Monday, September 21, 2009

Moab Century ride

Last Saturday,  I completed my third century ride with Team in Training and my seventeenth event with TNT since I first started running for Kelly in 1999.

Sue, Laura and I headed out for Moab on Thursday afternoon with my Fuji bike safely packed in the trunk. Adam wasn't able to come as he had to work.

Friday morning, Laura and I went out for a quick run where we saw some rocks, red rocks.

Later that morning we had our last workout before the century ride. We did a 30 mile ride where we saw some rocks, red rocks.

We headed off to the the TNT inspiration dinner. There was a slide show that ran continously of our heroes and angels. There were probably 30-40 different pictures on the slide show. The minute we walked into the room, Kelly's picture was the first one we saw.

As I was standing in line at the buffet I felt my heart breaking again for Kelly, for Laiken.  There were other pictures of young people on the slide show.  It is so sad and infuriating at the same time .

The Rocky Mountain chapter was one of six chapters attending this event.  Combined the six chapters had raised $350,000 to support the mission of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society!

Saturday morning we gathered in the darkness outside our hotel waiting for the start.  We rolled off at 7:05 with a police escort for 125 Team in Training cyclists.  It was already warm when we started.   That was not a good sign.

We rolled out of town and immediately started climbing.  The first part of the climb was fairly flat giving us a chance to get our legs underneath us before the road turned uphill too steeply.

I had a weird conversation with my cycling coach.  He told me I was riding my bike like a triathlete.  I asked him what that meant.  He said I was riding like I wanted to get from the swim to the run.  I wasn't quite sure what to do with that piece of advice 45 minutes into a ride I had been in training for five months so I filed it away for the time being.

After the first aid station, I caught up with another group of my teammates and one of our other coaches, so I just tucked in behind the last cyclist and let the coach set the pace for our small group.

We saw a sign that told us the first climb of the day was upon us.  The Little Nasty as it is affectionately called or maybe not so affectionately.

I was riding with Andres Pedraza who was a collegaue of mine on the Board of Trustees for the Rocky Mountain chapter.   I was riding in front of him as we started the climb up the Little Nasty.  He told me he liked having me in front of him as the pictures I had pinned on the back of my jersey were helping him stay motivated.  I told Andres I had lots of reasons to be riding.  Here are four of them.

My heroes and angels.

Parts of this climb have a 14% elevation grade.  Ouch! 

I actually got in a good rhythm during this portion of the climb.  I was in the correct gear on my bike and made it to the top of the first climb fairly easily.

It was a neat moment for me as I was able to lead Andres on this first climb and was able to get a good picture of him during the final moments of his ascent on the Little Nasty.

Smooth pedaling.

No worries!

Great music, pulling you up the hill.

Who the heck are you?

We left the summit of the Little Nasty and encountered the next sign called Tom's Misery named after a friend of the race director who was quite miserable when he found out he wasn't done climbing and there was much more to come.

We encountered a sign called the Launch pad and then we saw the sign announcing we were about to start the climb up the "Big Nasty". 

So our group decided we better commerate this moment in the true pioneer spirit.

Rocky Mountain TNT mocks the Big Nasty!

Like many things in life, the fear I had of being able to climb the Big Nasty were overblown.  I didn't fall off my bike.  I didn't have to stop and walk.  Some of the climbs I had done in Colorado were much harder.

There was one stretch where the road looked incredibly steep and so long.   I remember feeling very afraid  and I asked Kelly to stay with me during for the rest of the climb and I felt her presence as I have so many times before and we rode to the top of the Big Nasty together.

After the Big Nasty there was still many more miles of climbing to be done.  The next stretch was called the Stairway to Heaven.

Finally after 30 miles, we were about to start our first descent.   As always, that wasn't much fun for me and was even worse than normal as the road was really torn up and there was lots of loose gravel to try and navigate around.   My wrists were aching by the time I finally got to the bottom of this descent.  It was quite treacherous, lots of sharp switchbacks and the gravel that was all over the road.  What a relief to finally hit a nice long straight section with a nice gentle descent.

When I got to the TNT aid station, I caught up with Andres again and we set off on a long out and back section that had lots of rolling hills and zero shade for 18 miles.  It was really hot at this point and it didn't seem like we were ever going to get the turnaround point.

The return part was even worse.  The sun was beating down on us.   I had to let Andres go,  I couldn't stay with him.

When I got back to the TNT aid station, I was in bad shape.  I was dehydrated, and think I may have had some heat exhaustion.  Looking back now, I realize as hot as it was I had stopped sweating.  I felt awful. The people at the aid station were very worried about me and wouldn't let me leave without having someone else to ride with.   I sat in the shade for 45 minutes, drank two full bottles of Gatorade. 

The last 15 miles were a blur.  I couldn't drink any more water.  The sun continued to beat down.  I couldn't do anything, so as best as I could I pedaled on.

We stopped 2 miles short of the finish line to wait for the rest of our chapter so we could finish as a team.

I sat in the shade for another 30 minutes, one of my teammates gave me the last of her powerade.  That seemed to help a little.

Finally we were off and finished the ride as a team.

It was ironic that the part of the ride I was so fearful of wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  It was the last 50 miles of rolling hills and the heat that had done me in.  

My Garmin said I had only rode 98+ miles, not 100.  I didn't care.  I didn't tack on the extra mileage to get to 100.

I got off my bike and walked back to the hotel with Sue and Laura. 

I haven't been back on my bike since,

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Random thoughts at 18 months

Today marks eighteen months of Kelly's passing.

There is a line from the Star Wars movie, A New Hope that I really like.

Obi-Wan Kenobi says to Darth Vader, "You can't win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine".

He eventually sacrifices himself so that Luke and the others can escape. His body disappears before being struck by Vader's light sabre becoming a spirit in the force.

I think of this and how it applies in this fight that rages on with cancer. I often hear others describe how someone has lost their fight with cancer after a long courageous battle.

So much like Darth Vader was confused at to the whereabouts of Obi-Wan, I like to think that cancer is just as mystified when it thinks it has struck someone down.

There is a young woman in my office that is part of my company's Light the Night walk team. Her dad passed away from Leukemia eleven years ago. She is currently my team's top fund raiser for this years walk.

Laiken Kenwood's family and friends continue to raise money and awareness about childhood cancer, organize bone marrow drives.

The Rocky Mountain Team in Training cycling team has raised 98,000 dollars for this seasons ride. I know Kelly's story and her spirit have moved and inspired countless people in this battle with cancer.

Cancer did not strike Kelly down. Cancer did not strike Laiken down.

Cancer came to call one final time only to find it was too late.

Cancer can't win. Kelly and Laiken and so many others have become more powerful than cancer can possibly imagine.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fans on the Field

Today was the 4th annual Fan on the Field 5K and 10K run.

                                            Keegan shares some last minute advice for LaLa

The 10K runners(Laura and I) get a chance to run through the Pepsi Center, Coors Field and Invesco at Mile High.  How I hate that name.  I will always call it Mile High stadium.

The 5K runners(Adam and Keegan) hit the Pepsi Center and Mile High stadium.

The race director completley rerouted the 10K race course this year as we hit the Pepsi Center first, then ventured to Coors Field and finally coming back to Mile High.  Not sure why they did it.  It may have been to alleviate congestion on the course and it did seem somewhat better this year from that standpoint.

Fans on the Field is a fun race that benefits the National Sports Center for  the Disabled.   

It was great to see so many kids out running with their parents today and I felt very lucky that this is an event that my kids and I look forward to each year.  Adam only does a couple of 5K's each year so  I think there need to be more 5K runs that have something to do with the Broncos, Rockies, Nuggets and the Avalanche and he will be there :)

I got to high five the Nugget mascot, Rocky.  Hands down the best mascot in profesional sports.  I wish I had gotten his picture.

The run was a bit of a struggle for me.  I have down so much slow running this year, I am having a hard time trying to get back into a faster pace. 

                                                  The runners hit the Pepsi Center
                                          Off to Coors Field.  The little girl with the pony tail was fast!
Heading to home plate to greet Dinger!
My obligatory water picture :)
                                                       A little Kung Fu fighting, courtesy of Keegan

Monday, September 7, 2009


Labor Day weekend has come and gone far too fast.

I left work Friday afternoon and headed over to Dekeovend Park for the Arapahoe Invitational High school cross country meet. One of my co-workers has a daughter that runs on the cross country team for Columbine High school.

Jenna is a sophmore this year and is running with the varsity team!

This meet has a great location, and features a bit of everything, running in open fields, on trail and even a quick dash across a shallow stream.

Watching these kids run the last 100 meters served as a reminder why I never have and never will be a sprinter.

1. Even if I wanted to, I couldn't. I simply do not have the fast twitch muscles that are required.

2. It hurts.

Being a mid to the back of the pack runner is fine with me.

Kudos to these kids for putting it all out on the line. Some of the sprints were amazing to watch.

Saturday after finally overcoming a mental obstacle, found me back on my bike for the first time in 20 days. I either had to get on the bike or give up on doing the TNT century ride in Moab in two weeks.

Much to my surprise, I had a good day on the bike. No silly accidents, no encounters with any irate drivers. I even had a couple of people smile at me and wait for me to get out of their way.

I went over to Runner's Roost to pick up my race package for the Park to Park 10 mile run on Monday.

I saw one of the former TNT running coaches who is on of the race directors for this event. Maureen asked me how Kelly was doing. She was shocked when I told her that Kelly had passed away almost 18 months ago.

I had sent her one of Kelly and Adam's pictures from prom weekend in 2006. Like many of us, Maureen thought there was no way her cancer could return.

Sunday night, Sue and I went with Laura to visit a church she recently started to visit. The church has an interesting name, "Scum of the Earth".

The church that Sue and I have been attending meets in a movie theatre. Keegan calls it "movie church". Lol.

Monday, I ran in the Park to Park 10 mile race. This race hits four very beautiful parks in the Denver area. It is a great tour of the city, run along tree lined, beautiful homes. This is one of my favorite races to run.

Before the race I saw three of my TNT cycling teammates right before the start. We were joking as we had all signed up under the "it sounded like a good idea at the time". We were debating the wisdom of our decision and agreed we would probably file it under the "what was I thinking" category.

I saw Catherine(Mighty Mason's Mom) and we chatted for a few moments as well. She said her goal for the Nike Marathon on October 18, was to be less injured than she was for the Denver marathon last year.

Staying injury free when training for a marathon is a huge challenge. I am just amazed that Catherine can train around the hospital visits, planned and unplanned around Mason's treatment.

Mason started first grade a couple of weeks ago. He looks great. They have twenty six weeks to go to complete his relapse therapy. Catherine and family take nothing for granted. They know things can change on the flip of a dime.

Catherine motored past me shortly after the one mile mark. I tried to "grab her wheel" as we say in cycling lingo. I wanted to try and get a picture of her running, but I couldn't catch her. These cancer Mom's are strong!

I dedicated my run this morning to Melina Elizabeth Wachter who earned her angel wings five years ago today at the age of ten months. Melina's family hosts a golf tournament every year and donate the proceeds to the Bone marrow transplant unit to help other families and children that are fighting for their lives. Take that, cancer!

I didn't run as well as I had hoped. I picked what I thought was a realistic time goal, but I guess I was overly optimistic on what I could do. I only hit my goal pace a couple of times during the ten miles, felt some unwanted aches and pains in different places. I ran on as best as I was able to for Melina.

I ran a personal worst at this distance. I added over 7 minutes this year. I really wasn't physically prepared to run this far at any sort of pace.

I had been clinging to the hope that I could still somehow run the Denver marathon in 6 weeks. Today was a reality check. It just isn't going to happen. I can let go of that now.

We had lunch with my parents at Macoroni Grill and then headed off to Coors Field with Keegan for the Rockies Game.

The Rockies came from behind to win 4-3! Keegan for the most part did really well at the game today.

I was surprised that during the 7th inning stretch they played God Bless America. I was even more suprised by my reaction. I don't know if it is because we are 4 days away from another anniversary of 9/11. I couldn't sing the words, I was overcome with emotion.

Keegan is really attached to Laura(La La) and Adam(Amu) as he calls them.  Both of my kids are so devoted to Keegan.  They spoil him so much you would think they were grandparents :)

Keegan doesn't have a father figure. I wonder if our niece has any idea how much Keegan loves Adam. Adam is so good with Keegan. After the game, he was really tired. He loves to sit on Adam's shoulders and he leaned over and rested his head on top of Adam's and gave him a hug. It was such a sweet moment.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Spinning & Connecting with Kelly

I finally got back on my bike today.

I woke up early this morning as I just routinely moved my leg only to feel like my calf was exploding. I haven't had an episode like that for a long time. The pain is unbelievable. I was barely able to walk for a couple of hours.

Luckily, today was a cycling day, not a running day.

I procrastinated for as long as I could. I didn't want to go riding today.

I had to get back on my bike. Ever since I wrecked my bike almost 3 weeks ago, I just have not wanted to ride.

The Moab Century is in two weeks so if I didn't get out on the bike today, I might as well give up on going.

I ended up tricking myself into a 54+ mile bike ride. I told myself I would go for 20-30 and do a long ride again tomorrow.

I actually felt much better today than I thought I was going to.

I never shifted out of the middle ring on my bike. I was determined to try and spin today instead of mashing.

It worked. I rarely got out of the saddle today and the few times I did today it was more just to change my position on the bike. When I did stand, I kept my cadence high.

I didn't do a lot of climbing today. I just didn't feel like I could go from zero miles to 50-60 miles and ask my body to do much climbing.

I desperately needed some success on the bike. The pratfall and the freak accident had really shaken my confidence.

Today I gave myself a chance to succeed. The focus was on feeling, a way of being, not on the outcome, how far or how fast.

The unexpected bonus for me was how I felt totally connected with Kelly today. It is so much easier for me to run or ride when I feel her presence with me. Today, I totally felt that connection with her. The miles flew by. It was like a dream that I did not want to wake up from.
I felt content, peaceful. We were together again, like we have been so many times before.

It was the best day I have had on the bike in a long time. Riding with and for my hero.

Grateful for her life and for the love that lives on in my heart.