Sunday, September 26, 2010

How do I? What do I...? Can I?

My Dad did a little photo-shop magic.
I finally found the official course map to the 5K. As it turns out there is some uphill challenge to this...About 1/3 way through the race I have to round the Cobbs Hill Reservoir. Ouch. 

This weekend I tried a dry-run of the course. The top of the reservoir affords one of the prettiest views of the city of Rochester...but as I climbed up it for the first time, huffing and puffing as I went, I just kept thinking...
what am I doing? how am I going to do this? I'm not a runner...Am I seriously nuts for even trying? 

The definitive answer to that last question has to be no. 
There is no other way around this. I need to do this.
I wanted a challenge--and baby, here I go.
I'm just 34 days away from doing something I never imagined I would do. 

Running taxes me earlier and more profoundly than most people who do it regularly--and at least from where I see it, effortlessly. Even with all this heart rate is still too high through most of my workouts. It's not rocket science. I had a mediastinal tumor. Aside from my legs, the anatomical center of everything that is running (heart and lungs) is the very location of my second cancer's battleground. This is not supposed to be easy. I just didn't know it would be this hard.

I have received a lot of support from a lot of people who mean a great deal to me. So many have encouraged me in ways that are keeping me emotionally fueled. Gratitude is so much a part of why I'm doing this, but gratitude is what's keeping me going. I feel it...and every bit of love that comes my way keeps me focused. I even have a few dear people who have offered to run this with me. One of them, Heather (Swifty)  is going to have to drive two hours from Ithaca to do so. Zach's parents will be there on the day of the race...cheering me on. 

So far I've raised over $500 for the SamFund in Zach's memory--raising money for grant/scholarship funding for young adult survivors.  

I've wanted to pay it forward for the help they provided me. Gratitude. 
I had a friend who changed the direction of my life and I want to carry his banner of hope because he can't. Gratitude. I have a reduced capacity to be a 'natural' at all things physical---but I can try... I haven't lost the ability to do so. Gratitude. 

If you feel so compelled you can visit my webpage and make a'll help me work toward my fundraising goal. But you already have my gratitude just for taking a moment out of your day to read this...because somehow my simple quest touched your heart.

No matter what lies ahead in the final month of preparation, I know that I'm going to give it my all. I have so much to be grateful for...Life isn't just like a's a big ol' road race....some of it uphill, some of it winding, and some of it a soft and gentle downhill slope--the kind you coast down feeling the breeze on your face.

 Life is like a road race...and I'll bless every stride.

Monday, September 20, 2010


This weekend I participated in the Rochester River Challenge as a pinch-hitter for the Cayuga Outrigger Team (from Ithaca). My friend Heather Swift, the glamourous redhead next to me in the group pic, introduced me to the sport that makes her tick...and now...I think I may be hooked.

Friday night I had called to chat up Miss Heather, a two-time cancer survivor herself, the night before...and found out they needed a paddler...

Who's in? Me! Me! 

However, I might have felt a bit in over my head though when I found out who we were racing against in our two 400 meter heats. None other than the RIT R.O.T.C. team! Nothing like going head-to-head with a bunch of buff 20 year old army guys to give you a good morning workout. Needless to say, they beat us...but we made them work for it!

Despite having had absolutely no experience racing an outrigger canoe they said I did really well. I just watched Felix, positioned ahead of me and tried to stay in total sync with his stroke. I think I picked it up fairly fast all things considered.
We paddled quick and strong...and when the steerer called "hut" and we all yelled "ho" and switched sides. It was an absolute blast!

I really think I believe my friend Val about this "re-athlete" thing. She an I both had to step out of our athletic lives when we were teens due to illness, and she coined the word
"re-athlete" as a way to classify a person who is pushing themselves back into the active life. 

I loved the adrenaline rush I got from throwing on a "Sha-Zam" t-shirt and jumping into a boat to race a bunch of tough macho college guys. Somehow it didn't even scare me that I was learning the call words and signals and all the rules of how to paddle an outrigger and how to race as we literally slid through the water to the starting mark. 

Isn't that what life's about...taking a chance and seizing an opportunity when it comes your way? 

Heather has this banner that she hoists at every race she does. You can see that it says "Never Give Up". 

This is a woman who has proven she never gives up... Even after cancer her resilience has been tested severely. A year ago she broke her neck and was told she would never be able to be active on the same level again. I think she's proving that prediction wrong.

Something is really magical about a life where you get to mix the blessings of extraordinary experiences with extraordinary people. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Trip of a lifetime...

Here it is three weeks after one of the most amazing trips I've ever taken...and I'm just now posting a blog?
You know the I was busy. Shame on me.
This is just but a mere glimpse of the beauty that I saw in Colorado. Above is a picture taken at the Colorado National Monument in Fruita Colorado (just outside of Grand Junction).

The drive there with Joy and Robin was just as incredible as the trip that would follow. I think I've fallen in love with yet another place. There are so many vistas that take your breath away...and I feel lucky in life to have added Colorado's landscape to that list.
I am sad to say that my camera misbehaved half-way through our four day trip and I only got a few images before it conveniently decided to expire. Bummer of all bummers. But luckily, several of the good friends I made will be sharing their pictures which will make their way into my collection. I will share what I do have with you...

We arrived at our camp site...fourteen single cancer survivors, two guides and a massage therapist-- ready for adventure.

I was so excited to be meeting a whole new batch of friends...and of course, hanging with some friends from way back. Juliana Carvatt(a pal from '08 at the LiveStrong summit) and Sean Swarner were there. Sean hooked us up with some sweet Marmot tents to use!

We paddled out on Friday morning from Fruita. The weather couldn't have been more perfect than if we had ordered it that way. The sky was a magnificent turquoise blue. We paddled into our next campsite late in the afternoon and right on schedule!

We camped on a bank near Black Rock...opposite these beautiful ancient metamorphic formations. Pretty cool.

        In between paddling we had a good deal of "down-time". We ate meals prepared in the "tipped canoe kitchen", had some luau night fun and just chatted around the fire at night, watching the moon rise up over the canyon.

      There is something about getting to know people out in the great outdoors, no showers, no running water...that bonds you. Call me crazy, but it does. There's also something about being freed from technological distractions that makes it a sweeter experience. With one exception...Sean's constellation finder iphone app was fun to look at the stars with (until the battery died).

          On the playground of a riverbank along the most famous river in somehow accept missing the comforts of home. Okay, I'll be honest the groover (makeshift bathroom) was something I took some time to get used to

         Our creativity and fun-loving spirit as a group kept things interesting. One of the nights we sprinkled some aloha spirit on our canyon river fun...And you can't imagine what mischief happened when the train came roaring around on the other side of the river bank. Think high school antics....and you might guess what that was about.
Looking back at these snapshots makes me laugh.

Tracy, our fearless leader with the boys!
       Aside from the fun on this trip, I think I challenged myself more than I expected. Traveling a thirty plus mile stretch of river, (and paddling it with little other experience than what I've done on the tranquil and predictable Salmon River)...really tested me.

       Climbing up a canyon, the same giant layered formation that I had been gazing at from our camp circle---was scary--and was amazing. Looking out from that great height when I made it to the top (with the help and encouragement of some amazing friends),gazing at the river winding around columns and ribbons of red sandstone as far as the eye could see---that was something I never will forget.
               This trip, Canoeing and Connection-- was a labor of love and the brainchild of my very good friend Tracy Maxwell. She had a vision and a passion to make this trip happen. When she asked me to sign on to the committee, to help get it off the ground, there was no hesitation. I knew any idea she had cooking was bound to be a winner. And it was...

Thank you Tracy, thanks to everyone on this trip who gave me memories to fill a lifetime.