Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Training for and a preview of Vermont 100 mile run

Theresa, Randy, Me and Tristan: With my previous pacer from 2008: Randy, and this years pacer (unbeknownst to me) his wife Theresa and Tristan prior to the VT100 miler last year. I am really looking forward to running with Theresa and know we will have lots of fun during our 20 mile journey together. She will be pacing me from Camp 10 Bear to Bill's. This will be from about 10 p.m. Saturday to 5 a.m. the next day.

Here I am at the top of one of the numerous hills with several other runners. To get to the top of this hill we had to climb pretty hard up this grassy trail. It was a pretty significant slope to get up, luckily our descent on the other side was a bit more gradual. At this point during the race (probably about 3 p.m. or so), I was running with my friend Rob Apple (who is just a super nice person and a great ultra-marathoner). We spent about 45 or so miles on the course together and he really helped me alot and was a wonderful mentor!

Here I am at the beginning of the VT100 last year. I would guess it was about 6-7 a.m. or so. You will notice I ended up wearing my headlamp around my wrist. I ended up with a less bright flashlight with me so found this set up helped in the first few miles of the course. My recollection is the first 10 miles or so have a considerable amount of single track interspersed with rickety jeep road. This year I will have a "real" flashlight and headlamp and will intend to simply drop them at the first aid station/drop bag site.

Towards the end of the race, I acquired Tristan as a pacer. He took this picture of my feeble attempt at running. You will notice that neither of my feet are really off the ground (thus by ultra-running standards Tristan fails at taking a good picture!)

This was at the Taftsville Covered bridge. It was raining pretty hard (rainstorm number one of three that were pretty hard throughout the day on Saturday). But I will admit this rain storm was a refreshing break although it did make for some wet feet. Luckily my Drymax Socks kept my feet from blistering much at all.
Later storms in the day included lightening, thunder, hail, and significant wind, but this storm just had pretty hard rain.

I have been trying to train for VT100 mile pretty unsuccessfully since late April. That is when my mom became ill, passed away then Gilligan was diagnosed with cancer. But I am starting to get back on track with a bit of cramming and lots of eating (well if you consider powering down Bruster's Ice Cream eating:-)
This past weekend I walked on the treadmill on a 15% incline for about 2 hours and spent a bit of time in the Sauna (as well as about 20 or so minutes swimming) and Monday included a 10 mile run that was pretty fast by my standards (9-10 minute miles I would guess).

Fourth of July will be my last high mileage weekend in which I hope to have at least 2 solid days of running including a day trip to Sugarloaf Mountain. I also will start assembling my running stuff in preparation for our 5 day trip to VT as well as creating my drop bags. I have a nice EXCEL spreadsheet that will assist me in this and think I have Tristan in agreement to see me at mile ~55 (Margaritaville). It would be nice to see him earlier in the course but worry that this might create difficulties in ensuring he is at the one place I want to see him.

I have picked Margaritaville because then no matter how long it takes me to arrive, Tristan will be entertained by the aid station and should enjoy the music as he is a closet parrothead.

Monday, June 29, 2009

You Shuffle Your Feet, You Lose Your Seat...

"You shuffle your feet, you lose your seat" is a favorite phrase we attribute to our oldest cat Zaboo.  This is because he invariable steals our seat when either one of us gets up from a chair or the couch.  He is a habitual offender.  We occasionally pay him back by stealing his seat when he gets up, but I just don't think he gets it.

Well, this phrase now applies to the entire critter family.  Last night Gilligan put himself to be about 6 p.m. (what is he a grandparent??) then Boo pretty quickly made a beeline for the bed and took up residence on Tristan's side of the bed (or should I say Boo's side of the bed?).  I am aware of the timing because I was upstairs working on cleaning clothing (I would suggest folding laundry but if you take a glance at Tristan's guest blogpost pictures you will observe that "folding" is probably too strong a word).

About 7:00 Puffy hops into bed and somehow jettisons Boo from the pillow (right as the first episode of the Simpsons came on).  Finally Sagwa climbs into bed about 8:30 (right as the second Simpsons was ending).  Boo also returns to the bed but elects to simply take my over my pillow.  I am tired and ready for bed.  But there is no place on the bed for me.  Unless I become rubberlady, I cannot contort myself around the various creatures.  

Because Sagwa is the sweetest and most likely to snuggle, I lift her up and take up a tiny handkerchief sized portion of the bed.  This works out okay until Gilligan starts backing up onto the small bit of real estate I had claimed for myself and Sagwa.  At some point overnight I move to the other side of the bed ("Tristan's" side) by displacing Boo.  I don't think this pleases him but I have thrown caution in the wind.  I pay the mortgage, utilities, for kibble (well okay, Tristan and I pay for these things but for effect I pretend it is just I), thus I deserve a portion of the bed.

Well, all this accomplishes is to have Puffie and Gilligan to double team me again by creeping over to my new side.  I feel slightly vindicated (but slightly bad) when about 2 a.m. Gilligan seems to fall off the side of the bed.  At this point I reposition myself and defend my turf for about 2 minutes.

Then I think to pay me back, Gilligan decides to hold fartfest 2009.  Seriously about every 10 minutes he would let one rip.  And they were stinky!!!  I feel he was trying to get me to cave but I sort of kept control of my side of the bed.  

I have my sister, a small van and lots of month long camping trips in this van with my mom and dad to thank for my ability to defend my turf.  My parents positioned our sleeping arrangement such that my head was on the wheel well and my sister was parallel to the back seat (after the seat, my parents had a raised platform complete with a mattress).  This means as we grew taller our feet started touching (about 8-10 years of age).  By the time we were 12 or 13 it was all out war over feet positioning.  If you showed any sign of weakness to my sister, you would have no feet room the entire night! 

I better get to bed or I will lose my coveted spot.  So far tonight I may be the first one heading upstairs (ha ha chumps!)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

1 Massie back in Md and 1 Massie out and finally a bit of good news

Tristan and I apparently refuse to be in the same state for more than a few minutes this month.  On Saturday morning my flight arrived from San Diego at Washington Dulles about 5:30 a.m.  At about the same time Tristan was getting on a plane to Washington State for a mountaineering expedition.

Of course Tristan left me a nice treat to remind me of him this morning...an alarm clock going off at 3 a.m.!!!!  He is very lucky he was in WA because seriously if he was closer I would have run to where he was and strangled him or beat him silly (if he is lucky I will have forgotten this in the next week or so!).

Tristan also left the dog in a very bizarre outfit.  Apparently Gilligan (or Tristan) wants to be preppy.  So Gilligan was in an old cable knit sweater when I arrived home.  And it was nicely knotted around his neck.  All Gilligan needed was a pair of loafers and a pair of khakis and he could have been on the cover of GQ.

As per a brief telephone conversation, this stylin look was to protect Gilligan's neck wound.  Perhaps this was the case before Tristan left, but by the time I got home it was in a bit of disarray and definitely not covering his neck wound.  In fact I would suggest by the time I arrived home, Gilligan looked like a retired pole dancer (and a not very good one at that).

Gilligan is now wearing a turquoise blue t-shirt which accentuates his brown eyes (as per Cosmopolitan Magazine) as well as his smurf shorts.   Tristan objected to this outfit because it was too feminine for Gilligan, but Tristan is not here, is he??

During the same brief conversation Tristan mentioned my dermatologist called and my biopsy was negative...WAHOO!!!  This is even better considering I had become "lobster face" at San Diego.  I went out for several long runs and really struggled with sunscreen staying on (and boy is the sun bright there!).  If sunscreen gets in my eyes and burns, I tend to wash it right  off.  And I hate hats!  Suffice it to say, if I had to go for a follow up appointment the dermatologist was not going to be pleased at how red my face was/is.  On a positive note, I am completely embracing the monochrome pink look!

Finally Tristan was able to say he is getting guided on Mount Rainier by two folks who have summitted Everest.  This made Tristan really excited.  One gentleman is a Sherpa that has a speed record going up Everest and the other guide has guided Everest as well as summitted Mount Rainier well over 100 times.  I think Tristan is in good hands and I know he is really looking forward to this expedition up the Kautz Glacier (I think...or else it is Eammons Glacier--which ever one is not the popular route).  

I sure hope his guides let him have everything he wants and needs (last expedition I think he wished he had one additional thick pair of gloves).  I would argue over everything I packed and keep everything.  If I want a 100 lb bag to carry up the mountain, that is my prerogative.  And any trip up the mountain is only about 10 miles and 10,000 vertical feet which probably means I would be carrying less pound miles then I do on my average 100 miler.

Finally today I got paired with my VT100 pacer.  It is Theresa, the wife of my pacer from last year.  She will pace me from mile 70 to ~90.  This will work out really well because realistically I just need someone to help me out over the night hours when I become lonely, tired, depressed and start wondering why in the world I paid good money to be tortured:-)  

I know we will have lots of fun.  I am a bit nervous about VT100 because I definitely am not in as good shape as I was last year, but hopefully the knowledge of the course and my experience with other 100's will make up for my potential lack of fitness.  Pretty much it is too close to the race for me to cram much so hopefully grit and determination will make up for any deficiencies I have because of my recent personal life challenges

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dr. M's pets

While Tammy is in San Diego this is a guest post from Dr. M 
(M stands for Mountain as opposed to what was written in a recent post). Really just posting pictures of the pets for her benefit.
Big G visited the vet yesterday to have his bandage changed. The vet came in and said "it's my favorite dog" then he said "well your my favorite too" to the dog in the opposite room. That may have been the last straw for Gilligan as Gilligan hit him in the face with his tail as he was changing the bandage. I guess Gilligan needed to vent a little. Gilligan has been to Bruster's ice cream the last two days to have a doggie sundae though.

His best friend Puff is keeping him company and giving him some loving too.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Gilligan's newest look and off to San Diego for a conference

This is Gilligan's newest outfit...you will notice he is currently starting to cross-dress. Apparently he and I are identical in many ways. We both are 120 lbs (just kidding only one of us is 120, but the other's license says 120 because back in the day this regulation bra wearer was 120 lbs...) He apparently wears a 36 C bra (well at least his one scar which is filled with liquid is "C" cup sized). And we both enjoy ice cream and donuts.
At Brusters today enjoying a waffle cone and a doggie ice cream. This is a SINGLE dip ice cream. The double and triple are HUGE and ENORMOUS, respectively. I was going to go for a double, but considering it was a bit hot, it would have melted all over me. You can notice right under his pseudo collar (just a slip knot thing using his leash) is his man-bra.

This is Tristan and Gilligan at Bruster's on Thursday night (for half price banana split...in fact you can notice one banana on the counter). This was the evening Gilligan was sportin his McGyvered bandana neckware. He liked his patriotism but ultimately this set up did not prevent him from scratching at one of his more critical scars.

Here you can see our cats having a tribal council to determine who gets voted out of the bed. The last few nights we have had all 3 cats, Gilligan, Tristan and I in our Queen size bed. I think we might need to upgrade to a King sized bed because at least one person complains they lack space with this arrangement.
Even worse, Gilligan has been going up on to the bed earlier and earlier in the evening to get some prime real estate. Last night his self imposed bed time was about 8 p.m. He pretty much had the entire bed by lying at an angle with his paws straight out.

Gilligan continues to chew and scratch his various surgical wounds a bit. We continue to put his boxers on every few hours but his neckerchief/bandana was not exactly working. But today I stumbled on a product that might be working but if it's not, at least its causing quite a stir in Gaithersburg. In fact we had a road trip to Brusters for ice cream to see if anyone commented. But alas they laughed and pointed but did not comment.

He is now wearing a bra that had a strap malfunction. It was about to be tossed in the trash when I realized it might actually cover one of his wounds. It does...and it makes a statement that Gilligan is comfortable with his masculanity.

Sadly I wear pretty boring undergarments so it is simply a generic faux satin padded white bra. I really should invest in alot more exciting undergarments considering at regular intervals Tristan takes photo's that showcase my unmentionables but alas I am either too lazy or too cheap to do this.
Tommorrow I leave for San Diego for a conference. I will be there about 1 week. When I come home next Saturday I arrive at about 5:30 a.m. at Dulles. My husband leaves for Washington State at 6:30 a.m. from BWI. This means I will not seem him for nearly 20 days (until July 8th, which for those of you in the DC area may recall is Carmen's Italien Ice half price Gelato Day!!!). I can't figure out if I am more excited about the Gelato or seeing my husband on this day (Just kidding of course it's Gelato)...no seriously it is the husband, "Dr. M":-)

On a positive note for the next 20 days I should not lose items or have items mysteriously disappear or find the remnants of broken items that had been mine and in pristine shape last time I saw them.
And of course this 10 day trip of Tristan's (including 5 days on Mount Rainier doing crazy stuff like crevase rescue) will give me time to bedazzle all the items that I own before Tristan comes back!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Gilligan's outfits over time and summary of his doctor visit: No additional bad news

Gilligan and I sporting our boxer shorts. Gilligan is wearing his Homer Simpson boxers and I have on the smurf boxers. You also may notice I have both my running fanny pack as well as a backpack. In the backpack was Powder, Gilligan's girlfriend cat. She was there to score a second freebie scoop for Gilligan. All we asked for was 2 separate scoops for our critters (not dogs--cause she is not a dog) because we don't want to get banned from Brusters. They gave us 2 of which Gilligan essentially got both. Powder got a lick or two of ice cream but did not seem overally concerned when Gilligan helped himself.

This is Puffie watching Gilligan eat her ice cream. I think Powder (like Simba earlier in the week) did not mind sharing with Gilligan.

After Gilligan's vet visit on Thursday morning we went to Brusters for ice cream run #1. Later that day, we went for ice cream run #2 after my usual fun run at Fleet Feet. Everyone at Brusters was so nice to Gilligan. The lady owner of Brusters in Gaithersburg came out, chatted and gave Gilligan a hug (which I know he appreciated)then the gentleman owner also came out and chatted with us. We really like the owners as they are both very nice and friendly (and of course they are REALLY generous with Gilligan's portions....although then again they are really generous with the human's portions as well:-) Which of course I like because I see no point in portion control

Puffie decided to test out Gilligan's boxers but they were too large. Or perhaps she beat him up for his boxers (it's a tough call because we pretty much have no idea what the critters do while we are away...in fact several times a month I see powder walking around in my unmentionables....so somehow she gets into the hamper, grabs a pair of undergarments then we spot her walking around with them around her neck or stomach). Gilligan is like many children in that he will take off his boxers any time he can (or else perhaps he is preparing for naked hiking day this Sunday--this fun fact I learned from my running club because of a planned run near the AT where apparently this is quite commen)

Because Gilligan is scratching at his neck stitches we had to figure out how to cover his neck. Several bandana's sort of did the trick although this morning he had gotten this contraption off. We now have an ongoing battle RE: his boxers and bandana's. Perhaps he is discomfortable with his currently not very well put together ensemble (although he does make a statement with: Simpsons, patriotism and blood donation).

Thursday I took the day off from work so Tristan and I could go to Gilligan's oncologist appt. Getting ready for this appt I created a list of at least 25 questions. Tristan had zero. Then after the Doctor left the room he finally comes up with one that I have no idea the answer to. (I at least can answer some because of my years at Center for Veterinary Medicine--in fact some of my questions I knew the "right answer" but needed the doctor to confirm she was on the same page. For example, pain management pro or con---I am STRONGLY pro pain management having a background i which I had quite a few surgeries and knowing that many well designed and well run clinical studies suggest with adequate pain management prognosis and recovery time are improved).

Basically, this doctor was a surgeon. I also sadly have extensive experience with surgeons thanks to being hit by a car. They seem to suggest surgery as the #1 choice. It is understandable because that is their speciality. But after the pain Gilligan was in earlier this week, I am very hesistant to go for surgery very soon. While surgery after surgery is certainly a viable option for diseases in which time is of the essence, limiting the time between surgeries certainly increases certain risks. Also, considering he had this mass since Sept/Oct, it seems a week or two is not likely to be as critical as if this bump had appeared and grown in mere weeks or days (8 months +/- a few weeks doesn't seem to be statisically significant).

Since I go on a business trip next week, Tristan goes to Mt Rainier the next week (for over 10 days) and then I have VT100, we have decided to take a wait and see approach until the end of July.

Finally, considering the literature it seems benadryl or steriods may have a decent chance of slowing down progression to Mast Cell Tumors we definitely are putting Gilligan on Benadryl.

Apparently the vets here are not thrilled at steriods but a few articles suggest prednisone (a steriod) has a decent response (well at least reading the articles from a statistical perspective).
1) We know Gilligan handles prednisone because he gets shots about 1-2 times a year when his allergies get out of control (his last dosing was in Dec when he and powder both had e-collars on for the holidays:-).
2) Gilligan is not planning to be competitive in any sport (well except sleeping) so he can use steriods without fear.
3) Relatively speaking steriods are not as horrible a medication as others particularly for older critters (human or dog) and those not of or before "child bearing age" (Gilligan no longer has man berries so he is an ideal candidate for steriods)

Of course if his mass gets bigger (or any other mass gets bigger) we may alter this treatment path, but for now both Tristan and I are hesitant to put Gilligan through more invasive treatments. Right about now I think it would be easier if we did not have degree's in biostatistics nor additional knowledge about medical procedures/products. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. But alas it does give us some knowledge about what we might expect.

Anarchy and Disarray in the Massie Household

So, as you may know this is not the best of time for me. I am not necessarily doing that well, but I am trying to keep my chin up, be positive and continue on with my life as best I can.

What I may have inadvertantly missed is that my husband might be stressed as well. But alternatively he might just be a complete Moron (I say this lovingly, just to be clear). So for this story, I will call him Dr. M (M for moron, or Massie if you insist on trying to give him some credit--but by the end I bet you agree Moron is a way better nickname).

Earlier this week Tristan successfully took 2 of our 2 cars out of commission in 2 days. This is a new record I think!

But before I tell this story I have to refresh the key players:

"Blue-ey" is the car I am paid for (okay am paying for and still owe many, many, many more months of payments). Blue-ey is a 2005 honda civic hybrid bought to replace my fire engine red Saturn VUE I loved but considering Tristan had just purchased a Jeep Liberty I did not want 2 trucks and no gas economical cars.

Tristan is the primary driver of Blue-ey (and yes our insurance company knows this). This is because he drives about 20 miles each way to his worksite.

"Death Trappy", "Crap Mobile" or "My Arch Nemisis" is the Jeep Liberty Tristan bought back in 2005 when American Cars were being sold really cheaply. I hate death trappy with a passion but am the primary driver. My commute is about 7 miles each way but frequently I jog, hop a ride with others, take the bus or occasionally even bike to work (all to avoid death trappy).

While each of us owns the car the other person drives we each have our own key rings for each vehicle. I have blue-ey's key hooked to a purple carribeaner that can get attached to my wallet, clothing or put in my fanny pack. I have death trappys key on a green carribeaner that again can be hooked to other stuff.

Tristan's key set up is a big mess and I can without fear of overexageration say that no janitor has more keys then Tristan has on his main key chain that includes blue-eys keys. I have no idea about where or how he stores Death Trappys keys but in our household we kind of have a don't ask, don't tell policy about alot of stuff. (Don't judge us because most of the time it works)

Monday evening Dr. M drives home but upon getting into the house mentions we have to take Gilligan to the Vets using Death Trappy because,

"The gas tank is on empty, the idiot light is on and I cannot pop open the gas tank to fill it" is Dr. M's statement.

Since we are in a rush I do not ask any questions until after we get home from the vets.

At home the first question I ask Dr. M is, "When did you know the gas tank wouldn't pop open?"

To which he replies, "Saturday night"

I am dumbfounded. But I am able to follow this up with the next question, "So, when did the idiot light come on"

"The beginning of my ride home" he states.

I am speechless but have to ask the next question, "So considering blue-eys tank is empty and we have no way to fill it, who is going to drive Blue-ey tommorrow"

Wait, I can see you all are anxiously awaiting his reply as much as I was.

"You", Dr. M states!

"But Blue-ey has no gas and the idiot light is on...I am not an idiot, Dr. M!" I emphatically reply. (I might have said some other words but pretty much since this is a g or pg-17 rated blog I cannot include them)

Well, this pawning of a not so operation vehicle on me explains why I had to run to my dermatologist appointment, arrive there quite sweaty and probably a bit pink (because my complexion lends itself to lobster face after about 5 seconds of being outside!)

But in our world, this is not the end of the story, this is just the beginning....

Tristan arrives home Tuesday night.

Tristan parks crapmobile and comes in the house.

I tell him we need to get "blue-ey" serviced so I can drive to work Thursday and he can take Gilligan to his oncology appt on Thursday. This is fine. We can both drive separate cars to a local honda dealership then head on to Brusters for Ice Cream. We decide to leave the house at 7 p.m..

At 7 Tristan's mentions that Death Trappy's keys are in the ignition. Thats fine with me. Until he mentions, "Yeah the're locked in there". Again this is still fine with me, so I simply suggest, "Borrow my keys and you can unlock the door".

Dr. M's response is then, "I can't because they are already in the car"

This is when all heck breaks loose in our household.

"Wait a second, you are using my keys for death trappy?" was my next question. I am willing to swap cars but not keys!

I suggest that Tristan should simply get his keys and unlock my keys from the car.

Well apparently the reason for his theiving my keys was that he has lost his set. Aargh! That is why we have clearly defined "Tammy" items and "Dr. M" items. That is also why he is not supposed to touch my stuff because it tends to either get lost or broken. It's like living with a child. A beligerant child!!!

Tristan then said it was my fault the keys got locked in the car because they only had a carribeaner on them. WHAT!!! My keys can get attached to anything (including his janitor key ring) so this is no excuse.

Well, the argument escalates until our very nice neighbor offers to follow me to the dealership.

This works out okay.

Thursday I got blue-ey back and immediately after picking her up filled the tank. The tank supposedly is 11.5 gallons.

She guzzled down 13.77 gallons like a runner after an ultramarathon! (or whatever other phrase you might want to use...but she was thirsty).

Either she was truly running on fumes and/or she has broken all sorts of laws of physics and mass).

Now I just need to find a way to ensure my keys are not touched again. I was thinking of having the dog lick them, but that would totally gross me out. And girlifying keys is not exactly successful because I have seen Tristan with my purple keychain occasionally. Any idea's?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How today's run went awry

This picture relatively speaking has nothing to do with my post today (well except it provides proof that I carry a bit of Jim Bean during every event just in case the Hash Harriers fail to provide me some liquid lunch/snacks/refreshments during events)

This picture is from the Death Valley Marathon last Dec. Sadly the only wild animal I saw during that event was my stuffed bighorn sheep (who to this day remains nameless...I can name my car, my husband's car, random items in our house; but I can't name my furry stuffed friend who has now traveled at least 200 miles with me on various races!!!) But I digress, so here is my story:

I have really been slacking in the running department lately. But today I decided to run a 7+ mile loop near my house. Everything was going moderately well until I got to about mile 4. Then I see a big flash of light about 300 meters ahead of me and hear a loud "BOOM"

"Crap", which describes what I simultaneously say out loud and nearly do in my thong (okay really granny panties-but if you read my post you already have seen bits and pieces of my various undergarments so you kind of knew I don't do thongs).

After this flash of light and loud BOOM, my first thoughts are

*Is it an alien landing? (I can think whatever I want first in a panic, so don't judge me(* footnote 1)

*Is it armageddon? (if I could just spell, aarrggh). Although I would like to point out if it is armageddon, knowing how to spell it probably will not make any difference!

*Is it a lightening bolt? (which nearly makes me say and do "Sh*t" again). I am 3+ miles from my house, 1 mile from one family friend, 1 mile from a store I cowered in for about 2 hours several years ago during a lighting storm. At this location in my run I am sort of exposed.

Finally after a few moments I realize that a transformer has blown. After my heart stops racing I continue my jog. Based on previous experience with transformers, I suspect a squirrel has just gone to the big acorn pile in the sky so I say a few words in it's honor then continue my jog.

Footnote (1): Just to be clear, I know in a panic situation I really suck! Basically if some crisis is occurring you probably want my sister and I present. My sister is calm cool and collected. And she will get things done effectively and efficiently, while I will be thinking bizzarre thoughts and making random comments. But just to defend myself a bit, I probably am alot more fun to have around in a crisis. And if you are lucky I would already have some spirits ready to a) celebrate after the crisis was over or b) prep for the worst.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Modification in Running/Vacation Plans: And Gilligan's upcoming adventures

Gilligan's stylin new look. Notice how even though he is not doing well health wise he is still supporting a good cause: beer drinking and watching the simpsons!

Just kidding, he is really raising awareness of the importance of blood donation.

Of course feel free to admire his really cool outfit (or ensemble for those of you in the know). Sadly he cannot wear his breast cancer awareness collar because of his surgical wound by his neck to complete his look.

I visited my sister this past weekend at her place. She recently got her cats fur cut because he gets really bad mats, but he cops an attitude when you try to brush him (in fact he has bitten my sister, my aunt and I all pretty badly when he has gotten mad)

This is Gilligan with his first bandage. You will notice it was pink with blue polka dots...I think he liked it.
But then again I think he liked his flowered collar a few collars ago (he gets a cool new collar each year and typically they are even girlier than the previous years as per my husband).
Finally, my boy has sexy legs doesn't he? (the hubby not the dog!)

Today Tristan and I decided to not go to Niagara Falls for a small 4 day vacation and my favorite 50 km race that we were to leave for bright and early tommorrow morning. I am just not feeling very happy and considering:
1) Gilligan's bad test results (and his need to go to the doctor Thurs for a bandage change)
2) The fact that I would be away for 12 days because I have a business trip starting Sunday through next Saturday
3) Predicted questionable weather (although rain is kind of irrelevant when you are getting misted on by the second largest waterfall in the world isn't it--and rain for a 50-70 km good training for rain for an entire 100 miler!)
4) I had not packed anything as of last night at 10 p.m. (and most trips I am packed 4 days prior!)

We decided to bag this vacation. This means my race entry and a few our deposits are lost (unless someone needs 2 nights of hotel room in Niagara Falls, CAN tommorrow:-) but hopefully my stress level is reduced a bit and we can figure out what is best for Gilligan and what his needs are.

His first needs are a trip to Brusters!

We are planning to make this (Brusters) a more frequent occurrence. First, we do have a coupon. And second, he deserves nothing but the best. And at the rate he is now growing bumps; keeping his newly clean teeth clean and his diet healthy may be irrelevant. And if not, we will cross that bridge (overweight and with bad teeth) when we get to it:-)

After cancelling the items for our trip that we could (rental car, flight and other hotel), I had to go to my dermatologist.

I now may be 3 for 3 in bad news.

The doctor looked at several of my moles/lesions and suggested most looked benign. But apparently my mole on my face is concerning (it is getting bigger, is not symmetric, has multiple colors--all the warning signs they provide in the literature for malignant skin cancer) so he cut it off and will be sending it to a lab. I will hear the results of the biopsy in 2 weeks. The last mole he biopsied has slightly bad news but not terrible (Basal Cell Cancer). I think he is a bit more concerned about this one but I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Tonight we may meet up with a few of Gilligan's friends at Brusters. He is planning to wear his Simpsons Boxers and Red Cross Shirt. For solidarity Tristan and I will be wearing his future boxers (I think Tristan has staked claim to Stewie and I get the Smurfs, wahoo) to make Gilligan feel that all the hip critters are wearing boxers (well this would be a true statement if only Tristan and I were hip)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Gilligan's Biopsy Results: Not Good

Today Tristan and I went to the vets to get Gilligan's drain removed and to have his arm/wrist bandage changed. The biopsy results also came in. You know it is bad news when the results are going to be given to you straight from the doctor.

Gilligan's paw is a Stage 2 Cell Mass (or something...I just can't think clearly anymore, I didn't even bother bringing a pad and paper because I have been functioning at about 50% of capacity since my mom passed away and declined to 30% after Gilligan's surgery). Basically the mass is malignant. We go to see an oncologist sometime (the appointment has yet to be made). Sadly in the past few days I have felt more bumps.

Now considering he had 17, of which 5 were removed (1 of which was malignant), but now he has 2 more (one on his neck area and one on his side/belly) we are now starting to fight what I might suggest is a losing battle.

The only bright side is that Tristan was supposed to tell me on Friday if Gilligan started biting at his wounds he was supposed to get dressed in a T-shirt and boxers (Gilligan, not Tristan...although frequently Tristan is just dressed in a T-shirt in boxers, which is fine, right?). Well anyway, in my car I had my American Red Cross Blood Donation T-shirt so we could put that on Gilligan.

After getting home we tried to put on a pair of Tristan's boxer shorts. Lets just say Gilligan clearly is WAY better endowed than Tristan.

So we had to go out and get a larger pair of boxer shorts for Gilligan. We decided to go novelity boxers. We so wanted to get a pair in pink that said "Juicy", but that was not to happen.

What we did end up getting was 3 pairs (so if he whizzes or bleeds to much on any pair we can swap out and wash them). Gilligan's three pairs of boxers include:

Simpsons, with pictures of Homer and all sorts of duff beer related products

South Park, with the caption "Rock Star"

Smurfs, with smurfs all over. In fact I considered getting a pair of jammie bottoms with smurfette all over so Gilligan and I could match but "the bank" (aka Tristan) said he would not subsidize our cuteness.

We also considered (but did not buy... cheap bank!) a pair of boxers with Stewie from Family Guy and two different smiley fact boxers (one with a bunch of yellow smileys and one with a psychodelic rainbow with smileys all over).

In fact the psychodelic smiley boxers might have been appropriate if Gilligan had gotten some pain meds. During his visit today, I tried hard to earn him some morphine (or other strong painkiller). Gilligan has been whimpering but the vet suggested it could be that he keeps scratching at his stitches/surgeries (and Gilligan hasn't whimpered since the 2 weeks straight of whimpering he did when he was a puppy).

Since I didn't score him any good pain meds, maybe his new outfit will help. I sure hope so.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Cramming for a Metric Century Bike Ride: My upcoming Tour de Cure Bike Event at Reston VA

With my former/stolen bike back (when I was in possession of it) at the IronGirl in 2008. This picture was after the race was complete...you will notice two things: 1) My bike was about 3rd to last in being picked up and 2) I had a really sweet spot for my bike. It was an "end unit" close to the exit. This prime real estate did not help. I still came in about 4th to last of overall female finishers and last in my age category (for those who finished). But on a positive note I think I set the bar real low so I can only improve (I hope) this year!
Gatorade is essential for hydration. And nothing is better than gatorade in a Ben & Jerry's water bottle. Sadly my B&J's water bottle was stolen with my bike last October. I think I am more upset about the water bottle being stolen then I was about my bike. I have a hate/hate relationship with all my bikes. I definitely prefer running over biking because I am terrible at biking. The only thing I am worse at then biking is swimming. Hence my yearly tri is torture I really need to stop signing up:-) But maybe someday I will not stink. Anyway, I also really stink at transition in which I was 2nd to last in timing particularly for T1 (and I think the other lady DNF'd). My time was about 15 minutes!!! Some people nearly completed some segments of the tri in a shorter time period, aarggh!

The only way to make biking better is to have a Krispy Kreme Donut, right. I find Krispy Kreme's mid-race definitely provide a nice boost and help me avoid biking, which is my goal!
What I really need to do in the next day in preparation of my metric Century Bike ride at the Tour De Cure is to mapquest Krispy Kreme's, Ben and Jerry's, Brusters, Dunkin Donuts and pretty much every other tasty joint remotely close to the course.
I think I have from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. to complete my 63 miles. This I believe is about 6.3 miles per hour. Manageable, right?
Nope, not for me as you will see. In fact perhaps I also need to mapquest some bars that I can just sit in and spectate. Below you can see why by the end of this event some liquid pain relief may be in order!

I impulsively signed up for the Tour De Cure Bike event a few weeks ago after winning a raffle for a Tour De Cure race shirt when my mom was so ill during bike to work day (I saw winning this shirt as an omen that I should do the event).

Well now it is just over one day until this event and I don't have any time left for cramming. The grand total training I have for this event is my 7 mile bike ride (with TWO breaks!!) on "Take your Bike to work day".

In fact since last September, when my last bike was stolen, I have biked a total of 1 day! That would be the aforementioned "Bike to work day". Six months with only one training day...I am completely unprepared for this endeavor.

This metric century is 63 miles long!

My total training in preparation for this event is one 7 mile bike ride.

On one single day!
I assume that biking is opposite running in that you can ride 10% of your intended distance on one day and consider it adequate training, right??? That means I am well prepared!

I know for running we are never supposed to increase our highest distance by 10% but biking is different, right?

Well, based on my potential lack of preparation I passed panic a few days ago and am now am at resigned (or is it defeated/acceptance/denial)? Well, hopefully the ride is not too bad.

My current strategy is bike until I feel discomfort, then run alongside my bike for 20-30 miles. Then hop back on the bike. Since I have no upper body strength, I may at some point lock up my bike and just jog the middle portion of this event. If it gets me credit for biking I might even consider jogging with a helmet (which probably is safer anyway:-)

Just to keep this trend of being really ill prepared up (well except for running which typically I am trained well for), this may be my final tune up ride before the IronGirl Triathlon in Aug and Half Irondistance in Sept (that now needs to be an olympic distance because of a speaking engagement the afternoon of the tri, wahoo...Go me for getting out of an iron distance tri without looking like a sissy!!!)

This Metric Century should be quite an adventure. Wish me luck;-)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Potential bad news RE: Gilligan and his lump removal

Here is a picture of Gilligan from the park that is relatively close to our house during last Fall. Gilligan likes to sit in the park alot. We take him there 3 times a day (morning walk, afternoon walk and evening walk). His usual route is about 1000 meters but sometimes he is able to shorten it by lying down and refusing to get up. He is pretty good at having an abreviated walk through this mechanism.

In fact Gilligan is the first dog I have met or owned that is not super excited about exercise including walking or hiking. I think he is just as happy to simply sit home, eat treats, hang out and snuggle.

Today Gilligan went to get some lumps removed. I was anxious but hopeful this was going to be as routine as surgeries can be. This was not to be.

The basic gist of what has occured is that Gilligan's bumps had a variety of issues including bad margins/lacked membranes holding the mass and one bump that was not a fatty mass but a tumor that looked like brain/spaghetti. The only positive was that Gilligan handled his anesthesia like a champ. Oh yeah and the vet and technicians loved him because he is a sweetie!

Basically the doctor took out his first bump with some difficulty because it did not have clean margins she had expected of a fatty mass (which it was) and thus the bump was not easily removed. Apparently it was contained within/merged with some muscle so removing it did not take the 20 minutes that was expected but considerable longer. The next several bumps were just as troublesome. By the time they got to his neck bump, they realized all his bumps were more invasive then expected. His neck bump was very close to his jugular vein thus making this a delicate operation.

The final bump that was to be removed (based on our "must remove" list) was the bump on his wrist. This bump has been visible since last Sept/Oct. Back during his yearly exam in the Fall it was felt this bump was not of major concern. Well, this is the mass that was not at all what the doctor expected. It apparently looked like brain/spaghetti which could be very bad. And the doctor was not able to get the entire mass because Gilligan had been under anesthesia for quite some time. Finally this mass was intertwined with a vein which added a degree of complexity. This wrist bump sounded really bad.

The wrist bump will be biopsied. Although during our conversation I did ask the question, "what is the point of biopsing it?" The one thing I observe as a statistician is that oncology studies really strongly show the earlier you detect and treat any cancer the better the prognosis. This mass has been present and detectable since last summer/fall so the window of opportunity to treat might already be over. And making medical decisions for others is so hard. But hopefully this mass is just some unnamed bizarre looking mass that is not any cause for alarm.

We hear the results next week.

Because of the extra time in surgery and all sorts of ports to allow for wound draining, when we spoke to the Doctor it was recommended that we consider letting him stay overnight or else pick him up as close to 7 p.m. (previously the window was 5:30-5:45 p.m.!).

Because he is in a sterile environment in which medical professionals are available, we decided to let him stay at his vets overnight. This means for the first time he is all alone. Hopefully he is really hopped up on painkillers and residual anesthetic.

Tristan and I let him stay in our bed last night (and the night before). We barely had room enough for us. But tonight I would give anything to be relegated to a tiny bit of bed because Gilligan was in it and taking up 90% of the bed (the other 5% would be cats and 5% Tristan and I-combined for any of you questioning my questionable math skills!)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

More Challenges: Gilligan is to have some Lumps Removed this Thursday

Gilligan and I at the Frederick Marathon several years ago. I am posting this picture to show that Gilligan can and does take fitness seriously (ha ha ha...just kidding, I think the only reason he was keeping up with me was the fact that I had an ice cream cone from Brusters I picked up at mile 25...I loved the old Frederick Marathon course--although the new course passes by the Fractured Prune Donut shoppe:-)
After the Frederick marathon, we did go to Brusters for a second round of ice cream for all of us. You can see Gilligan enjoying his post run ice cream. He loves any and every Brusters as well as every other ice cream place. He is particularly fond of ice cream shops that give out free ice cream to dogs, but also likes places that charge a modest fee for HUGE doggie sundaes (there is a place in Lincoln NH that for about $2 gives a portion that is sufficient for Gilligans large appetite).

Gilligan wants "up ears" perhaps while he is under the knife we can ask the vet to give him this. Although maybe he is happy with "down ears" because then when he refuses to obey our commands he can play the unable to hear us because of his floppy ears card... (sorry about the exposed bra straps in this picture, but my husband seems to like to capture proof I wear various undergarments in pictures he takes!)

This is the life...a beautiful waterfall and a cool refreshing pool to sit in. Gilligan does this from about March 1rst until Dec 20th at various locations we go hiking. I think his favorite pools are where he can get fully immersed lying down.

With his friend Powder (aka., Powder Puff Girl or Puffie). In the love triangle within the Massie household, Powder is the cat that absolutely adores Gilligan. Although she kind of cheats on him with Billy (the old english sheepdog we occasionally dog-sit) and Simba (Gilligan's neighbor dog who we frequently walk in the afternoon/evening with and who we met up with at Doggie Dip Day at the local pool). We think Gilligan is partial to Sagwa (aka, "Chocolate Cat" as per my mom) his middle cat sibling.

Back in early/mid-May I felt a new bump on Gilligan near his collar on his neck. He previously had a moderately large bump on his "wrist". But during his annual exam last fall based on discussion with his vet we decided to take a "wait and see" approach to this golf ball sized bump on his wrist.

Unfortunately he developed a bump on his neck which at some point could negatively impact his breathing (and of course I was worried that it could be a cancerous tumor--although he has been eating and as lazy as ever). Thus, we took him into the vet about 2+ weeks ago. While it is felt this bump is not likely to be cancerous the chance it may grow to cause him trouble breathing it, thus it will be removed Thursday.

During our vet visit 2+ weeks ago, we learned more bad news. Gilligan has been about 115 lbs for several years. We were told 120 lbs was the threshold before we get the "talking too" about having an overweight dog. Well, he is now overweight with a weight of 120.4 lbs, but I think the vet felt bad so his overweightness was not brought up.

The next startling portion of the visit was feeling up Gilligan to detect more bumps. The first bump the vet felt was around his chest area. Now, I had felt this same bump during his bath several weeks ago but I thought it was a "Man Boob". Apparently it was in the wrong area and way too big (well unless unbeknownst to Tristan and I he got implants). I acknowledged he did not have a matching set but guess his bath takes so long I forgot to check/notice the lack of symmetry on both sides. And who I am I to judge a dog with man boobs? My mom had a hemephreadic cat so our family already has a history of unique critters.

The next bump that was felt was in his inner thigh (in the dingle-berry region). Again the vet pointed out the bump. To which I replied, "I thought that was the remnants of his Man-berries". Again I was informed that he did not have a matching set and there would be no remnants of his man-berries that were taken away when he was 6 months old. Wow, 0 for 2, how much worse can this get?

The next set of bumps were large flat bumps on his stomach. My defense was that I thought he was growing a "spare tire" because he is really lazy and refuses to walk (and when he does so it is quite grudging). Also his really nice pet sitters (who took care of him for a week in April) acknowledged he ate alot of Billy (his doggie companions) food and they were unable to formally walk him much because he would lie down and roll over refusing to get up. We have this same battle of the wills on a daily basis and in fact apparently my mom referred to Gilligan as "the rug" because of his laziness!

At this point I stopped defending my inability to detect lumps and bumps on Gilligan as the count approached 10, 15 and then close to 20 distinct bumps. Suffice it to say I may be the worst doggie parent ever (although some of the ~20 bumps were fairly small).

Gilligan will be going to the vet on Thursday to get at least 4-5 of the larger bumps that may impact his movement/vital organ functions removed. We have triaged the next several bumps and how many get removed will be a function of how clean the bump margins are, how easy they are to remove and how Gilligan is handling the anesthesia.

Please keep your fingers and paws crossed that he has a successful surgery and a speedy recovery.

Monday, June 8, 2009

My mom's memorial on Saturday

With my sister and my mom's Tree. It is right next to the Laundry/Gift Shop at the "new" campground within Pocohontas State Park. In the near future a plaque will be placed in front of it. Hopefully this can coincide with getting a bench or picnic table that will sit right below the tree.
Starting to congregate before the service. The man in the matching blue shirt/holding the dog, Gilligan, is Tristan. Tristan's dad is the gentleman with the red striped shirt essentially above Gilligan. Talking to Tristan's dad is Cindy's boyfriend Jason. Right in front of Cindy is Louise's Mom. My mom liked Louise's mom and I know they shared books and formed their own little book club.

Various Park staff and volunteers before the tree planting. Everyone was so nice and supportive. I can completely understand why my mom was so happy at this park. It is a beautiful park filled with very kind and friendly people.

After the memorial, you can see Tristan, his Dad, Loiuse (in the red shirt and red pants to the right of Tristan's dad as well as Jason and Cindy).

Okay, so this is a confessional picture. We have recieved so many nice flowers and plants from friends, co-workers and relatives. Unfortunately our household is filled with creatures that may not that well behaved. Here you can see Powder Puff girl chomping on some flowers from my friend (and my mom's friend) Margaret and Jackie. Unfortunately Powder now had all sorts of yellow pollen that has stained her head, around her eye and at random places on her body. Even worse is that the pollen does tranfer rather easily to others, so I now have a yellow chin!
As for the other very nice flowers, bouquets and plants, we have saved their lives by sharing with my sister (whose cats apparently are better behaved then ours), with the Pocohontas staff as well as her good friend Louise & her mom. I know this is what my mom would have done...share with others to brighten their day.
This past Saturday, my mom's friend Louise arranged a really nice tree planting memorial service at Pocohontas State Park, south of Richmond VA.
Saturday morning, Tristan and I participated in "National Trails Day" to honor my mom's memory. She would have been impressed by the blisters and sore arms we both earned doing this event and now Tristan and I have added to our matching t-shirt collection (which as a full fledged card carrying dork I make Tristan wear now and again to match).

After cleaning up a bit, we drove to Pocohontas State Park to meet up with Cindy and her boyfriend, Jason, as well as Tristan's Dad for the tree planting.

Cindy and I were so touched and suprised to see so many of my mom's friends from the park at this fairly impromptu memorial service.

My mom's friend, Louise said such nice things about my mom including reflecting on how my mom was a camp host who gave 100% and always was really friendly. She spoke about a trip they took together in which my mom had to create a bit of real estate for Louise to sleep in (I have the same pack rat problem my mom does, but like my mom, I'm always ready to push things around to create a sleeping place:-).

My mom shared so much of herself with everyone. She was so generous and kind and always made sure to invite everyone along for everyone of her adventures. While many times she did not have any takers (which did not stop her), many times she would have buddies to do things with. I know of her trips with Louise, her friend Karen from FL, her friend Margaret from CO and so many others. In addition to extended trips with others, she also had so many friends who would drop in to spend a few hours, a day, or a weekend with her. She was always such good company and always ready for adventure.

Of course my mom was also always ready to accept gracious offers of hospitality to visit folks. And I know she visited so many friends with her RV. I know of visits with her best friend from grade school, Marcia; her cousins in Memphis and New Jersey; college friends from Michigan; campers she met at various parks and so many other people and places. Frequently between camp hosting gigs, there was always the question: "Where in the World is Marnee/Marj/Marjorie Wood?".

Only her mail forwarding service "Good Sam" necessarily knew where she was at any given time!

My mom used many different names over her life (hence my confusion when I was sent to the VA Dept of Corrections which I posted about last week). She was called Marnee as a young girl, Marj as an adult and I think Marjorie by my dad and folks from the 70's and 80's. Of course to me her aliases included: Mom, Mommy, Mama, Maaaaaa and Mother (okay I never called her mother, but occasionally refered to her as "my mother").

During the memorial service, Louise also talked about how my mom was able to fly in to see her wedding and how much it meant to Louise (I also know it meant a great deal to my mom). My mom always said the most important thing in life is friends. And one must always celebrate with them whether weddings, births, graduations and even small and big victories. Of course she always said you also must support your friends unconditionally in times of need. My mom was a special lady who led by example.

I know my mom has been deeply religious since I was a child. It was always obvious that my mom had a strong belief in God. However RVing and attending a regular church service sometimes created difficulties. She was very active in a youth ministry that was common in many state and national parks, but I think Louise put it best. For my mom, "Nature was her sanctuary".

After Louise, a very nice park Ranger spoke (his name escapes me). He told a story about how one day my mom's cat had run off and there was a big storm. Apparently my mom called the emergency number and several rangers came to her site to help. They looked and looked and saw the storm drain over flowing. They suggested there is no way a cat is in there, but my mom insisted her cat was in the drain. They looked again still to no avail. Finally one of the rangers turned around and noticed sitting on my mom's truck was her cat!

Then my sister spoke, with obvious emotion. She reminsced about how much my mom loved the outdoors and how kind and caring my mom always was. She tried to tell the story of my mom's hemephredic cat (her cat, Pocohontas, was raised a girl for 10+ years then last fall somehow she finds out the cat is a male!!!)

Finally I spoke. I reminsced briefly about our first times at Pocohontas. This was during grad school and one of the highlights of our summer each year was to visit my mom at the park where we would go on canoe trips at night. We would see beavers (which scared us the first time they tail slapped) and just enjoy a beautiful night in the park. Typically after the canoe trip we would head back to my mom's RV for smore's. It was so much fun!

My final story was about Rocky Raccoon 100/50 miler, the last time I saw my mom when she was healthy. She was so nice and encouraging to everyone along the course. And she was so proud of my PR. In fact I would speculate as excited as I was, she was probably 10X more excited. I think this was even more poignent because she had seen me 10-15 years ago when I had been hit by the car and was rehabbing. She was always so encouraging to me and believed in me unconditionally even when I might not have believed in myself.

After planting the tree (which I totally smoked Cindy, my sister, in the amount of soil I moved), we all headed to a campsite we had reserved for some cake and reminiscing. It was a really nice evening to be sitting outside enjoying the park and socializing. It would have been exactly how my mom would have wanted it. Good friends, yummy treats, a beautiful park on a lovely evening. I just wish she had been there, not just in spirit...

A bit more about my mom

My "goofy" mom. At all races my mom would ensure to completely embarrass my sister and I by wearing things that really stand out. Her favorite was her "goofy" hat which was a constant at all the Disney Marathons. She was easy to spot in the crowds. And she loved how kids were so amused by her hat. She had a larger than life personality and her goofy hat really showcased this. As a kid I definitely cringed when she would be so vibrant and different than many other parents, but as I grew older I think I took on some of the goofiness (at least as per my sister and husband who apparently "cannot take me anywhere!")

My mom really enjoyed so many things in life. She was a big fan of "down to earth" people who were really encouraging. One activity we did together after her first stroke was go to Delaware and Philadelphia to participate in the 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days with Dean Karnazes. She volunteered at both events and was a great hit with the staff. And she just loved everyone who participated, organized and were involved in this event. She really believed in the message Dean was sending which was to believe in yourself and to go out and "Just do it!". My mom like Dean was a pioneer, visionary and trailblazer in so many ways. She just was always so encouraging and supportive to everyone. And she led by example, living out her dreams and seeing and doing so much.

This is a picture of my mom and Tristan as we all walked back to the car after the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) in 2007 (I think). My mom was a regular spectator at the MCM. Our yearly ritual involved me going in by metro alone or with her. Then Tristan would drive in for some spectating as well. After I finished, we would all meet up about mile 25.5 by the Arlington Bridge to cheer on the runners who were finishing in 6-7 hours. We then would walk to the car which invariable was by the State Department.

This is my mom with her cowbell. She got a cowbell my first MCM (and would resupply when needed). She used her cowbell with gusto! And she needed no extra encouragement such as runners calling out, "I need more cowbell" because she was ringing it as loud as possible. In fact I might still have some ringing in my ear from some race we hung out after I finished and cheered on later runners.
She was a big fan of everyone in a race from the elites who clearly have so much talent and determination to the back of the packers who are using every ounce of their being to finish. My mom supported everyone on the course and in life.

With my mom after the Delaware Marathon from Dean Karnazes 50/50 event in 2007. This picture of my mom was taken just 2 weeks after her first stroke. She really recovered quite quickly and successfully from her first stroke which sadly gave me a false sense that she would be able to recover from anything. Her first stroke led to signficant confusion but within 1 month she was able to function completely independently and I would say stabilized to nearly her pre-stroke abilities.

This past weekend we had an informal memorial service and tree dedication for my mom at Pocohontas State Park in Virginia. I will write more later and include a separate post. Pocohontas was her favorite park (although virtually every other state and national park she visited came in a close second!)

One of her best friends, Louise (a park manager) arranged for a tree to be planted including a small ceremony. The 30+ people from the park who arrived for this event were a bit suprising initially, but after a few moments, I was able to realize this is the type of person my mom was. She had a big heart and knew lots of people!

My sister, Cindy, husband, Tristan, father-in-law "Dad" and Cindy's boyfriend were all in attendance and representing her family (although a family event is scheduled for later this summer hopefully complete with our cousins, aunts and uncles). At the next event we should have some remains and a chair to dedicate. My mom was a HUGE procrastinator so this evolution of a memorial probably would make her happy.

I guess I continue to have trouble to coming to grips with her not being here anymore. She was such a vibrant and active person. Back in Feb when I saw her, she was the same "goofy" mom I grew up with.

Trying to corral her at Rocky Raccoon 50/100 was just as difficult as every previous event. In fact back in 2005 I ran Marine Corps Marathon, at our predetermined mile marker (7) I saw my mom along the course chatting with a person; I waved wildly at her...but, having no luck in catching her attention I continued running trying to get to off the course, which was filled with spectators. Finally I made it to the side, I then called my mom on her cell phone and explained I would be walking upstream through spectators to give her a hug.

You have no idea how challenging this "salmon-like" experience was. Luckily time was not of great concern to me, although in fact even with this challenge and several "running water bathroom breaks at the monuments I did PR during the race with a 4:40.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Tribute to my mom--and a funny story from yesterday

With my mom after Disney Marathon in 2007 (how do I know??? My race t-shirt pretty much is the only clue)

My mom and I loved Disney World (both working and visiting) and spent many hours together at the various parks. In fact the year I graduated from University of Central Florida, my mom came down to help me move, but before moving, we spent 10 days in 10 different hotels at the Park (including Grand Floridian which my sister was even able to join us!)

Tristan and my mom at Brooksville Gardens, a Montgomery county park that has a beautifully landscaped property, greenhouse and many flowers. We have gone here frequently because in addition to the botanical gardens, there is a nature center, lots of paths, a dog park and many other activities.

Last year (2008), I ran the Gasparilla Marathon in Tampa and my mom and Grandmother (on my Dad's side) came out to cheer me on. They were very enthusiastic cheerleaders and it was so great to see both of them!

A few years ago my mom and I traveled together to attend the Society of Clinical Trials conference in Orlando. While at this conference we were able to slip in a few visits to Disney World!

A hug with my mom at the Tower of Terror. Mom hugs are the best! (But I think she might have been grabbing my buttocks:-) In fact as I recall she might have just pinched my butt hence her smile.

So now for my story. Yesterday Tristan flexed (worked) from home. During the day he reminded me I needed to call Pocohontas State Park (SP) to figure out some logistics for a small/informal memorial service that will include: Tristan, Cindy (her boyfriend), Tristan's Dad and a few others.
It will be very small but just will allow us to honor her memory before her remains are returned to us (she has donated her body to science--since her organs could not be harvested, but we do not get remains for a bit of time).
This will be very small and low key event with a picnic and lots of smore's, marshmallow roasting and reminiscing. In the future a larger event will occur in which we will dedicate tree's and/or bench or table to the park.
Some questions have come up about Saturday and Louise, my mom's friend from Pocohontas SP left a message on our phone asking we call back. Well, Tristan gives me a number to call. I call it.
It is the Virginia Department of Corrections!
Aackk. I must have mis-dialed. So I call again. And again it is a recording from the
Virginia Department of Corrections!!!
Is this my husbands idea of a practical joke?
I am pretty sure my mom did not live at the detention center. But then I start thinking, is this everyone's gentle way of breaking the news to me that my mom lived life on the lamb (hence the RV)? In fact Pocohontas State Park is located right next to a prison, but I never thought too much of it. Clearly I was delusional.
The first time I called I was pretty startled. But the second time I called (which I sure hope doesn't put me on the Corrections Facility Watch list) did amuse me.
My mom was a practical joker, so she would have liked how this episode transpired.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Krispy Kreme Free Donut Day: June 5th!

It's time to celebrate that it's once again: Krispy Kreme Donut Day. Yummy!!!

I am not having the best day, week, month or even year ever.
But I am trying to remain positive. And one of those glimmers of hope comes in the form of Krispy Kreme Free Donut Day. And that is tomorrow. I am so excited....

The only improvement to Krispy Kreme Free Donut Day would be having it in conjunction with freebie ice cream scoop day, free taco day and free cup of coffee day, but a historic election day that incorporates all of these freebie treats comes only once in a lifetime... I can still remember it like it was yesterday! (and so can my beer/donut/ice cream gut:-)

For those of you not fortunate enough to have a local Krispy Kreme, you have my sympathy. For those of you who do (which you can find a list of participating Krispy Kremes here), I challenge you to a donut eating contest.

I have come up with my strategy and it involves at least two trips to the donut shop (hey, I'm a frequent buyer so I don't feel bad about over-indulging in Krispy Kreme's generosity). One donut will be on my way to work and one donut will be after work with Tristan, Gilligan and one of our doggie/person friends. I may try to coerce a few co-workers to go there for lunch buy I am not as optimistic about this third potential trip. But I can dream.

In fact in the spirit of eating donuts, I do strongly consider doing the Donut Run in NC, however, so far it just has not worked with my running calendar (I know I have really messed up priorities--Homer Simpson I am not-well at least not yet!)
Enjoy dreaming about donuts and then living out the dream tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A few more pictures from Vermont City Marathon

Near the beginning of the race running through downtown Burlington
Here you can see racing kitty. Looking towards the upper right part of this picture you can see the other runners on the course.

After the finish line

Enjoying my post race dunkin donut holes. Notice the big box of donuts right in front of me....it was awesome. The only thing that would have been better was a kiddie pool filled with donut holes.

And of course runners were given finishers VT Cheddar cheese. You will notice my finishers cheese was the size of a butter stick. In fact by the end of my post race treats I seriously thought I was going to have a heart attack from all the less than healthy food! But it was so good.
In fact in addition to the cheese, donut holes and other treats I also had (but did not get a picture) a small container of Ben & Jerry's ice cream.
I can't wait for next year!