Tri for a Purpose

Reflections of Gratitude and Joy
Jul 02, 2013

What began as a lymphoma-induced brainfart back in September has now become a reality--I have completed my first olympic distance triathlon!

When I went into George's Cycles looking for a toe clip for my mountain bike in September last year, I had no idea that I would come out with a triathlon goal and a bike to do it. I had just been diagnosed with lymphoma and was uncertain about my future. I first looked at the cruiser bikes thinking that I might find some pleasure in gliding along Boise's greenbelt listening to Steely Dan. But, then the idea hit me that the next logical step after running a marathon with Team in Training was to complete the triathlon for TNT if I was healthy enough to do it by summer. I was determined to make something positive out of my cancer journey.

As I think back on this last year, I am filled with thanks and gratitude to all who have helped me on this journey. I did not do this alone! Many many thanks go out to my very long list of supporters. So far, we have raised over $5,100 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. This is absolutely incredible. Thank you for helping me to do this!

My thanks to Frank at George's Cycles for fitting me with a stellar Specialized tri-bike that I love to ride and to my husband, Kirk, for buying a bike to match mine so that we could ride together.

Our small TNT TRI team teamed up with the big dogs from the Boise Y Triathlon team to workout and learn. Thank you Kevin, Kelly, Kate, Chris, Craig and all of the Boise Y club for leading and inspiring me! You have made a tremendous difference in my life and in the lives of so many others by helping us raise money to fight blood cancers.

I also want to thank Antonio and Dominique from Tri Town for the great triathlon clinics that you held for our little team. Sometimes all of the information and equipment can be intimidating for us newbies. Thank you for breaking it down and showing us the way.

To my TNT teammates and our leader Dan, you all inspire me to do better. Thank you for swimming, biking and running with me and for your great example and determination. Thank you John and Amber for your undying encouragement, love and support. You are the finest example of human beings on the planet. We had a good time, didn't we?

I'd like to especially thank my family. You have put up with incessant conversations about hydration, long-distance training, triathlon rules, biking techniques, swimming fears and doubts and many other topics too boring to be true. I love all of you and I am so fortunate to be supported by you in all things. This was truly a team effort and I am so grateful for your willingness to help me and stand by me.

Finally, to my did not win this one! I cried on the boatramp before the swim when one of my TNT teammates from San Francisco asked me about my 'survivor' sharpie tattoo, remembering the sting of your appearance in my life last August and all the friends and family who have been affected by you. But, as I walked down the ramp, I pushed back the tears and braved the cold lake and enjoyed it just to spite you, playing in the water and shouting out 'hi' to the lifeguards on the paddle boards as they cheered me on. I rode my bike like the wind, knowing that you could never take away my joy at reaching terminal velocity in the downhills, surrounded by the scent of the pines. You tried to remind me of your pain as the temperature climbed on the run, but I knew that I had the strength to outlast anything you could dish out, especially as I was cheered and helped along by all of the others who were out to fight you on Sunday. I even danced to Michael Jackson at mile 4 just for fun to the sound of laughter behind me. I will keep fighting you....for myself and for the many others who are with us still fighting and for those we have lost to you. We will conquer you!

Crunch Time!
Jun 19, 2013

Big bodacious goals are never easy to achieve! The challenge is to do a little each day to move forward in the hope that the little steps will add up to big results.

When I set out on this quest to complete a triathlon I had no idea about the challenges I would face--anxiety, exhaustion, boredom, to name a few. I am almost there. June 30th will be here in the blink of an eye and I am feeling pretty confident that all of my training will allow me to achieve my goal of completing this triathlon.

But, I still have a long way to go to reach my $10,000 fundraising goal. It has become more and more important to me to spread the word about what the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society does in support of cutting-edge research, patient and family support and information services.

I've been blessed to be declared cured from my random encounter with lymphoma, but so many others need our help. This organization is funding research that is making huge strides for cures that we all can say 'Someday is Today'.

Please join me by making a donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The life you impact may be that of a loved one or even yourself!

A Panic Attack? Really?
Apr 30, 2013

Last Saturday was my first try at open water swimming with my new wet suit and I've been debating with myself since whether or not I should write this post... It doesn't portray me as a tower of strength, but here it goes anyway. It is now apparent to me that this triathlon thing will not be accomplished with grace, poise and ease as yet another humbling experience is now under my belt.

On Saturday morning, I got into my new wetsuit and braced for the 55 degree water at Clocktower Pond. All of the other swimmers got in and there was excitement in the air. Surprisingly, I did not really feel cold and proceeded to follow the other swimmers into the route across the cove--about 100 yards across--for an easy warm-up. Piece of cake.

Midway out, I tried to put my face in the water and started having difficulties just executing my basic relaxed freestyle stroke. It is hard to describe, but I found myself not being able to get enough air. I rolled over on my back to float and this did not help. It felt like a weight was pressing down on my chest and it was keeping me from breathing. I kept looking to the lifeguard on the kayak to see if she was even noticing me ( I was convinced that she did not even see me). Somehow, I kept swimming, using the breast stroke and finally made my way to the other side. I was totally freaked out--heart racing, chest heaving and trying to catch my breath and wits. Whoa! Panic attack and a major breakdown!

I'm still trying to mentally reconcile all the lake swimming I did as a kid and all the snorkeling I've done as an adult with this experience. My coach Chris explained it as 'mammalian diving reflex' and says that once I've practiced relaxing and swimming in cold water, it will go away. Eventually, I will be able to relax and just swim. After my 'episode', he worked with me on Saturday just getting my face in the water and swimming short distances. I was able to make it across the cove and back without a major attack, but still not totally comfortable.

For now, I'm back to square one.... I swam at the pool yesterday! Yes, I still know how to swim! My next step in open water will be to swim in circles close to the shore to try to avoid the panic part of the equation. Once again, I am reminded that so many of our challenges in life are in our own heads.

I can't help but compare this to the panic and anxiety I experienced with my Lymphoma diagnosis....we like to think that we are in control of our brains, but sometimes they just take over our physical responses. I know from my experience dealing with the panic side of cancer that I can also eventually change the way my brain thinks about cold water swimming.

When I was diagnosed with Lymphoma last year, I was fortunate to have help from LLS volunteers and resources....thank you for supporting my triathlon efforts so that we can continue to extend a helping hand of support, encouragement and hope for the next person who faces the panic and anxiety of being diagnosed with leukemia or lymphoma.

"There may be a few bumps...."
Apr 18, 2013

I had an awesome time doing my first triathlon, the Spring Sprint Tri in Boise. But, I did hit a major bump in my triathlon road....

I turned in a great time in the swim on Friday night--16:32 for a 750--not bad for a first-timer. On Saturday morning, I was cruising along quite nicely on my bike, feeling great and powerful. About one mile from the transition to the run, I got a flat tire along with a full-on, side-of-the-road humbling as I waved at some of my fellow racers passing me by. I did get going again and I finished the race--certainly not in record time, but I got it done.

It seems to me that this is kinda how life goes...we never know when the next nail in the road will come our way or when the next humbling will occur.

For me, cancer has been humbling. It stripped away my pride and left me on my knees asking first for a favorable diagnosis and then for the strength to make it through treatments. I found myself humbled and in awe at those around me who were/are still going through multiple rounds of chemotherapy, radiation and various transplants and transfusions--fighters every one.

I'm thankful that on the other side of my treatment my way of thinking about bumps in the road has been transformed. Cancer gave me a renewed commitment to make a difference in any way I could. (But, it still sucks, nothing can change my mind about that.)

I know I won't be the fastest triathlete out there on June 30th, but I know that I will do my best to survive whatever bumps come my way. And, with the help of my supporters and teammates, we will join together to provide support, assistance and hope to those who have been diagnosed with blood cancers and those who will be diagnosed in the future.

We will remain strong and keep going in the memory of those that we have lost.

We will do our best to encourage others to fight on through the bumps and finish.

Please consider supporting my triathlon efforts by making a donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

The "Grind"--Two Months Into Triathlon Training
Mar 22, 2013

Today is March 22nd and I am just about 2 months into this Triathlon journey. I've hit the portion of the training that is referred to as 'the grind'.

Here are my statistics since I started training on January 25th::

  • 22 hours in the pool perfecting my technique and doing all kinds of weird drills
  • 16 hours on the bike trainer
  • 10 hours running (hey! I already know how to do this!)
  • 10 hours strength training
  • 9 hours in assorted cross training such as kickboxing, elliptical and Ashtanga yoga

I have to admit...this is really hard work! I keep telling myself it will all be worth it when I don't drown in the lake during the swim. But, that's only a small part of my motivation to get me through 'the grind'...

Yesterday, I read in the New York Times that researchers have developed a T-cell targeted treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia that is super-promising:

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society supports research that is making a difference! Your support of my efforts through Team in Training is changing lives.....I'm going to push through 'the grind' to get to the other side in the hopes that we can see more promising research just like this.

Thank you so much to my supporters....If you haven't donated, please consider a donation in support of this effort!

Older posts

Supporter Comments

    "Great cause!"

    Eric Smith

    Mon Feb 04 11:58:27 EST 2013

    "Outstanding cause and effort"

    Richard Klug

    Tue Feb 19 09:27:59 EST 2013

    "Go get 'em Patty! "

    John Scroggins

    Wed Feb 20 10:50:23 EST 2013

    "Patty - You are an inspiration! "

    Jennifer Cannon

    Mon Feb 25 11:51:24 EST 2013

    "Good luck Patty."

    Matt Heres

    Mon Mar 04 01:49:09 EST 2013

    "Good luck Patty"

    Chris Brockman

    Fri Mar 08 08:15:01 EST 2013

    "You Go Girl!!! You are an inspiration and a dear friend! I'll am cheering you on! Marilyn Dompe"

    Marilyn Dompe

    Fri Mar 15 05:08:17 EDT 2013

    "Good Luck! "

    Karl Johan Uri

    Mon Mar 18 12:06:21 EDT 2013

    "Patty - you go girl! Glad to hear you are feeling better. Betty and Hugh"

    Betty and Hugh Hogan

    Mon Apr 01 11:05:15 EDT 2013

    "Keep going and good luck!"

    Chuck Reynolds

    Tue Apr 02 10:43:29 EDT 2013

    "Patty, Thank you for raising money for a great cause. GO TEAM! Susan "

    Susan Szymanski

    Wed Apr 03 05:58:25 EDT 2013

    "Patty - good luck with your journey! Proud of you!"

    Diane Aylsworth

    Thu Apr 18 11:18:35 EDT 2013

    "I am rooting for you!xoM"


    Thu Apr 18 04:31:32 EDT 2013

    "Patty thanks for your great inspiration"

    Jo Mysinger

    Thu Apr 18 05:27:43 EDT 2013


    Dane Bourquin

    Tue Apr 23 10:56:27 EDT 2013

    "Come on, you can win it this year!"

    Adam Chafetz

    Fri Apr 26 02:24:49 EDT 2013

    "Go, Patty, go! One stroke, one step, one push at a time. I am so proud of all of you!"

    Kathy McIntosh

    Thu May 16 11:23:32 EDT 2013

    "Go Patty! Thank you for all you're doing!"

    Cathy Holley

    Tue Jun 18 02:30:58 EDT 2013

    "Best of luck Patty! "

    Sarah Blaney

    Tue Jun 18 03:46:04 EDT 2013

    "You can do it Patty!"

    Melanie Everett

    Wed Jun 19 05:46:16 EDT 2013

    "My husband Greg died of neuroendrocine cancer on 7/26/2011. Although it was a different cancer I believe progress made in one field of cancer research leads to potential cures for others. Patty best of luck in your triatholon. You are a true fighter....."

    Janice Foster

    Mon Jun 24 06:21:43 EDT 2013

    "Congratulation Patty! Caroline x"

    caroline roux

    Mon Jul 08 04:06:55 EDT 2013

    "Patty Johnson, you're amazing. I've always known you were smart, strong, capable, funny and fun to hang out with, but until now, I didn't realize how deeply-strong, courageous and compassionate you are -- not mention astoundingly athletic! I'm so proud to know you."

    Carol L Metz

    Thu Jul 11 01:10:13 EDT 2013

    "Congrats on your recovery and training! And thanks for giving back. Dr. Dan"

    Dan Zuckerman

    Tue Jul 16 10:42:33 EDT 2013

My Fundraising Total

Raised: $5,811.20 | Goal: $10,000.00
58 %

Make a Donation

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

In Memory of

In Memory of Charline and honor of Bob & Dan

My Thanks To

Lynda Chafetz $250.00
Adam Chafetz $250.00
Robert Watson $200.00
Food Service Enablers Inc... $200.00
Nancy Watson $150.00
Kealy Baughman $100.00
Margaret Davis $100.00
Dan Zuckerman $100.00
Marc Isaacs $100.00
Melanie Everett $100.00
Sarah Theodore $100.00
Mary Betsy Curtin $100.00
Dane Bourquin $100.00
Nigel J. Thortinson, esq. $100.00
Sharon Mulder $100.00
Karen Weisberg $100.00
Susan Szymanski $100.00
Chuck Reynolds $100.00
Betty and Hugh Hogan $100.00
William Drucker $100.00
Marilyn Dompe $100.00
Harold Rumsey $100.00
Morgan Marketing $100.00
Jim Crystal $100.00
Claudia Hogue $100.00
Peggy McCormick $100.00
Judy Trimble $75.00
Brenda Bulcher $75.00
Ann Segerstom $50.00
Greg Ibsen $50.00
Joe DePippo $50.00
Julie Lizer Cook $50.00
Cathy Holley $50.00
Kathy McIntosh $50.00
Jo Mysinger $50.00
Diane Aylsworth $50.00
Janice Brister $50.00
Kelly Ruschman $50.00
Karen Ellis-Vant $50.00
Michael Jaeger $50.00
Beverly Stephen $50.00
Mary Petersen $50.00
Brent Frei $50.00
Mary Stephenson $50.00
Janet Parks $50.00
Kerri Conan $50.00
Heidi Munson $50.00
Cindy Todeschi $50.00
Paul Hineman $50.00
Ellen Holly $50.00
Kathleen Hayden $50.00
Barry Strauss Mogelonsky $50.00
Terry Dehaas $50.00
James Lovejoy $50.00
Mark Warner $50.00
David Clements $50.00
Charles Woodward $50.00
Pamela Mann $50.00
John Scroggins $50.00
Richard Klug $50.00
caroline roux $30.00
Ellen Koteff $30.00
Jamie Marcene Stocks $26.20
Richard Watson $25.00
Pam Yates $25.00
Thurman Haskell $25.00
Harold Whitman $25.00
Karl Johan Uri $25.00
Jeanne Bauer $25.00
Chris Brockman $25.00
Carolyn Stone $25.00
Kara Demorest $25.00
Merilee Marsh $25.00
J. Kent Sullivan $25.00
Matt Heres $25.00
Jennifer Cannon $25.00
Susan Hughes $25.00
Eric Smith $25.00
Ian Hare $20.00
Dawneen Blakeslee $20.00
Carol L Metz  
Amy Deitch  
Janice Foster  
Sarah Blaney  
Linda Demorest