Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Memorial Day Weekend Report

BOBKE, a Wilderness Road Ride and Mountains of Misery:

After leaving work at Noon on Friday, Jim and I drove 5 hours to Blacksburg, VA - home to Virginia Tech and the Mountains of Misery Double Header. We got to the Inn at VA Tech at 6PM and checked in and headed straight to the Dinner with guest speaker, Bob Roll. Bob Roll is a former pro-cycler, a friend of Lance Armstrong and currently a TV host for OLN (Outdoor Life Network) and does alot of work with cycling events broadcast ... like the Tour "des" France.

The "dinner" part of the event was your typical "Carbo Load" race dinner: pasta, sauce, salad, rolls and cookies - but it was the speaker that made the night! Bob, or BOBKE as he is called, is hillarious!!! He told great stories about his days as a pro-rider in Europe, his wins and his opinions on the current state of cycling. I am not kidding when I say that I laughed from the moment he started speaking until he was done.

He stayed after his talk to sign autographs and take pictures. We got a great picture with him and he signed both my LiveSTRONG shirt from LiveSTRONG Day and a book that Jim had of his from 1995. The book got Bob's attention and he said that Jim must be "old school" and mentioned that it would make a mint on Ebay ...but that book won't be going on Ebay anytime soon.

Bob Roll, Holly & Jim!

Saturday was the Wilderness Road Ride part of the weekend. Jim and I chose to ride the 29 mile option. For Jim this was a "warm-up ride" for the Mountains of Misery Centurty the next day. For myself, it was my long ride for the weekend. As I expected, our paces were radically different. Jim was a real gentleman and he stuck with me for the first 20 miles of the ride (including a 1.5 mile detour that we took when we missed a turn on the cue sheet). At mile 20, I told Jim to head on up the road without me. There was no way that he needed to be on the road for another hour when he was supposed to ride a century the next day... especially knowing that on his own, he could be done with the ride in 30 minutes.

A gentle push was all it took to send Jim on his way and I kid you not, a minute after I said "meet you at the car" he was completely out of my line of site!! I look forward to the day that he can't drop me that fast but on Saturday, I was simply happy that 30 miles was possible.

Several times when I was climbing a short hill or saw Jim ahead waiting by the side of the road for me, I started to get very negative and frustrated. Thougts like "I suck, I'm so FAT, how did it get this bad..." popped quickly into my head and everytime, I reminded myself that this weekend last year, I rode SEVEN miles and that was the farthest I could go. Then I gently reminded myself that I just finished a year of Chemotherapy and my body needs time to find a new normal ... "Relax, Enjoy the beautiful day, Enjoy your Bike, Enjoy the Ride" and those negative thoughts would drift away. Looking at my "LiveSTRONG" bracelet helped alot too!

As a quick side note, I definately recommend the Widerness Ride part of this Ride Weekend. They offer 14,29,57 and 70 mile ride options and they courses were wonderful! Wide, low traffic roads through hill and dale in VA. The 29 mile course was a great ride with lots of rolling downhills and just one or two climbs... because as any cyclist knows ... you have to EARN your downhills.

Saturday afternoon and night were very low key. We drove to the next days race start so that we had an idea of location and time and then got some dinner. Nice and Easy, the way a "pre-race" night should be.


Jim chose to do the Century portion of this ride (101 miles) and his ride started at 7:10AM. We drove to the ride start, met Jim's friend Brian, and I snapped some pictures are they got underway. My plan was to head over to the park next door, run/walk for 45 minutes on the trail ( 3 miles) and then head back to the hotel to shower, pick up some "RedBull" and then come back to the Rec Center to meet Jim at the 83 mile point. From there, I would take the shuttle bus to the Finish Line and *RING MY COWBELL LIKE MAD* for the finishers and be their to see Jim and Brian finish their day!

Jim at the ride start, thumbs up!

My run/walk was wonderful. It turned out that their was a gravel running trail just a quater mile from the race start/mile 83 rest stop area. I walked over to the trail and did 12 laps. The entire time that I ran/walked, I had the company of a white dog. He just trotted right up to me and started running around the path with me. When I would walk he would run ahead a little, roll in the grass and play and then as soon as I started my next run leg, he'd fall in step beside me.

At one point, early in the workout, I crossed paths with a fluffy black cat who didn't see me coming and was very shocked to see me running on the path that he was sunning himself on. He stole over to the porch of the small house near the path and kept an eye on me and my running buddy the whole time. He was, as cats usually are, looking very "put out" by my presence.

After my run, I headed back the to hotel, showered, lathered up in the sunscreen and my sunhat, packed my cowbell, stopped for RED BULL and headed back to the Rest Stop at Mile 83. Jim came in right when we predicted. Having an solid 16 mph Pace for the first 83 miles. He was looking great and in good spirits! His friend Brian was having a little bit harder ride but you could see that he was determined to finish the day. I did what I could to keep them both motivated with kind words and cold RED BULLS. They left the rest stop with just 18 miles to go. The 18 hardest miles of the ride....

From then, I waited 1 hour for the shuttle bus that was *supposed* to be coming every 20 minutes. Finally, I got to the finish line and settled in with my camera and my cowbell.

I rang that BELL for 2 hours continuously and the riders kept on coming! The finish line was at the top of a 4 mile climb that average 11.9% and was a Category 1 climb. Rider after rider slowly came up that climb and the looks on their faces said it all. They suffered, they struggled and they made it. It was awe-inspiring and I just kept RINGING MY COWBELL, hoping that maybe it helped them just a little bit.

In the final climb...

When I finally recognized that Jim was on his way to the finish line, I handed my cowbell the woman next to me and asked her to RING THAT BELL while I took pictures to capture the moment.


He looked so determine and strong and powerful and I was so PROUD !!!!! He heard that cow bell and looked right at me!! Then he powered to the finish line!!!!!!!!!


Not 5 minutes later, along came Brian ... grimacing and pushing ... They both earned their finishers shirts in that 90 degree heat on that climb!!

Watching all those riders, including a 15 year old girl on a MOUNTAIN BIKE!!! - finish the ride was so motivating! I found myself already thinking - How long would it take me to get back into shape to do this ride? Some chat with Jim determined that I might be ready for a ride this hard in a year or two but I definately have some work to do to get there and by then maybe Jim will have forgotten the pain enough to share the day with me!!

Monday was the trip home. I did the driving and by 1PM we were back home, safe and sound with dirty bike clothes in the washing machine and water bottles in the dish washer.

When I think about where I was last year at this time, 2 weeks into my 4 weeks of high does chemotherapy, and able to only ride 7 miles on my bike, I am reminded that life moves on. I was happy to ride 7 miles last year and I was THRILLED to be able to ride 30 miles this year!!

This weekend was another lesson in Living STRONG! Keep those lessons coming!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Happy Memorial Day to All!

This weekend Jim and I are heading toward Roanoake, VA for the Wilderness Road Ride and Mountains of Misery Century.

Well let me clarify that I will be riding the Wilderness Ride of 29 miles on Saturday and I will be sitting at the finish line on Sunday with a cowbell and my sunhat, cheering like mad for Jim and those folks willing to suffer the final climb, which is described like this...

"The Challenge Century (100 miles) has nearly 10,000 feet of climbing. Don't worry, or maybe, worry- both routes still end with the climb up to beautiful Mountain Lake, a five-kilometer category 1 climb, reaching road pitches up to 11.9%!"

The motto of this ride is: "You forget the Pain"

We are also going to a dinner tonight where the guest speaker is Bob Roll!! Tour de France/OLN fans know who I am talking about! We have brought our book "Bobkee" and are hoping to get an autograph and a photo op! Chances are good on both!

Obviously, I will be driving the shift home on Sunday night ....I predict that Jim will be sleeping soundly in the seat to my right.

wherever your weekend takes you ... I hope it is a wonderful one!


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Beauty in the Details...

My weekend in Myrtle Beach - in pictures - Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Zip ... Zero ...Finis!

Anyway you choose to say it ... I AM DONE!!!

Tonight is my last shot of INTRON A-2B also know as Interferon Alfa 2B!!

I made it through a full year of Adjuvant Chemotherapy and I am DONE!!

Bye Bye Flu-like Symptoms! See ya later fatigue!! All that joint pain ... you are outa' here!

Last night I saw my Oncologist and he agreed that we could use some time apart! So I don't have another Dr. appointment for 3 months!!!!!!!!!!!!! I get the whole summer off!!!

I'll post more about this week later but I couldn't let this milestone just slip on by without sharing it!

Life is good! Live STRONG!

Friday, May 19, 2006

"Great Weekend" wishes for Everybody!!

I am off for a long weekend in Myrtle Beach, S.C. with my sister Heather! I have packed my camera, my sunscreen, a sunsafe wardrobe, some gifts for Nephew-in-Utero and my running shoes. What more do I need?

Nancy is racing in the Columbia Triathlon this weekend and she is going to kick some butt and take some names!! So be sure you stop in and send her some positive vibes! This is a big triathlon weekend all over the country and the season is really getting underway. If you are racing this weekend, GO GET 'EM!!! (with sunscreen on, of course!)

I leave you with the latest images of my *babies* Wallace & Grommet...

I went down and visited with them last weekend (My "mother's day" gift to myself) and they are growing like weeds and growing more and more confident and loving every day!! Only 6 more weeks until they are *HOME* and our house will never be the same!

Wallace is going to be a "big" boy .. just look at the size of those paws!

Ms. Grommet, chillin' out...She is going to be our "Silver Beauty Queen"

I'm out of here! Have a great weekend! GO NANCY GO!!!!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Rest of the Story

(I got cropped out, along with alot of other people, but I was there!!)

Tuesday night I got a call from my little sister Heather's friend, Shalonge. She was in town because she works for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and they were in DC for LiveSTRONG Day.

She called to invite me to be part of a news conference with LANCE ARMSTRONG! There was no opportunity to meet Lance or get a photo with just him BUT I was there, standing behind him, in a Yellow LiveSTRONG with 150 other survivors, caregivers and supporters.

Our group was a physical representation of the 150 people who are diagnosed with cancer every hour. It was a pretty sobering thing to consider when you look at it in such a physical way.

It was a great way to spend the afternoon and I had the opportunity to meet several members of the Cyclist Combatting Cancer group that I just recently joined. One gentleman in particular, Scott J., was a bit of a gardian angel for me. I was completely overwhelmed being with a group of strangers that I had "cancer" in common with. It might seam silly but I was really at a loss for how I fit in and quite franky, not sure I wanted to fit in.

I tried putting this into words and Scott listened kindly and shared some of his experiences in meeting fellow survivors. He also gave me a big hug. When in doubt, hugs always help!

Later in the afternoon, I got a chance to spend some time with Schalonge. She recently celebrated her 5-Year Cancer-Free Milestone, which is a huge milestone for Cancer Survivor and she is doing great things as a Fellow with LAF. She is making a big difference at a young age (mid 20s), it is an inspiration to see!

SILLY FAN NOTE - My goodness Lance is a hottie and cleans up so nice off the bike! I would have loved to have had a moment to speak to him but not this time around...It was still pretty cool to hear him speak in person from just 5 people away.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

LiveSTRONG Day - May 17, 2006

I live STRONG because I love my family and friends.

I live STRONG because it makes me feel good.

I live STRONG because it sets a good example.

I live STRONG because nobody will do it for me.

I live STRONG so that those who lost the battle
with cancer will not be forgotten.

I live STRONG because I am still alive ...
and today I finally realized what a gift I have been given.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Rain Rain, Go Away

5 days of rain is ENOUGH! STOP!! My beloved "New England" is flooding and that is where my Mom, Dad, Youngest Sister, Grapndparents and various Aun't, Uncles and Cousins currently are!


These are the times that I hate being far away. Thank goodness that my Dad has his own canoe!
Your Melanoma Tidbit for today is: COVER UP!

Proper sun protection is the most important thing we can do to protect ourselves from skin cancer. Up to 90% of all skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.

While skin cancers are almost always curable when detected and treated early, the surest line of defense is to prevent them in the first place so Cover Up!

- Cover up with clothing. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Tightly woven fabrics and dark colors, such as deep blue and black or bright colors such as orange and red offer the best protection. Change than to then if you can see light through fabrics, then the material is not protecting against harmful UV rays. Water also reduces fabrics ability to protect against UV

- Wear a broad-brimmed hat, which protects head, face, ears and neck. A 3-4 inch brim that extends around the hat is best. If opting for a baseball cap or visor, be sure to use sunscreen as the lower face, neck and ears are left exposed.

- Wear UV-blocking sunglasses that wraparound or have large frames. Eyelids and the sensitive skin around your eyes are common sites for skin cancer and sun-induced aging. The use of sunglasses also helps reduce the risk of cataracts later in life.

Some great places to get some "sun-safe" gear....

Sun Emporiuman Aussie company that has great gear! I have a "bathing suit/rashguard" from these guys that I love (that is a little small right now .. bought it last season)

Sun Protection Shop an Aussie Company that delivers FREE worldwide!
Alex & Me.Com
Sun Clothing Ect.
Skin Savers I have some of their tops and so far they work well for workouts! It's the bright purple one that you see in profile picture!
Solar Eclipse
Sun Solutions
Sun Precautions

Monday, May 15, 2006

Weight-Loss Hotline...


One of the hardest things about this entire year has been watching my weight fluctuate wildly and not feeling like "anybody" (Doctors of course) has been listening to me as I agonized over how much weight I have been gaining.

How much weight? As of this morning it is approximately 40 pounds...That is ALOT of weight to gain in one year.

When I was diagnosed, one of my questions to Dr. Butler (my oncologist) was "Will this treatment cause me to gain weight?" And his response was "If you do anything but lose weight, I will be shocked..."

Oh Doctor, my Doctor ... you don't know my body like I do ....

This was me in Summer 1998 ... 290+

And this was me at 185 in May 2001 at my first triathlon ever (Columbia Triahtlon)
I was always the "fun, chubby girl that everybody like and nobody dated" in high school and for a long time, I thought that was all I would ever be. Some "life experience" and a little soul searching cause me to realize that I didn't have to be that person and I made some changes to my eating and began to exercise. I fought long and hard to lose those 110 pounds and I can tell you that it has been no picnic keeping the weight off. I have bounced back and forth with the pounds between 180 - 210 for another 4 years. In fact I was in the midst of another round of "dropping weight" in May 2005 when I was diagnosed.
May 2005 - Sprint Tri

So this current "weight" is not unfamiliar terretory to me. But I feel it in everything I do .. and I am ready to scream:


Now before you post any comments, please do not pull out the "Cancer Card" on my behalf because I have heard it and/or said it myself all year.

• Your body thinks it is sick, your metabolism is slow ...
• You can't excercise like you used to, of course you will gain wait
• You don't "look" 40 pounds heavier ... **
(** blatent lies, while sweet, are NOT productive)
• Your on anti-depressents, they cause weight gain

I'm tired of the excuses and I am eliminating them one by one. I have been off the anti-depressents for 2 weeks now. I will be done with the Interferon in 2 weeks and in a month, my energy levels should be through the roof. I know that their are variable that I still can't control at this point but I am doing what I can to set myself up for some success so I have been working up a plan based on "Food for Fitness" by Chris Carmichael of Carmichael Training Systems. If it is good enough for Lance .. then it is good enough for me.

Live STONG and accept NO EXCUSES!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Belle Haven Drive...

After taking another recovery day and skipping a dose of Interferon, my dizziness subsided enough to allow me to jump in the pool for a 30 minute workout on Friday after work. I took my time and did a nice 1100 yards filled with some drills and lazy laps. I focused on my form and practiced my flip turns and I am happy to say that I am really getting the hang of them. Too bad flip turns don't make any difference in open-water swims. Unless I flip turn off my fellow triathletes ...but that would send me in the wrong direction and make me very unpopular, I imagine.

So this morning, I slept in a little and then meandered out with Sunshine, my trusty bike, for a ride. The goal for this ride was simply to be out and get some saddle time. I had no "speed" ambitions of any kind so my pace was nice and easy. I covered about 30 miles and average just under 12 mph. A very casual pace indeed...

I live in a hilly section of Alexandria. To get to the bike trails, I ride "down" to the river so the end of my ride always have 2 miles of "uphill". All this spring, I have found myself walking up Belle Haven Dr... until today! Today, I simply refused to let Belle Haven win. I just put the bike in the lowest gear I had and focused.

"Just keep pedaling ... Just keep pedaling"

And then I was at the top!! No more excuses for this hill forr the rest of the season! I didn't break any records BUT I didn't get off my bike ... It's a good start and I'll take it!

Too all you "Moms" and "Mr. Moms" .. I hope you have a wonderful day tomorrow!


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Race and Recover ..

The Oncologist Office called me back this morning to check and see how I was feeling today. Knowing me as well as they do, Megan, my nurse-practitioner, asked me if I had been doing any marathons this weekend.

"Well I did a triathlon but it was only a sprint distance ..."

He He!!

Dr. Butler thinks that the clumsiness, dizziness and numbness is peripheral nueropathy and an "Interferon-related" side effect and told me to just try and "soldier on" to the very end if I can. (It's only 2 more weeks...) Megan suggested that if I was still feeling bad towards the end of the day that it might not be a bad idea to skip tonight shot and tonight's workout.

I thought about skipping the shot but not skipping the workout ... but common sense did prevail because if I was "dizzy" simply laying in bed this morning, I am more likely to be even more disoriented in the pool later tonight.

So I am simply going to accept that this week is a "recovery week" and lay off the workouts for another day. I shall reap the rewards of my extra "rest days" in this weekends workouts.

I guess the Interferon wants to go out with a BANG! Either that or my body is finally crying "U_N_C_L_E" after being fooled into thinking it has been sick for a year now.

Only 6 SHOTS left!!!!! Now that is something worth being a little dizzy over!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Now that is honestly for you....

"I made it to the bridge and I could hear the crowd and the finish line. I was always told that at this point my body would find renewed energy and I would sprint into the finish line. Whoever told me this was full of sh*t. My energy never changed. I pushed through the pain and started to sprint with about 500 yards left. What felt like a sprint was hardly a jog."

--IronBenny, reporting on his Ironman Arizona Finish

I bow my hat to you Benny .. for your candor, your strength and your courage....

(and I still want to race an Ironman ...)

(and catching up on some long neglected BLOG reading)...

Gimme a Break here....

Today it feels like my entire life needs to be run from inside a giant "sippy cup".

I woke up this morning with a stomach ache - this is not uncommon side effect and is managable .. Breakfast and some tylenol solved that.

Then I left for work ... Just walking to the metro had me woozy, again a side effect that I have delt with... this just means that it is a good day to take a "RECOVERY DAY" from afterwork exercise.

Finally I get to the office, and now I "know" that today is an going to be an "off day" ... The Interferon has decided it is in-control today. It's okay ... I can work with this, it's old news...


Water .... Spilled on my desk...

Diet Pepsi (I know ...not as good as water) .... Spilled on my desk calander...

Reach into drawer to get spoon ... cut myself on the Xacto Knife that I KNEW WAS THERE ...

Add to all of this that since Monday, my hands have felt swollen, clumsy and typing is a chore and you have the making of some "neuropathy" .. all certainly to be attributed to Interferon Alpha 2B ....

To quote my good friends at South Park: "BASTARDS!"

I just keep reminding myself .... Only 3 weeks left ... Anybody got any extra sippy cups laying around that they can let me borrow for a few weeks? Nancy, do Elizabeth and Catherine have any extra cups left for me? Hmm... I guess I should go with Water Bottles.... Jim and I have plenty of those laying around.

Live STRONG but don't give it to me because today I will probably drop it!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Working Hard ...

W-O-R-K .... It pays the medical bills, the vacation bills and for all the wonderful things that Jim and I love to do. But does it have to get in the way of then rest of my life so much right now?

Small price to pay, I guess... Have a great day and Live STRONG!

What to Look For

When a melanoma is detected at an early stage and treated, it Is usually curable. Some melanomas are hidden in everyday life - by inconspicuous locations on the body; by clothing; even by hair on our heads. But many, if not most, melanomas can be spotted as soon as they arise - if you know what to look for and check for those signs.

The ABCD's of Moles & Melanoma

Most people have a number of brownish spots on their skin - freckles, birthmarks, moles. Almost all such spots are normal, but some may be skin cancers. Key warning signs of melanoma are shown below. Be alert to irregularities in shape, edges, color, and size. The ABCD's of melanoma are as follows: Asymmetry, Border irregularity, Color variability, and Diameter larger than a pencil eraser.


Most early melanomas are asymmetrical: a line through the middle would not create matching halves. Common moles are round and symmetrical.


The borders of early melanomas are often uneven and may have scalloped or notched edges. Common moles have smoother, more even borders.


Common moles usually are a single shade of brown. Varied shades of brown, tan, or black are often the first sign of melanoma. As melanomas progress, the colors red, white and blue may appear.


Early melanomas tend to grow larger than common moles - generally to at least the size of a pencil eraser (about 6mm, or 1/4 inch, in diameter).

If you detect any of these warning signs, see a physician promptly.

Monday, May 08, 2006

RACE REPORT: Homegrown Triathlon

Marilyn Lathom HomeGrown Triathlon - SPRINT DISTANCE
Reston, VA - May 7, 2006

1K Swim / 20K Bike / 5K Run

Finishing Time: 2:09:35

Swim: 27:37 - T1: 3:02
Bike: 53:52 - T2: 1:26
Run: 43:14

Executive Summary: This was a fantastic race because it was low key and fun! It really lives up to it's "homegrown" name and the motto on the tshirt is "Start Slow and Taper". This race is all about accomplishments and good will and I loved every minute of it! If you goal is to finish a triathlon and have fun doing it .. This race is for you!

------- The rest of the story ----------

This can't be a short race report for me because this race is the culmination of a long, long year.

FLASHBACK: May, 2005 I sat in the recliner with a big smile on my face, listening as Keri told me all about her first triathlon EVER! She told me every last detail and I soaked it all up and laughed with her as she shared.

Her enthusiasm for this local race was unbridled and when she asked me if I would race it with her next May, I had to say "Yes, of course!"

Not long after that "Yes", I looked at Keri, as the chemo nurse hung the third I.V. bag of five and said "I'm sorry Keri but this is where I usually fall asleep, I think our visit is done..."

PRESENT DAY - Sunday, May 7th: I woke up for this race very tired and agitated. I woke up thinking "WHY BOTHER?" My last workout on Friday was awful compared to earlier in the week and I was very worried that I wouldn't be able to make the distances, especially the swim.

I threw on my race outfit for the day, loaded the car up, grabbed my PB&J and a banana and headed on my way. On the 30 minute drive, I rationalized with myself:

"If you can't manage this distance, how do you think you will ever get back on the road to the "ironman" distance? Your just scared, it's been a year .. You can do this..."

I arrived at the Reston Community Center and parked near Keri. She was my reason for being here and we had done some training together in prep for this race. I got a big hug from her and gathered up my gear and we walked down to register.

We got our instructions and numbers and I briefly spoke with the race director Michelle. I thanked her for the wonderful email she sent me in February when I registered for the race. Because I am still on chemo at race time, I had to share my medical condition and Michelle's response was warm and encouraging and she thanked me for choosing to do the race.

Michelle asked if she could mention me during the pre-race meeting and I said "Okay". In addition to being a low-key event, this race raises money for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Fund, in memory of Marilyn Lathom - the mother of the sisters who started this race over 10 years ago.

Michelle's comments were brief and she acknowledge the many first timers doing this race (with a "V" for virgin on their bibs), a woman who was racing her first triathlon as part of a large weight loss goal (over 60 pounds), the parents of Marilyn Lathom who both race and volunteer their time year after year, and my participation "noting that I was just finishing up a year of chemotherapy". I chimed in with a loud "Don't forget your Sunscreen" and we all headed to the pool to start the race.

SWIM: 27:37 - The swim was 1K in distance and each lane had two racers and a lap counter. 20 laps (40 lengths) was the distance but if you chose to swim less, you were not penalized. The first wave was the "slow wave" and that was my wave!

The race watches were synched and Michelle yelled "Go!"

The pool was very warm to start with and by lap 5, I felt like I was swimming in stew!! The swim always gives me anxiety and at lap 10 I considered hopping out (I had a good "excuse") but I simply rolled on my back for a lap and then continued on. I chose to swim 3 lengths FreeStyle and 1 length Backstroke, which gave me pleny of good recovery time but kept me moving. By lap 15 I was thinking, "I am almost done!" and by Lap 20, I was ready for the bike.

I was 4th out of the pool in the slow wave.

T1: 3:02 - I chose to grab my towel and head straight to the bike where I pulled on my quarter-sleeve "sun-safe" top, helmet, sunglasses and my bike shoes. It was a little chilly but I knew I would warm up pretty quick. There are no locker rooms in my other races in the past so I figured that I needed to treat the transitions like every other race ... AS QUICKLY AS I COULD...

BIKE: 53:52 The bike was two loops of 6 miles on local roads. It was a rolling course with a few little climbs and descents. My goal was to bring the bike in under 1 hour even if I had nothing left to give on the run. A year ago, I could hardly ride more than 5 miles at a time on my bike without feeling worn down so it was important that I show myself that I had plenty of room to improve for the upcoming season.

I was pretty much alone the entire ride because I was in the front runners of the "slow wave" and the bike has always been my strongest event. On the second loop a few people passed me, on their first loop, and everybody was friendly and encouraging! I was satisfied with my effort and met my pace goal.

T2:1:30 - Only by virtue of being in the first wave; I was one of early folks to start the run so I had no problems finding a place to put my bike and my transition was a quick. I remember thinking "So this is what it feels like to be in the front on the bike" and enjoying the moment, even while I knew that I would get passed by a lot of people on the run.

RUN: 43:14 - Ha!! This was not a run for me but a brisk WALK with INTERVALS of JOGGING. I knew not long after I got off the bike that I was not going to be breaking any personal records so I chose to take my time and enjoy the last leg of the race. I got into a rhythm of 2/1 JOG/Walk intervals and had fun cheering to all the fellow racers flying by on the bike on their second laps and running by on their way to the turn around.

As was headed to the finish line, Keri and I passed on the run course. Having started her swim a good 5 minutes after I got out of the water, she had done a great job racing was going strong and we "High Fived". I told her I would see her at the finish and continued heading in.

The Finish Line Volunteers were wonderful as they cheered me in by name.

I went grabbed a big hunk of Watermelon and sat back to cheer everybody in! It wasn't long before Keri was heading in to the finish looking strong and sprinting the last 100 yards.

While I can't look at this race as a personal record in terms of race times, it is certainly a personal milestone. My last "triathlon" was a Sprint Distance race in April of 2005 before the start of my year of Chemotherapy for a diagnosis of Malignant Melanoma. At that time, I had an entire sesaon of racing planned and was dealing with the fact that my plans were about to change, like it or not.

Now just a year later, I am 3 weeks away from being done with Chemo and I have officially started the season that was derailed last year. I am still a TRIATHLETE and I am living STRONG and CANCER couldn't take that away from me! Just give me a finish line and show me the way ...

Holly G. in Alexandria, VA

My BLOG - TRI and be happy!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Race Prep!!

Well today *Sunshine*, my beautiful yellow Lemond, got a bath and some new handlebar tape!! She had recently been complaining to me about how dull and dingy her white tape was getting and requested a change and since I am relying on her to race with me tomorrow morning for the first time in a year, I thought her request was quite reasonable.

Besides who am I to deny my beautiful bike?

So we went with a more colorful choice of tape this season!! I think she looks smashing!


Some "Vouge" Handle Bar Tape!

Such a Pretty, FAST Bike!

In terms of tomorrows race, I know that I can do the distances but this will be the first time that I have put them together since April of last year, pre-Interferon. If my run yesterday was any indication... Tomorrow morning could be UGLY!

But not because of anything I am capable of controling or something I didn't do. I have put in the miles on the bike and run and have been consistent in the pool. I think Friday's run was complicated by some oppressive humidity and too many layers of clothes. I am still trying to find a shirt that protects me from the sun but doesn't make me overheat. Friday's combination didn't work well.

In any case, I am looking forward to tomorrow's race - No matter what the day brings!

Enjoy your weekends and Live STRONG!

Friday, May 05, 2006

525,600 minutes - A milestone

525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments so dear.
525,600 minutes - how do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee.
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
In 525,600 minutes - how do you measure a year in the life?

(lyrics from Seasons of Love, RENT, the musical)

365 day ago I went into the hospital for my second round of surgery. My Dr's were looking for more cancer in the surrounding lymph nodes closest to my original Melanoma site and the site of my postive sentinal lymph node.

They didn't find any ...

This makes May 5, 2006 an important milestone. Today I am officially 12 months with No Evidence of Disease, otherwise known in the cancer community as NED.

One year down, four to go to meet that 5-year survival window! What a fantastic 40th Birthday party that is going to be!!

"Every day after diagnosis that we continue to live and breathe and love - WE ARE SURVIVORS" --There's No Place Like Hope, by Vickie Girard

Live STRONG!!!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

SunScreen Smarts!

It's May .. the flowers are blooming, the temperture is slowly rising and we are in Daylight Savings Time. That means more time in the sun and that means that all the SMART folks will be slathering on ...


Think your sunscreen from last summer is still good? Think again! Sunscreen's become less effective over time and they have experiation dates. So clean out your medicine cabinet, your bike bags and the back of the car and stock up on some FRESH SUNSCREEN!

I'm not telling you to stay out of the sun, my friends. It is a pretty unrealistic request, even for me. Riding my bike and being outdoors is a pretty important factor in my overall "Quality of Life". Now that I have been diagnosed with Melanoma, I just need to find ways to stay protected when I choose to "Stay in the Sun"....

But you don't need to be diagnosed with Cancer to make smart choices! Why not play it smart and to what you can to "prevent Cancer!!"

Taken from Cool in the Shade .. It's a great site!!

Need some help knowing what works?

The ingredients in sunscreen protect the skin by either absorbing or blocking and scattering UV radiation.

Sunscreens are rated by the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) system. The SPF rating is primarily the amount of UVB protection the sunscreen provides. The rating (SPF15, SPF20, etc.) indicates how much longer a person can be in the Sun before burning than when not wearing sunscreen.
For example:

Suppose you can stay in the Sun for 10 minutes before starting to burn if you are NOT wearing sunscreen. When using sunscreen you can stay in the Sun your initial 10 minutes multiplied by the SPF rating. So if you use a sunscreen rated SPF15, you should be able to stay in the Sun for 150 minutes (10 x 15) or 2.5 hours before starting to burn. Reapplying sunscreen reinforces the protection although it does not extend the time you can remain in the Sun.

How to choose the proper sunscreen and SPF.

The best sunscreen is one that blocks enough UV radiation to protect your skin. The chart below can be used as a guideline to obtain the proper protection.

REMEMBER: You should always consult with your physician when choosing the proper sunscreen ESPECIALLY if you are taking any medications that could result in photosensitivity.

This SPF Chart makes recommendation based on your skin type and is the best I have found yet! Check it out!

Then SLAP that SUNCREEN ON and go for a long run, ride, sail, walk ....(insert favorite sunny day activity here)

I'd NEVER ask you NOT TO PLAY ... I am just asking you to PLAY SMART!


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Gaining Perspective from a Blog Sideline?

So last night, while I struggled with "Blogger", trying to fix my SideBar information, I got an unexpected lesson in perspective with regards to my run workouts.

You see, my run on Sunday was pretty darn miserable as runs go. The course was hilly and I wasn't feeling very well. It felt hard!! My "Inner Whiner" was really making herself known and as I crossed the finish line in 39:50, I didn't even think about the time... I simply acknowledged that I had a hard run and figured my legs were dead from the 28-mile bike ride the day before.

Then as I struggled to fix my Blog Sideline - I saw something that left me DUMBFOUNDED.

April 1 - Cherry Blossom 5K - 40:55 (flat course)

April 30 - Vienna Elem 5K - 39:50 (hilly course)

I managed to take a full minute off my current pace in 30 days time ... on a Hilly Course while still on Inteferon.

D'oh .. Perhaps I am doing better than I thought with the tempo run workouts. And in all likelihood in 8 weeks time, after a month without Inteferon, my race times will begin to settle back in to the land of sub-11 minute miles.

If I hadn't been so wrapped up in how bad I felt, I might have realized that was a pretty good race day!

It is all a matter of perspective....
****Melanoma FACTS for Today ....

- Melanoma is currently the sixth most common cancer in American men and the seventh most common in American women.

- The risk of melanoma increases with age. The risk of developing melanoma is 88 times greater after age 15. Melanoma among children is extremely rare.

•- It is the second most common cancer in women between the ages of 20 and and the LEADING CAUSE OF CANCER DEATH IN WOMAN AGES 25 to 30!!

*Risk factors for nonmelanoma and melanoma skin cancers include:

- unprotected and/or excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation
- fair complexion
- occupational exposures to coal tar, pitch, creosote, arsenic compounds, or radium
- family history
- multiple or atypical moles
- severe sunburns as a child

Monday, May 01, 2006

May Is Melanoma Awareness Month - Get a free screening on Saturday!

May is here and today is MELANOMA MONDAY! As you all know, Melanoma is a subject that I am all to familiar with and while I wouldn't wish this diagnosis on any one else ... I want to make sure that my extended family and friends are well educated on the topic because an early diagnosis could save your life or that of somebody you love!!

So for the next month, every post will include some kind of tip or fact relating to Melanoma! May your increased awareness save the life of somebody you love .. now or in the distant future .... Cancer touches too many lives!

WHY? Because as myself, OldMan, Cliff, Bolder, Ken, Kim and Flatman can tell you ....(along with many other people, unfortunately) .... CANCER SUCKS!


To raise awareness about the importance of skin cancer screenings, nearly 2,000 dermatologists provide free skin cancer screenings across the country as part of the Academy's National Skin Cancer Screening Program. On Saturday, May 6, 2006, the Academy will attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the most people screened for skin cancer in a single day. To locate a free screening, the public can visit http://www.aad.org/worldrecord

It is estimated that there will be about 111,900 new cases of melanoma diagnosed in 2006, representing a more than 9 percent increase in new cases of melanoma since 2005. This year alone, nearly 8,000 deaths will be attributed to melanoma, yet when detected early, skin cancer has a 95 percent cure rate.

"The earlier you detect skin cancer, the better your chances of complete cure," said Dr. Stone. "That's why we recommend everyone conduct self- examinations and see a dermatologist if you find something suspicious."

May 1 is Melanoma Monday and the launch of Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month®. For more information about skin cancer, please visit http://www.skincarephysicians.comand click on "SkinCancerNet."

Live STRONG!!!

Introducing ... Wallace & Grommet

Saturday afternoon Jim and I went to the Breeder in Fredericksburg, VA and pick out out our Bengal Cats! Or perhaps I should say we picked Wallace (brown spotted male bengal) and Grommet (silver spotted female bengal) picked us.

Our first stop in the house was to see the silver spotted litter of kittens. There were 6 kittens (3 of which were already spoken for) and as soon as we walked in the room one of the kittens came right on over. She just walked right up to us, tail high in the air - and began to check Jim out!**

(**DID I MENTION THAT ALL ANIMALS LOVE JIM?!? - It is almost enough to make a girl jealous!)

While she had far less spots than her sisters, I was immediately taken by her personality. She was only timid when Jim moved suddenly to pick up another kittens and then she scooted right under him and hid out between his legs. Then she realized I was in the room and came over to check me out. She might not have been the most beautiful of her other two sisters but she won me over with her charm and I was the "key decision-maker" for this litter, it was an easy choice!

We then went to the other bedroom to see the brown spotted litter of 3 kittens. We had originally hoped for the female kitten in that litter but the Breeder wanted to keep her for her own program and the male was already promised to another buyer. As luck would have it, the other buyer passed on this little brown spotted boy because he didn't have the "right markings" ... so Jim and I were anxious to see him.

He is a beautiful brown spotted Bengal who is going to look stunning!! He was a little scared of us and kept calling for his Momma (who would call back and came over to check us out as well) but he let us hold him and showed off his beautiful spotted belly once he realized we were not going to take him away from Momma just now. Jim had the choice to make this time and he was quick to say "We'll take him!!"

So now in 60 days, we will head back down to Fredericksburg and bring Mr. Wallace and Ms. Grommet home with us for good. First they need more time with their Momma and their siblings to grow big and strong and happy and then they will be fixed. We will bring them home after they are spayed and neutered on the first week in July right after Bike Virginia!

The breeder said as soon as they were old enough, she would start letting the kittens play together and bond and told us that if we wanted to, we could come down often to bond with them as well! I can't believe that they are finally ours!

Here is a peek at Wallace and Grommet!!

Ms. Grommet is a Curious Kitten!

Showing us her good side!

Ms. Grommet

grommet kisses
Grommet Kisses for her new Mommy!

wallace - babyboy
Mr. Wallace is a Cautious Kitten!

wallace & mom
Wallace and Mommy (DOT)

wallace belly
Our Beautfiul Boy! His marking are going to be STUNNING!