Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Philadelphia LiveSTRONG Challenge 2007

This weekend Jim and I drove to Philadelphia, PA to ride in the 2007 LiveSTRONG Challenge with the Cyclist Combating Cancer Team. We had a wonderful weekend and did some bike riding through the *beautiful* Pennsylvania countryside. The bike course itself was what I would classify as *Rolling*. Some up hill, some down hill but nothing too extreme. Just Right!

We drove up Saturday, and thanks to traffic in Delaware, arrived at the LiveSTRONG Village around 3:30pm or so. We have enough time to pick up our registration materials, add my Uncle Jim to the Memory Board and to the Live STRONG Chain and stop to talk to Larry and Cathy B., whom we had not seen since the 2006 LiveSTRONG Challenge. It was wonderful seeing Larry and Cathy right away since they were the first CCC teammates we met last year and we spent some time catching up.

In loving memory of Uncle Jim

After registration, we found out that we barely had enough time to check into the hotel and then we had to battle traffic again to make it to the LiveSTRONG Challenge Fundraising Award Dinner. We made it to the dinner this year with about 5 minutes to spare and met up with teammates Scott J. and Brenan C. We sat with Scott, Brenan and TC Forum friends of Scott's, Joe and Jim and Scott's special guest's Danny and his brother Mike. Danny is fighting an aggressive form of Testicular Cancer and literally finished CHEMO treatment and then drove with his brother from NYC to arrive for the Dinner and the Challenge - a shining example of LivingSTRONG!

At the banquet, Scott was awarded the 2007 LiveSTRONG Challenge Philadelphia Messenger Award. The Messenger Award is presented to the fundraiser who has the most individual donors. Scott raised over $15,000 and reached out to more than 220 people. It was nice to see his efforts and hard work acknowledged with a beautiful framed jersey and congratulations from Lance Armstrong himself. It was a pleasure to be able to share that experience with Scott.

Scott J., 2007 Messenger Award Winner

Brenan C., Holly & Jim

After the banquet, Jim and I headed back to the hotel to wind down and rest before an early morning wake-up call.

Sunday was CHALLENGE Day! We were up and out the door by 5:50AM, trying to avoid the parking issues we ran into last year that made us so late. We were successful and within 20 minutes we were parked and looking for the Breakfast tent. We ran into a bunch of teammates on the way and after a stop to say Hi and grab some water and fruit, we headed back to the car to unload the bikes and get ready to ride.

Even with being early, we putted around at the car enough to just barely miss the CCC Team Photo at the start line. D'OH! Scott, however, gathered as many people together as he could and we took a second set of picture so we were at least able to be in one of the two CCC Team Photos!

Team CCC (take 2!)

Jim, ready to roll...

Holly & Scholange

At the START!

Mary T. & her sisters - LiveSTRONG!

Then Jim and I went to our respective corrals for our wait start (Jim - 70 mile ride and Holly - 40 mile ride) and WAITED along with everybody else for the Challenge to officially get underway. Finally about 30 minutes later than planned, we were rolling over the start line and onto the ride.

The course, as I said, was just beautiful. Long stretches of open road, every major intersection manned by local police to stop traffic for oncoming bikes and beautiful rolling Pennsylvania country side. You couldn't ask for a better ride and the weather cooperated by being slightly overcast.

I even got a chance to see Lance Armstrong riding his bike! Of course he was already headed back to the LiveSTRONG Challenge Village - having started with the Century groups (100 miles) and turning off to continue on the 40 mile route to be back for interviews and the post-event party. It was a thrill to see him on the bike, just across the road from me - even if he was going twice as fast as I ever could!

My pace this year being slow as it is, worked out well this year. I meant that within 10 minutes of finishing my 40-mile bike ride, Jim finished his 70 mile bike ride! This gave us time to change and enjoy the post-race party unlike last year and this year there was an extra special reason I wanted to be at the post race party! There was a good chance I might get to meet Lance Armstrong in person!!!

You see back in late May, Scott J. had approached me about helping to design a CCC Team Jersey to commemorate the 2007 Live STRONG Challenges that we were doing in Philly,PA, Portland, OR and Austin, TX. With a super tight deadline on the table, Scott J., Phyllis O'G. and I worked as a creative team to design a CCC Jersey. We were pretty darn proud of the finished product and this year the Live STRONG Challenge decided to hold a TEAM JERSEY COMPETITION. So we entered our design and hoped for the best.

Before the weekend ride, I already knew that the jersey was one of the TOP THREE FINALIST.

On Sunday afternoon, they announced that our jersey design won!! I got to accept the award on the teams behalf from Lance Armstrong and the team gave me the framed jersey to keep.

Of course being the doofus that I am, I was so excited that I shook hands with the director of LAF, Doug Ulman, first and then when he gestured to Lance behind me, I thought he was offering a hug. So I gave him one. They laughed and said "Well do you want to meet Lance? He is right behind you."

D'OH! Only I could do something like that ...

Saying a little something to the crowd...

Lance made a joke, I'm not the only one laughing!

Not only was it pretty cool to FINALLY meet Lance in person, the jersey came out beautifully and I was SO PROUD to see it on my teammates and know that it is going to be worn by CCC teammates in two more LiveSTRONG Challenge Events across the country this year.

So to sum up this weekend:

• I got to meet some more amazing people who Live STRONG everyday in the face of cancer

• I got a chance to honor the memory of my Uncle, Jim Bowdish - a true LiveSTRONG HERO

• I got to enjoy a beautiful 40 mile, excellently supported ride in on Sunday through the PA Montgomery County region

• With your help, we raised over $3,300 for LAF this year and a total of $2.4 million for LAF at the Philly Challenge alone...

• I got to meet my hero, Lance Armstrong and I got to hug Doug Ulman (who happens to also be the *Ulman* of the Ulman Cancer Fund through whom I am funding my CANCER to 5K program!!)

I'd say that is a heck of a weekend huh? Life is Good! Live STRONG!

Friday, August 24, 2007

LiveSTRONG Challenge is HERE!

This weekend, my boyfriend Jim and I will join the rest of our Cyclist Combatting Cancer Team in Philadelphia for the LiveSTRONG Challenge Ride. I will be riding IN MEMORY of my Uncle Jim Bowdish, who lost his battle with cancer just a few months ago.

I will only be riding 40 miles, instead of my planned 100 but I can reassure you that I am still training hard for the Marine Corps Marathon in late October. So what has kept me off my bike?

Well I started a little running group for fellow cancer survivors here in Northern VA called "CANCER to 5K" and while the work has been hard, it has been well worth the effort so far. You can find out more abou the program on the website:

So inspite of the change of plans, I am still "Going Long and Living Strong!" and I appreciate all your support!!

Look for updates and a ride report when I get back!!!!! Have a great weekend!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Not enough NAP time...

Wallace & Grommette illustrate just how tired I feel this morning!

My apologies for nearly two weeks without a post but I have been busy, I promise.

Our Fall 2007 Cancer to 5K Training Program has begun! We are already starting week 3 and team workouts are going well! The group is small and that clearly benefits the participants. Now they are getting even more personal time with the Coach. We have had some amazing volunteers come out to help and so far everything is going well! Now that the program has started, my work load is a little less frantic for a few weeks.

The LiveSTRONG Challenge is coming up this weekend. I'll have some news on the my IRON-GAL LiveSTRONG Challenge later this week. Jim and I are looking forward to the event.

This weekend was a whirlwind - Saturday was a Cancer to 5K team workout that I followed up with a short 27 mike BIKE. Sunday was "long run day" in prep for the upcoming Marine Corps Marathon in just a little over 9 weeks.

My trip to London put a little kink into my training (in other words, I did very little training....) and so the last 4 weeks I have been working hard to ramp my running mile back up to a volume that will make the marathon a fun experience. I'm sad to say that there will be no Personal Records (aka PRs) at the Marathon distance this year but that doesn't matter because I get the thrill of being on the course with my sister Heather, who will be running her first Marathon and I am honored to be able to share that experience with her.

Okay back to Sunday.... I was up at O'Dark Hundred and out the door for my 14 mile run at 6AM! 3 hours and 30 minutes later after a 4 packets of GU, a few "nature" stops and one stop for water at Starbucks (the water fountain I planned for my water stop was out of service), my long run was done. Surprisingly, other than being tired and having some tightness in my hips, it was a good workout. I am currently averaging about 20-24 mile of running a week, a little on the low side for 9 weeks out from a Marathon but I refuse to go "kamikaze" and boost my mileage too quickly. There is no need to end up injured and unable to run at all. I have 16, 18, & a 20 mile long run planned over the next 6 weeks and then a mild taper, those runs should get to me the start and the finish on race day.

After the 14 mile run, I transformed into "Hostess" for the day and had 7 girlfriends over for our monthly Book Club. I served Gazpacho (cold Spanish soup) and we had a wonderful assortment of bread, cheese, fruit, wine and Italian sodas that my friends brought. We spent 3 hours eating lunch, enjoying each others company and talking about books. This is a group that I look forward to seeing every 6-8 weeks.

Jim was a GEM! While I was out on my long run, he cleaned the kitchen and vacuumed the house. I am one very lucky and loved lady!

Post Book Club, I sat on the couch and watched the movie "The Right Stuff" for about three hours. Joined on occassion by Wallace and Grommette. I think they were just checking to make sure I was still awake, which amazingly enough, was the case through the whole movie.

Now it is Monday, and it all starts over again! Hope you all have a great week!

Life is Good! LiveSTRONG!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

NBC4 - Healthy 4 Life Coverage

Well the story that aired on NBC4 on Monday can be seen here

Yesterday the heat index was up to 105 ...but I still got out for a slow 4.5 miles of run/walking. I did the first 2.75 miles on my own and did the last 1.75 miles on the track with Coach Bob, our CANCER to 5K Coach. The heat kept my runners away but Saturday is going to be in the 80s so it should be a good group workout!

The workout in that heat wasn't fun but it didn't entirely suck either. I kept on top of my hydration and got some good tips on how to improve my running form.

Today they are predicting a high of 102 with a heat index of 108. Unless that breaks unexpectedly, there will be no bike ride or workout OUTSIDE for me today. It is the perfect time to get back in the pool though...

Life is Good! LiveSTRONG!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Getting the word out - on TV!

So last year I had this little idea. What about an exercise program for Cancer Suvivors? I shared my idea with a few people and they gave me the enouragement to give it a try. Months of talking led to a grant for $5000.00 and a chance to have my program end with a race that is going to be kicked-off by the ultimate cancer survivor Lance Armstrong.

Who would have guessed!

We now have 3 cancer survivors signed up for the program and last week I was interviewed by one of the anchors of the local NBC news station. They are going showcase the program CANCER to 5K, a little about my survivor story and 10-THE RACE tonight during the 4PM News.

For the NOVA/DC METRO locals, that is Channel 4 (NBC) 4:00 news with Pat Larsen-Muse.

I'm gonna be on TEEVEE...LOL

The hope is that this TV story will spread the word some more and bring us in some more participants. We have budgeted for 20 people total but I would be surprised if we got that big a group first time out of the gate. I'm already thrilled to have 3 people joining the journey!

I still can't believe my little idea has really become something....The first workout is tomorrow!


Thursday, August 02, 2007


I am coming up for air to post a brief race report. I could get really deep into details but I don't have time. I am working hard to get my CANCER to 5K program up and *running*... (excuse the pun!)


I raced a member of Team Survivor Granite State

OVERALL: 1:58:14
SWIM: 19:47
T1: 4:16
BIKE: 53:20 (13.5 mph)
T2: 3:18
RUN: 37:31 (12:06 m/m)

SUMMARY: What a fantastic event! Seriously, 2400 woman racing a sprint distance triathlon could be seen as scary but the support and enthusiasm, not to mention the amazing attitudes of woman of all ages, shapes and sizes was wonderful! Definitely more fun than some of the more serious races I have done. The motto: "You Go Girlfriend!!" I was proud to be there as a cancer survivor and I got a chance to meet some wonderful people in person including Sam, his daughter, Rich H. and his wife Paula and all the wonderful ladies of Team Survivor Granite State - Johanna, Jody and Patty!


I went to the Danskin Expo with the ladies of Team Survivor Granite State - Johanna, Jody and her mom, Erin, Patty and myself. The morning started with a Team Survivor Breakfast where we all shared a little about ourselves. The was laughter and tears and many first time triathletes. We got to briefly meet Sally Edwards, pro-triathlete. After breakfast, we headed to the Expo, registered, got lots of great swag and even scored an autograph from Sally Edwards. Then we went to the "First Timer Clinic" where Team Survivor was welcome to the stage and got a standing ovation, it was a moment I will never forget and I was proud to help represent cancer survivors as active women. We then went out for some lunch and a preview of the transition area. The frequent thunderstorms prevented me from getting a pre-race swim in but I got a good look at transition and then headed to the hotel where I vegged out for the rest of the evening.

RACE DAY: I was in the car and on my way to the park by 4:30AM. Transition opened at 5AM and with so many women racing (a large majority first timers) I wanted plenty of time to rack my bike, set up transition and relax. My only goal for today was to have fun AND come in sub-2:00. While I might not be fast, I didn't want to be a slacker and 2:00 is my own personal "slacker cut off" for this distance race.


I got a SWEET rack spot, in part because I came early and in part because I was in Wave #2 of 30 and had a very high BIB number (#11) and I got settled, talked to the women around me and waited for my teammates. After they were settled, we headed down to the water and I went for a short warm-up swim. It was warm and crystal clear - No wet suit today! Just after my warm-up swim, my parents showed up to cheer me on! It was wonderful having them there for the day!

SWIM/T1: The swim was GREAT! The most enjoyable open water swim I have had in a race this season! The water was so clear that I hardly needed to sight. I just kept an eye on the feet in front of me after sighting once or twice to make sure they were swimming in a straight line! The transitions from the swim was a little long because there was about a 400 yard run from the lake to the transition area. I moved smooth and steady - fast enough that my folks never saw me leave on the bike!

BIKE/T2: The bike course was just 12 miles but a rolling course with a significant stair-step climb just before mile 4. It was a little steeper than I was expecting but it was over pretty quickly and the rest the course was rolling and mainly downhill so I put it in a big gear and powered through. I left on the bike just after teammate Johanna and due to some pedal issues and a flat (I think) we hop-scotched each other a few times on the bike course. It was great fun and during the last mile, I heard the cheers of Rich H., CCC teammate so that really made me smile. I got into T2 and there was Johanna and she said" Wanna Run Together?" I warned her it might be run/walking but that I would love the company so she waited a minute for me and we headed off on the run together!

RUN: The run was about a 3 mile out-and-back of rolling hills. Johanna stuck by my side and let me set the pace. We saw Rich H. twice and he was full of cheers and encouragement. Because I was out to have *FUN*, I really wasn't too quick on the run but having Johanna with me kept me from slacking too often. We would run, usually until the incline got a little steep and then walk until I felt recovered. The pace worked out well for both of us, since Johanna was nursing a sore ankle. I made sure that we took advantage and ran every downhill and flat and honesty, I was very happy with the overall pace (12:06) which was much faster than I have been doing on my own lately. (NOTE TO SELF: More running buddies for marathon training) Johanna and I ran the last half mile back to the finish line at a nice steady pace, NO MORE WALKING was my motto, and we crossed the finish line hand in hand as survivors! It was wonderful!

FINISH/POST RACE: After turning in my chip to Sam (fellow TRI-DRS) and getting a finisher medal from his daughter, Johanna, her husband Lindley, Jody and her mom, my parents and I stayed and cheered fellow finishers on and waited another hour for our teammate Patty to cross the finish line. Patty, a 66 year old Cancer Survivor, finished her first fill triathlon that day and looked thrilled and strong as she came across the line! Jody, who was on the relay with Johanna, had an excellent swim and has already decided to do the full distance by herself next year! Erin finished first of our Team looking strong and enjoying her first triathlon as a cancer survivor (though not a first time triathlete.)

As I said, it was a great race and I was with an amazing bunch of women! Life is Good! Live STRONG!