Monday, October 25, 2010

PICX and Bubba #3

Sometimes it is good to race pissed-off.

Maggie and I decided to bail on Columbia for the homecoming madness this weekend and head to St Louis. I had been planning on racing all the bubba races, so had sunday's race number 3 on the schedule. But, last weekend I felt great on day 2 of racing so decided to head to Alton for the Pride Inc Cross race on Saturday. Maggie was also keen to race both days as she's just recently learned to dis-mount/mount her bike on the fly.

The Pride race was at a beautiful park that was set up pretty close to perfect for a cross race. Honestly, it would have been hard to set up the course poorly in such a nice park. The turnout for the A race was a meager:

But, it was still a chance to race, plus there was a perfect playground for Cassidy right next to the race course. The race went well. I sprinted off the line, got in front and stayed there for the rest of the relatively shortish race.

Sunday was bubba number 3. We got there super early to pre-ride and for Maggie to get a warm-up for her noon race (my race was at 3). After a lap of pre-riding my motivation plummeted as the course was bumpy with lots of straight-aways (my absolute weakness last year). The few things I can bank on, in terms of strengths, are barriers and hills. Turns are sometimes good, but I seem to fall a lot this are a definite double edge sword.

After a little nap in the car at around 1:45, I got suited up and started spinning around. My legs felt very stiff and sore. Somehow, I convinced myself to just ignore them and went to the line without many expectations.

The race wasn't as fast as I expected and I felt good in the lead group...knowing that the inevitable attack from Josh would be coming at some point. When it did, I warned my break-mates Jay and Jeff...oh man, I just lost my train of thought (we're watching this show on the food network where they're talking about bacon wrapped lambchops). Anyway, at some point after Josh joined the group, I attacked on the only thing resembling a hill on the course.

I held the lead for most of the lap, until a turn where, I hit a pothole that I knew was there and endoed over my bike, jamming my wrist and knee/shin. I layeded on the ground, stunned and in some serious pain, I thought I broke a bone. But, next thing I knew Josh was yelling at me to get up and catch back on.

As a BoCoMo resident, I'm privileged to know the positive competitive camaraderie that exists at all levels of Columbia cycling. Anyway, I couldn't have caught back on if Josh didn't yell and slow down for me. Jay and Jeff also slowed, but Josh pulled my sorry-butt back. I rode for awhile, unsure if my proximal fibula was broke or not. All I could think about was Aldon Smith and holding Josh's wheel.

At some point Josh and I broke away. The pace was high and we both attacked a few times, although I decided to hold off on the barriers until the last lap. I guess I stopped thinking about whether or not it was the right thing to do to attack the guy that lent a hand when I was face down in the muck. Whether that was the right thing to do or not, I layed it down coming through the barriers with 1/4 of a lap left, then got a gap and came across the line winning my first bubba race.

Today I woke up with my leg hurting enough to get an xray. Nothing is broken, but I've got mixed feelings about the racing and racing pissed-off.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The workings of my mind Part 2

My wife and I have been considering buying a house over the past month. In the context of being graduate students, this is a major decision.

The fact that 2010 has been chronicled on this blog in a way that is pretty close to my reality (trying to balance serious changes to my health, loving my family, and having a ton of fun riding/racing bicycles) serves as a kind of reality check. The fact of the matter in my life is quite painful when it comes down to it: in January, I went into a medical category that most people don't ever come back from, ie most people don't survive thyroid cancer metastatic to bones. Typically it indicates an aggressive form of disease that is or will be, non-responsive to treatment.

On a weekly basis, someone who I love and want to be honest with, asks me how I'm doing...mostly from the perspective of my thyroid cancer. I really hate being melo-dramatic and truly don't mean to write in such a manner...but I also attempt to use this form of self-expression (blog) as a way to cleanse my psyche. And also, to help people understand the situation that my wife and I are dealing with. With respect to the question, I never know how to answer because my feelings and thoughts about it are so complex.

The scrupulous answer, from the perspective of a 3rd year medical student, is that I feel like I don't have a full life ahead of me. I don't think I'll get to see Cassidy graduate high school or grow up. In the short-term, I often wonder if it is worth-it to even be in school. If my tumor marker continues to trend upwards, then I don't think I'll be living anything resembling my current life. In fact, I'll probably begin a novel chemo-therapy drug that may or may-not work. That drug, will almost certainly carry numerous and rather dramatic side effects ranging from nausea, to fatigue, to hypertension, and probably to the inhibition to new capillary formation (which wouldn't be so good for a cyclist). Alternatively, I'll have surgery number 4 on my neck, which won't be much fun. I guess the other alternative is that one of the best hospitals on earth (MD Anderson), botched my last blood test.

Why am I writing this now? Thursday night at almost 8pm? I don't know. Certainly not for sympathy for me. But, I also don't want people to assume that because we're trying to live a normal life that everything is a-okay. Ever hear the expression that 'fine' stands for; f'ed up, insecure, neurotic, and emotional? Well, in the fall of 2010, my family and I are just fucking fine.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Bubba #1 and #2

The first 2 bubba cross races in St Louis were this weekend, the first was a 10pm start on saturday and the second an afternoon on sunday. Right now it is monday at 8:20pm and I feel like I've been going non-stop since saturday.

What to say about the bike racing this weekend?

Overall, I felt really good and had a great time. I was definitely in the mix near the front for both races, but things didn't quite go as I would have hoped in the middle to end of each.

Saturday night, I was in a chase group going after an incredibly dominating performance by Schottler, who apparently was riding pain-free for the first time in forever. The course was flat and a bit roadie biased, so I was in the pain cave with what I still feel is limited fitness. However, with 3 to go, I started to wake-up a bit. There was a single section with multiple turns and I decided to attack there with 2 to go. To soon. Got caught, then bobbled. Got gapped, then finished 5th (I think).

Sunday had a big hill. I like hills. Plus, my legs felt great and I ended up in a good spot off the line. Things were going along quite nicely until half-way through the race when I must have hit a stick so my rear derailleur and hanger were forced to snap. Oh well. Butthead was fixin to dish-out a bunch of pain at that point, so I got a nice excuse to avoid said suffering. Hopefully next week.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

PTC part 3 and Cross out cancer

The thing I learned this weekend: cancer survivorship isn’t an honor. No matter what society, Nike, or others tell us about being strong ‘fighters’, we’re nothing compared to people like my friend Jason Brightfield; those who know they’re going to die, especially young. We’re also nothing compared to millions others who struggle against injustice be it political, social, sexual, gender-based, monetary, racial, or anything else. Cancer is often an injustice and may help grow us as people, but it doesn't intrinsically make us better people.

"Cancer" is a clonal population of cells that are no longer responsive to normal homeostatic controls from the organism at large. It isn't facing death. Cancer may cause one to face death....and the reaction to that experience of confronting one's mortality may in practice lead to making me or you a better person. But, what is the difference between me (got cancer, went to medical school, doing cancer research, etc), my grandpa who got cancer at an old-age and lived a long caring life, and Jason Brightfield who died in his mid-twenties from a childhood brain cancer (medulloblastoma for you medical geeks out there)? It isn't courage. It isn't how hard we fight. It is the time, circumstance, and nature of those cancer cells.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

PTC #2

The ride was awesome. The course got sketchy after mile 23-24-ish. But overall, it was a great time.

Bob Roll and CVV thought Team Seagal is amazing.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pedal the Cause

The last few posts on the blog have been about racing bikes. This post, is something that I hesitate to write, and even as I sit down to begin, I'll probably end up revising a few times over the weekend.

Ever since February of 2005, I've been walking around knowing that I have metastatic thyroid cancer in my neck and lungs. Since January, I've known it is in my vertebrae. When I applied to medical school in the summer of 2006, a decision which was significantly influenced by my cancer, I had to decide what I would talk about in my interviews and write in my personal statement. I'll never forget the advice I received from a family friend, that living through difficult, even horrible experiences, despite the stigma placed by society, is not a badge of honor. The advice I received was too let it influence me from the inside out. When I started this blog about 1.5years ago, it took me a long time to even write about thyroid cancer.

After last January, my life seemed on the line and my situation much more immediate. I tried to reach out. I basically begged livestrong to let me be involved (which still hasn't happened at all beyond sending me some goodies) and tried to seek out community organizations to help connect to others living with cancer. The opportunity to participate in Pedal the Cause came and after a few months of procrastinating, I admitted to myself that this was something I really truly believed in...down to my heart and soul. I signed up, raised money, volunteered to help in anyway that I could, and feel like I made a good contribution.

Friday night (the night I'm sitting down to write about this), was the kick-off celebration. Honestly, I left feeling quite depressed and I've spent a bunch of time reflecting about how and why.

I'm an idealist. I believe that scientific medical research leads to improvements in peoples lives. However, I begin to feel very uncomfortable when people start talking about a world without cancer. I don't know...can't we just work really hard and try to improve survival? Why does it have to be such a melodramatic goal?

Anyway, that isn't the reason I'm blogging. I think tonight, I felt really shut-out and bummed that I wasn't hanging out with all of my friends at Council Bluff.

Upon our arrival, I saw one of the organizers who I've gotten to know pretty well. Maggie, Cassidy, my mom, and I approached him and soon we found ourselves shooting the breeze with Mr and Mrs Vande Velde about spain, having kids, mud babies...etc. The night seemed like it was off to a great start, they were super nice and we were just having a good time. All of a sudden, Christian inquired about the the scar on my neck (a question that I've been directly asked maybe 5 times in the last 5 years). So, I told him the story..blah, blah, blah...Next thing we knew, he went off to sign autographs and me and the fam went off to walk around. A little while later, we were all called to dinner, so Maggie and Cassidy went to find a table and my mom and I went to grab food. It took awhile, but eventually we met up again at a table that had a little sign that said 'Vande Velde'. I was psyched, since they seemed like such nice people and I was eager to hear more about Spain, racing, etc.

People started filling up the tables around us and as soon as we started eating, we were told that the Vande Velde table was reserved for VIPs, so we had to find someplace else and unfortunately at that point, there wasn't room for 3 adults and a 2 year old at any of the tables. So, we ended up sitting outside on the curb, but still within earshot of the speakers that were beginning their speeches.

That is when the night took a turn for the worse.

Let's just say that one of the speakers really rubbed me the wrong way. I felt like the cancer story was like some kind of Dateline, made for TV event, only from a very in-articulate perspective. It honestly felt like the people that were asked to speak were just friends with the guy organizing the whole thing and didn't have much thoughtful to say. On top of that, they honored and mentioned only the teams that raised tons of money, which were almost exclusively teams with a ton of people on them. I guess it just felt as though it was more about image. The individual above the many. And to me, that isn't what events like this are supposed to be about. I wanted to feel like I was coming together with people, not getting ticked off.

It then felt like I was on the edge of the whole thing.

I don't know...I'm not sure how I feel about these kind of events. Hopefully the ride turns out better tomorrow, but right now, I'm tired and wish I was at Burnin.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Boss cross #1

I knew I was in for a hard race when I saw BH line up on the front (as opposed to the back of the pack at Bubba) of the 28-man field. This past week was the completion of week 3 back on the bike after surgery and a long break from training. My legs are starting to come back, so right now I'm focused on training and getting my attitude lined up. This was a 'training race' in the sense that I try to pick a specific aspect to focus on during the entire race and not let myself get caught up in anything except that goal. For Boss cross #1, the goal was to lay down a really hard effort during the last lap and hopefully pass/catch people. In order to do this, I needed to not burn my matches too early and race smart.

Here's a video of the barriers the last lap:

I grew a gap and managed to pass Bill Marshall the last lap, but couldn't quite catch Yielding. Who, you'll see I followed during the first lap here:

There was no way I could mix it up in the top 5 of this race, especially at this point in time...but as long as I can keep focused I see no reason why November/December shouldn't be different.

Here are the top 15:
1 7 CX 1-2-3-4 M 42 WINKLER Jeff Blue Springs MO Unattached
2 11 CX 1-2-3-4 M 34 JENSEN Brian Lawrence KS Unattached
3 14 CX 1-2-3-4 M 34 JOHNSON Joshua Columbia MO Michelob Ultra - Big Shark Rac
4 23 CX 1-2-3-4 M 25 SCHOTTLER Jonathan Columbia MO Columbia Bike Club Race Team
5 21 CX 1-2-3-4 M 50 PRICE Thomas Overland Park KS KCCX
6 8 CX 1-2-3-4 M 30 COE Andrew Mission KS SKC Racing
7 12 CX 1-2-3-4 M 40 STOLTE William Topeka KS TradeWind Energy / Trek Stores
8 4 CX 1-2-3-4 M 41 YIELDING Jeff Hermann MO Revolution Cycles
9 15 CX 1-2-3-4 M 31 MILLER Daniel Columbia MO Columbia Bike Club Race Team
10 2 CX 1-2-3-4 M 40 MARSHALL Bill
11 27 CX 1-2-3-4 M 27 COIL Nicholas Prairie Village KS TradeWind Energy / Trek Stores
12 16 CX 1-2-3-4 M 47 FROESE Ethan Columbia MO Columbia Bike Club Race Team
13 19 CX 1-2-3-4 M 18 LININGER Luke Greenwood MO Bicycle Shack Racing
14 22 CX 1-2-3-4 M 30 OGILVIE Scott St. Louis MO Dogfish Racing Team
15 9 CX 1-2-3-4 M 36 BAUGHER Matthew St. Joseph MO Epic Cycling Team