Swim and Bike to Beat Cancer

Time for a New Challenge
Apr 23, 2012

Welcome to my Team In Training Fundraising Page.

Almost 3 years ago I was overweight and in generally bad health, and was looking for a change. Some of my best friends had told me about Team In Training(TNT) and how joining had changed their lives as well having finished a marathon. I thought they were crazy, I had never run more than 2-3 miles in my life, but I decided to drink the kool aid and join TNT.

Now those same friends have run multiple marathons, finished triathlons, an Ironman... the list goes on. And since then, and thanks to TNT, I've put 3 marathons, and hundreds of miles in training, under my belt.

Finishing 2009 San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon. My first Marathon.

And now I've decided to embark on a new challenge: The Vineman Aquabike. It's a 2.4 mile swim up the Russian River, followed by a 112 mile bike ride through Northern California's Wine Country. I love to swim, and I love to bike, but these are some pretty insane distances, but I'm confident that TNT will get me there. I mean, they did teach this lazy bum to run a marathon!

Swim practice.

The bike.

Ultimately, all of this isn't just to help me cross a finish line. The money you donate will go and help fund research to find cures for various blood diseases, like leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Since I've joined TNT I've met some amazing people who are facing these diseases, and they're the true heroes.

Remember, every little bit helps! Don't be afraid to use the "Other" box!

And, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for all your support!

And please, keep the giggling to a minimum when y'all finally see me in my biking clothes.

- Rommel

UPDATE: January 18

The journey to the Aquabike continues! This past Saturday our team did our bike marker set. We had to ride a minimum of 25 miles within 2 hours. I did 30 miles and some change. Not without struggle mind you. We started at the LA Zoo, and rode through Griffith Park, and that included a pretty gnarly hill that went up and up for a mile, with an annoying "bump" at the very top. I went from averaging 17mph through most of the course to less than 7mph. Clearly I need to work on the hills. But, I survived, and I'm the better for it. By July that hill will be a mole hill.

And, last night was our marker set for the swim. We had to do 1000 yards within 30 minutes. I did it in 36 minutes. Now, just because we weren't able to finish within the alotted time didn't mean we'd get kicked out or anything, it was an indicator on where we need to focus more attention on. Now considering a good many people did their's in 24, 23, and even 18 minutes means I need to catch up, but I'm confident I can make it. A month ago I could barely finish 25 yards without stopping. Now I can comfortably do 200 yards non-stop. I just get REALLY tired after that. Our coaches are pretty great, and know how to properly motivate and guide us. I was offered the chance to be dropped 1000 yards off shore via helicopter with a shark set loose behind me. How's that for getting me going! :) Seriously though, I love em and they're great.

I have until July to conquer the bike and the pool, and it will be done. Not for me, but for those that I am raising these funds for: The champions (not victimes!) that are fighting cancer. Those that are living with it, and facing it, day by day. What we do is physically taxing, but its a mosquito bite compared to what the real heroes are dealing with.

UPDATE: February 1

Been having some shoulder problems. Its kept me out of the pool for the last few days. I've been seeing a Chiropractor, who also happens to be the same one my coach sees. Aside from that, all has been pretty well. I've been pretty diligent, at least more than I usually am, about stretching and doing strength and core work.

Big news was last Saturday. It was the big 40 mile ride with the team. It was a 3 hour ride, with a 40 mile minimum. I managed to put in 44 miles in 2 hours and 57 minutes. I owe the team 3 minutes. It was a gorgeous day to ride PCH. There were a few good hills, but the big problem: lots of strong winds. At one point, going downhill with the wind behind my back, I was cruising at 35mph. Later on, fighting the wind, going downhill, I was at nice steady 18mph. I was knocked off the road too! But we knocked it out and finished strong! 44 miles is officially my longest distance!

I managed to bring the Go Pro camera with me again, and captured 25+ miles of the ride. Click me and enjoy!


UPDATE: March 5th

It's 9:30pm, and I'm still at work. The soreness I've been feeling all day throughout my body has been a constant reminder that I can now call myself a triathlete. Yup. I swam. I biked. And, I even ran. Friday to Sunday, was a training weekend for the team. We loaded up Taco.Dos, transforming her into the Triathlon War Machine.

Saturday morning we met up with the rest of the team to start our 2 hour bike ride. 26 mile minimum. I logged in 31.34, which included a flat tire! My first real course flat! It was a crappy experience, but I wasn't alone. That hazard caused 2 other flats. Upon returning to base, the team set out for an hour run, which means I sat in the shade in my flip flops and chugged my recovery drink.

After a lunch and picking up race packets, and a clinic on what to do with said packets, we took a walk around the transition area, then we donned our wetsuits and jumped into the chilly waters of Lake Cahuilla for a few hundred yards of swimming.

Sunday was the actual training event. The 2012 Desert International Distance (.75 mile swim, 24 mile bike, 6 mile run) Triathlon. I'm not gonna lie, the swim sucked. It wasn't the best experience for me. I got kicked in the head twice, which knocked me off my rhythm, which brought on the anxiety, and the inability to breathe properly. I was winded, and slowed down. I ended up coming in last in my age group in the swim. The bike was another story. I averaged 16.8mph, probably one of my faster rides, on a flat course. Of course that excitement was slightly taken away by the droves of sperm-helmeted riders constantly passing me by. All good, I highly doubt many of them biked 30 miles the day before. :P

So, as I finished the bike portion, I figured I'd give the run an actual go. I had already decided to at least walk it, that wait I complete the event. In a moment of lunacy, likely brought on by one of the kicks I took to the head, I decided to actually run. I squeezed into my CEP knee brace and off I went. The looks on my coaches' faces scared me a little as they all had that look that screamed "VINEMAN FULL!" as I ran by. Granted I wasn't pulling in any decent speed, and I stuck with a 2:1 interval, but hey, gotta (re)start somewhere!

So, 3 hours and 43 minutes after I jumped in the water I became a Triathlete. And boy did it feel good! If there's one thing I'm taking away from this experience so far, is that I am surrounded by some of the most amazing people. All on a mission to help end cancer, and I am proud to be standing by them.

Throughout it all I managed to con my good friend Carlos to carry around my camera and shoot some video, and paired it with my GoPro and I cut together another video to commemorate my first Triathlon. Click on the link below and enjoy!

Desert Triathlon 2012

UPDATE: April 22

Saturday April 14th through Sunday April 21 has been one of the most physically taxing week. On April 14th, the team rode 56 miles along PCH. Mileage-wise, that wasn't a huge deal, but what made it "interesting" were the 25mph winds, and the 5.5mile/1600 feet climb. The first 20 miles of the ride we were confronted by a headwind of 25mph, with gusts up to 35mph. It was brutal. Granted, it made the ride back a lot of fun, but still. Then, at mile 40, we rode up Encinal Canyon, which is a 5.5 mile stretch of road, that climbs 1600 feet. Which was then followed by another short jaunt against the 25mph winds before calling it a ride. It was my first big ride since recovering from my back injury, and that still proved somewhat of a hindrance as I had to stop a few times to stretch as I climbed Encinal.

The following Tuesday was swim practice, and I broke the 3000 yard barrier by swimming 3200 yards with little to no shoulder pain! It was rough, but, I got it done.

Thursday I managed a nice 20 mile ride before work, doing some speed work to get me up there. I managed just a hair under 17mph average for that ride. When I first started, I was hitting about 14.5-15mph.

Friday was a swim lesson with Coach Jason. It wasn't so much a distance training session as it was to fix my form and technique. It was definitely a strength builder.

Saturday was the big day. The team met up at Angel Stadium to begin our ride to Solana Beach in San Diego, a distance of 80 miles. The ride had a few rolling hills, nothing too crazy, and it was mostly flat. It was also very scenic! It was down PCH, along the beach, through some coastal towns. We even got to do a spot of whale watching! 4 Grey Whales were frolicking no more than 50 yards from the sand just south of Newport Beach. A little further away were a pod of dolphins. It was an amazing site. The 12 year old boy in me had a few good giggles as we rode past the San Onofre nuclear power plant. People who've driven to San Diego or have seen The Naked Gun know what I'm talking about. 5.5 hours later I arrive at Pizza Portal, in Solana Beach. I decided to tack on a few extra miles, riding a grand total o 84 miles! It's my personal best! The team rode the Amtrack back to Anaheim, where many of us sat and relaxed with a cold drink in the cafe car. An amazing day with some amazing people.

Sunday was another significant day: My 2nd open water swim. The team met up at Tower 26 in Santa Monica for a nice chilly swim out at sea. And yes, once again we were joined by dolphins! They were a little ways off, but still very close. I still have some anxieties to get over, but the more I do this, the more comfortable I'll be.

So, that's how I spent my last week. And yes, I still think I'm crazy.


Supporter Comments

    "Thanks Rommel for your hard work for being an inspiration!"


    Thu Jun 14 02:35:04 EDT 2012

    "Good Luck Rommel! So very proud of you and God Bless!"

    Elizabeth Anama

    Sun Jun 03 01:58:39 EDT 2012

    "Best of Luck Rommel! You and your team are amazing!"

    Mike & Gabi Duncan

    Fri Jun 01 02:23:52 EDT 2012

    "run forrest run!"

    Michael Anama

    Fri Jun 01 02:02:15 EDT 2012

    "WOO HOO! GO Rommel!"

    Jesyka Lueck

    Wed May 30 12:09:09 EDT 2012

    "This donation was made on behalf of my co-worker, Lowann Rowass"

    Lowann Rowass

    Thu May 17 12:58:46 EDT 2012

    "Proud that you got back into the groove with TNT and training man. Keep it going, keep on training and being healthy, even after it is all over. Handle it man!"

    John Lebardo

    Thu May 10 07:47:04 EDT 2012

    "To all the people in my life that struggle with blood born cancers or diseases that can lead to it. Thank you Rommel for getting healthy and helping others. What a great contribution. "

    James David Hattin

    Wed May 09 02:07:53 EDT 2012

    "Happy Birthday Rommel! I'm making this donation in honor of my father Anthony J. Cortazzo, Jr. 2 TIME CANCER SURVIVOR and WARRIOR and also in honor of my Aunt and Godmother, Philomena "Dolly" Cortazzo-Scott who is currently fighting for her life against lung and brain cancer that has matestesized."

    Chrissy Cortazzo

    Thu Apr 26 08:25:40 EDT 2012

    "Not all of us can be as cool as Frankie and your family. You're still awesome, good luck."

    Matt 'Not as cool as Frankie' Edmunds

    Sat Mar 03 06:51:19 EST 2012

    "It's been an amazing journey so far, can't wait to cheer you on in July! You are such an inspiration!"

    Melissa Borek

    Fri Jan 13 01:21:31 EST 2012

    "Hopefully you'll get my company match as well."

    Frankie Ali

    Wed Dec 21 10:51:22 EST 2011

    "You can do eeeeeet! Have a great race. And hey, there's wine after!"

    Sherrie De Guzman

    Fri Oct 21 12:37:31 EDT 2011

    "Go Rommel Go!!!"

    Petty Goodman

    Thu Jun 14 02:24:35 EDT 2012

    "Amazing job you are doing Rommel. So proud of you! Best of luck. Love Kellie"

    The Rutkowski Family

    Wed Jun 13 11:35:42 EDT 2012

    "Your an inspiration to us all buddy! "

    Joseph Spano

    Tue Jun 12 06:26:24 EDT 2012

My Fundraising Total

Raised: $6,240.00 | Goal: $6,000.00
104 %

Make a Donation

We are sorry donations are no longer being accepted for this participant for this event.

My Thanks To

ADP $700.00
Eduardo Tabay $700.00
ADP $600.00
Eduardo Tabay $600.00
Christopher Wilno $163.99
James David Hattin $150.00
Rover Calderon $150.00
Rommel Calderon $150.00
Warren Perdon $130.00
Herminio Calderon $100.00
Elizabeth Anama $100.00
Suzanne Chavez $100.00
Baby Bella $100.00
Rachel Calderon Young $100.00
Elaine Calderon $100.00
Joseph Pease $75.00
Petty Goodman $50.00
The Rutkowski Family $50.00
Christopher Fiorello $50.00
Andranik Taranyan $50.00
Joseph Spano $50.00
Christopher Jordan $50.00
Bob Homami $50.00
jane lee $50.00
Robert Price $50.00
Raymond-Zachary-Denise Ca... $50.00
Chrissy Cortazzo $50.00
Chris Strauss $50.00
scott rosekrans $50.00
Julian Fitzpatrick $50.00
Pineda Family $50.00
Frankie Ali $50.00
Lori Jomsky $50.00
Michael Anama $40.00
Jesyka Lueck $40.00
Elektra $36.00
Marvin Tabangay $35.51
Robert Taylor $35.00
Jakris Smittant $34.50
Tony Iavicoli $30.00
Arnel Alinea $30.00
Cristina Iacob $30.00
Melissa Borek $30.00
Michael Cliett $25.00
DianaJean Bella $25.00
Tuan Vu $25.00
Carlos Perez $25.00
Piyush Ved $25.00
Victoria Stein $25.00
Tabitha Constantino $25.00
Brian Colello $25.00
Francis L Camacho $25.00
Amanda Prout $25.00
Kelley Puckett $25.00
buddy gheen $25.00
Paul Nakayama $25.00
Mike & Gabi Duncan $25.00
Gayle and Shawn $25.00
Bianca Lucas $25.00
McKesson $25.00
Matt 'Not as cool as Fran... $25.00
McKesson $25.00
Jerwin Garcia $25.00
Dean Calderon $25.00
Jonathan Luna $25.00
Sherrie De Guzman $25.00
Ian Reves $25.00
Amy Yen $20.00
John Gatdula $20.00
Neneng Manukay $20.00
Emily Conlon $15.00
Robert Korotky $10.00
Joseph Gatdula $10.00
Lowann Rowass $10.00
Rachael Burnson  
John Lebardo  
Jake Long  
Zoic Studios  
Rae Calderon