Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cancer Sucks

I think that about sums it up.  It sucks.  And unfortunately, it's all around and has touched many of us.

Sometime in the last 3 years I decided I wanted to ride in a century.  It seemed daunting and hard but at the same time I knew I could do it with the right amount of training.  I am a goal oriented person so goals work for me.  I thought about doing Team In Training - but honestly the whole fundraising aspect was not appealing to me.  I don't like asking people for money...or help - it's a character flaw.

It was sometime late 2008 or early 2009 the I received a call from my best friend, Jen, she just found out that her father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  I didn't really know anything about pancreatic cancer at the time, that it was one of the worst types to get because typically when they find it, it's too late.  Jen was getting married in September 2009, and as her father started going through treatment, it was really tough not knowing how the treatment would take and what kind of impact it would have.  The week before the wedding was stressful, as most weddings are, but even more so because her father was not taking well to some of the medication.  It was a tough week to be a part of as I had never really seen the effects of cancer and it's treatment before.  I had never seen the toll it took on the human body and surrounding family members.  Jen was married on September 19th, 2009 and her father was there to walk her down the aisle and give a beautiful speech at the reception.  One month later, Jen's father, Charles Donovan,  passed away. 

Before Mr. Donovan's passing, I hadn't experience much death that wasn't somewhat "expected"  because of old age.  "Old age" death was something I could understand - something that made sense, even if it was tragic.  But Mr. Donovan's death was a really hard experience for me.  It's what got me thinking about Team In Training again.  A year later, January 2011, I was signed up for my first century.  I had seen how one type of cancer had affected someone I cared about very much.  Suddenly the fundraising didn't seem like such a big deal.  There were 2 rides that year, and one was effectively double the fundraising with a far away donation - I chose that one.  Go big or go home.

During that ride, I met some truly amazing individuals.  Warren Bruno, owner of Atkins Park in Atlanta was our honored hero last year.  The honored hero is someone you ride "for", someone who can provide the inspiration to keep going if you lose sight of why you are training.  Someone who currently is or has had their life changed by cancer.  Dan Gennari,, was a frequent riding buddy (whom I've mentioned before in the recap of the ride last year)  found out he was in remission just before the century last year  - he is our honored hero for the ride this year.  

And, unfortunately, the more I do this, the more people I find out have experienced or experience with some form of cancer.  A co-worker and friend just recently found out that his father was diagnosed with an aggressive form of B-cell Lymphoma.  This year I will also be riding for Ernie Bacalzo.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Quilt Top - half way there!

There has been a lot going on lately and I haven't had much time to commit to this years quilt.  Between biking 100+ miles last week, continuing training for the triathlon coming up in June, and life in general...there has just been no time!!

Until tonight.  And now, half of the quilt top is sew together...woohoo!!

This year's quilt is employing a new method of sewing zigzags.  Last year used squares and triangles sewn together and positioned appropriately to make the zigzags.  This year, I'm trying something different.  This quilt involved cutting strips of fabric and sewing them 2 by 2 together.  Each long strip was then cut into 7 squares of 6.5 in by 6.5 inches.  Then those squares were positioned to create the zigzag.   The squares were then sewn together in a diagonal strip, and then each strip was sew together.

Half of the diagonal strips sewn together
While easier to put together, this method does create a lot of "waste".  The edges of the quilt are currently zigzag, those will be cut to be straight when the quilt is done.  I thought about leaving it zigzag - but then binding the quilt will take another year to complete. I hope to use those cut pieces for some sort of design on the back.

*Oh, and I know there is a mistake in the quilt, for those of you who see it...but I didn't see it until I took this picture and I'm not taking all that apart.  Especially because it's mostly in the "waste" section.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Gaps with the TEAM

Today the team went up to Dahlonega to ride the front 3 Gaps - it was a fantastic ride!  It started out a little cold, as we turned left out of Turner Store to get in a few miles warm up, the air was brisk and I started to wonder if I was dressed appropriately.  We came back by the store and started up Neel's Gap.  I stayed back with a group - my big concern (something I do a lot) was I might go out too fast, so I wanted to make sure I didn't do that today.  As our group slowly spaced out, it's a 7 mile climb so everyone really needed to go their own pace, I realized that I felt really great. I was riding with D and S for awhile and then decided to pull away to see who was ahead of us.  I ran into B - who was very "serious" on the hill...over the next 20 min or so I caught up to and rode with A, K, D and then finally was able to catch up to H.  We ended up finishing Neel's Gap together.  

Leaving Neel's it was H, H, D and myself - we prepped for the down hill by rolling up our sleeves again and stayed alert for the left turn that sneaks up on you.  Once we made the turn, we were on Wolf Pen - the hardest of the 3 gaps.  I knew we all needed to go our own pace and just get'er done.  So we did...I ended up finishing pretty strong on that gap and did not have to stop this time - woohoo!  We gathered at the SAG, refueled and then H, H, D, G, and I left.  

We went a pretty good pace out of Wolf Pen.  We tried and failed a few times to paceline, but overall the ride was pretty pleasant and even shorter than I had remembered.  We ate some snacks at the stop sign at the gas station before our third left of the day, and then headed off to Woody's.  Again, we had a paceline for about 10 seconds but then it fell apart - oh well.  We picked up C along the way.  He was lookin' for a good time and he found one!

Woody's was even shorter than I remembered, and I wish I would have slowed down a little bit more to help out H and H but G and I were going a good pace, and i thought they were right behind me but then G broke off to go back to catch them.  At that point the little "Hiker Men" sign wasn't far away and that's my signal the Gap was almost over so I just pushed on through. 

C, H, H and G finished the last Gap soon after.  We stopped to talk to D because she hurt her back, and then we headed down the screaming hills of Woodys.  I took it a lot slower this time than last time, that put me at the end of the pack, but they waited for me at the Rock Pile (our fourth left of the day) and we headed back for the last 5 or so miles.  It was nice that it was rolling hills because it was a lot easier to chat with H, H, and C.

After the ride, we changed and got some grub at Turner Store.  Bacon Cheeseburger and sweet potato fries...yuuuuuuummmmmm!

Overall - this was a fantastic ride - and EVERYONE rode so well!!  It was great to see everyone on team so happy and proud of their accomplishment!

Ride Stats:
Distance 37.9 mi
Avg Speed: 11.5 mph
Max Speed: 35 mph
Ride Time: 3:16:52

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cars are Mean!

Ohhh...traffic was terrible yesterday.  I was driving over to Atlanta Cycle to do the Women’s Vinings route that leaves at 6:15.  I left Perimeter at 5:15 and arrived in Vinings (no interstate - that was super red on Georgia Navigator) at 6:20.  Just in time to see everyone ride out of the parking lot. I almost turned around in frustration and went home. 

But, instead, I got myself together, cue sheet in hand - left Atlanta Cycling determined to catch up to the group.  And I did!  It was great.  It really was a great ride...except I did almost get killed.  Some dumbass car, passed me on the LEFT going VERY FAST while i was signaling and in the process of making a left hand turn.  That was the first time I’ve ever actually be “shaken” by a car.  Whew!  I’m glad H was there - she yelled “car back” just as I was turning, because of this I hesitated which I believe caused me not to get smashed to pieces from the car.

Other than, great ride, perfect temperature and overcast sky, so not too sunny.

And it was nice to run into coach G and J on the ride!

Ride stats from Strava:

Elapsed Time
Max Speed
Avg Speed

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Ride Catch up! Including, riding with Tyler Hamilton and Jim Capra!

I've had a lot of good rides since my last post!

On the 31st we did a 45 mi ride in Canton - it was beautiful scenery.  At one point we passed by some cows and a horse just chillin' under a HUGE tree int he middle of a beautiful field.  I should have stopped and taken a picture.  I don't have any stats because I was having trouble with my GPS tracking on my phone that day.

On April 1st I met up with Laura and Ginnie and we did a ride in Silk Sheets - this was the same day as another fundraiser going on in Silk Sheets so we ran into Libby on the ride.  Or rather, as she was flying by she happened to spot me and yelled "VALLLLLL".  No stats for that ride either.  I had them on my bike computer but cleared them out on the next ride before I wrote them down.

On April 4th, I took off from work and rode up to Dahlonaga with Libby and Nola - we met Megan and Vicktoria up there to do THE GAPS!   We did Neel, Wolf Pen, and Woody.   It was a great ride.  I"m really glad I had them with me because the Gaps are NO JOKE.  I'm looking forward to doing them again this Saturday with TNT.  GPS did not work for that ride but I have some stats from my bike computer.
Distance: 38.1
Average Speed: 12.3 mph (this is amazing considering I was only going about 5pm up some of those hills...)
Max Speed: 36.2 mph - OH YEA!

I then rode in Brookhaven on the 5th - surprisingly my legs felt awesome.  Laura came out to ride too - which was great!  We took it nice an easy - but my legs felt good.
Distance: 19
Average Speed: 12.0

Then Friday 4/6 - went to dinner with the TNT staff and met Tyler Hamilton and coach Jim Capra.  They were really great.  We met them Friday and then they came and rode with TNT on Saturday and stayed for the cookout at Hard Labor Creek - it was really a great time.  We had perfect weather and we coudln't have asked for a better ride.
Distance: 50.7
Average Speed: 14.7 mph

And finally that brings us to today...recovery ride was great.  Rode out of Cadence bike shop in Sandy Springs with Tyler and Jim again.  My group got lost on the no drop ride :-)  But the company was good and the weather was fantastic....and I've always want to ride on Roswell
Distance: 18.5
Average Speed: 12.1 mph

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Sheets were Silky!

What a fantastic ride at Silk Sheets this morning.  I was a little worried at first, as a pulled out my garage it was raining, but as I made my way around the city and out to Silk Sheets, the rain cleared.  The weather ended up being terrific - not to hot, not too cold.  All in all, it was a perfect ride day.  AND C showed up to ride with us!! woohooo!

My Tracks for some reason only tracked about 22 miles of the ride.  Today we rode 35 miles, so I'm not sure what happened there.

From my bike computer:
Distance: 34.8 mi
Average Speed: 13.5 mph

I had a great time riding with a couple different people - J, D, and L!

Could not have asked for better riding weather.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I'm a baaaaaadddddd blogger...

Okay okay...yea, I haven't been very good at blogging lately.  Part of it was getting a new phone and not having My Tracks installed, part of it was I dropped my computer on my bike and it didn't work for 2 rides, <insert another excuse here>....either way, we are all straightened out now.

Last Saturday, we rode in the fantastic Peachtree City.   I wasn't real excited about getting up and riding but once we got moving, everything was great.  The weather turned out to be fantastic, the route was hilly but not hilly, but still hillier than I remembered Peachtree City being.  All in all it was great.  I rode a lot of the way with K - she's doing fantastic and i'm so glad she decided to do this ride.

Total distance: 30.8 mi
Moving Time: 2:16:32
Average Moving Speed: 13.5 mph
Max Speed: 30.8 mph

Sunday we did our usual Kirkwood Sunday Ride - it was a little different, the route we took did not quite match the route we've taken in the past but it was great ride - with even GREATER riding buddies.  L, D and M - no one better to ride with than these three...well, you could add C but since she's not riding this season, this is my top 3 :-) 

We plan to take a pre-ride up to the Gaps to prepare for the TNT ride coming up - I'm both scared and excited - since I've never actually ridden the Gaps.  Everyone I know who has completed it thinks its a great ride....I'm looking forward to it April 4th!  

I haven't worked much on the quilt.  We had some house items to take care of....some new furniture, painting, water heater breaking, etc.  I hope to get back on the ball with the quilt next week.  

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Quilt Progress!

I've made a lot of progress on the TNT quilt - especially given the fact that I haven't had much time to work on it.  I have all the pieces cut, and I started to lay them out.

These are the pieces laid out - there are a few more rows that would have been out of the picture.  You may have noticed the addition of a new fabric (above the bottom yellow row).  I was at the fabric store and had a GREAT coupon and saw this beautiful fabric, I could not pass it up.  I think it really fits in well withe other colors.  I'm really excited about this quilt.  I definitely feel the "sunshine" vibes and I hope that Lake Tahoe hear's our wishes for sun this year!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

pooL nevahkoorB (Brookhaven Loop - backwards)

This was week 3 of training - and it was a great ride.  There was a possibility of rain but we were able to avoid that - thank goodness!

I have no stats today :-(  When I unmounted my bike computer, I dropped it on the ground which apparently is another way to reset all the stats.  Oh well.  Speaking of the new bike - I love it!  Riding is much more enjoyable on this bike than the last one.

The ride was a nice 20 miles - it seemed easier than doing the Brookhaven Loop the right way.  I rode with some of my mentees and met someone who works at IHG in the same office park as I do.  On the second loop, I actually had to take off my jacket because I was getting too warm - great riding weather.

Not sure if I will ride tomorrow - it's supposed to rain - not really keen on riding in the rain.  If not, i'll hit up the gym and get some cardio in!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Beginnings of a Quilt!

I'm really getting excited about this years quilt.  Cutting and laying out the quilt pattern has just reinforced how much I love the fabrics I found.   Between yesterday and after work today I cut all the strips for the quilt.

Strips sewn 2 by 2
Next step will be to cut all the strips like this:

And then lay them out to make the quilt top and start sewing them all together!

Wouldn't you like to donate to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, knowing that 75% of your donation goes directly towards the research of blood cancers while you are comfortably snuggled under this wonderful hand made quilt??  You can!!  Click the donate now button the right and you'll be entered for chances to win this quilt!

$5 - 1 Chance
$25 - 6 Chances
$50 - 15 Chances
$100 - 50 Chances

Donations are 100% tax deductible.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Riding in the Snow..

Today was week 2 of training for the summer season and it was my first ride this season, my first ride on my new bike!!   If you haven't seen my new it is:  

The Group Training Ride (GTR) started off this week with a clinic.  We focused on clipping in and out of our pedals, avoiding road obstacles, and changing gears going up and down hills.  The air was very cold and occasionally had some really big gusts of was very chilly.  I noticed the small,white things falling from the sky - yep, it really snowed.  I could barely feel my face, hands and feet - but I think the clinic was very useful.  

After the clinic we set out for a nice (not easy) 10 miles.  I was at the end of the pack and stayed back to ride with J.  J is new to cycling but has done a half marathon AND an Olympic distance triathlon with TNT, so this will be her triple crown.  Some of the hills were a little tough for her so we took our time and walked a few.  The hills weren't getting any easier, the weather wasn't helping, and while I tried to push J the whole 10 miles, it was clear today was just not the day for that.  Because of our stopping to walk, I think that was making her more tired.  In the end, C to the rescue!! One of our SAG (Support and Gear) brought her in at about mile 6.5.  From there I went off by myself.  I was the last one on the course (not something I'm used to, not that I'm leading the pack, I'm just usually somewhere in the middle) and I rode the last 4 miles by myself.  Riding by yourself really isn't all that fun - especially in weather you'd rather not ride in.  But, this is why we have mentors and this is why I stayed at the end with J.  I've never been the ride sweeper before and I've never been the last one to come in.  But, as M put it on her blog, these rides are not about speed, "they are about riding with the TEAM and being there for the participants".


Max Speed: 34.4 mph
Avg Speed: 9.4 mph
Distance: 11.3 miles

My computer is new, because of that, my stats are a little sparse since I'm still learning it

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

2012 Goals

In the year 2012 I have 4 main goals.

1.  Complete America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride, all 100 miles on June 3rd, and have a better ride than last years.  While the weather was out of my control last year, I think I wasn't completely prepared for the hills at the end of Tahoe.  In 2012, I will make it up Spooner without stopping.  I will finish all 100 miles and I won't be dead for the last 15. I plan to do all this while also mentoring other cyclists on Team In Training, helping them in any way I can, and raising lots o' money for LLS.  (see the Donate Now button the right? feel free to use it!)

2.  Complete at least 1 Sprint Triathlon (1/3 mi swim, 14 mi bike, 5k run) this summer, probably the same Peachtree City Sprint I did last year.  I want to improve my time dramatically.  Last year my results were:
  • 302 out of 364 (Female overall)   
  • 60th out of 67th (my age group Female 30-34)
  • Swim time (1/3 mi): 10:09 - 117th Female overall
  • Bike time: 46:34 - 212nd Female overall
  • Bike pace: 18.00 mph
  • Run time (this is where it's REAAAALLLY bad): 43:58 - 349th Female overall
  • Run pace: 14:11 mph
  • Overall time: 1:44:34
This year, I want to improve my rankings both Female overall and age group overall.  Specifically I want to accomplish the following:
  • Swim time: under 10 minutes.  I know I can do this, I almost did it last year.
  • Bike time: 42:00 
  • Bike pace: 20.0 mph
  • Run time: 32:00 
  • Run pace: 10 mph
  • Decrease overall time by: 15 minutes
3.  Complete at least 1 Olympic Distance Triathlon (swim 1.5 km, bike 25 miles and run 6.2 miles) this summer, Megan and I are looking at doing the Eleven Olympic distance in June.  This is another item on my bucket list that I've always wanted to accomplish.  The swim and bike are no problem for me, it's really the running that has always held me back.  I'm a terrible runner.  5ks are hard enough, why would I want to do a 10k??  I'm hoping that goals 2 and 3 will help each other.  As I'm training for longer distance triathlon, the sprint should feel "easier".  I think, when I look at the 5k run, I know I can muddle through that kind of distance (see last year ) - but a 10k run requires a lot more effort.  I can't just "make it" through.  Having this hefty goal I think will be good, my triathlon goals of last year were too easy - I didn't "have" to train.

4.  Overall, get in better shape and lead a healthier lifestyle.  What they say is true - you find someone you love and its easy to get fat and happy.  I know I can be happy without the extra fat.  This year, I want to maintain this lifestyle even after the training events of the summer and fall - which is not what I did last year.

Documenting my goals here is a way for me to hold myself accountable.  It's very easy to come up with excuses for why I didn't work out one day, or why I didn't eat right this day, but it's going to be hard to admit that I had these goals in January and somehow couldn't manage to complete them in an entire year.  I'ts not that I think these are easy goals to complete, I don't, but I think they are perfectly reasonable, given the time frame, to accomplish.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

2012 America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride

After riding 100 miles last June around Lake Tahoe, I thought that would be my last ride around "the lake".  But, when I looked back at what a wonderful season it was, I realize how much I took away from Team In Training.  I became a better cyclist, I met some wonderful people and I raised a lot of money for a great cause.  I decided I had to this one more time....and I wanted to get more involved.  This year I am a mentor for 2012 America's Most Beautiful bike ride and I hope to help some new cyclist or someone new to TNT have as wonderful a season as I had last year.  I'm really looking forward to it.

In order to do that, I still need to raise lots of money!! So....there will be another raffle this year - I just picked out the fabrics today!

2012 TNT Quilt Raffle fabrics!
The colors are inspired by my wish for sunny weather this go around at Lake Tahoe!

Donations translate into chances to win this quilt!! Keep in mind your donations are 100% tax deductible.

$5 - 1 Chance
$25 - 6 Chances
$50 - 15 Chances
$100 - 50 Chances

Please consider donating - your donations go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the world's largest nonprofit supporter of blood cancer research.