Sunday, February 22, 2009

4 Amazing days.

I just got back from my trip and had such a great time I am going to wow all you readers by blogging again just 4 days later. I could go on and on about how much fun I had and how great it was but I will try and pick my favorite moments so you don't feel like you are reading a novel.

First and most importantly, the people on the ride. You get a bunch of wounded vets together and there is an instant connection. I met new wounded vets, re- connected with ones from a few years ago and was overly impressed by the attitudes and determination of them all. The ride was dedicated to the wife of a SGT Hart who was KIA in Iraq. She was along for the ride and to have her there with us made it that much more special. With her company, the number of other vets, all the people who make the event happen (Woody, Sean, Jb to name a few) and my incredibly awesome roommate and Sadlers companion, Susan Katz, I had a fantastic trip.

We started out in Santa Barbara where I met up with my CTS coach, Mike Durner and another rider Saul. I could write a whole new blog entry on Saul but to avoid another novel I am just going to pass along his website and urge you all to take a look at it. He is incredible.
Mike, Saul and I spent the first day up in Buellton, CA where we did a 24 mile ride and then met with some of the other CTS coaches and riders. CTS was hosting a camp and a number of riders had gone out to ride for the week in Buellton. We then drove back to Santa Barbara where we met up with Soldier Ride. Coach Mike and Saul both joined us for the full Soldier Ride.

On Thurs we rode around Santa Barbara for about 15 miles and cut the ride short so we could drive up and see the ending of stage 5 of the Tour de CA. I have never been to a professional cycling race and the anticipation of waiting for the peleton to whoosh by at 40mph is exhilirating. It goes by in an instant but what an instant it was. After the race we got a meet and greet with Team Astana which is Lance Armstrong's team. We didn't meet Lance but we got to hold his bike and meet some of his teammates. A great, nice in a lifetime experience and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Fri was my favorite day. The night before we rode the bus down to Santa Monica and put up in a hotel right by the Santa Monica pier. In the morning we rode on the paved beach path right along the water, through Venice beach, in the gorgeous CA weather. The police escorts allowed us to set the pace and Katz and I were up in the front pushing ourselves to go faster. After the 20 mile ride, Coach Mike, Katz and I continued a but further and did some interval work that was VERY tough. 1 min on, 30 sec off 8 times. It was tough but Katz and I encouraged eachother and were motivated by the scenery and did great although Mike kicked my butt. A great workout it was.

We got to enjoy some of the Santa Monica nightlife that evening and got to meet the one armed Def Leppard drummer, Rick Allen. It was slightly embarrassing as I overheard him mentioning to someone he played the drums. So I turn to him and say, "Oh, you play music?" And he says, "Yes, I play for a small group know as Def Leppard". Yes, embarrassing it was. But he and his wife were extremely nice and supportive to join us for the evening.

Yesterday we started out at Balboa Navy hospital and took the ferry over to Coronado for a ride around the island. A teammate from the Greatest Relay team ever, Malcom, joined us for a bit and I was honored that he came. Thanks Malcom!
We ended the ride last night with a dinner hosted by some retired FDNY personnel. Always a pleasure to be in their company and they spoiled us with bagpipes, lots of food and free fat tire beer. Can't get much better than that.

Katz and I both had an early flight this AM so after a short 4 hour 'nap' we headed to the airport. I, of course, slept the whole way home.

One other piece of exciting news is that Woody, the head of Soldier Ride, is allowing me to borrow a hand cycle from now through Alaska. I have one already but it is much older and after riding this new one all weekend I realized how great it was. So he was generous enough to let me bring it back to Chicago with me and it's already set up and ready to go on my trainer.

I was worried about being gone from home for 4 whole days but as suspected, they went by fast. I was honored to be surrounded by the other riders there and can honestly say it was the best SR I have ever been on. Not to mention almost 80 miles of good training for Alaska.

I am now home for only a few days and I head down to Jacksonville, FL for the WWP board meeting. More warm weather. Yeah!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Soldier Ride!

I am currently sitting in the LAX airport waiting for my flight to take me out to Santa Barbara for the beginning of Soldier Ride. This is my first time out of Chicago in over a month which may be a record and I wasn't a fan of saying bye to Dick early this morning for 4 whole nights. But now that I am in LA, I am more and more excited for the next few days. When I get to Santa Barbara I am meeting up with my CTS coach Mike and I think I'll be meeting a few other CTS folks as well. Mike is going to take me on a ride and then we will meet up with the Soldier Ride crew tonight. I am pumped to see my Sadlers buddy, Susan Katz among may others. Tomorrow the ride will start and we will make our way down the coast to San Diego. I am riding only an arm bike this time as part of my Sadlers training. I didn't even bring my clip in shoe to avoid any desire to ride a normal bike. It is about 25 miles a day and then we drive the rest but we have multiple events to raise awareness for wounded vets. It never fails to be a great time.

Since I've written last there have been a few exciting things along the way. First, I have officially started my residency. It will be a 15 month one opposed to the usual 12 month one to allow me to do things like Soldier Ride and other events I have planned. I am really enjoying it so far and am glad Scheck and Siress is willing to be so flexible with me. I really enjoy the patient contact and the more I learn and remember in the lab the more fun it is.

It was Dick and I's 6 year anniversary this past weekend. 6 years, I can't believe it. We went up to Lake Geneva, WI to a B&B for the night and it was fantastic. It's so strange to look back and see how far we've come and how much has happened since that trip to Vegas in 2003. I am so lucky to have such a supportive and loving husband to spend the rest of my life with.

The training hasn't let up. I have decided that if I have to do anything over a 1.5hr ride it's best to get up early and do it before work. So last week I was up before 5am two days in a row and on the bike. it's nice to have it done but I am so exhausted by the evening that I'm ready for bed as soon as I walk in the door. As far as swimming, I did 100 x 100's for the second time in my life last Sun. My plan was to swim about 5,000 but I started doing 100's and then kept going. It got tough on #80, physically and mentally but I was so close I had to make it to 100. It was difficult to do on my own and was supposed to wake up early that AM and do it with a team but it was on a Sun so I slept in. Of course. I was proud of myself to finish them on my own.

I've been to a few speaking engagements, one at Oswego high school were I got to speak to the swim and dive team as well which was fun. They could relate with all the swimming so I got to talk swim times with those that understood them. I enjoyed myself.

I'm going to get some lunch before I head to my flight. Hopefully next time I'll have some fun Soldier Ride stories to share.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Motivated by chocolate.

Well, it's that time again. Time for another update.

I have officially started my residency and it's great. It keep me busy, real busy in fact, but I love it. I feel productive, I enjoy learning more about prosthetics, I love the patient contact and I love my co- workers... it is just great. It's been working out well with the part time. I am able to get my workouts in and still work a good amount. Last week it was about 35 work hours so more than part time which is good. My goal is to finish my 2000 hours and take the board exams next summer, 2010. So I need to work more than part time to do that especially since I will be gone for a few weeks in there.

I have turned 29 since I last wrote and it was a good day. Dick had a test on Monday so I thought he would be studying all day. He surprised me with taking the day off of studying and spending the whole day with me starting with a 0 degree sunrise on Lake Michigan. He had a whole day of plans ending with the now infamous Chocolatefest. Chocolatefest is exactly as it sounds and was absolutely wonderful. 200 people, 200 pounds of chocolate, 50 pounds of butter, and 30 of heavy cream made any and every type of chocolate dessert you could imagine. Now take that amount and multiply it, By three. That was the glorious amount of chocolate that was there and what a way to celebrate a birthday. It was sooo tasty. It was a well worth the 5 pound weight gain. The picture on your right is 1 of the 10 tables filled with chocolate.

At Chocolatefest I ran into a friend who just broke the above the knee amputee marathon world record by 40 minutes. Yes, 4-0. Impressive to say the least.
She gave me some motivation and on Monday I got on the treadmill and ran for 30 min and actually ran 2.1 miles. When I say run, I mean run a few min, walk one, run a few, walk one, etc.. But I was so so pumped about it. Hard, yes. Sweaty, yes. But the out of the pool sweaty feeling that I've missed was there and that was great. I have run 2 more times since then and am progressively getting faster. Just a little bit, but today I ran 2.19 miles in 30 min so that's progress. Little be little right...

I have been on the armbike quite a bit as well. The intensity is only going up and it's getting harder. Since I'm working now I have to do some of my workouts after work and that makes it more difficult as well. But I'm sure the last day or two in Alaska will be pretty tough too, so that's OK.

I think that's about it for now. This week I'm going to speak at a high school assembly and to there swim team. Then this weekend it;s Dick and I's 6 year anniversary. 6 years since we took the ride in that helicopter. Seems like it was only yesterday.

Until next week, have a good one.