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….
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.”
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 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.
“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.
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.
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.
Leg one of an Ironman is a 2.4 mile swim. If you are in the Ironman World Championship, the swim start looks like the photo above. It looks pretty scary to me, a couple of thousand people all trying to swim in the same direction at once, battling ocean waves, kicking legs, and stroking arms to try to find their own space in the water where they can swim unencumbered. Ironman Texas will not look like that. The Texas race has what is called a “rolling start”, similar to if you were starting a running race where you seed yourself based on your pace and your clock starts when you cross the timing mat. It will look more like the photo below, so instead of swimming with 2500 people at once, we’ll be swimming with more like the 50-100 people closest to us entering the water.
Will that make it easier to find a space to swim? I have no idea. I can only hope. The reason I am writing about it this week is because it is February in Oregon. Currently, it is snowing outside which will last a few hours, then melt. There will be no opportunity for Aimee and I to get into a lake around here for open water swimming before we go to Texas. We’ll have one practice swim in Lake of The Woodlands the day before the race. While we are both doing well at swimming and will both be able to finish well under the 2 hour 20 minute cutoff time, practicing in open water with other swimmers close by, sloshing about has been difficult. At least it was, until last week when we went to the local public pool because the gym pool was closed. Turns out, they have a whole section of the pool without divider lanes and you can swim laps all you want. It’s about as close to open water swimming as we’ll get until Texas and there were plenty of people also swimming laps close by to give us the sense of what it will be to have water splash in our faces just at the moment we turned to breathe, reminding us how to skip a breath and not end up choking. It was great. I did 3000 yards, no stopping on Friday(1.7 miles). For me, that takes about an hour. There was a man on my left and one on my right and they really made the waves for me. I appreciated every minute.
The last half mile or so of the Texas swim will be down a canal. It’s narrow and it is my understanding that it will be like a washing machine with all the waves from swimmers bouncing off the walls and back into us. The good thing is, it isn’t deep, so if I get my goggles knocked askew, I can just swim to the edge and stand up to fix them. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen. Often there are some battle stories about bloody noses, split lips, broken teeth, being kicked and dragged down, but I am hoping that lies with the people in the front who are racing for a Kona slot, not with the rest of us who are trying to do our best swim, yet be aware of those around us.
The rest of week fourteen was pretty much the same old stuff, biking, running, strength work. We added watching some of the Olympics too. One of the best things to happen this week was receiving a package from a friend that contained two pairs of (used) Tri Bike shoes, and a brand new pair of running shoes. This is a much appreciated gift and I am so grateful. Tri Bike shoes have been on my list for awhile. The running shoes were a surprise bonus.
Friends can often give us just what we need at the right time. People with breast cancer need you to be their friends and help researchers in finding better ways to treat the disease and help have better outcomes. Please donate today to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and be a friend to someone who needs life saving treatment..
Week thirteen was not very notable as far as training goes. It was all about the long run, long swim, and long bike, all of which I completed without problems. I decided this week to share a few of the many thoughts that go through my mind while I am training,
1. What to wear during the swim? Lake of The Woodlands, they say, is usually a non-wetsuit or wetsuit optional swim. This is determined by the water temperature. If the water is between 76.1 degrees and 83.8 degrees Fahrenheit, then wetsuit is optional. Above 83.8 degrees is a non-wetsuit swim. Aimee and I have both sleeveless wetsuits and swim skins (a textile material suit worn in place of a wetsuit that decreases drag in the water, yet are non-buoyant). We’ll bring them both just in case, but know that the wetsuit is best for us if that is an option because of the buoyancy and because neither of us are racing to get to Kona (In a wetsuit optional race, if you are trying to get to Kona, the rules require you to race without a wetsuit in order to qualify).
2. How to get enough nutrition in while riding the bike and what should it be? This is the part that is most confounding. The on course nutrition is Clif shot gels and Gatorade Endurance. While I can manage to use these products, my preference is SkratchLabs. I like it better because it has a lighter taste and the ingredients are a little easier on the stomach. So the question is, can I keep enough Skratch with me on the bike until I get to the special needs bag (there is a stop halfway through the bike and run where we can pick up a bag with things we packed for the race, like extra nutrition, Aleve, Chapstick, change of socks, some real food like a peanut butter sandwich etc.) or do I just go with the on course stuff and hope I can handle it for 6-8 hours on the bike? I’ve been working on alternating the Clif products with real food and SkratchLabs because I think reality will be I’ll have a mix of both and of course, there is always the possibility of stuff being dropped off the bike while I am trying to get to it. This is a work in progress. I’ll have it figured out by race day.
3. Can I finish the bike course with enough time left to do the marathon? It is a question in which I waffle with the answer. When I am riding on the trainer, and things are going smoothly, my answer is a definite, yes. When we ride outside, doubts start to creep in knowing that a warm Texas day and a cold Oregon winter day are vastly different and the heat can slow me down. The long ride Aimee and I just did was freezing cold and took far longer than expected. If the race has extra strong winds or extreme heat, it will definitely make us slower cutting into the run time. But, that is the way it will be for everyone, so I will just have to take what comes and hope that my training is solid enough to finish in time.
Tami gifted me with some treats and a UPS knit cap.
She also met me on my long run course and left some encouraging messages
4. I often think about the progress I have made. I can see it and I can feel it. I wonder if it will be enough to get me across the finish line in 17 hours. I think it will, it seems like it should, but as always, we won’t know until it’s all over.
Long ride with Aimee and new friend Kris
Thankful for people building houses out in nowhere for a pit stop.
It was a very cold, ride.
Those are a few of the multitude of thoughts that go through my head. I also often bring to mind some of the names on my honor list, especially those names of people I know personally. There is a sense of responsibility to those names and to those who have donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation in their honor or memory. If you would like to donate to help carry on life saving research please click the donate link above today and make it so.
“Some sessions are stars and some sessions are stones, but in the end they are all rocks and we build upon them.” ― Chrissie Wellington, A Life Without Limits: A World Champion’s Journey
I am not going to be a world champion triathlete, but as I cross the halfway point of my Ironman training plan, I can see how the above quote is true. Thus far, I have had some really great training sessions and seen some major improvements in my swim, bike, and run abilities, as well as had some discouraging moments and training sessions that I would like to toss in the garbage. Overall, moving forward toward an Ironman finish line is what is happening and I am grateful that I have made it to the halfway mark.
The past week was a recovery week, so my sessions were a bit easier and a little shorter. I feel like I have done the week properly and am rested and ready to start the second half of this program. I did a little goofing around one day and rode on Zwift with Meredith Kessler. This is no small feat. I had to cheat a little and make my avatar weigh 115 lbs so I could keep up. Even then it was a struggle. Why is MBK always climbing mountains on Zwift? I lasted all of 10 minutes. She won the Epic KOM (King of Mountain) jersey and when I commented on it, she said she was, “doing my warm up”(!!!). Go MBK! Can’t wait to see you out on the Ironman Texas course!
Aimee and I ended our week with a mock Sprint Triathlon. This means we made up our own course and tried to mimic doing a sprint race (half mile swim, 12 mile bike 5k run). We started at the gym pool with a 900 yard swim. Both of us had PR swim times which we were very happy to see. Next, we headed up to the spin room and decided to ride for 45 minutes since no spin bike up there is calibrated very well for miles. The third leg was a 3.1 mile run outside in the sun, which showed itself for a little while. We did an out and back course which was downhill one way and then back up. We were both happy with the way we performed and it gave us encouragement to move forward through these final weeks. From here on out, every 4th Saturday will be a simulated race until we reach the real deal on April 28th.
Best average pace ever!
In the week ahead, the weather looks to be changing in our favor, so we’ll attempt another outdoor long ride with friends. Denis and I drove out on some roads just to make sure they were all paved, and if crossing highways at certain places will be safe. We have a nice route planned on some new roads, with places for people to join up should they not want to go the full distance with us. I like these rides. The fresh air feels good and the time flies when we have a destination and ride with friends.
My usual weekly plug is for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and I hope that you will make a donation today. I would also like to bring attention to the American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery driver program. I went to a volunteer appreciation lunch during the week and it reminded me how much need there is for patients to have a ride to their treatment and doctor appointments. If you are looking for a way to give of your time, they need drivers. Check with your local American Cancer Society chapter and ask how you can become a Road to Recovery driver.
“Saying ‘Gesundheit’ doesn’t really help the common cold – but its about as good as anything the doctors have come up with.”-Earl Wilson
The cold and flu season has struck with a mighty blow this year and unfortunately for me, I succumbed to a cold last Sunday. This is fortunate for you readers because I don’t have much in the way of a training recap this week to bore you with other than I took three days off doing nothing but trying to get over this thing, and then at the end of the week powered through a ten mile run and a 4 hour bike trainer session.
This week is a recovery week and I am going to try to stick to the schedule despite the temptation to do more because of the days lost last week. I will keep working on getting well and trying to prevent my lungs from acquiring a cough because from observation, the cough lasts for weeks and weeks.
Aimee and I are less than 90 days from Ironman Texas, we’re beginning to work out our nutrition and hydration plans and getting a little more excited about the race each week. Last week, another women’s favorite of mine, Linsey Corbin, announced that she has plans to race in Texas. I am looking forward to seeing their race from the inside, at least the small glimpses I will get as they pass by. It should be a great race, but Denis will have to watch the finish and tell me who won.
It feels like the time is getting short even though we have 3 months left. Time for those who have cancer is a valuable commodity and comes to be understood in a different way. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation is dedicated to helping researchers give women and men with breast cancer more time. Please donate today.
Mark 16:16-“He who believes and is baptized shall be saved…”
I”ll start off my post with the news from the end of the week because it is one that brings more joy into our lives than anything besides the birth of our kids. Zoe decided to obey the above verse to save her soul by being baptized into Christ. To have all of our family believe in God so strongly that they want make their lives centered upon Him is the ultimate goal as Christian parents. It’s our hope for all people we know. If you haven’t taken the time to read the Bible, I highly recommend doing so. It can change your life if you let it.
David and Zoe headed back to college early in the morning.
Surprisingly, the training part of the week went very well, and I am not as exhausted as I was. This could be either I am getting fitter and stronger, or because I took two days off of the bike due to a painful, nagging lump I developed over my sit bone due to ill fitting shorts on a bike ride. I went to a dermatologist and was treated with a cortisone injection, not so sure the result is complete yet, so I have been letting several days pass in between riding for it to resolve. Let’s hope it does. When I finally did take a ride, I rode with Zwift. Meredith Kessler was out on the course, so I had my avatar join her on the road. First, I had to see how fast she was going and get myself up to speed(luckily, she was not going too fast at the moment), then when I was placed behind her, I had to sprint to catch up. I passed her so I could slow down because I knew she would be near just long enough to get a screen shot. Then I slowed back down and did my warm up and my own ride. I never saw her again on course.
Thursday also marked 100 days until Ironman Texas! We are now in double digits!
Running and swimming were the focus of the week and I am happy with the way both are coming along. On Saturday, Aimee and I participated in a quarter marathon race. She came in sixth in her age group, I came in fourth. Not bad for a rainy cold day. We had opportunity to discuss our pacing for Ironman Texas and to think about possible obstacles so we have a plan B in place to deal with them. I think we are going to try to stay together for the whole race, but I am not sure how that will work out on race day. This is why we are discussing plan options.
The final event of the week was also Denis and my 28th anniversary. We took in dinner and a movie. The dinner was of course too good, and I ate too much. Denis is my number one supporter as always and he came and stood in the cold while Aimee and I raced in the morning, also handing out some fundraising cards while we were out on the course.
10 years ago when we were celebrating our 18th anniversary, I did not know I had cancer, but it was there. When we got to our 19th anniversary, I was relieved and happy that we were still sharing life together. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation wants to see other couples celebrate many anniversaries. Please donate today and help fund lifesaving research.
“I got 99 problems….and they’re all my sore muscles!”
Week nine brought a new set of challenges and some pretty sore muscles. I have been expecting them to come along and I am pretty sure that the rest of the training schedule will involve many more sore days. That’s okay, it just means I am alive and hopefully getting stronger.
The beginning of the week was rainy and I had a short hill repeat session, so I decided to take our puppy, Kodiak, and work on running with him. He did a pretty good job, but has a habit of trying to pick up sticks on the run, which sometimes means we suddenly stop if he doesn’t get it as we go past. Otherwise, he is becoming a good runner keeping on one side of me. The most exciting news of the week is that the pool heater is fixed! Aimee, Tami, and I had a good swim and surprisingly, the whole pool to ourselves. My swim continues to get better and I am becoming more confident each week.
The end of the week was busy with appointments and as I said last week, I proposed to do my long run from our house 8.5 miles down a trail and meet Adam at his appointment. This had its moments of regret as I ran. The beginning was nice and flat, and I knew I would have to run up over a pretty good sized hill, but I thought the downhill would be similar with switchbacks and I would just gradually make my way down. This wasn’t reality at all. The other side was peppered with steep rollers that at times I had to walk up. However, I did make it to Adam’s appointment with time to spare, the trade-off was starting Saturday’s long ride with very sore legs.
Saturday was an almost Spring day! Tami, Aimee, and I started off in the fog and headed out for our 55 mile ride. We stopped along the way and picked up one of Aimee’s co-workers, Mike, who rode about 25 of the miles with us. By mile 30 the sun had come out and I was definitely suffering. My legs were losing power little by little as we rode up a a very deceptive 7 mile incline. Riding the return route home, it was just me spinning in a low gear trying to get back, legs toast, and seat sore. The final thing I needed to do was a 30 minute recovery run. I tried, but could only muster a little jog for a few feet at a time and ended up walking the majority of it. This is where doubts crept in my head about finishing a full Ironman. If I can’t run after 55 miles, how am I going to do it after 112? There are 104 days left to train and then I will have the answer.
My long run on Friday was also an homage to Lenora Edwards. During her final months, a part of trail I ran on was being completed near her house and I told her that one day, I would run from my house to hers on the trail that connects us, at 6.3 miles. I made it up that hill and beyond. As I passed her street and house, I thought about all the people on my list who I am racing for in theirmemory. It would be really nice to be racing in honor of surviving instead. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation is dedicated to saving lives. Please donate today.