May 2008


“I am only one, but I am still one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something I can do.” -Helen Keller

Brad Ruggles over at http://www.bradruggles.com has a wonderful wallpaper for free with this quote right now too. Go check out his work!

So much for my literary endeavor? Haha, it’s there… it’s just not as exciting to write about when I have all this fun training stuff to reflect on and share.

I’ve now completed my first week of training! Wow! This week went by SO quickly and I can hardly believe where I was last week and where I am this week. I’ve had two swim practices, two run practices, and a bike practice.

I’ve learned how to put on a swim cap and purchase proper goggles. I’ve learned proper breathing techniques and Robbie’s coaching system. I learned rotation and rediscovered old muscles in the pool. I swam lengths upon lengths until I lost count. It took a long minute to swim 50 yards, but it’s only the first week.

I’ve learned that warm ups on a track run opposite race/work outs. I’ve learned that layers are amazing and so is sunscreen. I learned that “be prepared” is not just a Girl Scouts motto. I ran several laps at the track and ran a mile in less time than I have since … probably middle school. Didn’t even know I could do that! It’s not a great time (11:53), but I’m proud of it and eager to see where I am when we do the 2 mile time trial halfway through the training. I’m excited to “learn” to run… and hopefully to enjoy it.

I’ve learned how to ride a road bike, but I’ve yet to master it one-handed. I’ve learned how to slip into the cages, but still don’t quite have the take off under pressure. I’ve learned to shift, but am still getting used to which is up and which is down and how in the world to tell when to do it. I’ve learned that bike shorts are AMAZING, but they are not a cure all and bike saddles will NEVER be comfortable. I’ve learned to prep for bumps. I’ve got an idea on how to change a tire and know how to remove my front wheel.

I’ve learned that gradual means I’m not ridiculously sore, but occasionally achy. I’ve learned that my car is pretty much going to be a tri car from now until September. I’ve learned that I still have a knack for the quick change in the car. I’ve learned that all day at work and then long work outs make for a tired me. I’ve learned that these people I’m surrounded by for training are pretty fantastic and I cannot wait to get to know them better.

I’ve learned a lot in the last week. I’ve done a lot in the last week. Now to finish the fundraising letters…

Monday Manners.

Where do I even begin this Monday? Let’s talk Tri-Etiquette as I’m learning more and more everyday.

In a triathlon event, it is not only poor etiquette but also illegal to draft… that is to cluster and get within 7m of another cyclist. It may save you 20% in energy, but it’ll cost you in penalties. Meanwhile, in the open water swim… completely legal to get close to the other swimmers and bank on their work for your energy.

At the pool, there are lanes within the lanes. We don’t want anyone kicked.

Other Non-Mannered Lessons Learned:

Sunscreen is your best friend. Wear it. It doesn’t matter how long you think your workout is going to be, WEAR the sunscreen. Seriously.

Nothing new on race day… train with the theory of specificity.

Be a rocket.

Go with the current.

How to put on a swim cap… and how to choose the right pair of goggles.

Bike shorts feel a little like a diaper or how I imagine a diaper would feel like if I could remember back to the days of diapers.

People will surprise you.

Emails rock… THANK YOU.

“How wonderful it is that nobody needs to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Anne Frank

One week into my journey with Team In Training, I still feel overwhelmed by the task ahead of me in fundraising. I’m brainstorming constantly and regularly trying to come up with new ideas, techniques, and events in which I can raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. In the last week, I have seen great generosity, but I still have so far to go. As such, I found myself online looking for motivating quotation about fundraising… to both lift myself and hopefully encourage others to donate. It was through that search that I found these words from Anne Frank.

In many ways, this quote needs no interpretation. Anne finds it to be wonderful that we needn’t wait for the “right” time or a “special” time before we begin to improve the world because we can start doing it right now. Every breath, every action, every tiny step we take makes an impact on the world. Anne shows us that those tiny steps can be the start of improving the world.

“How wonderful it is that nobody needs to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Anne Frank

I’ve often found myself wallowing in how big the world’s problems are. I think to myself, “What could I possibly do to help? I’m just one person.” As I reflect on this quote though, I realize how silly it is to become stuck in such a thought process. I realize that I’ve already made an impact on the world around me: tutoring second grade for four years, teaching Sunday school, helping with Cool Club, buying a necklace from Beads For Life, recycling, and so many other things that I do day to day. Yes, signing up for this triathlon was a HUGE step towards improving the world (particularly the world of those personally affected by blood cancers), but such a big thing wasn’t the only way for me to help. Quite truly, many could say that I should have waited to do such a big thing in my life. Wait until my jobs were more stable and my income flow was more conducive to taking time to train. Wait until I had health insurance. Wait until … wait until … I could have come up with a million and one reasons why I shouldn’t do this, but the time is now and I couldn’t wait anymore.

When it comes to society as a greater whole, each person can realize and actualize their potential to improve the world. I’m not telling you that you need to run a marathon or triathlon (although it is a great cause), but I’m simply reminding you that you can make a difference in small ways. For Team In Training, you can donate, educate, and motivate. You can share and inspire. Those things will help me and help those with blood cancers. You can work toward your own cause that YOU are passionate about: write letters, send emails, share stories. Just today, a friend asked me to help her in the fight against Cystic Fibrosis. Only a few weeks ago, another friend went on a bike ride for diabetes. Some serve with their own hands, others contribute in whatever way they can. Find your own way… improve your world. The time is now. We don’t need to wait.

“How wonderful it is that nobody needs to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Anne Frank

As I entered the building at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, uncertain about what I was getting myself into, I put on my happy face and embraced the unknown (as I know I’ll do many more times before this journey ends). The moment I walked up, I encountered beautiful people who not only seemed to be genuinely passionate, but who I believe *are* genuinely passionate about Team In Training and LLS. Every person was kind, helpful, and encouraging. Instantly, everything seemed simpler. The encouragement and kindness made all the nagging worries and fears temporarily melt away and all I saw was the big picture. It reminded me of looking for a college as a high school senior.

I knew when I stepped on USD’s campus that that was the place for me. People were kind, helpful, passionate, and enthusiastic. “Do you need help?” “Do you know where you’re going?” “Let me show you…” “Let me introduce you…” Every person was a light shining and pointing towards USD as my school of choice. Each event and person throughout the day left a mark that said, “I want to go here. This is where I belong.”

That’s exactly how I felt when I walked into the Kick Off today. Smiling faces greeted me and showed me where to go. Helpful people began to show me the ropes and answer my questions. Passionate and enthusiastic people made me believe once more that this goal is attainable. Joy radiated from each person I met and life seemed heightened. We were there united for a cause and united in a goal. I can’t even begin to truly put into words what that felt like.

I also met my honored teammate today. Tamela (as she put it: Pamela with a T) was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. A large tumor grew on her sternum and was detected while she was pregnant with her youngest daughter. She found out her diagnosis after her daughter was born as she did not want to risk her daughter’s health through the methods of detection and testing during pregnancy. Her younger daughter is now 2 ½ and Tamela has been cancer-free for 20 months. What a blessing! Meeting Tamela tonight was amazing and I’m so excited to begin training to honor her. She’ll be at all of our Saturday workouts and I can’t wait to get to know her better and learn more of her story (and hopefully meet her family too!). Her emotion and gratitude left a lump in my throat and I am so proud to have her on my team. I met two of the other honored teammates for other teams as well… one of whom as been free of AML (Acute Myelogenous Leukemia) for nine months and another still battling Multiple Myeloma (the same cancer as my honored teammate). While they’re honored teammates for marathon teams for the Fall Season, they’re both currently training for the Rock N Roll marathon on June 1st here in San Diego… amazing!! I hope I’ll get to see and talk to them more throughout the season, even though they aren’t my specific team’s honored teammates.

I also met my head coach, assistant coach, coordinator, and mentors tonight. I’m already a huge fan of them all. Coach Gurujan even showed me how to take the wheel off my bike so that I can bring my bike to training on Saturday! I hope it’s as easy on my bike as it was on his bike.

We received a brief overview of our training schedule tonight—wow! I’m going to be busy, but it’ll be fantastic. Training starts Saturday, but it’s supposed to be a light workout. We’re also having an expo on proper attire and equipment (so I’m thinking I’ll be making some purchases in the next week or so). One more step on the way to the triathlon… GO TEAM! It’s as simple as that.

Meeting Tamela at the Kick Off

It’s hard to believe another week has passed and that May is well underway now (and May Gray with it!). It’s hard to believe that this is my second Thankful Friday already! Time certainly does fly!!

Keeping with my theme of Team In Training this week (as shall probably be the sole focus of this blog over the next few months), today I am thankful for donations. I’m thankful for the amazing individuals who have already taken the time and given of themselves to help me reach my goal of $4500. It is no small task and I would not be able to do it without them. I understand that not everyone will be able to donate; I have been there. However, it makes those donations which are possible that much more miraculous.

I have so much more to do before September, but I know that with faith and trust… and a lot of hard work and the support of others, I can do this. It is possible.

Meanwhile, I called my grandma today (hi Grandma! if you come and read this) and told her that I signed up to do a triathlon. She laughed, paused, and laughed some more. This continued for possibly five minutes straight. “Your grandpa and I were just talking about your first day of soccer,” she said, “and you had to run from one end of the field to the other… halfway there you decided to go back because you didn’t want to do it.” I assured her that this time I wouldn’t stop halfway; I was only 7 or 8 years old then after all. She told me she was going to start saying the rosary for me because, “you aren’t very athletic.”

She’s not wrong. I danced my entire life, I did cheer, but when it came to “real sports”… well, I wasn’t so into it. I did play a fantastic game of powderpuff football though. The amazing thing about Team In Training though is that I don’t have to be the world’s greatest athlete, I’m going to be partnered up with someone at my level and together we will reach the finish line. I don’t have to be the fastest or the strongest, I just need to have the determination to persevere when the going gets tough. I might not be the most athletic, but just about anyone that knows me can tell you I’m stubborn and strong-willed. I’ve set my mind to completely this triathlon and raising the money I committed to raise, there’s no turning back now.

I was and am thankful for my grandma’s laughter though… and no doubt my grandpa’s laughter when my grandma told him what I was doing. It reminds me that maybe I am a little crazy, but also that it is my passion that is driving me. It also made it that much more meaningful when she told me that she was proud of me. I hope that I can make others proud too… I hope that I can make Courtney, the other angels, and all those that are on this journey NOT by choice proud.

Tonight, I am thankful for the blessing of laughter, the blessing of donations, and the blessing of support.

I cannot do this without you, so thank you.

I’m still having a hard time signing in to make it personal… but you can start donating today!

http://pages.teamintraining.org/sd/pactri08/bleach

The link will also be on the side bar throughout my training.

I was fifteen years old and just a few weeks into my sophomore year of high school. The day started out like any other day: I woke up, got ready for school, and stopped into my cheer advisor’s classroom when I got to school. From that moment on, it was no longer a typical day.

Courtney had leukemia. She was thirteen years old. How was this possible?

I fumbled through my day. By the time I got to cheer practice in 6th period, I was so grateful to be surrounded by other girls who knew Court. We hugged and we sat in silence. We tried not to cry, but sometimes couldn’t help ourselves. We took the team picture that day and the other freshmen cheerleaders used eyeliner to honor her on their shoulders.

Days, weeks, and months passed by. We missed Court every day and wished her the best. We made videos and cards for her. By the end of the year, there was no evidence of disease. She was cancer free and given the go ahead for coming back to school the following year. Success! She was a survivor.

She was an inspiration… and she continues to inspire from the heavens. She did not have an earthly survival when she was re-diagnosed with leukemia two years ago. I have written of those final days many times, but I still struggle with understanding why she couldn’t survive leukemia a second time. She was nineteen years old. This isn’t how a life should end. It breaks my heart to see living grief in her family and closest friends.

Tonight, I made a very difficult decision to honor her and all those that are diagnosed with blood cancers. The decision to honor Courtney, Alese, Krista, and Jason was simple. The decision to personally honor those others I know who do not have blood cancers, but whose battles with cancer are equally worthy of honor and recognition was easy. However, making the commitment to join Team In Training and raise $4500 in the next four months while training for a triathlon was not easy. I have no idea how I’m going to do this. I am relying solely on faith. I am resting on angels’ wings and praying their strength will carry me to the finish line. All of my life I’ve been told that God provides, I pray tonight for peace of mind in this decision. I pray that I will have the faith to believe what I’ve been told and know that if I work towards this goal that God will provide. The peace I seek this night is for all those encountering cancer.

In a couple of days, my page with TNT should be active and ready to go. I ask now that you consider donating to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in their mission to fight blood cancers through research. I ask that you consider supporting me in my endeavor to raise money for research and reach the finish line in September. In the meantime, take a moment to visit the sites listed below. Let these young angels inspire you. Also, consider registering as a bone marrow donor (www.marrow.org). They have currently waved the registration fee in honor of Mother’s Day (and the life they gave us).

Courtney Nicole
November 21, 1986 – November 14, 2006
http://www.freewebs.com/courtneynicole

Alese Coco
March 10, 1984 – May 7, 2007
http://www.alesecoco.org
http://www.fight2win.org

Krista Romero
November 8, 2008 – June 9, 2007
http://www.carepages.com (Page Name: kristasupdates)

 

In the spirit of TGIF, Fridays have been deemed “Thankful Fridays” (for the month of May at least). And just as I was stumped yesterday, despite having a theme, I found myself stumped yet again. I mean, I’m thankful for a lot of things and I try to be aware of that thankfulness as well as share that thankfulness regularly. So, how does decide which to write about? Does choosing to write about our thankfulness devalue other things we are thankful for? These questions scurried through my mind as I tried to pick something.

My inspiration today came not from a phone that hit me like a ton of bricks… but from a slab of concrete that hit me like a… slab of concrete. Let me back track a moment for you.

On Tuesday, I had the good fortune of an afternoon off. For that I was and am thankful as it afforded me the opportunity (and money necessary) to get the air filter and oil changed in my car and the tubes changed on my bike tires. My bike is several years old. I don’t remember how old I was when I got it, but it was while I lived in Santa Paula. As such, it is at least 10 years old and could be up to 13 years old. The tubes were the original tubes. They were dead. They did not hold air anymore. These new tubes in my tires… tires that were actual FULL of air… THEY were a blessing! Now I can ride my bike to work again… now I can go on bike rides JUST BECAUSE. For that I was and am thankful.

Today, I woke up late and did not get ready quickly enough to ride my bike to work. I was sad and felt incredibly lazy as a result. So, I planned and mapped out a route that totaled 4 miles (distance to and from work) that included Whole Foods (a store I needed to visit) on the route. Simple enough, right? Right. I came home, changed out of my work clothes, and set off on my bike ride. I stopped into Whole Foods and continued on my journey. As I neared the end, I couldn’t remember which street I needed to turn on next per my 4.0 mile route… so I pulled out the paper for a quick glance at the street names.

This is where I went wrong. Apparently, I altered my weight just enough to completely throw off the balance and I started zooming toward the curb (better than into the cars, right? RIGHT.). I tried to correct the problem. I tried desperately to avoid hitting the curb, but there was no hope. I was doomed and I braced myself.

That’s when my inspiration hit me like a slab of concrete… cold, hard sidewalk concrete. I caught myself on my hands mostly and my left wrist is a little sore. My knees are a little red and probably bruised, but nothing too terrible. An older gentleman pulled over to check and see if I was alright; I thanked him and assured him I was just fine. I was just fine. I could have hit my head. I could have broken a bone (and without health insurance that would certainly be a tragedy). I could have thrown off my balance in the other direction and hit a car instead of a curb. Yes, it could have been much worse.

I am thankful that I can ride my bike again; I’m more thankful tonight that even though I felt like a seven year old who crashed her bike… or possibly the five year old me who ripped out her stitches when she fell on her bike… I was okay. No, I didn’t finish my bike ride though. I decided against the last half mile and rode home instead (as I crashed only around the corner from my apartment). My injuries were minimal and my bike was fine. I’m also thankful that my roommates gave me a hard time about considering not wearing my helmet because I didn’t want to change my hairstyle.

Tonight, I am thankful. Very thankful.

“There are moments in your life that make you… that set the course of who you’re gonna be. Sometimes they’re little, subtle moments. Sometimes… they’re not.”

I first discovered this quote when I was 13 years old. It always feels so trivial to write about a quote from Buffy, but that is where I found these profound words. They were spoken by someone sent from “The Powers That Be” and not by one of the regular characters. This quote opened the season 2 finale as a voiceover. The audience was taken through a plethora of “moments” that altered the courses of the characters’ lives. As Whistler told us, some of these moments were little, subtle moments. Others were not.

This quote extends well beyond the realm of a television show or television in general. Our lives are made up of moments. Some of these moments pass by with little thought or reflection: the test you took one day in middle school, the afternoon walk home from the bus stop, the fourth lecture presented by your professor about arthropods, and all of the spaces that fill the parts of the day that you don’t tell your roommates or families about at the end of the day. We ignore and overlook many of these little moments because they pale in comparison to the big moments. The paycheck is a huge moment on pay day. The first kiss remains forever ingrained. Your best friend told you she got engaged. A girl in your class died. She was someone’s friend, daughter, and student. Now, your world is changed.

“There are moments in your life that make you… that set the course of who you’re gonna be. Sometimes they’re little, subtle moments. Sometimes… they’re not.”

I can think of many moments in my life that I could use to make an example of these words. My roommate and I were driving home from The Field after celebrating our friend and neighbor’s 21st birthday after an amazing weekend on retreat. I was in great spirits and was basking in the post-retreat high of love. Then, my phone rang with my sister’s ringtone. It was a text message. Three words changed my night, my life, my world. It was such a small moment in time, but a profound moment in my life. It took only three words and those words said, “Courtney Davis died.” Courtney was a friend from high school. She was a beautiful soul and one of the sweetest girls that I have ever met. She was an example of how to live. My sophomore year of high school, her freshman year, she was diagnosed with leukemia. By the end of the year, there was no evidence of disease. After a couple years of maintenance chemo, she was declared cancer free. At five years, the doctors declare you in remission. Cured… essentially. Courtney reached the five year mark and she was not declared in remission. For the first time in five years, she showed evidence of disease. The cancer was back.

I didn’t know that Courtney was sick again. We’d lost touch after I went away to college and only saw each other a couple of times after she graduated from high school. When I received that text message, my world came crashing down around me. Courtney was my hope. She was the one that survived. She was so young and her birthday was only a week away. She would have been 20. Courtney asked that we Pray It Forward and I am doing my best to do so. I’m more intentional in my work and in my life. I don’t want to lose touch with people anymore because we never know how much time any of us has left.

Society can benefit from hearing and instilling these words. Every person is changed; every life is altered, by the moments that make up the days. We can all relate to these words and understand their value and their truth. I spent most of the day trying to choose the perfect quote for today’s quotation reflection. I couldn’t decide on a subject for a quote. I mean, how do you narrow it down? And then, my sister called. Once more, hearing from her altered my world. Only this time it didn’t crash my world; it gave me direction for this reflection. It changed my perspective and led me to these words. You see, she called with a prayer request. A young woman, a teenager, died in a car accident earlier this evening. Her name was Dani and she danced at Ventura College. My sister didn’t know her, but she saw her dancers and friends crumble with grief. She watched as Becky spoke with Dani’s mother. She called because Dani was late for rehearsal and the show opens in two weeks. She never imagined that Dani had died an hour beforehand.

Dani is only one girl that died today. Unfortunately, I know that many more died today… in accidents, from disease, from poverty, by malice, and through personal intention (to name a few possibilities). Everywhere, there are families and friends mourning the loss of those individuals. Each person had a big moment open their eyes today in a new way. Each person’s world shook. Some will carry these moments with them. Some people will be more cautious while driving and realize the dangers in driving because of Dani’s accident (regardless of the causes). Some will be more intentional in their friendships and will regularly tell their friends and family that they are loved. Perhaps in time this moment won’t seem as big, but their lives will never be the same. Each person carries their big moments with them and many carry their subtle moments as well, even without realizing it. Carry those moments. Recognize those moments. Live to the full and embrace it all.

“There are moments in your life that make you… that set the course of who you’re gonna be. Sometimes they’re little, subtle moments… sometimes, they’re not.”

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