My account of life both on and off of two wheels...... "At least I'm enjoying the ride"

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Recovery Mode.

The surgery went as planned and while I was quite groggy, I was sent home that very afternoon. 
I had both implants removed, extra skin was cut out and I was sewn shut, laterally.  The stitches run about 4 inches across and maybe a little longer on the left side.  The left side is a bit more indented as well but not as bad as I thought it might be.   The radiation damage is quite evident.  I had two drainage tubes placed, one on each side.  The tubes came out 4 days later because it seemed to not be draining enough to require them to stay in over the holidays. 

We are still waiting on the final pathology report and with the holidays, it is more delayed than usual.

I have been feeling really well and have hardly required any pain medication after the first day or so.   I had a couple rough mental days but a lot had to do with the effects of the anesthesia.  That stuff messes with my head.  I have really just been more tired than anything. 

Of course with my luck, my left side with all the radiation damage has decided to start building up fluid. This is common and usually the body can absorb it but in this case, it had to be drained this past Thursday.  I am now required to wear a compression binder wrapped around my torso.  It is quite uncomfortable and I must wear it day and night until I see the doctor again on January 2.  The fluid seems to be returning again despite the compression.  I just hope my body figures out how to disperse this extra fluid on its own.    It is not necessarily dangerous.  It is just really annoying and could cause me a longer recovery period with repetitive trips to the doctor to have it aspirated. 
So far, the new ‘look’ has not bothered me very much.   I have not had many opportunities to figure out my wardrobe since I have not been going out that much.  The new compression binder is not helping to work this out and is making things more awkward if anything.
The truth is, I feel the most pure that I have felt since this whole process started back in 2010.  It is my body and only my body that I feel when I rest my hands over my chest.  I can feel my heart beat again. The only thing left behind is the reminisce of what cancer did to my body- The scars that will forever tell the story.  The look is quite dramatic but it is all me.

Christmas was quiet and uneventful.  It is a strange time of year to be stuck in surgical recovery mode.  People are busy with their holiday plans and parties so there is a sense of isolation or loneliness.  I have mostly missed being able to ride my bike.  It seems sort of unnatural for me to end 2012 without being able to get a good pedal in.  Even when I was in treatments, I still was able to ride.  

I have to hold onto the good memories of the entire year and not reflect too much on the past two months.  

It will be 2013 before I know it and I will be back in the Pilates studio and back on the bike. 

Here is to a healthy and happy 2013 for all!  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Do what will heal you.

I have not shared with many or posted about the details of my upcoming surgery.  I have been trying to avoid being overly influenced by others or their opinions.  I have discussed my options with medical professionals, other women that have had to make these choices and some of my closest friends and family.  Of course G and I have discussed this more than we both would like.  G is my biggest fan and I am very grateful for that.  

The decision process has been more than difficult.  The rescheduling of the surgery was a blessing as I have used this extra time to try and sort out my options and find peace with my choice.
When I made the decision to have a bilateral mastectomy back in May of 2010, I had the option to reconstruct my breasts or wait and delay reconstruction.
“You are young and most women your age choose reconstruction”

 I heard that from many and while I still considered no reconstruction at all, I knew that if I was going to do it, I should start the process right away.  I wanted to get it over with as soon as possible or I may not go back. 

It all seemed so straight forward at the time. 

I was so overwhelmed with all the decisions that I had to make back then.  I had the whole “you have cancer” noise running through my head and on top of it, I had to make reconstruction decisions.  I chose the “easiest” and most common option for reconstruction with the least invasive surgery. 

After finding out that I needed radiation, it was too late.  We had started the process already.   I knew that the results could fail and I could be right where I am today.    I just tried not to think that way.  I still had to get through chemo and radiation so there was no time to think of the “what if” regarding reconstruction.

We pressed on because for some women, the results work even post radiation. I was hopeful that I would be one of those.  
The bottom line is I no longer can just have an implant on my radiated side.  The tissue and skin is so damaged from radiation that it is too unhealthy to hold an implant comfortably or safely.
If I want to continue the reconstruction process, I need healthy tissue to replace what is damaged.

That has been one of the biggest dilemmas for me.  Continue or give up what I started.

If you have been paying attention at all, I am not quick to give up but I do know when enough is enough.   These choices are not as straight forward as one may think.  So much more is involved at this point and all the procedures are ones that I declined from the start and thought I would 'never' do that.  

The only reconstruction options that I have at this point involve having major surgery and taking tissue and muscle from other parts of my body to form a new breast.
The only surgeries that I am a good candidate for is the LAT Flap or a GAP, TUG or PAP flap.  All of these involve a huge recovery and possibly or most certainly weakness from the donor site.  I already have some upper body weakness from the implants and don’t forget my cording issues in my left arm.  Oh and there is also the chance that they too could fail! 

The GAP, TUG and PAP all involve taking tissue from my butt or legs.  As much as I like the idea of making my butt a little small, no thank you!  My legs are my engine on the bike.  These also have a higher risk of failure especially on radiated tissue.

The strongest option for me and what was suggested by two different surgeons is the Latissimus  Dorsi Flap or better known as the LAT Flap.  It utilizes the whole Lat muscle, tissue and skin from your back.  The muscle remains connected and is pulled under the arm and around to the chest to create the new breast mound and replace as much of the damaged skin as possible.  There is hope that the new skin will be able to regenerate healthier skin.  It still requires an implant to match the other side since I do not have a ton of extra tissue to donate and the Lat muscle, while very large is actually pretty thin.   This surgery could help my cording issue or exacerbate it.  It most likely will be a much harder rehab for me and I could end up weakening the integrity of my back. 

I have been on the schedule for the Lat Flap surgery but the idea of this surgery has not settled well with me.  I am extremely concerned of losing strength in my back for obvious reasons.  I am an avid mountain biker that wishes to be competitive again and I am finishing my Pilates training certification.  While the Lat may solve some problems, it could cause more and there is no reversing this.  The muscle cannot be put back where it belongs.   I have had night terrors of waking up on the operating table with my back cut open and muscle hanging out only to be left on the operating table while everyone leaves.
Yes, this has been a tough 5 weeks.   

I have done lots of research and deep soul searching regarding what is the most important to me.  

I was given some really sound advice from a new friend.  “Do what will heal you”
I have come to the conclusion that today, my body; my muscles and a strong recovery from treatments are way more important to me than breasts.  I have already put my body through more than I have every thought I would or could go through.   It is time to give my body a break and give it time to really heal.   Enough is enough.

To deconstruct is still a big surgery but we are anticipating a much easier and quicker recovery.   It sort of feels like I am going through the mastectomy all over again but this time, I know more.  I do not have the same fear of cancer that I had the first time.  Of course there are still no guarantees of how this will look and how I will heal both physically and mentally.  The skin and muscle in my chest has already been stretched.  The extra skin can be cut out but the muscle, while still functioning may not ever lay flat.
I do anticipate having a few moments of grieving and "what the fuck did I do” moments.  Of course I expect many wardrobe malfunctions so I may need to find a good seamstress to alter some of my favorite dresses or just go shopping. But  I will take it all one day at a time.
The most important thing is I choose what feels right and to honor my body for taking me this far in life. 

While sitting in my car at the trailhead with my bike in tow, I spoke to my plastic surgeon yesterday.  I most certainly got the feeling she is not thrilled with my decision but she respects my choice and will help me achieve this goal of getting my body back to a stronger and healthier state that I so desire.   She also reminded me that we can revisit reconstruction at a time that is better for me down the road.

I hung up the phone, unloaded my bike and took a moment.  I felt a bit of weight coming off my shoulders and as I took a deep breath, I looked up.  There he was.  “My” hawk that I have spoken about before.  He was circling the parking lot.  I smiled, soaked in the peace and thanked him for his message as I pedaled into the woods. 

While I am mentally and in turn physically exhausted, I still had moments while pedaling that I could feel my body and how strong it really was.  How hard I have worked to get here.  The implants have only impaired my strength and have never truly been comfortable.  

I actually saw the hawk two more times over the course of my ride.  I do believe he was following me and I like to believe that he was watching over me. Reminding me to look at the big picture- my health and doing the things that make me happy.  

I do understand that I am in the minority with my choice but this seems to be the best way for me to heal myself. 

Finding clarity in the woods. 


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Preparing for Surgery.

There has been a slight change in plans.

Surgery is now scheduled for December 17.  I would update you more on what surgery I am having but I am still sort of undecided and this extra time has given me more time to prepare.

Here is the best way that I know how to clear my head and  prepare for major surgery...

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.


Friday, November 9, 2012

The Unexpected.

My 6 month oncology follow up was two weeks ago.  As I mentioned in my last post, there was no reason to believe that there would be anything to really report about.  Because my oncologist follows the “only scan on symptoms” protocol, I was not worried.  I have been feeling pretty great. 

The thing about the  ”cancer vortex’ is you never truly know what comes next. 
My appointment started off as usual. The nurse took my blood; I filled out my self evaluation sheet and waited some more in the overly crowded medical oncology office where the majority of patients are over 60. 

Dr W was extremely busy – more than usual, but she really gave me her full attention.  She was even more compassionate than I have ever remembered.  We talked about a lot of things- My treatment choices; side effects; my fibroid issues, babies after cancer and my overall well-being. 

Things did not start to get weird until the physical exam. 

Dr W: What is going on over here?  I do not remember this breast being so discolored?! 

Me: Well, it sort of started a few months ago but it does seem to have gotten worse. I assumed it was the norm and it was probably a side effect from radiation, no?

Dr W: I am sure it is nothing but I want you to get an MRI.  Oh and I am calling Dr M (radiation oncologist) over to have him take a look. 

I did not panic; I thought for sure she was just being overly cautious.  I had not seen Dr M since February 2011 (a month after my last radiation treatment) but he seemed to remember me enough to know what he was looking at. 

Dr M: Well, it could just be the implant and some lymphatic blockage but the only way to tell is a skin biopsy.  An MRI is not going to tell us what is going on with the skin. 

Me:  Is this something I can do with my plastic surgeon?  Wait…you are worried it could be skin metastasis? 

Dr M: No, not really but a biopsy is really the only way to know for sure.  Call you plastic surgeon and see what she thinks about a biopsy and the discoloring.

Both doctors agreed and they think this is nothing but now the words have been said, documented and I am stuck with following along with all the annoying and scary tests that would follow. 

I was able to schedule an appointment with my plastic surgeon for the following day.  Dr DP would know right away if she could/would biopsy the skin.   

As Dr DP looked me over she asked  me some questions, ran her finger down my radiated skin and then when she touched this one specific spot – I jumped up!   It is a spot that we have been ‘watching’ because the skin was really thin after my exchange surgery due to radiation damage.  I had thought it looked a little worse but this confirmed it. 

At this point, I was now standing up while she began sizing me up and grabbing my waist and my back trying to figure out what she had to work with.  I have been trying pretty hard to lose some of the extra tummy and toning up so she didn't really find much. 

The bottom line is my implant is failing.  This is in the side that was radiated 33 times.  The skin is just too damaged.  The implant is actually starting to show through the skin! That was why I had a lot of sensitivity to the touch.  Here I thought I was just getting my nerve sensation back.
The concern is that if we do not take this implant out now and look at alternate reconstruction options, this could end up being considered an emergency surgery and my options just went from 2 to none.
The other issue and the whole reason I went to see her is the skin that is turning color.  She brought my breast surgeon in to discuss and have her take a look.  The discoloration concerned her as well but mostly because they both think it is another issue with the implant and the constant tightening and tugging I have going on.  It is contracting and according to the photo evidence, rising higher by the month.  Of course that is causing me great pain but I just thought this was the way it was and I never really complained that much about it.  I just sort of accepted it as the new normal post radiation/reconstruction.
We knew there was a chance of this happening if I decided to go the implant route after radiation.  Some plastic surgeons won’t even touch radiated skin with an implant since it is very common for radiated skin to fail.  We took our 50/50 odds and went for it.  We were all  hopeful and thought I was in the clear for a while.  I did not think it would happen this quickly if at all.  It was just a year ago that I had my implants put in.  

The sadness, fear and overall frustration has really taken over on this. 

I had a biopsy last week.  It had to be in the OR since they could not risk my implant getting exposed and infection setting in.  That would add insult to injury.  I am grateful to report that my biopsy is benign and the skin sample is normal.  Dodged a bullet on this one!   
The new reconstruction options are very limited.  Everyone will have an opinion but there really is no great option for me. Either way, I am having surgery on November 27.   Instead of starting my bike race training for the 2013 season, I will be getting my ass kicked by another major surgery.  

I will share more about the type of surgery in another post.  It is just too exhausting to explain right now.  It has been consuming my mind and my extra time doing research.  

It can always be worse but for me, this is a big setback that I had not planned on.  It is not cancer this time (Thank GOD) but it is because of the cancer treatments that I have to go through this again.  

The good news is we were spared during the most recent storms that tore through the north east coast.  It is really bad for a lot of people and my heart hurts to see all the devastation.    

I was still able to get up to Maine for my nephews 2nd birthday and it was a nice distraction from ALL the craziness around us and within my head. 

Happy Birthday J!  
Waiting for his birthday dinner!  
The cake- A handmade log truck.  So fitting for Maine and he is obsessed with trucks!  

Hope all my east coast blogger friends are safe and warm. 


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Summer wrap up.

Golden Sunflower Fields for miles! 

Ten days after the Hampshire 100, G and I switched gears and packed our bags for a 2 week trip to France.  As crazy as it may seem, we opted not to bring our bikes. This trip was going to be mostly about visiting with G’s family and while biking would have been a wonderful addition to our vacation, it was just going to cause too much stress with all the traveling we had planned between two different locations.  

We took over 800 photos between the two of us so it is taking a long time to sort through. Here is just a sample.

Our trip started in the Mid Pyrenees, in the region known as the Le Gers.
View from one of our many walks through local vineyards. 
15 century Chateau - this was only a short walk away from the house we were staying.

Delicious foods. 
and very good local wine.

Picking Berries on our hike. 
And some grapes..."it is okay, they have so many"
Amazing sunsets. 
and more sunflower fields!  

We then headed south to Montpellier to visit with G’s father.   

We actually rented beach cruisers and cruised the beaches. 

Felt so awkward...but so fun!  
Many walks through fortified villages. 
Great dinners at home. Notice the huge cheese plate.

Special Dinner Guests.
The canals. 
And Lakes. 
My system went into shock with all the food, wine and lack of biking…but we had a great trip!  

By the time we got home and I got back on the bike, I felt pretty out of shape. It took me about a week or more to really feel like I was able to pedal without the thought of all the cheese I ate.  It was totally worth it!

We had only been home two days, when I received the horrible news about a friend of mine passing away from breast cancer.  I have tried to write about it in hopes that it would help me process this great loss.  I am having trouble.  My heart is still too heavy. 

There is not much to report with my physical health. It has been pretty uneventful and for that I am very grateful.  I have my routine follow ups this month and I have no reason to believe that I will receive much more than a “see you in 6 months”.
Mentally, I have not been feeling quite myself these days.  It could be the change of season; sadness of losing a friend; my medicine; work changes or all of the above.  Writing has been difficult for me. 

I do have a lot of exciting things on the horizon so I just keep looking ahead.  I will be focusing to keep the wheels spinning so as not to get paralyzed with all I actually need  to do in the months ahead.

There are lots of positive changes happening.  I will try to post more about that soon. 

Happy Fall and thank you for reading.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Daring to be great- Hampshire 100 Recap

G and I had driven up the day prior to the big race and spent the night in the cute little town of Peterborough, NH.  It was only minutes from the Hampshire 100 start/finish and we had a bed to sleep in instead of camping.   It did not seem to matter much since I did not get a good night sleep anyway.  I was probably overly anxious about the long day ahead and the fact that my alarm was going to go off at 5 am.  I do not wake up that early on purpose- ever! 

I had no idea what to expect that morning.

It was less than 50 degrees at the start and the sun was shining.  It was an amazingly beautiful morning for a bike ride and was a huge relief from the insanely hot and humid weather we have had this summer on New York.   

6:45 am came quickly and we were off!  There were 400+ racers in total but not everyone was racing the 100 mile option.  The past 5 years of this event has “only” been a 100 K and this was the first year they were added to the NUE race series with the extra mileage option.  Of course I signed up for the 100 mile category. 

The race started off pretty quickly and I tried to just settle into my own race.  It was hard to do. I look back now and I am sure that the ‘bike buzz’ got the best of me for the first 20 or so miles.   I started out with a couple other women.  One of them was a single speeder- Hannah. And the other was a woman that I knew from New York, Chrissy.  It was nice to have a familiar face to start off with and she has done a 100 miler before.  I figured if I just stick with her for a bit, I could maybe find a good steady pace.  It was working for a while.  

G had decided to wait for me at the first aide station and we quickly headed off together. 

We pedaled with our friend Shoogs for a while.  We pedaled the course with no idea what was ahead of us.   I had read the course description but when you are out there in the mix, nothing really is what you thought it would be. 

We had a pretty good pace and my spirits were high. The course started to pick up some steam.  Railroad tie bridges; ‘the beach’; jeep trails with techy descents and loose steep climbs; the power line climb- which apparently had a great view if you turned around.   I didn’t look behind me all day.  Freshly cut single track that sapped my legs on ever pedal.  Mud, roots, rocks.  It was never ending.  

Rolling up on a man playing the fiddle in a field was probably one the highlights for me.  We were having a great time but suffering all the same. 

We pedaled through people’s back yards as we looped through 7 different towns.  They cheered us on and waived from their porches.  We waived back and thanked them as we heading into the woods.  The smell of pine trees kept me sane.  I said out loud to G, “2 years ago, almost to the date- our lives were so different” I was feeling so lucky to be out there suffering on my own terms and soaking in the day. 

At "the beach"

Somewhere around mile 40-45, my stomach started to bubble up.  The pressure started to build and the cramping got worse.  I kept pedaling and hoping it would just subside a bit.  I had a Dixie cup of coke at one of the aide stations hoping it would settle my stomach.  I had stopped eating.  I was heading for trouble.
I was still with G and he was calling out to me to make sure I ate something.  I just couldn’t do it.  I felt too sick.  It was either the Heed or the Perpetuem chews.  I have used both before without any problems but I could not figure out what else it could be.
We pressed on.  More mud, more climbs and a water bog that was thigh high deep.  There was no way through it without lifting your bike and slogging your way through hoping not to twist you ankle on the invisible rocks below.  Needless to say, this was not a highlight of the race for me. Although my bike is light, my ability to lift anything over my shoulders since my mastectomy and reconstruction surgeries has been a challenge.  The cold water felt nice on my legs except it really triggered my neuropathy in my right foot. It was already bother me the same as usual but it was now hurting badly, especially when I would have to walk a section.    

Me- Attempting to get back on the bike.  G had his GoPro on photo instead of video. 

I tried to remember some of the many suggestions this awesome lady gave me.    No matter how good or bad you feel it will not last, just keep moving forward no matter what the pace”.   It did get a bit better but at that point, my nutrition was malfunctioning and my pace dropped off so much that I was not even sure we would make the 4:00 pm cut off to head out for the second part of the course.  For the safety of all racers, they had time cut offs that would make sure you were off the course by 7:30 PM- for obvious reasons. 

The modified second lap for the 100 milers began at the start/finish.  This is brutal on the psyche.  I should also mention we only rolled in with 3 minutes under the cut off time and it looked like a fun party happening on the start/finish site with all those that had already finished the 100 K and a few top racers that had finished the 100 miles.  We decided to head back out on the course, but this was not an easy decision. 

I started to do the math as I looked at the cut off times that I had taped to my handle bars.  Could I keep up over a 10 mile an hour pace for the next 35 miles?  I was not keeping that pace as it was, so it was not likely I could then.  A couple miles into that second lap, G and I agreed that we were done.
I will not lie, I shed a few tears as we pedaled back to the score tent to let them know that we were quitting.  My disappointment ran high.  In all reality, we would never have made the cut off time at the next feed station and I would rather pedal myself back than have to take the support car back to camp.
Had I signed up for the 100 K, I would have had a finish.  But as G said to me as we headed back to the start/finish area to tell the officials we were out-  “You have to dare to be great.  We will come back another day and finish our 100 mile race”.
We ended up with 70 miles, over 7000 feet of climbing and over 9.5 hours of riding.  Not bad for a day on the bike and I am proud of that.  Had I not had a GI issue, my race could have been much different.  My arm cording  never hurt and my hand did not swell in my glove. Probably because I did not use a camel back and the humidity was low.  Amazing my back never hurt either.  I was even climbing well.  I had a fun day and I learned a lot about endurance racing.  I need more practice and need to dial in my nutrition better.  At the very least, find something to eat that does not make my stomach sick while riding.  I also think I will try a different 100 miler next year.  The New Hampshire 100 was supposedly one of the hardest in all of the NUE series- and it just so happens to be the one I chose for my first attempt. 

This quote has always been a favorite of my guys and his “dare to be great” comment is inspired by this quote:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.  Theodore Roosevelt

Many others did not finish the 100 mile race on that Sunday, but we were all out there- Daring to be great!  

Friday, August 10, 2012

Darkhorse 40 Race Recap.

Sunday morning came quickly and it was set to be another hot and humid race day. 

After picking up my number plate and setting up my gear, I spun my legs out up the fire road for not even a mile or so before they called to stage all racers. I had planned on a long warm up that morning, but I ran out of time before the start. 

Ready or not, it was time to go pee and lineup.   

I had signed up for the sport class and there was 17 women registered.   That is a pretty large womens field so I was a bit anxious.  We were going to be the last group to head out on the course.  After my experience of being passed by almost the entire men sport field at the 6 hour race last month, I was totally okay with heading into the woods behind the masses.  There were 400 racers registered and I would just pass the ones I could but was happy to not have to be passed by 200+ racers.   

It was already hot and the air was pretty thick as I stood on the line waiting our turn to start the race.  I ran through my mental  check list of what I had in my pockets for nutrition; I ate a GU while I tried to remind myself to make sure to eat on a regular schedule so I would not bonk out there. 

The race started with a 3.5 mile fire road.  I was not warmed up well so I just rode it pretty steady.  That was my plan- just to stay steady.   By the time I got to the first bit of single track- I felt great.  I was picking off some of the men racers and having a good time of it.  I caught a couple women and just kept on pushing forward.
I felt so good the first 10 miles that I decided that I better reign myself  back in a bit- I had 30 more miles to go and it was hot and humid.  I just settled into a little more than comfortable pace. The second half of the 20 mile course had the most climbs on it.  I was surprised at how well I did on the climbs.  G keeps reminding me on our training rides to use my gears and save my legs.  It really helped and I never felt my legs hurt once on those climbs.

As I came through the neutral feed zone after the first lap, I stopped at the cooler to fill up my camelback with water and grab another bottle of Heed.  The promoters had great support stations set up with snacks and water but I never stopped at any of them.  I made a promise to myself- no stopping outside of the feed zone unless it was necessary.   3 women passed me during what was only about a minute pit stop.  I headed back on the course to chase them down.  I had eaten and drank all the right amounts up until this point so I was hopeful to catch back up. 

It was quite a few miles until I caught two of them.  It had appeared they had slowed their pace.  I was thinking that I had slowed down a bit too, but I tried  to remain steady. By mile 35, I still had not caught one of the  woman that had passed me in the feed zone and I still felt pretty good so I thought- just go!  I pushed hard those  last 5 miles and I still felt strong when I crossed the finish line.  I could not believe it.  I was having the best race I have had in over 2 years.  I was smiling from the inside out. 

I did not catch that last woman that had  passed me.  I did not meet my time goal - but I still beat last year’s time by 30 minutes.  I did not podium but I sure as hell had a great time out there racing my bike in the woods.  The best part of the whole day was how I felt strong and healthy.  That was the big take away.    

What was the reason I felt so good that day?  The humidity was not in my favor and my ankles hurt for two days leading up to the race.  It could have gone either way.   I keep going over the week prior to race day and my race prep.  I do not know if I could repeat a day like that if I tried. 

My recovery is going well this week, so  here is hoping I will have what it takes to finish the Hampshire 100 in less than two weeks. 


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Just Busy Living!

J enjoying himself some ice cream!

I have been extremely selective with my time lately.

During 7 weeks of the summer, my sister comes down from Maine to work a job she has had for many years. It is a great job  for her, so while it is hard on her and her family, it pays off in the end. There is not much work up in their parts of the world, so this is necessary. An added bonus for me is my nephew J comes with her. At 21 months, he has been quite the trooper . He has adapted very well and I love having them both around.

Unfortunately, the time goes by way too quickly. Each year I tell myself that I need to make sure I spend as much time with them as possible- no matter what is going on in my life.

Back in the summer of 2010 when I was in chemo treatments, my sister was here for work and she was pregnant with J. The time we spent together was not filled with a ton of exciting activities since we both only really wanted to lay on the couch and watch movies- we still had some great sister time together.

At the local fair. 

This year I have made an even stronger effort and I have the energy to spread myself a little thinner. These times with L & J are very special. I have grown pretty attached to this little guy. So between my visits with them; work; training hours in the Pilates studio and oh yeah…riding my bike, writing has taken a back seat.

It never seems like enough time...

J and L 

If anyone was worried- I am fine… just busy living! 

I hope you are all having a great summer. 

My sis, brother in law and of course G and I.

Stay tuned: G and I will be racing on Sunday August 5 in the DarkHorse 40 and if I keep my nerve, I will be attempting to finish the Hampshire 100.

Darkhorse 40 pre-ride with some good buddies!


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The voices in my head.

I woke up Sunday morning not feeling much better than the day before.  My head was still stuffy and I had developed a cough.  I had a really good night rest so decided to stick with the plan and head up to the race.  I planned on just using this event as training anyway.  I told myself that I would not over do it and if for any reason I felt sick, I would stop.  It is a hard thing to do when you are out there but I have hurt myself in this type of heat before.  It ended badly with lots of puking and chills, so I had no interest in reenacting that nightmare.

I made some green juice for G and I and we were off to the race.  

It was already 78 degrees at 8:00 in the morning so we knew it was going to be a long hot day.

The heat and coughing just added to my normal list of issues I now have to deal with since surgery and treatments.  The heat just makes these issues worse- my ankles aching and arm tightening- I am sick of even talking about it so I am sure you all are sick of reading about it.  I am just starting to understand how to accept it- but I am not there yet. 

Racing is as much mental as it is physical.  A week ago, I actually felt like I could have done well in this race but you just never know until you start pedaling that day.  I felt pretty good heading into the woods.  I tried not to get carried away with the freight train of ‘sport’ class men that passed me on the trail. I just tried to find my own grove and settle in and let people pass when it was safe to do so.

It was not 45 minutes into the race when I heard my guy yell out- ‘is that my wonder woman?”.   I knew he would catch up to me so it was nice to hear his voice.  We actually ended up riding most of the race together and having a good time.  We both were struggling with the heat and the same cold.  For the record, he gave it to me. 

It was during the 4th lap that I was starting to feel like a 5th lap could potentially bury me.  G was having the same feeling so we both decided to end our race after 4 laps- 43 miles.

I thought for sure I was last, so we decided not to hang around in the blazing heat and headed home.  I was surprised to hear that I was not last and actually got 6th place.  My lap times were not impressive by any means and while I did not cramp or overly fatigue myself- I still did not feel like I had a good performance but it did feel pretty good not to be last.

I could have gone further that day, I know I could have but I didn’t want to completely deplete my body so that I could not function the rest of the week.  Another lap could have put me in a world of hurt and it just was not worth it.  I felt pretty good Monday morning and I know that if I had pushed myself that would not be the case. 

Even my phone had enough of the heat! 

The more I think about it and the more I critique my race- the more I get mad about Sundays race and the races since my cancer diagnosis.  I am my own worst critic- I want to summon my race performances before my diagnosis.

I cannot help but get angry at cancer for setting me back so far from my competitors. 

I am racing now with women that I used to beat or had a chance of beating and they are crushing me.  It is so humbling.

I line up on the start line and think that I am lucky to even be there.  I think how these girls have no idea how hard it is for me to get back up to the strength that I have today.  I may look the part but truly, I am a long ways away from being in the top 3 of a race.  I have to allow my body to come back on its own which is not easy because it involves patience on my part.
I know that I have to get out of this mind set because it really is not helping me race any better.   

I am not as down on me as this sounds, but these are the voices in my head.  It is hard some days to tune them out.

I have settled into this place that is very unfamiliar to me and I do not like it any more.

Next up is the Darkhorse 40 in 1 month and I would like to have a good result. 

In the meantime, it is July 4 and the summer is flying by.  We are off to Maine for a long weekend of visiting G’s family and some friends of ours in Portland. 

Have a safe and happy 4th of July. 


Thursday, June 28, 2012

More Juice!

It appears I have officially caught a summer cold...

It is quite disappointing since last week I was feeling so good and strong on the bike.  Good enough to steal back one of my lost QOM on Strava!

I am juicing like a mad woman and hoping that will boost my immune system enough to make this cold short lived with minimal damage.  As long as it stays out of my chest, I still plan on racing on Sunday.

Do your magic green juice!

Yes, that is right...the Stewart Six Pack is this Sunday and not only will it be 95 degrees and humid, but now I will be dealing with being sick.  Oh well, that is just the way it goes.  I find it hard to really complain about a cold after all that I have dealt with in the past but it still would have been nice to feel good on race day.

More juice, need more juice!

Popsicles help too- my nephew and I have the same cold :(