Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Pictures from the triathlon

Bike setup and transition area.

Swim start, you swim around the giant buoys. The buoys are so big so you can site them and stay on course.

Me running towards the end of the race along the beach. Notice the nice alignment of my head to my body. I have pretty decent running posture. Unfortunately, I still swim crooked.

Sunset at the hotel

This isn't me but it is how I look with my shirt off now. Seriously. Sort of.
I'll have my own pictures organized and uploaded soon.
Go here and enter my lucky race number 278 in the upper left hand search box for my official pictures, or look around for general photos: http://www.printroom.com/event.asp?domain_name=photoman&group_id=54

Monday, April 6, 2009

The race

We woke up early and headed down to the transition area. It was full of triathletes, go figure. They weren't smelly though, not yet anyway. I waited in line to get my number stamped on my arms (278) if you want to play the lucky three and then returned to my bike to pretend I knew what to do next. I did a short run, put on my swim cap, and headed down to the water. Nerves, sweat, excitement, good lucks and other such rah rah go teaminess happening.

First out on the swim: professionals. I was in the 2nd wave, men 39 and under. I waited. We started. It was chaos. We were supposed to self seed ourselves so faster participants would be in front. It was chaos. We weren't even 1/4 of the way through and I ran into someone floating on his back. Really, less than a 1/4 of the way through? People kick each other, push each other, I heard rumour of someone biting (might have been a shark in goggles though hard to say). In time, I learned to push, kick through hands on your feet, and you learn to tell the difference between a grab and an accidental brush. It's rough. But I saw a turtle! Maybe the same turtle, still floating between the coral and the sky, watching 900 two feeters (turtle slang for humans) swim overhead. The course was an M shape so as I got tired about 1/2 way through you can hear the crowds chantings, a great motivator. It was also when the women started to catch and pass me, also a great motivator. When you move slow, you can see a lot under water during the stroke, but I digress. I finished the swim 35:40, which I was happy with.

Remember in my last post when I promised myself no water for 15 minutes? I ran up the beach and grabbed a water and a gatorade. And I drank them both. Nutrition plan be damned. I threw the cup, missed the trash can, walked on lava rock to pick up the cups, and nearly passed out when I bent over. I always have a little adjustment after the swim. I got to my bike, put on my shoes, almost fell over again multiple times, remembered they told us to sit to put on our shoes, almost fell over again, the rest room, got my shoes on, and headed out. A 4:29 transition, the winner had a 56 second transition. I might need to work on that.

I got on the bike and I immediately started drinking more water I was out on the road and I noticed my finger was bleeding. My mentor passed me and after cheering me on said, "Oh and you have blood all over your face." I screamed into the wind, "A shark attacked me" but she was already gone. The bike out was great, people passed me, I passed people. Lava fields on the left and right, ocean to the right, rolling hills. Beautiful. Not even 1/4 of the way and I'm almost out of water and my stomach is water logged. Right, that's why I don't drink water right away, now I remember how it feels. Slow down on the water and eat a cliff bar. I hit the bike turn and head back.

No wind. Yeah! I make it to within about 4 miles of the resort and 30 mph head wind! Ok, prepared, keep pedaling. At this point, I'm looking at my watch thinking, I can break 3 hours if I really push it. I figured it would take 1 hour for the run. It's close, so I start pedaling harder into the wind hoping this won't cause quad or calf cramps during the run. I make it into the bike to run transition at about 2:08, 1:29 transition because all I had to do was put my bike up, no fancy bike shoes for me.

50 minutes to break 3 hours, my best case time. I run hard, hit a spot with no wind and realize it's hot. I'm in HI! I'm getting close to finishing my first triathlon. I feel strong, I speed up. My quad cramps up. I slow down. I drink gatorade at mile 2. I feel strong. My quad cramps up. I drink gatorade at mile 3. I figure if I run really hard I still have a shot at 3 hours, feeling great except for the quad cramping, but I seem to be working through it. I pass a few teammates. The last mile or so is through the resort, over a lava rock path most people walk to avoid ankle sprains, past sun bathers, another lava rock path, I can see the finish line down the path, through some trees, and along the beach. If I sprint, I can break 3 hours. Have you ever run on sand? It's horrible. Seriously. All sorts of muscles hurt, especially at that point. But I think about why I'm doing this (Leukemia and Lymphoma S), the pain other people feel, donors and people who believe in me and ultimately I remember that things like this come down to mental toughness. I'm tough. I stop crying like a 7 year old girl and keep going.

I'm running strong again, tears are again streaming down I'm so happy and tired, the turtles are out watching me, whales breaching, a sea gull shatted upon a competitor for me, people take pictures, people cheer, I feel strong again, I finish in just under 3 hours and I'm so happy! I see two camera men for my great finish and I just stare at them as I cross the finish line and they snap my picture. The pictures are horrible, I have almost no emotion in them. I'm like a robot. I should have been like a 7 year old girl. I'm a fool.

Ah well. I have a good happy picture on the bike a moment on the beach locking eyes with a sea turtle before he was so inspired by me he went out and mated. It was a nice day, one of us should have. I finished the run in 50:16 for an official time of 2:59:36. I'm awesome!

Afterwards, I was happy. I ate cookies. I drank beer. That night we danced and drank and we might have kept dancing. It was a great experience and I want to do another. Thank you all for donating and reading this and just being the best yous yous can be.

Go team.

Saturday, 1 day before race

Saturday was our last day to prepare for the triathlon. Dave Scott was a pioneer of the Ironman in the late 70s and 80s and spoke to us for about 1 hour. He gave us advice for open water swimming (since the water is clear, you can orient yourself by looking at the sky when you breath. Not sure how this helped, but I did and it worked. Might have been mental but I'm a smart guy...Our coach confirmed this helps but only because of the clear water in HI and not in the murky bay near San Francisco, which is weird to me because it seems to mean disorienting yourself down in the water and up to the heavens, but I'm a new triathlete and willing to give it up for Zeus and Poseidon if necessary). Anyway, he also kept talking about electrolyte drink this and electrolyte drink that and I thought, hmm, I wasn't planning to use a sports drink. My very carefully thought out plan was swim, wait 15 minutes into the bike ride, drink some water, eat a cliff bar, and take gus/sports chews every 30 minutes thereafter. He said we might want to rethink this as drinks have more sodium which we will need if we sweat a lot. Guilty. Food plan - out the window and mental note to buy an electrolyte drink.

After the talk, our team did a short swim/bike/run. During the swim, I passed over a sea turtle just hanging out over some corral. I slowed down a bit but kept swimming until I heard someone scream, "Turtle! Turtle!" as half the team gave up the swim and hovered over the turtle. We then rode our bikes out of the resort onto the highway, following the actual course. I was flying on the bike thinking I was just going to cruise through the 40 KM ride. I was behind a friend and when she turned all I heard was, "Holy f(#&*#(&ng sh@(*&$t!" which I thought was bizarre. I turned my bike and thought, "Holy f(#&*#(&ng sh@(*&$t!" I was flying with the wind. I was destroyed turning around into it. That's when I started getting nervous, 12 miles into a 30 mph wind? What was I doing?

We did a quick run, tire change clinic, rest, pasta dinner, and mental preparation for the race. This included buying a sports drink and rethinking my nutrition plan and promising myself "No water for at least 15 minutes after the swim" because your body has to adjust to be vertical again. If i drink before that, I get an upset stomach. You have to know your body and trust your nutrition plan. I mentally prepared myself to complete the swim, bike in the wind, and rock the run. I was nervous but ready.

Arrival in HI

We arrived in HI on Friday around noon. It was overcast but beautiful as traveled highway 19 to our hotel. The resort was huge and annoying and there were three ways to arrive at our hotel room: walk, train, or boat. As my friend said as we walked our bike to front lobby for about the 50th time, "How about a f@(*ng bike lane?" as 800 or more triathletes walked bikes back and forth. Maybe I'm not a resort guy.

I had a terrible $18 sandwich before a friend and I walked outside the resort, passed the pool then passed the other pool to sit by the ocean. We saw 2 whales breaching (a new word to me, breaching seems to mean whale jump) and walked into the water. I cut my foot in 3 places on the hard rock, which in retrospect might not have been a great idea. I just thought of the crazy tropical fungus I got in the middle of nowhere Honduras when I could hardly walk and thought, hmm, hopefully. not. Three of us rode our bikes to the store to buy basic supplies, mostly bread to eat before the race, some wheat thins, and of course beer and wine. We drank beer by the ocean and watched the sunset when I saw the first of 3 turtle sightings. There were two turtles just off the shore swimming around, one even flippered out (a term I just made up for when a turtle puts his flipper out of the water) then a turtle put his head out and looked around. A good sign. We biked back to our rooms and called it a day.

Monday, February 16, 2009

6 weeks and counting!

Hello fair readers,
Apologies again for a general failure to keep this updated. January was jam packed with activities, including completing my first sprint distance triathlon, swimming in the murky cold waters of the San Francisco Bay, and getting in better and better shape...until now. I was travelling for a couple weekends to a friend's wedding in Vegas (red 7!) and to see some friends back in Philadelphia. Somewhere along the way, I seem to have picked up some sort of respiratory infection which I am still working through and that has slowed me down a bit. Not to worry, I'm still on pace to complete fundraising at the end of the month and head to HI for the triathlon at the end of March! Fear not, I'm stubborn enough to make this happen even if I have to take a little break to get healthy.

More updates coming soon, I'm recommitted.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Body glide - why the sunscreen? 1 drop of knowledge

So my family and I were laughing about why a person would buy body glide with sunscreen. The glide is supposed to stop chafing but why would you need it in places where the sun do shine? Hmm, well, I think it has to do with the transitions. For example, we recently received our wetsuits and I glide all the far flung areas of the wet suit, like my calves and wrists and neck. Then after swimming when I bike, I take off the wetsuit (not like my helmet when I transition from biking to running) and those areas are exposed, but still all glided up. So the body glide stays and so does the sunscreen. Now you know.

Transitions or Bike helmets make running aerodynamic...

One thing that is important in a triathlon is transitions. You transition from the watery wonderland to a bike, stripping off swimming clothes and pulling seaweed out of your ears. You need to put on shoes, biking helmet, sunglasses, etc. After biking, you need to transition to running. A few weeks ago, we had our first transition clinic that involved biking to running, and our coach did a "look to your left, look to your right..." at least one of you will start running with your bike helmet on. "Fools" I thought.

As you may be able to see in this picture, this is me running holding my bike helmet after running with it on for 10 minutes before someone stopped me. "It's a very common mistake and easy to do for someone as focused as I am" I thought. If you look to your right and left and don't know who the fool is...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Update - January 13 2009

We just started increasing our training time and the difficulty of our workouts. It's going well, everything is coming along and this weekend we do our first swim in open water. That's right, the SF Bay is about to welcome Dylan Rivas into it's murky mysteries. I apologize for being very remiss in updating this but things have been busy. I'll get a few updates online in the next few days, but be confident I continue to work toward my goal and recently recommitted to the event.

Also I have nearly raised my and anticipate going over this amount. I humbly offer a giant thank you to everyone who has donated! I was legitimately worried about raising enough money but was and continue to be overwhelmed by your collective generosity especially in the current economic climate.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bone Marrow Typing and Registry

Here is some information if you want to help LLS patients and maybe save a life...


Every year, thousands of adults and children need bone marrow transplants — a procedure which may be their only chance for survival. Although some patients with leukemia or other cancers have a genetically matched family member who can donate, about 70 percent do not. These patients' lives depend on finding an unrelated individual with a compatible tissue type, often within their own ethnic group, who is willing to donate marrow for them.

As of January 2006 the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) has facilitated over 20,000 unrelated bone marrow transplants and the national Registry has over 6 million volunteer donors. There is a critical need for more volunteer donors. Many patients, especially people of color, cannot find a compatible donor among those on the Registry. Patients and donors must have matching tissue types, and these matches are most often found between people of the same racial and ethnic background. A large, ethnically diverse group of prospective donors will give more patients a chance for survival.

Bone marrow typing is now a simple and painless. It only requires a swab of the cells in your cheek to get the information they need.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Why donate #4

Because I went for a 70 minute bike ride in a pretty hard rain on Sunday to show my commitment. I learned I need some waterproof gloves. I also learned the value of the recommended sunglasses with exchangeable lenses. Riding in the rain with the clear lenses meant I didn't have to squint to see so my face didn't tense up which tenses your shoulders. And as we all know, your shoulders are connected to your (pause) back area and the back area is connected to the ... you get the ideas. Minimizing these types of things is good. Bravo to glasses with different lenses!

Then, to show my lack of commitment, I didn't do the promised award blog and here it is 2 days later and it still isn't done and I have thank you email to write and don't even get me started on the hand made thank you cards. I can't draw a person on a bicycle - it looks like an octopus inventing the wheel! "Egads, it's a wheel!" said the octopus. But what good is a wheel in the water? Silly octopus, should have invented the nuclear submarine.

Try drawing a person on a bicycle, it's not easy.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Donor sadness - reality

I just found out one of my generous donors has cancer. I believe it was in his kidney, which was removed, but has now spread to the other kidney. As you may know, as cancer spreads it can spread quickly. Although this is cancer, it is not one of the cancers LLS addresses. Regardless, he donated, he supported me, and as much as I can I support him. I would have supported him regardless as much as I can. Sometimes there really isn't much anyone can do in these situations or this life except hope for the best and be available when people need you.

I don't know many details or what his prognosis is, but I wish him the very best. I wish all my donors and all my family and friends and everyone the best, but him especially now. This is why we should all remember there are things that may not be affecting us right now but might, and work to make the world a better place while we have the strength and the resources to do so.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Commercial - Dylan's Donors Award Blog 2008

That's right sports fans, get ready for the 2008 Dylan's Donors Award Blog sponsored by Rivas Generation Donation Coordination and Thank You Committee (TM). The time will likely be some time Sunday although that could change due to a lack of creativity, an ambitious Saturday, or because I am doing a drunken ramble around San Francisco.

The 2008 awards show offers fun prizes, humor, intelligence, insight, and, if you donate by Saturday, December 13, you might (will) win an award!

Everyone is a winner when you play with me!
Go team.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Why donate #3

Because as I train for the Lavaman triathlon I think of things like, "You just have to lavaman who does triathlons." And it's flexible, watch:

"You just have to lavaman who exercises."
"You just have to lavaman who cooks."
"You just have to lavaman who updates this blog so often."

OK, I admit it's not really that flexible or I'm not really that creative. Good thing the internet isn't a person or it would think I'm a dork and steal my lunch money.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Training in San Francisco

Last weekend I did 2 runs and 2 bike rides through beautiful San Francisco and I thought it would be nice to share what I see with you as I train. I remembered my camera for today's bike ride and below are the results. Unfortunately, it was a little foggy this morning so I might have to post updates later. With this blog, I am trying to give you both what I see with my eyes and my mind. Don't get to close.

This is the swimming area near Fisherman's Wharf and where I will be training for open water swimming. There is a bleacher area if anyone wants to come out and cheer us on! I bike and run past here sometimes when I go from work or need a flat area.

This is farther along the same route near Chrissy Field. Chrissy Field is a long flat area to run or bike around and has great views of the Golden Gate, which is in the picture. I used Photo Shop to bring out the bridge below.

Here is what the picture above looks like without the fog magically lightened. Good thing I was in
Photography in high school for a year otherwise I might not know how to do fancy photo editing like this. It's an older version of Photo Shop I was using so it might still be a little rough... don't laugh, all supporters will receive hand drawn pictures of triathletes and it's not going to be any better than this!

Thank you part 1: Reality hits me

For the past few years, I have set aside a portion of my monthly salary to apply to causes I believe in. A magazine my sister introduced me to call Need has identified a number of causes I believe in and allowed me to find what I consider to be good organizations doing good, important work throughout the world. If I decide not to be actively involved in this area for work , I believe I should support it financially. Ideally, I would like to get to the point where I do both, and I believe at some point fairly soon I will.

On Saturday, we had an injury prevention/swimming/running clinic followed by a potluck for our honorees. Each team in Team In Training has around 7 honorees. Some of our honorees are survivors (including a triathlon team member - Go Team!), others are currently struggling with the various diseases (including two children under 8), and one is the father of one of our coaches who has, sadly, passed away. They showed a video of him from 5 different stages as his cancer progressed and if you haven't seen someone receiving chemotherapy in the last stages of cancer, believe me it's terrible. But that's why I'm doing this event.

Or rather, it's part of the reason I'm doing the event. I figured this was a good cause because, let's be honest, everyone knows cancer is bad. I also wanted to get in shape, meet some good people, and learn how to train my body. So far so good. What I had not anticipated was how disconnected I had actually become from the causes I was sponsoring, I was simply sending a check and moving on. This is fine and, let's be honest, necessary, especially with the economy doing what it's doing right now. However, it does not provide the emotional connection that hearing people tell their stories does. Besides watching the video, we heard from two survivors, one of whom is actually training with us. She was in the hospital for 2+ months, 2 years in and out of the hospital with side effects and complications, and is training for a triathlon. It has been 7 years since she left the hospital and she looks great. I knew all this, had read it before I joined the team, heard it from a friend who's sister went through this, but it wasn't real. Now, at least for a little while, it is.

I remember being in a remote area of Honduras and seeing first had what slash and burn/illegal foresting does to an area, how it destroys beauty. I have been donating periodically to an environmental group, but I rarely do so while thinking of those black dead hill sides in Honduras. I realize I need to constantly remind myself to remember. Maybe sometimes we all do.

I understand this is a long winded and winding way to get to where I'm going and I hope to send a more appropriately focused email thank you shortly, but I wanted to thank each and everyone of you who supported me for giving me this opportunity, for helping me learn and remember and realize. I wanted to thank everyone who cannot support me now for reading this blog. I want to thank everyone for being good people and doing what you can to make the world a better place. Ultimately though, I want and need to thank everyone for supporting me in this project, past projects, and maybe, hopefully, future projects (I'll be in touch...).

Go Team!

PS: Go Team! is the Team In Training motto, how we end trainings and say to each as we pass during our runs or rides. It's motivating and team building. I might not always work well with other children, but I do appreciate you all for being my team. Thanks.

What are Leukemia, Hodgkin, and other related cancers?

Leukemia, Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, myeloma and myelodysplastic syndromes are cancers that originate in the bone marrow or lymphatic tissues. They are considered to be related cancers because they involve the uncontrolled growth of cells with similar functions and origins. The diseases result from an acquired genetic injury to the DNA of a single cell, which becomes abnormal (malignant) and multiplies continuously. The accumulation of malignant cells interferes with the body's production of healthy blood cells.

The previous information is from the Society and there is more info at:

Friday, December 5, 2008

What is Lymphoma?

Lymphoma is a general term for a group of cancers that originate in the lymphatic system. The lymphomas are divided into two major categories: Hodgkin lymphoma and all other lymphomas, called non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). The prefix "lymph-" indicates their origin in the malignant change of a lymphocyte and the suffix "-oma" is derived from the Greek suffix denoting "tumor." About 53 percent of the blood cancers that occur each year are lymphoma. Hodgkin lymphoma was named for Thomas Hodgkin, an English physician who described several cases of the disease in 1832. Hodgkin lymphoma will represent about 11.1 percent of all lymphomas diagnosed in 2008.

About 74,340 Americans will be diagnosed with lymphoma in 2008. This figure includes approximately 8,220 new cases of Hodgkin lymphoma (4,400 males and 3,820 females), and 66,120 new cases of NHL (35,450 males and 30,670 females).
Lymphoma results when a lymphocyte (a type of white blood cell) undergoes a malignant change and begins to multiply, eventually crowding out healthy cells and creating tumors that enlarge the lymph nodes or other parts of the immune system.
Lymphoma generally starts in lymph nodes or collections of lymphatic tissue in organs like the stomach or intestines. It may involve the marrow and the blood in some cases. Lymphoma may spread from one site to other parts of the body. Lymphocytic leukemias originate and are most prominent in the marrow and spill over into the blood. They occasionally spread to involve the lymph nodes.

Lymphoma Causes and Risk Factors
The annual incidence of NHL has nearly doubled over the last 55 years. The reasons for this increase are not certain and there are probably multiple causes. The increase began before the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) within the population. Since the mid-1980s, the incidence of NHL in individuals infected with HIV has contributed modestly to the increase in lymphoma incidence. For those infected with HIV, the incidence of NHL is about 50 to 100 times the incidence rate expected in uninfected individuals.

Known risk factors explain only a small proportion of lymphoma cases. In specific geographic regions, infection with the Epstein-Barr virus is strongly associated with African Burkitt lymphoma in Africa. Epstein-Barr virus infection may play a role in the increased risk of NHL in persons with immune suppression as a result of organ transplantation and its therapy. The bacterium Helicobacter pylori causes stomach ulcers and is associated with the development of mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma.

Human T-cell lymphocytotropic virus (HTLV) is associated with a type of T-cell lymphoma in certain geographic regions in Southern Japan, the Caribbean, South America and Africa. About a dozen inherited syndromes can predispose individuals to later development of lymphoma. These inherited disorders are rare, but the concept of predisposition genes is under study to determine if they play a role in the sporadic occurrence of NHL in otherwise healthy individuals.
There is an apparent increase in NHL incidence in farming communities. Studies point to specific ingredients -- such as organochlorine, organophosphate and phenoxyacid compounds -- in herbicides and pesticides as being associated with lymphoma. However, the number of NHL cases caused by such exposures has not been defined.

Most cases of Hodgkin lymphoma occur in people who do not have any identifiable risk factors and most people with presumptive risk factors do not get the disease. The causes of Hodgkin lymphoma are uncertain. To illustrate: Many studies of environmental, especially occupational, linkages have been conducted with unclear results. Epstein-Barr virus has been associated with nearly half of cases. However, this virus has not been conclusively established as a cause of Hodgkin lymphoma. People infected with HTLV and HIV also have an increased probability of developing Hodgkin lymphoma. There are occasional cases of familial clustering, as with many cancers. There is an increased incidence of Hodgkin lymphoma in siblings of patients with the disease.

Lymphoma Incidence
In the United States, NHL is the fifth most common cancer among males and females. The age-adjusted incidence of NHL rose by nearly 79 percent from 1975-2005.
Age-specific incidence rates of NHL are 2.9/100,000 at ages 20-24 for males and 1.9/100,000 for females. By ages 60-64, they are 53.9/100,000 for males and 39.2/100,000 for females.
The incidence of Hodgkin lymphoma among people under 20 years of age was 0.9 per 100,000 people in 2005.

For information on the treatment of Hodgkin lymphoma and NHL, read online or order the publication, Lymphoma: A Guide for Patients and Caregivers. For more detailed information see the booklets, Hodgkin Lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma .

The previous information is from the Society and there is more info at:

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What this triathlon is teaching me

I'm a bad swimmer right now. I know that for a number of reasons, one of which is that I take in a lot of water when I (try to) breathe while swimming. However, this has given me the opportunity to learn that chlorine makes me gassy. Or something else in the pool water makes me gassy, and I really hope it isn't something yellow.


Below are highlights from an interview conducted with your local triathlete. The questions are pretty hard hitting but I did my best. This is part of an ongoing series:

Interviewer: Why did you choose a triathlon?
Me: I thought a triathlon would best allow me to utilize the multitude of my athletic abilities to achieve a higher plane as an athlete and as a person.
Interviewer: Very interesting. Why this triathlon?
Me: It's in Hawaii.
Interviewer: They do triathlons in San Francisco. You live in San Francisco. Why not do one of those?
Me: Those aren't in Hawaii, they are in San Franciso.
Interviewer: But you like San Francisco?
Me: Yes, but I'm afraid a sea lion will eat me during a triathlon in San Francisco. I am not worried about that in Hawaii.
Interviewer: But they have sharks in Hawaii.
Me: True, but sharks aren't attracted to me like sea lions. When I go to Pier 39 where the sea lions live, they jump off their rafts, swim to the dock, climb up the steps, and surround me like I'm a Jonas brother at a tween convention. They make barking sea lion noises and smell bad too and it's a stink you can't easily wash off, it just hangs around. Sort of like teen agers. Just barking and stinking and barking and surrounding me and barking some more, all the while the stinking. It's horrible. (a pause, almost slightly awkward) Have you ever been to a tween convention?
Interviewer: I'll ask the questions here thank you.
Me: You're welcome.
Interviewer: Have you ever considered doing a marathon?
Me: Yes.
Interviewer: They do marathons in San Francisco. You live in San Francisco. Why not do one of those.
Me: Too hilly. And you can't sit on the beach afterwards and drink beer out of coconuts. Or maybe I could, but it wouldn't be the same.
Interviewer (giggling a little): No, Hawaii and San Francisco are not the same. Where did you consider doing a marathon?
Me: Rome. Team In Training does a marathon in Rome and I almost did that. Picture it: Roma, 2009. Eating fresh pasta to carbo load before the event and wine after to relax. It starts and ends at the coliseum, running along the historic sites of Rome, and you actually pass through a second country - Vatican City. I hear you get to run through the Pope's secret hallway where the pope would escape the chattering class if the people of Vatican City ever revolted. And to keep the spirit of Old Rome alive, they have lions on the course the last 5 miles to motivate you, just like Gladiator. The last 5 miles of a marathon are called the death miles because your body is so tired. Or at least they are called that in Rome because you might get eaten by a lion.
Interviewer (almost offended): That's not true.
Me: Some of it is.
Interviewer: Not much of it.
Me: Maybe.
Interviewer: Why didn't you do the marathon instead of the triathlon?
Me: I would have had to raise even more money. If you think I'm annoying now, picture me with another $2,000 on that damned thermometer...

To be continued...

Commercial break - Beljum Budder

I can't speak for this product as highly as I can for Tiger Balm (when are they going to officially sponsor me? How shameless do I have to become? How much pride must I toss aside?) because I haven't used it, but it sounds great. This is the only product you will ever need for all natural, vegan approved chafing protection: http://www.beljumbudder.com/. And it's paraben free!

This product is a sponsor of Team In Training so I do imagine it's quite good. What really caught my eye was the description on the Community Friends of Team in Training webpage:
"Beljum Budder is a paraben-free professional quality chamois and skin lubricant that provides maximum protection from chafing and other friction related problems for endurance cyclist and runners. Our surprisingly light, yet highly effective formula contains a unique blend of botanicals, essential vitamins and other ingredients which have been specifically designed to address the lubrication needs of the long distance athlete while eliminating some of the harsh chemicals found in other balms. Beljum Budder contains no parabens, lanolin or petroleum. It's s fragrance-free and non-greasy. Beljum Budder contains absolutely no animal ingredients, by-products or derivatives and is considered vegan. The natural choice for chafing protection."

Rock on Beljum Budder. I was 9 words into the description when I read chamois and thought, oh, they make scarves. I don't know if a scarf is a chamois really, but it is in my head. It wasn't until word 11 that I realized what this was for. And I just bought Glide last weekend to stop chafing. Should have done my homework. And Beljum Budder is fragrance free, not like glide which makes you smell like a stinky sweaty triathlete!

Why donate #2

Why donate #2: I am a fountain of information, but like any fountain I can only be sustained by the continual rain of your donations. ugh. I can't believe I'm even posting that.

What is Leukemia?

Leukemia is a malignant disease (cancer) of the bone marrow and blood. It is characterized by the uncontrolled accumulation of blood cells. Leukemia is divided into four categories: myelogenous or lymphocytic, each of which can be acute or chronic. The terms myelogenous or lymphocytic denote the cell type involved. The are four major types of leukemia.
  1. Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)
  2. Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL)
  3. Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML)
  4. Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)

The terms lymphocytic or lymphoblastic indicate that the cancerous change takes place in a type of marrow cell that forms lymphocytes. The terms myelogenous or myeloid indicate that the cell change takes place in a type of marrow cell that normally goes on to form red cells, some types of white cells, and platelets.

Acute lymphocytic leukemia and acute myelogenous leukemia are each composed of blast cells, known as lymphoblasts or myeloblasts. Acute leukemias progress rapidly without treatment.

Chronic leukemias have few or no blast cells. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia and chronic myelogenous leukemia usually progress slowly compared to acute leukemias.

The previous information is from the Society and there is more info at:


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tiger balm and training follow up

One of the reasons I decided to pursue a team for my first triathlon was to ensure I trained in a healthy way and developed good habits. Although I played sports in high school, I never trained for an endurance event. Even in middle school when I ran the two mile in track, my daily workout consisted of me running exactly two miles and going home. Looking back, not much of a wonder why I always finished last. Plus I was fat.

Anyway, after a hard first 3 weeks of training I feel good. Although my body is generally tight, it's not generally sore. I stretch every morning and every evening, and before and after workouts. I can almost touch my ear to my pinky toe!

I am also usually hungry. This is, according to my coaches, expected as I convert lazy fat to lean hungry muscles. It happens constantly, even as I type this. That's why I am hungry again after eating about one hour ago. This week is a light week, still 5-6 days of training but shorter times, letting our bodies adjust and rest after the first three weeks. And a good time to catch up on our drinking...

The best news is I haven't needed Tiger Balm in over 10 days. That's good. My body is adjusting to the routine. Yesterday was our day off but I really wanted to run. I crave it in a way. To avoid injury, our coaches really stress using our days off to actually rest. So I did. I feel good and I'm running later with a friend. It's a beautiful 60 degree and we will run along the bay, throw rice-a-roni at the tourists, and play with the sea lions (they like to be tickled behind the ears- what mammal doesn't?). Should be fun.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Photos 11/30/2008

A few photos from our weekend training sessions, both included a swim and one included a bike and the other a run. This week was a hard one and included a hard swim, 2 bike rides, and 2 runs. Today's run was longer than our normal run for my level by 10 minutes and included instructions to maintain a 90 step / minute pace. That requires very short steps from me and really worked out the glutes - probably a good thing. The 90 / minute pace is something important because that is something you read about for biking cadence as well. More on that later.

Here are the photos.
On my bike, 2 weeks ago. Nice 65 degree day.

Swimming. Cold 50 degree day and thank goodness the water was heated! We ran after this for my first brick run (that's 2 events in one day for training, or I think that's the word). It felt good, but definitely harder than a normal run.

Swimming last week during the swimming stroke analysis. I know this is me because I'm not on top of the water, my legs are low, and yet somehow I I still look good...sort of.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What is the triathlon training turning me into? (Commercial Break)

According to my roommate, an 85 year old Asian woman. There might be a slight paraphrase in there, but only a slight one. Here it is: a few months ago I had an incredible headache at work and since I was being ornery and grumpy (me? really?), my boss told me to put something called Tiger Balm on my temples to soothe the pain. "oooh," said one of my coworkers, "That stuff is great."

At the time, I had never heard of tiger balm, but it sounded exotic and fun. I immediately had this image of a tiger rubbing down his calves after a rough wildebeast hunt and thought, hmm, interesting. My boss said it helps muscles relax and since he is a former superstar rugby player, I told him I would give it a try. And I did. And it helped (I was still grumpy though just because)...

Anyway, I use it now on my shoulders or on my calves when they are sore, sometimes on my lower back. My roommate says I smell like her grandmother, who is and amazingly always has been, an 85 year old Asian woman. So the triathlon is turning me into my roommates grandmother, only taller.

I like it though. Tiger balm gets a thumbs up. I imagine it's like Ben Gay or Icy Hot but I have never tried those. I now need to try "body glide," which stops blisters and chafing in places I don't want to blister or chafe. I already use little band aids when running distances so my nipples don't bleed (learned that the hard way, maybe I can body glide the nips?). I need to buy jammers (bathing suit that looks like compression shorts), triathlon shorts (jammers mixed with biking shorts you can also run in), and other stuff. More on tri gear in another post.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Basic information, financial info, etc.

I'll add more information about this in a bit, but the process for Team In Training is as follows:
  • All donations are 100% tax deductible and I can provide you with a receipt and all other information. The emailed thank you response from the online donation or a mailed thank you if you send a check is your official receipt. Official 501(c)(3) number is 13-5644916. I can assist you with this if necessary. Donations can be anonymous if you would like, but then I can't properly thank you. That last phrase might be redundant given the anonymous part. The Department of Redundancy Department made me add that last line.
  • Donations can be made online or via check. If you would like to send a check, please contact me and I will provide information on the whose and the wheres.
  • 75% of all donations support research. 25% supports administrative overhead and my involvement, including my coaches, bike clinics, nutrition clinics (What! I can't drink every day now?!?!), travel, etc.
  • I am personally donating 25% of the total I need to raise so you can be comfortable your entire donation is being used for research. If I end up with more than the minimum of $4,900, good.
  • If you work for a large company you might have a matching program. Let me know if you are interested and I can notify you if your company is involved in the match.
  • I am fully committed to participating in the triathlon unless I am injured. Our training is designed to ensure we continually improve our endurance over the 4 months of training at a controlled and healthy pace to minimize injuries. They also say this will improve my golf game so watch out!
  • I will try to update this blog and my TeamInTraining homepage at least weekly, hopefully more. I will include information on my progress, my thoughts on endurance events, and articles about triathlons I find interesting.
  • Still reading this list? I got nothing else. Email me or post a comment to this blog with questions and I'll respond.

Thanks for reading this.

Friday, November 14, 2008

What is my triathlon?

I am doing the Lavaman triathlon, information linked here. It is an Olympic distance triathlon, which means a 1.5 K swim, 40 KM bike ride, and 10 K run. For the Philistines who never bothered to learn the metric system, it's approximately a .9 mile swim, a 24 mile bike ride, and a 6 mile run. I can already do a 24 mile ride and 6 mile run, but probably not on the same day, so I do have something to build on.

If I do well, maybe I'll try out for the Olympics in a few years! No promises though. Also I believe Lance Armstrong, who most of us know as somewhat of a bicycle specialist, used to do triathlons. No promises that I'll be wearing a yellow jersey in the future but wonders do never cease.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Why donate - Reason 1

The first in an ongoing series I call: Why donate?
Reason #1: Dylan will not only send you a custom, hand made one-of-a-kind triathlon drawing, he will address your envelope and lick the stamp himself!

Failed donation letter v13

Haiku's, limericks, and acrostics! Just a bad idea all around.

Haiku 1

A triathlon
Together as one, three sports

Like lines in haiku

Haiku 2

Race starts with swimming
Biking follows to dry off
Running and running

Limerick 1
There once was a triathlete named me
Who triathleted the best he could be
Now that you're reading my blog
Don't just sit on a log
I'd like to get a few bucks from thee

Acrostic 1
D - Donate?
Y - Y not donate?
L - Lots of money
A - and it's tax deductible and for a great cause!
N - No reason to say no!

R - Rah rah rah!
I - I can't believe how great this is
V - Verily much better than TV!
A - and Dylan is such a wonderful guy
S - Swimming! Biking! Running!

Failed donation letter, v7

This attempt followed the legendary advice of (I think) Yogi Berra who said something like when you get to a fork in the road just take it.

Dear friends and family,

For the past few months, I have been debating taking my life in a few different directions. The most practical and likely of these were to return to school or do a triathlon. To digress just a little, one of my great weaknesses but also one of my fondest habits is retreating into myself and over analyzing minor details to the point of near madness. Yes, I'm fond of that about myself and I miss it when I stop doing it. I've analyzed why and...

Anyway, I ended up framing the great MBA vs. Tri debate as the "get smarter vs. get better looking" paradox. I called it a paradox because it sounds intelligent (like I have an MBA!) and sort of makes me feel like I'm in a Borges short story or like Kafka is going to come to me in a dream and tell me what to do. An MBA would (hopefully) make me smarter and finally allow me to fire up those dynamic cranial nuero-processors rattling around in my head for something useful, like making a lot of money, crushing the every man, and finally having a reason to vote republican. A triathlon would get me into great shape, healthy, and maybe rekindle a little of my competitive passion. To put in the parlance of our youth, it's the great debate to get paid or get laid, to climb the corporate ladder or run the stairs, to make people green with envy or green with desire? So many choices...

I lost it there but nobody thought this was appropriate or that I could keep going. You know, I spent a few hours thinking about that and I...

Failed donation letter, v5

This was the authors attempt at being human in his donation request, trying to connect with the common man as it were. Let's look in and see if it worked:

Dear friends and family,

and nothing came out. Go figure.

Failed donation letters, v1

This is the first version of my donation request letter, but people said it was a little too aggressive...

Friends and family,
Have you noticed we are in the midst of a global economic meltdown? Did your retirement savings shrivel up into a little ball and hide under your covers? Are you worried about paying medical bills and electing socialists? It could be worse, you could have cancer. Lots of people do, and I'm trying to help them... then I was going to provide data about people who do have cancer.

They were probably right, this would not have worked.


Welcome everyone to my triathlon blog! I know I already have a Team In Training donation site where I can post information and I have personal blog, but this blog is intended to be something different. There are many reasons I decided to do a triathlon, some obvious and others more personal. I figured I would try to explore those feelings in this blog as a sort of addendum to my actual training log. The information I post to the official Team In Training website will be more rah rah and updates on training, like how fast I can swim (not as fast as a sea turtle), how fast I can bike (faster than a land turtle), how fast I can run (not as fast as a turtle in it's shell rolling down a san fran hill)! vroom vroom! This blog will be different. Maybe not better, but different.