Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Excited to ride

This winter/spring has to be the best year I can remember for biking in Missouri. After crashing my way out of contention at Cyclocross nationals in January and sputtering through some bad equipment decisions and overtraining towards the end of cross season, I needed a break from riding. I don't think I've taken more than a few days off from riding except due to injury since maybe 2007. I even brought my old Surly to Baltimore and rode in the hotel room in 2008. But from the day after CX nats (Jan 8th) I pretty much just hung out at home on the weekend, mountain biked when the trails were good, and relaxed until around Valentines Day. Since then, I've been riding 'base miles' mostly early in the morning on the road bike, on the mountain bike with Green beans, or pretty early on the weekends with the new Walt's team. It's really nice to get my movement/meditation/exercise/breathing-time in early in the day. It leaves a lot more time for family, work, and house stuff.

I'm really excited to race mountain bikes this year. I'm slowly building up my engine and feel like at 6 out of 12 weeks of aerobic-base-building that it is going to be a good season. Every other year, I haven't really paid much attention to quality Zone 2 endurance riding. But these 18-20mph average 2-4hr rides are producing very positive results. I haven't really gone hard at all until this past sunday, when I did the first race of the Missouri East-side mountain bike series. Devin Clark pretty much embarrassed all of us and TT'd away at the second flat section (it was very impressive!). So I was left to race with a guy who came down from Peoria Illinois. He was fast and strong on the power sections and I was a bit more smooth in the singletrack and had a little more kick on the climbs. It was a good battle which concluded when I attacked on a little technical uphill section of singletrack, got a gap, and hammered it for 10minutes to the finish for 2nd place.

Matt James and his crew did an awesome job with the race. And it made me a little sad to see all my St Louis friends, mostly because I haven't seen them in so long and had to leave right after the race to get back.

Monday, March 5, 2012

March already!

We made it! February is over. Bring on the spring and man do I hope that last round of daycare-festered, viral-funkiness brought into our house was the last round of sickness until next flu season.

Any self-reflection that I've been doing recently has been significantly motivated by the desire to be better as a PhD student studying cancer biology and a more supportive family dude. With that said, I haven't felt the need to blog much about things related to cancer or bicycles. It isn't that those things aren't big factors in my life, I just haven't really felt like the much worth while information to convey.

In terms of my cancer, there's been no change since last my last trip to see the doctor last november. Despite spending about a month from mid-january until mid-february eating whatever, drinking a good amount of beer and wine, and generally not exercising much, I'm back to riding more now and my aerobic capacity seems top notch. I only mention that last part because, as you may or may not know, a large portion of the cancer cells remaining in my body reside in my lungs and are described from my last CT scan report as "innumerable tiny pulmonary nodules more numerous within the lower lobes". So I figure if I can go ride 3hrs at a brisk pace without any difficulty breathing, I'm probably doing OK. I go back to see the doctor the first week of May. The major hope in my treatment is to have stable, i.e. not growing, not shrinking, disease for as long as possible. At some point, it will progress. That's just the way cancer works...genetic instability is a fantastic lottery system for cells more able to resist growth inhibition, develop the potential to metastasize further, and survive in areas with poor blood supply. And genetic instability is perhaps the fundamental property of cancer cells. In my case, just so that everyone is clear, I take a medicine every single day when I wake-up that serves the purpose of providing growth inhibition for the type of cancer I have. That drug, is simply thyroid hormone, and is the reason why it is relatively good to have thyroid cancer. There's nothing particularly good about thyroid cancer without any form of treatment compared to some colon, breast, or many other cancers. But in the case of thyroid cancer, it is really simple to inhibit tumor cell growth, simply be providing large doses of thyroid hormone, that serves to inhibit the brain's production of TSH (thryoid stimulating hormone). So as long as my TSH is almost undetectable and the cancer cells in my body do not develop a mutation or other mechanism that allows for them to grow without TSH, I should have stable disease for awhile. Of course, 'awhile' is not easy too plan for when you have a family, care about helping people through your work, and generally just fear illness. Moreover, when I developed my vertebral metastasis, my TSH was perfectly suppressed, so the system isn't completely perfect.

Speaking of riding more, I'm on my 4th week of riding regularly again and am amazed at how crappy I felt the first week but how it seems to be coming back really quickly.

Ok, that's all for now. Gotta get to work.