well I am sitting here waiting for the "Magic Cookie Bars" to come out of the oven for tomorrows Holiday Party at work so I figured I would answer two "tags" that I got in the last 48 hours.

TAG 1: from Jeanne is "Write 5 random facts about yourself"

Fact 1: My feet are the perfect length - 12 inches, which as we all know is a measure foot. Of course others would simply say my feet are big, especially for a woman. When I was only 8, I already wore a woman's size 10 shoe. Shoe shopping was always traumatic. It is probably why I don't have a lot of shoes.

Fact 2: My family lives in VT and I *STILL* can't ski ... (hmmm.. feet too long?)

Fact 3: I am most definitely a "CAT" person if made to choose. Dogs are sweet and fun and cool but I'd rather have a cat, any day...

Fact 4: I have only been "athletic" for about 7 years now, Better Late than Never!

Fact 5: Tiger Crickets that hide in our guest bathroom on cold night really freak me out and *ALWAY* require removal by Jim

Now onto Tag #2: from KLN is as follows:

1. Your favorite holiday memory.

Being 15 and getting to stay up after my little sisters went to bed and play "Santa" for the first time along with my parents. Christmas turned into a whole new experience in that moment!

2. Your favorite holiday cookie or treat.

My Grandma Winters " Chocolate Peanutbutter Balls" (NO COMMENTS FROM THE PEANUT GALLERY!!)

3. Where you will be over the holidays.

Sharon, Vermont for 7 days !! I CAN'T WAIT!

4. Your favorite holiday song or carol.

To SING: Silver Bells
To LISTEN TO: Anything by Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole or Karen Carpenter

5. A special holiday tradition in your family.

I guess over the years this has become a tradition since we keep doing it. Every year that we are together, my Sisters and I make it a point to go sledding down the front yard (my parents live on a mountain, very STEEP yard) for a few hours. And if you bring a significant other, they are coming along for the ride, at least once!!

We are never outside until well after 9PM or later and we always end up soaking wet, cold and aching from laughing and avoiding trees with our bodies. Mom and Dad always come out and watch but I don't think we have ever gotten them on a sled. This year will be Jim's first time doing the "G-Family Christmas" and you can bet he will be out in the snow with us!!
All these TAGS have me READY for Christmas! But for now, I need to pull the cookies out of the oven and get to bed!

Sweet Dreams!

Christmas Lights Run

Too much eggnog? LOL .. this picture of me *CRACKS* me up! It is part of a dud shot BEFORE the actual run. Looks like it should be me at the bar *after* doesn't it?

Last night after my oncology appointment, I met with Nancy, *Jeanne* and Jeanne and we ran the 4th Annual Christmas Light Run with around 100 other local runners.

As we were waiting to start, a total stranger (who both Nancy and I noticed smelled like she had been dipping in the Eggnogg herself) came up and gave me this tremendous hug and said "Take a Christmas picture with me!" Who am I do deny somebody a Christmas wish? So I kindly obliged. Merry Christmas Strange Woman!!

It was so much fun and I honestly think that I ran a PR in the first 2 miles to the National Christmas Tree just trying to catch up to the main pack. Of course everybody else was out for a leisurely run. I was hanging off the back and Nancy was kind enough to hang with me when I needed to take a few walk breaks. By mile 2, we were generally in the bunch with other runner's around the whole time so we got to sing and greet people on the street. It was a wonderful way to spend a chilly night!

Jeanne, Jeanne's friend, *Jeanne*, Nancy, & Holly

FROM NANCY'S BLOG: We gathered at Union Station to get our packets of carol lyrics, then headed outside for final instructions and a rousing rendition of "Jingle Bells". We ran past the Capitol, all lit up as beautiful as it is every night. Then down the National Mall and past the major Smithsonian museums over to the Ellipse by the White House, where we had some more carols by the National Christmas Tree. Then back over toward the starting point, stopping for a moving tribute to fallen police officers at the Blue Christmas Tree across the street from the National Law Officers Memorial.

Following the run we stopped in at Kelly's Irish Times Pub. Jim met us there and I treated him to a Guinness, Nancy to an Irish Coffee and myself to a Black&Tan. MMMMM... CARBS! I tried to treat *Jeanne* but she was happy with her bottle of water.

It was a wonderful run with some AWESOME Ladies!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

My Personal 13.1....

Today is the official halfway point in my 48 weeks of Interferon Chemotherapy. 24 weeks and I am done!

•In "IRONMAN" terms I would be at Mile 56 of the Bike leg.
•In "Marathon" terms I would be at Mile 13.1.
•In "Cancer" terms, I have 7 months NED (No Evidence of Disease) since my second surgery in May 2005.

In terms of my Cancer adventures this year, I have had 2 surgeries, 18 days of high dose Interferon Chemo and I have given myself 72 Sub-Q Interferon shots and I have only 72 left!

Here is hoping that the last 72 go smoothly!

Living STRONG!

One Word

Linae tagged me to describe my goals for the 2006 Season in one word.

My one word: Balance

2006 goals:

• Finish Chemo
• Cherry Blossom 10 Miler at MINIMUM 5/1 intervals; sub 2:10
• Century Day at Bike VA - June 2006
• Half Ironman (Fall 2006) - 7:00 finish

I think thee best advantage I have this year in terms of fitness goals is finding "BALANCE". Not every day is a good one but with only 24 weeks left of my chemo, I have a pretty good idea of how I feel day to day and how to counter balance my fatigue levels, working full time and doing my "tri" thing.

B-A-L-A-N-C-E is key!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

One More Time, with Feeling

The first time I ran the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in April 2004, we had snow, rain and blue skies ... all in the same 2 hour period. I vowed on that day that I would NEVER race the first weekend of April ever again....

I rescind my "VOW" .. I wanted a race to look forward to for the spring. I also know that Keri AND Nancy will be there on race day too! I got to race with my PEEPS!

After all, TRI-BABEs cannot live by Half Ironmans alone...

Living STRONG and waiting on new "GEAR" to arrive .. I think the Mail Carrier is hording my gear!

Look for a new "blog-segment" tonight ....

Monday, December 12, 2005

Jingle All the Way 10K

Holly, Keri (Bday Girl) & Amy - Sunday Dec 11, 2005

Sunday was the first annual Jingle All the Way 10K at West Potomac Park in D.C. There were 3 goals to the race:

1) Help my friend Keri celebrate her Birthday and start a new "Birthday Tradition"
2) Have Fun!!
3) Get my big butt moving again post-Marathon

I had no grand expectations for times in this race. I have not done much in the way of consistent training since the Marine Corps Marathon in late October. I had only managed to run 6 miles in the last 4 weeks and was entirely relying on muscle memory and run/walk intervals to get me through the miles

I was *hoping* for a finish time around 1:25 - That would be no slower than my earlier marathon pace and not too shabby for a "Interferon Athlete"...

So I met Keri and Amy at the start line. We strapped on our Jingle Bells, took a few pictures with Keri's new Champion Chip (a cool gift from her husband) and we were off! We started out in the back of the pack around the 12:00 pace sign. The sound of *jingle bells* all around us.

The three of us ran together for about 3 minutes and then fell into our own paces. Amy is expecting, so she settled into a Power Walk, I started my run/walk intervals and off went Keri - running away to try to set a PR at this race distance.

Although my miles slowed as I knocked them out, the weather was cool, crisp and perfect as we ran along the Potomac River waterfront. We hardly had wind in either direction (an anomaly on Haines Point for sure) and while I slowed down an average of around 8-10 seconds per mile, I was more than happy with the results.

Mile 1 - 12.26
Mile 2 - 12.38
Mile 3 - 12:41
Mile 4 - 13.02
Mile 5 - 13:30
Mile 6 - 13.03

Overall - 1:20:13

My average pace was just a little over 13:00 minute miles. Not too bad for somebody who simply showed up and tried to pull a 10K out of her very cute winter hat! I'm happy with the result.

Oh and a BIG SHOUT OUT to Keri who not only RAN the entire 10K (her first time doing that) BUT broke 11:00 minute miles and set herself a new Personal Record!!!!! Way to go Keri!! I fully expect 10:00 minute miles from you by the time you run this race next year for your birthday!

Wednesday night I am doing the 4th Annual Christmas Lights Run with Nancy and *Jeanne* and I suspect it will be as much FUN as it looks!

Living STRONG with good friends all around!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Flakey Days

SNOW! or rather SLUSH is what we got last night. It should make for some extra FUN this Sunday when I run the Jingle All the Way 10K in DC with my friend Keri!

Last night I did a long night at the gym. Since we had an *IMPENDING STORM*, my office let us out an hour early. (Folks down here really jump the gun with any call of snow) So I wandered s-l-o-w-l-y to the gym and hit every possible shop in Crystal City along the way. I still ended up there with 45 minutes until the scheduled SPIN class. So I jumped on the Elliptical Machine for an easy 30 minutes, did some stretching and then took the 45 minute SPIN class.

We had a different instructor tonight, another Jim, who KICKED OUR BUTTS in a wonderful way. I will definitely be coming back for his class as often as I can.

I'm not sure how "ready" I am for the 10K on Sunday but I showed myself last night that I can still handle over an hour of cardio so I figure I didn't lose as much fitness as I thought during my NOVEMBER post-marathon slump. YEAH!!!
Tonight is the 5th Anniversary of Jim and my *first date* and JIM HAD TO REMIND ME!! I guess that is the kind of year it has been. We're heading out to dinner and then off to Penn Camera to buy each other *OUR* Christmas gift to each other. This year we are treating ourselves to a new camera: Nikon D70S We are both old school shutterbugs with about 5 cameras between the two of us that we use and about 10 antique cameras that decorate the townhouse.

I think we might have to set up a "schedule of use" with the new camera though ... I doubt it either one of us will want to let it go much in the first few weeks!

Somewhere in the midst of today, I need to fit in a 3 mile run. Looks like I have to make a date with a treadmill later today!


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

You SPIN me Round, Round ...

Last night I venture back to the gym with Jim. The winter training season is officially upon us and my tight work clothes are "WARNING" me that I am at my personal limit. A quick jump of the scale confirmed it. I could continue to bitch and moan and cry about how I have gained 20 pounds in the last 6 months but I'm not going to do that anymore.

Instead, I am going to do what I can to get back to my "pre-diagnosis" weight. I accept that I may not be able to do anything about the numbers on the scale but if I am "living as if" then eventually my body with catch up with me. I accept that a change in the scale might not happen for another 6 months but at least then I will know that is was something beyond my control.

Toostie Rolls don't qualify as "beyond my control" unfortunately.

So Jim and I headed to the gym and the local "SPINNING" class. For the un-familiar, SPINNING is 40 minutes of group exercise on stationary bikes with music pumping and a good spin instructor leading you on heart-pumping ride to nowhere.

Jim and I *LUV* to spin!!

Unfortunately for me, on my first time in class in 6 months, we had a substitute instructor who had NO RHYTHM at all! She was UP, she was DOWN, she was UP, she was SPRINTING ... Personally, I think that she must be hysterical to watch riding on a real road bike. I don't think this woman EVER spends any time in the saddle ... Perhaps she simply needs a new saddle?

After the first 15 minutes of her constant popping out the saddle to sprint, I simply chose to do my own thing and monitor my effort. I have enough years of SPIN classes to modify my workout as needed. So I still got a great 40 minute workout. I am looking forward to trying a different SPIN instructor on Thursday though. Anything has to be better then "Out of the Saddle" Sadie, the crazy spinning lady!

Living STRONG!

You SPIN me Round, Round ...

Last night I venture back to the gym with Jim. The winter training season is officially upon us and my tight work clothes are "WARNING" me that I am at my personal limit. A quick jump of the scale confirmed it. I could continue to bitch and moan and cry about how I have gained 20 pounds in the last 6 months but I'm not going to do that anymore.

Instead, I am going to do what I can to get back to my "pre-diagnosis" weight. I accept that I may not be able to do anything about the numbers on the scale but if I am "living as if" then eventually my body with catch up with me. I accept that a change in the scale might not happen for another 6 months but at least then I will know that is was something beyond my control.

Toostie Rolls don't qualify as "beyond my control" unfortunately.

So Jim and I headed to the gym and the local "SPINNING" class. For the un-familiar, SPINNING is 40 minutes of group exercise on stationary bikes with music pumping and a good spin instructor leading you on heart-pumping ride to nowhere.

Jim and I *LUV* to spin!!

Unfortunately for me, on my first time in class in 6 months, we had a substitute instructor who had NO RHYTHM at all! She was UP, she was DOWN, she was UP, she was SPRINTING ... Personally, I think that she must be hysterical to watch riding on a real road bike. I don't think this woman EVER spends any time in the saddle ... Perhaps she simply needs a new saddle?

After the first 15 minutes of her constant popping out the saddle to sprint, I simply chose to do my own thing and monitor my effort. I have enough years of SPIN classes to modify my workout as needed. So I still got a great 40 minute workout. I am looking forward to trying a different SPIN instructor on Thursday though. Anything has to be better then "Out of the Saddle" Sadie, the crazy spinning lady!

Living STRONG!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


My youngest sister Cathy turned the big *21* on Sunday. She was born during my Freshman year in Highschool and we are 14 years apart in age. Frankly, I don't see how she could be 21 .. since I don't feel much older. Hmmph ...

• I remember changing your diapers and burping you

(Heather, Cathy & Holly - 1986)

• I remember sitting you on my lap to brush your little curls (which are big beautiful waves of hair now!).

• You were always a patient model when I was in the mood to take pictures

• I still have stories that you wrote in grade school and drawings that you mailed me when I was far away (3 hours is far when you are 6!) in college.

• I may not have been around much for the majority of your childhood, I was off trying to "make my way" but you and Heather were always on my mind and in my thoughts and I cherished coming home for Christmas every year so I could see you.

• I don't remember when it happened but one year, I came home from Christmas and my "baby" sister was a young woman. And what an amazing woman you are!

Happy Birthday Baby Sister!! I love you!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

All Grown Up and Elegant

December 1, 2005 - Holly and Jim at the American Patriot Award Gala.

On occasion I get the chance to do some really high profile design work. This was one of those occasions. The display behind us in the picture is my handy work. I don't have the full shots of the display developed yet but when I do, I will post it.

We had a wonderful time! Sometimes it is fun to get all "gussied up" and go out! My dress was a little more fitted than I would normally like but frankly, I was happy that it fit! Jim's pants are a bit long! We decided if we did this more often (formal events) that we would just have him buy a tux. You can only do so much with a rental!

Still, all things considered, we look mighty fine if I do say so myself.


In an effort to get back on track, I got out this afternoon for 3 miles of run/walk intervals. I can't believe how quickly you can lose fitness! I had a hard time believing that I did a Marathon 30 days ago. Oh well, when you start - it is always at the beginning. At least I have the chance to "start!" I will take it.


Thursday, December 01, 2005


I have been sucked into the GIANT VACUUM that is WORK! I am the lead designer on a display for the American Patriot Award and everything needs to come together today for the Gala event tonight.

The fun part is that Jim & I get to attend the Formal Gala tonight. It will be the first time I have seen my guy in a tux! Hopefully not the last time! Hehehe.

In more embarassing news...I just saw my November Totals - UGH!! I am run/walking a 10K next weekend. Looks like I am going to focus on FUN and let my friend Keri be the one to set the PRs!! Looks like this weekend will be the perfect chance to jump start the training routine again.

I'll get back to normal posting tomorrow perhaps with a picture or two of Jim and I looking snazzy and hob-nobbing with Washington, D.C. Elite.

Till then, Live STRONG everybody.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

To Live STRONG...

From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU to each and every one of you for your love and support. Today has been a better day. How could it "not" be when I have my friends and family who leaned with me and gently pushed me back up when I was down.

I've done alot of thinking over the last 24 hours and I am happy to say that, in general, I am still in the mix, still willing to fight for every moment because I decided in Feb 2005 when I was diagnosed, that I AM A SURVIVOR. Whatever the outcome ... 5 years, 10 years ... 60 years from now... I'm not going down without a fight!

More to come ... but for now I'd like to share this Manefesto from the Lance Armstrong Foundation. I'm off to the gym for a 30 minute workout. I have been slacking for long enough and I have a 1/2 Ironman in August!!

- Holly

We believe in life.
Your life.
We believe in living every minute of it with every ounce of your being.
And that you must not let cancer take control of it.
We believe in energy: channeled and fierce.
We believe in focus: getting smart and living strong.
Unity is strength. Knowledge is power. Attitude is everything.
This is the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

We kick in the moment you’re diagnosed.
We help you accept the tears. Acknowledge the rage.
We believe in your right to live without pain.
We believe in information. Not pity.
And in straight, open talk about cancer.
With husbands, wives and partners. With kids, friends and neighbors. And the people you live with, work with, cry and laugh with.
This is no time to pull punches.
You’re in the fight of your life.

We’re about the hard stuff.
Like finding the nerve to ask for a second opinion.
And a third, or a fourth, if that’s what it takes.
We’re about getting smart about clinical trials.
And if it comes to it, being in control of how your life ends.
It’s your life. You will have it your way.

We’re about the practical stuff.
Planning for surviving. Banking your sperm. Preserving your fertility. Organizing your finances. Dealing with hospitals, specialists, insurance companies and employers.
It’s knowing your rights.
It’s your life.
Take no prisoners.

We’re about the fight.
We’re your champion on Capitol Hill. Your advocate with the healthcare system. Your sponsor in the research labs.
And we know the fight never ends.
Cancer may leave your body, but it never leaves your life.
This is the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
Founded and inspired by one of the toughest cancer survivors on the planet.


Sunday, November 27, 2005

Down but not out...Adapting

I think there is a bunch of stuff that has combined in my life that has dragged me down just a little bit. It's been some time since I struggled this much with my emotional well-being. The anti-depression meds I am taking to counteract the side effects of the Interferon have been doing their job very well but drugs can only do so much.

I think my latest funk can be attributed to a few factors:

1. No significant exercise since the Marine Corps Marathon (4 weeks - less than 3 workouts a week and none in the last week)

2. Extra work on a big, high profile project for Work (to be completed Dec 1)

3. The upcoming holiday season (I think I missed my family more than I thought I might and am anxious to see them in 3 weeks...)

4. Some new reading that I have come across on Melanoma and the impact (or lack thereof) of Interferon on overall recurrence.

Since my ankle seems fully healed, Factor number 1 is immediately resolvable. I plan to do what I can to get back to some kind of routine this week.

The extra work will be done December 1st, regardless of the outcome... but it is looking to be an outstanding outcome. Cross that off the list...

3 weeks is not all that long to wait to see my family and I am bringing Jim home with me!! It is a holiday to look forward to.

That just leaves me with the giant millstone around my neck that is Malignant Melanoma and my treatment. I'm struggling.

The article, which you can find here
discusses how Dr.'s can help patient's make decisions regarding High-Dose Interferon treatment.

This is the first paragraph that slapped me in the face:

"Among patients destined to recur, a year's worth of HD IFN treatment can delay the time of recurrence in a small subset, although for half of these patients this delay will be less than 1 year. However, the overall chance of recurrence and the overall survival is not improved. This means that, if the patient is destined to relapse and die of melanoma, HD IFN does not affect this nor does it significantly delay the time of death."

This example punched me in the gut, since it is my exact diagnosis:

"As an example, we may consider a stage IIIB patient with a single, palpable regional lymph node involved with melanoma. This patient has an approximately 50% chance of dying from melanoma over 5 years, a risk that is not improved by HD IFN according to the published data. This means that if the patient chooses to receive HD IFN, he runs a 50% risk that he will spend at least 20% of his remaining time (presumably the best 20%, because it is the year immediately after surgery) on HD IFN."

FIRST OFF, I acknowledgee that the paragraph above has an awful "tone"! It would read much better if they said "this patient has an approximatelyy 50% chance of surviving Melanoma over 5 years..." but it doesn't.

My immediate friends and family would say "Stop reading, don't think about it" but the truth is that I have to think about it and I have to acknowledge the entire scope of this diagnosis. I haven't been doing that much lately. I'm not sure how much lately has been "Living STRONG" and how much has been "pretending WELL".

A very wise friend and Old Man sent me a wonderful book some months ago that I devoured call "Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies and Why" by Laurence Gonzales. While the stories are those of epic survival .. the philosophy applies.

The book talks about how we build "mental models" and then act according to our expectations instead of acknowledging that the environment we are in has changed. Those who do not recognize the change, make decisions based on false expectations and in these examples; die. The survivors are the people who "at some point" acknowledge that things are different and they have to react to what is happening "here and now" and adapt.

The "RULES OF ADVENTURE" are outlines as follows:

1. Perceive,believe
2. Stay Calm
3. Think/Analyze/Plan
4. Take correct, decisive action
5. Celebrate your successes
6. Count your blessings
7. Play
8. See the beauty
9. Believe that you will succeed
10. Surrender
11. Do whatever is necessary
12. Never Give Up!

Sounds like some pretty good rules to me. Time to put more of them in action.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Giving Thanks...

I'm thankful for so much this year that I am having a hard time putting into words what Thanksgiving means to me this year... instead of struggling through a pile of *words* I will simply wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving.


Friday, November 18, 2005



This morning on my regular walk into work, my right ankle decided it had had enough and rolled dramatically lurching me towards the street. In an effort to avoid becoming road kill, I attempted to arrest my fall in a series of pinwheels and hops. I am sorry to say that the laws of physics cannot be broken.

I still fell - but at least my pinwheeling and hops landed me on my side on the "side walk".

Apparently it was such a dramatic fall that the man *across the street* yelled out "Are you OK?"

I jumped up, brushed myself off and yelled "Yeah, Thanks" and walked the last 1/4 mile to my office, knowing that the adrenaline rush from the fall would probably only last as long as it took to get my desk - so I had better take advantage of it.

Once in the office, I grabbed some ICE from the cafeteria and took 2 Advil from my desk drawer pharmacy. Then I hobbled (adrenaline wearing off) over to the University Doctor in the Health & Fitness Center.

He proclaimed my right ankle : "Level 1 Sprain", wrapped it nice and tight and told me to stay off it as much as possible this weekend and to take it VERY EASY for the next 10 days.

Looks like I will be focusing on ABS and Upper Body work for the next week or so.

Just call me "Clumsy" .... Hope everybody has a good weekend!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Last night I had my first "official" swim workout since May 2005. Coach Debi has me on a new workout schedule that involves 3 days ON/1 day OFF for the next 4 weeks. Daily workouts focus on "one sport" (swim, bike, run) and average anywhere from 20-45 minutes to help me get back in the multisport groove. She has also added some "core building exercises" at my request. I want to gain some core body strength this winter!!

Back to my first swim in six months. It took me 20 minutes to log 600 yards and I was truly tired at the end. Now I understand why Coach Debi said "Just focus on 25 yards at a time, Holly, and practice good form." She must have known how much it was going to kick my butt!!

Some Observations from my "First Swim of the NEW Season"

• I'm slow ... sea turtle slow....

• My ears hurt *a lot* when I tried to alternate laps from Freestyle to Backstroke - so endeded up sticking to the Freestyle - I must have some weird sinus stuff going on (probably Interferon related) since I have never had pain like that in previous years.

• I need a new bathing suit because my current suit rubs against my port on every right arm stroke - it's not painful but it sure is "annoying and distracting" - Time for New Gear!!

• When I got out of the pool I was "dizzy and light-headed" - seems my equilibrium is a little off (again possible sinus issues? Damn Interferon!)

Anybody have any suggestions/solutions for the ear pain??


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

TRI-ing a little harder...

Okay, I am back. No really after about 2 weeks of doing "everything else" and recovering from the Marine Corps Marathon, I am re-establishing "normal". I am back on my Interferon shots ( 5 MIU for now) and I have finally established a new fitness goal.

I struggled a little. A lot of people, including my Oncologist, have been asking me .. "What's Next?" and I really didn't have much of an answer for a few days. Oh my immediate answer was "I just ran a Marathon" that's enough for now!" but it never really is enough. I'd rather have a race to train for than just mindlessly go to the gym 5 days a week. That's just how I am ...

So the goal for Late Summer/Early Fall 2006 is going to be : Complete a 1/2 IronMan Triathlon

I have done this distance before, so I know I am capable of it AND it is a good stepping stone on the road back towards my ultimate goal of completing a full Ironman distance race by the time I am 40.

Races I am considering: Half Vermont Journey - August 27th, 2006 OR Oddessey Half Ironman - September 16th, 2006

Of course I am always open to suggestions! Any favorite Fall Half Ironmans out there that you wouldn't miss?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Still Here ...

Sorry I have been so quiet since Marine Corps. I guess my recovery extended into a little blog break. Triathlon/endurance sports wise it has been a quiet week. I did a 35 minute spin on the bike trainer on Tuesday and will take a spin tonight after work. I am headed out of town for the weekend so I plan to take full advantage of the pool at the Marriott since it is very likely to be TOO COLD to go for a run up in Manchester, N.H. You'd never know I was born in New England, I am such a "cold weather WIMP" now a days. It's been years since I attended a wedding so I am looking forward to the weekend and the mini-college reunion.
I'd like to take a moment and welcome a new little someone!

Joseph Diastado Y. was born yesterday to Liz and Kevin. He came into the world at 7 pound and 18 inches long.

May your every wish and dream come true Joseph!!
Live STRONG and a good weekend everybody!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Slow day ...

You Passed 8th Grade Math

Congratulations, you got 9/10 correct!

Now my Mom will say I have no excuses ... I have proven that I can at least handle 8th Grade Math....

Thanks to my favorite pseudo-brother Mark for posting this link for me to play around at.

Recovery and the Weekend Ahead

My recovery from the marathon is going well. By yesterday the pain in my legs was minimal and this morning I was walking up and down the METRO escalators like my old self. Looks like it will be time to run again soon!! Some of my GIRLS (you know who you are!) gave me some great recommendations for post-marathon recovery. I tried the "cool soak" in the bathtub after the marathon and it seemed to help. Not once did I have to walk down any stairs backwards in the last 72 hours!!

I started back on my subq Interferon shots on Tuesday at 5 MIU. My bloodwork showed that my white blood cell count was normal (WOOHOO!!) but I am still anemic. (DARN!!) Better one than both right? 2nd shot happens tonight but so far the side effects have been minimal and expected. A little under 7 months left!! 30 week to go!

On Sunday, Nancy and *jeanne* are running the ING New York City Marathon on Sunday. I won't be in town but I will be thinking of them both all day and hoping they have the BEST RACES EVER!! GO LADIES GO!!!!

This weekend I will be in South Carolina, in my fancy driving shoes tooling around a track driving a BMW Z-3!! I am going to go as fast as I dare and will be having a wonderful time! We are staying at some fancy 5-star Hotel and will be eating at some of the finer restaurants in the area. This could be a "lifestyle" I could easily become accustomed to.

I'm out of here until Monday! Hope everybody has a great weekend! Keep Living STRONG!!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Race Report: Marine Corps Marathon

Marine Corps Marathon - October 31, 2005
Chip Time: 6:08:09
Pace: 14:01

Executive Summary: A perfect day for a Marathon! I met all 3 of my goals! 1.) Have Fun - 2.) Beat the 14th Street Bridge 3.) FINISH!

The rest of the story: (Might want to get a glass of water or coffee)

Last year I chose to defer my Marine Corps Marathon entry because I wasn't able to put in the quality training that I thought necessary and I did the 8K race instead. As I watch the Marathon start that day, I called my boyfriend Jim from the start line and said "I want to do another marathon!" In that moment I decided that i would run the 2005 Marine Corps Marathon. Just 4 months later I was diagnosed with Malignant Melanoma and put on track for two surgeries and a year of chemotherapy. A lot of my race plans changed except for my goal to finish the Marine Corps Marathon. I simply refused to take it off my schedule for another year.

Following my successful Army 10 Miler of 11.4 miles I was pretty confident that I had what it took to show up on race day for the Marine Corps Marathon. A long run of 16 miles about 3 weeks before the marathon confirmed that. At a 2/1 run/walk pace, I felt as though I could have continued on for another 10 miles and was upbeat and happy. Now it was time to focus on the logistics of making the day successful.

My oncologist is a runner himself and he gave me a wonderful gift a week before the Marathon. 10 days off of my chemotherapy treatments (shots 3x a week). It would give my body a chance to recover from some chronic anemia and give me an a little something extra on race day.

The other logistics of race day were lining up my "pacers" for the race. Earlier in summer I had asked my friends and fellow triathletes Keri Hadley and Nancy Toby if they would be willing to pace me in the first 20 miles of the marathon. I knew that not only would I need help keeping motivated to beat the 14th Street Bridge cutoff but that it would also be good to have somebody with me in case something went wrong with my nutrition or general health.

A fellow athlete, Jim Bruckart, offered me his bib for MCM because he was not going to race that day. This would allow Keri and Nancy official access to the course with me. While neither of them would wear a timing chip, they would have a bib on and were willing to help me go the distance to reach my goal.

PACKET PICKUP: What a zoo! I went to the DC Armory on Friday, early afternoon to try to avoid the crowds and ended up in line for 35 minutes to buy a key chain and two Brooks Tech-Tees as gifts for Nancy and Keri. There were people everywhere!! You don't really get a sense of what a race of 30,000 runners really is until you wander around the expo with a couple thousand of them.

RACE DAY: I got up around 6AM, had my typical race breakfast of PB&J and brought a banana for the "wait". I jumped on the metro at 7AM and was at the Pentagon by 7:30AM. Keri and I met up pretty quickly and wandered towards the holding area for the gold wave. This year the Marine Corps was having two separate start waves of Scarlet (8:15 AM Start) and Gold (8:45AM Start). The majority of the racers (18,000) were in the Gold wave so their were plenty of people to watch while we waited to line up in the corals.

The weather was PERFECT! High 40s to start and clear skies with a high of 65 and winds 5-10 miles per hour. Could it get any better??

Upon the boom of the Howitzer, the Gold wave was off and running. There were no start coralls for the Gold wave so I suspect that is the closest that I will ever be to the front at the start line of a Marathon again. The crowd was enormous. I have never run in such a big group before and took advantage as much as I could.

In the first 5 miles there was no getting away from the crowd but that worked to our advantage with the early hills. There was no way to avoid the draft (not that you would want to avoid it) and the crowd simply carried you up the hills. Keri and I did our best to stick to the intervals plan of 2/1 right away. As the watch would count down we would move to the left or right and out of the way of as many people as we could. Even so, we still had to do some passing and their wasn't much elbow room.

In general, even with so many people, everybody was in pretty good spirits. Lots of laughter and smiles and the occasional "Mooo!" At one point we passed under one of several overpasses and I let out a loud "Woohoo" and was met by a chorus of "woohoo's" back from several runners. It was a good day to be out with 20,000 people running a marathon!

Keri was a blast to be with! She was the peppiest person at the Marathon. This was her first time being at a race this big and she was soaking it all in. It was fun to see her so pumped up for a race that she was only running part of. Her enthusiasm was easy to soak up and I took in all that I could.

Overall, Keri's role was to watch the mile splits and keeps us at 13:00-13:00 minute miles and my role was to make sure that we stuck to the interval plan and kept my nutrition on track. I was planning a GU every 3 miles and 2 Endurolyte caps every hour.

Keri did an excellent job of keeping us on track and keeping me occupied. Whenever I started to get a little distracted, i would ask her to tell me stories and she obliged by telling me how she met her husband and was quick to point out where we were and remind me to look at the great sites the Marathon has to offer. At mile 8, Keri reached her longest run ever and we did a little cheer! Every mile after 8 was a new PR for Keri!!

At mile 10 we met up with Nancy Toby and she took over the job of pacing. Nancy's challenge was to keep my gently slowing pace under 14:00 miles for the next 10 miles and to get me over the 14th Street Bridge before the official cutoff. When we came to Nancy, I was in desperate need of a Port-O-Potty stop to empty my bladder. We stopped right around Mile 11 and I took 5 minutes (waiting in line of course) to use the Port-O-Potty. It was entirely worth the wait!!

Mile 12 took us past the front of the Capitol Reflecting Pool and I was treated to Nancy's dancing skills as a local high school band played "Tequila",. She was dancing all around and brought a smile or two to many other runners.

Not long after we hit the 1/2 Marathon point, I confessed to Nancy that I wasn't feeling so great. While I was keeping on track with nutrition my stomach was starting to feel "sloshy" and full. Nancy declared that Mile 13 was the "PUKE" mile and to go ahead and let it go if I would feel better. I told her that "I really didn't want to "puke", could I have another option?"

"Sure!! Take another Endurolyte sodium tablet and let's see if that helps."

So I did take another and by Mile 14 the stomach problems had passed. For the rest of our time together thru Mile 23 Nancy really kept on top of me, asking me questions about where we were, keeping me talking to access my awareness and suggesting more Endurolyte tablets when I started acting confused or slow to respond.

All through the day, the first and most important goal was to "Beat the 14th Street Bridge" at Mile 20. The Gold wave had approximate 5 hours to beat the bridge. The challenge is a combination of keeping your pace up over 14:00 minute miles AND making the most of the 4 miles before the bridge out on Haines Point. Haines Point is part of the National Parks and is a lonely, beautiful 4 mile stretch of land that pokes out over the Potomac River. It is hard for spectators to get to and normally has at least two miles of head winds and two miles of tail wind (if you are lucky enough to get tail winds).

As Nancy and I started the loop around Haines Point, she got right down to business. She told me that I had to work hard to keep my intervals up for the next four miles. If I could maintain our current pace, I would beat the bridge with a good 20 minute buffer and then if I wanted to, I could walk the entire mile on the bridge but I had to be strong now. I took Nancy's coaching to heart and worked as hard as I could to stay on track. As we passed the mid point of Haines Point (by the awakening) we ran into one of Nancy's running friends, Ron Horton, who was running the Marathon and pacing a friend to his first Marathon finish as well. Ron took a great picture of Nancy and I and we all exchanged "Good Luck" wishes for the finish.

As the Mile 19 marker came and went, I began to realize that I was going to do it! I was having a fantastic day, I was still feeling strong and Mile 20 and the bridge were less than 14 minutes away. We saw Jim and Keri just as we exited Haines Point and I gave them a big smile and a thumbs up! We turned right twice and Nancy said to me, "There it is Holly, we are about to get on the 14th Street Bridge."

The scream of joy that came out of me at that moment was long and loud and honestly the most cathartic noise I have made in my life. It came deep from inside me and it made me feel alive and victorious and happy. I was going to finish the Marine Corps Marathon, in spite of cancer, in spite of treatment and because I chose to believe it was possible and was willing to ask for all the "help" that I might need.

Nancy and I tooled up over the bridge past the 20 mile marker and into the heat of running on a highway overpass. That was a LONG mile but soon we were over the bridge and on our way towards Crystal City and Nancy's car. At Mile 22.5, Nancy handed me her bib number and gave me a gentle shove.

"Don't even stop, keep going and if you have it in you, you might be able to go Sub 6:00.."

I passed the 23 mile mark in 5:20:00, with 5K left to go, I honestly didn't have any interest in going Sub 6:00. The goal for the day was simply to beat the 14th Street Bridge and finish the marathon and have fun while doing it.

The last 5K were hard in one respect: It seems that all the fellow runners around me were done running. Most had resigned themselves to walking the last 5K so it took a lot of effort to keep myself on my intervals. Where ever I could in the last 5K, I took advantage of the downhills, knowing that the last 2/10 of a mile to the finish were a sharp uphill 100 foot climb followed by 100 feet of slight uphill.

The crowds in the last mile were awesome! I didn't try to run the whole thing because I wanted to have fun on this day and not "sufffer" so I walked the steep hill and slowly jogged in the last 100 feet with a huge smile across my face, knowing that somewhere in the stands were Keri and Jim and they were cheering me in!


When race day was approaching I thought about putting a quote on the back of my shirt that read "I have Cancer, what is your excuse?" It was kind of my "defense" to all those people who might see me moving slowly on race day and "judge" me. What I finally decided was to not wear anything that would draw attention to me at all. I just wanted to be "another runner" doing her best to finish the race.

We each approach races with unique challenges and specific goals. On this particular race day I acknowledge that I couldn't do it alone so I asked my Dr. and my friends and my loved ones to help me reach my goal and I had the perfect race day!!! I couldn't ask for a better life than that!

Keep Living STRONG!!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Pictures Worth a Thousand Words

Some pictures from the weekend with a photo credit to Jim. This does not in any way replace a race report but I am hoping it will content you until I am done writing it...Enjoy!

On my wrist on race day, a reminder to "Live STRONG" and a quote from my friend and fellow triathlete, Linae.

Nancy, Holly and Keri around Mile 13.5.

Holly and Nancy looking strong just past the 1/2 Marathon point.

The thumbs say it all ... Mile 19.5 just around the corner to the 14th Street Bridge.

Holly less than 200 feet from the finish line, SMILING all the way!!

26.2 Miles COMPLETE! Keri, Holly and Jim!

For the record: My face in the last picture is covered in sunscreen and salt, I wasn't going for any "Ghost" finish and I am not normally that pale but now I understand why the "Subway" sandwich guy asked me if I wanted food 3 times at Mile 24!!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Marine Corps Marathon - Finish BABY

My watch said: 6:07:33

Accoridng to the MCM Site I finished at: 06:38:09 I think they have not yet taken the second wave start time into account since it said I started the race at 8:18 and I was in the second wave that started at 8:45.

I know for a fact that it didn't take me 1 hour to finish the last 5K because I had my splits and I was doing 14 minute mile and my chip time at 23 miles was 5:20 but you know what ....


Nancy and Keri were my angels and made the run wonderful fun!

More tomorrow. Living STRONG!

UNOFFICIAL TIME (on website as of 5:45PM)
Chip Time: 06:38:09
Clock: 06:41:57
Pace: 15:11

Overall: 17538
Gender: 6815
Division: 1127

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Marathon Goals ...

I was contemplating my goals for the Marine Corps Marathon when I was struck by something crazy...

What if I had a great day and PR'd my second marathon ever? While in treatment...

The number of excuses I would lose about being naturally slow would be extinct and I would really have to face that I could , with some hard work and effort, probably run faster than 9 minute miles with some training (my fastest pace - 5K in 2003)

In March 2003 I ran the Ocean Drive Marathon in Cape May, NJ. It was my first marathon and I finished in 5:39:15.

The paceband that I created for Marine Corps, based on a solid 13:00 per mile pace predicts a finish time of 5:40:00.

So in the spirit of my good friend Nancy I am going to make a list of goals for my race - real goals and "DREAM" goals - and I will let you know how many of them I accomplish.

Goal 1 - HAVE FUN!!
Goal 2 - BEAT THE 14TH Street Bridge (Mile 20)
Goal 3 - FINISH
DREAM - Goal 4 - Maintain a solid 13:00 mile pace - FINISH TIME of 5:40:00
DREAM - Goal 5 - Set a PR by beating my only other marathon finish of 5:39:15

Some days you have to DREAM a little bit bigger! Living STRONG, dreaming and tapering here in Northern VA.

Inspiration on a Taper Day...

"It’s too easy to forget that we are strong and we can persevere."

Linae, triathlete - 10/22/2005

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

A Most Excellent Taper

The time for the "taper" has come and it is being enhanced by a 10 DAY BREAK from the Interferon. I am going to be feeling like $1,000,000 Dollars on race day! Marine Corps Marathon - here I come!

I saw Dr. Butler on Friday and he decided then was as good a time as any to stop the SUBQ shots for a week or so. He felt that the break would help boost my blood count and give me a little extra edge for race day. The "edge" being simply that I won't feel "flu-ish" for the week leading up to the Marine Corps Marathon!

This is kind of morbid, but I did have to promise Dr. Butler that I wouldn't "die on him" out there and that I would listen to my body. It was a promise that I gladly made and that I fully intend to keep.

He said that with a smile on his face so I think he was being somewhat funny but then he proceeded to make sure I understood how to avoid overdoing it with "plain water." I did my best to assure him that I understood the risks of hyponytremia and dehydration and I had a nutrition plan worked out and that I would always have Keri and Nancy with me in the first 20 miles to make sure that I was staying on pace and on plan.

This race isn't about PRs .. It is about living as STRONG as I can under the circumstance.
Jim and I had a great time climbing Old Rag for his Birthday. The weather was perfect and the crowds pretty small. I will post a picture later tonight!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Looking ahead ...

Holly & Woodchuck (photo credit: Heather Gannoe)

I see Dr. Butler today and will show off my Army 10 Miler Coin and talk to him about next weeks SUBQ shot plans and the upcoming Marine Corps Marathon. I have been pretty fatigued this week with a monster headache last night and I have been feeling rather "BLAH". I'm guessing it is the time change and maybe just a little healthy "pre-marathon" anxiety.

I'm going to ask Dr. Butler if he thinks that post-Marathon, he can up my dosage to 10 MIU for a while if he thinks my body will handle it. We'll see what he thinks of that and go from there.

Jim's birthday is this weekend (the BIG 43) and we have some fun stuff planned including a 7 mile hike to the summit of Old Rag on Sunday. I will be sure and get some pictures to share!

No stinking hurricane named Wilma is going to stop my triathlon buddy Linae or any of the other 400 athletes from starting the Great Floridian Triathlon!

GO LINAE GO! Have fun and live STRONG all day!

I hope everybody has a good weekend!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Killing me softly ...

Somebody save me from myself today! I have been hungry ALL day and hitting the D*MN office Halloween Candy basket.

I started out with my typical breakfast of a bagel & peanut butter and a glass of milk. Then lunch was a duplicate of breakfast because since before breakfast I have had stomach pains. (Thanks Interferon!!)

Perhaps I didn't eat enough real food? Or perhaps my hunger is in my head and related to having pain?

I ate whatever I wanted this past weekend during my travels and so I thought I would try to "behave" today and here I find myself prowling the candy jars and eyeing the Vending Machines (which I have managed to avoid, just barely!)

I think ultimately I needed a better lunch with some complex proteins and vegi in spite of the stomach ache.

The goal for dinner to night is a healthy Chef Salad and warm rolls for Jim & I ... if I can make it through the grocery story without being arrested for "Gorging in Public"...

20 minutes to freedom from the Candy Jar .....BE STRONG!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Sisters ....

Gannoe Girls - Sleepy on Christmas Eve, 2004 (Mom, Heather, Cathy, Holly)

I drove to and from Maine this weekend to visit my youngest sister Cathy and deliver some furniture that she could use. While it was a "short visit" with more driving than actual visiting, it was wonderful all the same! Cathy and Norm have a cute little apartment in Old Town, ME and an adorable kitty named "Moo" who is the most wonderful lap cat ever. I wanted to clone her but Cathy discouraged that. :)

I told Cathy that Heather and I were trying to find another "Sister" event that might suit all of us better, since Cathy is not a big fan of running. She suggested that maybe we could do the Covered Bridges 1/2 Marathon in Queechee, VT this June 06 since it is close to Mom and Dad. You could have knocked me over with a feather since Cathy said "No more 1/2 Marathons, I have done one" not long after Myrtle Beach last year... Surprise Surprise...

Cathy doesn't have a BLOG but my other sister Heather does. I go there occasionally to see if she has updated or posted and I found this today!

"let your waves crash down on me and take me away...."

I'm a surf addict. I can't stand to be away from the ocean. But I also live on the east coast where winters are far from warm and forgiving. I have been searching for a hobby to help me survive the boredom until next spring. Recently, my older sister has introduced me to the wonderful world of running , and being the adrenaline junkie that i am, i've decided a 26.2 mile race is what i want. This blog will be my story, as winter nears, and training for my first marathon begins...


When she posts her first entry and starts her training I will let you all know! I think she is considering the Myrtle Beach Marathon in February 2006. I have promised her that I will be there! Will I be running? We haven't gotten that far in negotiations yet ... I will at least run 1/2 of the race with her!

Two weeks until the Marine Corps Marathon. My coach has started a gentle taper and this weekend I will be hiking 7 miles at Old Rag with Jim and friends to celebrate his 43rd Birthday instead of a long run. I think based on the challenge of the hike, it will be equivalent.

I guess since it is a work day, I should be getting back to work .... Hope everybody had a great weekend!

Friday, October 14, 2005

An Awakening while Running

I am going to the great state of Maine this weekend to visit my youngest sister Cathy and her boyfriend Norm so my long run had to happen during the week. I know people run in Maine but I'd rather run 30-45 minutes in Maine while visiting than 3.5 hours. I'm picky like that.

So yesterday I made it my goal to "run home" from work. I am lucky because there is a trail that runs all the way from my office in D.C. along the waterfront and across the Potomac and down into Alexandria. Since the actually mileage home is only 12 miles, I made a detour through Hains Point and "The Awakening". This park is actually a part of the Marine Corps Marathon course - Miles 16-20 - and is the last segment that needs to be done in order to "Beat the 14th Street Bridge".

So I ran 2/1 intervals and covered just shy of 16 miles in 205 minutes. I average around a 13 minute mile pace. Some miles were closer to 12:30 (in the beginning) but as I started losing daylight and the rain began (gentle sprinkles) I slowed down a little. Why fall this close to the Marathon?

I kept in contact with Jim via cell phone and he met me at Bell Haven Marina at 7:45pm. It was nice to have a kiss and a warm car to wrap up my run. I felt fantastic... like I could have easily run another 11 miles. My nutrition and water intake seem to be dead on. I think that I am actually ready for Marine Corps Marathon in two weeks!!

Now if I could just get Mother Nature to give me 60 degrees and overcast skies with no rain on race day ......
Nancy is running the Baltimore Marathon tomorrow!! GOOD LUCK NANCY!
Shelley is doing Iroman Hawaii Sunday! GOOD LUCK SHELLEY!
Live STRONG and have a good weekend everybody! I'm off to MAINE! Lobster Anyone??

Wednesday, October 12, 2005



Dear Fellow Metro Commuter -

While I will take a moment to appreciate that I could actually turn your head and make you look twice, it is in fact RUDE to continue to OGGLE me (stare unabashedly) for two blocks till we both reach the metro. It's 5:30 in the morning and I am wearing standard "running short" as I head to the gym. Perhaps you need to get out more ...


Dear Woman on the Treadmill -

WOW!! You are in great shape and sweating so much. I wonder if you know that when you have the incline set so steep on the treadmill that you have to lock your elbows and grip the handles with "white knuckles" that perhaps you should consider either lowering the incline OR reducing the speed somewhat. The truth is that you are not getting much of a workout when you are performing the "treadmill deathgrip" . Still I am impressed with how much you are sweating ... and a little grossed out ....

I'm not the most cheerful of morning people - especially when it is 5:30AM - At least I got my 4 miles in before work. YEAH ME! Nancy and Flatman and the rest of you early risers - how do you do it???

BLOOD COUNTS/SIDE EFFECTS: The blood count is coming back up and I am really beginning to think Linae was right on the money with noticing that after my last long run my blood counts dipped and then stabilized again the next week. So I am less inclined to be very concerned with the numbers. Hopefully Dr. Butler will let me jump back up to 10 MIU on Thursday when he sees the results.

They looked as deep as they could in the back of my eyes with a big light and didn't see anything strange. Of course I saw "spots" for about 15 minutes after that. I had to walk in a straight line, close my eyes, put my arms out in front of me - all the standard general equilibrium tests and passed with flying colors.

The prognosis: Let us know if the dizziness happens some more but we think its nothing to worry about. There were no general comments on the phlegm and breathing problems so I will just pay attention to when they are happening and tell Dr. Butler next week when I see him, if it is still bothering me.

OTHER ATHLETES: Did you know???

IRONMAN HAWAII is in less than 5 days! Go and send Shelly and Cathy (AKA CLM) lots of good wishes!!

The Baltimore Marathon is this weekend and Nancy will be running for a Personal Record! Go and send her lots of good wishes!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Too little Blood

Cute Kittens for a Rainy Day...
It's about time to update y'all on the medical end of things because it has the potential to rudely "interrupt" my current Marine Corps Marathon plans in just 3 weeks time. Damn medical drama!

After the speedy and fun Army 11.4 Miler with Heather, I felt pretty good all things considering. I was having some significant fatigue (expected) and had noticed that I have begun to produce a lot of phlem (unexpected).

The weekly visit to the Dr's office on Tuesday produced some pats on the back for the Army 10 Miler (I brought my finishing coin with me - I was so proud!) and some rather negative results in my blood count. I was showing continued signs of Anemia from last week (low reb blood cell count) and very low Nuetraphil numbers (white blood cell count).

The verdict on that day was as follows:
- Do not give yourself a shot tonight.
- Reduce the amounts of the next 3 shots by 5 MIU (from 10 MIU)
- Dr. Butler will let you know what to do next AFTER we get your blood next week.

The "good" news is a that a detailed check of my Iron levels shows that I am not in need of an Iron supplement in addition to my current "One-A-Day" for Women multi-vitamin. The "not so good" news is that the anemia is another side effect of the Interferon.

How much lower could my weekly dose get until my body understands that this is going to continue? GET USED TO IT ALREADY! We (me and the body) have 34 more weeks left!! ARG!

Granted, I like to suffer for my love of sport. I don't want to suffer on Chemo any more than I have too but watching my body have a hard time with such low doses makes me very anxious. Anxious that I am not getting enough of the treatment to prevent a recurrence.

Unfortunately I have to report to the Dr. this week that in the last week I have begun to have some problems with my breathing and I have had a few strange Vertigo moments with regards to looking at lights. I am going to head to the optomistrist later this week to check the eyeballs but I am more concerned with the phlem and breathing problems.

When Keri and I went out - I was a giant running head full of phlem (SUCH A PRETTY PICTURE TO IMAGINE, HUH?) and towards the end of the run I was having a hard time catching my breath. Here is hoping it was the 100% humidity that was the cause of that and not another side effect of the drugs!

So at 4PM, I will be back to give blood work and see where I am at in terms of anemia/nuetropenia. Keep your fingers crossed and I will keep my veins hydrated so they can get a good, juicy sample.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Rain, Rain, Rain

We needed it and Tropical Storm Tammy is providing plenty.

I still need to get out for my "long run" this weekend which is a refreshingly short 5 miles (60 minutes). The rest of the LONG WEEKEND is being spent unpacking more boxes, taking naps as needed and doing laundry including the "Fall/Winter" wardrobe shift in the closet.

That project alone will bring at least 6 more weeks of unusually warm weather to Northern Virginia!!

Hope you are all enjoying the weekend - rainy or not!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Here are some pictures from the actual race ....
Holly - Running Strong!

Heather - Running & Surfing like a girl!

Walk Break!!

Finished! Go Sisters!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Race Report - Army Ten Miler !!!

Executive Summary:

Army 10 Miler - October 2, 2005
Actual Mileage - 11.4 miles (rerouted for Security Reasons)
Time: 2:23 (2/1 Run/Walk Intervals)
Estimated Average Pace: 12:54

The rest of the story:

F*#K Cancer! Hooah!

Sorry to start with such an offensive phrase but that was the underlying vibe of the Army Ten Miler for me this year. In February of this year I was diagnosed with Malignant Melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer. This diagnosis was followed up with 2 surgeries, a month of daily high dose Interferon Chemotherapy that took me out of work for 6 weeks and out of the triathlon season and into 48 weeks of low dose Interferon Chemotherapy with shots 3x a week. Only 34 weeks left!

All through the early phases of my treatment, I decided that Melanoma would only take so much away from me. I would hold onto whatever I could during treatment to prove to myself that I could "live STRONG" and maintain some level of fitness. If so many other people could do it, so could I. I got my Oncologist approval to train. (It helps if your Dr. is a runner too!)

My younger sister Heather came into town to run the race with me and was my official pacer. The plan was:

2.) Run/Walk 2/1 intervals for an average pace of 13:00 minute miles
3.) GU every 40 minutes and get water and Gatorade from the course stops

Heather and I showed up at the Pentagon with about an hour to the race start. We walked about 1/2 mile to the "purple balloons" that signified the back of the pack. Before long the canon's roared and we were off!

As we passed over the start line 10 minutes later (18,000 people ahead of us), We were treated to cannon fire right in our ears! We must have both performed instant high jumps! YEOW!

The first miles were fast! Heather kept the overall pace up and I was the "interval queen"; my watch beeping for walk breaks every 2 minutes.

I was thrilled and astonished when Heather told me that miles 1 through 5 were dead on for 11:00 minute miles! Heather was amazing at keeping the conversation going, keeping me focused on how great we were doing and sharing the race with me. We cheered people on when they passed us with names on the back of their shirts. I scream "Hooah" (an Army term) at least 4 or 5 times as Army personnel cheered us on and Heather and I talked about her newly found "Marathon distance" running goals. We even sang "Happy Birthday to a runner who's shirt said "Today is my 61st Birthday"!

Just short of mile 7, Heather and I passed our boyfriends Jim and Rich. They gave us cheers and took a picture and said "See you at the finish!" Then we pass the SAG busses, which were still on the other side of the street! Goal 1 accomplished .. I wasn't being swept off this race course today!

My overall finish goal had been a 2:30 finish and we were on pace for at least a sub 2:15!!

As we approached mile 8, I started telling Heather how important the final 2 miles were for me. They crossed over the 14th Street Bridge which was the "Make or Break" point of the Marine Corps Marathon in 4 weeks. If I could keep the pace we had today on race day, I knew for sure that I could attempt the Marine Corps Marathon on October 30th.

Then we hit mile 8 or so and found they were cleaning up, the water stop had been removed from the course already!! 500 feet later they were taking down a mile marker sign. Somebody along the race course in the general vicinity said "Hey, we are still racing here!" There were choruses of "Yeah" and "What mile marker is that?" Dissention was mounting among the troops and I was lost in a bit of a fog of confusion.

"Why are we heading back to the Memorial Bridge .. I thought we crossed the 14th Street Bridge..."

Heather picked up on things quickly and even though she didn't know the course, she encouraged me to "look behind us Sister ... There are thousands of people back there ... We are going to finish strong".

She was right, a peak back revealed just as many people behind me as there seamed to be ahead of me. I was solidly in the middle of the Back of the Pack and destined to finish.

The last miles were quite a challenge. Looking at her watch, Heather knew something was up with the mileage but she didn't let either of us focus on that. She just kept me moving forward. Giving me focus points that helped get me through the intervals.

"Focus on the Eagles at the end of the bridge Sister ... We will run to there and it will be time to walk for a minute." That comment caused me to sing "Bird, Bird, Bird... Bird is the Word" as I shuffled down the bridge!

When we were in the middle of the Memorial Bridge, there was a female Army Medic standing on the Bridge yelling "You did it! Nice job runners! You made it... Only a mile to go!" At the time I didn't realize it but she was telling us that we had just completed mile 10!

Mile 11.4 - which most of us thought was mile 10 - was a struggle for me. The pace had caught up to me and so had the lack of water since Mile 7. I was struggling and Heather carried me emotionally as much as she could.

She talked to me the entire way.. Non-stop encouragement and the occasional gentle hand on my back. With the finish line in site in the distance, I told Heather, I want to run the rest of the way - no matter how slowly we go. "F*#K Cancer."

My sister Heather responded with an echo of "F*#K Cancer" and we ran the last .4 miles. As we passed a gentleman with an American Flag he said "Congratulations! This 11.4 miles was presented to you from the US Army"


We crossed the finish line, a confusing concept for my tired brain. I kept looking for a finishing mat that wasn't there. Apparently due to suspicious package found under the 14th Street Bridge, the race was rerouted so the only finishing time would be the one on my sister's watch.

2:23:00 for 11.4 miles!

We headed over to the finish zone, got our finishing Coins, got an official picture taken and met Jim and Rich for big hugs and kisses and a metro ride home.

I am happy to say that I am ready to start the day on October 30th for the Marine Corps Marathon. I fully accept that I may not finish the day at the finish line because I might not beat the 14th Street Bridge but I will have a fun time trying! Cancer Smancer.

Post Script - I want to send out of big THANKS to fellow RAT - Kevin Hnery - although he wasn't able to race the ATM this year, his generosity and kindness helped my sister race this year through a Bib Transfer. This race would have been so much harder without her and it is his kindness that got her to the start line! Thank you Kevin!

In other news, my sister Heather is now 90% sure she is going to run the Myrtle Beach Marathon in Feb 2006!! Another Endurance Junky has had been born!