Friday, July 31, 2009

df Ranch Triathlon Race Report

Last weekend I raced in the First Annual df Ranch Triathlon. This race was cool for several reasons, the main reason being that it was held in my small hometown of 12,000 people. The other reason being that all of the profits went to Alzheimer’s research. As soon as I heard about it, I knew that if I did not accomplish anything else this summer, this was going to be the one race I did.

My friend Julie raced this with me and so went down the night before and picked up our packets and drove the bike course. I am very glad we did that because even though it was only 14 miles, it was pretty hilly compared to what we were used to and it was good to be mentally prepared for that.

We both crashed early that night and while I slept fitfully, I did not feel overly tired, just excited and nervous. I had half of a bagel with peanut butter, a banana, and water for breakfast and felt really good about that. I usually have stomach issues before a race, but I had been very careful about what I had been eating for the last few days and kept it all pretty bland which really made a difference. We made it to the race site at the perfect time and had just the right amount of time to get marked, chipped, and set up transition. I have a bad habit of being too early then just sitting there and having lots of time to get nervous.

The best part of the race happened right before the swim. My dad, brother, sister-in-law, and nephew all showed up to watch the race! I have never had anyone come to a race before and so I thought this was really neat that they got up early to come and watch. The only downside: my brother had a video camera. More on that later.
I was not very worried about this swim. The water was warm and I decided to go without the wetsuit because I figured the time I saved because of the buoyancy, I would lose getting out of it and I really wanted easy transitions. I think I made the right choice as I felt very free and easy in the water. Looking back, I did not push myself hard enough and played it a little too safe in the water although at the time, I thought I was doing pretty well. I came out with a time of 13:20 for 500 meters but WAY better than my last open water swim in May (15:31). While slow, making an improvement of 2:11 makes me very happy and I know the more open waters I do, the more comfortable I will be and faster I will get.

My T1 was 1:58. I am not sure why it was so slow because it seemed like I was fast, but there was a small matter of trying to get my right shoe on my left foot and that took some time. I was also worrying about Julie because we both knew that the swim would be her hardest part. I knew there were plenty of people there to take care of her and so I just tried to push on knowing that she could probably catch me in the ride or run.

The bike ride was pretty slow going. I could not get my rhythm and I really struggled the whole first half. Every hill felt like I was climbing a mountain and I was painfully slow. I was working my way through a bag of Powerbar Cola and by the time I reached the turn around, I got my second and wind and felt like I was flying. I had been riding alone for several miles, but about a mile after the turnaround, I saw several more people out on the course which made me realize I was not last which is a nice feeling. One of them was Julie and she really looked great and so I was relieved that she had not drowned! I yelled some encouragement to her and now really put tried to make up some time. Some of the hills on the way back really slowed me down again and I ended up with a time of 1:04:36. This was more than 15 minutes off of my goal of 45 minutes for the bike, but I am still going to be positive about it as I just have not done enough hill training.

T2 was :49 and I felt really good about that. I threw on my shoes, remembered to take off my helmet and grabbed my hat. On the video, I looked pretty strong as I ran out, but I remember gasping for breath and just thinking to myself “Just get past where they can’t see you anymore and you can walk”. And I did. I caught my breath and then started on my plan for running for 2 minutes and walking for 1. My run is horrible, but I was very comfortable with this plan and was soon able to push it to 3 or 4 minutes before walking. Now, this did not make me any faster, but my goal was just to keep going. And I did. One girl caught up to me at the very end and I fought, but I just could not keep my lead or catch back up with her. I finished strong though with lots of cheers from my family and other participants. As usual, my throat tightened and I could feel the tears starting to well as I crossed the finish line, but I was able to push them back because I did not want to explain to people that I was not upset, just proud and emotional. The race had just been great with really supportive people and a perfect course.

I met up with my family and circled back to the run course to cheer on Julie. I was pretty shocked that she had not caught up to me on the run course. My family told me that she had a really rough swim and tried to quit afterwards, but the volunteers made her keep going. I was so proud of her at that point, because keeping going after that must have been really tough. To put this in the proper perspective, she really just learned to swim and bike about 9 months ago so to go from very little knowledge to doing a triathlon in less than a year is incredible!! She is hard on herself and so I knew she would be beating herself up, but she did such a great job. She ran in strong and her first words to me were, “Never again!!”. I knew she did not mean it though.

Awards came next and this was a very small race so we both won awards! Julie won 3rd in her age group and I was 2nd place Athena. This is the point where I suppose I should bring up that there were only 3 people and 2 people in our groups respectively, but that part matters very little to me. To me, it was not placing that mattered or how many people we beat (or didn’t) but that we did it. There were lots of fears and insecurities that got left behind on that course that day and I don’t ever plan on picking them up again.

The only thing that brought me slightly down was seeing the video. I know I have gained weight over the last few years, even with my training. Seeing the video truth that I am at least 30 lbs overweight was hard. I wish I was talking about a few vanity pounds, but at this point, I have to be truthful with myself and that I really have a weight issue that needs to be addressed before it gets out of hand even more. Obviously, I exercise, but I know when I do, I over eat afterwards and take in way more calories than I burn. It is time to rein that habit in and be as dedicated to my nutrition as I am to training. Both need work, but I am not going to let this be an insecurity that stops me from trying in the first place! This probably will be something I talk about more in this blog from now on as a way to hold myself accountable. I think the motivating factor will not just be looks, but how much easier that stupid running will be!

I am hoping to have pictures soon for you guys! They did not have an official photographer, but I know there were pictures being taken by some people and I will try to find some of those. Oh and my first triathlon medal? It is now sitting comfortably in a shadowbox on the wall with my number and swim cap. I am putting it up in my room so every time I go through the door, I can see something that I achieved and am proud of doing.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

100th Post, 100 Things About Me!

In honor of my 100th post, I am going to attempt to write 100 things about me. I honestly cannot believe I have found enough material over the last year to warrant 100 posts, but I guess I have! I have learned a lot and I honestly think this blog is the reason that I have kept going with the whole triathlon idea. Thank you to all of your for your help and inspiration!

1. I am one of 5 kids and the youngest child by 15 years. Only girl too!
2. I have been riding horses since the womb. One of my first baby pictures is a picture of my mother riding in a horse show in Scottsdale with a visible baby bump.
3. In high school, I really wanted to go to boarding school. I am sure I romanticized it from books and movies, but I really wanted to go. My parents were too cheap and used the excuse that they loved me too much to let me go. Hogwash.
4. I loved playing tennis in Junior High and High School. It was the best part of school for sure.
5. I have totaled two cars. I refuse to accept the blame for either one.
6. I could eat pickles and ranch all day.
7. I raised an orphaned axis deer named Howard a few years ago. In case you did not know, baby deer can in fact scream when they are hungry and want you to hurry up with their bottle.
8. I went skydiving on the 4th of July a few years ago. Ok, so I was really pushed out of a plane with a guy strapped to my back. I was really sure I was going to get out of the whole jumping out of a plane thing but turns out I was not the only resistant client this guy had ever had and out we went.
9. As a result of the above mentioned incident, I am now afraid of heights. Flyovers in big cities make my hands sweat. Just thinking about it right now has made my hands so slippery that it is hard to type.
10. I got to see my horse, Czecher, being born. He was a sickly fellow and he spent a lot of his first few days of life in my lap. This is probably why now he thinks he is more of a dog than a horse.
11. I am closer in age to my nieces than I am my brothers.
12. I rode my first 100K bike race riding a 50 lb touring bike that I was completely, obliviously, happy with.
13. I broke my leg when I was 4 and was so unhappy about being slowed down by the plaster that I banged the cast against the concrete until it broke off. They then put a REALLY heavy cast on me so there was not even the option of lifting my leg in order to bang it against the concrete.
14. My two favorite magazines are Women's Health and Runners World. I like the triathlon magazines, but they always seem more expensive.
15. At 29, I am for the first time living all by myself. It is different, but I really like it for now! I think everyone should get a chance to live by themselves, especially before getting married.
16. I have a huge crush on Colin Firth. I think it is his awkwardness that I like about him, but either way, he is drool-worthy to me.
17. I used to be a person who never turned on my cell unless I needed to use it and had no understanding of MP3’s. Now I never leave my house without my cell phone and iPod. If I don’t have them, I get very itchy.
18. I hate painting my toenails because the stupid stuff just comes halfway off and looks horrible, however sometimes before a triathlon, I paint my toes because I know I will be standing around looking at them.
19. I love red and pink. I am not sure where the pink fascination came in, but everything for my bike I have bought is now pink. I have to say that the bright pink handle bar tape makes it super easy to find in transition.
20. My horse is name Czecher because he was born right after a trip to the Czech Republic.
21. Between my boyfriend (Greg) and I, we have five pets: Sally, Simon, Sweeny, Sage, and Sam. It gets really hard to yell at a pet without stumbling over the name and using the wrong one at least once.
22. Due to the above mentioned naming, I am really afraid that if we have kids, we are going to be those obnoxious parents that get hooked on a letter or a pattern.
23. I nearly strangled myself as a six year old by going down a slide with a jump rope around my neck. The jump rope got hung on something on the way down and I hung there for a moment before someone freed me. Terrifying. That lack of oxygen could explain a few things though.
24. I got started doing triathlons through blogs. I think there was an article in Women’s Health a few years ago about great blogs. I think Rachel and Leah were two of them, but don’t quote me on that. It just snowballed from there. It is amazing to me how people you have never met could have such an influence on you.
25. Ever since mentioning the pickles and ranch, I cannot get them out of my head. What is even better is that since my garden started producing cucumbers, I started making my own and they are incredible!!
26. I am really bad about being a homebody. I just really like to stay home or hang out with just a few friends and keep it low key.
27. I love, love, love the Powerbar Gel blasts in Cola flavor. They don’t upset my tummy, they give me lots of energy and I feel like I am getting to eat candy. I really feel like Powerbar should sponsor me because I tell everyone how much I love them.
28. After going to her first triathlon with me, my friend gawked at the (very hot)spandex clad guys waling around and simply said to me, "I understand the pull to this sport now".
29. As a rule I hate running, however, having a dog along really makes a difference to me for the fun factor.
30. My bike collection is up to three now. I really feel like I need a tri bike to round out the harem. It will be awhile on that one though.
31. I am blind as a freaking bat. If I ever lose a contact during an open water swim, there is a good chance I will be fish bait as I doubt I could see shore from 10 feet off. And no, sadly, not a candidate for Lasik. It is a good thing I have a dog now because he could be my seeing eye dog one day. Greg would just lead me into poles all of the time for the fun of it.
32. At the barn I worked at before starting at the bank, we used to have to collect the stallions for artificial insemination. My friends knew those days as "horsey porn" days. It was.....interesting.
33. If I am eating candy like M&M's, I like to eat them in pairs by color.
34. I was a vegetarian for about a year, but I was constantly sick so I went back to meat. I am sure I could do it now that I am more nutritionally educated, however I think I like steak a little too much to do it.
35.I hate perfumes. I can handle a little light scent, but most perfumes give me a horrible headache.
36. I don't do snakes very well and tend to yelp a lot around them. Irony: My hometown host The Worlds Largest Rattlesnake Roundup.
37. I love to read, and while I can not stand harlequin bodice rippers, I do enjoy my fair share of stupid Chick Lit books. I have to read just a little bit before I can fall asleep.
38. My very first triathlon, I did not bother to check my bike over as I came running out of T1 to hop on it. The chain had fallen off and I went right over after two furious pedal strokes that got me nowhere but on the ground. Great transition!!
39. Now that I no longer have a roommate in residence that does the dishes, I have switched to paper plates. I balance the trash factor in favor of water being saved.
40. I love jewelry but I very seldom remember to put it on except for the staple pieces I never take off. (this does not mean I don't want more. hint hint)
41. I am a very lazy decorator and just don't care that much. I like the minimalist approach due to the fact it leaves me with less stuff to pick up and dust.
42. I would much rather work outside doing just about anything than doing housework.
43. My name is Renee and I am addicted to Craigslist.
44. And possibly MSNBC too.
45. I used to love to wear super high heels however I have now decided my feet are too important to wreck doing that.
46. In addition to raising the deer, I also had a baby bobcat. I still get to go visit him but he still has a lot of wild left in him so he is not like a housecat for sure!
47. I like most animals more than most people. They do things that usually make sense. People don't.
48. There has been more than one race where I have been dead last and having the cleanup car follow me in. There is nothing worse to me than having someone driving slowly behind me staring as my ass while I try to finish.
49. I am certified to SCUBA, however I have only been on one real dive trip. I have problems getting my ears to pop so I end up getting ear infections when I try. Given the chance though, I will go again for sure!
50. Most people can walk a mile faster than I can run it. I don't train it often enough though so it is typically my own fault.
51. I love scratch off lottery tickets. It is a good thing I hardly ever have cash on me!
52. My best friend and I were in love with the same guy in high school. You would think this would cause problems, but instead we stalked him together. He ignored us.
53. This same best friend and I were tennis doubles partners. We were once playing a match where a father decided to come cheer on his daughter while laying in a reclining chair, covered in oil, and only wearing a Speedo. Horrific enough, but he had to add to it by shouting "Stroke the ball girls!!".
54. My dog is very jealous that I have a belly button and he does not. He thinks that he should investigate it often.
55. My dad was a horse trainer before he became a doctor. When he first started applying to medical school, they all told him he was too old at 30. The Ostepathic school finally took him and he has been a big advocate of them ever since.
56. My mother probably married my father in part due to the fact he was a horse trainer. When he decided to go to medical school, she (with 4 sons) became a nurse in order to pay for it. She said her whole goal as a mother was only to keep them all alive and not a lot past that. I came much later.
57. I cannot watch an entire movie at home without getting up to do something else or falling asleep.
58. I love the Harry Potter and Twilight series. I think they are ageless.
59. I wear a lot of black not because I could be depressed or that I think it is slimming. I just hate having to worry about matching stuff up and black is easy.
60. My boyfriend, while not having any desire to do any of these things himself, always supports my crazy lifestyle by going to horse shows, bike races, etc and then tells his friends and family all about it. It is nice to have someone proud and supportive of you.
61. I am eating my first watermelon from my garden as I type!
62. I love the Disney Channel. I don't care how stupid it is, it makes me relax and laugh.
63. I have a Dilbert calendar on my desk and sometimes the comics hit a little close to home as far as office life is concerned.
64. I love and hate going to restaurants now where I can't use the discounts because it seems like a waste of money.
65. In general, I am a coupon and bargain freak. My new discovery....Talbots and Target both give new things to our goodwill so you can get brand new items for SUPER cheap. I wish triathlon stores did the same thing.
66. I want to whack people in the head that still wear their trucker hats off to the side.
67. Coffee is my friend. Maybe even one of my besties.
68. I have a day planner that I carry around in my purse and I love it. I love writing down everything I need to do and being able to open it and know exactly what I am doing on a certain date. That way, nothing sneaks up on me.
69. It is raining out right now and it makes me want to curl up in a chair and read all afternoon.
70. I am kind of thinking I would like to try from Ironman Kansas 70.3 next year. The only problem being that it is just 3 weeks before Buffalo Springs which is local so the more obvious of the two to do. Hmmmm...
71. I want “push past the pain” to be my new mantra. I can do it while swimming and biking and get into that great comfortable feeling, but not while running yet. Of course, it helps that if I stop swimming, I can drown and if I stop pedaling I fall over. Both good incentives to keep moving.
72. I like the word LIZARD. Just say it over and over again really fast. I love it.
73. I love wine glasses. I have a fairly extensive collection and have to really stop myself from acquiring more.
74. I am afraid I am going to start repeating myself soon, but am to the point where I am going so blank on new stuff, it does not really bother me.
75. When I was in elementary school, we had a 100 mile club. You would bring notes from your parents saying how far you had walked or ran on your own. Since we walked our 3 mile block every night, it did not take long before I finished and I was the first one to do it! The PE coach made me a trophy and I think I still have it somewhere.
76. Comics are the best part of the Sunday papers.
77. It amazes me how slow I run. I honestly think I can speed walk faster than I can run. It will just take time and work to get faster, but wow.
78. In the same breath as talking about how slow I am, I would also really like to try to do a half marathon next January or so.
79. I just got some POM Wonderful from the company to try and it is pretty incredible. More on this later.
80. They are tearing up all of the brick roads downtown and it makes me sad because I think brick roads are so neat. Not so fantastic on bike tires though.
81. I would love to live by the water someday or have a lake cabin to retreat to.
82. I would also like a big nice porch to relax and cook out on. A good sitting area to have friends come over and relax would be great!
83. My brother videotaped my triathlon this weekend and that was a little scary. Pictures are one thing to see, but hiding anything there! The diet is now in full force.
84. This will be covered in more detail in my race report, but I just won my first medal! I am thinking I will be a real dork and make a shadow box with my race number and swim cap.
85. It always amazes me how a few minutes after a race you will be swearing up and down that you will never do it again and then the next morning be signing up for the next one.
86. I have 6 nieces and one nephew. I have not been around very many little boys so my nephew is always an educational experience for me!
87. Greg gets almost more excited about the number of comments on my blog than I do. He also nags me when I don't post often enough. I think it is sweet.
88. With the number of emergency room trips I made as a child, I am surprised CPS did not investigate what was going on. I am sadly, still as un-graceful today.
89. I am currently obsessed with all thing vampire: books, movies, tv shows.
90. I was a thumbsucker until an embarrassingly late age.
91. I always wanted to be more artistic than I am. I can do crafts, but I wish I had more of a talent for drawing. I can do an incredible stick figure though.
92. I am a horrible speller and am always appreciative of spell check!
93. My father, brother, sister-in-law, and nephew all came out to watch the triathlon this last weekend and that was so cool having my own cheering squad!
94. I can sew and I remember being very young and making my cat a Super Cat costume complete with cape and sequins. She was a very good cat and tolerated it just about as well as any animal ever should.
95. It is possible that my dog has more play dates and friends than I do.
96. I have the worst time with passwords, especially now as more and more places require different and longer passwords.
97. I can not dance to save my life, but I would love to take lessons one of these days.
98. I love teaching young beginner horseback riders. They are so excited and just ready to go and learn. Adults are much more suspicious and scared.
99. I think I am perfecting the ability to take the puppy out to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night without even waking up.
100. I am so impressed that I actually came up with 100 things! Thanks for reading! Lots more good posts to come!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Clothing Contortions

Even though I had reservations, I bought a one piece Zoot tri suit that was on an incredible sale. I thought I could use it for sprints and most importantly, it was pink. So I go to try on the suit and after I wriggle myself into it, I realize the back feels funny. So I wriggle (not a pretty picture) back out and realize it has a built in sports bra. Very clever idea……except how in the hell do I get in a one piece tri suit and also get my head through the sports bra? I am sure there is a reasonable way to do it because obviously people get in them all of time. I am apparently just stupid when it comes to putting on my clothes. I have only had 29 years of experience, but this is just beyond me. While I do not have actual pictures of the way I tried to contort myself in order to make this work, here are some examples. I had to use cats because when you type “body contortions” into google, you get more porn than anything else. (I know you are all going and searching it right now to see if I am telling the truth. Perverts.)

I have given up wearing it at this point unless someone has some great ideas. I guess I can always get the scissors out. Most likely, I will just wear my bike shorts for the tri this weekend and be happy with that. I will save the tri suit for a later date when I can practice more in it and be sure to be comfortable. In a positive light though, I was able to get some awesome stretching done while trying to get in and out of the suit. I have to say there was one very terrifying point when I thought I was really stuck in the stupid thing and I was going to have to call someone to come over and cut me out. No one ever told me that the hardest part of triathlon would be getting dressed.

EDIT: With help of a friend, I finally figured out how to get into the suit. I am still not wearing it until I do some modifications and take out the built in sports bra. I also discovered that the sides are all see through mesh and while not totally modest, I just can't do that quite yet.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tour De Nowhere 2009

This weekend I did a small bike ride called the Tour De Nowhere. It was a 30 mile ride that benefitted the local girls’ home. It is run by a small, but enthusiastic crowd and is always a nice ride. This year my brother was in town and agreed to do it with me which was really fun because I have not had anybody ride with me in a long time.

The course is pretty flat but every year I have done this, there is a horrible headwind for the first 10 miles that makes it seem like so much harder and longer than it is. Usually after that, it is all smiles, however this year there was a point when I was sure we only had two or three miles left until we saw the sign that said it was 13 miles to town. Ouch. We had barely gone halfway at that point!

One great thing about having this brother with me was that he used to be a track coach so he really pushed me to go faster. I tend to take these rides not very seriously and just kind of float along, but I did not do that this weekend with him riding my back tire encouraging me to push it and catch the person in front of me. I remember last year that there was a pretty big guy ahead of me that I thought for sure would tire in the first 5 miles, but I was never able to catch him. This year, it was the same guy ahead of me, but again, I just knew he would get tired and I would pass him easily. I chased him for all 30 miles of the ride but never caught up with him. What was really depressing was that he stopped at both rest stops and I STILL could not catch up with him. That was frustrating, but then again it was really good training for me to actually try to catch someone instead of just trolling along. We ended up finishing in right at two hours which I figured we would be at due to the slow first ten miles!

Sadly though, another one bit the dust as my brother told me that it was fun, thank you very much, but I will not ever be doing this again. This is the third brother I have gone through that will no longer do rides with me and now I just have one untainted brother left. I have a feeling that he will not be doing a bike ride with me unless he can do it in his cowboy boots and hat which could actually be very entertaining!

I am officially signed up to do a sprint tri in two weeks in my hometown. I gave myself lots of time to back out, but now due to my family all knowing about it and being in town that weekend, I really can't back out now. I need to kick up my running some, but other than that I am not too worried. It might be slow, but I know I can do it!

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Several months ago I joined the LIVESTONG Team Fat Cyclist:Fighting for Susan. I am sure most people who read any kind of blogs have heard of and of Elden Nelson. He can write beautifully and can also be very funny.
I personally don’t like to do charity bike rides. I don’t think people should give money for me to do something I enjoy. If I really want them to donate money for something, I should have to eat bugs or touch snakes because that would be something you would really have to pay to see. I changed my mind about charity rides this year after reading Fatcyclist. You see, Elden has a wife named Susan whom he loves so much you can see it pouring from the words he writes. Susan is fighting so much cancer I cannot even start to write about all of it. Elden is fighting by trying to build the largest team ever for LIVESTONG and also raise the most money ever. It awes me to think of what both of these people are doing to fight cancer.
I am going to post what Elden wrote yesterday just in case you don’t want to click on a link to see it because I think it is that important. If you have not already donated to LIVESTRONG, or just want to donate more, please visit my page. If money is too tight to donate, then please says some prayers for this incredible family.

Fighting LIKE Susan
07.8.2009 | 7:39 am
You know you’re living a different sort of life than most people when you stop checking to see what bone your wife has just broken.
But that’s where we are.
Last week — just a couple of weeks since her left collarbone broke — when I was helping Susan sit up, planning to transfer her to the wheelchair, something gave. It was probably a rib (or might have been a vertebrae), but we don’t know which one.
We do know that this establishes a pattern: the narrow structural bones — the ones that get lots of stress on a daily basis — are the ones that are going first.
And since Susan’s right collarbone is starting to ache, I’m officially terrified to move her. Not that she’d let me anyway: any position but flat on her back triggers the pain that only a freshly-broken bone can bring.
Which means that I’m currently totally stymied. Every day, several times per day, I ask Susan, “Is there anything I can do for you?” And she knows I don’t mean get her something to eat, or read her a book, or massage her scalp. I mean, “Is there some way I can fix you? Or at least rig something together to make your life more comfortable or convenient?”
But nothing comes to mind.
The Story So Far
To understand my frustration, you need to see that doing something to help has been my coping mechanism through this whole process. Back in Christmastime of 2003, when Susan first found a lump in one of her breasts, my reaction — odd as it might seem — was to start looking in earnest for a better-paying job with better benefits. With better insurance, I’d be able to get Susan better treatment. I did what I could to fix what I could.
And that worked. I found a good job at a company with a great health plan. But we’d have to move.
Of course, that meant that while Susan was recovering from a mastectomy, we were also putting the house up for sale and packing and moving across the country…while taking care of twin toddler girls and two young boys who did not want to move.
Then there were a couple of temporary houses and the house we finally bought — all while Susan endured chemo.
The chemo, though, had a surprisingly common side effect afterward: depression. Think about it: your body’s weak from enduring weekly poison. You’ve been through a huge emotional and physical experience but will have to wait for resolution. You’re bald and probably puffy from steroids. Most oncologists, I understand, plan on depression as an after-effect of chemo.
So again, I tried to fix things. I found a new job, closer to friends and family, and in the sun. We moved again, back to Utah.
Susan loved the house, loved the neighborhood, and felt better in general. She started working out, getting her strength back.
And then her hip started hurting.
Neither of us wanted to even acknowledge the possibility of what that might mean, so for weeks she just treated it like a sports injury.
Finally though, she went to the family doctor, who did some X-rays. And then he immediately called the oncologist.
And that’s where the news got bad. Susan’s cancer had metastasized, and was in her bones, lungs, liver, lymph nodes, and spine.
Honestly, I now can’t even remember the order of some of the treatment from that point forward. Did we do radiation and then chemo? Or was it the other way around? It almost doesn’t matter, because before too long, Susan couldn’t walk any more without crippling, crushing pain in her hip.
A tumor had destroyed it.
An excellent surgeon at the Huntsman Cancer Institute did a partial hip replacement, while I scrambled, fixing things around the house as well as I could. A stair elevator. Rails in the bathroom and shower. Furniture rearrangement galore.
Then there was more chemo, and for a while things were looking pretty good. Susan could walk using nothing but a cane (and even short distances without the cane), and she even had the mental energy to start writing a novel.
And then, a little over a year ago, Susan lost the ability to sleep. Three nights went by, with her getting no sleep whatsoever. I tried to help with soothing music, back rubs, sleeping aids and reading obsolete technical documentation I had written years ago out loud to her.
And then she had an MRI. Brain tumors. Too many to count. We did the radiation, and then chemo for a while, and that’s been about as much as we can do.
So now, as Susan’s become weaker, I’ve been adapting and solving. When she couldn’t sit up, I learned to swing her into position and move her into a wheelchair.
When she was uncomfortable being in one position in a chair all day, I bought an easy chair that can change positions with the touch of a remote control.
When one of her collarbones broke, I learned to do everything I had done before, but without pulling on that arm or shoulder when I lifted her.
Which brings me back to where I started this post. Stuff’s breaking faster and worse than I know how to adapt to now. Susan’s on her back, and when I tried to lift her into a sitting position a couple of days ago, I may as well have jabbed her with a knife.
Susan doesn’t complain, at least not very much. Nowhere near as much as I would. I would complain all the time. I would find new ways to complain. I would make it my primary function.
Susan, on the other hand, just wishes she could make jewelry again. Or get back to work on writing her novel (she’s working on the final chapter). Or drawing with the twins, who seem to have inherited their mom’s creative ability, and go through reams of paper per week.
Susan is fighting, in other words, with grace, courage and strength I could never hope to match.
At the time I married her, I would never have suspected it of her, but Susan has inner reserves I can only call heroic.
Team Fat Cyclist: Fighting For Susan
At the beginning of this year, I put together Team Fat Cyclist: Fighting for Susan for the LiveStrong Challenge in all four event cities (Seattle, San Jose, Philly and Austin), because — as is my way — I wanted to feel like I was doing something. Helping somehow.
Most of you don’t know how much time and thought I put into the “Fighting for Susan” phrase, though. I considered it pretty carefully. “Fighting for Susan” could mean that we’re fighting to help Susan. Or that we’re fighting because Susan can’t. Or that we are fighting in her place. Or as a tribute to her. I meant — and mean — all of those things.
But when I look back at what Susan’s gone through and how she is — in spite of everything that has happened and is happening to her — the same wife, mother, friend, and creative force she has always been — I realize something.
We can all fight for Susan, but there are very few of us — not me, certainly — who could ever fight like Susan.
Still, it’s definitely worth fighting. And if enough of us fight with even a fraction of the tenacity my wife has shown, someday maybe we’ll get to pick a different battle. Hopefully, before our twins are old enough to worry about this disease.
Thanks for fighting with us. And for us.

Monday, July 6, 2009

My New Running Partner

As promised, here is my new running partner.

I should add that I did not want a dog. My roommate just moved out with her two dogs and I DID NOT want a dog. I liked the idea of being dog hair and bark free and just being with my cats. I do love dogs, I just did not want one of my own right now.

Then this puppy shows up outside my work and plops down in front of my car. And stays. All day. I tried to ignore him, but at the end of the day as he lay panting in the Texas sun, I could not do it anymore. Especially not after he crawled on his belly to me to get some water. He had a collar but no tags, but I was still certain that someone would claim him. Numerous calls, online posts, and newspapers ads over the last two weeks have turned up nothing so I guess he is mine.

We are not quite up to running yet, but we do go on long walks. A vet looked at him and while I thought by his size he must be at least 5 months, it turns out he is only about 10 weeks. This means that he is going to be roughly the same size as my horse, but we will deal with that when the time comes. I have a big yard and friends that have dogs so he has lots of puppies to play with. He is a lot of work, but I think in the long run, he will be worth it. Unless he goes after my tennis shoes again. :)