Trek Women
December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry_christmas_by_dimant_2 Merry Christmas everyone!  Hopefully, you have successfully made it through the day with its wrapping and trimming, some assembly required (isn't it always), insert 12 double-A batteries here, and joyous meltdowns from those who may have gotten up too early to see what Santa left.

At the Polo house, we spent the day in our pajamas with no obligations other than to play, play, play.  We enjoyed a pot of soup for dinner and now are packing up the suitcases for our trip to Colorado tomorrow where we will celebrate Christmas with my family.  No white Christmas here in Pennsylvania but it's been snowing all day in Colorado.  The kids can't wait.

As we continue our tradition of a week long Christmas celebration, I hope that you and yours enjoyed time with family and friends also.

-Jen

December 19, 2007

Because I Can

Scissorscomb2 Being on crutches this holiday season has been an interesting social experiment.  Some people are helpful and notice that I struggle to open doors while balancing on one foot.  Lots of little kids notice my cast and want to know what is wrong.  But, to be honest most people are completely oblivious.  I don't blame it on them not wanting to be helpful to someone in need but mostly their focus on their own stress and long to-do lists.

But, needing to rely on others (like those nice baristas at Starbucks who have been providing me some nice car side service with my coffee these past couple of weeks) has taught me some lessons this holiday season.

One of the things our family decided to do this year was to adopt a family for Christmas.  Back in November I volunteered one morning at a local food pantry.  I was assigned the job of helping families fill out "Adopt-A-Family" forms that would list needs for Christmas.  I was particularly taken with one woman with whom I spoke - she has 3 kids, one is a boy who is 7 years old.  I knew that would be something my kids could understand.  The other was that she reluctantly listed herself and wrote "haircut" as her wished for item.  I asked her if there was anything else she wanted and she said, "No, just a haircut - I haven't had one in two years."  I knew right away that we would adopt this family.  I haven't had a haircut in two years either.

Two years ago, when I was first declared in remission, my hair started to grow back.  I gained about 1/2" a month and felt that every month was a new hairstyle.  (Not to mention that my hair came back dark, thick and curly whereas it used to be blondish brown, fine and straight).  Losing my hair wasn't traumatic at the time but as it grew back, the thought of cutting it and styling it seemed perplexingly difficult. (Maybe it was that Dorothy Hamill bowl haircut I had as a child. . . ) Luckily, almost a year into growing back, I reached pony-tail stage which works perfect with my training/mom-athon lifestyle.  But, lately, my hair has been on my mind.  It is winter now and drying that much hair was getting a little tedious, not to mention the rat's nest texture the ends were starting to resemble. 

When I went out last week to finish shopping for our adopt-a-family, I was really struggling with the cast.  I stopped at a local salon to get a gift certificate for the mom, whose only wish was a haircut.  On a whim, I asked the stylist if she had time to cut my hair.  Shopping for someone who couldn't afford the cost of the haircut gave me the shove I needed to get back in the stylist chair.  I lost 3-4" of hair that day - six plus months of growing.  But, more than hair has been growing.  I have been growing too and I decided it was time to cut my hair - just because I can.

-Jen

December 14, 2007

Cloudy Skies, Clear Scans

Raindrop The winter storm that brought tons of ice to the Midwest this week, finally made its way to us yesterday.  The day started gray and cloudy, as has every day for the past week.  The boys were able to get on the bus without getting wet.  But soon after, right about the time I had to leave for a very full day, the icy pelting rain started.  We live right at a classic storm line, where this time of year you could get rain, ice, snow or some of all of it.  Yesterday was ice and rain.  Despite, the difficulties of walking on crutches during an icy rain storm, it was as good day.

Yesterday was scan news day.  I know, it's hard to believe that another three months has zipped by.  I don't even feel I got my full three months out of my three months.  I know that's a hard concept to understand but sometimes it just feels like the scan hits you and you were just there.  Luckily, all this business with my foot kept me distracted from my scan rage this time around.  It was only the few days before that I was really riled up. 

My oncologist knows that I don't like it when they beat around the bush.  When that happens I start getting suspicious.  We've always laughed when at the oncology office, doctors and nurses ask you "How are you?"  My answer is always, "I don't know.  You tell me how I am." Well, yesterday I was just fine.  Better than fine.  My oncologist walked in and said "Lymphoma?  What lymphoma?"  No glowing blobs, spots or specks.  A completely clear scan.  Merry, Merry Christmas to me.

Now, we just have to do something about this cast. . . .

-Jen

December 10, 2007

The Glass is Half Full

Img_1754 It's been a few months now and I guess that it's time to unleash my full potential on you all out there.  And by that, I mean my full potential for freakishness.  So, while last year I spent my birthday sitting in the chemo ward, this year I thought I would change it up a bit.  No oncology for me this year.  I went big time this year.  Podiatry.  Yes, I spent my birthday getting my left foot and leg up to my knee casted.  Apparently I have two tendons that stubbornly need a month's vacation in the walking department.  Luckily, my podiatrist happens to understand my athletic bent and we agreed that to prevent chronic nagging injury this was the best way to go.

So, for your laughing pleasure, I now present: "Tales from the Cast"

Day 1:  Thought about getting a red and white striped cast to look like a candy cane for the season but ended up going with a glow-in-the dark cast.  It is perfect as a night light when I hop to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  I am also working on my spooky voice with the kids  "Ah, ah, ah. . .mommy's foot is coming to get you . . . ."

Day 2:  Sore butt - from having to slide down my fairly steep stairs to get downstairs each morning.  Also, Jeff's office holds a holiday party and Jeff, a TOTAL non-dancer, thinks it's funny this year to ask me to dance.

Day 3:  Christmas shopping at Target.  I have to get one of those little motorized scooter carts - I can't shop for anything over 3 feet off the ground.  I have one little "fender-bender" in the kids toy department.  No one was hurt - luckily the cart I ran into was plastic - and they didn't take away the scooter.  This was so stressful that I needed a cup of coffee after we paid.  Jeff went to get the car and I had to give up the scooter.  Hot coffee - woman who needs to hands to operate crutches - AAGGHHH.

Day 4:  Chafing - should have used Body Glide where the crutches fit under my arms.  I stand, like a true addict, gulping coffee in my laundry room (the counter location of my coffee pot) because when I tried to hop back to the kitchen with the cup of coffee - well, I lost a lot from the cup quickly.

There is a bright side to all of this.    Right now this is the off-season and come January I will be working my way back into form.  Given what I went through last off-season, having to rehab my foot back for biking and running seems easy.  I will still maintain workouts with upper body and core work.  I am also contemplating how I could mount my bike cleat onto the bottom of my cast and ride on an indoor trainer.   

Sometimes you have to just laugh.  Sometime you have to cry - I get that too.  But, I try to laugh more than I cry and I try to find the outlook that show me the glass is half full.  These days, for me, this is both literally and figuratively true - at least when it comes to my coffee cup.

-Jen

December 6, 2007

Happy Chemo-versary

Cake_2 365 days.  That's the time that has passed since I sat in the oncology department and started chemo again.  It's my chemo-versary.  Today is also my 33rd birthday.  Last year I sat attached to an IV pole and had a "surprise" party when my oncologist brought me a piece of birthday cake and sang to me.  It was chemo with a personal touch.  The funny part was thinking about how surprised some other doctor/nurse or oncology personnel was going to be when they found a piece of their birthday cake missing because my doctor had swiped it.  Not so funny was thinking about whether or not I should eat the cake because I knew I didn't want to see it again later on the swells of chemo-induced nausea.   

We mark dates in our lives as important for a variety of reasons.  Some, like birthdays, are identifiable to all.  Other dates are less recognizable to the masses.  For me, I will always know when my cancer was diagnosed with certainty - May 2, 2005.  I will always know when the first chemo IV made ready for battle with my body - June 23, 2005.  First remission - November 1, 2005.  Relapse - September 26, 2006.  Second "first round" of chemo - December 6, 2006.  These aren't dates remembered by even those closest to me.  I don't mind they can't remember.  Some would argue that to "get past" cancer, I should just try to forget.  I don't mind remembering - these dates mark  the passage of time and how far I have come.  Who wouldn't remember the date their world was cleaved into parts that in the future could best be described as "the time before" and "the time after"?

Having a chemoversary tied to my birthday isn't such a bad thing after all.  Each year I celebrate being older is a year I can commemorate distance from chemo and that life rolls on as a survivor.  So, raise a glass and have a piece of cake with me.  Let's see what 33 brings. . .

-Jen

December 5, 2007

It's Like Asking for Socks (Part 2)

So, yesterday we covered a few of those items on my personal triathlete wish list for the holidays.  I promised that today we will cover gift ideas for the new triathlete.  I know that since I have convinced a lot of you out there to give triathlon a try in 2008 with me (hint, hint - I told you I wouldn't let it go), you are gonna need to know what gifts to leave subtle, or not so subtle, hints for your family.

Bikewithbow A new Trek bike - Does anyone remember getting a bike as a Christmas gift as a kid?  Mine was used and brown but it had ten speeds and that was all I cared about.  The excitement of a red bow on a bike with your name on it isn't just for kids. Trek_crit_short

Proper biking apparel - Never thought I would come to love a pair of stretchy, padded shorts or a jersey with pockets in back.  Your family may not understand it, but I know you will.  As a kid you may not have loved getting clothes for Christmas but now it's a joy.  Trek Criterium shorts are a fave of mine - I can ride in comfort forever.

Timex_hrm Timex Heart Rate Monitor - I know, you're thinking "what would I do with that?"  What an amazing tool to help you monitor how hard (or sometimes too easy) you are working when training.  This will become an indispensable tool for you. It can be used swimming, biking and running.  It is stylish, easy to set up and use.  For iPod lovers, Timex also has the iControl with iPod controls right on the watch face.

Swimsuit/goggles/caps - I know that the swim portion of a triathlon is nerve wracking to many.  Don't worry, in the new year you will have time to practice in the pool as long as you have the right equipment.

Running_shoes Running shoes - Never underestimate what an actual, well fit running shoe can do for your feet.  When I started running in order to train for my first triathlon, I thought I was wearing a running shoe.  I clunked around in a sneaker for awhile and then got fit for an actual running shoe.  What a difference.  It's important to have a good running shoe store fit you, so a gift certificate for the local running shoe store will make a great gift.

Products_shoeid_lgThe RoadID - I always like to have some ID on me when I am out biking or running.  Problem was I was constantly playing a shuffle game with my Driver's license.  I'm not sure if the excuse, "Sorry officer, my license is with my bike bag" would fly.  This great tool lets you add your name and contact numbers engraved on an ID attached to a velcro strap that fits on your biking or running shoes.

Gift Certificates - Always a perfect gift for the couch-potato family members to give the biking/triathlete minded person.  Visit the Trek website to find the local Trek bike shop near you or to shop for additional gifts to add to your wishlist and to find which bike a red bow will look best on in yourSocks4 house!

And last but not least, because as you know I am a fan - SOCKS!!!  Cotton is a no-no. You're gonna want  a variety of socks for biking and running that will wick moisture away from your feet and will help you avoid blisters.   

These are just a few of the many, many gift ideas for the budding triathlete.  If you need additional ideas or want to direct your family to my blog for additional shopping help, I'm here for you.  Leave your thoughts in the comments and I will respond to you there.  Happy Shopping!

-Jen

December 4, 2007

It's Like Asking for Socks (Part 1)

Well, now that it is December and every online company is blaring its "last ordering dates for Christmas delivery" at me, I'm willing to talk holiday shopping.

First, let me say that one of my favorite things in the whole world is comfortable, warm, fuzzy socks.  I have never gotten the slipper thing down - they're upstairs, I'm down, you know how it goes.  But, nothing makes me feel more relaxed and warm in the winter than having a nice pair of cozy socks on.  Now, try putting socks on a Christmas list for your family.  It's a no-go for them.  People just don't like to give socks as a gift - no matter how much you like them.  People like to give something they themselves would love to receive.  There are really no other sock lovers in my family.  I like to think this makes me unique (Jeff's pronunciation is 'freak').  My point is that there are no other triathlete unique/freak's in my family.  So, it makes it difficult for anyone to know or understand what a triathlete might want for the holiday.  Enter THE LIST.  Now, I know a list doesn't invite spontaneity but, c'mon now you might have a fighting chance on arming yourself with the latest and coolest tri gear.

So here are a few ideas taken right from my very own holiday list:

Body_glideBody Glide - Can't get enough of it.  Chafing be gone - my thighs and sport-bra lines will write you a customized thank-you!  [Available at most running stores, sporting goods stores and online]

Fuel Belt  - Will help me carry my water with me as I work on longer runs.Fuel_belt_2  This will  avoid those awkward conversations when I have asked friends to leave bottles of water in their mailboxes for me. [Available at FuelBelt.com]

Zinn_2 Zinn and the Art of Triathlon Bikes: Aerodynamics, Bike Fit, Speed Tuning, and Maintenance by Lennard Zinn- it's about time that I got serious about bike care and maintenance - those bike shop gurus won't be there at every turn or at every race - darn! [Also available for Road Bikes and Mountain Bikes]

Wetsuit - the mother load of a gift.  I've finally decided to conquer the wetsuit instead Wetsuitof just praying for warm water temps on race day. Wetsuit sizing and comfort vary for everyone - you may want to ask for a gift certificate or find a store with a good return policy if the fit isn't quite right. [TriSports.com carries a variety of manufacturers.  ProMotion westuit is my personal pick, as seen here.]

Profileaerobottle

Aero bottle/holder - A nice addition to my Equinox that will fit between the aero bars for hydrating on long rides and races. [Available at most bike shops]

TransitiongbagTri bag (aka a transition bag) - I've seen some crazy ways to transport gear from the car to the transition area (can you say wicker basket?)  These triathlon specific transition bags give you a place for everything - helmet, wet stuff, food, etc. . . A good bag will ensure that you have everything you need for race morning.  It's time for me to stop pretending that my brothers old high school backpack is a transition bag [Many choices online at TriSports.com or other online retailers]

Tomorrow, I'll cover more great gift ideas, with thoughts on gift ideas for the new triathlete who is committing to training for their first race in 2008.  If you have ideas to share from your own personal wish lists, be sure to let me know so I can share them.

-Jen