Thursday, August 26, 2010

Road ID Winner!

The Winner has accepted her prize!

Granted, it took a while.  I wonder why- right after she was selected, I sent her the following text: "CONGRATULATIONS!! guess what?  You are the winner of the giveaway and you have won a $25 gift card from road ID.  Do you want to accept the prize??  yay Emera!"

Yes, the grammar really was that bad.  Can't imagine why she thought I'd been hacked and she'd been spammed.

Anyway, Emera is an old friend from college who is also a walking, running, danger girl, so she's an excellent winner for the contest.  I'm fairly certain she's done more dangerous things than me so far, so I have some catching up to do.  Congrats, Emera!  I'll have the card in the mail most likely tomorrow, as today is a long, long shift.

The winner was selected using the button on  I had been keeping a chart of all my donors, and I assigned you each numbers based on the amounts of your donations.   You each had a certain number of chances based on amount and time you had donated, so you each had a series of numbers assigned to you.

I plugged in the number range and hit GENERATE, and BINGO:


#26 was the first number of Emera's range!

I also did all this after swimming a 50 second lap (wowsers!  My coach reminded me this morning that my first laps had been 60 seconds!) in the last leg of my mini-gym tri (I biked, I ran, I swam, and I totally medaled in my age group in hot-tub stretching.)

Next thing- I may or may not make the open water workout tonight due to work, but tomorrow I'm OFF, OFF, OFF, and we are driving to VT for the Mad River Century!  Beautiful drive!  I can't wait!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Give Away.... goes on!

The Winner of the Give Away has been contacted.  If the Winner accepts the prize, you will be informed shortly as to who the winner is.

Of course, the cliche is "we are ALL winners when we fight cancer together!"  but really, folks:  after a tough week for Sarah and Ben, all of you who helped me make my fundraising goal really helped lift their spirits.  And you gave me extra motivation, too.  I haven't missed a workout since making the goal!

In fact, today, it was already getting dark when I got home from work, so I dragged M out to the gym.  And I designed my own Mini-Tri.  That is, I biked on a video game exercise bike for 15 minutes, then I ran for 15 minutes on a treadmill with a 3.5% incline, and then I swam.

The swimming was a little tough- there were two guys who were working hard in two lanes, and then two girls who were chatting and chatting in the middle lane, and strolling back and forth.  (Uh, water walking?)  They were very nice, but they didn't get- AT ALL- the whole concept of "Hey, do you mind if I work in on your lane?"  So I swam most of my work out in the short and shallow lane.  But they finally got out and I decided to swim a few hard laps to see how I was doing.

Fastest lap ever!  I swam a lap at 50 seconds flat!  My before-training time was around 58 seconds, and super-fast was 55 seconds.  So 50 seconds is a huge improvement!  WHOO HOO!

Results pending for giveaway... stay tuned!  

Monday, August 23, 2010

Run and Swim and Baking Bread

Today is the start of our last week of intense training before our two week taper starts.  It's a little odd, because I have the Mad River Century coming up at the end of the week.  I have decided I will certainly go.  I intend to ride at least the first fifty miles, or past the point where this happened.  If the weather is cool and the Clif Bars are yummy, I might do the full hundred and finally get a century under the belt of my poor road bike.  It's not fair that its hybrid brethren has thus far had all the century fun in this house.

So I'm training hard while wondering if I should be taking it sort of easy for the weekend?

So I went out for a 25 minute run, in which I have no idea how far I went but I ran the whole time.  I've really worked hard on my running, and I think I came a long way.

I put these reflective speed laces on my shoes, called Yaks!.  The other triathletes weren't tying their shoes, so I figured it couldn't hurt.  In fact, it DOESN'T hurt- my left foot feels awesomely normal!  The shoe store guys say that people with a compressible foot like mine, we often find elastic laces more comfortable.  WOWSERS!

Then I did my swim workout.  I'm really getting used to the water position thing, so I can sense where I am in the water- like, all the way below, or floating on top.  I realize that I've been swimming in a slanted position.  I'm learning to correct my position to be lying flat in the water.  And guess what?  I go at exactly the same speed.  But it feels different-easier, somehow.

And then I came home to where my nice bread was baking.  I bake 99% of my bread, and I usually make a quick loaf.  But today I decided to make M something special and I made him EGG BREAD.

Oh.  My.   Entire.   Holy.   Family.    It is A-W-E-S-O-M-E!!!! Warm and chewy with a nice crisp crust and a soft substantial inside.  It's exactly like a loaf at the bakery- only a little better- a little fresher, a little more tender, a little bit more amazing.

I ate three slices already.  I was making sure they weren't poisoned!

And then I came here to blog for you, my faithful readers.  So I can't eat the whole thing before M comes home.  Oh, wow.  Oh, holy wow.  Mmmmmm-mm!

Next time, I should raffle off a loaf of bread for donors!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

MADE GOAL!!!!!!!!!!


I don't know if I can even express in words how I feel at the moment (except a little nervous for the upcoming tri?) since all day long I was on tenterhooks watching the push of donations come in, from people I know and from people I don't even know at all!  I am so humbled that so many people are so touched by this cause that they will support this crazy priest and her friends.

Sarah is beyond thrilled- she called me and was laughing like crazy, and I suspect she was crying a little too.  She's calling everyone now, and when Ben gets home from church in a few minutes, will she ever have news for him!  (She is going to be my personal inspirational speaker the night before the race, meaning that as we eat dinner with our group, she will say something inspiring.)

I can't believe we did it!  THANK YOU EVERYONE!!!!!!

And the cool thing?  you can still donate!  There are still paper checks waiting to be tallied, so we have already exceeded our goal, and the giveaway goes through this week!

Human people rock!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Teammate, Ben (and the Giveaway continues!)

Just 7 more days to donate to my account at Team in Training and get in on the Road ID give away!   Meanwhile...

Why am I doing this?  There's lots of reasons:  last August, I had a bad bike crash and I needed to work up my courage and fitness again; my grandpop and great-grandmother both died of blood cancers; I work in a hospital where we treat blood cancers; the PA did it and she's cool so I thought it'd be fun; a tri would stretch me in ways that a regular century would not...

And then there's Ben.  Each Team member gets to select an Honored Teammate.  This person serves as our inspiration when the training gets tough.  On the days we want to quit, our Honored Teammate is supposed to help inspire us to keep on trucking and working hard so we can benefit cancer research and patient support.  After all, our Teammates don't get a choice: they CAN'T quit.  SO...

Readers: meet Ben.
Ben, last year

Ben is a United Methodist minister who serves as the Associate Pastor at Beulah church, where he's continued working the entire time he's been undergoing chemo.  The youth in the parish think he's so much fun they did Relay for Life for him.

Ben and I got to know each other when I was down in Richmond, VA.  We were both doing our CPE residency at MCV-VCU.  I'm a hot-tempered spitfire who spits out words without thinking (often).  Ben is a thoughtful person who always has the right thing to say at the right time.  He's happy and laughs a lot, and seems to be friends with everyone.  He and I shared the surgery-trauma ICUs (we called them STICUs) and the trauma units our last semester.  He was a good resident who pulled his weight in the program.  He, David, Jonna, and I have all stayed at least loosely in touch.  (Thanks to Facebook and email!) Ben was the old married dude in the group.  Jonna and I were both engaged at the time, and David was stubbornly single.  Everyone has since gotten married... which I'm not saying is Ben's fault, but if domestic happiness and healthy relationships is not your thing, then Ben is not your role model!

Every now and then, I still share about difficult pastoral situations and Ben usually says the right thing or at least a good thing.  I usually manage to mangle things or to say the smart-aleck thing...

Ben is married to Sarah, who is my dream chick.  She's funny and also a spitfire, full of life and spirit.  When M and I were engaged, Ben and Sarah were our role models- also a couple without kids, who both had careers but were doing lots of grad school.  Somehow, they were making life work.  When M and I got the pre-wedding stress going on, Ben and Sarah were one of those couples we said we wanted to be like one day.  They had a house and dogs and happiness- win-win, right? (We also want to be like Brad and Angelina but we're only emulating them for the money.)
Ben and Sarah.  On her left wrist, you can see her green SUPPORT BEN  bracelet!

Any reader of this blog might have picked up that I am very, very fond of M.  I love him dearly and my greatest fear is that something will happen to my sweet M.  It was a true gift from God to meet someone like M, and I couldn't imagine who else I'd want to put up with.  I can't bear the thought of risking losing him.

It kills me that this is exactly the fear that Sarah has faced every day since Ben was diagnosed.  You see, Ben cannot be cured.  There is no drug or technology at this time.  The best they will be able to do is to get him into remission... and wait, and wait, and wait.  And when remission fails, they'll beat the cancer back again into remission... and again, and again.

Ultimately, I'm doing this because I want Ben and Sarah to grow old together.  I want them to be the toothless old couple at the old folks' home holding hands in their rocking chairs.  I'm doing this because Sarah is facing her worst nightmare... and I can't even bear to imagine going through the same.  Every now and then, I see a chink in her upbeat armor and that's what gets me out on the road again.  Running?  Hot spots?  Eating GU?  Easy peasy compared to what she's going through.

Sarah and Ben, recently

Ben and Sarah- I love you guys!

Our team link:

Monday, August 16, 2010

6.86 Mile Giveaway!

I'm lucky to have pretty neat brothers-in-law- one's idea of a Thanksgiving tradition is to stick a crate full of raw oysters on his back deck with a crate of beer and let us just have at it, and another who's even MORE bike-crazy than I am.
It's so nice to be the moderate one in the family.  (Meaning I only sucked down, like 12 oysters and a long ride for me is 62 miles instead of 70.)  So I informed the biker brother-in-law that it was threatening to rain and that my intention for today was to sit at home and play with bike parts.  
Instead, I decided to do the long run that I skipped yesterday.  6.86 miles.  Longest. Run. Ever.  
D*mn Puritan work ethic. M even came running himself- meeting me near the end.  Oddly, while the first few miles are agony, and while I have some nagging left big toe issues, by the end of the run, the pain sort of wore off.  I think that means I ran through the pain and my body is going into shock.  
Which is a great segue into the AWESOME GIVE-AWAY I'm doing!!  I'm a whiny runner.  I was not literally at the point of collapse.  I've been hypothermic and injured and bonked and near-collapse and in heat sickness before, so I know how real trouble honestly feels.  I was nowhere near being in trouble today.  But what if I had been?  
Enter Road ID.  
On the left, you can see our Road IDs.  Yes, of course, they are blurry enough so you can't read my info off the internet!  And on the right, you see the AWESOME GIFT CARD that ROAD ID is GIVING AWAY!  (And in the background, that's my favorite honeymoon picture, from Tenaya Lake in Yosemite.
Because what's an adventure without an awesome ending?) 

The FABULOUS folks at Road ID are helping out in the fight against cancer.  They are regular sponsors of TNT, and to help me out, have offered a $25 gift card, which I am going to make available to my sponsors.

Mine's an interactive (because of the cochlear, I can't have MRI, and I figured it's a good idea to be able to explain all the cochlear things in detail).  It means that I have an online profile that gives my medical information, including the cochlear contraindictions, and extra contact info.  Less complicated people can get a regular ID.  Mine is TNT purple!  M's is manly black.

All individuals who have sponsored me already will get one chance for every $10.  Everyone who sponsors me from here on out- for every $5, I will give you another chance!

The drawing will take place on August 25, on which date I will place everyone's name in a big bowl and draw out one lucky winner for the Road ID gift card!

Not only is it awesome, but you won't even have to endure the foot pain.  And you may win a really cool item by a really sweet small company, help save the economy with small business, and potentially save your life while helping me fund research to save other people's lives.  The karma is through the roof on this one!   

Friday, August 13, 2010

First Tri! PR!

The nice thing about doing your first endurance event of anything is that no matter what you do, you get a new personal record.  Some people call them "personal bests" and abbreviate it "PB" but that just makes me want a sandwich.

I have a LOT of vacation and holiday time at work, so I took the afternoon off to go do the Lake Terramuggus Tri.  It's a sprint tri- a short training event.  It's about half the length of the one I'll be doing in DC.  My idea for yesterday was to DO the event to get used to the feeling of transitioning, and to get used to the idea of stripping off all my gear and putting on more gear.  My coach came and gave me and my teammate advice and feedback.  Here's how I fared.

The Set-up:

I was a bucket of nerves.  What if the other triathletes were mean to me?  What if I put my stuff next to some hard-core athlete and pissed them off?  I'd been obsessively reading triathlon rules online, but I still had a killer case of heartburn.  And I lose my appetite when I'm upset.  I'd barely eaten all day.  

Finally we got to the race and I registered and got my number inked on my arm and leg, and I got my timing chip. And then I came back and stuck my bike on the rack.  This would become a problem.  See, I love my bike with deep warm squashy love, and I baby that thing.  Before most rides, I check its tires, check for loose spots, massage its tight areas, pet it and whisper sweet nothings to it.  Last night, I just pumped the tires next to my car, and didn't do anything else.  I'm sorry, Bike, I really do love you more than that.

The Swim:

My coach advised we go warm up.  Since I have wetsuit freakout issues, I thought that was wise, and got water flowing into my suit.  I took a few strokes around to try and loosen up, and saw the bottom of the lake with lots of fish darting around.  "Cool!" I thought, "Fish! Maybe they'll make me hungry by the end of the swim!"  And I looked up to see my coach pointing to the start, saying "GO THERE! SWIM!  NOW!"  And M was pointing, "SWIM THERE!! NOW!"  So I freaked out and frantically dog paddled over to the actual starting line.

Heart racing, adrenaline shakes, the whole nine yards.  Nervous, much?  Along came the countdown and off we went. A swift kick in the head and a chop to the ear and the pack was past me.  (Caveat: everyone who hit me turned around and said "sorry".)  Pretty soon, it was me with the breast-stroking tired people.  I guess I"m a realllllly slow swimmer.

I'd now like to thank my brother for instilling in me Little Sister Syndrome.  Basically, it's a learned behavior- anytime a strong boy comes along, this latent killer instinct kicks in.  So I started matching the guys around me stroke for stroke.  Ultimately, I was in the top of the last third or the bottom of the second third out of the water.  This just means you should pray for my swim coaches.

Oh, and seeing the fishes did not make me hungry.  In fact, seeing the little suckers darting about just made me feel slow.  Curse you, fishes!  You shall never motivate me again!

The Bike:

As you emerge from the water, all the water runs out of your wetsuit, which makes you feel like you are peeing.  I have modesty issues.  Besides, I get queasy from the change in body orientation.  Luckily, I had racked near a few strong guys, so they were long gone and I had plenty of space.  On went my bike gear, and then it was off to the ramp.  Of course I was panicking about the time, so instead of putting on my gloves as I had planned, I screeched as if they were bugs and threw them away.   Whoops.  And running bike shoes is fun:  Clopclopclopshuffleshuffleshuffle.  And onto the bike route.

I'm happy on a bike.  Pretty soon, the cool breeze on my wet trisuit had me feeling much better.  It took my legs about a mile to start feeling normal.  I started forcing fluids, but was so revved up from the nerves that I was pretty shaky about taking my hands off my handlebars.  This meant I didn't eat or drink nearly as much as I should have.  At least, Clif Bars Shot Blox are my friend.  Chewy gummy squares- num num num.  Clif Bars, sponsor me.

There were a few uphills, but plenty of nice curving downhill- all in all, it's a really delightful bike route. Just one problem:

I felt an ominous chatter in my back wheel.  You see, my rear brake is a little sensitive.  Sometimes, it makes a chatter sound and feels like I'm riding in sand.  That's why I coddle it BEFORE a ride.  I felt that feeling, but freaked out about stopping.  Would the other triathletes try to help me, and thus I'd ruin someone's race?  Would they be angry at me for not having my bike up to snuff?  Could I lose the time? Would I get a penalty?  I was hurting- badly- on the uphills, but if I spun like crazy, I could hold a steady 17mph on the flats and get upwards of 25 on the downhills.  I elected to stand and mash pedal on the hills to survive.  At the end of this post, I will include the DOH! moment.

The Run:

Back in transition, I sat to tie my shoes.  Most of the others have speed laces.  That's smart, eh?

The run scares me the most.  I'm a horrible, horrible, slow runner.  I waddle.  I whine.  I feel like a set of good lungs atop a pair of leaden-hosen, the type made of real lead.  The run crosses a basketball court and a tennis court, but the second I hit pavement, I was totaled by killer cramps in my calves.  I hobbled up a hill, and had to stop to stretch them out.  (My coach says I probably didn't eat or drink enough.)

I started shuffling again.  I felt like a brick.  A leaden brick.  It was probably a good mile, mile and a half, before I started feeling like I could do real running motions.  And then came another hill.

This is where I realized that I had been wrong to be scared of the other triathletes.  Yes, there's a few hard core weenies who don't want to be friends, but for the most part, they are a really nice, laid-back group of people.  I mean, they love at least one of the three sports, and here they are, actually doing them.  So they are happy.  "You'll feel so much better soon- it feels so good to get to the top of this hill!" said a voice.  I looked over my shoulder to see a guy in a yellow shirt.  "You're doing really good," he said.  "It's my first one!" I wailed.  "Great job! You're past the worst of it!"

Then I passed a cop stopping traffic.  "Good job!  Looking strong!"

Then a family had set up a water stop.  "Water?  You need water!  You're almost there!  Good job!"

Then a state trooper.  "You're making it look easy!"

I don't care if every single person was lying to me last night.  I needed to hear that and those people are all sweeties and I have great love for them all.

Finally, the finish.  As I approached the line, I heard the "clopclopclop" of two people behind me and I decided I was going to WIN THAT LITTLE SPRINT.

I have the white hat. 

And that blurry shot M took is the only time in my life I will ever look like a real runner.

The DOH! moment:

As we packed up, and prepared to rack my bike back on my Beetle, I decided now was the time to fret over my wheel.  I spun it.  It turned a quarter turn.  I spun it, harder.  It turned less than halfway.

Yes, my brake was cheated to the right.  I had ridden the whole race with my brake rubbing against my wheel.

And that is why my quads and hamstrings burned like fire all night and into this morning.

But I think back to the time that I passed a Shirtless Dude Who Was Very Proud of His New Aerobars and His Abs, and I totally wasted him on an uphill... I came up from behind, leaned around, and rocketed away from Shirtless Dude... WITH A BRAKE PROBLEM.  That kinda rocks, right?

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Today, I was supplying at a church which was exactly 6 miles from my home.  Score!  The race distance is exactly 6 miles.  Besides, I was scheduled for a long run today, and my body needed something to get some of the mental poison out of my system.   Essentially, being a hospital chaplain means that you sometimes have weeks of complete sh*t.  The past ten days have been like that.  It seems like the local paper is living outside my ED doors this week, and while it appeals to my control freak side to be "in the know", it gets tiresome to be dealing with every freakin' major headline.  I spent the week stepping over gang members to get to my office door and making clay handprints that were too tiny.  I had to run away from that... literally.

You'd run too, if you had this sort of a week.

What with one "shortcut" and another, I accidentally tacked on an extra .7 miles to my six mile run, but I left the church at 10:30 and arrived home at 11:42.  And I had the unique experience of picking up some rations at 7-11.  I can't remember the last time I was in a 7-11, though it used to be a regular treat for Slurpees after soccer practice when I was little.

There, I met my enemy.  Not my nemesis, because that would be like Gu which makes me want to yak.  No, this stuff is just disgusting and gross and makes me queasy and angry.  It's G3- which came in the small jar.  G2 came in a big jar which was too big to carry.  G3 came in the small jar.  It's horrible!  Sweet, thick, syrupy, coats my tummy like cough syrup and sits there with the delicate weight of lead in my gut.

I do drink regular Gatorade, and love the lemon-lime and the red flavors.  But I also drink them at half-strength.

I brushed my teeth three times after getting home, and my tummy has been easily upset all afternoon- whole foods and veggies seem ok, but any amount of sugar is pushing me way over the edge.  I had supper with my parents and sister- the special recipe zucchini parm dish was great, as was the nice bread.  But right after I ate my ice cream:  the Gatorade feeling returning.  I virtually ran out of my parents' house, moaned all the way home, and only stayed up to share with you, my dear readers, my agony.

G3, I hate you deeply, with a deep loathing that goes far beyond my ambivalence about Gu.  G3, you are an evil, evil drink.  I hope you can learn to live with yourself.


PS- in exciting news, my fundraising (which is not reflected in my online total just yet) is now up to $2,075!!! Just $775 to go!!  

Thursday, August 5, 2010

In Praise of Shot Bloks

Oh, Shot Bloks, you 33 calories of caffeine and sugar.
Oh, you Shot Bloks, who do not upset my tummy and make me want to yak.
For yakking at 530AM on a ride is somewhat anti-social.
You make my tummy happy, and my burden light.

Shot Bloks, you are the first energy food that I love, after Clif Bars and maybe some types of Luna Bars.
But definitely not Gu.
Gu makes me especially yak prone, especially on the swim leg.
And I'm pretty sure that's a biohazard.

Shot Bloks, you come in tasty flavors, like a Gummy Bear.
And you fit so nicely in my bike's bento box,
Where I stash my snacks so I can eat and ride.
O, why have I not become uber-skinny this summer?  (It can't have been the cake...)

Shot Bloks, you and I shall live in joy and unity
All the days that my bike has functional gears on it.
And we shall dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.
For if heaven lacks Shot Bloks, then God doesn't ride bikes.

And I'm moving to the heaven with bike paths.


My nifty bento box (not the brand name one).  In it I have a Clif Bar, my previous food of choice and still my go-to option for endurance events.  The plastic tubes are the Ode'ed Shot Bloks, which might just be a miracle.  And the small silver thing in front is a Clif Shot.  Sorry Clif, but I just can't do gels.  

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Wetsuit

My coach has the picture trapped on his camera, until his nephew can teach him how it works.  So I had a teammate take a cellphone picture this morning.

We swam in the ocean (well, the Sound) in Fairfield.  It's a really lovely beach.  The only drawback is it's over an hour from home... meaning a 430AM wake up call for me!  YOWCH!  At least... as we waded in to the water just after 6, the sun dawned a brilliant red, rising out of the cloud bank.  It was rather... majestic.  Maybe those crazy dawn people had something right... Oooo, next time we go camping... I'll leave the rainfly off!  THAT sounds like a good way to welcome a nice clear dawn.  (Warm, dry, and comfy, from one's own sleeping bag!)

The sky starts to lighten as I get around the Waterbury area, and the iPod sings me songs.  I'm still working on the morning eating thing.  I've never been a good morning eater- partly because I tend to feel queasy in the morning.  It's just how I've always been.  So I had the bright idea to try some Alka-Selzter today.  It seemed to help on the morning upset stomach, and I was able to eat my half-PB sandwich.  Unfortunately, the good vibes didn't last.  The morning queasiness returned with a vegeance halfway through the swim.

One teammate suggested that I might be mildly claustrophobic.  Odd, since I always associated claustrophobia with enclosed spaces like elevators, but apparently, she was listening to the way I describe the wetsuit and how hard it is to breathe in it for a few minutes and how I needed to stop to pull at the neck and fill it up a little with extra water... apparently, wetsuit claustrophobia is a known triathlete issue, and why some people freak out in the water.  Hence, it is very important to practice in your suit well before the event.  Today, we had a current, an incoming tide, and waves.  We swam against the current on the way back, and there was certainly a few times I considered swimming for shore half-way through.  At one buoy I treaded water and promised my worldly goods, my non-existent firstborn, and a pony to anyone who would let me have a bike ride instead.

But my teammate egged me on with her infectious energy and I made it all the way to the end.

Getting out of the water is tough when you are feeling queasy, short of breath, and mildly heart-burny (apparently, all symptoms of not eating enough for a hard workout OR of claustrophia.  I would also suggest tri-phobia).  The wetsuit is VERY heavy, and the water inside it is warmer than the water outside it and the air.  As the water runs out of the suit, it makes you feel like you are peeing your pants.  Very uncomfortable for this modest girl!  (The Vagabond assures her followers that she will NOT be peeing in her wetsuit.)

Here's the long awaited picture, come to set my donors free.  You have given my cause money, here's the picture for all to see!  (OK, sorry, I had a church geek moment there.  Bonus points for anyone who can identify the earworm I have right now!)
Post-swim.  I'm not sure if I really look all that thrilled, but that's the most I can muster after today's grueling water workout!