Monday, April 30, 2007

Weekend in Review

This turned out to be a great weekend! Great Weather, Great Workouts AND Great Quality Time with Friends! As I said to Jim, "Weekends like this ARE Quality of Life!!"



I attended an Open Water Swim practice at Lake Anna, site of my swim meltdown last weekend. This time the swimming was much more successful! I feel redeemed...

I worked first on being calm and relaxed with my face in the water. I took some advice from fellow Triathletes about breathing and watching your bubbles in the water. I decided that I would dive in shallow and then come up and start my freestyle stroke and that seemed to work well for me. I'm not sure why but it gave me some sense of release.

After the first 5 minutes, of stopping and starting to swim. I felt completely okay with being the water. Then I was able to concentrate on counting my strokes and practicing open water sighting. I asked a fellow TRI guy nearby how often he sighted and he said 7 breaths. Sounded good to me so I modified it and started with every 5 breaths. I tried 10 but found that I tend to pull to the right so then I tried 7 and found that got me moving forward without making for too many stops and without getting too far off course.

I also got a chance to meet some fellow TRI folks and as usually, everybody was super friendly and cool. That is something I love about this sport .... I hardly ever meet total jerks, LOL.

So... I estimate I spent about 35 minutes swimming from buoy to buoy and marker to marker with some 10-15 second rests in between. The confidence boost of a successful open water practice was wonderful and having a good first session has me very encouraged to get out as much as I can between now and Columbia and Eagleman.

6 weeks to Eagleman ....Practice, Practice, Practice ...

run legs

SUNDAY: Pikes Peek 10K Race & Book Club!

Sunday I did the Pike's Peek 10K in Rockville, MD (about 45 drive from my home). Just because it sounded like a local race I'd like to try. This was a rolling course, predominately downhill. I had a good time and the weather was good. I wish I could have kept up the steady 12:00 but toward the last two miles, I struggled a bit with resuming my pace after walk breaks.

The last 2/10 were a long downhill and I used that moment to catch the people I had been seeing just barely ahead of me the whole run and pass then by. Weeeeee!! :)

My knees are a little sore this morning but considering the down hills, I am not surprised. I was surprised to see that Coach Graham gave me today as a REST DAY. Yippeee!! I was fully expecting a swim in the pool. Looks like I am going to do some shopping!

No where near the 1:10, I was hoping for but when I looked at pace calculator, I realized 1:10 wasn't really realistic considering my paces lately so I am moving that goal to later in the summer. I'm still satisfied. The seconds are coming down...ever so slowly!

Here are my watch splits from Sunday's 10K. I would have liked to at least have come in under 1:15. That will be the goal for next time. I don't think the chip time will be off by much.

Mile 1: 11:30
Mile 2: 12:04
Mile 3: 12:11
Mile 4: 12:02
Mile 5: 12:39
Mile 6: 12:49
+.2: 2:04

Total: 1:15:23

After the race, I drove home, took a quick shower and headed back out for some quality time with my gals! We had our monthly "Share a Book" bookclub and gormet lunch! I always look forward to these Sunday meetings because it is a chance to really sit down and catch up with some good friends, eat some wonderful food and talk about what we are reading.

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend! I have regained some confidence in the swim, I am slowly chipping away at my running times AND I spent time with friends I don't see nearly enough!

AND today I got an unexpected "REST DAY" from my coach! I am going shopping after work!! FUN!

What can I say? Life is GOOD! Live STRONG!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Kinetic Sprint Pictures

The first triathlon of the season is in the books!
Now onto Columbia Triathlon!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Speed Work Makes My Face Beet Red...

but I got it done! 9:40 pace for 400m x 6 - I didn't even know I could go that fast (unless being chased by scary monsters, of course...)

Now some pictures ... why, because I want to! Enjoy!

Kiss Us! We could be Irish!

Aunt Holly and Rowen play Peek-a-Boo!

leaping Holly
America's Next Top *Falling* Model?

leaping Heather
America's Next Top *Leaping* Model!!

Straight from the Freezer - Grommette

You wish you could hide in socks this well..

Wallace: "I think she's been in the catnip again..."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Weekend of Racing!!

Before I post my own race report, I simply *MUST* give a SHOUT OUT to both my sister Heather and my friend Nancy for their OUTSTANDING RACE RESULTS this weekend!

Heather took 3rd place Woman OVERALL this weekend at the 2007 BROADWAY at the BEACH 5K in a time of 23:51!!!!

Nancy set a new PR in her 5th 1/2 Marathon of the year with a time of 2:19:28 at the Bridge to Bridge Half Marathon!!

Now onto my weekend results:

Race: Kinetic Sprint
Date: Sunday, April 22, 2007
Location: Spotsylvania, VA
Race Type: Triathlon - Sprint

Time: 2:23:10
Overall Place: 157 / 166
ATHENA Group Place: 8 / 9

Comment: Executive Summary: Beautiful Day for an Early Season TRI!

SWIM (750m): 24:38
T1: 4:11
BIKE (18 miles): 1:11:58
RUN(5k): 40:35

The rest of the story:

We drove down to Lake Anna on Saturday evening and met with my friend Keri to pick-up packets and meet her friends for dinner. We had excellent Italian meals and returned to the hotel to relax. The race was scheduled to start at 10AM, giving us time to wake up at our leisure and get down to Lake Anna for around 830AM.

We arrived at the Lake and were stunned to see that the first parking lot was already full. I imagine many athletes from the DC area simply drove in from town (a quick 1 hour drive). We parked our cars and were unloading bikes when Debi B. (TRI-DRS & TRI-RATS fame) pulled in the parking lot! She wasn't even out of her car but I walked up to her open window and said
"We saved you a parking spot!" It was great getting to see her again.

Keri and I headed over to transition to drop off our bikes and gear and get settled. The time flew quickly and soon enough it was time to wiggle my way into my full sleeve wetsuit rental. Just about 9:45, they did the National Anthem and then the race director gave some quick notes before the waves started. During the notes, I listened as I stood in chilly Lake Anna (56F) trying to acclimate to the water temperature. I did a few stokes and got my face in the water so that the start would not be shocking. I left the warm-up session confident that *this* was going to be the first of many good swims this season.

As we awaited the wave start, a tall, friendly blonde asked Keri if she could help her zip her wetsuit. Keri was happy to help and we talked about the water temps and suggested she take a little dip, that it doesn't seem as bad after that first plunge. She said she planned to do just that and then wished up luck and asked our names. When I said "Holly", her response
was "Holly who?" LOL That is the moment that Marie P., a fellow TRI-RAT, and I met in person! Upon recognizing each others names we gave each other a big hug and then off she went to the water!

SWIM (750m): 24:38

I chose to race Athena for this race and our wave was mixed with the 30-34 females in the 4th wave. Our wave started and I was right their in the thick of it with all the hot pink caps right up until the moment that I had to put my face in the water and then it happened. Again, as in the last 2 races of the 2004 season. I went into full panic mode on the swim, in
spite of having plenty of gear (full wetsuit, neoprene cap, ear plugs and wet suit socks). I also spent 10 minutes in the water warming up so it wasn't about the water temps. I really need to open water swim weekly, I think, to get over this issue. It is obviously mental because physically, I am covering 3x this distance 2 times a week and not having any issues keeping my face in the water. I almost gave up but when I got to the first turn buoy, I just kept moving forward in the most pathetic front crawl/doggy paddle...

T1: 4:11

Transition went well. I was happy to be out of the water and getting out of the wetsuit is always easier for me!! As far as my swim, I was able to let it go. It helped that my boyfriend Jim was right there to tell me "Let the swim go and remember to have fun and enjoy the rest of the race." That is exactly what I did.

BIKE (18 miles): 1:11:58

I had a fantastic bike! I really love this course. It is a beautiful rolling course that I excelled at when I raced here in 2005 and I was secretly hoping, in spite of the addition of an extra 40 pounds, that I would do a great job on this course again. I kept my eyes on the road and focused on my cadence and tried not to look at the bike computer at all. At one point I looked at my watch and thought that it must have stopped because I had less than 3 miles to go and my watch said 1:04. I was so upset that I had screwed up my split but I just let it go and focused on how I felt. When I pulled into transition, I shocked my boyfriend Jim with my arrival. As I left T2 I told him that I thought that I had a fantastic ride and he confirmed that "Yes, you just rode in 1:12, Good Job HONEY!"

T1: 1:51

Hmmmpp... 50 seconds wasted in the first T2 of the season, room for improvement!

RUN(5k): 40:35

Run felt good, I took it easy and did 5 run/1 walk. I felt like I was comfortable and could have run further. I didn't try to run faster cause my focus was *FUN* and remembering what it felt like to be out there since this was my first "post cancer" triathlon. The course was rolling and very exposed. I briefly worried about whether my sunscreen has lasted through
the swim and bike (it did!) and then just spent my run cheering other people on and getting lots of cheers from fellow triathletes.

FINAL: 2:23:10

Quite a few people would look at these times, especially the swim and run and never imagine how that could be a good race. But I had only one goal for this race. "TO HAVE FUN" and even after the swim, that is exactly what I did.

Overall, I had fun and I felt I was definitely Living STRONG while I did it! So begins my 2007 TRI Season and it looks like I need to find *allot* more open water to swim in over the next 8 weeks!

Happy Tuesday to you all! Live STRONG!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

First TRI of the season is approaching....

My first race of the season is approaching. It's a small race as races go - just 605 people. It is also a short race as triathlons go - sprint distance with a 750m Swim - 18 mile Bike - 5K Run. It's the Kinetic Sprint Triathlon at Lake Anna this Sunday.

The weather seam to be cooperating now with a call for partial sun and a high of 70F which is wonderful considering the water temperature looks to be 55F on race day. BRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!

I thought about what my expectations were for this race. It's not an "A" race - heck it isn't even a "B" race - it is a "get back into racing" race so my expectations for times are limited. I would like to finish sub 2:00 but it doesn't seem likely considering my *weight-handicapped" bike and run paces lately.

So I am going for more of an emotional goal than a physical goal.

My goal in this race is to HAVE FUN and CELEBRATE THE FUN THAT IS TRIATHLON!

After all, this race has me coming full circle. Did you know this was *first* triathlon as a Malignant Melanoma Cancer Survivor? And now two years later, I am back to race it again and you know what? I am *STILL* a Cancer Survivor - and a pretty damn lucky one at that. I'll take every year I can get!!

I feel like the little phoenix chick sitting in her shell, tapping gently with my single beak tooth to crack that shell... smell of sulfur wafting through...

Time to rise out of the ash, renewed and rejoicing! Can you hear my cry yet? Well you will on Sunday....


Monday, April 16, 2007

My thoughts and prayers to VA Tech

My sincerest thoughts and prayers and sadly, condolences to all those students, staff and the friend and family affected by the shooting today at VA Tech.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Pitty-Party Interuptus

Author's NOTE: In the interest of full disclosure, I am posting this email that I send to my MPIP List because I realized that this is one of the realities of my life that I try to keep private. I'm not always the happy, go-lucky, upbeat Cancer Survivor/Triathlete that you see here. But I suspect you guys already *knew* that... You are all pretty darn SMART that way! Still, it's a side of my *survivor ship* that I tend not to share with anybody other than fellow survivors.

I hope this post can serve as a "been there, felt that, still feeling it now" for those fellow Mel Warriors out there who lurk out there.

I'm with you guys, I am you guys .. I just happen to like to swim, bike and run allot too.

LiveSTRONG! Holly

So I am coming up on my 2 year check-up. This year has not been quite the year I expected it to be. I guess I thought that once I finished Interferon, everything would be "simply glorious" and I would go back to Life as I knew it, only better!"

Not quite...

Since I finished the Interferon in May 2006, I have struggled with my hormones and my weight. I have gained about 40 pounds, missed multiple periods, gone through they symptoms of early menopause (night sweats, hot flashes) added two more doctors to my roster and after a whole lot of thyroid testing - been diagnosed with Polysystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) (which I am relieved to say seems to have nothing to do with Melanoma or the year of Interferon) and started treatment for PCOS. My running pace is slower now than it was on Interferon!! Chalk that up to the extra 40 pounds of weight I am carrying around these days. Weight that is "very slowly" coming off but not without considerably effort.

Now, coming up on the latest Derm visit and ONC visit and test, I find myself with an "blister" that I can't explain.

At first, I was convinced that it is a blister from the seam of my bathing suit. My other clothes don't rub against the spot in general so I don't imagine that my shirt could irritate my skin enough not to let this blister heal. In the last two weeks it has gotten less swollen and less
red but it's still there.

I know the drill: Call the derm earlier than planned for my follow-up and have them check it out.

Still I will feel stupid AND at the same time very relieved when it turns out to be nothing. I'll be even happier when I get the latest round of CT scans done and I can say "2 years NED".

I am an optimist, overall, and I am trying to find my "new normal" but lately I find myself mourning the "Old ME" and feeling a little cranky that I have so far to go to "get back" to my old state of health and fitness.

BLAH ... Holly's Pitty Party is over... I'm still here, that alone should be enough. I only wish that Kim from Iowa, Heather, Rob in VA and so many others were still here too!

Even when you are N.E.D (No Evidence of Disease) there is this nasty side effect that come with any Cancer Diagnosis. The side effect is "Necessary Vigilance". Every new spot, every unexplained ache, pain or odd symptom must be acknowledge, investigated and ruled out.

If you are lucky, you find a team of doctors who like you and don't mind "ruling out the possibilities" if you are not so lucky, you get a team of doctors who roll their eyes and run the tests but call you "difficult" or high maintenance. If you have the latter, I say "Find a new Doctor! I know I have done that once already this year.

Melanoma Sucks!!!

Friday, April 06, 2007

15 minutes of FAME

Front and Center on the Charleston Magazine Web Sites Photo Pages:
Fete Set / partyscene / Cooper River Bridge Run / Cooper River Bridge Run

Holly and Heather!!

Thank you, Thank you very much! ::insert Elvis voice here::

"I'm in" and the week in review...

Registration opened for the Army Ten Miler this week. I'm in!!

My sister Heather and I plan to run it as *part* of a last long run of 22+ miles in preparation for the Marine Corps Marathon, just 3 week later. We are going to run the ATM and then jump on the multi-use trail and head on down to King Street Metro Station. That and a little loop around the Iwo Jima Marine Corp Memorial should give us enough mileage.

I would be remiss if I didn't give Heather the opportunity to run that infamous uphill finish. I am a firm believer in "crossing the finish line of a race" before the race actually happens, if at all possible. Nothing is more personally empowering and it will be a moment Heather can draw on at Mile 22 of her first marathon. Taking away the "unknown" makes your possibilities become realities, more often than not! Just another way to LiveSTRONG on a daily basis!

I don't think I mentioned it before but I have a new triathlon coach. Coach Graham has taken me under his wing, which I am very thankful for since I procrastinated too long this winter and Coach Debi's roster of athletes was full by the time I got back to her.

Coach Graham and I are working on:

- Prepping me for Eagleman 70.3 and my LiveSTRONG IRONGAL Challenge Events this fall

- Getting my weight back down from whence it has climbed (40+ pounds to shed....)

- Prepping me for my 2008 IRONMAN USA race day

The volume of work this week has been heavier than what I was giving myself but I am happy to say that I am tired but not completely spent! At the end of my workouts, I know I have done some work but thus far, recovery has not been far behind. By the afternoon, I am ready for the next workout. Of course, this is just the mid point of a two-week build - so let's see how tired I am next Friday!

All's miles in the bank as Linae would say...

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Happy Easter! Happy Spring!
Life is Good!! Live STRONG!!!!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

My First BRICK of the season....

For those of you who are not familiar with the term "BRICK" as it relates to triathlon training, a BRICK is any workout that combines more than one discipline of the sport (swim, bike, run) back to back.

The purpose of a BRICK is to train your body to transition from one sport to the other. I think on some levels the term BRICK is used because you are "building" endurance between disciplines, however I believe it is more likely because BRICK accurately describes what your legs feel when you start running after a 20+ mile bike ride!

So last night was the first BRICK of my training season.....

1 hour bike followed by a 2 mile run.

The bike felt good, I even managed to add a mile to my pace. 13 miles in an hour instead of the 12 mph that I have been seeing for weeks now....I'll take it!

The run after *felt* a heck of allot faster than it turned out to be. There were no instructions to take it out fast or push the pace so I just tried to adjust to being off the bike and relaxing my stride. I was just shy of a 14 minute mile.

D'OH! So sloooooowwwwww!!!

Well that is what training is get back to those sub-12 minute miles and eventually faster - off the bike.

I woke up so tired this morning. I gave Jim a kiss and said "Honey, I want to go back to bed!" He smiled and said: "Base mileage is over! Welcome to Training Season.."

He is right... 3 weeks to my first TRI of the season, Kinetic Sprint TRI just 8 weeks to Columbia Triathlon and just 10 weeks to Eagleman 70.3!!

TRI season is coming!! Time to LiveSTRONG!!

Hope you are all having a good week!

Monday, April 02, 2007

RR: Cooper River Bridge Run 10K

So how do you run with 46,000 people?

ANSWER: Very sporadically....

This weekend my sister Heather and I did the 30th Annual Cooper River Bridge Run. It was an experience I will never forget and that I am not likely to repeat. 46,000 people can NOT spread out into an even pace over the course of 6.2 miles and since our race bibs seeded us in the 20,000 - 30,000 Bib section, we were stuck behind 20,000 people who chose to either *slow down* or *walk* the uphill portion of the race. That was very frustrating. How *walkers* end up in the top 20,000 when you are supposed to submit estimated finish times is a mystery to me. I believe some folks **considerably underestimated** their paces!!

When that many people choose to slow down on a hill, just like traffic on the highway, you get a ripple effect and suddenly everybody is walking! But for such a big race, that was my only complaint.

The course was great! The first 1.5 miles leading to the bridge were flat and then you had a 2.5 mile stretch of the Cooper River Bridge. It was about 1.25 mile up a moderate grade at best - and then 1.25 miles down! (WEEEE!!) That downhill was followed by 2.2 miles of flat downtown Charleston, SC.

The water stops were well placed and well stocked and the after-party had plenty of water, fruit and tasty muffins. More than enough food and port-o-potties for runners, walkers and all their family and friends!

Heather and I dress up as "Easter Bunnies" and got quite a few compliments. We may have also gotten our picture published in Charlestown Magazine! With so many people, I would have thought there might have been more runners dressed up but they were few and far between. Even so, we did see the following:

* Several men in Bananna Suits
* Chicken Man
* Cigarette Pack Man
* USO Gals
* 12 Bowling Pins and a Bowling Ball
* Team "Death by Sexy"
* several other Bunnys (though not as cute as us!)

Heather kept track of our intervals (5 run/1 walk) and kept the camera flashing for some great pictures! I kept track of our mile splits but my watch was *full* and I lost them in the end. It took us 10 minutes from the start of the race to officially cross the START line.

Our final time was 1:18:47 - nothing fast but considering that we were at the mercy of the 20,000 runners who started ahead of us, it was just fine. For the record, we passed at least 2,000 of those runners who started ahead of us. We were ranked 18,385 out of 28,640 official finishers. Nice solid *MIDDLE OF THE PACK* pace. Not too bad considering that we didn't even get under a 12 minute per mile pace.

Here are some photos for you to enjoy. All photo credits are Heather except for the picture of Heather ...which I took and the finishing picture with the Chik-Fil-A Cow which a stranger was kind enough to take for us!