Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Meet the Coaches

Well we had a fun ride on Saturday, with a team picnic to follow. It was a great time riding up Beach Drive, with a detour over a hill that nearly put me on my back. Training has been a challenge for sure, mainly finding the time for the longer rides to get some serious saddle-time. But for me, the biggest challenge has been the hills. On Saturday, our ride had a 200-foot rise in it. Challenges are the name of the game in what I'm trying to do here, from fundraising, to distance, to learning new skills, to hills. I'm finding that I get through it by remembering how much greater the challenges are that LLS' beneficiaries are dealing with, and by having a great team behind me.

We've got two team coaches, Ed Cosgrove and Mark Frieden.
Both are TNT alumni and have dedicated themselves to this cause many times over. But the best part is they clearly love to help others get involved and succeed, both for the cause and for themselves. When I was struggling up the hill, Mark was right there egging me on and making sure I didn't give up. I admit I had to stop for a few seconds about 3/4 of the way up, but I made it all the way to the top!

Next time hopefully the hill will be a little easier, and I finally got clip-ins on my bike so I'm hoping it will make every mile that much more efficient...once I stop falling over that is!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

September is Leukemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma Awareness Month

September is an important month for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). It is when LLS, in addition to its ordinary work helping patients, caregivers, and working with medical professionals, also spends time building awareness of the toll LLS takes on our society. I just wanted to share a few facts and figures for you, to give you an idea of why I am riding on behalf of LLS with Team in Training.

Some important facts:

  • Today more than 894,000 people in the United States are living with a type of blood cancer.
  • Today about 75 percent of children with acute leukemia and nearly 80 percent of children and adults with Hodgkin lymphoma are cured.
  • Every ten minutes someone dies from a blood cancer.
  • An estimated 52,910 people will die from a blood cancer this year.
  • Since LLS began in 1949, it has invested more than $600 million in research to find cures and better therapies.
  • This year alone, LLS will dedicate $71.4 million to research.
These are just some of the reasons why I am working so hard to ride 109 miles in one day on November 22nd. If nearly one million people can live with blood cancer, I can surely dedicate myself to the cause for a short time.

I hope you will join me in helping raise awareness of Leukemia, Lymphoma, and Myeloma, and support the mission of LLS by donating here.

Thanks, and see you on the road!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Rain Rain Go Away

Well, it has been several days since I got out on the trails (though Doug rode both Monday and Wednesday mornings before work...getting up before dawn I might add!). Saturday, the remains of Hurricane Hannah plowed through, and biking in 5 inches of rain is not my idea of fun. Then Tuesday we had thunderstorms, and again, getting hit by lightening is not my idea of a good time. So here I am, waiting for something to break so I can get a good ride in. I tried the gym, but it is just mind-numbingly boring to sit on a bike in a gym.

In the meantime, I thought I'd tell you a little about the cause that I am riding for!

September is "National Blood Cancer Awareness Month"

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's mission is to: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.

They do this by providing:

Since its founding in 1949, LLS has invested more than $600 million in leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma research. LLS-funded research has led to key advances in understanding blood cancers and has helped produce new treatments to enhance and prolong lives. Innovations in cancer treatment over the years have included radiation and chemotherapy, stem cell transplantation and new targeted therapies that kill cancer cells without harming normal ones.

Patient Services
LLS has 68 chapters in the United States and Canada. Each office conducts life-enhancing patient service programs, inluding support groups, peer counseling and patient financial aid. LLS also hosts numerous Webcasts and telephone education events, where medical professionals share the latest research, treatment and clinical trials findings.

LLS's Information Resource Center (IRC), staffed by oncology social workers and health educators, provides the most current information on blood cancers and clinical trials free of charge. Call the IRC at (800) 955-4572 or visit www.lls.org.

Professional Education
The latest scientific and treatment advances are shared by LLS's team of medical professionals through medical symposia, educational events, the Web and printed materials.

LLS's advocacy program promotes increased federal funding of biomedical research and influences healthcare reform issues, including ready access to quality cancer care and insurance coverage of patient-care costs in clinical trials.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Down the Mt. Vernon Trail

There are a lot of great places to ride in the Washington, DC area, as we are blessed with a copious quantity of trees, rolling hills, and historic locations. Probably one of the best well-known trails in the area is the Mt. Vernon Trail. I don't normally enjoy trail riding, as trails are inevitably overrun by SUV-sized strollers, and generally do not allow for fast riding and good pacing. However, as long as you avoid this trail on the weekends, it is actually a very good ride. There were a few nervous moments, as one of the downsides is the copious quantity of wooden slat bridges (can we say a tire blowout waiting to happen???), but there were also gorgeous views of the various National Monuments, getting overpassed by 727s near National Airport, and beautiful panoramic views of the Potomac.

On Thursday, I went on another buddy ride, and it is a very good thing that I had made a commitment to meet someone else, because I woke up tired and unmotivated after our 30-mile ride on Tuesday up Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park.

View Interactive Map on MapMyRide.com

If you look at the map, from approximately Military Road to the start/end point, there is quite the long slow gradual hill (which are rapidly becoming the bane of my existence I might add). That is why Erika and I were so tired when we started riding on Thursday.

However, we pushed each other to ride hard, keep a good pace for the most part, and spend some time on tactics such as drafting. The first 5 miles of the ride were particularly hard, as we were warming up, but after that we managed to get motivated and ride a bit harder to increase our overall pace. As you can see, the ride goes through Old Town Alexandria, so it provided a good means to say "we made it this far...we can make it all the way":

View Interactive Map on MapMyRide.com

By the time we hit the steepest climb of the ride (at about mile 15), we were tired but feeling accomplished. We paused at the southern-most point of the ride, Mile 0 of the Mt. Vernon Trail for a picture:
Oddly, the way back was faster and more productive from a training perspective. Maybe I was also learning to enjoy the winding pathways through the hardwoods that are a bit challenging at 17mph, but fun nonetheless. By the time we finished, we promised to meet again on Tuesday to try and start some interval training (those dreaded hills....). Saturday's group ride was a complete wash-out due to the remains of Hurricane Hannah, but that just means I'll be rarin' to go for the next fun buddy ride!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Bay Country Half-Century (...almost...)

Instead of joining our Team in Training team on Saturday on the W&OD Trail, Doug and I decided to get out of town to Maryland. We thought it would be fun to do our first organized ride, and registered for the Bay Country Century. When we headed out, we intended to do the quarter-century (25-miles), but by the time we arrived, we realized we had been doing 30-mile rides for a bit, and we decided to challenge ourselves and started out with the half-century (50-mile) cue sheet.

It was a beautiful ride. Unfortunately the first 20 miles was all hills! Now I'm the first to admit that I'm not in the best of cardiovascular shape...but lord were those hills HARD! Up and down for about a hour and a half. When we'd hit a flat spot we'd look at each other and say what the heck did we do!

By the time we hit the 32-mile mark, which was a great rest stop in North Beach, MD right on the Chesapeake Bay, there was music, snacks, and a bit of time to relax before continuing on. About that time we realized how exhausted we were. The best part of Team in Training is that when you're out there in the shirts you encounter people of all walks of life that are currently training for a bike ride, a triathlon, or alumni of a ride. We started chatting with one of these wonderful people at the North Beach rest stop, and he kindly gave us the cue sheet for the 25-mile ride, which would mean we only had 12 miles to go, instead of 20! So here we are, looking happy (please ignore the flat bike-helmet hair!) that we only have 12-miles to go:

Of course, right after we left the rest stop, Doug got a flat, and there were a couple of brutal long hills on the way back, but we can say we have done almost half of the ride that we will have in Tucson come November. So we patted eachother on the back, and went home and ate a HUGE pot of spaghetti with meat sauce to celebrate!