Sunday, August 16, 2015

Highlights from Luray International Triathlon

Yes, it's true... I have completed my first true triathlon, with swim!!

The Luray International (Olympic distance) Triathlon was yesterday morning. I'll write a more in depth post later, but wanted to jot down a few highlights while they're fresh in my mind.

1. A few of us camped by the lake the night before the race. There are advantages and disadvantages to camping...

On the plus side, we didn't have to get up until 6am, because transition was actually only a couple hundred feet from our tent. We got to watch the sun go down over the lake...

Lake Arrowhead, Luray Int'l Triathlon
On the down side, sleeping on the ground can sometimes leave you with a stiff back, no matter how cushy your thermarest might feel when you first stretch out on it. Also, the cows just wouldn't shut up.

2. Doing scary things is always better with friends. I was far less well prepared for this triathlon than I was for Philadelphia 6 weeks ago. Primarily in the swimming department. Also, I had had the barfs for two days earlier in the week and was perhaps not yet fully recovered. So, I was pretty nervous. Even though this was not officially a Team in Training event, we had a great team turn out, including Coach Nancy and her assistance dog in training, Kirby... who has been our unofficial mascot all season.



3. The swim was really hard. Starting with knee high weeds as we waded out into the lake to line up for our wave start. I was ready to turn around right then and there and call my race over. Thankfully, I had a teammate in my wave, and she just kept talking to me, so I stayed. I got run over several times by other swimmers. I drank a lot of the lake, and started to panic... so, I rolled onto my back and just kicked for a while, until I regained my composure. Not quite the last person out of the lake, but not too many people behind me.

4. We didn't really train for getting out of the pool and starting to ride. Took the first 5 miles or so to stop feeling nauseous and start feeling like my legs where doing what I wanted them to do.

5. I remembered not drinking enough on the bike in Philly.... and how rough my run was because of that. So I drank every drop I had on the bike, plus more in transition. It's hilly in Luray, and not a lot of shade.... Could have happily been done when the ride was complete!

6. Having run so many marathons, I KNOW that I can run even when I'm exhausted. It may not be fast, it may not be pretty... but I can do it. So, even though I was very tired... I went into the run feeling confident that I was going to complete the event. Unlike 3 hours earlier when I started the swim...

7. I am a bona fide triathlete!! I've got no medal to prove it (because they ran out of medals), but I've got a tiny bright yellow Luray International Triathlon towel that says I did.... And more importantly, I have the inner knowledge and satisfaction of setting a goal and completing it.



I don't know yet if I will ever be motivated enough to do another season of triathlon training (my dogs felt neglected, my gardens over grown, my house a mess, and I never saw my husband)... but I can honestly say "I did it!!!"

Friday, July 17, 2015

reading the signs

Ugh... training for first triathlon, split my elbow open 4 weeks before race day and needed stitches... put a kink in my swim training plans. Did my first 1 mile open water swim just one week before race day. Wasn't sure that was ever going to happen!

Now, training for second triathlon (since we didn't get to do the swim portion in Philly)... Race day is in 4 weeks... and as of yesterday morning, I have stitches in my foot and have been told no swimming for 2 weeks.

Also supposed to be doing V02 max testing tomorrow, but I'm not sure I'll be able to get my running shoe on.

Is this a sign?!! Did I just not pay enough attention the first time around, so here comes sign post #2?

Well, I'm not convinced that I believe in signs.

I'm going to do it anyway. I'll just be under-prepared. As usual...

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

distraction

so, apparently... one doesn't "chat" with the other swimmers when taking part in an open water (lake) swim.

hanging out on the beach before the swim, sure!

hanging out in the lake after the swim, why not?

but people find it distracting when you're swimming along and trying to hold a conversation at the same time.... (sorry Melody!)

what can i say? i was doing my recovery stroke (face out of water, perfect opportunity to talk!)

truth be told, i think it helped to distract me too... i stopped thinking about being anxious, too busy with intermittent talking... and that made the return portion of 3/4 mile swim (freestyle and side stroke both) so much better!  (for me)



when i think more about it, if i can distract myself with conversation with friends, i can do most things for a lot longer (and with more enjoyment) than i can on my own.

20 mile run in the freezing February rain, solo... brutal.
20 mile run in the freezing rain, with friends... not so bad.

cycling hill repeats in May heat and humidity, solo... 1 lap
cycling hill repeats, with friends to commiserate about the heat and humidity... 3 laps

swimming in the lake solo... i'm freaking out so i think this is far enough for today!
swimming in the lake with friends... i'll distract my freaking self by talking to you and just keep swimming!


you want to do what now? okay, i've never done that before, and i don't know if i can do it, but i'll try to keep up with you as long as you'll let me natter... (that's my motto).



how do you feel about chatty activity partners? do you appreciate the distraction, or find it... well, distracting? or are you the chatty one?

super stem cells

Good news!

As you may recall, my friend Jeff has been going through a stem cell transplant process...  He was in hospital to extract stem cells from his own blood... then a series of chemotherapy to knock out his immune system... followed by a transfusion of his previously harvested stem cells, and a period of waiting for the stem cells to start working their magic.

Once Jeff's white blood cell count started to climb, he was permitted to leave the hospital to stay in a hotel, checking in daily to make sure he was meeting all the recovery benchmarks as planned. He's been out for about a week, and doing great!

out for a morning walk...


 
"Things are going very well, last 2 days in the clinic have been fluids only, all my labs are either in the normal range or above the minimums for replacement. My WBC are actually higher then the day I checked in to the hospital! Super stem cells indeed!!"



Saturday, July 4, 2015

one week on

so, race day was last week... and, it came as no surprise that things did not go quite as we might have hoped.

we had had so much rain that the Schuylkill River was high and fast and full of debris, so the swim portion of our Triathlon was cancelled for safety reasons.

my tri-experienced teammates referred to our event as a Dri-athlon... but that was not an entirely accurate description either.

race morning we arrived to set up in transition around 5:15... it had rained all night, and the field was deep in mud and several people had to set up their gear on plastic bags sitting IN puddles. and it kept on raining...

if one were to look for a silver lining in not being able to complete the entire race, it's that we were able to watch the elite athletes start and finish their races... they were interviewing the race winners before my wave even set foot on the course.

nonetheless, it was a fun ride and a hot run and i'm glad i did it.

but, i still feel the need to do another in order to be able to say i've truly completed a triathlon.




i'd like to extend one final word of thanks to everyone who supported my fundraising efforts for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society... you put me well above my fundraising goal, and i'm so very grateful for your support.

Friday, June 26, 2015

check lists



There sure is a lot to think about when traveling for a triathlon…

When I’m packing to run a marathon, normally my check list looks something like this:
Regular clothes for however many days, spare contact lenses, glasses, toiletries, running shoes, running tights, sports bra, socks, t-shirt, KT tape, BodyGlide, a water bottle, a few packets of chews, gu’s and/or waffles, sunscreen, hat, The Stick, phone charger…  and I’m good to go!

Packing for this weekend’s triathlon, I’m taking all of those things….
Plus a bike, bike shoes, helmet, bike tools and spare tubes, C02 inflator and cartridges, pump, bike lock, a few more water bottles, chamois cream, a wetsuit, tri-suit, goggles, spare goggles, swim cap, towel, wet wipes, sandals, race belt, transition bag and…  ?? 

Have I forgotten anything?

Darn it, I’m sure I’ve forgotten something.

Monday, June 22, 2015

taper time (freak out!)

This will be me.... all week.



Tread softly...

Sunday, June 21, 2015

thoughts about swimming and my dad

This morning I drove out to meet a couple of friends to try my hand at the 1 mile open water swim at Lake Holiday. The OWS that all my teammates completed a few weeks ago...

I had not had the opportunity to try swimming in a wetsuit, as until recently, I could not get the sleeve up my arm without tearing open the stitches in my elbow. So this was my first open water mile, and my first swim in a wetsuit. It was windy and the lake was a little choppy... so, lots of challenges.

I learned that although the wetsuit makes you more buoyant, it also changes the angle at which your head enters the water. And, it made it very difficult for me to swim freestyle. The sleeves are very constrictive.

When I had my fall, I not only opened my elbow... somehow I managed to displace my scapula, which has impacted the movement of my left arm.

Mid-way through the swim, I had to remove the wetsuit as it was unbearably uncomfortable. Although the stitches are out and the wound has healed, there are points around the elbow which are still very tender to the touch, and the constant squeeze of the wetsuit was hitting all of those points.

The rest of the swim was slow and steady. My friends finished the mile a good 20 minutes ahead of me... but I did it.


When I called my dad this evening, to wish him a happy Father's Day, he asked me how my training is going... and reminded me how far I've come since he came to visit in April.

Dad and I went to the pool together one evening while he was here. And he gave me several pointers that have really helped me out. Notably to slow down. He used to swim competitively when he was a teenager, long distance lake swimming, where slow and steady is the way to go...

A couple years ago my dad started having seizures, which wound up being a symptom of an enormous brain tumor. One that had evidently been growing for years. It caused his skull to bulge until it could bulge no further outward, and was now putting pressure inward, pressing on the main artery (which was causing the seizures).

Fortunately, the tumor was benign. Unfortunately, the trauma of the surgery resulted in impaired motor function on the left side of his body. So he has not been able to be active. But in the pool, swimming for the first time in a couple years, he was liberated... It wasn't smooth, it wasn't pretty, but he did it... And it made him feel good. You could see it written all over his face. It made him feel mobile. It made him feel in control of his body. It made him feel like himself.

And I was so inspired and motivate by that. By him.

Today, when I was swimming in the lake... it wasn't smooth. It wasn't pretty. But I did it. And although it wasn't liberating for me, it made me feel capable.

That is not to say that I'm not nervous or anxious... but I am capable.

One week from today, I WILL complete the Philadelphia TriRock Olympic Triathlon.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

triathlon training interrupted due to accident

so, i've had a week off training because i had an accident last Monday. how's that for timing? after being so elated from my Sunday night swim, i was feeling invigorated and enthusiastic and raring to go with the next few weeks of training.

no, i did not get hit by a car, or fall off my bike. i did not trip over a root on the trail, or have a close encounter with a snake in the lake (yeah, freaked me out when i learned there are snakes hanging out in the lake)....

i injured myself whilst out walking.

yes, you read that correctly.

my triathlon training has been temporarily derailed because i fell over one of my dogs and split my elbow open... received a tetanus shot, some stitches and doctor's orders to stay out of the water for a week, and out of the lake until after the stitches come out (4 more days!)

we had a mini practice tri on Saturday in Leesburg, and that was the first time i'd done anything other than fall over in a week. all things considered, it went pretty well!

the arm is still black and blue and sore... and there is some limitation on range of motion, but i still managed the 500 metre swim (in the pool).

then a 10 mile ride and a 2.5 mile run and it was great!


Sunday morning we had an open water swim scheduled, but as the doctor (and my coaches) strongly discourage me swimming in the lake with an open wound... I just took pictures of my teammates and their remarkable efforts.

I'm really sad that I was not able to participate, but I will try my hand at it next weekend, as long as the doc that removes my stitches gives me the go-ahead.

2015 summer Tri Team In Training participants doing open water swim

Our race is less than 3 weeks away... starting to get excited!

I'm still about $250 shy of my fundraising commitment, and $650 shy of my fundraising goal. so if you're feeling flush and want to make a donation... please follow the link to my fundraising website (located in the upper right corner of the page).

Thanks in advance!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

racing toward that cancer free finish line

My friend Jeff, who I've mentioned in previous blog posts, is currently getting the last of his ducks in a row before starting the process of getting a stem cell transplant. He will be writing about the experience as it progresses... So, if you're interested in reading, you can do so right here

http://jefftransplantjourney.blogspot.com/ 



My teammates and I are all rooting for you, Jeff!! When we're digging deep on race day, looking for the strength and energy to keep moving toward the finish line, we'll be thinking of you and taking inspiration from your strength and determination to reach your own return-to-good-health, cancer free "finish line"!!





This season alone we have raised over $100,000 to sustain the work of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society... to fund life saving research, and to maintain patient support programs.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

tonight i swam a mile

Last season, when I was marathon training, I updated this blog almost every day. It's not difficult for me to write about running, or to write about the people in whose honour or memory I continue to train with TNT...

But this season, it's been incredibly hard. Let me tell you why...

Until today, I didn't actually have the confidence in my ability to swim the course. I was afraid that I was going to have to admit I couldn't do it. I was afraid that I was not going to be able to actually complete the swim, that I would not be able to complete the race...

That fear has tempered my excitement and enjoyment of training this season. And it has made me not want to write.... I didn't want every post to give voice to my fear of drowning, my fear of failure... And so, I've hardly written at all.

I took swim lessons at the local pool, but once the lessons ended, I found it incredibly difficult to get myself to the pool to swim lengths on my own. I had such anxiety about the team practices that I made myself sick. I had panic attacks in the pool where I would get the shakes and hyperventilate so badly that I could hardly breathe. One night I threw up. There have often been tears in the car on the drive home.

Things got a little better when I started swimming in the lake near my house. It's peaceful there. There is no side of the pool to cling to, and so it is easier to just keep moving. But still, team swim practices with so many other swimmers (no matter how sympathetic or supportive) have continued to be enormously stressful.

This past week has been a rough week for me. My autoimmune condition has flared, and so I've been struggling with overwhelming fatigue and painful joints. I took three days off training, but then was stressing about missing the practices. Stress is like gasoline to the fire for many people with autoimmune conditions. So I've been battling with my need to rest and relax and give my body time to heal, and with my fear of falling behind on training, and of not being able to achieve this goal.

Saturday morning we had a 2 hour ride and 15 minute run on a very hilly course, and a hot and humid day. It was a struggle. I was not able to go as far as I had gone the week before, in a shorter period of time. And so, it's no surprise that I anticipated this evening's swim workout was not going to go terrifically well. Frankly, I was dreading it...

This evening's team swim practice was a five minute warm up... and then 64 lengths of the pool. One mile, non-stop, swimming until you got it done no matter how long it took.

I got into the pool already struggling to control my anxiety. The lane lines had been removed, and the water was getting choppy from all my teammates warming up. By the end of the first 3 lengths of the pool, I was breathless and starting to panic... so I slowed everything down. I did a lap in my recovery stroke and caught my breath. And just kept going. And going. And going.

Until I had completed 54 lengths of the pool and started to believe that I actually might be able to do it.

I kept swimming, concentrating on counting down the lengths... until I reached 64. Then I stopped at the wall and burst into tears.

Tears of relief. Tears of happiness.

As of today, I finally have the confidence that I will be able to do this. Not only am I capable of swimming the distance, but I was able to do it in 41 minutes, 40 seconds. Well below the cut-off time.

In 4 weeks time, I will complete my first triathlon. I finally believe that is possible.


I am so enormously grateful for the support and guidance of the awesome Team In Training coaches. I would never have got to this point without them.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Wine?

  • Do you like drinking wine? 
  • Are you free on Saturday night? 
  • Would you like the chance to take a whole lot of wine home with you on Saturday night??
We're having a party/fundraiser and you're invited! Bring a $20 donation for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and a bottle of wine to add to the draw prize.

We'll provide drinks, snacks, pool table, stellar conversation, etc...

At 10pm, we'll draw a name and the winner will take home all of the wine.

ARE YOU IN???


If you are not able to attend, but would still like to make a donation... you can do so here:

http://pages.teamintraining.org/nca/philtri15/mtataje

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

open water swimming - it's not as scary as i thought

I faced my fears last night and did my first open water swim practice on the lake near my house... as you can see, we have heavy pollen at the moment, but it was a beautiful warm evening and very quiet out on the lake. Started the swim feeling scared but determined, and finished feeling elated... can't wait to do it again!
Lake Jackson - May 12 (no wetsuit required, thankfully!)

Friday, April 17, 2015

Committed

com·mit·ted
kəˈmidəd/
adjective
feeling dedication and loyalty to a cause, activity, or job; wholeheartedly dedicated.
 
 

It's official... I've recommitted, there's no turning back now. In ten weeks time, I will be completing my (first) Triathlon.

Still a little scared, particularly where the swimming is concerned. But, in the weeks since I last posted an update, I have gained some technique and endurance in the pool. It's not pretty, but I'm getting there. And, I've survived a few 14 mile bike rides, followed immediately by short runs (transition training), which are harder than you might imagine. The legs just don't work the way they normally do.

Now that I'm committed to the event, I've got to get recommitted to the fundraising.


Here I go...

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

an evening of discoveries

One might say that I had an eventful evening yesterday...

Got home from work a little later than usual. Found that the postman had left us a couple boxes on the front steps. Running goodies from Left Lane Sports (new Smartwool socks! gotta have woolies for winter running this year). And a box full of 1oz packets of maple syrup from Slopeside Syrup (who needs synthetic goo when you can have all natural and delicious tree juice?!)

Found a dead raccoon by the shed while replenishing the bird feeders. Poor little guy... I knew he was around. He's been getting into the bird seed, and the compost. And while I didn't want to have him hanging about the place, driving the dogs to distraction... I certainly wished him no harm. So, had a little moment of horror, nausea and sadness, and then had to dispose of his body.

Took Remsen for a high speed 1.5 mile hike/ jog/ fall all over the place on the ice...When walking on ice, it can be hard enough to stay upright on the ice on one's own, but with an 80 pound dog (with a low centre of gravity and high level of torque) pulling enthusiastically... it can be quite the adventure!

Maya and Lando were much more sedate... happy to be out walking and socializing.

Had a quick bite to eat, and then headed once again to the pool. Swimming lessons (not coached by TNT, but by an instructor at my local pool) started last night. Even though I can tell that I am improving weekly, I thought that some additional instruction on the nights that I'm scheduled to swim on my own anyway couldn't hurt.

Let's just say, the first lesson was a bit of a disappointment. I was expecting structure and instruction... but didn't really get it.

What was NOT disappointing, however, was the maple syrup. Ran for 30 minutes on the treadmill and then had a shot before hitting the pool. It was delicious. And kept my energy levels up for the full hour of swimming.  Huzzah!!



Monday, February 23, 2015

she made it look like dancing

so, I went to the gym to ride the bike this evening... but there was a Zumba class just starting right next door, and it looked like fun.

man, am I white!

and 40-something!

those moves just aren't in my repertoire...

I tell you what though... when I wasn't flailing about, facing the opposite direction from everybody else, and laughing at my own attempts at booty shaking... the instructor had us do a LOT of squats and ab work, and made it look like dancing.

After an hour of that, I got on the bike.... felt good. Felt stable. Felt familiar.... but, kind of boring.

So, I'll Zumba again next week... why not? If I can learn to swim, I can learn to Zumba... there's no drowning in Zumba.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Welcome to the Hive

As anyone who has ever run with me knows... I love Honey Stinger chews. A lot. Especially the Cherry Blossom and Orange Blossom ones.

the "fuel" shelf in my pantry


It took me a long time to find an energy product that didn't either make me gag (due to taste or consistency) or upset my stomach. I like honey. I like to eat natural products with ingredients I can pronounce. I like to eat organic whenever I am able. But most of all I actually enjoy the taste and texture of Honey Stinger chews.

So, when I saw that Honey Stinger had put out a call for athletes seeking sponsorship for 2015, I thought I'd give it a shot. I may not be a high level athlete... but I've been getting myself out there quite a bit in recent years, and show no sign of stopping any time soon... why shouldn't I try for sponsorship?!!!

A few hours later, this arrives in my inbox...


Woo! My Honey Stinger addiction is now being subsidized. How about that??

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

at last, snow!

these deer were out on our road during our drive to work this morning, eating salt...

I am an unabashed lover of winter... but, real winter... with snow. None of this grey and chilly for 3 months nonsense. Give me mountains of snow!!

This morning when I let the dogs out at 5:17, I braced myself for the cold... but the winds of the last few days have finally dropped. There are about six lovely, soft and hushed inches of snow covering everything I could see, and my heart started singing!

Maya and Remy had a good old race and romp about the back yard... kicking up clouds of snow. And I broke out the shovel and cleared the deck, in my slippers and bathrobe.

There are lots of closures this morning, and the roads were not great. But, I tell you what... if the pool is closed this evening and I miss swim practice... Remy and I are going for a long and snowy run tonight. And that won't make me sad at all.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

reason #1 that i run and fundraise to find a cure for cancer

You may recall that a few weeks back, I wrote about the 26 reasons I continue to run with Team In Training, and fundraise to help find a cure for cancer.

Reason #1 was my mom... in part because I ran my first half marathon with her, in part because she continues to be my greatest supporter/cheerleader in all my running endeavors... and in part because she was diagnosed with Ocular Melanoma in  2013 (that is, cancer of the eye).

She had a series of surgeries to remove the cancer and then reconstruct the eye in 2013 and 2014. Last week she had to go back under the knife (which she could see with the eye they were operating on, while they were operating on it! just imagining that makes me feel a little nauseated...) to remove several more discolored areas on the eye ball that were causing concern, and a dark growth on one eyelid.  We are still waiting on the biopsy results...

I spoke with my mom this morning and she's in good spirits. A week after the surgery she says that she's no longer in pain... it just feels like someone threw a handful of sand and bees into her eye.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

care package!

ti-training care package compliments of Crank Bike Shoppe, in Brockville Ontario

I received my first ever triathlon training care package in the mail today. Huzzah! First, I love getting mail! Second, did you see the socks?!! This was from an old friend, who I've not seen since the late 1990s... what a treat to hear from him.

If you're ever in Brockville, go check out his shop (or shoppe!) and say hi to Scott for me.

Monday, February 9, 2015

triathlon training schedule for this week

I may have mentioned last week that I was feeling a little overwhelmed...

After last night's swim practice, I'm feeling a little better. I think it's just a matter of finding a routine, and I can do that. (i think i can, i think i can...)

For those of you who (like me 9 days ago) are not familiar with what the early days of training for an Olympic distance triathlon looks like, here is my schedule for this week:

Monday:
  • 30 minutes cycling
  • 20 minutes strength training
Tuesday:
  • 25 minutes running
  • 30 minutes swimming   
Wednesday:
  • 35 minute cycling
  • 20 minutes strength training
Thursday:
  • 30 minutes running
  • 60 minutes swimming
Friday:
  • REST DAY!
Saturday:
  • 40 minutes running
Sunday:
  • 30 minutes running
  • 60 minutes swimming

Exciting, no?

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Snuggie Bar Crawl & Scavenger Hunt - Success!

Well, what a hoot this evening turned out to be... 4 bars, approximately 50 people dressed in snuggies, looking for clues and collecting donations for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society... everyone had a laugh, most people had a few beverages... and we raised over $1100 for LLS.

I call that a complete success!


let us pause for a moment of celebration!

Last night, thanks to the very generous donation of my friend Melody, I reached a milestone goal... I have now raised over $15,000 for LLS (since I started fundraising for the 2009 Shamrock Marathon).

So I'd like to take a moment to celebrate the generosity of my friends and family. You made this possible!

And I am so grateful for your support.

New milestone goal... $20,000! Who's with me??


Friday, February 6, 2015

sweet treat for your sweetheart?

Looking for a little sweet treat for your Valentine? How about breakfast in bed with some homemade jam (or marmalade)??


Ask me about available flavours and sizes... yours for a donation to my fundraising!!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Update on Reason #4 that I train with TNT

You may recall a few weeks back that I wrote about Reason #4 (out of 26) that I was training to run a marathon...

Well, Brandon will be starting radiation therapy today.

I am dedicating each and every one of my up-coming panic attacks, near drownings, and celebrations of finally making it to the other side of the pool tonight to him.

If I am being completely honest with you here (and I do try to be), I have been asking myself all week WTF I was thinking in signing up to train for a triathlon with Team In Training. I truly did not comprehend the profound change in lifestyle that this was going to entail. But in my many moments of apprehension and doubt... I keep reminding myself that this is about so much more than me. Am I doing this because I want to challenge myself? Yes. Am I doing it to prove to myself that I can? Yes... Am I afraid that I might fail? Yes!!  But more importantly, I am training for a triathlon with Team In Training because I believe in the mission of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Brandon is a two time survivor. He is starting treatment today for a third time... and he is going to be a three time survivor because progress in treatment options and efficacy is being made. And it is being made possible in no small part because of research grants funded by LLS. Which means funded by you and I and everyone else who makes a donation to LLS.

If you've got a moment... please think of Brandon today, send him some healing energy or positive vibes, say a prayer for him, etc.

And if you've got a few dollars to spare, please make a donation to LLS (by clicking on the link to my fundraising page)... so that we can continue to provide the Brandons of the world more options, better treatment, and continued support in their struggles to survive, get well and thrive in their lives after cancer.

thanks in advance...

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

let me dazzle you with my amazing sense of style

I am a big proponent of wool socks... Canadian winters make them a necessity, and I still love them even though it never really gets that cold here in Virginia.

So, today I was wearing wool socks in my dress shoes. Not that anyone would know because my dress shoes are not Birkenstocks, and because my trousers are modest enough to cover my ankles.

When I got home from work this evening I did the usual scramble to tend to all the animal needs (food, water, exercise, shelter, etc)... make a quick dinner, and throw my gym gear into a bag before heading to the gym for our scheduled training ride.

When I got to the gym and opened my bag, I realized I had left my gym shoes by the front door.

What else could I do? I just got on the bike and dazzled them all with my gym fashion... cycling shorts, blue and green wool socks, and dress shoes.

"pictures, or it never happened!" the Facebook crowd said... and so, here it is:



unexpected results of triathlon training

Is it just me, or does anyone else wake up at 3 in the morning because they're so hungry?

I don't normally wake up for anything other than the alarm (or the sound of any of my dogs scratching to go out)... but twice this week I've had to force myself to go back to sleep after waking up hungry. I think it's the evening swimming... I have been snacking a little after evening workouts, but I don't want to eat a lot right before bed.

My schedule is all out of whack!

The problem is, I don't normally work out in the evenings when I am marathon training... and when I do, I typically run with one or more of the dogs. Effectively killing two birds with one stone, so to speak. I also used to have only two dogs, so running with one, and having a cool down walk with the other meant all three of us got the exercise we needed. And, when marathon training, I was running at best two evenings mid week, and two weekend mornings. That left plenty of evenings at home to maintain my home, etc.

Now, with three dogs to walk (two of whom don't like each other much, and anyway 200 pounds worth of dog is too much for me to handle at one time)... and with swimming or biking AND running in the evenings, I now find my entire evening is consumed with exercising either myself or my beasts!

I know lots of my teammates are scheduling their workouts in the mornings... I've thought about that. But, I already struggle to get up at 5:20 every day for work. Can't imagine getting up at 4:30 to workout... The gym and pool aren't even open at that time.

What do you think? Is it just a matter of giving it some time to get into a routine? Or do all triathletes find their training impinges upon the rest of their other daily activities?


Am I whinging a lot these last few days? I feel like I'm whinging... It's not that I'm not excited to be trying something new. I WILL rise to this challenge. It's just that it's very immediately more of a challenge than I had mentally prepared myself for.

I am up for the challenge. I am up for the challenge. I am up for the challenge. I am up......


UPDATE:  Thanks to Anonymous for the generous donation this afternoon!! Thank you for getting us one step closer to finding a cure for blood cancers.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

sad face after swim practice number two

you know that feeling when you decide to try something new... but that means you don't have as much time to do the things you used to do... and you're competent at the things you used to do but you really suck at the new things you're trying to do... and you kind of wish you could just go back to being happy doing the things you used to do?

that's how i'm feeling.

i'm so useless in the pool :(

obstacles to training as scheduled

I borrowed a trainer for my bike from a friend last weekend, and thought I had solved my "bike training in winter" problems.

Last night's workout was supposed to be 25 minutes of riding. So, I put on my bike shorts, set up the trainer and then tried to affix my bike to it... and, it won't work with my bike. At least, not without purchasing an adapter for my bike such that it will work in this particular trainer.

SIGH!!!

Three days into training and I've already missed a workout. Tomorrow's ride will have to take place at the gym, which I am fortunate enough to be able to go to, but which is certainly not as convenient (or as appealing) as riding in my living room.

This weekend, I will track down the necessary adapter. I am already feeling a little overwhelmed by the actuality of 6 days a week training, and at least 3 evenings a week away from home (at the pool).  So, removing any excuses or other impediments to doing my training is my best plan of attack.

When marathon training, I know that if I do all the scheduled weekly training, I will finish strong and probably have a good race time. But I also know I can get through the marathon without doing ALL of the training. Which, let's face it, is what happened last season with RNR NOLA training.

I can't do that now. I'm not a strong cyclist, and I'm a terrible swimmer... and the only way to change that is to do ALL of the training.

And so... I shall endeavor to do all of the training. Starting tonight with my first "on my own" swim practice (which I'm kind of dreading).

**claps hands, throws them in the air and shouts "YES!!"**




Monday, February 2, 2015

got the evening workout blues

There is something that I was not worried about regarding team swim practices, that I'm now a little concerned about... no, it's not the humiliation of being in a bathing suit in public, and it's not that my skin will be painfully dry and itchy from the chlorine, and it's not that I forgot to bring flip flops for the pool and am now convinced I'll have picked up foot fungus or something equally icky (though truth be told, all of those things have gone through my mind in the last 10 hours).

No, my new concern is the late hour.

Our team practice is Sunday night from 8:30 - 9:30. By the time we got out of the pool and got dressed and out the door, it was 9:45 and then I had an hour drive home. I don't know about you, but after vigorous exercise, it takes me a while to slow down enough to be ready to sleep. Driving on the 66 in snow and freezing rain to get home didn't help matters. By the time I made it home, chatted with my sweetheart who wanted to hear all about my new adventure, loved up the dogs a little, threw my sweaty running gear from the morning and my swim gear from the evening into the washing machine, had a shower to wash off the chlorine, and made myself some "let me help you get to sleep" tea it was 11:30. Even then, I couldn't get to sleep right away... and when the alarm went off at 5:20 this morning, it was a real struggle to get out of bed (and not just because my arms hurt!!).

Anyone have suggestions for how to get to sleep quickly after a late evening work out?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

swim practice... here's hoping i don't drown, or take anyone else down with me!

Here's the thing about me and swimming. The nearest swimming pool to where I grew up was 100 kms away. I grew up "swimming" in ponds and creeks and lakes... full of fishes and leaches and weeds and tadpoles. This swimming involved a lot of wading and splashing around, it involved some floating, and a reasonable amount of head-decidedly-above-the-water swimming.

It wasn't until my family moved to the city when I was 16 that I actually learned to swim. I promptly dove into the pool, with poorly fitting goggles, and washed several hundred dollars worth of contact lenses out of my eyes... You might imagine how my mother felt about that. It also made it very difficult to see what the swim instructor was telling us to do. But I persevered. I became an okay swimmer. Comfortable in the water, at least.

I've been an intermittent splasher since then, having never really developed a LOVE for swimming.

Smacking my face on some rocks, getting pinned under a boat and almost drowning (bleeding into a river full of crocodiles, I might add!!) in the mid-90s has done little to inspire and motivate me to get my head back in the water.

Tonight, that changes... tonight I face my fears.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

it's official...

i bought a swim suit for the first time in about 10 years...

i bought goggles.

i have a bike.

and training officially started this week for the TriRock Philadelphia Triathlon.


it's about to get real, people.

in 150 days, i'll be a triathlete. for now though, i'm a try-athlete...



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The race is over, but the search for a cure continues

Greetings all..

Sad but true, race day has come and gone. There was a whole lot of walking (inside the world's longest convention centre... had to walk at least a mile to get from the entrance to the race expo!!), a whole lot of eating (gumbo, jambalaya, po'boys, beignets & chicory coffee, Zapps "crawtator" potato chips, king cake... and the TNT pre-race inspiration pasta dinner, of course)... there was a whole lot of sunshine and wind and gatorade and potholes and cheering for teammates out on the race course. And then there was the stress and worry about whether or not we were going to make it home during the horrendous snow storm.

Two days post race, I'm still feeling a little dehydrated, but am not as stiff and sore as I feared I would be. I don't appear to be at risk of losing any toenails. And I have some shiny new gear to show off!!


Although the race is over, the search to find a cure for blood cancers continues... so, my fundraising site will remain open for a couple more weeks.

And, no sooner has one TNT season ended, but the next one has started already. This time, a triathlon... I'm somewhat terrified.

I'll tell you all about it as I go along. Thanks for being with me on the journey.


Friday, January 23, 2015

6th Annual Snuggie Bar Crawl - Arlington VA Edition

SAVE THE DATE!!  The 6th Annual Snuggie Bar Crawl & Scavenger Hunt is on February 7th, 2015


Grab some friends and form a team for the FIRST EVER Arlington edition of this favorite snuggie bar crawl and scavenger hunt. Have a ton of fun bar crawling in snuggies, win prizes, enjoy drink and food specials, and help save lives. Now in it's 6th year, the McNutts For A Cure Snuggie Bar Crawl And Scavenger Hunt has raised over $7,500 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. $15 at the door w/ your own snuggie, or $30 at the door and you GET YOUR OWN SNUGGIE. 

This only happens once a year... don't miss out!




For more information, and to RSVP, see our Facebook page 




Thursday, January 22, 2015

26 Reasons to Run - Reasons #23 through 26

It's almost marathon day... tonight after work I'll start packing my bag, Saturday morning I'll hop a plane to New Orleans, and Sunday morning I'll start a 26.2 mile tour of the city on foot, with a few thousand friends... With just three days to go, I'd like to wrap up my Reasons to Run a Marathon (and fund-raise to find a cure for cancer) series.



Miles number 23, 24 and 25 I will run in celebration of the many cancer survivors that I have met since joining Team In Training 6 years ago: LLS staff members, TNT participants, team honoured teammates, personal honoured teammates...


I'll be thinking of Jenny, Zach, Al, Carsten, Shannon, David, Trevor, Todd, Catherine, John, Mike, Tony, Dan, Lisa, Chris... and so many more.

Mile number 26... well I run that mile for me. 

I run Mile #26 in celebration of my continued ability to meet the challenges of training for and running marathons, in spite of  (or perhaps out of spite for ??) my own chronic illness. I run Mile #26 in celebration of the generosity of friends and acquaintances who continue to support the work of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society as long as I continue to ask them to do so. And I run it in the hopes that I will live to see the day where it is no longer necessary to ask...


You can help to make that day happen by donating to LLS now. See the link to my fundraising site in the upper right hand corner.

And... thank you.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Why Give to LLS?

With just a week until race day, I am still about $800 shy of my fundraising goal. If you're able, I would be so grateful if you were able to help me get there!




"Why Give to LLS?" 


Among the answers to this question is the following: Develop "targeted therapies" that kill cancer cells selectively. - By hitting specific molecular targets, these treatments don't harm patients' healthy cells, resulting in fewer dangerous side effects. 
The video below celebrates the lead researcher, Dr. Carl June, who made miraculous advancements by doing the unthinkable and creating the targeted therapy of our time. All this was made possible with help from the grant money funded by LLS. Those grants were made possible with help of individuals that made the financial contributions needed to fund this cutting edge research.




This was made possible by past TNT participants, and by donors like you. Just imagine what miracles will come in the future from money you contribute today!

26 Reasons to Run - Reasons #20, 21 and 22

One week from today I will be mid-marathon...

A marathon is 26.2 miles.... that's a lot of miles, and since I'm not a fast runner, that's a lot of time to be out there running. When one is logging long miles (and long hours), there is plenty of time for sight-seeing, plenty of time for making new friends or enjoying the company of old friends... and plenty of time to get lost in ones thoughts.

When the miles start to take their toll, and I start contemplating all the reasons that I don't actually need to finish this darned run anyway... I bring my thoughts to the reasons that I find myself out on the course, and raising money to help find a cure for cancer.


Here are reasons # 20, 21 and 22 that I continue to run and raise funds to support organizations like the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, to try to find a cure for cancer.

I run in memory of Art and Gladys, and in honour of Derek


my grandparents, on their wedding day

I often find my thoughts turning to my Nan (Gladys) when I'm running. I have never thought of myself as being particularly athletic... more of an awkward but enthusiastic participant, really. My Nan though, when she was young she was an athlete... and her sport was running hurdles.

My nan was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999. Nan had a mastectomy and radiation therapy, but because she also had liver disease her chemotherapy options were extremely limited. She died in 2006.

My Grandad, Derek, was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2010. His brother, my great-uncle Art, died of colon cancer in 2007.

Grandad is currently doing well... thank goodness.

On marathon day, I usually find myself hitting the proverbial wall somewhere between miles 20 and 22.... When that time comes, when I need to dig deep within myself to keep moving forward, I will be thinking about my Nan and Grandad, and Uncle Art.