Monday, August 29, 2005

What color are you?

Up until I was 17, I was a Brunette. Then I went away for the summer to a "Creative Youth" program and came home as a Strawberry Blonde.

The next 4 years through college, I was varying shades of Auburn (dark red) with some unfortunate Oranges in the mix.

Then I went back to Brunette when I started my professional career until I got bored and went Auburn/Redhead again 6 years ago. It was wonderful but my hair has problems keeping the color and I always ended up kind of orange-y by the time summer was over. I guess it is all the sun and chlorine (darn triathlon training).

2 years ago, my hairdresser Keri and I decided to bring my original Brunette color back by letting my hair grow and grow and I had been enjoying my natural color again ....

Now thanks in no small part to Interferon Alpha 2B Recombinent Therapy and Melanoma, I find myself losing my hair. Not in big dramatic clumps but in long brunette strands.

Wash my hair and clean the drain ...
Brush my hair and clean the brush, my shirt and the floor...
Run my fingers through my hair and they are tangled in hair when they come out.

Every week it is getting thinner. My workout ponytail is pretty pathetic these days.

I'm considering a buzz cut and a wig but I can't decide who has more fun? Blonds, Brunettes or Redheads? And of course I will consult with Jim because he is my guy and I like him looking at ME!! Hehehe!

Your thoughts? If you could change your color randomly - what would you be?
Suggestions on what you think might look good for me are welcome!

I just noticed for the first time that in none of my triathlon pictures in the header do you ever see my hair. LOL!

Friday, August 26, 2005

I'm moving in every sense of the word ...

I'm in the midst of moving in with Jim this weekend. I don't expect to end up having much time to post since I want to at least unpack my clothes, dishes and bathroom stuff. Everything else can wait until Jim and I decide what stays and what goes.

I did get a workout in yesterday but it felt like the slowest, hardest 2.5 miles ever. I did run/walk 3/1 intervals the whole time but it felt as though I never found my stride. Once again dead legs prevailed. I am going to try again today since I am feeling a lot less fatigue than yesterday and then I will take Saturday OFF and go for my long run Sunday.

I'll report back in on Monday - Unless I end up buried under boxes, of course.

Have a great weekend and live STRONG!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Wake Up Gosh Darn It!

Okay, I know that I shouldn't be blogging from work but I am doing everything I can think of to stay awake, alert and with it for the next 50 minutes. Today is my first attempt at a full 8 hour work day since mid-May.

I have not talked about it much but I am a professional Graphic Designer and have been for over - GULP - 14 years. I currently work in Washington, D.C. for the National Defense University. I have been with NDU for just over 5 years. I started as your typical contractor and last year when the position opened up, applied for and got a permanent position as a GS-12.

Yeah, yeah - I'm a civil servant. Insert your "Good enough for government work" jokes here.

Seriously though, I enjoy my job and have been pretty lucky in terms of the variety and creativity of my work. My fellow designers are pretty cool as well. It's a good gig!

It has been harder than I imagined to actually return to a 40 hour week. I mean it is not as though my job is very physically demanding. Some projects require manual work (dry mounting, framing and engraving) but the majority of my work is done sitting in front of a giant flat screen monitor attatched to a fast Mac. Definitely a "desk job"....

Apparently even "desk jobs" can suck the energy right out of you. I guess it is a lot of creative brain time mixed with my commute that makes it such a long day. Every morning I get up at 7AM and walk to the Metro near my home, travel 40 minutes by train and then walk the 1.5 miles down the block to the university campus. On good days, it is a beautiful walk and the right way to start and end my day. On bad weather days, I take the shuttle along with 80% of the NDU metro users.

Hmmm.... come to think of it, with the commute my average work day is 10 hours. No wonder I have been having a hard time getting back to a full day! Of course I could choose to take the shuttle every day and make it easier on myself physically but I think that there is a significant difference between "needing to take the shuttle" and getting into a very "LAZY" habit so the shuttle can wait until the bad weather arrives and I will continue to ease into a full work week.

QUALITY OF LIFE - even at work - DEMAND IT!

I missed my workout yesterday, I am in the midst of moving in with Jim and need to be officially done moving this weekend! I didn't have the energy to work out and move a load of boxes. I SWEAR I AM NEVER MOVING MYSELF AGAIN!! For gosh sakes I am 35, I can afford damn movers! Of course I was only moving one bedrooms worth of stuff but still! I HATE the process of moving!

Today I am going to try for my 30 minute run that I missed yesterday. Maybe that will wake me up - OR - put me into a deep sleep early tonight. I can accept either possibility, I am flexible like that!

Live STRONG Everybody!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Long Naps and Dead Legs

Author's Note: The following is a true account. The sanity of the person(s) involved is not in question, yet.

"Nap Time" - Tuesday 2PM EST

Holly: "I'll just lay down for an hour"

Holly's Body: "Yeah, let's nap! We promise you will wake up with the alarm!"

Holly: "Okay, let me set the alarm. I have an appointment at 4PM so I have to be up by 3PM. Short Nap Only!"

Holly's Body: "Short Nap!!! OKAY!! Woohoo, she is taking a nap!!"

-- Two and one-half hours later --

Holly: "Why am I awake, I know I need to get up but why?"

Holly's Body: "Aw just go back to sleep, SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP!!

Holly: "4:30PM ?!? Damn, where is the phone, got to call the Dr. Office. Man am I sleepy!"


Naps are mandatory on Interferon. It seems that I needed some serious sleep yesterday after my 5 hour work day! I did manage to reschedule my Dr. Appointment for later today, get a 12 mile bike ride in and do a little more packing (I am moving this weekend) but I was still in bed by 9PM and slept until 6AM this morning. When fatigue speaks, I listen!

Regarding the 12 mile bike ride, post nap. My legs were completely empty. Jim and I call them "dead legs". Not a drop of extra glucose in those muscles anywhere. I figure that is my payback for not having any delayed muscle soreness after this weekend's long run. So I just peddled along slowly enjoying the beautiful day and telling my body to "wake up" because I missed my appointment but I was NOT missing my workout!

Sometimes you just got to remind your body that you are in charge! (For the moment anyways!)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Long Run Accomplished!

The sense of accomplishment that I feel after this week is tremendous. I got a whole lot done and felt physically good most of the time. I was pretty tired on Friday but two days off left me with plenty of energy to get a long run/walk in.

I estimate that I covered a minimum of 8 miles on my 140 minute workout on Sunday probably closer to 9-10 miles total. Jim and I were at Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia for the weekend and I managed to get my long run done early Sunday morning; in and around the forest trails that surround the three race tracks.

The looks that I got from people were priceless. I was the most out of place runner ever! Here are all these men and a handful of woman prepping race cars and motorcycles for a day of racing on a track and then there was me, in all my sweaty glory, running and walking to the beep of my watch.

Most of my run was only witnessed by the cicadas and other bugs in the woods but there was about 20 minutes of exposure to humans necessary to get to the trails. About half the people would wave hello and the other half looked at me as if I was out of my mind. Since it was already pretty hot, I was convince in the first 45 minutes that perhaps I was out of my mind but a GU, a fresh bottle of water and the shade of the woods quickly changed all that.

My long run was downright pleasant! And so was the weekend on the whole for that matter!

It's Monday and I am only a little tired and the schedule calls for a REST day! Yeah for Monday!

Everybody Live STRONG this week! That is my plan as well!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Two Steps Forward and One Step Back

My week in general has been fantastic! Seems as though the reduction in dose on the shots makes a big difference. My blood work came up a full 1/4 of a point this week and I have had alot more energy.

On Wednesday I had a run/walk to remember! While it was slightly less than 4 miles - short by some people's standards - My first 2 miles were sub 12:30s. That is HUGE when you consider that I haven't seen anything under 13:00 since I started chemo in mid-May. For the record, my intervals were 2/1 Run/Walk for that workout.

On Thursday, feeling well rested and like a "half-a-million bucks" aka Pretty Darn Good, I put a second coat of paint on the hallway and I rode my bike 17 miles. It took me a pedestrian 1.5 hours to cover the distance but I felt good the entire way. Then I came home, had some dinner, gave myself a shot and began yawning constantly until I went to bed around 9:30 pm.

And all of this activity is after a 5 hour work day. I am up to 25 hours a week now and aiming for 30 hours next week.

So with such a great week, why such a negative title to my blog?

Because I am still trying to find some balance and struggling a little. Today I woke up feeling exhausted with a headache which has yet to dull. You would never know that I slept a full 9 hours last night. So obviously I over did it somewhere between the painting and the bike ride. Perhaps the balance will be found in riding 10 miles instead of 17 when I do something in addition to the workout? Maybe I should have taken yesterday off from the workout and done the bike ride today?

With 7 weeks out of 48 weeks of shots finished, I still feel like I am struggling to find some balance. But I have faith that I will find it. It is just taking a little bit longer than I imagined.

Today there will only be recovery since I have a long run on the schedule for this weekend and the long run will be my ONLY workout this weekend so that I can start the work week feeling rested and ready to go!

Wherever you are in your life, I hope you find some balance and have a wonderful weekend !!


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

HOT Weekend Update

The road to hell is paved with good intentions and just as HOT as this weekend was...Perhaps hotter.

I did not get my long run in this weekend. The heat sucked every last bit of energy that I had whenever I was out in it. I also had one of my college roommates (Class of '92) in town from California so the focus was on catching up and spending time together. I feel no remorse in missing the long run, I had a fun weekend!

My friend Sandy and I had a wonderful visit and we all attended a Bowling birthday party for one of Jim's friends. Does bowling count as cardio? I bowled 3 games, each one progressively worse but I didn't feel as tired as my scores indicated. Funny how that works!

I stand humbled by all my athletic friends like Nancy who got out and got their workouts in this weekend's heat and humidity. I'm not worthy!

I did get a 3 mile Run/Walk in yesterday in the early evening after a good nap. It was still pretty hot but there was a breeze and shade on the trails and that made a big difference. Today my legs are feeling a little fatigued but the rest of the body is holding up well! Looks like the reduction in Interferon per shot agrees with me so far.

Looking to the week ahead, I have to really get serious about getting in my long run/walks or else I have no business even considering showing up at Arlington cemetery on October 30th for the Marine Corps Marathon. While I have some pretty big goals that I don't want to abandon. I do have the proper respect for the distance and the other folks out there who are training hard. I figure that as long as I can get on track with my long runs and have a positive racing experience on October 2 at the Army 10 Miler then I can make an informed decision on stepping up to the starting line at the Marine Corps Marathon.

I have been tagged by Nancy. I guess I better get to work on coming up with some answers. More to follow later in the week!

Keep Living STRONG folks!

Friday, August 12, 2005

A better week by far

Every day this week has felt better than the day before. In fact yesterday I felt down right "NORMAL". It was a great day. I was feisty at work, had a lot of energy and came home and rode 13 miles on my bike on the local trails with Nancy!

You know every time I get on my bike, I fall in love with it all over again. That doesn't happen with running or swimming. Sure if I miss some runs, I crave running but I don't love it in the way that I "LOVE" riding my bike.

Bike Love is a beautiful thing!

We are in for a scorcher this weekend and I have a 120 minute run/walk workout on the calendar. The goal is to cover the time, even if I can't run all of it. Looks like I will be up EARLY (6AM) to beat the heat!

Hope everybody has a wonderful weekend! Live STRONG!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

TOXIC & Free to run!!

My appointment with Dr. Butler was good on many levels. I left feeling like I really understood where I am at. Nothing beats being well-informed!

My white blood count was still low (4.1) and my neutraphil (1.37) count has not budged. I guess I should be happy that it hasn't dropped more but I was hoping for a positive change. Some indication that my body was adjusting to the Interferon.

From an Interferon/Melanoma Point of View: Last weeks fatigue and constant upset stomach are symptoms that I am reaching a level of toxicity. Dr. Butler decided to reduce my shots from 10 MIU to 5 MIU for the next 3 weeks to see if my symptoms abate a little. The "goal" is to get me through an entire year of treatment so he is more concerned with finding the level of Interferon that I can tolerate for a year rather than giving me the max dose at this point.

As he so simply put it: "If I thought that nothing but 10 MIU was going to help you, I would tell you that these are your symptoms and I am sorry but you will have to get used to them but I don't think that is necessary in your case."

From there we moved onto my "exercise" questions. I told Dr. Butler that I really wanted to run/walk the Army 10 Miler and the Marine Corps Marathon. He got a giant smile on his face and said that is that is what I wanted to do to go ahead. From a medical point of view he said that training for the marathon has no direct impact on my Melanoma, my white blood cell count or my treatment.

His overall advice was to really make it a point to "listen to what my body is telling me" while I train. He cautioned me that the training will probably increase my level of fatigue depending on training volumes. He said to be very cautious of heat exhaustion and my hydration and thought that I will feel more exhausted after the Marathon than I would have if I wasn't undergoing chemo. He said he would make a note in my charts and keep him updated on my mileage and the fatigue levels.

Nothing beats having an Oncologist who ran a 10 miler to celebrate his 60th Birthday! Dr. Butler really does ROCK!

So this morning, I don't feel any better than yesterday - I'm still toxic and my white blood count is low BUT I am free to dream big and a run/walk will not make things any worse! Marine Corps Marathon/14th Street Bridge cutoff here I come! Living STRONG all the way!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Checking In

Last week turned out to be a wash in the grand scheme of things but I learned some good lessons about fatigue and managing my resources. In a nutshell, I was reminded that to get things done, I had to prioritize and be willing to let the small things go. In this case last week the "small things" turned out to be my daily exercise and my priorities were work and "one chore" per day. As long as I was able to come home and do "one thing" before I gave into the fatigue, the day was a success.

This weekend was devoted to rest and relaxation. It was just me, TIVO and the latest Harry Potter book while Jim was doing his Reserve Weekend. It was just what the Dr. ordered.

So now a new week has begun and already I have some encouraging news to report. Yesterday I got a 2.5 mile Run/Walk done. My goal this week is simply 30-40 minutes of cardio, every other day. I'm off to a good start!

Living STRONG, day by day!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

A Mother's Last Gift

On Tueday, August 2, here in Arlington, VA, Susan Anne Catherine Torres was delivered via c-section. She was 1 pound, 13 ounces and 142 days early. She is doing well.

Her mother, Susan Torres, had a stroke on May 7th - a complication of Melanoma. She had originally been diagnosed in her teens and was cancer-free for 9 years. Susan was only 26 when she passed. The rest of her story can be found here.

You can make a donation to The Susan M. Torres Fund to help offset the familys medical expenses, if you like.

Be aware, appreciate what you have and Live STRONG!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005



I have a "yet to be determined" pain in the front of my right shin about 2 inches up from my ankle. It feels like a shin splint but it is pretty specific and only hurts when I am walking. I don't recall doing anything and as a matter of fact I took yesterday OFF as an additional day of recovery since this weekend was pretty big in terms of activty. Any ideas on what could be causing my pain? I will be icing it when I get home tonight!

I guess I won't run today but hop on the bike and do an easy 10-15 miles if I don't melt first. Man it is HOT today!

My white blood cells are playing "rollercoaster" again. Last week they were up and now they are back down low. I thought maybe I had done it with too much of a good time this weekend but upon doing some research, I learned that Exercise encourages your body to create more nuetraphils.

I have an appointment with Dr. Butler next week and I am going to "beat a dead horse" and ask him more about how much or little I can exercise as well as what he thinks of my low blood counts and my desire to do the Marine Corps Marathon.

The reality is that this year I need to focus on staying healthy and getting as much treatment as I can. If run/walking the Marine Corps is going to have a negative impact on my overall health than I will defer it to next year. It is worth it to ask Dr. Butler's medical opinion and maybe run my workout schedule by him.

Right now I am honestly torn between just dropping out of it all together and just waiting to see how I feel next week. I suspect that some of my desire to just defer now has everything to do with feeling so fatigued this week and having very little desire to get out and exercise. Two or three years ago, I would have acted on my impulse and defered right away but I have grown more patient in the past year and I am willing to wait and see what the next few weeks bring.

On a happier note: Look!!! It's me and Catherine, Elisabeth & Nancy at the Blackwater Duathon! (I am the lady behind the jog stroller.)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Flatman AND Nancy tagged me. These questions required some thought! Who knew??
Q: What are you training for now?

A: Army 10 Miler & the Marine Corps Marathon. The only goal is to FINISH, I'm not going for any PRs this year.
Q: If you are raising money for a cause, what is it and why is that cause important to you?

A: I'm not fundraising at the moment but I have been known to do so in the past. Right now I have been supporting others. I think that the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the Hero for a Day Ride benefiting Food and Friends in Washington, D.C. are great charities. Check them out!
Q: What is the furthest distance you've run in your training and what is the furthest distance you will run before your event?

A: The longest run I have ever done in my training is 20 miles two years ago while training for the DC Marathon. Because of my current health, my coach and I are focusing on time and not miles right now. I expect that my furthest distance before the Marine Corps this year will be about 4-4.5 hours and whatever distance that ends up being.
Q:What is your favorite flavor of gu? (or other sports gel)

A: Vanilla Bean Gu and Cliff Sonic Strawberry are my gels of choice
Q: How many days a week do you run?

A: 3 or 4 (just like Nancy!)
Q: Are you injured in any way right now? If so,what are you doing about it?

A: No, but I am in the midst of low dose Interferon chemotherapy for malignant melanoma (skin cancer) right now so I am often battling chemo-induced fatigue. I just take my workouts one day at a time and do what my body will allow. I have over done it on occasion so far but I am learning to moderate better each week.
Q:What is one item of running clothing/gear (shoes don't count) you can't run without?

A: I can't run without a good sports bra (Champion Drylite) and I love my water bottle belt!!
Q: Do you have a talisman you are planning on taking to your event? If so, tell us!

A: I'll be wearing the LiveSTRONG bracelet that I have been wearing since Spring 2004. This particular bracelet will be "retired" on the last day that I have my low dose chemo next spring 2006.
Q: Share one thing about yourself we don't know.

A: I am a voracious reader and I love going to book stores. I could easily spend a full day curled up on the couch reading all day. When I was a very little girl (4-5-6) my parents would go to the book store at least once a week and I always got a Dr. Suess book. My sisters "ate" my first edition Dr. Suess series (baby slobber is like acid!! LOL) but I have been slowly rebuilding my collection over the last 10 years.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The week in review - Ride like a girl!

I have been such a slacker and I have much to share. My birthday week was a grand success. Not only did I get some quality workouts in this week but I also got some wonderful cards, flowers and gifts from friends and family. My mom sent me a great tshirt (Ride like a Girl!) and a new cycling jersey and Jim bought me a 6 DVD set of the 2004 Tour de France!

All the unsolicited bike encouragement led to a wonderful yet tiring 23 mile bike ride through the FLAT roads of St. Michael's this weekend with Ellie and Diane, while visiting with Nancy. We got stuck briefly in a rain shower but the warm weather and lack of thunder or lightening just added to the fun.

Saturday was the first GWO Ladies Track meet and not only did I learn what the little marks on the track meant but I also ran my first timed 100, 200 and attempted 400s. Even with a warm up, there was nothing left in my legs for the 400. It's something to shoot for later on! Inquiring minds may want to know how fast I was .... Not fast at all. I was last 2 out of 3 times. I'm not to worried though, I had fun running as fast as I could and found some muscles (THAT ARE SORE NOW!) that I didn't even know I had.

Sunday was the Blackwater Traverse Duathlonout in Cambridge, MD. The GWO ladies ALL came back with hardware from the race! Ellie took 2 Overall in her age group, W50-54; Nancy took 1st place Athena 40+; and Jeanne and Diane took 1st place for woman's Relay team! I took 1st place as Baby Sitter for Nancy's wonderful twins, Catherine and Elizabeth. Once I figured out that the girls preferred apple juice, fruit loops, and walking in the jog stroller instead of sitting around watching the race, we were golden. I think all told I walked them for at least 3 of the 4 hours that we were in Cambridge. This included some "speed work" and " stroller acrobatics". I actually woke up with sore abs today!

Adventure du jour (translated: Adventure of the Day) - The first day on Celexa; anti-depression meds to counter the progressive depression that has been creeping in on the weekly Intron-A shots. It has only been a few hours so I am not going to make any immediate judgments on effectiveness but I can tell you that I'm not enjoying the cotton mouth. In reality it takes about 2-4 weeks for enough meds to build in your body to be effective so in this case only a little time will tell.

Flatman has tagged me!! I will need to tackle this tonight at my leisure but for now my lunch break is over! More to come later ....