Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Where does the time go?

There is only one more day of May...There is only one more day of May?!?!

How did that happen? Where was I? Oh yeah, working, racing, walking, taking care of sick kittens and training...

I want to devote an entire post to the Tamika & Friend's Walk to Beat the Clock that I was a part of on Saturday, May 19th - pre-Columbia Triathlon but for now, here is a link to some photos of the event! Special thanks to Jennifer, Kathy and Kent for joining me on Team Fit_Chicks! Heather R. was sick, we missed you Heather! Hope you are feeling better!

Work is busy, between my regular "9-5" and some volunteer graphics that I have been doing, I am easily filling my daily creativity quotas. There are several side projects that have taken a back seat for the time being.

Half of our Bengal Crew: Wallace and Grommette, namely Wallace, took ill last week. Requiring two visits to the vet, antibiotics, little noses nose spray and allot of TLC. He is on the mend, much to Grommette's delight. She has been wearing us out with constant games of *fetch* since Wallace had very little energy to chase around the house with her this weekend. We really had no idea how much they play together on their own until this cold. We're happy Wallace is back to his active, playful self too!

This weekend was special for several reasons. First of all, it is Memorial Day weekend and it is a time to remember and honor those men and women who gave their lives to keep us safe and secure. Secondly this weekend, is the *two-year* anniversary of my mid-way point through the high-dose round of Interferon Therapy that I did in May 2005.

That weekend, I rode my bike 7.47 miles and here is what I had to say about that:

"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."

So, where am I, two years out from that very day? Well I am about 45 pounds heavier (it's weight, it will come off when I get *serious* about it....) and even so, fitter than ever!

This past Saturday, I rode my bike 70 miles and followed it up on Sunday with a 5 mile run.

I'd say that is a sure sign that right now, I am doing my best, in my own way, to LiveSTRONG!

Now with just 2 weeks left until Eagleman 70.3, the butterfly's are starting to really kick in. I have no grand illusions on how my performance will be on this course. There is simply no way to drag an extra 45 pounds around the course faster than I did when I raced this distance way back in 2003. (Timberman Half Ironman: 8:01 finish time)

My only hope, my GOAL: is simply to finish within all the official cutoff times which translates into an 8:30 finish time.

It will be me, at the back of the pack, all day and I am okay with that because right now, that is the best that I can do.

Then, as summer blooms, I'll shift focus to taking off this weight and them some, training for the LiveSTRONG Challenge, and running the Marine Corps Marathon this fall with my sister Heather.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Race Report: Columbia Triathlon 2007

This was my third time racing the Columbia Triathlon and it was the most fun that I have ever had at a race. It was also, ironically, my slowest race time by about 27 minutes. Lesson Learned: Sometimes *not starting that watch* is the best way to enjoy your race!


OVERALL: 4:12:35
AG RANK: 96 of 100

SWIM: 43:02 (1500 yards)
T1: 4:45
BIKE: 1:58:23 (41K)
T2: 2:41
RUN: 1:23:47 (10K)


Over the last few seasons of triathlon (2003, 2005) including my first race of this season (Kinetic Sprint), I have been struggling with severe panic issues in the open water. I can cover thousands of yard in the pool but in open water, all bets were off when it came time to put my face in the water. This has been a huge problem that needed to be addressed.

Sunday morning at Columbia was full of the usual early morning race prep. I got to the park about 5:50AM and headed over to transition to set up my gear and pump up the bike tires. With *Sunshine* all ready to go and all my shoes and gear in place, I wandered over to the other side of the transition and found Nancy and wished her good luck then headed over to my car to return the floor pump and squeeze and wiggle into my wetsuit in private. I was lucky that the car was parked very close to the swim start.

Then, wet suit in place, I walk down to the swim start to watch the pro-waves and get about a 30 minute warm-up in the water away from the swim start area. I had hardly stepped one foot in Centennial Lake, following another fellow athlete, when a race official came over and stopped us both. He said that they were not allowing athletes in the water until 6 minutes before our wave and warned that if we disregarded that, we could be disqualified.

Well there goes my open water swim warm-up! With nothing else to do but wait an hour for my swim wave to start. I stood near the fence and watch others on their way out for the day. Nancy came by and I shared my encounter with the official so we stood together and watch and waited. Nothing to do but drink some water, eat a Gu and wait.

Nancy suggested, "As soon as you get in the water, swim around as much as you can, keep your face in the water and get to the right, that way you will have a straight line to the first turn." This was excellent advice.

SWIM: 43:02

"PINK WAVE - First Ladies Wave - Let's get in the water! Six minutes to your wave start."

I stayed in the front of the pack of women so I was one of the first 10 ladies in the water. The more time, the better. I stayed away from the women who grouped together, nervously chattering and treading water in one place and I did 3 or 4 laps forward and back along the back of the holding pen. Then I places myself in the middle of the group far to the right and then...5...4...3...2...1

I just put my face in the water and started counting strokes. In an in-water start, there are so many folks trying to get started that is is a mash of hands and feet and bodies. I spent my time focusing on working my away around the other women who were struggling to find a way to start and within a minute I had some clear water and my swim began.

I focused on counting strokes, popping up to sight and, whenever possible, finding other swimmers to follow. I tend to swim to the right (dominant side?) and so I was sighting every 7-10 strokes. Up to the turn around, I had lots of free water around me and I felt like I was making good time. Most often what was going through my head was "1...2...3...4...5...hey I am doing this! ....7...Sight"

At the first turn buoy, I seem to get caught up in the main pack of woman - someplace I have never really ever been! (I have always been in the far back - drooped quickly) and I found that with swimmers around me, I didn't need to sight nearly as much. Pretty quickly we made the next turn for the long haul back up the lake to the finish. It was here that I think, while I was doing a great job of actually swimming, that I was doing a bad job of sighting. I found myself constantly off the right of the main pack which I had quickly learned, makes swimming much harder - drafting in the swim is powerful, once you have gotten a taste of it.

At any rate, I was doing it! I was swimming just like I was supposed to and making progress to that final turn buoy so I kept on counting stroke and sighting and made the turn for shore. At this point, I was pretty much surrounded by orange and white caps (the two waves behind me) so I new I was on of the back of my wave but I was sure I has just did the swim of my life!

Just 100 yards from the shore BOTH my calf's seized in rock solid cramps! I immediately rolled on my back and wiggled my legs, trying to shake the cramps out since I was supposed to stand in less than 2 minutes! The *wiggle* worked and rolled over, did two stokes, felt my hand hit silt and stood up and wobbled over the mat.

I looked to my watch, anxious to see my swim time...and the chrono read 0:00:00

D'OH!!!! I never started my watch!

T1: 4:45

So my watch started at Transition One and boosted by what I felt was my best swim EVER, I jogged up to my bike, methodically took off the wetsuit, put on my bike gear and got on my bike.

BIKE: 1:58:23

The hilly challenging bike course was wet from on & off drizzle that started early in the morning. Each turn, downhill and climb came back to me as I rode the course. Just about mile 13, Nancy and Buttercup, who started 2 waves and 10 minutes behind me, caught me and with a Looking STRONG!" passed me by! I have not been as strong on the bike as I have in the past, but I had a pretty good idea of what I could expect and my goal was to ride the course in under 2 hours. I pulled in to T2 with 1:58 on my bike computer for a pace of 12.9 mph. I was completely satisfied with that time.

T2: 2:41

T2 was deliberate and not as speedy as I hoped. I had some problems keeping my balance and stepping into my running shoes but once they were on, I was jogging out of transition to the port-o-potties just passed the timing matt.

RUN: 1:23:47

After a much needed Port-o-Potty break, I began the run. As Coach Graham had instructed, I walked the first 200 yards or so then slowly settled in to my running pace. There was nobody around - NOBODY! The though occurred to me that I might just be the last runner to start the course. I had not passed anybody on the bike from mile 15 to the end...hmmmm.

For a moment, I was a little upset but then I though "Who cares! They let me start the run, they know I am out here. So I am last - I will finish!

The run course is as challenging as the bike and very hilly. As you start the run, you can hear the finish line cheers as the announcer gives names and locations of finishers. I listened to the cheers and said a silent prayer that the water stations on the course were still open. I reached Mile 1 in just about 14:00 (that included the Port-O-Potty Break!) and the station was still full of volunteers who handed me water and cheered me on! One of them said my number into their race radio and I though "Yep I am last..." but the pace felt good and I kept going. I settled into a 5/1 run walk pace that was only interrupted by walks up the steepest of the climbs and when my "walk break" was on a downhill, I would skip it until I came to the next incline because nobody should waste a downhill!

Just before Mile 2, I passed my first runner. At first, I though it might be Nancy, because it was a woman with a 50 on her calf and long red hair and a similar body type. As I drew closer, I realized "No that is not Nancy" and I was actually relieved because it would have meant she was having a bad run. (as it turns out, she was having a bad run and was just 6 minutes ahead of me running the same exact pace...)

Passing that runner and then hearing footsteps as a 29 year-old woman passed me, gave me some hope. Maybe I am not quite last. There are still people out here. Mile 3 and Mile 5.5 are the same water spot on this course at the top of a big climb and as I got there, I could see so many athletes on their way to the finish line! Being around others, cheering them on and getting encouragement, AND reaching the 3 mile point of the 10K, was just what I needed. From that point on, there was always somebody around. Runners headed to the finish, one gentleman that I passed just after the 4 mile mark who was run/walking the course barefoot (WOW!) and as it turned out a good 10 people who were still heading out on the front half of the course as I was finally heading back. The last 1.2 miles of the course are downhill and flat and I kept at my pace. Slow and steady. The six mile maker came, I went up the small rise and around the bend and there was the FINISH Line and another Columbia Triathlon Finisher Medal was placed around my neck. Number 3 for the "Columbia Tri" collection!!

Later when I got my final split times, I was dumbfounded by my swim time. I certainly didn't feel that slow. Not starting my watch was a blessing. If I had seen that number, right out of the water, my whole attitude on the race would have changed. As it was, when I crossed the finish line (and even now) I had the perfect race! I wasn't fast but my bike and run and transitions were right where I expected them to be and I had a perfect open water swim experience. So when it all comes down to it! It was the best possible race day so far this season!

Columbia Triathlon is in my heart. It was the first triathlon I ever did. It is a challenging hilly bike and run - the course doesn't lie to you, it will tell you where your are really at, and this 2007 race was my return to the OLY distance after a 2 year break.

Life is Good! And's better to judge your race day by how you feel at the finish line rather than what your "chip time" says.


Friday, May 18, 2007

Believe ...

Somebody sent me this link to an amazing group of college students who are riding cross coutry in a effort to raise $50,000.00 in the cause to cure cancer.

Now this is how you LiveSTRONG!


Team Believe

"Team Believe is a student-run, not-for-profit organization dedicated to raising money in support of cancer research.

We might be students; however, we strongly believe in our abilities to make a difference now, and we hope to inspire others to do the same.

To raise money and awareness for cancer research, we will traverse the North American continent by bicycle in the Believe in the Cure Tour 2007.

When someone asks what makes us consider undertaking such a seemingly impossible task, we reply with one simple answer:

We believe in ourselves, we believe in our cause, and we believe in the cure.

Belief - sometimes it is all we have. Ask a cancer patient what they believe in, ask their family, ask their doctor, ask the scientists who developed their treatment. They all believe in the same dream - that cancer will one day be cured.

We share in this dream, too. The journey towards the cure may seem long, but - as we hope to demonstrate by our journey - it is far from impossible.

One must only believe."

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Happy LiveSTRONG Day!

Today is national LiveSTRONG Day!

200 advocates will be visiting Capitol Hill, thousands will be participating in local LIVESTRONG day events - even the Empire State Building is going yellow!

All over the country hundreds of LiveSTRONG Day programs are going on. To find the one closest to you CLICK HERE

3500 people are diagnosed with Cancer, EVERY DAY...

1500 people will die from cancer TODAY!

Unacceptable gaps exist between what we know and what we do to prevent, screen and treat cancer. It is time to make Cancer a National Priority!


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Dinner with Friends...

Yesterday was 1600 yds in the pool. 100 yds more than required but I was practicing some sighting for Sunday's open water at Columbia.

5 Days to Race Day!

Last night was the Cyclist Combatting Cancer dinner at Spezie Restorante in Washington, DC. (1736 L Street, NW)

Excellent food and Excellent company ... it was a wonderful chance for a small part of the group to get together!
The smiles say it all!

Life is Good! Live STRONG!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Up and Coming....

This weekend was a wonderful weekend to be on the bike and that is just where I was. Both days. Saturday was a two-hour BIKE followed by a 30 minute RUN and Sunday was a 2.5 hour easy BIKE. Needless to say, my cumulative bike mileage is climbing.

It's a good thing too because this weekend is the Columbia Triathlon. A hard, hilly olympic distance triathlon (.9 mile swim, 26 mile bike, 6.2 mile run) that just happens to be very special to me. The 2001 Columbia Triathlon was my first triathlon ever! I came into triathlon from a long-distance biking perspective. I saw the bike distance and thought "Hmmmm... I can definitely ride 26 miles, no problem...and I liked to swim as a kid and I have always wanted to try running...I bet I could do this!"

2001 Columbia Triathlon - 3:41:23
SWIM: 38:55
T1: 5:38
BIKE: 1:38:17
T2: 3:44
RUN: 1:19:03

2002 Columbia Triathlon - 3:45:28
SWIM: 39:43
T1: 6:22
BIKE: 1:43:55
T2: 3:25
RUN: 1:14:42

So having done Columbia twice in the past (2001 & 2002) I have some old race times to consider but I have not yet talk to Coach Graham this week so I don't know what his expectations will be for me on race day.

I'd like to see around the same times, but my expectation is that I am slower this year than I have been in years past so quite frankly *anything* under 4:00:00 will be just fine with me. Got to start back somewhere right?

My big race this season is Eagleman 70.3 which my sister Heather and nephew Rowen will be in town for! Cheering section for Holly!!!!

Eagleman is still over 4 weeks away and considered my *A* race for this season. What does that really mean? That means that everything I am doing, including my race day at Columbia, is in preporation of race day for Eagleman and that could mean that Sunday will simply be a "long workout day" wrapped into the convienance of a local race.

So my goals need to be a little different and my times this year will probably be a lot slower than they have ever been in the past...but I hope not by very much. After all it is not like I was ever blazing fast at Columbia in the past.

I guess we'll see what Coach Graham has to say and go from there. In the meantime, I have a full weeks workouts to get through before race day! That should keep me busy enough .....

Tonight I get to indulge in some early pre-race carbo loading. Several CCC teammates are in town for the upcoming LiveSTRONG Day to meet with their respective congressmen/women to demand that our nation's leaders invest in resources, treatment and services for everyone battling cancer. A few of us are going to get together this evening and share a meal. It will be wonderful to touch base with my teammates and see many of them for the first time since the 2006 LiveSTRONG Challenge and the LiveSTRONG Summit.

Life is Good! Live STRONG.

Thursday, May 10, 2007



That pretty much sums up my workouts over the last 48 hours.

Tuesday night's workout was a 75 minute BIKE followed by a 15 minute easy RUN (if I felt up to the run...). The bike was an interval UPTEMPO workout meaning that after a warm-up, I was expected to do 30 minutes of hard riding followed by a 10 minute recovery and then another 10 minutes of *very hard* riding and a 15 minute cool down.

There is something to be said for hard efforts on the bike because they really translate into some increases in overall speed and that is what I love to see! I love to see the burn in my quads turn into more miles covered over time. This was the fastest workout I have had this spring. I saw a net increase of 1.5 mph over 75 minutes. I covered 17 miles on a rolling course.


I felt pretty pumped at the end of the bike, so I went ahead and did the 15 minute easy RUN that was optional. While I didn't break any speed records on the RUN, I was consistent with my times off the bike from the past few weeks -which means that I can give more on the bike and still maintain something of a pace on the run.

I finished up the workout with some pain in the front of my right foot. I assumed it was my shoes. I have two pair and I had not used one of the pair in a while and the tongue of the right shoe seems to be bugging my right foot. So we will not use these shoes again because they contributed to an OWIE....

Yesterday's workout called for a 50 minute run. My stomach had been bugging me on and off all day but I opted to at least start the workout and see what my body had to say. I stuck to my coaches rules... 6/1 Run/Walk intervals and it was my right foot and my stomach that conspired against me. I barely did 3.5 miles in 50 minutes but the way I look at it is it was a slow workout but better than no workout at all or so I thought until about an hour after the workout when my right foot began to hurt more and swell just a bit....


I took some Advil and iced the ankle. It is still bugging me today, sore to the touch, with a little bump near one of the tendons but no swelling that I can see of the joint and it doesn't hurt to walk on . I am pretty sure this sore bump is the reoccurrence of a ganglion cyst that I have had in this same foot in the past. So the offending shoes will go in the donation bin.

I plan will get on the bike tonight and see how I feel. If the foot protests, I will invoke a "REST DAY" but somebody needs to tell my right foot that we have two big races: Columbia Triathlon and Eagleman 70.3 Half Ironman in the next 5 weeks.

No time for OWIES....

Life is Good - ZOOM! Live STRONG!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

My first Nike + Milestone!

On May 8th, 2007
after logging 27 runs
at an average pace of 13:56"/mi
ran 100 mile total with the Nike+ iPOD

Monday, May 07, 2007

All About the BIKE this weekend

This weekend's workouts called for a BRICK workout of a 2 hour bike and 20 minute run on Saturday followed by a 3 hour bike on Sunday. Inbween those two workouts I managed to sqeeze in baking 8 dozen cookies and a Cinco de Mayo party held by friends Keri and Greg.

I am not cut out for rolling into the house at 2AM any more. Sad but true...

The 8 dozen cookies were for a post-Bike Ride pinic that Jim and I had planned to attend on Sunday. Then came the Cinquo de Mayo so getting a full 8 hours of sleep after the party prevented the cookies from getting to their final destination Sunday afternoon. You can imagine how happy both Jim and my coworkers were to find dozens of home-made chocolate chip cookies to snack on this morning! So the cookies found a good home outside of our kitchen, far away from the cookie monsters that Jim and I could potentially be, if given the opportunity.

The workout on Saturday ended up covering about 26 miles on the bike wih a 1.5 mile run. The run felt *SLOW* but the watch said otherwise. Sunday's bike was 39 miles in nothing but WIND! The same WINDS that Nancy suffered through. Needless to say, if I can handle 3 hours in that wind, I might just be okay if the Eagleman bike course is it's typical windy self. At least I know that I carry enough weight on my person not to get blown off my bike. I may not be very fast this season but I sure am stable. LOL

A few more fun things to share -

My sister Heather placed 2ND WOMAN OVERALL this weekend at the Blue Crab Festival 5K in a time of 22:25. She set yet another PR for this distance this year! GO SISTER GO! RUN SISTER RUN! (Pictures to Follow)

My CT SCAN came back CLEAN! Just call me N•E•D !!! I am currently cancer-free for a second year!

According to the photographic evidence here from last weekends Pikes Peek 10K, in spite of a 40 pound gain in weight, I can still put on a fierce "race day face" and yes, I am a heel stiker by nature. But look!!! I am striding not shuffling and it is still early in the 2007 season!

My "NIKE +" Challenge Buddy, Mel ran her first half marathon yesterday!! Way to run Mel!! I will be working to catch up on those running miles you logged this weekend!!

Life Is Good! Live STRONG and enjoy the week ahead!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Advice from Wallace....

For your enjoyment is here...


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Wallace & Grommette: Begnals on the Move!

As requested.....Wallace and Grommette have their own BLOG!.

And the world was never the same again.....

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

First Day of May....

Well Happy May Day to you all!

Spring is officially "in the air", May is Melanoma Awareness Month and it is also my two year BLOG anniversary.

May also marks an important time in my own melanoma cancer survivorship. I'm hopeful that by the end of this week I can proudly claim myself N•E•D (No Evidence of Disease) of cancer for yet another year! Two Years, to be exact.

Just two weeks ago, as you may recall. I had a scare with an odd blister on my left hip. I went to my dermatologist, Dr. Peck and he assured me that he thought it was a bug bite that was healing slowly. Since I was already there and due for my 4-month follow-up at the end of May, he took the time to check me over - HEAD to TOES (and under my hair!) and declared that nothing looked unusual and I could graduate to 6-month visits! Yahooo!!

Dr. Peck also took the time to reassure me that I should come to him "ANYTIME I FOUND ANYTHING THAT I WAS UNSURE OF"... no matter how insignificant I thought it was or how dumb I felt asking about it. I thanked him for saying that and his response was "You have had Melanoma, nothing is too small to look at. I would rather see you 8 times this year and be able to tell you it is nothing than have you stay away and find out after six months that it was something."

I *heart* Dr. Peck!

Yesterday was a 4-month follow-up exam with my oncologist, Dr. Butler. He poked and prodded and we chatted about triathlons and running (he is a runner too!) and summer and being healthy. He said I looked great, initial blood counts looked good and agreed that it was time for my yearly CT scans to determine that I am still N•E•D.

I was hoping that after two years, I would graduate to *six month follow-ups* with him as well but alas, he wants to see me in 4 months! I think he just likes to hear about my races....HEHEHE. It's okay though ... I still *heart* Dr. Butler too.

So tomorrow afternoon, I'll leave work early and go to get my CT scans done. I get to drink the most disgusting apple juice ever, get an IV line attached and have iodine injected in to my bloodstream. Then I have to hold my breath for a full second longer than I think I can hold it and wait for the gentle female CT SCAN computer voice say "Breathe". All of this to take pictures of my brain, thorax, abdomen and pelvis.

These appointments and tests have become a part of my regular rites of spring. I wonder if you can wrap an IV line around a Maypole? Hey, whatever it takes to be called N•E•D.