Tuesday, July 27, 2010

LLS Recognition Awards

On Monday, June 28, the Virginia Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society held their annual volunteer recognition and awards ceremony. I missed it because I was still in Washington state, hiking in Mount Rainier National Park after running the Seattle Half Marathon. But I learned later that three friends got awards, and they are three people who could not be more deserving. I was really happy to learn about them winning these awards, but sad to have missed being there.

Chuck Smith got the Team in Training award. Anyone who knows Chuck knows that there is not a more dedicated person out there. He has been involved in TNT for about four years and has done so much for the program and its participants. He has been head and assistant run coach multiple times, and also been a fund raising participant on several occasions. He is always ready and willing to help in any way possible, and is a supurb coach during the events, taking the time to run a bit with anyone who needs it. He typically puts in 30+ miles on his feet for our events.

Susan Ann Glass, my Triple Crown friend, won the Volunteer of the Year Award. In addition to doing something 25 events - or is it 30 now? - for TNT over the years, Susan has most recently been the cycle coach. She has done marathons, half marathons, triathlons, and a century cycle event. She has done a half iron man triathlon, and in a month and a couple of days, she will be an iron man (iron woman?) triathlete. Can you tell that I am proud of her?

Ed Stone won the Nike Winged Victory Award, given to a blood cancer survivor who has made a difference and inspired people. Ed has never done an iron man triathlon, but he is an iron man in everything else. He is a four time cancer survivor since surviving leukemia at the age of 20, and has gone through all kinds of hellish treatments for melanoma in the past year. He has lost part of his left foot to this disease, but has already been back out swimming and on the bike. He has done marathons, half marathons, triathlons, and century cycle events, and was Team Virginia's first TNT Triple Crown recipient. Ed is a constant inspiration to everyone on our team.
Congratulations to these three fine people. There could not be better choices for these awards.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Hot Silent Mile

Yesterday morning, the fall marathon, triathlon, and century teams from Richmond and Charlottesville - along with patient honorees and others affected by cancer - gathered at 6:30AM for our twice annual Team Silent Mile. This is always moving, as we hear from so many people affected by cancers of all kinds - many survivors and then also those who have been affected through the cancers of friends and family members. The most poignant yesterday was Robin's story. She survived cancer 30 years ago at age 18, and learned last week that she has a secondary cancer that was probably caused by radiation received to save her life so long ago. Her choices - have her leg amputated mid-thigh or have the femur removed and replaced with an artificial one. This will be followed by six months of chemo. It really sucks to hear about stories like this. Cancer sucks! What a choice - lose your leg or go through all the pain and misery of an artificial bone. Both choices have major drawbacks. I feel for this fine person. It is so unfair. She has been an athlete all her life and continues doing triathlons for TNT, and was training for the Nation's Tri. Now, three people will do a leg in her honor. Ed will do the swimming, her husband will do the biking, and a good friend - who's wife has brain cancer - will do the run.

Lanie's story was also sad. She is a young woman with a very lethal brain cancer. She is doing well so far, but it has been tough. She clearly has a great spirit. Both Lanie's and Robin's names were on my Seattle race shirt last month.

It was a hot, hot day, already 80 degrees at 6AM, and it reached 105 yesterday. I walked 3.5 miles with my friend, teammate, fellow Hodgikin's survivor, and fellow marathoner Kristi, and it was great to catch up. Our first mile was done in silence to honor and remember those who fight this fight against the beast. Here are some photos of the morning.

The big combined team gathers in a circle prior to getting started:

Four time cancer survivor Ed (blue shirt), who recently lost part of his left foot to melanoma, talks about his experience.

The runners start to leave the area and head out for the first mile in silence.

Members of the walk team walking in silence

Cycle and/or triathletes passing the walkers
LLS staff has put out numerous posters about the mission along the first mile. Here is Kristi posing by one of these:

And here am I, in my green Seattle half-marathon shirt. It is hard to believe that this event was four weeks ago already!

Holly and Amy from the triathlon team cycle towards us. Holly is the mom of Emma, one of our February Miracle Girls!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Seattle Touring - The Space Needle

June 26 - afternoon. After the half marathon, I took a frigid ice bath, washed as much of the purple out of my hair as possible, and took a hot shower. I shivered under the covers in bed till I warmed up, then decided to spend my last afternoon in Seattle seeing the Space Needle.

I caught Seattle's famous monorail to the Needle,
then I bought a ticket and went up. The gloom and clouds of the morning were gone, and the afternoon was one you wish you could bottle and sell. The views from the Space Needle were just amazing, like this one of Mount Rainier (tomorrow's destination) well in the distance from Seattle:
that of the Seattle downtown:
Puget Sound:
and this large lake in the city:

Then I reluctantly went back to the ground, and chilled in the park for a while, listening to this absolutely fantastic band (from Peru or Bolivia, I would guess) for a half hour or so.
From there, I decided to walk down to the Sculpture Garden I had heard about. As I walked through the garden, I passed a young woman who called my name. I turned and saw that it was Shanna, from the South Carolina chapter. She had also run the half marathon that morning, except she ran it in 1:40, and was walking around seeing the sights. We walked through the garden together for a while, and I snapped a shot for her:

Then I told her she really needed to see the Space Needle, which she decided to do, so we walked back there. Then she went up the Needle and I returned to the hotel to rest up for a little while before the Victory Party.

My time in Seattle was all too short, but I packed a lot into it before heading to Mount Rainier the next day.

Seattle Touring - Bainbridge Island

Friday June 25 - After the National Chapter group training run in the morning, Chuck and I headed for breakfast down at Pike Street Market. As part of this, we walked though the marketplace again, seeing some of the incredible displays of fruits and vegetables:
shrimp so big you would think they were lobster tails:

and flowers:

Outside in the marketplace, I posed with a new friend:
And then we walked through an alleyway on the way to the ferry terminal. Along the way, we passed this somewhat fascinating, somewhat gross display of chewed gum:
Then, we headed for the ferry to Bainbridge Island. We had considered a scenic cruise on a tourism line that would have cost $40, but opted for the Seattle Ferry to Bainbridge for a round trip of about $6.50 instead. I didn't want to spend a lot of time on my feet but felt like walking around a bit of the island would be fun on this cool and somewhat showery day, the only day I saw rain in my six days in the supposedly soaked Pacific Northwest.

I would not have time so see the fabled Washington coast, so this trip in Puget Sound would be the best I could do. The views reminded me a bit of the coast of Maine.

Once we got off the ferry, we walked on a trail through a mixture of natural areas along the shore, and the outskirts of a town. We came on a pretty neat marina,
and had tea and coffee in a cafe, chatting with a marathoner we met on the ferry. Then it was time to head back and enjoy the pretty views approaching the city, such as another ferry heading to Bainbridge Island,
a Celebrity Cruise Lines ship tied up in Seattle,
the Seattle skyline,
and the Space Needle, where I would go the next afternoon.
After this excursion, Chuck headed back to the Expo, and I headed to the hotel to relax for a couple of hours off my feet before the TNT Inspiration Dinner.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Seattle Touring - Thursday Afternoon

June 24 - Afternoon. So after flying in and catching a cab to the hotel (we later learned they had light rail from the Seattle airport to 3 blocks from our hotel for $2.50 one way), we were able to check into the hotel early and get our stuff stashed away. We had a few hours to kill until our team would meet to head to the Expo together, and we hungry for lunch and thirsty for a BEvERage. So Chuck and I started walking around Seattle, heading towards the waterfront, looking for a local (non-chain) place to eat and get a local beer.

We were amazed to find a Starbucks in Seattle, in fact there turned out to be more than one (hundred, I think). Technically, that was local, but we wanted one of a kind.

We could have eaten some barbeque here, as it certainly looked one of a kind. But we wanted a sit down place with one of Seattle's reportedly excellent microbrews.

We settle on the Pike Brewing Company. We posed outside with a couple of their beer posters. My cat is named Nellie, so you can see why I picked this one.

After lunch, we strolled through the Pike Street Market, marveling at the incredible seafood displays - gigantic lobster tails, crabs of all kinds, and huge whole salmon:

Then we went outside into the refreshingly cool air. It was at least 30-35 degrees F. cooler than Richmond. We caught a view of Mount Rainier about 90 miles away. Chuck said, "If that starts smoking, I'm out of here!"

Finally, we saw a neat totem pole on the way back to the hotel at a little park, and it was time to get back and meet the team.

Seattle Touring - The Flight In

Well, I've spent my limited blog time recently by updating my hiking blog with Mount Rainier posts, and now am finally getting back to this blog to post about my few days in Seattle. I had already posted about the race and the events leading up to it.

On June 24, I got up at 4AM to head to the airport. Coach Chuck and his wife gave me a ride there. Upon arising, I found a message from Roanoke teammate Kathryn that her flight was cancelled and she would not be arriving until that night, so we should not plan on meeting her at O'Hare Airport. That was disappointing, as we had looked forward to meeting another Virginia teammate.

Other than that, the flight was uneventful. Everything left on time, and I got to start reading "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." On the final approach to Seattle, I snapped some photos of my first views of the great Pacific Northwest and Seattle.

The clouds opened up a bit on the approach to the airport to show some views of the Cascades. The snow on the peaks made me wonder about how my hiking at Rainier would be. I found out a few days later that everything there higher than about 4,500 feet altitude would be snow covered - much snowier than these mountains were.

I was excited to see this view of the Space Needle, a true Seattle landmark.

We came right in over the center city.

I knew from studying the race route that on June 26th, I would be running right past Safeco and Qwest Fields near the end of the race.

View of Puget Sound and part of the port area

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Racing for Cures Rocks!

One of my big thrills of being in Seattle was getting to meet Julie, creator of the Cures Rock! blog and organization. Like me, Julie is a blogger, blood cancer survivor, marathoner, and Team in Training participant. I came across her California blog about a year and a half ago and have been inspired by her ever since.
Julie has run the Boston Marathon twice for Livestrong, last year while actively being treated for leukemia. She also ran the Seattle Half Marathon last year while on chemo, which is hard for me to even imagine. But she is healthy and strong now, and came up to Seattle to run the half again. She just ran the full marathon in San Diego three weeks before.
We exchanged cell phone numbers and hoped to meet at the TNT tent after the race for a few minutes. I was not hearing phones coming in on my phone due to the general noise, and was going over to talk to Chuck when who should appear but Julie. We recognized each other from our blog photos, and got to meet literally minutes before she had to leave.
We got a few photos snapped of the two of us, one showing our Rock Stars on the backs of our jerseys (you can see a hint of purple in my hair in that photo). Julie, you are an amazing person and an inspiration, and I hope we meet at future events. Stay healthy! It was good to meet you on a day when racing for cures rocked!