Thursday, June 30, 2005

Flattery for Flatman

Imitation is the sincerest of flattery.
Charles Caleb Colton, Lacon, volume I, no. 183
(1780 - 1832)
- - - -

Flatman digs Lance and I dig Lance!

Flatman is a cool triathlete in a HOT state, hotter than Mississippi!

Hopefully Flatman will forgive my laziness since I copied his source code to add the Triathlon Alliance Blog list he slaved over. Thank you Flatman!

Now go read his blog! And the rest of them too!

- - - -

Nancy had a great question to ponder today regarding embarrassing triathlon moments. For what it is worth, I would much rather finish DEAD F____ LAST in any race before I would want to loose a peice of race clothing.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Choices ...

Every moment we are faced with multiple choices and it never ceases to amaze me when somebody chooses to be miserable or look at the dark side of things. I mean the expression might seem cliche but "ATTITUDE really is everything" and a change in attitude can change the entire course of your life.

I have met many people who seem to think that "suffering" is the only choice they have. They have gone through their entire adult lives being a victim and wonder why they "can't get a break". They are the first to complain and they are the first to tell you how much worse their lives are than yours. Sometimes I wonder what might happen if I simply said, "Wow, I'm sorry you have gotten so many tough breaks but what are you doing now?"

I believe we are all entitled feel whatever we want to feel. I believe on some levels you must "suffer" to grasp the reality of your current situation. Whatever the circumstance: illness, cancer, work, a marathon, insert your personal situation here __________.

I also believe the true test of a person's ability to survive and thrive comes when you accept and acknowledge that you are suffering and then you make the CHOICE to do something about it. That my friends is ATTITUDE ....

and frankly "ATTITUDE is everything!"

WHAT'S HOT RIGHT NOW HOLLY?: Looks like surgery #3 of the year is going to be Jim's to tackle. I'm just a cheerleader this time!! GO JIM GO!! Seems that his aching back pain is a bulging disc in his lower lumbar region and he has an inguinal hernia that will need surgery in the next few weeks. Oh the joys of "general anesthesia" !!

Funniest thing though, his DR. recommended my surgeon Dr. Wagner !! We got a good laugh out of that and considered it some good karma! Dr. Wagner ROCKS!

So at this point, I can say that Jim has pulled ahead of me in the "2005 Holly-Jim MEDI-athalon" we have going. Interferon shots ain't got nothing on back pain and hernias. Heck, I just feel like I have a bad cold.

At this point we have decided that we are going to try to get all our major medical issues done this year. We figure it means that 2007 will be our year of the "Uber-athletes" and the unltimate in Personal Records and a great racing season.

Some days it is best just to smile and make light of it....Your happier that way.

Living STRONG in VA where Attitude is everything

Monday, June 27, 2005

A run ::or something like it::

Obligatory Training Note:

I went out to run, to see just where I stand in terms of the next 18 weeks. As I was suspecting, I have some work to do!

The goal was 20-30 minutes of 3/1 intervals with the flexibility of walking when I needed too - acknowledging that I have not run in 8 weeks.

The workout: 39 minutes total - about 10 minutes of actual running

4 minute warm up walk
3 reps of 3/1 run/walk intervals
4 minute walk
1 reps of 1.5/2.5 run/walk intervals (I tried to resume ... but the body said "done")
15 minutes of walking (uphill) and recovery

Estimated mileage - 2 miles but not really sure...

Tomorrow I will head to the trail where there are mile markers and time a mile run using the 3/1 intervals to get an idea of what kind of pace I am working with. Then Coach Debi can help me establish a training plan. I'm less concerned with speed than I am with rebuilding my endurance and managing a mile pace that will bring me to the 14th Street Bridge before the SAG bus on October 31st.

I may not be fast but I am determined.
Sounds like "Living STRONG" to me!

20 Miles - A good starting point

Yesterday I got back on the bike! Jim and I did our moderately hilly Fort Hunt route at a slow pace for a total of 20 miles. Since Jim pulled his back on vacation lifting a computer monitor and my bike riding as been less than 7 miles in the last month, we thought that we did just fine.

Personally, I am thrilled with the fact that I was able to ride 20 miles yesterday and don't have much muscle soreness today. I did take a heck of a nap yesterday afternoon, as did Jim. We are nappers at heart, truth be told, so there is not much surprise that we napped after what other endurance junkies would consider a short ride. Still any ride is better than not riding at all!

Today's plan is to hit the road for a short run of 20-30 minutes with run/walk intervals of 3/1. This gives me a chance to see just how much fitness I have for running and start fresh on my Army 10 miler/Marine Corps Marathon races in 18 weeks. I'd also like to get in the pool some time this week and see how my swimming stroke goes. My left arm needs some help getting strength back and I think the swimming will do that very well. Besides, I actually miss the pool!

My other stop today will be to my general doc, Dr. Bui, to determine the cause of all these sinus headaches and earaches of the last 2 weeks. I suspect that I may have my first "sinus infection" and a round of antibiotics may be in order.

In other news, I am going to attempt to return to work this week, on Thursday to be specfic. The plan is to start back at a 5 hour work day for the first week or two while I adjust to the low-dose shots and how I feel the morning after. I am looking forward to going back to work. A life of leisure doesn't suit me unless I can use the free time to enjoy my endurance hobbies to their fulllest, so rather than short walks and lots of reading, I would much rather be in the office doing graphic design work and making money to register for races and buy new triathlon gear.

6 days til Le Tour!! Le Tour Baby!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Mississippi Vacation 2005 - Some Images

Here are a few pictures from our trip to Mississippi & Memphis. Enjoy!


Our lovely hosts on the family farm, Gloria & Jimmie

Kudzoo in Sardis, MS (and a old ford truck)

Jim at Ole Miss in front of a building with his surname.

The trolley of Memphis!

Dinner on Beale Street!
Shiny Happy People are we!

The famous Peabody ducks
(well the lead male duck...)

Obligitory "Graceland" gates picture.
We didn't have any interest in going inside
but we knew we couldn't leave Memphis
and not have at least driven by Graceland.

but we kidnapped a duck!

The tree of shame at Deal's Gap in North Carolina.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

A fat girl's nightmare - Everything tastes good!

At one point in my life I weighed 300 pounds. I worked hard to lose that weight. I didn't go for surgery or a radical change. I just cut the calories and increased my activity levels and slowly over about 2 years, the weight came off. I am still 30 pounds from what I consider my "goal" weight of 155 but I finally learned about a year ago that I had to let that goal go and live my life. I was too wrapped up on that magic number and losing focus on being healthy and happy.

So my life has moved forward. My goals over the last 5 years have shifted from looking good in a bikini to walking 10 miles to riding my bike 100 miles to running a Marathon and then doing a 1/2 Ironman Triathlon. The ultimate goal is still a full IRONMAN distance triathlon (2.5 mile SWIM/112 mile BIKE/26.2 mile RUN). I will be an IRONMAN ... but i digress from the topic at hand ...

Food. I may have lost 120+ pounds but I still love food. I still indulge in the occassional ice cream and chocolate and I still crave my mom's roasted chicken with all the fixings. Heck, being a triathlete has worked in my favor as a former fat girl. HOW? Well a PB&J sandwhich and a bannana is a great breakfast choice before a long ride or run. And after a 60+ mile bike or a 14+ mile training run, you can have an extra roll with dinner and not be too concerned about excess calories. Don't get me wrong, I eat healthy most of the time now and I think about my choices but as any other fellow endurance junkies will tell you, Extra Food is a nice fringe benefit for the hours of cardio. The firm legs are nice too!

So with any kind of chemo, one of the first sets of healthy cells to go are your tastebuds and stomach cell's. They are some of the most rapidly dividing cells in your body (besides your hair and skin). So if you are lucky enough you might not have the mouth sores that some chemos cause but you will probably experience some change in taste.

My experience on Interferon is that everything tastes wrong. Especially anything that is slightly salty or very sweet. Over the month of high dose, I had lost my taste of everything that I enjoyed. Chocolate - blah, peanutbutter - double blah - any kind of cheese or meat - forget it! Bland is the way to go. I still have my dairy and have found comfort in fresh fruit, plain chicken and yougurt and bagels and juice. Until 1 week ago that is ....

After a week off of Interferon, my taste returned to normal and all bets have been off. In part because I know in a week, everything will taste bad again for the next 11 months. I have not been eating in massive amounts but I sure have induldge in treats that I usually save for long milage days. The biggest problem? I haven't been doing the long miles! The calories have no where to go. Hmm..let me take that back, lately they seem to be going straight to my waist.

I feel a little out of control and I hate that feeling. I guess that means it is time to sit down and plan a little workout/nutrition plan for the first few weeks of Interferon shots. No time like the present to start.

Vacation pictures coming tomorrow!

Living STRONG but hitting the Hershey's a little hard .....

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

On the road again ..

We are back in Knoxville, TN - planning to arrive home tonight. I guess I am ready to be home again. Tennesee has been the sight of some fierce sinus headaches. Prior to the interferon therapy, headaches were very rare for me and now it seems I am sensitive to even the slightest atmospheric changes.

Hmph ... CONFESSION: I am not enjoying the achey ears, eyeball sockets and nasal sinuses. I don't remember reading any of that as "side effects" but since everybody's reactions are individual... I guess this is mine.

For the most part, I am ready to be home and to start to establish a more normal routine again. I realized this morning that I have 12 & 16 weeks to the Army 10 Miler and the Marine Corps Marathon. It is time to get back to the office, hit the pool running (literally) and to start hitting the trail to see what pace my body will accept, probably some "Galloway" type of run/walk mix - which is fine because many folks have successfully crossed the finish line that way!

Jim and I are going to stop and "tame the dragon" on our way home. We are going to drive the infamous "Deal's Gap" - a road with 318 turns in 11 miles. Since it is our first trip with the BMW on the "Dragon's tail" we are not going to go fast (Thank Gosh!) but slowly enjoy the route. At least Jim will, I will probably have my eyes closed about 50% of the time!

Living STRONG and heading home!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Memphis, Fried Pickles and Kudzoo

Well Jim and I are in Memphis, TN - former home of Elvis, if you are an Elvis fan. We are not but we are looking forward to a few days of sight seeing anyways. I am looking forward to seeing the "Peabody Hotel" ducks!! More on that after I see them.

Our last few days in Mississippi were wonderful. We had a traditional fried catfish meal and I got my "fried" dill pickles and ranch dressing - YUM! We also got home cooked meals all week from Jim's Mom and I think in spite of walking 2 miles every morning, we found a few pounds. No worries, it's vacation weight, we will loose it!! On vacations, Dessert has no calories!!

Yesterday we drove from Jackson, MS to Batesville, MS and Sardis Dam. I picked up my $45.00 Dragonfly triathlon t-shirt and got some great free stuff. A waterbottle, a free copy of "Triathlete" magazine, a tube of IRONMAN muscle creme (aka Ben-Gay) and a tub of foot cream. I guess they are big on the feet in Sardis, MS.

Jim and I went to the race this morning and while I was depressed for about 10 minutes not to be racing on what was a relatively mild morning by the time the race started; once I started cheering for the racer's coming out of the water, I was as happy as could be. I love cheering people on and most people will smile and thank you. Of course there are those triathletes who will look at you like you are an ass, I call them the "angry racers". You know the ones, who look at you as if to say "Shut up, I am DOING this, why don't you come out here and do it." To those people I want to yell, "I would if I could, DAMNIT! But I can't!!" but they wouldn't care, they are focused on their race and racing angry motivates them. That is fine, I say whatever gets you across the finish line. Just don't quit unless your in pain, broke your equipment or are in danger of dying.

I stayed down there and cheered people on until the last swimmer came out of the water. She was an "Athena", I could tell by the "A" on her calf and the body type. That is the race class that I planned to compete in and try to win this year. I cheered loudly for her and told her she looked great! She thanked me and smiled and continued onto her bike. That was not such a bad way to spend my morning after all. I will race again and we plan to come back to Sardis and do this next year if the schedule allows. So this year was a "scouting trip."

We then drove up to Oxford and visited the University of Mississippi, also known as "Ole Miss", Jim's alma-mater. "HOTTY TODDY - FLIM FLAM - BIM BAM - OLE MISS, BY DAMN." It was a beautiful campus and we came across a biology building with Jim's surname on it. Considering that both Jim, his father and his grandfather went to Ole Miss, we were curious. We think his Dad may be holding out on us with the story's... Hehehe.

All along the way to Memphis, we saw LOADS of Kudzoo. It is this plant that covers EVERYTHING it can get to and makes the trees and ground look like a "freakish" version of Disney topiarys. I swear that some of the Kudzoo trees that I saw looked like giraffes and one looked like a two-headed dog. Hmmm... perhaps too much time in hot car?

Living STRONG in Memphis .... near Elvis (who has left the building)

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


It is HOT in Mississippi.

Jim and I had an uneventful drive south over the weekend and we have been enjoying his Mother's wonderful home cooked meals, his Dad's great stories and the beauty of the family farm. Other than watching out for fire ant beds, our walks through the fields to check out the frogs, turtles and dragonflies have been fun.

Still I have to say: It is HOT down here! A good "sweat out the Interferon" kind of HOT. The first 4 days have been okay. I feel better today than I have so far the entire trip. My sinuses are a little more sensative than I am accustomed but last night I actually had to put some salt and pepper on my food, which means my tastebuds are coming back to normal! YEAH!

Rest and Relaxation is just what the Dr. ordered and I am doing my best to follow that Rx. I even managed to finish a book! That is the first time in 4 weeks!

Did I mention it was HOT down south? I am such a whiny YANKEE! Hehehe

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Just a quick note - I'm Done!

I am done with High-Dose Interferon Chemotherapy!!!!!!

Yesterday was rather anti-climatic and that is just fine with me. The symptoms of the last 4 days never got any worse and last night I slept very well. Something strangely relaxing about knowing that you won't have another 3-hour infusion on Monday morning.

There is more I want to say but for the moment it will have to wait since Jim is packing the BMW as I type. We are off to Jackson, Mississippi for some much needed Rest & Relaxation! I'll be checking in throught the trip, with pictures too!

Go out and enjoy your weekend!! I know that I will!

Living STRONG and ready to RELAX!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Not soon enough ...


The last treatment of this high-dose cycle can't come soon enough. Last night the collective unit that makes up ME, physically, reached her limits. I've been in a fog for about 48 hours now, I'm clumsy, my limbs feel week, my digestive system doesn't know what to do and sleep is fitful. I don't even have the words for it all but it feels awful, kids.

Yesterday I knew my white blood cell count would be low. Now that I know what it "feels" like, I was expecting it. Still my body knows how to throw me for a loop by coming to a completely new low. Two days until my treatment is over and my blood counts fell all that way across the board for the first time. ALL OF THEM....

Man was I pissed! Not sad, but angry. Two days, damnit!! Just two treatments, we can do this! Please don't send me HOME!

The compromise Dr. Butler and I came to: 10 MIU for Thursday and Friday. That was a compromise that I was willing to take. Give me something, anything to finish up this cycle ....

Today, right now, I don't know how I am going to handle 10 MIU units more. Tonight is going to suck but at least at 5PM today, the "high-dose" cycle will be over.

By the numbers: Holly's Blood Counts (Week 4, Intron-A)


Red Blood Cells
4.0 - 6.20 / 4.25 / 3.68

11.0 - 18.0 / 12.5 / 10.8

White Blood Cells
4.0 - 11.0 / 4.3 / 2.1

1.2 - 6.8 / 1.92 / 0.55

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

3 down, only 2 to go ...

This week has gone well so far, I have had 3 days of 40 MIU and with only 2 treatments left on the high-dose regiment, I am hoping my white blood cells stay high enough to make the last 2 days "maximum" days. It has been my experience that all feels well until late in the evening of day 3 of high dose cycle and then the real "funkyness" begins to settle in. Now I am obliged to simply wait and see what happens.

Go White Blood Cells Go!
On Monday, my friend Keri came with me for the first 1/2 of my Chemo treatment. It was wonderful to see her and we caught up on many things. Most of all, I got to hear all about her 1st Triathlon, which she completed just a little under a month ago. I am very happy to report that she has definately been bit by the "Triathlon" bug! She is already looking for her next race!

Go Kerry Go!

In other Triathlon news, my friend Nancy is getting ready to do her first 1/2 Ironman Distance race this weekend at EagleMan. Send her all the GOOD VIBES that you can!

Go Nancy Go!!!

Work Outs this week (thus far):

MON: Day Off - TUES: 2 miles walking - WED: 2 miles walking

I got two beautiful bouquets of flowers today. One from a friend from work (THANKS Don!) and one from my Mom & Dad. I feel very blessed to have so many people who love me and care about me.

Living STRONG and bringing in the final days of "high-dose" treatment, one day at a time.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Forever moving forward...

I'm a goal oriented kind of girl, it's what moves me forward. This big goal for this year is, of course, 1.) Eliminate Melanoma but I need my endurance fixes ... I'm a junky when it comes to endorphins, A JUNKY, I tell ya!

So this should come as little surprise:

************************* REGISTRATION FOR ***************************

Army Ten-Miler

************************ PAYMENT INFORMATION *************************
Payment Date: 2005-06-06 07:28:02.15
Payment Total: $37.25
Confirmation Number: 10XXX38-06XXXXXXX54

HE HE HE HE HE - Ooops ... Coach Debi, I singed up for a little training run before the Marine Corps Marathon....

Come on along, all the cool kids are doing it... My sister Heather and I are!!
The weekend was a little rough. I was sick to my stomach alot but I was able to walk 2 miles on Saturday and 1 mile on Sunday. Jim and I went and saw the movie "Madagascar" .. I recommend it!

Saturday, June 04, 2005

High-Dose Interferon 101 - More to the story

So on Friday I went into treatment with LOW EXPECTATIONS. I was feeling pretty funky in general and Tess, my oncology nurse, had prepped me for the possibility that I might not get treatment at all that day.

Jim, concerned with my well being and the amount of time it seem to be taking me to simply get to the "1/2 way point" in treatments, surprised me by taking the afternoon off and coming with me for treatment. He wanted to be with me when I saw Dr. Butler, to hold my hand, be my muscle and make sure we got some answers.

Dr. Butler came to see me as soon as I sat into my "recliner de jour", shook both our hands and asked me if I had "had enough yet?" I told him I was doing the best I could but I needed to know "How far away from being done am I, REALLY?"

You could have knocked Jim and I over with a feather when we got Dr. Butler's reply:


You see, it seems that both Jim and I misunderstood the way this whole "high-dose treatment" part works. Well actually, I don't think Dr. Butler explained it as well as he could have and Jim and I were stuck on the number 20. So here is how it works, in a nutshell:

For a 4 weeks period, Dr. Butler planned to "treat" me with as much Interferon as my body is able to handle per treatment based on my blood work and metabolic functions. The MAX dose on any day being 40 MIU (million units). When my liver reacted, he backed off (as he should) and then hit me with two days of low dose to make sure that my liver counts would come back to normal. Then he hit me hard again this week with 40 MIU for 3 days until my white blood cells dropped indicating that my body was at max capacity again. So he ordered 20 MIU for Friday.

Now on Monday, as long as my white blood cells are back to normal ranges, I will go back to 40 MIU for as long as my body can hang but NO MATTER WHAT, I will be DONE with High-Dose treatment on FRIDAY, JUNE 10th !!!!

You couldn't peel the smile off my face or Jim's for that matter. I told Dr. Butler that he should go for the big guns this week and I'll try to hang in there for the full 5 days at 40 MIU. KILL THAT MELANOMA!!!

I can do anything for 5 more days.

Then I get to go to Mississippi for a week with my hot cyclist boyfriend (Jim, of course) for some R&R before I start the next 48 weeks of low-dose treatment.

I can do ANYTHING for 5 more days .... especially if it means that I get a break!!

Oh and my liver, she is doing very well thank you! This week in spite of 3 days of high-dose, I dropped another 20 points back into the "normal" range. It seems that it was a case of temporary distress and now that the Interferon levels are not going away, my liver has adjusted to the extra work load. That's a good liver!!!

:) I'm going outside for a walk .... Got to work off some of this weeks Interferon and get ready for the final week!!!

I'm living STRONG and looking forward to a recovery break in ONE WEEK!

Bike Picnic Pictures

A little pale but still happy to be able to ride my bike. (That's Sunshine ~ She rocks!) It sure beats "NOT" being able to ride my bike...


Even after 7.47 miles, Jim can slice the perfect piece of bread. Viola!


Friday, June 03, 2005

An update on this week - 7.47 miles of reality

Well, I'm still here and I am 11 treatments away from being done with the "high dose" segment of this adventure. That is 3 treatments closer than I was on Monday, so I will take it. Here's a brief summary of my week.
MON - Bike Picnic with Jim! I was able to ride my bike approximately 7.47 miles and that was as far as I was going! 37 minutes on the Mt. Vernon Trail. To my credit, we started the ride with the last 3 miles "up" to Mt. Vernon. To my dismay at the turn around at Mt. Vernon (after a short incline of less than 200m) I was hanging over my handle bars gasping like I was when I climbed parts of the 8% gradient of Col de la Madeline in the French Alps last year. I have no grand "illusions" that I am going to sneak the "Dragonfly Sprint Triathlon" into my schedule in 3 weeks. [For the record, I did briefly entertain that fantasy last week, that is what a week of low dose Interferon will do to you!!]

TUES - Walked 2 miles (15.:30 minute miles!), Worked from home for a few hours (Graphic Designer, have G4 Mac laptop - can work anywhere), 40 MIU Interferon - Treatment 7 Complete!

WED - Still feeling good. Walked 2 miles, Worked from home, 40 MIU Interferon - Treatment 8 Complete! Slight headache around bedtime.

THURS - Feel good, look AWFUL! Woke to dry mouth and the "metal taste" is back, Swollen face, pale. Walked 1.5 miles (16:30 pace), Worked from home, 40 MIU Interferon - White Blood Cell count dropping Blood sent out to check liver and prepped by Tess (oncology nurse extroidinaire) that I "might get a 3 day weekend" - Treatment 9 completed!

FRI - Current Status - BLAH! All the "side effects" I blamed on Morphine two weeks ago, I have now come to realize, are specifically "Interferon related". Last night I had a "headache" that reduced me to a lump on my favorite chair. I followed that up with a nice case of "insomnia" that lasted well into 2AM before I began "cat-napping" every hour or so. I woke up this morning on the edge of nausea and I am up 5 pounds in weight from Wednesday morning. I think it is safe to say that I really didn't eat THAT MUCH Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream in 48 hours.

I don't have high hopes for getting to Treatment 10 today. I don't "FEEL" right and I understand now that something is definitely going on with my body today. Well see what the bloodwork says at 1:30pm.
So I have come to accept that 20 Treatments may take 6 weeks instead of 4 weeks. My body is handling as much as it can before it cry's "UNCLE" and I apologized to my liver this morning for missing the signals last time. But now we are in synch so I can be a better advocate.

We got some great pics from Monday's bike picnic but I have no idea how to work the camera-download "thingamajiggee" so I will post them tomorrow with an update on the final status of "Treatment 10".

I hope everybody is doing well and had a wonderful week!

I'm living STRONG and "babying" my liver here in Arlington, VA.