Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Flyover in Missing Man Formation

I wanted to share with you part of the email we received from Brian today. Each of us deals with death in different ways and it amazes me how strong Brian and his family are in the face of this tragedy. It makes me even more motivated to go out and do my run tomorrow, too bad today is a rest day!

Dear Team-
I am just getting to e-mails and saw this. Thank you, Colleen, for forwarding the "bio" at this time to further honor my Pap. Such a good man. Strong, courageous, and positive up until the very end. He recently told me a story of his fastest run ever. He did a 5 mile race at a 7:20 pace when he was in his late 30's. You can be sure that David and I both will be trying to meet that high bar he set. About 2 hours before he died we went out and ran 5 miles in his honor. I joked that this was our own version of a "flyover in missing man formation."

If you read the end of my bio, then let me add a final note here:

Yes, his passing has made me sad. I am happy to confirm that in the end I have no regrets. Nothing remained unspoken. We were blessed with so many months to prepare for his death. Now I will begin moving forward and race in his memory. He committed to be with me on my races. We spoke Thursday about me doing an Ironman and he once again assured me he would come with me on the race and cross the finish line with me. I have a long way to go between here and there, but I look forward to every painful swim stroke, pedal stroke, and foot strike. May the suffering we endure as a team and as athletes inspire others to challenge themselves in new ways, support worthy causes like TNT, and to live each day of their lives fully.

In lieu of flowers we have asked that donations be made in dad's memory. We recommend supporting your favorite Team in Training athlete. ;)

Love you guys-
Brian and Dave, Jr.

Update on THAT Guy

In my previous blog of "THAT Guy" I told you the story of my encounter with JACKASS who in my mind intentionally got into a wreck trying to get money out of the insurance company.

Well, there are a number of things that JACKASS didn't count on or plan for. First and foremost is that we both have the same insurance company. Which means that they have all the information on his background. Secondly, they will do everything in their power to minimize damage to all parties involved.

So - after some debate, pictures taken, etc, I was found at fault of the accident since there were no witnesses that would testify to his reckless driving. Since we are talking about a loose bulb cover as the extent of his damage - I am not going to get too excited about it.

Now - for this "back" injury of JACKASS'. In his statement to the claim adjuster - he indicated that after a couple of hours his back started bothering him. Hmmm, funny cause it was an hour after the accident you filed a claim with a back injury. He apparently went to the hospital that afternoon to have it checked out but they are still waiting to receive that information and verify what he said to the doctors.

I have also learned that in May of 2008, he had a significant back injury as a result of another accident he was involved in. Interesting, don't you think?

At the end of the day, the insurance companies settlement offer to him is to pay for his ER visit the day of the accident. He is pissed because this was not part of his game plan. The adjuster told him given his previous accident & injury - he should consider himself lucky that he is even getting that!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Why we all choose to do this.

Today we received an email from our coordinator at TNT that two of our team members lost their Pap to the battle yesterday. Brian is my mentor for this year and is constantly giving me the weekly calls, how's training going, how is the fundraising going, etc all while he is trying to train, work and spend time with his family.

Brian is directly behind me in the picture and his brother Dave is to my right. To completely understand it all - I wanted to share with you Brian's bio and why he does it all. If you have 10 minutes - go watch the video - you will NOT have a dry eye by the time you are done.

I am involved in TNT because of my dad. I call him “Pap.” He was first diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma 13 years ago. After a year of chemo he was told he was in remission and we all celebrated and went on with life. About 3 years ago, his cancer returned. My dad had been receiving chemo for about a year when I decided I wanted to do a triathlon and dedicate it to him. Mind you at the time I weighed over 225 pounds and hadn’t done anything physical in my life ever. I found a 5 month training plan and signed up for the Burnet Tri-Hard. My first workout was April 24th 2007 and my race was September 16th. The week of the race, my dad called to tell me that he was in the hospital for a blood clot in his leg. We were both upset. We had talked almost daily about my training and his treatments and we were experiencing the suffering together. He was looking forward to being there at the race to witness firsthand and receive the gift of “my best.” Well, a friend of mine showed up race morning with a video camera and documented the whole thing. (A friend turned it into a video and it is posted on You Tube. Click Here to view it.) My brother was also there and at the end of the race handed me his cell phone with my dad on the phone from his hospital bed. On the phone he joined me for the last few hundred yards of the run and we crossed the finish line together. I couldn’t believe it. It was such an awesome experience. I had actually completed a triathlon. The next month I gave my dad the video my friend made as his birthday gift.

Around that time, I began making plans for my next race. I had picked a race in Galveston to do in the Spring of 2008. While on the website for the race I saw a link to TNT. I read the info about them that said they train people to do endurance events in the name of an honored hero and fundraise. I thought, “I am already doing all of that except for the fundraising.” I went to an info session with my brother and knew right away I was in. I was 100% ALL IN from that moment. I couldn’t wait for Kick-off and to start training with the team and fundraising. About this time (Jan 2007) we found out my dad’s Lymphoma was back in a hard-earned remission. My fundraising last year for Cap Tex went great. I did a mail and e-mail campaign to friends, family, clients, and business associates. I was blown away by the response. So many people are touched by this disease and they really appreciated the opportunity to give and to be a part of the cause. My brother trained for the Sprint at Cap Tex on his own (not too sure about that whole fundraising thing-look at him now). I had an awesome experience with the Team, coaches, my mentor, and just the whole experience. I was so amped up for this race. I was so emotionally committed to it. I had committed to give my dad my best and knew that I would hold nothing back. I had a great swim and a great bike, and a not-so-great run experience. I completely bonked, dehydrated, etc. About a half mile from the finish line, I heard my brother’s voice behind me. Mind you, I was doing the Olympic and he was doing the Sprint, and here we were together. You couldn’t have scripted it any better. We plodded along together until the final few hundred yards which we sprinted in. Pap was at this race and had been cheering us on the run and got to see us as we finished. That was really special. We have a great picture of us side-by-side crossing the finish line. Once across the line, I decided I would stop by the medical tent to “get some ice for my knees.” Well, they took one look at me and threw me on a gourney. Unbeknownst to me I was not in very good shape. My heart rate was too high, body temp was too high, and I wasn’t making much sense when I talked (which I did WAY too much of). The best part was I got to see my team mate Tom in there! Hey Tom! After an IV (which I have since learned is the ultimate trick to a speedy recovery) I felt just fine.

I took a few weeks off after Cap Tex and was searching for “what’s next.” I had been on the fence about taking this sport all the way to an Ironman in honor of my dad. My ultimate goal would be to deliver an Ironman to him while he is living. I decided I would go ahead and train for a Half-Ironman, the Longhorn in October in Austin in pursuit of this goal. I had intended not to fundraise so signed on with a local training group, T3. This is a great group, but the experience completely lacks “heart and passion” when compared to what I experienced with TNT. Around 8 weeks before the race, a good friend told me her mother’s cancer had progressed to the point where she had no more treatment options. She was on her final medication and it appeared to no longer be working. They didn’t expect her to live past Thanksgiving. I decided in that instant that I would dedicate my Half-Ironman to her and my Pap. I would do it for them both. And, I would fundraise after all. Our former TNT coordinator was now with the LiveStong Foundation so I asked her to set me up a website to use. I went back to my donors (fully expecting a slow response given this was the second time in six months to hit them up) and would you believe they stepped up again? Some new people, some of the same people. But in the end, they again raised close to $4,000 to help me honor these two very special people. Pap and Charleen both were at my race. The run course was a double loop so I ran past them 4 times during the run. The whole day was a truly magical experience. It was a borderline Spiritual experience for me. Everytime I passed them and my family I was just lifted up. The whole run I felt good. Never did I feel completely exhausted or wiped out. Sure it was tough, sure I was tired. But I truly felt lifted up the whole time. After I crossed the finish line I went over to join them. There were lots of hugs, and tears, and thankfully pictures too. Sadly, 30 days after my race, I was at Charleen’s funeral. She was such a wonderful woman. Always so positive and full of hope. She sets a high bar for the rest of us to strive for.

Two days after my race my dad went to MD Anderson for a follow up visit and learned his Lymphoma was back. This time, it seems back with a vengeance. His kidneys have now failed due to all the chemo and he receives dialysis 3 days a week. Due to the kidney complications, they can hardly give him any chemo. So, the Lymphoma progresses, and Pap fights back as best he can. Dave and I train hard, giving our best, honoring our dad. I don’t know that my dad will be around to receive the gift of an Ironman while he is living. I was visiting him a couple weeks back and we had some time together sitting on the porch watching the sun rise. I brought up the Ironman and the possibility that I might have to do it in his memory. We shared some tears over this possibility, and then I asked him for a promise. I asked him to promise me that if I do the Ironman after he is already gone that he will promise to be there with me that day and stay with me throughout the race. He assured me he would.

Though losing my dad makes me sad, and Lymphoma is a horrible killer. I am thankful for each day we have together. I am grateful that we have the gift of knowing my dad is passing so we can have those talks on the porch together and we can work towards closure together. I have told my dad many times, in the end, I just want to have no regrets. So far, I can honestly say, I have no regrets. I train hard, I race hard, I live, love, and laugh hard. And I do it all in my Pap’s honor, and someday will do it in his memory.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

An Armadillo, a deer, two dirty diapers,

wind and a ride that kicked my ASS!

First off - I had to work my first Sunday in a very long time at Lowe's. I blame more that the kids had requested off for Spring Break - lucky dogs!!! But it meant that I had to work a 7 1/2 hour shift. At least the good news is that I got to be in lawn and garden which was really busy and made time fly and I got some sun rays while I was at it.

I got off a little after 4 and ran home to change and check on the two dogs since I left them outside while I was at work. Wish I would of took a picture as they were all stretched out on the patio just enjoying the breeze and the shade. Once I got them situated inside and changed - I was out the door and off to Runner's house!

Yes, Runner has been a trooper allowing me to drag her along on these training days. If you read her blog - she says I motivate her. I say she is there to kick my @ss and gives me a reason why not to excuse out of doing it. It was an ALMOST perfect day. It was 85 and sunny. I must enforce ALMOST!!!! It was windy. Like a 15 MPH wind with gusts up to 30 MPH. A Wind Advisory windy day. I would of excused myself out of it had the runner not committed to doing it too!

Well, off we headed. The wind didn't appear too bad. Probably because A) I didn't know any of the above (outside of windy enough to question doing it) and B) when we headed out we had the wind at our backs. The first 10 miles were tough but nothing prepared for the last 10 miles. As soon as we turned around - it was like hitting a brick wall. Never mind the minor rolling hills that we had to conquer too. God so many times I wanted to stop - doing Spicewood Springs one day and 20 miles the next might not of been the best idea I have had recently. I mean, Runner did have her phone and we could just call Trainer to come get us! But, I didn't even ask. Heck - I asked for one stop break that lasted maybe a minute. Other than that - it was just the occassional stop light.

In the end I did it!!! Of course, riding on the shoulder of the road - you have the privledge of seeing all those things on the side of the road - the dead armadillo, the deer ready to blow and two dirty diapers, hence the title. Even better is that Runner has a special gadget on her bike to ensure that I did my hour and half ride my training schedule said I needed. Even better is that this gadget will stop when we stop. Got to love it (insert Jenn's sarcaism here)!!!! In any event, I logged my 20 miles and finished it in 1 hour and 45 minutes. My ASS hurts like no other and my thighs kill like no other - but it is done. Now off to bed.

Sinus Infection and Spicewood Springs

Since before Christmas, I have been battling a sinus infection. That never ending sinus infection that will not go away. The good news is that it doesn't leave me with a terrible sinus headache that normally comes with it. Instead I have a feeling of an ear infection or at least that my ear is floating in fluid. Then there is the sore throat that comes with it draining down my throat. The doctor would put me on antibiotics and it would go away while I was on them and a week or two after but always comes back, usually worse. I just got done with a 21 day round of stuff that was suppose to even help people exposed to anthrax. Plus steroids. Well once I was done, they repeated the x-ray to find that the infection is still there. At this point they are recommending surgery. I go meet with an Ear, Nose & Throat specialist on Monday to determine what the next steps are. :(

But the upside is that hell or high water I will do this triathlon - I have worked too hard to NOT do it. So - they doctor's can wait. Hopefully they come around to my way of thinking. Now - in the mean time - I am going to do everything I can to keep training. So - if that means going for allergy shots every other day - then I go. I even have resorted to mowing the lawn with a mask so the grass pollen doesn't trigger anything. I am sure it is a sight to see!

So on to Spicewood Springs. Saturday was a group ride where we met at the Marriott before we headed out on a planned route by our coach. Now if you are not familiar with Austin, this is the part of town where the hills start. I cannot describe the hills - but definite a mix of "rollings hills" and hills that kill. I knew I was in trouble as soon as I saw the planned route and it included Spicewood Springs Road. This road is a fun road to ride in a car - a bike not so much. I'll just put it this way - one of the hills is at LEAST a 10% grade. Sucked like no other. Plus my allergies/sinus' were bothering me which resulted in the asthma to kick in. I hadn't had to worry about that piece in so long that I wasn't prepared and didn't have my inhaler along. Not a good thing. It wasn't bad - just a wake up call that resulted in a momentary panic attack. I felt like the fool that had the slow poke pace car behind her to make sure that no one was left behind. One of the mentors had to stay behind with the last one - that was ME. Hated every moment of it but at the end of the day - I finished the loop in an hour!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Smile

is what got me through today. I haven't trained in a week and I knew it was going to kick my butt.

The Smile...it was what Brennan was always known for. He was always smiling. I just don't know if I can ever remember a time when he wasn't smiling. Plus every picture you find of him, he is always smiling, no complaints. Even at the end...he still could be found with a smile on his face. Maybe he knew of a greater place he was going to go, one without pain and where he could run free. Maybe he didn't but at a time when so many of us held back the tears, he could be found in another room smiling and laughing with his cousins. Today, that smile got me through the workout!

I met Runner at spin class and boy did I get my ass kicked! I had never had this teacher before and she kicked our ass and made the legs feel like rubber. Now if you have never been to spin before - just picture a dark room, lots of fast, upbeat music and an instructor that calls you out if you don't up the tension on the bike and are slacking. Just when we finished a hell piece, one didn't think it could get any worse....but it was going to.

The teacher then told us to think about someone that couldn't be there with us today, that couldn't climb the hill with us that we were about to face. We need to push through and do it for them, with them. Brennan and the smile came instantly to my mind. It was like he was at the top of the hill, smiling waiting for me to get there. I had to but most importantly wanted to do it for him, for the bike rides he never got and the mountains he never got to face. I did it!!! Even more than that, I didn't cheat the tension and cranked it up when I was told to crank it up!!!

But, it didn't stop there. Runner said - let's go run for 10 minutes AFTER spin class. I said - heck let's do 15 minutes. Runner kindly gave me the open treadmill (I think that was kind?!) and off I went. I would like to say I did all 15 minutes with no walking but there was walking involved. In the end - I finished 1.25 miles in my 15 minutes. For me - that is good, especially after a 40 minute spin class. I even sprinted the last 30 seconds! My legs felt like rubber but I just kept pushing myself - knowing that Brennan was smiling down on me for doing what I did today.

I needed today! Thanks Brennan! Thanks Runner for pushing me! To the teacher - thanks for kicking my ass! After having a day of doubts - this was the day I needed. I have questioned whether I was insane for trying to tackle an Olympic Triathlon at 35 with two bad knees and already having one back surgery. DC has even questioned if I thought this through and reminded me I am not a 20 something in college anymore. Feeling behind on training didn't help any of these feelings. But after today - it doesn't matter, knowing I have angel wings to help me through - I will finish this! It might not be in record time but I WILL finish what I started!

The Excuses

So the past week has been a giant road bump in the training. Last week we had a major upgrade at work that we had been preparing for since before November. Of course, it went REAL smooth. Okay - not so much. It was a lot of hours at work, not to mention adding a shift to Lowe's in the middle of that. In the first 3 days, I logged 35 hours between the two gigs. Needless to say - there was NO training. Then Anissa stopped by for a visit!!! We had the best intentions of going to spin class Thursday morning and it just didn't happen. But - we did enjoy a nice day together on Thursday - even if it rained.

Friday, Saturday & Sunday I was just beat. Of course - Saturday I headed to Humble, TX to pick up the newest member of our family. I picked up another wheaten puppy from a rescue. The poor little guy was found in a ditch and is blind in one eye. Unfortunately, it was a day spent in a car and when we got back - it was off to Lowe's.

Sunday - I think all I did was sleep. SERIOUSLY. I don't think I moved until 11. Then Guinness and I went for my 35 minute training run. After that I was suppose to meet Runner for a bike ride. Unfortunately I had a jealous dog (Guinness) that thought it was time for a game of cat and mouse. Finnegan did our best and when I was suppose to finally meet Runner for the ride - we finally caught Guinness. Needless to say - no ride for us. Instead - I took a two hour nap!! So - that is the week of excuses....which brings me to this week......

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Commitment

Yes, you are probably asking yourself by now - is she really committed to doing this? As they say in Minnesota, "You betcha!"

So this week probably wasn't my finest effort for workouts but I am committed, 100% committed and from tomorrow on, there will be no excuses for missing a workout. (Well, unless I come down with that sudden case of pnemonia and I am in the hospital Monday so I don't have to deal with the fall out of the upgrade at work.) Okay, kidding aside, I am committed.

How committed? Well, we can get past the bike that was bought. It is officially a used bike now and that won't be going back. For most of you, you probably don't realize how expensive Road Bike's are. Let's just say that for a entry-level, don't break the bank bike, I still was over $600 (on clearance). The goggles, swim cap, real swimming suit, the bike helmet, the bike shorts (you cannot function without them!) those are the little things.

But there is also the additional race I signed up for. The Rookie which happens on Mother's Day in New Braunfels, TX. They call it the rookie because it is a get your feet wet, prepare for race day race that is much shorter than The Capital of Texas Triathlon. After looking at what is in store for me on the Cap, well this is a rookie by all means. It is a 300 meter swim (that is 6 lengths of an Olympic size pool), 11 mile bike and 2 mile run.

On top of that, I have my first official member of the pit crew signed up for the Capital of Texas Triathlon. My friend DC will be flying in as part of my pit crew and there to take the picture as I cross the finish line. We are both clearly not morning people so I still am interested to see how it pans out with my body markings starting at 5 am. Ha.

So - can you help me out? Can you help Team in Training? Can you help the Leukemia & Lympoma Society with $5 and 5 friends?

Monday, March 2, 2009


You know the one. The one that drives like a complete jackass. The one that it is almost a matter of time BEFORE he is in an accident. The one that wish would get into an accident? Yeah - well I not only met him, I introduced my bumper to his on Sunday. URRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG.

So - I was having a very productive day. Went to church, ran a thousand errands and just had finished up at Lowe's ordering a new back door that has a dog door in it for Guinness. Yeah. So anyway - back to my story.

Now to leave Lowe's parking lot, there are two exits to get you onto the I-35 service road. Well - I choose to use the one that is a 3 way stop and shared with Walmart. The 4TH direction doesn't stop as it is cars coming off the Service Road. I patiently waited my turn as it is always a busy intersection. Well, when it is my turn, I proceed to turn left so I can then make my right onto the service road. As I am turning JACKASS approaches the stop sign across from me. I note that JACKASS does a rolling stop and cuts in front of the next car in line. The next thing I know, JACKASS is now on my left hand side almost parallel to my car. Now for those of you in far off lands - you can only make a right had turn - in other words - he was being a JACKASS - my new name for him.

I safely pull out onto the feeder road and proceed to the far left hand lane. Yep - JACKASS follows me out and gets directly behind me. Well my 4 cylinder car with zero get up and go does not accelerate fast enough for JACKASS. So, he flies around me on my right hand side. Of course, he does this with no regard and almost side swipes another SUV that was coming out of Exit #2 from Walmart's parking lot. The SUV was fortunate enough to serve and miss.

I don't know why, but JACKASS then decides he needs to be in my lane and comes on over. Prior to him coming over the traffic was moving and the light ahead was green. I do not know what he was doing or why but JACKASS came to an abrupt stop in front of me way back from the light. I did what I could do, slammed on the breaks, said a prayer, and avoided a direct impact, but hit him anyway.

I get out of my car but before I can say anything, JACKASS is on the phone with 911. I must quote him "No, no one is hurt." How does he know - he never says a word to me. So, i just get in car, roll down the window and wait. I wish I would of taken a picture because JACKASS then proceeded to get out a camera and take pictures of both our cars, walking around them and taking them from all kinds of angles while we are still on the service road.

The cops - yes two patrol cars - show up and we are escorted around the block to take care of business. Again, both of us told the cops on multiple occasions that neither of us where hurt. Thankfully I didn't get a ticket but I am just pissed that it happened. It is important to note that I have a scratch and a dent on my bumper. JACKASS' vehicle has no damage. Even tells the cops there is no damage to his truck.

I took my Driver's Crash Report and headed home. I unload the car, put away my groceries and have my vent moment with my mom. It is important to know that maybe an hour has passed since my first encounter with JACKASS. Next thing I know my phone is ringing. It is my insurance company calling to verify that I have been in an accident.

What the fuck chuck. Yep - I hit the JACKASS that is trying to get money. He agrees that there is no damage to his car BUT he suffered a back injury. One that didn't appear in the first 30 minutes where he told everyone that he was fine, but one that appeared before he got back to his home in Manor, 30 miles away. Needless to say - this is a battle for my insurance company but it just pisses me off to no end.

In any event - given my prior back issues, I steered clear of running yesterday and skipped my swim workout this morning. I feel fine so will head back to spin class in the morning.