Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Worst News

Since people apparently still check this blog every now and then, I will share that Mary Crist is not well. Her bone marrow transplant did not take well and, after two brain bleeds, the doctor diagnosed her in a vegetative state--unconscious and non-responsive with no hope of recovery. She had a living will that requested she not remain on life support in such a state, so life support has been removed and she is in the process of dying. Please keep her family in your prayers at this awful time. I myself am deep in grief for the loss of my mentor and friend.
We will always love you, Mary Crist, and miss you mightily. May you find rest and peace in death.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

7 months later

Mary Crist is still fighting cancer, has recently had some good results from some new drugs, but is now in need of a bone marrow transplant. Tomorrow she goes for her transplant and will be in isolation for at least a month. BMTs are not easy and I'm scared for her. I'm scared for me, because she's an important person in my life and my mentor. I'm starting a new blog for her in order to send her messages while she's isolated. I may end up posting a link here, so you also have access, but I haven't decided yet. For now, I'm pasting my old blog self description onto this post as a way to remember how this blog functioned for me.
Thank you for all your love, support and prayers for Mary Crist.

I've just signed up with Team in Training to run a Triathlon with my friend Rachel. We're doing this in honor of my CPE supervisor Mary Crist Brown who was diagnosed with Lymphoma on April 27th 2007. We have 4 months to get in shape for the Tugaloo Triathlon which is on Saturday, September 15th. Check it out under my links. If you want to donate, you can do that online on my website (look above in PARTICIPATE). I have to raise $2,600.00, so every dollar helps!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Race Day: Sept 15, 2007

I haven't posted in a while. Since my last post, I finished up my residency at the hospital and became a full-time student again at Candler. This is my final year at Candler!!! As such, I've been pretty busy with homework and the like and, of course, training/preparing for this race. The other huge accomplishment I'm completed is meeting my fundraising goal. With your help, I've raised $2626.00!!!! Thank you, for making this happen!

I can't believe this race is tomorrow. I've been very excited all week. Today, though, I am also very nervous. I'm ready. I know I can do this. I'm so much stronger than I was when I started this and I think I have the endurance. The mental part of this competition is maybe the hardest. In class this morning, while my professor was detailing the stages of development for Piaget, Kohlberg, and Erikson, I could only think about whether or not I had packed everything I need. While he explained the stage of development that causes us to have nightmares that we show up to school in only our underwear, I was freaking out that perhaps I would be caught unprepared mid-race.

But I've trained for this. I'm ready. I'm packed. Tomorrow night I will have the new title "Triathlete!" I'll have photos to prove it. :D

I'm also conscious of the long race Mary Crist has been running. She completed her six rounds of chemo and her cancer has taken a beating. It is greatly reduced, but not gone. Her PET scan showed that it is still wrapped around a kidney that went defunct several years ago. She is in England this week having a good time and learning about new theories in her field and when she returns she re-starts chemotherapy. This time she will have two 21 day rounds of chemo that are much more intense than her first 6 rounds. She and her doctor hope to blast the heck out of this cancer and hang a "No Trespassing" sign in her body. My aunt, too, is now fighting cancer (breast cancer that metastasized to a lymph node) and started her first round of chemo yesterday. These wonderful and important women will be on my mind all day tomorrow. I'm writing their names on my arms and will carry them with me over the finish line.

Coming to see me at the race:
Some people mentioned wanting to come cheer me on at the race. If you live in Atlanta, it's somewhat feasible that you could come. Here's the deal, though. This race is at Lake Hartwell, on the border of Georgia and South Carolina. The race starts at 8am and my personal start won't be until closer to 8:15 (maybe even 8:30). I don't expect to cross the finish line until maybe 1pm or 2pm. If you come for the entire event, it's a lot of sitting and waiting, all day, to see me cross the finish line. You could see me in the transition area twice (between water and bike, then between bike and run), but you can't touch me or pass me anything (I'd be disqualified). If you do come, I recommend planning to be there around noon so you can find the finish line. I also recommend bringing something with you to keep yourself hydrated and entertained. If you simply congratulate me after I return from the race, awesome!

The directions to Tugaloo State Park follow, or you can find them on their website:

Directions to Tugaloo Triathlon

From Atlanta

Take I-85 North to Exit 173, Tocca-Lavonia - GA HWY 17 - Tugaloo State Park/ Hart State Park
Turn Left on GA HWY 17

From Greenville

I-85 South to Exit 173, Tocca-Lavonia - GA HWY 17 - Tugaloo State Park/ Hart State Park
Turn Right on GA HWY 17

Once on GA HWY 17

Proceed approx. 1/4 mile
Turn Right on Smith Rd. - near Hardees.
ross RR Tracks
Turn Right at STOP SIGN on Gerrard Rd.
Proceed approx. 1.5 miles until it dead ends.
Turn Left on HWY 328, and proceed approx. 3 miles
Turn Right on Tugaloo Park Road (BP Gas Station), pass through gate.
Bear Right at fork, proceed to Start Area.
You will directed where to park by Park Rangers.

If arriving late, be prepared to park .25 to .5 miles from start area.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Things from the Deep

I'm still struggling with my fear of open water and my imagination. This weekend I couldn't get it out of my head that there were creatures below me, so I started thinking creatively--engaging a little mental training. The biggest trouble with the fears is that they aren't motivating. Instead of speeding up to get away from them, I pull my head out of the water and look around to assure myself everything is okay and I know where I am. I needed some way to keep my head in the water and my momentum moving forward. So, I turned those creatures into the Little Mermaid! It really worked. I felt like I was playing--singing with her in my head. Hooray for cartoon heroines!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Hills of Hades

Stone Mountain Park is a well established icon of Atlanta recreation. Its main attraction is the giant mound of granite rising from the earth like a prehistoric artifact. It is surrounded by a lake, walking and biking paths, camping sites and a newly established amusement park. In the evenings, they project a laser show on the side of the mountain where the portraits of Confederate Heros are carved. If you ever visit Atlanta, you must experience it.

Stone Mountain is also a favorite location of exercise enthusiasts who like a challenge. You can hike up the granite mound and back down again, or you can walk or cycle around the base of the mountain on rather rigorous and hilly paths. On Saturday, Rachel and I joined our team for a 20 mile bike ride around the base of the mountain. Then, we walked 3 miles. It was intense. When I say intense, I mean, I think I visited Hades. At least, a few words that belong in Hades may have escaped my lips. It was well over 100 degrees outside and hilly and... intense.

On Sunday, we met our team at Mary Alice Park on Lake Lanier for more open water swimming and a chance to try a full transition (swim to bike to run). The first thing we discovered that morning was that our tires were low. We rode the entire 20 miles at hilly Stone Mountain on half the air we needed!!! We'll just call this drag training. So we added air to our tires and the ride was much better. We swam 1 mile in wake filled water (the boats were out and about, making our swim rough), biked 10, and walked 2.

We're learning some great tricks for transitioning, like have an extra bottle of water handy to rinse off your feet after the swim so sand doesn't tear them up the rest of the day. Isn't that smart? Or, lay your towel out with all of your gear lined up in order so you can stand on the towel and change without having to think too hard. Or, check your bike to make sure it's in good shape before you start the race. :P

I wish I had a picture of Monday night's swim practice, but I don't. Monday night we met the team at the pool, where the coaches had removed the lane lines. They set up three buoys so we had a practice course to swim around in the pool and asked us to practice the race by swimming around them at race pace for 20 minutes. It was so crowded and there were so many bodies touching, at first I was confused about what was going on, but really, it was sabotage! The coaches had recruited former Team In Training triathletes to attack us. They swam right in my way. They grabbed my toes. They grabbed my legs and tried to pull me down, but I kicked the heck out of them! This was to simulate what it may feel like at the beginning of the race. We should expect it to be crowded and for people to be very pushy, trying to get their advantage, so they were trying to prepare us for the mental competition on top of the physical. I feel sorry for whoever those people were that grabbed me, because I really kicked them. That's what you gotta do! After that, we had a relay race around the buoys. It was so fun!

Tuesday was Rachel's birthday, so to celebrate we went on an 18 mile bike ride with our friends Karen and Bones. (Yes, we are gluttons for punishment.) We rode on the PATH that leads to Stone Mountain Park from Decatur. We didn't have time to do the whole route because we waited for evening, when the temperatures were soooo much cooler!!! While on the ride, I rubbed the sweat out of my eye with my bike glove. Wednesday morning, I woke up with pink eye. I don't know if it came from the glove, the pool, or the lake, but that blessed pink eye gave me two days off from work!!! Because it's highly contagious, I was not permitted on the hospital premises for a full 24 hours after my first dose of eye drops. :D I'm much better now. And well rested.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Fear of Open Water

To creep you out, or not? When I swim in the pool, I'm mostly okay. When I swim in open water, it's a different story. I've made peace with some open water. Dale Hallow Lake is so clean that you can see your toe nails when you're treading water. As long as I'm swimming close to a boat and can get out of the water when I want, I'm fine there. In the ocean, as long as I can see some of the shells on the bottom (and see that there's nothing creepy by my toes), I'm okay.

It's a different story in lake water that is murky. My imagination takes me to places I fear would be unfair to share. The things that lurk below that water are reminiscent of creatures from Jacko's Thriller video, or the "Passage of the Marshes" from the Two Towers (the book actually calls it the Dead Marshes). I think this is enough info. I have included links to photos of these images, so if you click on the lime green, you'll see an example of what I imagine. If you'd rather not see, don't click the lime green.

So, we've done our open water training in Lake Lanier, which I consider to be very murky. I hate it. I love swimming! I hate Lake Lanier. While I'm swimming in this lake, I sometimes have to sprint to run away from my imagination. Sometimes, I come up for air, shriek a bit, shake my hands like I'm shaking something awful off of them, then force my head back into the water and keep going. It's kinda funny, really. I'm sure the people in the kayaks laugh at me!

I've been able to distract myself twice. Once by turning my brain onto the topic of organizing the thank you notes I'm writing, and once by thinking about my grandma's spaghetti. I haven't had her spaghetti for a long time, but when I was a kid I loved it! I'll need some topics to capture my imagination race day, so if you have any ideas, please share!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

For good laughs, call...

As an act of charity, in case you have not yet had a good dose of laughter today, I present you with my pool portrait. Don't I look like someone's escaped yard gnome? Yeah--it's a good look.

Gnome, or not, I swam 1925 meters last night. (That's more than a mile.) WooHoo! (Oh, and, I aced another class!!!!)