September 2008

It might be the last day of September by the time you read this (seriously? where did it go?), but it’s not our last chance to promote cancer awareness… and particularly childhood cancer awareness.

Take a minute to see the big picture over at The Boston Globe and visit some of the websites on the right. These angels lost their battles, but their parents dream that other children won’t become angels. Ellie should have been celebrating her 10th birthday today (September 29th) WITH her family on earth. Her life is celebrated and God’s plan is greater than our own, but it is never easy to lose a friend so young. And while I can’t speak from personal experience (and pray I’ll never be able to), it never seems to be easy to lose a child, sibling, nephew, niece, cousin, or grandchild to cancer when they should have years and years ahead.

Join the fight… spread the word.

Christopher Reeve once noted,

“Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.”

There are two days left of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. I’m choosing hope. Hope that people will see their own ability to make a difference. Hope that awareness has been created. Hope that many registered as bone marrow donors (I know my roommate did, love her!). Hope that people will not forget the lives of children living with cancer… hope that people will not forget the many for whom I raced two weeks ago: the blood cancer fighters, survivors, and angels.

On race day, the announcer said something that I never thought of before. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is an organization that is HOPING to go out of business one day. They are working toward the day that they can shut their doors because their services will not be required anymore… the day that a cure is found and cancer officially loses the race.

Hope for that day. PRAY for that day.

San Diego Represent!

Originally uploaded by strong_enough

“The dream was always running ahead of me. To catch up, to live for a moment in unison with it, that was the miracle.” Anais Nin

Race day was a blessing… and it is my hope that I too was a blessing to others through raising awareness and funds ($4631 to date! Go go go!). Crossing the finish line was the moment I lived in unison with my dream, I can’t wait to do it again.

More photos will be posted on Flickr soon, but for now this will give you a glimpse at race morning in Pacific Grove with my team. “Team Estrogen” (and Nelson, Neil, and Tim… plus Coach Robbie) at the finish line just a few minutes before the opening ceremonies.

For race recaps, scroll down or go here and here and here.

Scroll down or go here for Part 1 of 3 for RACE WEEKEND.

And now, the big day! RACE DAY!!!

Waking at 4:30am proved to be much easier than I expected… I guess it was the excitement?! Probably. I had everything prepped… from my “nutrition planned and proved” breakfast of champions to my tri clothes laid out in order of when I put it on (i.e. singlet on top of my sweatshirt on top of my jacket). I pumped air into my tires and Catherine and I headed out to meet the team in the dark that is 5am. Adrenaline-pumped, race-ready teamies gathered with eagerness dripping from every word and movement. So, we headed out. The first several blocks felt like they’d never end as we walked our bikes to the safe, lit, and legal bike path for the dark of morning. We rode the remain four or so miles to the transition area where we set up our spots and received our body markings.

After our initial 45 minutes or so “warm up” on the bike, a bunch of us decided to continue our warm up with a run. I did about 30 minutes or so out and back on the path before I returned to refuel, rehydrate, and get ready for our team picture under the finish line. We watched the opening ceremonies with a prayer and national anthem. We listened as Coach Robbie gave a “motivational talk looking out over the swim” when the first wave took off at 7:15am. Together we watched the men’s waves cut through some of the kelp for those of us in the later waves. Then, those of us heading out first went to final prep for our race.

I slithered into my wetsuit, greased up my neck to prevent more “love bites” from said wetsuit, and finished my water. I restructured the layout of my transition area and headed down to the water with my teammates. We were part of the first women’s (and first TNT women’s) wave at 8:45am. We “warmed up” our strokes in the chilly 57 degree water and then jumped around in excitement… waiting for that countdown.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1! And the race began! I ran into the water and started swimming at my absolute fastest in hopes that I could draft off of the faster women for as long as possible. I kept up with most of the group for most of the first section before they were too far ahead of me. I continued as fast as I could and occasionally found other swimmers at my pace that I was able to draft off of. My first loop of the swim took around 23 minutes… just a little longer than I’d hoped for (as 20 minutes had been my fastest half-mile previously). I was excited though because I’d expected that the people and the kelp would slow me down much more than that. My second loop was slower and I crossed the timing mat into T1 at 9:33am at 00:47:57 with a pace of 00:51:26 minutes a mile. This is a relatively slow pace, but I’ve never been nor claimed to be a speed demon. Haha. I was excited to come in at less than my predicted 50min for the swim.

T1… my first transition! It took me 00:06:29 for my transition (about a minute and a half slower than I predicted). I think the added time can be greatly placed on my use of arm warmers. I’d never used them during our practices and trying to pull clothing onto wet arms is tricky. Plus, I didn’t put my singlet on until I got done with the swim. It was still relatively fast given that I had to tie my shoes (I don’t use bike shoes or yanks), put on socks and arm warmers, and I even took the time to thaw out my hands and feet in hot water. It may have been a “long” transition, but it was well worth it.

Time for the bike! The bike course was a 10k loop that we did four times. I loved having a looped course. First, it made nutrition planning super easy. I planned things for “at the beginning of each loop” or “at the end of the first three loops” and it worked out perfectly. It gave me time to digest and process the energy in the gels and utilize the electrolytes during and before the run. I finished all of my hydration and nutrition system at the beginning of the first loop and had a full six miles to process it all. I also loved having a looped course because I was able to see people I knew in the crowd at each loop and hearing those encouragements really kept me going. It also meant that I was able to see people I knew often on the course. I found that I was watching the opposite side of the road for teammies more often than I was pushing my speed. Plus, by the second loop, I had refamiliarized myself with the loop and knew when to shift gears, prep to shift, and when I could really push the speed. In the end, I finished the bike a full 12 minutes faster than I predicted. I finished the bike at 11:28am after 01:48:32 with a pace of 13.7mph. Again, some would consider this pace to be fairly pedestrian, but it was faster than I’d ever gone before. My coach predicted my bike would take me 01:53:13; I made him proud! Woo hoo!

T2… the second transition! Normally, I rock the second transition like nobody’s business because I don’t use bike shoes. Rack the bike, grab my water bottle and hat, and GO! When we had our practice tri, I rocked out onto the run in 00:01:16. Unfortunately, my hydration caught up to me and I had to slow down to take care of that. So my T2 time was 00:03:03, but I was ready to go when I got out to the run.

Time to run… and remember when I said I was ready to go? Apparently my legs didn’t get the memo. The first two miles (the first loop… yup, the run was looped too, love it!) were terrible. Absolutely terrible. I went through a constant cycle of run, walk, stop and stretch. Try again. In the end, my first loop took just nearly 31 minutes (with the first mile taking just under 17 minutes). Those two miles really warmed up my calves though and by the end of that first loop I was feeling significantly less cramping. I finished my second loop in about 27 minutes. When I started that last loop I ran past my cheering section (love you Mom, Dad, Uncle Russ, Grandma Betty, and Aunt Carolyn!) and told them, “I’ll see you at the finish line!” I finished my last loop in 25:27, which was still significantly slower than I would have liked my average pace to be, but I was thrilled to cross that finish line in 04:09:11! I predicted that it would take me 5.5 hours back in July when we were filling out race forms. In fact, I didn’t even know if that was possible. Then, we had our practice triathlon mid-August, I realized that I could probably do it about 4.5 hours. Then, Coach asked us to predict times for each section and I predicted my total time would be 04:12:30… and I beat it! I beat that time despite my run taking 01:23:08 (just over eight minutes longer that I predicted and just about 10 minutes slower than my coach predicted). As I’ve been recounting race day, I’ve been looking at old projected times and such and I realized that while I was (and still am) disappointed by the run, I actually came in faster than my initial projected 10K time. Wow! I guess the little disappointments just mean I’ll have to do this again (and I’m hooked, so it’ll happen… one day).

Crossing that finish line was unbelievably amazing and indescribably fulfilling. The entire run was very emotional for me. With the first loop causing me much frustration, it was a huge blessing and great feeling to reach “the hill” and see the love and support offered by our mentors and others with a “San Diego Roll Call” lining the hill. It was great seeing not only my name, but each of our names there. By the time I started the second loop, my thoughts started to think about all of the names on my singlet… cancer fighters, cancer survivors, and angels lost to cancer. While I competed with LLS and raised funds for blood cancers, people with all types of cancer lined my singlet. I thought of the children as I raced on Childhood Cancer Awareness Day. I thought of Lauren and her parents from the night before at the Pasta Party… “chup chup,” she’d said. Cheer up. As I passed my family, my teammates, my coach, my mentors, my coordinator on that last loop… as I passed by every individual yelling GO TEAM or GO BREE (my name was on my singlet), I thought, “I’m really doing this. I’m really going to finish.” Once more, I reminded myself not to cry despite the surge of emotion. I thought of each one of you supporting me with words of encouragement, countless prayers, and donations. The support has been incredible and I can honestly say that I would not have been able to cross that finish line without each and every one of you. You were each with me, guiding me with beautiful words and prayers, as I crossed the finish line. Angels wings’ carried me and earthly angels cheered me on. Thank you. Thank you SO much.

Wow, this has turned into quite a novel. Stay tuned for what came *after* the race…

(P.S. You can find more race results and stats here, but remember that I never boasted to be a top athlete. You can find official race pictures here, but remember that I was RACING (and therefore cannot be held responsible for strange faces and other appearances.)

A much belated, but carefully thought (and hopefully engaging) account of race weekend…

I last messaged you all on September 11th after arriving safely in Monterey… oh! What an eventful weekend it was! After I sent out that email, I met up with my team for a walk into downtown Monterey for lunch.

“It’s only about a mile,” Mentor Emily noted.

It was only about three or four TO lunch. Well, that’s one way to get acquainted with the town. We came back to the hotel after a short stop at Trader Joe’s and I took a much needed nap before our course preview. Our bikes arrived about an hour late, so we didn’t make it out to the bike course until the sun was already setting (and the Monterey cold was setting back in). The bike was pleasantly flat and it was great to preview it and realize that I could bike much of it in my big chain ring. We took a short stop at Lover’s Point Beach where about half of my team elected to do a quick polar bear swim (well, wade… as Coordinator Heather deemed swimming post-sunset to be a bad idea). I elected to watch and take pictures of my crazy teammates.

We went back to the hotel after riding about 14 miles total and met for dinner and decorating. We decorated our singlets for race day. Names, dates, inspirations, and other puff painted notions to propel us forward and remind us of our reasons on race day. For those of you that shared names, know that each one was on the back on my singlet… every fighter, every survivor, every angel was in my thoughts.

On day two in Monterey, it was all about the preview and the expo. We swam the “kelp crawl” in the bitter 58 degree water before previewing the run course. Friday was cold and overcast all day. I could not get my muscles to warm up after the swim and felt a little anxious about race day. I just kept reminding myself that I’d only *previewed* the course… and that doing full distances would warm me up much better! I walked around the expo and picked up my race packet with my numbers (#760!), swim cap (pink!), timing chip, and other fun things.

I went back to the hotel to warm up and get ready for the pasta party… what a blast! The food was delicious and it was so fun being surrounded by so many TNTers and supporters. We learned that the 341 athletes representing LLS at Pacific Grove raised $1.2 million! WOW! The top fundraiser received a new bike from Schwinn… he raised over $12,000! I think I’m abusing my right to use exclamation marks, but I can’t help myself. I still get so excited when I reflect on the weekend and all that was accomplished. We had a few other comments from LLS, some comments from Schwinn (they’re the newest national sponsor of Team In Training), and a handful of remarks from the head official for USAT about the rules of triathlon. Finally, giving the ultimate in “mission moments,” Emma and Lauren of the Great San Francisco Area spoke about Lauren’s fight against leukemia. Lauren, a now cancer-free eight-year-old, was diagnosed just before she turned five. As Emma, her mom, spoke of Lauren’s treatments and the love they have felt from LLS (Lauren’s been an honored teammate for awhile now) the emotion in the room continued to build. Lauren spoke about her courage beads around her neck and her favorite song: “I Will Survive.” Emma and her husband Michael competed with us on race day in their first triathlon. What an inspiration! It was great hearing them speak, but it certainly caused the tears to run.

After the pasta party, Coach Robbie did some housekeeping with our San Diego team and Head Coach Gurujan (aka Mother Hen) called to tell us he loved us, missed us, and wished us well. He was in Washington D.C. with a handful of our other teammates competing in the Nation’s Triathlon on September 14th. My roommate Catherine and I retreated to our hotel room where I proceeded to pack and prep and pack and prep and double check and triple check everything for race day. I went to bed just before 10pm with a stomach full of butterflies and an unbelievable feeling of excitement.

I received the following email today from Courtney’s mom and wanted to pass the information along. I registered back in May and keep my donor card with me all the time. I may never get a call asking me to be a bone marrow donor, but I may get one a month from now or a year from now. By registering, I’ve given myself the opportunity to help if I’m needed and I’ve given others the opportunity to call if they need me. Registering is quick and painless. I strongly encourage everyone that visits this page to consider becoming a donor, you will make a difference my registering and could even save a person’s life.

Hey Everyone – September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month!!

Do something great to make a difference – YOU could save someone’s life!!!

Register Free for the Bone Marrow Registry

This must be done Immediately… The offer is only good until September 22, or the funds run out…The cost to register is usually $52.

If you are not on the National Bone Marrow Registry PLEASE consider registering for FREE through NASCAR.
They are sponsoring a Bone Marrow Drive so the cost is NOTHING to you.
Go to click on NASCAR drive, click on join online, answer a few questions and possibly save someone’s life.
NO BLOOD WORK IS INVOLVED, they will send you a cheek swabbing kit to send back FREE.

It’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and I raced on Childhood Cancer Awareness Day, so I wanted to share some of the videos that I’ve discovered from some of the blogs that I read (many of which are linked there at the side).

Ellie Skees’ mom Sarah posted the following video here:

The little boy Max, at the end of the video, is from San Diego. His parents blog here. In the last nine months, both Ellie and Max passed away from neuroblastoma.

Courtney’s mom posted a number of childhood cancer facts and ways to help here. A couple of the items mentioned include:

On average,

1 in every 4 elementary schools has a student with cancer

Every high school in the United States has two students who are current or former cancer patients

She also recommends doing something… like eating at participating Chili’s on September 29th or donating to CureSearch. You can donate to CureSearch every time to search though by utilizing GoodSearch instead of Google and setting it up to donate a penny with every search.

Serenity’s parents posted Complete The Cure at their post here. By simply watching the videos, money will be donated to childhood cancer research.

A simple YouTube search will provide you with a myriad of videos… some by parents and loved ones and others by organizations.

In closing tonight, Sarah Beth by Rascal Flatts:

God bless you all… thank you and spread the word. I promise to race update soon, I’m still searching for the right words.

Next Page »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 29 other followers