Twenty-Three!

“Racing is the fun part; it’s the reward of all the hard work.”-Kara Goucher

All the hard work is in the books. Now it is time for the fun part. Race week is upon us and my thoughts are on weather, water temperature, am I forgetting anything as I pack, and will we get to the airport on time.

Aimee and I dropped our bikes for transport to Texas. The guy at the bike shop will also be doing the race, so that was nice to know another Oregon racer. We are both feeling ready and excited to finally get to race our first Ironman.

Our last few long swims took place at the local parks and recreation pool. It’s good practice for open water since part of the pool has no lane dividers and we get get sloshed around like in the lake. We have been advised by Meredith and Team Sirius coaches to not swim in the lake the day before the race for the sake of germs etc. I try to put that thought out of my mind and on race day will do my best to keep any water out of my mouth, yuck! We will find a pool and practice swim there instead.

The weather looks promising so far and perhaps not too hot. It will still be warm compared to here, but not in the 90’s or anything outrageous as far as I can see in the weather report, however we have been told from someone who lives there that it is quite unpredictable so Aimee and I will be ready for anything.

This is my plan for the week: Monday- swim/short bike, packing and making sure everything is set for Adam and my parents who will stay with him. Tuesday is a very early 5 am flight to Houston with Aimee and her dad, Charles, where we will then go to the house we rented, grocery shop, take a little run, relax and get ready for the rest of the week. Wednesday we check in, pick up our bikes, get them back to the house and take a short spin. We’ll also drive the bike course, relax, and Denis and I will go to Bible class at Woodlands Church of Christ in the evening. Thursday we’ll swim a bit, then be geeky Ironman fans and spend a little time at the Ironman Village for the pre-race briefing, the pro panel, plus meeting a few pros. Major goals: Meeting Meredith, Michelle Vesterby, and Angela Naeth. Denis will pick up Wendi from the airport while we are there then later in the evening we will all go to the pre-race banquet. Friday is a big day too. We’ll check out the swim start and the course, check in our bikes and our transition bags, try to relax and Charles will pick up Aimee’s husband, Kevin, and her personal trainer, Diane, from the airport that evening and we’ll get to bed early. Saturday, of course is race day. We’ll be up around 4 am to get ready and head to the transition area where we ready our bikes with our hydration and fuel, pump up the tires, and generally make sure all things are in place. Then we’ll walk over to the race start where it all begins. Race time is 6:40am CDT. It is a rolling start, so we’ll be in the water sometime before 7am, probably more like 6:50. I have a rough idea of how the day may go barring any unusual difficulties. Swim should take me about 90 minutes give or take 5 minutes. Bike will be 7-8 hours, and if I am feeling okay at the end of the bike, the run will be 5-6.5 hours. I expect to finish between 9pm-midnight CDT. If I finish before that, then I have had an extraordinary day. If I don’t finish by midnight then something went very wrong.

If you want to follow along,  you can download the Ironman Tracker app and put my name or bib number (1491. Aimee 1465) and it will notify you as I pass timing mats. Or you can follow at Ironmanlive.com. There is usually a video feed of at least the finish line. Sometimes for these regional championships, there is live commentating of the pro race.

Thanks for following along on this year of training. I will update my Itriforyou Facebook page with photos during the week and on race day, Wendi will keep it updated.

I have appreciated the encouragement and support to get to this week. If God is willing I will be at the finish line on Saturday. Please remember that I am racing for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and if you have had in mind to donate, today is a good day for it. Thank you.

 

 

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Twenty-two

“Triathlon doesn’t build character. It reveals it.”- unknown

We are two weeks from the start of Ironman Texas. It is hard to believe that Aimee and I have trained for almost an entire year, 6 months of it being an actual training plan. As I look over the last two weeks on my Training Peaks plan, I find it surreal that I have completed nearly everything. When I started, I had my doubts that I would be able to do all the hard things on the calendar, but I have. Even if I don’t make it to the finish line in time, I am the better for having the good health, discipline, and mental stamina to get myself to the start line, not to mention some pretty good memories, fun with friends along the way, plus getting to know new people and hearing the stories of breast cancer patients. I come out with the win not matter what the outcome on April 28th will be.

Aimee and I had a good solid week of training and we are now down to the logistical details of getting ourselves to the race venue. We decided to add a gear bag to our TriBike Transport reservation so we can send some of the more awkward items with the bikes like, a bike pump, helmets, shoes, pedals, hydration bottles, wetsuits, and a couple of bike tools. It’s hard to believe that we are already to the point where we will be dropping our bikes off in the coming week and meet them in Texas race week. We have also been trying to figure out what to do about our meals. We’ll shop and cook in for most of the week, but we are definitely going to catch all the Ironman experience we can so will go to the pre-race banquet and hopefully, the post-race one as well. While we are there in the days leading up to the race, we’ll scope out the course and find some place for our support crew to be located where they can watch the race, yet be comfortable as well. It’s a long day for them too.

Our race bib numbers were finally assigned. I am number 1491 and Aimee is number 1465. Not too far away from one another as far as racking bikes go.

As the time draws nearer to race day, I often think about the people on my honor list and what happens if I don’t make a bike or run cutoff. I have it covered and will be carrying a tiny list in my pockets. If I have to, I will hand it off to someone who will finish. Those names will cross the line one way or another.

Determination is what the Breast Cancer Research Foundation has to help researchers find new and better ways to in treating cancer. Please make your donation today.

Twenty-One

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, just soft people.”-Bill Bowerman,

There is no doubt, the area where we live in Oregon can be wet. I thought the above quote was fitting as the highlight of my week was a 20 mile run in the rain, near the Nike campus.

It’s getting close. Week twenty one did bring some tough work, and I had to do it alone since Aimee was traveling on business, but I got it done and it gave me some confidence that perhaps, just maybe there is a glimmer of hope to not be finishing in the last hour of the race day. I’ll still be out there for a very, very long time, but maybe if conditions are right, not 17 hours.

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The nature park makes a 20 mile run a little less boring.

I had my final bike fit completed. New aero bars are in place, cables rerun, and everything feeling good. The test was an 80 mile ride that Aimee and I completed today, the only dry, warm day we’ll get this week. I believe there is some success in getting off that sore spot, it’s not perfect, but we rode the whole 80 miles and I wasn’t in agony. The question is can we go another 30? I think so. This ride was one I am glad we did because I tried a new water bottle on my aero bars and 20 miles in, the bracket broke in half. Thanks to some Infinity/Comcast guys, I was able to tape the bottle in place and it held for the rest of the ride. I don’t think I managed to hydrate as much as I should have though. The other thing that I tried was HoneyStinger gels. While they sit well with my stomach, they are a mess when trying to get it open and eat on the fly. Sticky fingers are not what I want for 112 miles, so I will discard the idea of using that product on the bike course.

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Aimee took the day off work since a weekday was the only chance for a dry ride.
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Tami was our support crew and met us at mile 50 with fresh hydration and fuel.

The racing season has officially begun this past weekend with Ironman Oceanside 70.3 and Ironman Texas 70.3. As a fan, I followed both races. Texas 70.3 brought the return of Mirinda Carfrae from maternity leave and she did not disappoint. As a matter of fact, it was as though she had not even left racing for over a year, after overcoming a nearly 5 minute deficit off the bike to run from 6th place into second. Rinny has pretty much perfect running form and is able to come off the bike whittle away at any deficit there might be. A few years ago, she came from 15 minutes behind off the bike at the Ironman World Championships to run into 1st place. She is that good. I am happy for her to start her comeback season so well. I am also looking forward to seeing some of my favorite pros out on the course in a few weeks close up in action and hoping for Meredith to also have a great show for her return to racing.

There was also another 10 year remembrance last week. Ten years ago, the ladies from church made me a quilt to comfort me during my cancer treatment. The memory came up on Facebook, so I will share a photo here. It is a humbling thing, and I still appreciate every woman who had a part in making it and who helped me and our family in many ways.

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Getting through cancer without support is difficult. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation is funding ways to improve treatment and outcomes for breast cancer patients. Please donate today and support them.

Twenty

“It doesn’t matter if you’re sprinting for an Olympic gold medal, a town sign, a trailhead, or the rest stop with the homemade brownies. If you never confront pain, you’re missing the essence of the sport” – Scott Martin

A bike fit was in order for week twenty recovery week. I went to Western BikeWorks where a very nice young man named Michael, spent nearly 4 hours working with me to get a good fit on my Quintana Roo bike. We’re not quite finished yet as I needed to replace my aero bars with something a little more adjustable and their bike tech guys couldn’t get me in until this week (It requires the rerunning of shifter and brake cables). I think once the final fit is complete, I will have about as comfortable a ride as one can get for 112 miles.

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Meanwhile, Michael got my bike positioned as closely as possible to the great fit so I could end my week with Aimee doing our homemade half Ironman. We started at the gym where we set up our bikes for transition in the bike racks and Denis kindly kept an eye on them while we swam. Aimee, once again had a stellar swim despite the terrible cold she was battling. I did pretty well myself and finished under the time I had hoped to complete it. It was a nice day, but still a little cold for riding without long pants and sleeves, so our transition took a little longer to get prepared for that. We headed out on the bike and even with the stoplights and busy road crossings, met Denis at our halfway point within 5 minutes of our predicted time. He provided us with fresh hydration bottles and fuel. At that stop, we overheard a man talking about his boss who was training for the same race in Texas. Turns out, it is a woman I have met before through Christine. She’s a pretty strong local racer and I bet will by trying for a Kona slot. Nice to know other Oregonians will be there too.

The second half of our ride was a little harder as Aimee’s cold was getting the best of her and she started dragging a bit, but we finished in a fair time and I was happy with it. By this time, the sun had come out and we could actually run in shorts! I kept a warm shirt on though so I could try to mimic heat as much as I could. The first half of the run, wasn’t much. Poor Aimee was struggling to keep even a run/walk going. We decided that she needed to cut it short and go home to rest. Denis picked her up at our predetermined halfway stop where I picked up fresh hydration and fuel. I finished the last half alone. I felt good until the last mile when my stomach suddenly began telling me that I was really very hungry! It was 4:30 pm and I had not eaten real food since about 5:30 am, so I guess it is something to keep in mind because on race day, I will still have about 5ish hours left to go. Hopefully, I will fuel well enough to stave off hunger until the end. The whole day took 9.5 hours, but when I look back on my actual swim/bike/run times, I did it just under 8 hours, an acceptable time for me. That extra hour and a half was dealing with the things we wouldn’t normally have to do during a race. The day was successful in my book and gave me a boost of confidence that I just may make the full distance.

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Let’s not lose sight of why I am racing in less than 4 weeks. I am supporting the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and raising funds so that researchers can find better ways to locate and treat breast cancer. I would appreciate any support in way of donations. Just click the donate link above.

Nineteen!

“The marathon is not really about the marathon, it’s about the shared struggle. And it’s not only the marathon, but the training”. ~ Bill Buffum

I am tired….week nineteen was all about running, the most difficult part of triathlon for me. I haven’t ever taken to running very well, but it is the means to the end of the race, so I try my best to employ the advice on form and fitness. I believe that I have gotten better and learned a lot, but clearly I remain a tortoise. I am okay with that as long as I can keep moving on race day.

The week had some early sunny, dry days so I decided to do my long run on Tuesday rather than Thursday. I also decided to take on something that I felt would be a challenge in some ways, but not so bad in others. I completed 17 miles on the local high school track! The reasons I chose this was because, 1. it’s completely flat, 2. there are no traffic lights. 3. I could have all my hydration and nutrition nearby to practice with, and 4. It was a mental challenge to stay on the track that long. 17 miles is equal to two special needs classes coming on the track and 3 PE classes on the track. I had to do some weaving in and out of the kids who were sometimes going the wrong way. Aimee’s husband is a PE teacher there, so he cheered me on a bit while he made his students run laps. One of the things I worked on was something Meredith had suggested in her email and that was to try and negative split the run. I was only marginally successful. I was able to 4 of the last 8.5 miles at a faster pace, but then I stopped to use the porta-potty and when I started to run again, my legs rebelled against returning to that pace. My fueling went really well, so overall, the whole idea worked for me.

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It looks like I covered every square inch.

Aimee and I ended the week with a mock Olympic triathlon. It was a chance to try out some new equipment in the form of our Roka Viper Swim skins. Neither of us have used a suit like this before. Aimee’s suit must have worked better than mine because she lapped me three times (I say this tongue in cheek, because she is a much better swimmer). I had the feeling I was going slow, but when I finished, my time was spot on for what I had hoped for. She was having a really great swim day! Since it was in the 30’s outside, we decided to do the spin bikes. Of course, halfway through we ended up being part of a spin class, but that actually helped a little to pass the time. Our final leg we ran outside 6 miles. I never thought I would ever get to the day when 6 miles seemed short! It was a good day and I think we did well for ourselves. Next Saturday, we will do a half ironman distance. We are very close to beginning our taper for the race. Hard to believe.

As for the sore that wouldn’t heal. It’s still there and being annoying. Next plan is visit the doctor, get a bike fit, and hope for the best.

Hope is what patients live with when faced with a diagnosis of breast cancer. Researchers are working hard to provide it. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation is dedicated to funding them so new approaches to treatment can be discovered and hope will become reality. Please donate today.

Eighteen

“GCBU = get comfortable being uncomfortable – HUGE! This IS where the magic happens….the raw, subtle moment of pleasure and pain.”- Meredith Kessler, Professional Triathlete

6 weeks remain until Ironman Texas. I can say that I am dealing with bouts of nervousness. Nervous because I know that the day is going to bring pain. There’s no way it won’t, it’s just the way an Ironman goes. The above quote is from a long email I received from Meredith with her best advice, and explaining how to get through the day. I can’t even tell you how much Aimee and I appreciated getting that from her. It has helped in a number of ways to mentally and physically plan for April 28th. I am also excited. This is something far beyond my comfort zone and far beyond anything I ever thought I would do in my life, and I am excited to see how it will turn out.

Week eighteen was all about the bike. I have been battling a blocked sweat gland that has been causing me grief to no end on the bike. I had been carefully trying to get it to heal, but last week, during a group Zwift ride with Meredith and lots of other ladies (that was pretty fun, I might add), I got off the bike to find that the skin had broken. This has made me have to miss a few rides to try to heal it. In my desperation to find an answer, I reached out to Cobb Cycling. My saddle is a Cobb saddle so I told them my problem and they asked me to send a video of me riding. The next day, I received an email with instructions for how to correct my positioning to help with the issue. This wasn’t just an email from a customer service guy, it was an email from John Cobb himself! That is excellent customer service! I applied the changes and after taking my bike in for a tune up and to trade the trainer wheel for the road wheel, Aimee and I struck out on a 75 mile ride on Saturday. Did it help? It must have because the sore didn’t get worse. It is still a problem, so I am taking the week off of getting on the bike. Hope that it heals.

 

Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is my choice. It is not a choice breast cancer patients get. Cancer treatment is uncomfortable. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation is dedicated to helping researchers find better ways to treat breast cancer. Please donate today and help them succeed in their goals.

 

 

 

Seventeen

Week seventeen doesn’t have much to report. It was just an average week, yet it did have a high point with a beautiful sunny day for a bike ride at the end.

The things I am working on now are: Race kit, making my packing list, getting my tri bike off the trainer and tuned up for outdoor riding. Aimee and I are using Tribike Transport and we have to drop off our bikes ten days before the race for transport so we’ll only have a month outside on them.

As for week seventeen workouts, I hit them all including a wet, windy, cold miserable 15 mile run. I felt accomplished after doing it because I was awfully tempted to take a shortcut home a few times. By the last crossing light I was at the point where stopping was almost more painful than continuing, so I plodded on the last 2.5 miles and finished. The next day was a 1.8 mile swim followed on Saturday by my long ride.

Sort of an uneventful week as far as it all goes. Week 18 has some promise to it for  more exciting updates. Stay tuned….

Sixteen: Kirstie Serrano

Kirstie Serrano is a recent triple negative breast cancer survivor whose name has been added to my list. Not only will I be racing for her, but I will also have the honor of racing alongside her. She is taking on Ironman Texas after finishing treatment not long ago.

Kirstie was diagnosed in August of 2016 just a few months before she and Juan were to be married. Her initial thoughts were of Juan and his kids, not wanting to put them through the emotional rigors of cancer, because 3 years earlier, they had lost Juan’s first wife and their mother to pancreatic cancer. She wanted to put things on hold, but Juan wasn’t daunted says Kirstie:

“That night I looked at Juan and told him, I am not going to do this to you or your family. Let’s put our plans on hold and take some time off… He told me “No way” I am the best partner to see you through this. You don’t have cancer WE Do!”

Shortly after, on October 22, 2016 Kirstie and Juan were married:

“We had an amazing wedding in the Florida keys. Juan told me from day one, that WE had cancer and on our wedding day he shaved his head and said if you are going to get married with no hair, so am I.”

 

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Kirstie is an avid cyclist and triathlete. It was her goal to remain active during her treatment. She continued to go on group rides and with the help of her cycling friends, made it through despite the fatigue.

“Riding kept me strong. I would struggle up hills and if the speed went past 28mph, my husband would come in front of me and say, “grab my wheel ” the stronger guys would ride next to me and put their hands on the center of my back and give me a push, they never let me drop.”

Kirstie is already an Ironman, having completed Ironman Florida in 2012. At the time, she thought it would be a one and done sort of thing, but today she is ready in 2018 to tackle Ironman Texas with Juan and a large group of her supportive friends to show that cancer can’t keep her down.

“I could not have done this without Juan and my tri and bike family.”

To we who have gone through cancer, the real heroes of our stories are the people who have stood by us through treatment. Without the support of a loving spouse, or friends, or family members, it is difficult to imagine surviving all that comes with a breast cancer diagnosis. I am thankful that most of the stories I have heard this past year include gratitude for the people who have stood by them. Everyone should have someone.

Today, is Triple Negative Breast Cancer Day, 3/3/2018. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation is dedicated to the research and development of new treatments for patients with triple negative disease. Please give today in honor of Kirstie and to thank Juan and all the caregivers he represents.

 

 

 

 

 

On This Day….

On the afternoon of February 28th, 2008, Denis and I sat in a small patient meeting room waiting for the radiologist to come in and share the results of my recent breast biopsy. A very kind, and compassionate doctor walked in, took my hand in both of his, and without lingering, sucked all the air out of the room in one sentence, “It is a malignancy, you have breast cancer, I am very sorry.” I didn’t breathe normally again for weeks. That was ten years ago today.

This is a day not like a birthday or an anniversary, because who really wants to celebrate the most miserable day of their life? But it is a celebration of sorts because ten years later, I am cancer free and my life is about as normal as life gets for anyone. Often you hear that cancer is a journey. I don’t think so. I think it was just one great, big, tough mountain to climb in the path of my life and just like any real mountain, when you get to the top, you can see the beautiful view of creation that God has made. My beautiful view for the last ten years contains family vacations, camping trips, and seeing milestones for our kids like getting a driver’s license, graduating high school, and starting college. It contains making new friends, strengthening current friendships, starting new challenges, celebrating anniversaries, attending weddings, baby showers, funerals, and even sitting at the bedside of two friends as they passed away. It also contains, I hope, finishing Ironman Texas. My beautiful view of the past ten years is life as usual with so much packed into it, I can’t even list it all and there are too many photos to share. That is the way it should be for every cancer survivor.

This is a day that I will ask you all to help celebrate my good health with me by making a donation to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. I don’t usually ask people to honor me, but by donating today, you can help many, many more people survive breast cancer and find their beautiful view from the top of that long climb through treatment. I thank everyone who has donated so far, and I thank my family and friends who have made the past ten years so wonderful.

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Ten years is a long time. We’re all older now.

Fifteen

“The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be out-worked, period. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me,…you might be all of those things you got it on me in nine categories. But if we get on the treadmill together, there’s two things: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die. It’s really that simple, right?“- Will Smith

I don’t know if I left the treadmill before Mr. Smith, but I didn’t die. Thirteen miles on the treadmill this week brought me to the farthest distance I have ever run. From here on out, all long runs will be farther than I have ever done in my life. Running on a treadmill takes a lot of concentration. First, you don’t want to be seen on any funny YouTube videos falling and flying off the back, so you must manage to keep moving. Second, it is extremely boring. No scenery to speak of but the people who are walking around you on the track or on the treadmill next to you, so you have to make sure your mind is occupied while still trying to stay on your feet. Thankfully, the last 3 miles, Tami showed up and did them with me. That was enough to get me to the end. I am not fast, it took me 2 hours and 45 minutes.

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Just waiting for a couple more bikes to start our trainer ride.
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Running hydration and nutrition

The other long distance feat that I accomplished, took place on the bike trainer. Never have I ridden 80 miles while sitting on a bike indoors. Aimee and I set out to do it and said we would sit on those bikes for as long as it took. That was about six and half hours. We stopped a few times to adjust our shoe cleats, bathroom breaks, and to change bike shorts because we had the room heated up to 86 degrees and with no wind evaporation, we were soaked. (We know we can’t change during the bike leg of the race) Wendi came for a little while and rode too. It’s always better with friends. Aimee and I watched all the Ironman Texas course videos, the Ironman series Alii Drive which was done about 5 years ago, followed Meredith Kessler  on Zwift for awhile, watched the 1994 Ironman World Championship race, and watched the RedBull recap of the 2017 World Championships. We were Ironmaned out by the time we finished. The good thing is, our legs weren’t dead, and today, I am not too awfully sore. Have a  couple of tight spots, but nothing bad. I call that a win.

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A few things arrived for the race.

Heading into the recovery week, I am reassessing my hydration intake and going to make some adjustments for another long ride next Saturday. While we are on track, Aimee is  going out of town soon, so we have had to make some changes to our calendar in order to keep the key workouts. There are three more each of really long bike rides and runs, one mock Olympic distance, and one mock half-Ironman distance among those key workouts. It’s difficult to believe that we are now nine weeks away from the race.

Our frustration for the week came when Aimee heard from the owner of the rental house in The Woodlands telling her he was cancelling our reservation and refunding the money. We had no idea why. After about an hour of emails and phone calls, it was finally sorted out and he had mistaken the dates, so we let out our breath in relief and still have our nice location near the race course and all things Ironman Texas. Whew!

I am getting excited to see what my race kit will look like. I can’t wait to see the template when it is done. On paper, the list I have just looks like names, but I think everyone will realize that it’s not just a list, but that every name is a person who is cared about by someone else and has importance in someone’s life.

Everyone is important to someone. Whether a grandmother, mother, sister, aunt, friend, grandfather, dad, brother or, uncle breast cancer will happen to someone we know. Please donate today and help the Breast Cancer Research Foundation in their goal to fund lifesaving research.

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MBK’s MAK because sometimes we need a little gumption. (And cute babies always make us smile)