Celebrating 6 Cancer Free Years with 70.3 Miles & Fundraising for a Cure!

26.2 Miles Was Only The Beginning!
Sep 17, 2010 by Brian Carty

The race against blood cancers continues, and that's why I am rejoining The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training program with the goal of raising at least $2500 towards the Society's goal of curing leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma.

Last year, I joined up with TNT for the first time. I signed up for the 2009 ING Georgia Marathon team, and with the help of my friends, family, coworkers, and others whose lives have been affected by leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, we contributed close to $3000 to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society! Oh yeah, I completed my first full marathon (26.2 miles!), too!

Sadly, blood cancers will cause the deaths of an estimated 53,240 people in the United States this year. As a 6 year survivor of Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma, that number frightens me, and although much progress has been made, we still don't have a cure.

That is why I'm asking for your help again.

I'm rejoining the Team and taking on a brand new challenge - The Ironman 70.3 Augusta triathlon! On September 26, 2010, I plan on completing the 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, AND 13.1 mile run in recognition of those whose battles with blood cancer continue and in memory of those who have lost those fights.

Please make a donation to support my participation in Team In Training and help advance LLS's mission, and be sure to check back frequently to see my progress.

Thanks again for your support!



Update 7 (9/17):

9 days until race day...ack! I completed a 71 mile bike ride on Labor Day. It was farther than I ever thought I'd ever go under my own power, but at the end of the ride, I realized that I had basically just completed my overall race distance (70.3 miles), but on race day, only 56 miles of those will be on the bike!

We're down to two official group training sessions - a "short" 20 mile bike followed by a little running this Saturday and our final group swim at the Dynamo pool, which has sadly been converted to short course lanes. Rumor has it the coaches are going to be tossing Baby Ruth candy bars into the pool to simulate race day conditions in the Savannah River. Ew!

At this point, the hay is in the barn as far as training goes. From here on out, it's just a matter of staying loose and letting muscles recover a bit.

A good portion of my teammates have already completed their triathlons. I love seeing the race reports and pictures, and I hope I do half as well as those guys did. Congratulations and thanks for all the fundraising!


Update 6 (8/31):

It's just over 3 weeks until race day, and I haven't updated my training status in several weeks. Here's a long one for you. (Oh yeah, I'm still below my target for fundraising. Your donations are much needed and appreciated. Blood cancers suck and we need all the help we can get to fund research towards finding a cure!)

Since my last update I have:

  • Riden my bike over multiple 48-58 mile courses
  • Built my long run mileage back up to the 10 mile range
  • Swam in murky open water several times
  • Completed a 2000 meter continuous swim, which is more than I'll need to do on race day
  • Donned a wetsuit for the first time in my life, which led to me being described as looking svelte for the second time ever. (Unfortunately, the slimming effect of the wetsuit only works when looking at me straight on. From the side, I still bear more resemblance to the Michelin Man than an Ironman)

One of the most exciting training sessions I had was back on 8/22. The Team met up in Augusta to ride the full 56 mile course and get a brief glimpse of the terrain we'll see on the run through downtown Augusta. We were planning on testing our swimming in the Savannah River, but thanks to an E. coli outbreak, that part of the day was scrubbed.

Augusta is about 2.5-3 hours from my house in Kennesaw, so I started my drive around 5 AM that morning to meet the team at the starting line. I managed to stay awake and not get lost on my way there...always a plus in my book. When we finally put our wheels down and got on the course, I found myself making much better time than expected. The first 15-20 miles felt flat, and the weather was relatively mild. I'm going to love that stretch on race day. At mile 30 or so, things took a turn for the worse. The heat index creeped up somewhere in the 350 degree range, the flat roads turned to long, grinding uphill stretches, and the breeze from earlier in the day turned into a face melting headwind. According to the race elevation profile, the last 10 miles or so look like they're downhill. When I was on my bike, I felt like someone flipped the profile upside down, and I was struggling.

Luckily, I did make it back to the transition area, tossed my bike and related gear into the back of the Element, slipped on my running shoes, and proceeded to put in my two miles on foot through downtown Augusta. The run was the flattest I've had in a long time, and if it the entire course is like that, I'm going to be happy TNTer...assuming the E. coli from the river doesn't do me it before I get that far. I hear it has a 48 hour incubation period, which should give me enough time to cross the finish line before that becomes a problem, though!

Lessons learned in Augusta on 8/22:

  • Identifying new clicking sounds after ~45 miles of riding is not fun, especially when I realized that they were not coming from my bike. It turns out I had taken my sunglasses off at a convenience store and hung them on the front of my jersey. The metal zipper pull of the jersey was tapping against my lenses. I don't know how many minutes (miles?) I rode not realizing I wasn't wearing my sunglasses.

  • When I finally got off my bike after riding 56 miles in the blazing sun and ran across Forsythe St., it read like "Frosty The Street." Anything frosty would have been welcome then! Speaking of frosty, Heather Trainor was nice enough to share some ice with me when I got back from my run, which leds to my next discovery....

  • After I've spent 5 hours riding and running in the blazing sun, I don't particularly care where ice comes from....it is still cold and refreshing when chewed, even when it has been on top of my sweaty head for 5-10 minutes

  • Apparently, running a towel across my sweat soaked hair a couple times and throwing on a clean shirt and jeans and is enough to give people the impression that I've taken a shower. I haven't tried this at work to confirm, though.

  • I frequently get songs, or at least a line or two of a song, stuck in my head while on my bike. As soon as I start pedaling, it's inevitable that "Bicycle Race" by Queen will queue up on the jukebox in my brain. This is fine for a mile or two early in the day, but after 40+ miles, it loses its appeal. Seriously. I was singing "I want to smash my bicycle, I want to smash my bike" in my head over the last hour or so.

  • Course elevation profiles lie, and my Garmin is part of their conspiracy. When I got home and uploaded my GPS data, my personal elevation profile was basically the same as when the race description had. They both lie, and unless something changes on race day, you'll never convince me otherwise!

  • I'm ready for this! Bring on race day! Go Team!

Thanks for reading, and thanks for donating to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society!



Update 5 (8/5):

These past two weeks have been a pretty nice confidence boost. As I mentioned earlier (update 4), I managed to swim 950 meters continuously on 7/26, and this past Monday, we had our open water swim simulation. Typically, we swim in a single lane, back and forth, back and forth, ad naseum. This past Monday, the coaches removed the lane dividers, giving us open large open pool. In the poolwere three buoys marked the "course" for the evening. Our goal was to swim the course repeatedly for 20+ minutes. We all started at once, simulating the mass start of a triathlon.

It didn't take long for me to get kicked.....in the eye.... hard....twice!

Unbeknownst to us, while we were in the middle of that 20 minute continuous swim, our mentors became "tor-mentors" tasked with recreating likely, but unpleasant circumstances during the race. I'm pretty sure one of them was intentionally splashing water in my face every time I turned my head to breathe over a span of 20 seconds or so. Ah well, breathing is overrated, I guess. I made it through the swim, and I'm starting to feel and notice some of the myriad flaws in my technique, which is the first step towards correcting them.

The Saturday prior to the "tor-mentor" swim, I had a 48 mile bike ride scheduled. My previous long ride was 32 miles, so I was a bit nervous going up to 48 miles. That didn't last long because as soon as I got to the group meeting point, I found out that the 48 mile course magically became 53 miles. Oh joy! The explanation was a decent one...the extra miles were toward the middle of the ride, and they were added so that we could stop at a convenience store to buy drink refills to handle the 90-100+ degree heat index.

I felt amazing through the first 35 miles or so. I managed to use my aero bars for extended periods of time for the first time ever, and being in somewhat of an aero position made me feel like a real triathlete in training! Hills that I struggled with mightly in weeks past didn't phase me, I was drinking regularly, taking in calories via GU gels and Shot Bloks, and chatting with teammates along the way. Even a hilly 5 mile detour didn't seem to bother me.

As I got to around mile 40-42, I noticed that my three water bottles were basically empty. The cloud cover and moderate temperatures were giving way to direct sun and blazing heat, and the hills were definitely slowing me down. At mile 46, I was completely out of fluids, but I was determined to get back to my car as quickly as possible. As I hit a flat stretch of road around mile 51-53, I tucked into my aero position again and looked at my GPS. Dehydrated and 20 miles further than I had ever gone on my bike, I was still capable of getting into a 20+ mile per hour groove on the flats. Hills were a completely different story, but I was shocked to see my speed staying above 20 on the flats.

57.65 miles after I started, I was back at my car. I had officially ridden more miles than I will need to do on race day!

I loaded my bike into the back of the Element, tossed my helmet in after it, struggled to get a glove off, and swapped out my bike shoes for my running shoes. After chugging about a gallon of water and Gatorade, I was off for a 2.5 mile run....in the blazing sun....with a 100+ degree heat index....while still wearing one bike glove!


Update 4 (7/29):

Wow, another month has gone by, and I haven't given you guys an update on my progess!

I've been on my bike more than ever, and the rides keep getting longer, hillier, and hotter! Saturday, I'm scheduled for a 48 mile ride to be followed by a few miles of running. The weather forecast is calling for a high temperature of 99 degrees and a heat index of 113, but we're due to hit the road around 7:30, when it will only feel like it's 90. Oh yeah, the humidity is going to be in the high 70s, low 80s.

I thought I hated the cold back when I was training for the ING Georgia Marathon last year, but what I wouldn't give for a 35-40 degree training day now!

Swimming is coming along slowly, but at least I'm not regressing. Our last workout was a 950 meter continuous swim. That's half the distance of the half Ironman race I'm signed up for, and all things considered, I did better than I expected. I'm still extremely slow, but I did figure out a few flaws in my stroke about 600m into the swim. If I can get back to that point quickly, I think I'll improve dramatically.

On July 18th, I participated in my second official triathlon ever. It was the same event I did last year, and the difference in the swim this year was incredible. Last year, I spent a lot of time just floating and skulling so that I could keep my breath. This year, I managed to complete the swim at a steady, relaxed pace. I did go into sweet spot a couple times to recover from bumping into a people and getting out of breath and rhythm, but overall, I felt grat coming out of the water, unlike last year when I was just relieved that I didn't drown!

Another memorable day came on 7/21. I had my 6th annual checkup with my oncologist, and everything is still clear. In fact, my blood work was the best it has ever been, and my CT scan was all around "unremarkable," and that's a GOOD thing!

It's less than 2 months until race day, and I'm stuck at $950 for my fundraising. Let's get the ball rolling again and kick in a few bucks in honor of those who haven't been as fortunate as I have and for the research towards finding a cure. Cancer sucks!


Update 4 (6/27):

Another week of build phase is in the books. Monday's swim workout was a lot lighter on the drills than in previous weeks, which is fine with me! I definitely have to work on my technique and build a bit of strength for the pull portion of the stroke, but I've found a comfort level than lets me make continuous forward progress in the water without straining my cardio much at all.

I've been having some tough runs after the cycling workouts over the weekends, and I wasn't sure if it was the heat & humidity, the fact that I'm running after coming off my longest bike rides ever, or a total loss of running conditioning since I'm not able to run on my lunch breaks like I used to. I decided to test things out with a 4 mile treadmill run Thursday night...everything felt fine there, so at least I can rule out the worst possible reason for my post bike running issues!

Friday was my first solo swim since training started (don't tell the coaches!). If I counted my laps correctly, I swam about 1.33 miles in just over an hour, and that included all the time that I had to stop and read the worksheet with the prescribed workout. I'm feeling a lot better about the 1.2 mile swim on race day after that!

Yesterday was my longest bike ride ever - 32 miles through rolling hills in the lovely Georgia heat and humidity. All in all, it wasn't too bad, but as I'm accustomed to with running, uphill stretches really tear me up. At times, I think I would've been faster carrying my bike on my shoulders and running up the hills. I followed that up with a 2 mile "run," which included a decent amount of walking, but my times weren't horrible. My second mile was even faster than the first, so I think some progress is being made.

Today was a 5 mile run through the hills of Shiloh Valley Drive and Barrett Lakes Blvd...into the sun for the first half and a heat index of 97 degrees. Ouch....glad that one's over!

Next Sunday, I'll be running my 5th Peachtree Road Race. You can blame that race on this whole kick that has taken me through more 5/10K races that I can remember, a half marathon, a full marathon, a sprint triathlon, and now this - training for a half Ironman. I always enjoy the Peachtree, and since I'm not putting any pressure on myself to finish in under an hour (I achieved that goal for a 10K earlier this year), I'm just going to have fun out there...for as long as the heat and humidity lets me, at least!


Update 3 (6/17):

Yay for recovery weeks! Last Saturday had me doing 26.5 miles on the bike followed up immediately with a 5.25 mile run. I think the temperature was somewhere in the 400-500 degree range because I was baking out in the sun!

I've had my first fall on my bike that day too. I decided to try a high that was a bit too much for me at the time, and I ended up clipping out of my pedals and stopping a moment. When I tried to clip back in and start climbing, I didn't have enough push to keep upright, and I landed straight on my left side with no real damage done other than to my ego. I figure if I go down fewer than 5 times during my training, that will be a win in my book.

My swimming seems to be improving, although I haven't spent enough time in the pool. At this point, signing up for a sprint triathlon this July may provide the kick I need to get swimming more frequently.


Update 2 (5/27):

I'm hoping something will click for me at the the swim clinic next week because swimming practice drills, especially back balance, are not my forte!

Our first brick workout (bike ride followed immediately by a run) was last Saturday, and I felt pretty good. I averaged 18.6 mph over my 15 mile bike ride without putting too much effort into it. I tested using my aero bars while on the road for the first time, and those are definitely going to take some getting used to! After the 15 mile bike ride, I went out for a 2 mile run, and I was able to keep up a pretty decent pace despite starting with spaghetti legs from the bike.


Update 1 (5/17):

The kickoff meeting last Tuesday really helped remind me why Team in Training is so important, and that is to raise funds towards blood cancer research and awareness. Unlike other diseases, blood cancers are not typically proclaimed as "cured." Successful treatment may last a lifetime, but there's also the real possibility of a relapse, and subsequent rounds of treatment are often more difficult that the initial ones.

On a happier note, training has officially started! The tri team is expected to have close to 100 participants, many of whom are also TNT alumni. I met a few of the coaches and mentors at dinner after the kickoff meeting, and I got to meet a number of fellow participants during a 3.5-4 mile run on Saturday. Last night was my first round of bike training on my indoor trainer...I only completed 10 miles, but that's what the program called for, and with no coasting on the trainer, I was pedaling hard for each yard.

Tonight is the first group swim...this should be interesting! Unlike other teammates, I don't seem to have much of a problem with bouyancy, but trying to propel myself forward in the water is another story.

Thanks again to those who have already contributed generously to my campaign! We're already close to 40% of my goal. Let's see if we can get to 50% in the next week or so.



Supporter Comments

    "You're an inspiration, Brian! Best of luck with the rest of training and the Big Day!"

    Lauren Highfill Williams

    Wed Sep 01 01:57:02 EDT 2010

    "helping to end all forms of cancer!"

    Sherry Ridge

    Wed May 12 07:02:03 EDT 2010

My Fundraising Total

Raised: $2,052.00 | Goal: $2,001.00
103 %

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