Friday, October 30, 2009


I'm looking forward to spending a quick weekend in Panama City Beach next week to cheer on all the Ironman Florida folks. I still have wonderful memories of that race. Let's hope they have the same kind of perfect weather we had.
Meanwhile, I'm trying not to fall completely out of shape. I have gotten myself back into a regular swimming routine (Mondays and Fridays @ Burkwood with Rick, Wednesdays with Karen and the guppies). I am even forcing myself to do lots and lots of crazy-looking flip turns. Sometimes I even do one correctly...but not often. Thinking about the flip turn does make swimming a little more interesting. Today was a milestone. I did not inhale much water on the flips. Go me!
Meanwhile, in the lane next to Rick, Mr Perfect Swimmer made it look so easy. Both Rick and I stopped to watch him execute every stroke perfectly AND use his flip turns to travel half-way down the lane. Yes, I suffered a minor bout of swimming envy.
Tomorrow morning, I am taking advantage of my Richmond Triclub membership to attend a free 3-hour biking clinic @ Endorphin. I figure I can always use some tips on how to become a stronger cyclist. I'll let you know what I learn
My running continues to come along slowly, but steadily. I'm gradually adding more running time to my 30 minute run/walk workout. I won't pretend that my knees feel 100% like they used to, but it's better than nothing.
And one more thing...Go Phillies!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Looking ahead

And so my 2009-2010 "season" winds down.

Of course, being somewhat of a type A kind of person (or maybe I'm more of an A-), I find myself needing to set goals for next year. It keeps me motivated.

I'm playing with a few ideas, including:

1. tackling Mountains of Misery. As I told several people, this century ride seems kinda scary to me. But then again, so did Ironman Florida and IM Brazil - and I did finished those athletic endeavors, didn't I? Dr. Rick has found some other crazy ride that looks like a close cousin of Mountains of Misery - so I may find myself suffering on two mountain rides.

2. running again, but not too much. I have positive visions of running three times/week. I'm not too far from that goal, which makes me happy. That's enough running to keep me mentally happy - and to keep my bones strong.

3. riding outdoors this winter - but probably only on the weekends. I am not a fan of riding in the dark AND cold. I'm already researching the best winter riding gear. (And once money goes towards workout gear instead of work gear). On the weeknights, Rick and I will be spending our time with Coach Troy (as in Mr Spinervals).

4. Swimming more. I have been a completely slack swimmer this fall. My teaching schedule has prevented me from Monday night master's at U of R - and I've had a hard time making it to the Friday U of R swim, too. I'm ready for that to change. Swimming is such a fantastic workout. On the upside, I have been a loyal Guppy swimmer on Wednesday mornings. Coach K has taught me so much about swimming - and doesn't give up on me - even when my attempts at the butterfly look like someone thrashing around in the a big fish net. Yes - I'm that bad at it.

5. Volunteering my time for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. This spring, I will be mentoring the cycle team (who are training and fundraising for a century around Lake Tahoe). Unfortunately, due to my summer teaching schedule, I won't be able to take part in that event. However, it looks like I may be able to train and fund raise for a century ride in Arizona next November. Did you know that VCU just received a major research grant from LLS? Yes - the money raised helps to fight cancer AND supports research in our backyard. Love it. UVA has also benefited from research dollars raised by Team in Training (for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society).

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sea Gull Weekend

After a delay of about four months due to multiple knee surgeries, I was finally able to take part in my charity century ride for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (Team in Training).
I traveled to Salisbury MD with Jan, one of my buddies from Blacksburg VA. Jan is one of the top volunteers for TNT in Virginia. In fact, this century ride was her 19th event for Team in Training. She, like Rick, lost her dad to myeloma (one of the blood cancers we are hoping to make a thing of the past).
We arrived in Salisbury with barely enough time to unload out stuff before the Inspiration Dinner. The dinner is one of the highlights of the weekend (and a definite tear jerker). We met the rest of the Virginia team as well as teams from as far away as Nebraska and San Diego. We listened to a man describe the battle his young niece has waged with Leukemia. She is (thankfully) considered cancer-free after three years of treatment. I also had a cancer survivor pull me aside to thank me personally for raising funds to help her. I was speechless because she is the real inspiration.
We went to bed fairly early so we'd be well-rested for our 100-mile jaunt around the eastern shore.
On Saturday morning, we met in the lobby to head over as a team to the start. We left around 6:30 a.m. to ride our bikes in the dark to the start. That was a little freaky as I have no lights on my bike - but I managed.
The Sea Gull is an incredibly popular ride with somewhere around 8,000 cyclists taking part in either the metric or the century ride. I have never in my life ridden with so many other cyclists. I definitely had to keep my wits about me at the start as there were bikes weaving all over the place. I did see about 5 (yes - 5) crashes along the way. One crash looked like something from the Tour de France as an entire paceline went down in the middle of the road. We won't talk about how rudely they were riding...but anyway...
The ride itself was really lovely. The route was incredibly well-marked with great traffic control at all the major intersections. The rest stops had plenty of snacks, water, etc. It did live up to its reputation for being very windy, especially the second half of the ride. I especially loved riding over the bridge to Assateague Island (home of the famous wild ponies).
I ended up riding the bulk of the century with four of my Virginia teammates. It was great to have a friendly crew around me. Alas, I did have one flat tire, but some of the San Diego Team in Training crew came along at that moment and helped me out.
All in all, it was a wonderful experience. Most importantly, this single day of cycling raised close to $500,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Once upon a time, a kind physical therapist told me to wait until October before I tried running again. I, of course, tried to defy him by running in the summer.

Bad idea. I wasn't ready. I found myself with a very sore knee and dejected spirit. It was also a reminder that my knees could not be bullied by me into running.

So I pushed the thought of running to the back of my mind. When people asked me if I had started running again, I'd just say, "No - and there is no guarantee I ever will again."

Instead, I rode my bike. I swam. I did other exercises designed to strengthen my legs and core and upper body.

But...with the approach of October, the thought that maybe...just maybe...I was healed and strong enough to run again kept popping into my thoughts.

So - I found a beginner's running plan online. It's designed for people who have never run before. It starts by alternating running and walking and running and walking - for 30 minutes. The idea is that in 8 weeks, I should be running 30 minutes straight. Not the kind of mileage I used to do, but I'm just so happy to run again.

So, on Thursday and Saturday and this morning, I did my 30 minute run-walk combo (1 minute run, 2 minutes brisk walk) completely pain-free. My right knee felt a little tight at first, but that's very different from the stabbing-take-your-breath-away pain I experienced last fall.

I can not even tell you how fantastic it felt to do one activity that felt so natural. As much as I enjoy swimming, I'm always thinking about my flippin' stroke - and biking, as much as I love it, is simply not as relaxing to me as running.

But running...oh running..I've missed you, old friend.