Archive for March, 2012

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TLC …. This one’s for you.

March 31, 2012

Greetings from 32,000 feet. There is something so neat about being able to connect midflight like this. It’s because I grew up in the era before laptops and I find this progression of technology and the virtual shrinking of our world fascinating to be honest.

On the flight from Rochester to Atlanta a man tapped me on the shoulder. Aren’t you the girl who is racing Lance? He asked. I smiled, this being recognized is a bit new for me. My initial reaction is to feel embarrassed, then I quickly remind myself…. I am the ambassador for Teens Living With Cancer. It’s not me that’s being recognized, it’s TLC, and that is how I want to keep it.

I told him proudly… yes…. yes sir I am.

Good luck, he said as he slipped me a $20.

When I turn on the news I see a lot of bad things from bad people. Throughout this crusade I have gotten to see the best of people.  THAT… inspires me. This is not about Mary Eggers racing Lance Armstrong. That’s the headline. Yes, it’s interesting how it happened but once you get pulled into the story you realize what this is about.

Thursday morning I received this email from one of the TLC Fit Teen. As you read this, do me a favor, take the Mary Eggers part out of it. Truthfully all I did was give her some modifications and give her a small push and a lot of space. What she accomplished, that was all her.

************

I just wanted to personally thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this program with all of us.

I have to be honest, after the very first assessment I wasn’t sure if I was going to be coming back. I was completely fine that night until it came down to the mile run. When the run started I was okay..until I watched as my friends ran past me over and over and over again. My knee was too weak  and painful to keep up and my heart broke each time I was lapped.

Before cancer I was a year round athlete , playing soccer for 11 years and running track for 2. I was fast, real fast and made the varsity track Team in 8th grade. I was always the one beating everyone else, I was the one who lapped people and now the tables were turned. I felt so physically and emotionally defeated That night and had to hold back the tears with each lap. I’ve Always questioned why my cancer had to leave me with such limitations , but never felt as bad as I did after that run.

Why did it have to be in my knee anyway? The knee that let me start and stop at a dimes drop. The knee that let me score the winning goal and the knee that made me, the athlete I was.

Why couldn’t it have been somewhere else..anywhere else.

I just want you to know how down I was so you can realize the extent of how amazing I felt last night.

Because of you and the program I learned how to regain my strength and confidence.

I  paid attention to the leg exercises and worked hard at them every week and it paid off. Last night I felt like my old self again and I was able to run, pain free.

When I sprinted to the finish line an overwhelming sense of pride and happiness rushed over me. Once again I tried to hold back the tears, but this time it was because I was finally proud of myself.

I haven’t been able to say that in a long time. I can’t thank you and everyone enough for being apart of this program. I just wanted you to know how much it all means to me and to thank you guys for being so awesome.

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This young lady is in remission from osteosarcoma. She’s experienced the death of teens her age from this same diagnosis. Imagine being her, and understand the terror, the strength and the perseverance she’s got. Talk about tough.

Your biggest problem is whether you can hit your targets on race day. Hers is ….. will this come back and take my whole leg with it?

If you take a good look at where money is being spent in the world of Cancer…… we know by now that all of the money spent on new medications and treatment is definitely helping. Is it decreasing our rates of Cancer? I don’t know. I am sure that answer is out there.

What I do know is that there is good evidence to support the prevention of Cancer. One of the biggest keys in prevention is preventing obesity and eating well (and please forgive me I am being VERY simplistic, don’t read that as it’s the only cause of Cancer.)

What I do know is this….. for those who have had cancer the chances of developing a secondary cancer somewhere down the road are higher than for those who have not had cancer. One of the ways to help push that statistic back is to do things to prevent cancer. Through health and fitness (I hate the words diet and exercise) we can help prevent that re occurrence.

The young lady mentioned above has some physical limitations. Due to where her cancer was she can’t do things like a typical quadricep stretch. Knowing that ahead of time .. each week I was prepared with modifications for that type of limitations. I knew where her rods were, I knew exactly what her reconstruction looked like…. having a medical and fitness background is critical in this regard. Knowing how that all functioned together allowed me to give her what she needed to work the muscle group without compromising it and bam. She made huge gains.

She inspires me. Some of my worst days are what she would have considered her best days. As I head to Texas I really think about that, I really take it to heart. I know many are focused on the fact that I am racing Lance…. but I really do believe that we understand the reason why. These kids are the reason why. I was nervous about wearing the suit until I realized…. if people recognize it they will reach out. If they reach out they will donate. If they donate we get closer to our goal one inch at a time. If that means I need to really put myself out there then that’s what I will do. You have to have some pretty big shoulders to do it and trust me…… I’m a swimmer. I do.

I want this fundraising to continue throughout the season, which is why you will see the Duel in the Pool Suit all over the place. I am currently waiting to hear if we can make them available for purchase. I found an amazing artist to paint my helmet, but I din’t have time to get it done for Texas 70.3. So I improvised, and wrote all of the Teens names on my helmet. Melissa’s name is in the center.

Teens …… this one’s for you.

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Suits Are Here and a Message From Lauren

March 30, 2012

By day’s end I will be in Texas (God willing). I shake my head about my quick fly in late and fly out early habits….. but I have lots to do these days. And… between you and me…. I get a little homesick when I travel. I mean….. look at who I live with.

What’s there not to love about these guys????

The Duel in the Pool suits have come. A giant thanks to Kristin Mayer from Betty Designs for creating this. If you need something awesome, you need to contact her. There is no one better. Ever. At all. A big thanks also to Splish Swimwear for the actual swimsuit part, another amazing company. I have been wearing Splish for YEARS not just for their great designs but for the durability of their suits! They always spoil me!!!!

I will be sporting the suit on Sunday at Texas 70.3 and keep your eyes out…. I have bribed some of my QT2 Teammates to wear the speedos in their races. Who will it be? You will just have to wait.

I’m all packed and ready to go. To me packing is not a big deal. I pack my bike, a few pairs of clothes, my gear and that’s about it. My Kestrel came apart easily and uneventfully (8 minutes Dave, 8 minutes!) and we are ready to go!

In the meantime…. I thought you would enjoy and appreciate a guest blog entry this morning. As you know Lauren Spiker is not only the director of Melissa’s Living Legacy / Teens Living with Cancer…. she is Melissa’s Mom. Lauren took the greatest loss of her life and turned it into something amazing. Step back and look at what she did with all of that. She’s my freaking hero.

So …… here she is!

I asked Mary if I could hijack a bit of her wildly popular blog to first, publicly acknowledge how awesome she is! Who else do you know who would challenge Lance Armstrong?  We are so blessed to have Mary in our corner!  Secondly, I wanted to personally express my thanks to all of you, Mary’s friends and fans, who have been so supportive of the “Duel in the Pool”.  Despite the tragedy of my daughter Melissa’s death, the pure goodness of people continues to warm my heart.

As you can imagine, my motivation for supporting teens with cancer is very personal. It will be twelve years this June since Melissa died when she was 19 years old.  What you may not know is that LiveStrong was instrumental in raising national awareness of the unique challenges facing adolescents and young adults (AYA) with cancer. As a charter member of its Young Adult Alliance, formed in 2006, we have worked hard to advocate for the needs of our teens. Thanks to Mary Eggers and Lance Armstrong, the “Duel in the Pool” will help us support many more teens through our Teens Living with Cancer program.

Much has been accomplished since Melissa died but there is more to be done. Thousands of teens with cancer are depending on us and I hope you can help in a way that is meaningful to you. Our fundraising goal is lofty but what great goal isn’t? If just one teen with cancer feels less alone because you helped, I’ll be very grateful.

Keeping kicking strong, Mary! We love ya!

Many thanks,

Lauren Spiker (Melissa’s mom!)

lspiker@teenslivingwithcancer.org

(585) 563-6221

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TLC Fit Update: Judgement Day

March 29, 2012

A big thank you to YNN for their wonderful story on our Teens Living With Cancer Fitness Program / Duel in the Pool! During this interview you get to meet two of our teens plus never before seen footage of our testing. The pool this is filmed at by the way is a therapy pool, and is 96 degrees. It’s not where I train!

Click here for that interview.

Let me be honest, I dreaded last night. Dreaded. It was the last night in our fitness program / research study, and I don’t want it to end. Coming here weekly and being able to spend time with these teens has been the best thing I have ever done. Throughout the eight weeks as we have progressed through various modules of fitness I now feel like I could make it better, make it even more effective and make it more fun.

Don’t worry, TLC Fit version 2.0 is in the works…. it’s not going to be the end.

Last night the fitness assessments took place, the ones we did week one. The difference was remarkable. Their durability was exponential. Between each test eight weeks ago they were exhausted, now they simply moved from test to test. Brynn, who you met in the above news video ran her first mile, no walking, no slowing down, no nothing.

“Mary I love you!” she cried as she gave me a huge hug when she was done “I have never done that before.” I reminded her that it had very little to do with me, it was ALL her. That’s true. I am just the drill sergeant, they are the ones who did the actual work.

Another young lady who is unable to run walked the mile again. I remember eight weeks ago her face was beet red during it. The mile was a chore for her. Last night she executed it like it was her job. More situps were completed, more push ups. One of our girls couldn’t do ONE push up eight weeks ago and last night she did a full pushup. That’s progress. Big progress.

I have been a triathlete for 15 years and one sometimes I wrestle with the narcissistic  part of all of this. The training, the gear… it all feels very self-centered at times. Through my work as a nurse I have felt like I have been able to give back, and through this chance of working with these Teens it’s my chance to really give back.I realize that I have a unique platform in this sport. I have been around a long time. I have a list of accomplishments. I am well-known in our community. I wanted to begin using my position and my platform to do something that makes a difference and it’s allowed me to bring these teens to you and make you aware of them.

Does that make sense? I definitely worry about that aspect of this sport and not only how it affects me,  but the lessons it teaches our son about life.

Like I stated in the above interview…. what we get to do is EASY. We swim, we bike, we run. We have neat tri kits and custom-made bathing suits and painted helmets. We enter races that cost a lot of money. We spend a lot of money and time on ourselves. Our biggest struggle is often …. how will I perform this weekend?

These kids have faced what we don’t even want to comprehend. Look at the below picture. Look at her right knee….. look closely.

That is what Cancer does.

Imagine what THAT is like. The surgery. The rehab, the entire reason that even happened. Every day she looks at her knee. Every day that she wears shorts she knows you are looking at those scars and that disfigurement and wondering. She knows you are looking her in the eye but wondering what happened.

You can’t even imagine what she’s been through.

While we are out logging hours, they are fighting to stay alive.

We have the ability as athletes to raise awareness. To join the fight. To help these kids who would do anything to be in our shoes. Again, what we do is not hard. Is it inspiring? I am sure on some level it is. But I know a few teens who invented inspiring.

One of the kids in this group still has two round of chemo left. This Friday he will undergo a lumbar puncture and the hell of treatment will come soon after. Each week he comes in with a smile and tells me what he did that week. He crashed his skateboard last week and he laughs about how he went feet over head. He talks with passion about everything he does because he’s just so goddamn happy to be alive. He has a fearlessness about him that inspires me. He’s looked down and maybe he’s looking down the barrel of a gun right now, and that allows him to throw up his hands and enjoy the ride.

What are you doing on Friday?

After we were done last evening we sat in the Teens Living With cancer center and talked about what exactly is going to happen on April 28th at the Duel in the Pool. The looks on their faces was of both excitement and disbelief. Someone rented them a limo to travel to Buffalo in. They couldn’t believe it.

We are a small grassroots group who has been fortunate to receive some really good media over the past few weeks. In fact next week we have a full booking of media and some really stellar things to come as we draw nearer to the Duel in the Pool. What I felt last night as we were together was that no matter what, we have and will maintain who we are. We are just regular people. We are not flashy. We just want to have the chance to grow. We are grateful beyond belief for the amount of money that has been donated so far (and the number you see on that donation page is lower than the total!!!!!) and we can’t believe you have all jumped on board to this cause with the passion and dedication that we have here.

Thank you is no longer enough, yet we will say it anyway.

If I could meet Melissa (as you remember she is the entire reason this organization is in existence) I would tell her….. remember that promise you asked your Mom to make over ten years ago…. days before you died? You asked her to make it better for other teens.

That promise is happening girl. Your memory has inspired us. Your Mom has been the driving force behind it. We look at your picture every single day and it pushes us forward.

I got your back sister. We all got your back.

We got this.

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The Texas Chase

March 28, 2012

Am I nervous? For race day Good God I wish I were nervous. Right about now Texas 70.3 looks like a five-hour break to me. Five hours of no phone calls, no texts, no nothing. Just swimming, biking and running. Seriously, could I be any luckier? I get to do what I love to do for five hours.

I wish it made me nervous. It makes me excited. That I get to go out and play kind of excited. You see I have been in this sport for 15 years. I’ve done hundreds of these bad boys. I have done everything under the sun around here….. this is what I know.

It doesn’t mean I am not always looking for ways to improve something, somewhere along the way.

I have one big goal on Sunday. And that is to win the Texas chase.

By now you know my habit of issuing ridiculous challenges. I have issued another one to Wheeler. His age group wave begins 25 minutes behind me. I told him I bet he couldn’t catch me before T2. That now means one thing…. we both have to ride hard. I have to ride hard enough though not to walk the whole run. Wheeler, he’s into risk taking this season, pushing that bike a little harder. He’s capable of a 2:16. I am capable of a 2:30. That’s what time I need to hit T2 before he does. Winner buys the drinks later that night at our QT2 party. We race hard and we celebrate hard (but responsibly).

So the chase is on. Let’s never mind the fact that he will be competing at the end of a 34 hour training week. Sack up Wheeler….. as we say ’round here.

I love to have these challenges during events. At my experience level I always have to find something new and simply gunning for people doesn’t fire me up anymore. I wish it did. To the girls I compete with I tend to be more like….  can I help you honey….  do you have enough salt…. form looks very good….. it’s sort of problem I have developed. I need to sharpen the killer instinct a bit more.

I will save it for Vegas, right now that killer instinct is ….. keeping my ass ahead of Wheeler for as long as I possibly can.

I love me a good challenge, and I am in to “the impossible” these days. Seems to be the hip thing to do.

This evening is judgement day at Teens Living With Cancer …. our TLC fit program. I will have an update on that tomorrow!

DONATE DONATE DONATE!

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Texas or BUST!

March 26, 2012

Duel in the Pool Update

We are sitting just below $15,000 in just 6 days of fundraising. T Shirts are on the way. Signed memorabilia on the way. Much more on the way.

Yesterday I had that kind of feeling where I felt like the world was sitting on top of me. People have been all over me for a chance to see Lance, how can I get in…. that sort of thing. When I say you have to attend the speech I have gotten that’s not fair reactions.

Cancer ain’t fair I tell them. Seems to quiet them down. I remind them the event is by invitation only, for Teens Living With Cancer. Tickets to the speech, that money……. it all counts. It wasn’t my call, but it’s the right call.

That’s what was on my mind as I stood in line for coffee. I ordered my drink and the barista paused, looked at me and said….

“Aren’t you the girl who is racing Lance Armstrong? I saw you on the news?!” I felt awkward and embarrassed, this was the first time this sort of thing had happened to me. I told her, yes. She smiled big and said….  “Well this coffee is on us! Thanks for fighting the fight!”

Wow. Okay then. I told her she was welcome. As I walked away I reminded  myself of this…… I put myself in this place of being the crusader, because it’s what I believe in with my heart and my soul. I might have stepped on many toes by doing so but it all came together in the end. And I am up for fighting the fight. For every single person we have lost. For every single battle we have to battle. for those continuing to fight the fight and for all of us who have had to stand here and watch it.

I am no Lance Armstrong. I don’t have his capabilities on or off the field. But I have the same will. So go to hell Cancer. You are F*cking with the wrong girl. I am not here to screw around, i am not here to make sure the world is fair. I am here to fight. My gloves are on and the odds are against me. And that’s just the way I like it. Each time I turn around someone has stepped into the formation of this army. Each time I turn around there is another yellow jersey in this line behind me.

Those yellow jerseys say Livestrong. It began with ten of us three weeks ago and when I turn around now all I see is yellow.

I have to remember that what I see before me is no match for what I have behind me. I can lead this damn army, I can. I have never done this before but I have a cornel, a general and a commander-in-chief. If we need to make this up as we go along then that’s what the hell we will do.

Texas or BUST!

Six days until race day! Texas 70.3 is this week and over 13 of us Qt2’ers are headed out to race. In 2012 I did this race and I fell in love with Galveston, the people, the atmosphere, hell I just love Texas. My expectations of an early season 70.3 are very realistic, I have a definite plan and flow of how I want my season to go. With 3 half Ironmans, several olympic races and some road races on the docket, I’d like to see my 70.3 performance go something like this:

Good

Better

Best.

I am expecting to be a bit rusty out of the gate, although my current fitness level is very good. I use these early season 70.3’s to gain some insight as to where I need to be and what I need to work on come September.

My biggest priority this weekend is Jennie. It’s her first race as a professional, and she’s ready. It’s also my first race as the coach of a professional so there are things to be considered on my end. This weekend is about learning on many fronts.

Throughout my 15 years in this sport I have done quite a bit of traveling. It’s hard to believe our first trip to Kona was done through the telephone and not through the internet…. it really wasn’t around. Much has changed. I have had the opportunity to travel to many amazing places and I have gotten travel down to a science. Here are the things I consider when traveling to a race:

1. Airlines: from our area the best airlines to fly are Southwest and AirTran. Both have good prices, have reasonable bike box fees and we can fly out of either Rochester or Buffalo.

When I am booking flights I utilize something like Travelocity so I can see the big picture of flight possibilities, scheduled and ballpark prices. from there I always purchase directly from the airline, because if something needs to be changed most airlines won’t touch it if it was booked through an outside service.

I used to stuff everything I own into one carry on bag, however that typically resulted in some darn sore shoulders. These days I still travel light but I know my baggage fees ahead of time.

My rule if my bike doesn’t arrive: have a party instead.

2. Hotels: for this trip my teammate Molly took care of the hotel reservations. While I look for accommodations close to the site as we have, in Galveston the race site is easy to navigate and has plenty of parking. I try to room when I can to save on costs and while I have done my fair share of homestays, I prefer hotels these days. It just gives me my own space and the luxury of someone else cleaning the room.

3. Car rentals: I look closely at whether I even need a car. This trip I am staying close to the race site however I found a good deal on a car. Otherwise it’s sometimes cheaper to hitch a cab ride for $50-60, and save on the rental fees depending on what you rent.

4. Feeling good through travel: Because I tend to fly in late and out early one of the things that keeps me feeling good and my body functioning well is good nutrition. I drink a lot of water, I bring or find fresh fruits and I look at the food offerings of airports before I fly into them. these days eating healthy on the run is much easier than before. There are good choices just about everywhere. I find that if I eat well I don’t feel drained and like I have to catch up.

I rely heavily on the prepackaged fruits and vegetables that places like Wegmans offer. They tend to pass through security without an issue.

I have a few little tricks to help me catch some good rest on the plane.  Now remember you are talking to a girl who until a few years ago had a crippling fear of flying. Now I can take good quality naps. The first is my trusty neck pillow. I love this thing. It holds my head in a good position and I can actually sleep.

My second trick is my trusty swim parka. While this stylish coat is coveted by many, its fleece on the inside and I drape it over me to keep me warm.

Of course never fly without your compression socks. I am talking about real compression socks, not small, medium or large. I got measured and fitted for them and I sport the good old-fashioned TED stockings. take a look at this picture, notice how detailed your fit can be. They don’t help me sleep but they help me keep the blood flow good. And that’s a scientific statement right there.

In flight I tend to utilize wi-fi if available as it’s always a good chance to work on training programs, articles I am writing and study for the upcoming certifications I happen to be working on.  And it’s guilt free FaceBook time. Kim A…. make sure you are ON your laptop Friday.

4. The week of travel: Because I have a slightly busy life (with a few crusades going on) I am organized. One of my strengths is my time management skills. I squeeze the most out of every minute of every day. Each day this week I have assigned tasks to help me function and get read for travel by week’s end. Monday is about gathering up the nutrition I will need for race day along with making sure I have everything I need. Lace locks, goggles…. anything I need to purchase I purchase today. I will pack up the bike on Wednesday (I have a back up bike).

I have everything for the weekend ready for the boys, which isn’t much these days. Curt needs no instruction on anything to be honest. He’s a fabulous Dad. I often hear mothers needing to get every little thing ready and well, that doesn’t apply to me thank god. In actuality they keep running around screaming BOYS WEEKEND….. trust me they have come to LOVE when i travel).

For me staying organized is crucial, then I don’t forget anything, I am not harried or stressed and most importantly I am prepared.

The logistics of travel needn’t be overwhelming. As with anything as long as you bring along a good dose of patience travel should not wear you down at all. Lucky for me screaming babies, late flights, sleeping on the floor of the terminal are not things that bother me. Realizing what is in your control and not in your control is key. Reacting to things not in your control is the important part. Getting angry wastes energy, finding the humor in it is just plain easier.

Stop on back Wednesday as I tackle some of the mental preparation I like to flow through the week of the race!

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Coming Together

March 25, 2012

I opened my email and saw the title, and I thought….. really, is this for real? It was an email from the folks over at Tri Spot… to all of their customers stating their support for our Duel in the Pool, and encouraging all of them to donate. Wow. I am not sponsored by Tri Spot, I have no “deal” with them, it was just something Kevin Patterson did….. and it was a very classy move. He didn’t have to, he’s getting no special treatment, no special status. He just thought it was the right thing to do. Thank you guys so much.

To me…. it’s like he said…. yes we are businesses here in Western New York, but today it’s not about our bottom line, it’s about Teens Living With Cancer’s bottom line.

A week ago a Rochester gym owner told me this “If you can’t bring Lance Armstrong here to have the race here, then I am not interested. Something that happens in Buffalo doesn’t interest me.” And my heart sank. To me that said… I am only interested in status, not the cause. To that I say… if you don’t stand with us, we will still love you anyway. Because God forbid someone YOU love is diagnosed and you come running to us for help….. we will be here to give that help.

I hope that Tri Spot pledging their support will be a trendsetting move for some of the other Western New York businesses. I hope that Bert’s Bikes considers the compensation they did not give to me for the clinics and classes I taught for them, will come back as a donation for Teens Living With Cancer. I hope that other bike shops and running stores throughout this region will state their support, because this cause is really important.

Watch this and tell me this is not important. Tell me you would have this much hope.

I would like this to be our chance as a community. as athletes, as people, as business owners, as western new York. To come together for one truly amazing cause. The money raised here is going to stay here, more on that this week. We’ve also got some fundraising things coming up as well as 300 T shirts that someone is donating. Someone is donating the creation of, design of and production of. How incredible is that?

Three weeks ago I challenged Lance Armstrong to a Duel in the Pool. He challenged me to raise $100K. I now challenge the business owners of this amazing area to throw your hats in the ring in whatever way you can, for the right reasons.

What better way to do it, than this?

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This is why

March 24, 2012

Not only does Cancer affect the teens who have to go through it….. it affects their friends. This video is the story of Emma. She’s not in this video, these are her friends. Who in their own way want her to know just how much they love her. We love you too Emma….. and you are not alone. This… is why we are working so hard to raise this money. So you don’t have to be alone during one of the most important times of your life.