Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The WEEK of my LIFE!

Okay...before you go getting all upset because my blog has been silent for over 2 weeks, just listen to the last week that I had and cut me some slack! I was on VACATION!

So here is how the week of Saturday July 19 - Saturday July 26th, 2008 went:

Saturday, July 19 - GOT ENGAGED TO JIM!!!!!!
Sunday July 20 - Volunteered at IRONMAN USA - Lake Placid
Monday July 21 - Signed up for IRONMAN USA - Lake Placid 2009
Tuesday July 22 - ON VACATION - Lake Placid
Wednesday July 23 - DROVE HOME - 12 hours in the rain...
Thursday July 24 - ON VACATION at HOME
Friday July 25 - ON VACATION at HOME
Saturday July 26 - CELEBRATED MY BIRTHDAY and ran 5K with FRIENDS!

Yep, that is right, in ONE WEEK I got ENGAGED, signed up for IRONMAN USA 2009 and HAD A BIRTHDAY!!

Life is GOOD! So GOOD that I can't stop SMILING! 2009 is going to be a BUSY YEAR!

Pictures of vacation, the engagement story and IRONMAN USA will follow!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

More Pictures of my MUDDY BUDDY & Me!

There are more Team MUD_KITTENS Muddy Buddy pictures at BRIGHTROOM.COM. I'd also look around at some of the other photos of other competitors.  There are some great ones in there!

I'm not kidding people!  You have got to do this RACE next year in 2009!

Life is Good! LiveSTRONG!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Team MUD_KITTENS was 20th out of 24 teams in the FEMALE 86-95 division in an official time of 1:17:47...

I still say we were NUMBER #1 in FUN!

Life is Good!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

RR: Muddy Buddy - RICHMOND!

Muddy Buddy Richmond - 10K Bike/Run/Challenge/MudFEST!
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Finish time: estimated 1:15:xx
(results not up on the site yet!)


Long Story:

So this weekend Nancy Toby and I headed down to Richmond to be "Team MUD_KITTENS" at the Muddy Buddy - Richmond race. We headed down Saturday mid-afternoon and stopped by registration to pick up our race packets (which included tshirts, waterbottles, dogtags and some misc. treats from Cytomax and Clif Blocks and Shots.)

AS IF I don't have enough race t-shirts already! I was still suckered into a cool, girly, mulit- colored Muddy Buddy 2008 t-shirt at packet pickup that I just could not resist. So I bought it...

After packet pickup, we stopped by the hotel, checked in and then headed down to Pochahantis State Park to check out the race site, get a feel for the course and see how long it would take to get there in the morning. A quick 18 minute drive from the hotel, we parked close to the race finsh/start area, checked on the infamous MUD PITT and then walked the first 1.25 mile to the first of 4 "CHALLENGES" and boy were we glad we did. It was a 6 foot climbing wall with a rope ladder down the back side. We both looked at each other and said "WHAT ARE WE GETTING OURSELVES INTO?"

Nancy, looking over the infamous MUD PITT

You see neither Nancy nor I have had much (1 time for me, never for Nancy) Mountain Bike experience. So we were going into this race knowing that we could run and we had road bike skills that might translate in some small way to a mountain bike. The "CHALLENGES" and the MUD PITT were accepted unknowns that would add to the fun of th day.

The ultimate goal on race day...THE FINISH!

Obstacle #1: The Climbing Wall...

Now, standing before the first "CHALLENGE" we knew were in for quite the adventure! So we decided that the best course of action was to try to climb the obstacle, right there in front of us, before RACE DAY. And so we each did it - Twice!! For good measure. Then we walked back to the car, passing many fellow racers checking out the trail on their bikes and we pulled out the Moutain Bike so Nancy could take an inaugural spin and at least figure out how to change geer. Then we headed to dinner at Ruby Tuesday and had a mandatory "PRE-RACE" Margaritta and hearty dinners.

5AM Sunday morning came early and we headed back to the race site.

Nancy's Shoes on race morning - Ductape keeps the Laces covered and away from the bike gears...

Holly's Shoes on race morning -I went for an 80's RETRO Ductape Look...


"Calm, Cool, Collected...MUD_KITTENS!

We were parked pretty quickly and then pulled out gear together and followed the costumed, crazy crowd to the start/finish line. We saw dinosaurs, rams, men in shower caps and bathrobes, Grime & Punishment (a french prisoner and a gendarme), bumble bees, the list went on and on...

We started in the last wave, Wave 12. Groups are arranged by combined team age for MALE, CO-ED, and FEMALE teams of two so we were with 3 groups of FEMALE teams from ages 86-95, 96-105, 105+over. There must have been a good 20-30 teams in our wave and since we were all women, we all joked about being the "COUGAR" wave as we watched the "Youngest MALE" wave finish their races before we had even begun.

Here is a brief rundown of how the race works. You have 12 waves that are released about 7 minutes apart. Average finishing time for most teams was 50-1:05 minutes.

Over ~6 miles of trails, with 2 runner/riders and one mountain bike (people leapfrogging and alternating on bike or running).

So there were 5 legs and 4 obstacles the each of us had to complete both as runner and biker. I started as the biker and did 3 bike legs and 2 runs while Nancy started as our runner and did 3 runs and 2 bike legs.

We both had to complete the same obstacle at each transition spot (where we would drop off/pick up the bike):

Climbing wall
Balance beam
Ranger wall (climb over/under)
Cargo net climb/ vertical slide

Plus we had a river crossing (~knee high water) which I had to carry the bike over) and then at the finish line we had to meet up and crawl-through mud pit TOGETHER.

Trail running/biking was a total blast for both of us! I thought we did a pretty good job of staying withing reach of each other - never being more than about 3-5 minutes ahead or behind. Unfortunately, on the last bike leg, just past the river crossing, I got a FLAT TIRE on the Mountain Bike and so I rode it for as long as the tire had air and then ran with the bike the last 3/4 of a mile to meet Nancy at the MUD PITT. Had we not gotten a flat, I think we would have knocked at least 3-5 minutes off our final time.

The MUD PITT was fun but I definately got a little OVER-COMMITED to the "MUDDY BUDDY" theme because I was covered head to toe while you could still read Nancy's shirt. Nancy was just showing she was older and wiser while I play the wacky, goofy kid!

TEAM MUD_KITTENS, post race - Nancy is mah MUDDY BUDDY!

We finished near the back of our competition group (don't know exactly where yet - but we were pretty sure not many people had more fun than us!

I'd recommend this race to ANYBODY! The course is geared towards beginner Mountain Bikers and Trail Runners and as I said, Nancy and I had little to no Mountain Bike experience but we still had great fun on the bike and the run.

My Race Kit...on the driveway, at Noon today - PRE-RINSE

Sadly, the NEON DUCT TAPE was no match for the river crossing
and I got MUDDY anyways....

Will MUD-KITTENS race again?

You better believe it!
(come on along next year...)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Look out for Team Mud-Kittens!

3 days to MUDDY BUDDY... and counting...

What will become of Team Mud-Kittens? Wait and See!!!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Only the Beginning....

When I'm with you,
it doesnt matter where we are,
or what were doing
I'm with you, thats all that matters
Time passes much too quickly when were together laughing...

--lyrics from Beginnings by Chicago Transit Authority (first released in May 1969)

Almost NOTHING beats a night under the stars (and about 3 minutes of rain) at a concert with your sweetie listening to one of your favorite rock bands.

LITTLE KNOWN TIDBIT: The first ROCK concert that I went to unaccompanied by parents was Chicago during their 1984 Chicago VXII tour....

Life is Good!  Hope your week is going well!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Vive Le Tour!

Running from Saturday July 5th to Sunday July 27th 2008, the 95th Tour de France will be made up of 21 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,500 kilometres.

My household will definitely be watching! How about you?

Friday, July 04, 2008

MUDDY BUDDY PREP - My FIRST Mountain Bike Ride!

On Sunday, June 29th, in prep for the TEAM MUD KITTENS debut at the Richmond, VA Muddy Buddy Race, I had my first go at Mountain Biking!

A clean mountain bike... all ready to go!

I headed with my friends Keri and Greg and their friend Dan to Wakefield Park just 20 minutes west of my house where they have multiple, well-kept single tracks. I have never had so much FUN and been so darn SCARED in my life! Greg was the BEST teacher ever and he rode behind me the whole time, giving tips and calling out turns and telling me when to go faster and when to control my speed. The loop was only 4.5 miles and it took us about 1 hour and I kid you not, I worked HARD that entire hour. I was covered in sweat, a little muddy and having the time of my life and I didn't fall ONCE!


We even got with about 3 feet of a doe who was just standing by a fire-road, chilling out and eating. She just passively watched us, chewing away and was so beautiful. That is closest I have ever been to a deer that was not in a petting zoo.

Oh and the funniest thing of all - on the way out to the single track at the start, on the fire-road, I was going as slow as can be, all nervous and anxious just riding on rocks and dry dirt but after 4 miles of riding roots, rocks and rolling through undulating down-hills and skidding on mud, when we got back the the fire-road, I was riding as fast as Keri, Greg and Dan and thinking, wow this surface is easy and fun!

Three big things were significant to me about this first time experience:

1.) My road biking skills helped some especially when picking the line on corners but I have got to work on keeping my feet level - especially because when you are riding over rocks and stumps and roots it would be too easy to catch your foot on something...

2.) There was something amazing about flying through a meadow on your bike - bumping and jostling along - I felt like I was 10 years old again...

3.) Mountain Bikers are some FIT PEOPLE with some serious bike handling skills....I am humbled.

Keri, Dan and Greg - post ride!

Greg (on the right) is the MAN!

Greg was an EXCELLENT MENTOR and I am so greatful to my good friend Keri for offering to take me Mountain Biking with them! I feel 100x more confident about our Muddy Buddy now than I did at 10AM Sunday morning when I was riding the Mountain Bike through the parking lot learning to shift gears!

A little muddy are my FIRST RIDE buddies...(LOL)

This Mud_Kitten is ready to GO!

RR: Potomac Twilight 4 Mile Run

Potomac Twilight Festival 4 Miler - Ashburn, VA
Saturday , June 28, 2008
Time: 52:34

SUMMARY: How you feeling? HOT, HOT, HOT!

LONGER REPORT: I drove with my friend Monica, about an hour west to Ashburn for the Potomac Twilight Festival 4-mile race. There were 5 of us total from the CANCER to 5K group who got together to do this race as a SOCIAL RUN. (Racing for fun - HA!) Or maybe I should say there were 5 of us total from Team CANCER to 5K who were goofy enough to suffer in the HEAT - yet again.

The weather on Saturday night was ridiculous! At 6:30pm at the race start it was still 98F. At least we had a little breeze. Monica and I got to the race village about 5:50 and had just enough time to pick up our race bibs and bring our race packets back to the car for safe keeping. It turned out that I had registered my own Champion Chip for this race and then forgot it at home, so there would be no official finish time for me. Probably not a bad thing in this kind of heat...

As we stood at the START with the other runners (quite a lot of people, just shy of 1,000 runners, considering the HEAT!) my cell phone rang and it was Ben Fabella. He wasn't running but he said that Amy was near the back of the START and to keep an eye out for her. I got off the phone with Ben and contemplated yelling "Amy!!" and Monica suggested I add her last name, because there were bound to be a few Amy's in the crowd. Instead, what I did was pogo jump up and down, looking to see if I could see a familiar face near the back of the crowd and I did! I saw Jessica Tanner and I jumped and waved a few times until she saw me and smiled and waved back.

The race announcer started there race and we were off in to the HEAT! The course was a 2 mile loop that we would run twice so we got to see the front runners a lot. I still don't understand how anybody can run sub-5, 5,6, 7 or even 8-minute miles in general and then to run them in that heat!! That is just freaking amazing to me! Knowing that my body doesn't handle heat well, I was just planning to take it easy and have fun. Even so I had to take my first walk break at 5 minutes in and was a little frustrated. I could not believe it but I tried not to let it bug me too much since I knew there would be no PRs in the heat. I just focused on having as much fun as possible.

Eventually Jessica and her friend Chaaron caught up with Monica and I and we learned that Amy Fabella was already ahead of us. I joked with Jessica that not every race I pick has crappy weather (I promise!) and we continued to leap frog back and forth for most of the race. I ran with Monica for a little while and then ran briefly with Christine D and her friend. who has been a CANCER to 5K pace leader for our FALL program. It was great to see them but my pace was lagging so I only ran with them for a little bit before I needed another walk break. Monica ran on up ahead for a while and I spent my time running and alternately walking when I need to, cheering on the front runners, playfully admonishing Monica for doubling back IN THE HEAT to check on me halfway through our second loop (I sent her on her way and said "Meet you at the finish!) and cheering on Amy when I finally saw her ahead of me mid-way through the second loop. Eventually Jessica, Chaaron and I stopped leap frogging and found ourselves running and alternately walking the last half mile of the race together. I again apologized for the weather (which I know I can't control but I am an apologizer by nature) and we stuck together to the finish line.

My run was somewhere around 52 minutes and the Garmin showed that the first mile was 11:30 and every mile after that was a full minute longer. (12:30, 13:30, 14:45) I did something new for this race and I brought my water-bottle and filled it with 1.5 NUUN tablets. NUUN is an electrolyte replacement supplement that I thought might help me in the heat (and it did) BUT I had no idea that the water in my water-bottle would now be carbonated as well as endurolytes! LOL The first time I open my water-bottle it was like popping a cork on champagne! There was NUUN water everywhere! After I got used to the fizz and the taste, the NUUN did a great job of keeping me steady at a hot race so I'll definitely try to start incorporating it into my training routine but the spray of water was definitely a surprise!

After crossing the finish line, I met back up with Monica and we found Amy and Ben. Amy was the first of our group across the finish line (they listed her as Amy Franklin, though....) and she worked hard for that finish, needing a little recovery time from the effects of the heat. It turned out that Michael (Jessica's Fiancee) did the 1 mile fun-run in about 9 minutes. I guess he can't tease Jessica about racing and PRs so much any more ...hehehe. (Another one potentially hooked, my friends!) The post-race was great and we just barely missed a tremendous thunderstorm as the wind picked up, blowing tents around and ending the after party earlier than anybody hoped.

Oh but you can bet I got my FREE glass of BEER, post race! It was HEAVEN!! Worth every sweaty mile!

RR: "IN HONOR" - Run for the Rainforest 5K

June 21, 2008
Run for the Rainforest 5K - Arlington, VA
TIME: 37:02

On Saturday June 21st, after 2 failed attempts due to extreme thunder and lightening storms, I ran the Run for the Rainforest 5K. The goal of this 5K was simply to run each mile "IN HONOR" of the two CT5K runners from our Spring program, Jessica Datta (whom I will refer to as Jessy) and Cindy Clark who were unable to complete the program due to injuries they sustained and for my close Cyclist Combating Cancer teammate Cindi Hart, who is currently undergoing a second round of Chemotherapy for a Breast Cancer reoccurrence.

The back of my running shirt...

Joining me on my run, were Jessica Tanner, fellow CANCER to 5K teammate and her friend Chaaron. Waiting for us at the finish line were fellow CT5K teammates Ben Fabella, Arnetta Davis as well as Michael (Jessica's fiancée) and Chaaron's boyfriend. The race followed parts of the Bluemont Trail, W&OD Trail and Custis Trail and wound us through very familiar neighborhoods that Team CANCER to 5K had trained on all spring. It couldn't have been a more appropriate place to race. We waited with Ben, Arnetta and a pretty large group of about 300 runners for the official start of the race while a DJ played classics like "Eye of the Tiger" to get us pumped up and motivated. With a simple shout of GO, the race director started the race (we never did know where the actual start line was) and off we went along with the pack.

Mile 1, I dedicated to Jessy Datta as I ran with Jessica and Chaaron. The course led us along Bluemont Park in a rolling downhill and Chaaron joked about how she was going for her _slowest 5K ever_ while she recovered from her first 10k the weekend before as we merrily ran along in the midst of a pretty full pack of runners. Jessica and I chatted about the day, talked about her Survivor Harbor race and talked about Jessy and how she was doing. I talked about Jessy's seemingly unshakeable "SPIRIT" and how it seemed that regardless of the obstacles that life keeps throwing in Jessy's path - she just keeps finding a way to move forward. We both agreed that Jessy is an amazing women and a good example of how CANCER can bring out a tremendous strength in you. It is no surprise to me that as we ran this first mile for Jessy, we rolled along solidly and with strength.

Mile 2 was for Cindy Clark, another CANCER to 5K teammate who had some knee issues that kept her from the last 2 weeks of training and race day. About mid-way through Mile 2, as I joked to Jessica and Chaaron that they were way off the mark for running the _slowest 5k ever_ , the pace really caught up with me and I had to take a walk break. Jessica and Chaaron went on ahead and I had to laugh with irony as I realized less than 30 seconds later I hit the race water-stop. I thought of Cindy in that moment and imagined what she might say, at a time like this. My guess was that she would say _Well I told them exactly where I wanted my water-stop and here it is!_ So I took the water gladly and then got back to the business of running.

Those of you who have not had the pleasure of running with Cindy, have no idea just how funny and sharp her comments can be so it was no surprise to me that, as Mile 2 turned onto the Custis Trail, I had another _Cindy Clark would say that_ moment. There was a volunteer at the right turn, leading us onto the new trail. As we made the turn I said "Thank You" to the volunteer. She looked me dead in the eye and said, "You might not be thanking me in a few minutes..." I laughed OUT LOUD because I was familiar with this section of the trail and I knew that we had some steep hills ahead and so I said to her "Well I do know what is coming ahead and I am still saying Thanks!" and it was the volunteer's turn to smile. There is no doubt that had Cindy been working that corner, she would have found a way to warn us about the hills and make us smile anyways.

As the runners around me and I tackled the short steep climb that led in to the start of Mile 3 things got very quiet on the race course. Now was the time to settle in and focus and Mile 3 was my time to run "IN HONOR" of my close friend and CCC teammate Cindi Hart. Cindi is an amazing friend, mother, athlete and inspiration in my life. I had the pleasure of meeting her in person for the first time when she was in DC meeting Eunice Shriver as part of her work as a Coach for the US National Special Olympics cycling team. We had dinner and she shared her amazing story of meeting Eunice in person and listened and cried with me as we spoke of the unexpected things that CANCER had taken and brought into our lives. Cindi was also my roommate for the LiveSTRONG Summit in Fall 2005 and Cindi was the first person that I ever shared my little "CANCER to 5K running program" idea with. She was the first person to encourage me to go ahead and make it happen.

The 3 Amigas at the LiveSTRONG Summit 2006...
(KeliAnn, Holly & Cindi)

Cindi is a true cancer WARRIOR and as I ran along, struggling with the hills, I thought about Cindi's recent reoccurrence and about her emails to the CCC team, telling us the news. Cindi took the news of reoccurrence and went straight into FIGHT mode - no time for sorrow, no time for anger, just time to FOCUS and PUSH HARD and start treatment to fight this latest reoccurrence. The same STRENGTH and ENDURANCE that Cindi puts in her coaching and her personal athletic achievements (she is record holding Track Cyclist and Speed Skater) is what she puts into her latest FIGHT with breast cancer.

Cindi, multi-tasking during chemo treatment
(May 2008)

And so it was, as I climbed the small rises and took advantage of the down-hills, that I did my best to race as I would imagine Cindi would want me to. I pushed to climb each crest knowing that I could use the downhill running to recover from my latest effort and get ready for the next climb. As we neared the finish, I passed a fellow runner who was struggling and worrying out-loud to his fellow runner that there were more hills head. I turned to him as I passed him on his left and said "Do you see that corner just ahead? That is our last turn and it is all down hill from there to the finish line. We can do this! You are almost done!" He thanked me for the encouragement as I passed him and I smiled, knowing that Cindi would have done the same thing.

Coming down to the last right hand turn, knowing it was downhill all the way to the finish, I put on my biggest smile and just bounded down the hill around the corner and to the finish. COWBELLS were awaiting my finish, thanks to Arnetta - along with the cheers from Jessica, Chaaron, Michael, and Ben F. It was a fine race and a good day and having Jessy, Cindy C. and Cindi Hart with me all the way made it effortless.

Coming into the finish line!

Thank you ladies, for your friendship, for your inspiration and for letting me run "IN HONOR AND SUPPORT" of you!

Remember Life is Good! LiveSTRONG!