Nov 202016
 

I did not want to get out of bed to do this race.  It was raining and I knew it was going to be muddy and it was going to be a bitch to clean my bike and it was going to be a lot of suffering…

What I am good at is registering, getting excited for a race, getting all my stuff ready, then the day of not wanting to go.  Jessie on the other hand is great and saying “suck it up buttercup, you are going” and she is right.  If I make her get up early on a Saturday or a Sunday I have to pony up and go.  My ONE saving grace is the weather forecast showed the current rain pushing through and having a dry race.

Corn Cross has been going on for a couple of years now and I have heard so many great things about it but could never schedule it in.  While Sad to not race Krugers I was excited to try out a new course and it did not disappoint.  When we got there it looked a lot longer than it was.  I think they said each lap was 1.5 miles but it looked like 2 to 2.5 miles.  When you have a huge farm to spread out on you sure can make a course look intimidating.  I don’t think it really rained much out there as the mud was very tacky.  The thick peanut butter stuff that packs onto everything and is a real pain to clean since it drys so fast and is sticky.  High quality farm mud.  Since I never raced here and did not get to pre-ride my first lap was just figuring out where to go.  After that I could try and really “race” – HA!  Again just with the older guys that started behind us.  My main competitor (just like at Heron Lakes and Barton) was over 70, oh how the mighty have fallen.  I will not see the results until Monday but I know that I passed a few guys in my race.  Jessie got some pictures to document that.  This was the strongest I felt but god I was glad it was over.  Again Patrick made it out.  Shared suffering is so much better than suffering alone.

Now things are bittersweet.  I don’t have to get up early on the weekends and deal with a muddy bike and a muddy me and make myself want to vomit but Cross is such a mental sport (it is for me anyway) I was just getting my head back into it.  I listened to a podcast back in the spring, I think it was one where they interviewed Angela Duckworth that wrote the book Grit and she mentioned that her family has to do one “Hard Thing”.  I kept telling myself – go do your hard thing, and thanks to amazing support from Jessie, I was able to do my hard thing every weekend.  Now my “Hard thing” can just be to go mountain biking and have fun.  Most of the time I don’t want to vomit when I am on my mountain bike.  It is a much more relaxing event.

I learned a lot about myself this year and am looking forward to starting my training for next year.  All I can do is improve.

Nov 202016
 

Barton is ALWAYS a brutal race.  Two nasty runups – it is long and hilly, always wet and muddy, and is a great finish for the Cross Crusade.  While a little bummed I did not do more Crusade races I am glad to have done Heron Lakes and Barton.  They are both great courses and really challenge you.  This course is so spread out Jessie could not run around too much and get pictures – PLUS I was pretty shot and did not make my last lap.  I was the cut off for our group.  While Heron Lakes was just a victory getting out there, Barton ( I knew it was going to be tough) was a severe blow to my mental state.  In the first picture I started way up at the front.  I have NEVER started that close to the front at Barton.  Going back over the years almost every picture shows me staging literally in the last row.  On the first lap I had so many guys go by me.  Very depressing when I used to be one of those guys that passed the slower riders up front.  That was one of the reasons I always liked starting at the back of Barton.  I was usually at my strongest by this race and it was fun to catch and pass people.  This time I was “that guy” in the way of the faster riders.  On my last lap I even hit a barricade and knocked it over into the racers on the other side.  My ego was more bruised than my body.  That shut me down for the rest of the race.  I did not want to do one more lap after that.  I just wanted to finish w/o hurting myself.  BUT I did have enough pride to beat the old guy in front of me.  Sort of a sad state this year.  All my battles have been with the 60+/70+ racers that start behind my group.  Really fitness has not been the issue the recovery from the vestibular neuritis is the problem.  I can turn pretty well to the right, the left is much more difficult, and anything really bumpy makes it hard to get a clear picture.  I hope I can rehab out of that.  Also great to see our friend Patrick Hunt out and racing.  It is always fun to share in the suffering.

Krugers, our traditional finishing race, was canceled this year do to Single Speed World Championships taking place in December so I will do Corn Cross the following week.  I have always wanted to do that race and now I can w/o the guilt of missing Krugers as I don’t think I could do back to back races.

Enjoy the pictures below.

Nov 072016
 

I want to thank Jessie for the pictures from today. I have never wanted a race to end so bad….

Battled with this old guy on the last two laps. He really wanted to beat me, I wanted to win too but honestly I did not care at the finish. I was just glad it was over and I did not quit and I did not throw upI At least now I will be mentally prepared for next week for what I consider the hardest race (that I do) of the year. Barton in brutal.

Nov 062016
 

​Just finished 5 days of chemo, only 3 weeks left in the racing season, beautiful blue skys after hammering rain all day yesterday. How could I not go race?  Thanks to Jessie for supporting me and putting up with my feeble attempts to race bikes. Her inspiration keeps me going and sane through this life change. 

First race in new team kit. Pictures later since we used the big camera. Nice to have some teammates supporting while all you want to do is quit or throw up. Seriously closest I have come in a long time to throwing up. Someone was cooking bacon on the course and every lap it just turned my stomach. 

Now the reward for racing today. I suspect a nap later too….

Oct 312016
 

That has pretty much been the status quo recently.

bertheadshot

Finished first round of 28 day chemo cycle and both blood tests show I am ready for the second round and my bumped up dosage.  I have not raced since September 28th.  The timing (and my motivation) have not worked out.  BUT we had a great week long vacation in Kauai that more than made up for any missed races.  I would love to get out there and race this weekend but that might be a tall order after a week of higher dose chemo.  I will keep on the bike this week and see if I can get the legs in shape.

The funny thing I noticed; the cold and wet and dark have not really deterred me, it is the clean up after.  It is so much work if the mud is out.  I see the pictures and videos from the races and it just makes me bummed that I did not go race.  I also feel pretty dialed into my body and I know not racing is the right decision right now.  The next three races are brutal hard so getting the motivation and energy up is going to be quite the task – sitting on the trainer and watching football is so much more inviting.  They also moved my race an hour and a half earlier.  That makes it even harder to get up on a weekend, eat, pack up all the crap, and head to some rainy soggy venue.

I did get out for a mountain bike ride once we got back from Kauai.  WOW, that really kicked my ass.  Thanks to Scott and Clay for putting up with my slow ass all day.  I clearly went off the keto diet while on vacation and my body did not react well to being confused once back.  I did not have any energy plus not riding all week really caught up to me.  The next day I had my blood test and found my red counts were pretty low.  Hard to move oxygen around when you don’t have enough hemoglobin to transport.

On the new news front I have been approved for a really cool device called Optune from a company called Novocure.  This device went so well through trials they stopped them early and Optune has become a part of the standard treatment for newly diagnosed Glioblastoma Patients.  Pretty amazing stuff OTHER than I have to shave my head.  Real bummer as it has just started growing back after radiation.  I made the comment to my Radiation Oncologist Dr Jerry that he made me look like Bert of Bert and Ernie fame.  Thus we changed our Halloween costume to take advantage of my remaining hair tuft.  The costumes have been a huge hit.  I still cannot believe I came to work this way.  Halloween is Jessie’s favorite holiday so I will do what it takes to make her happy.

Info on Optune https://www.optune.com/

Details of success related to using Optune with Temozolimide (TMZ) chemo treatments

https://www.optune.com/newly-diagnosed-glioblastoma/benefits-and-risks-for-newly-diagnosed-gbm

So expect pictures of my new headgear Wednesday and my first impressions.  Hard to go from a somewhat normal life back into the fight against cancer.  That is the worst, it is more psychological than physical anymore or seems to be.

Oh and tonight is the grand shave, I am joining the club Peter, Steve, and Jeff – any advice???

bert-ernie

Sep 112016
 

After the Labor Day travel it was back to work full time, UGH!  I was getting used to this part time stuff.  In addition we had a packed week.

  • Tuesday – Dinner with Torgy and Alana (oh and an unexpected blood draw – thank you cancer for reminding us)
  • Wednesday – My first Cross race of the season followed by our second fantasy football draft
  • Thursday – three hours of testing on my vestibular nerve and FOOTBALL
  • Friday – We won tickets to the Zoo concert.  Jake Bugg
  • Saturday – Me, Alsea falls shuttle day – Jessie, Dance and Tigard street fair.
  • Sunday – Laundry, yardwork and FOOTBALL! (and some down time)

So I will make this quick – great time catching up with Torgy and Alana.  We saw Alana and Brian’s summer production of Into the Woods.  They volunteer to do a 5 week summer musical production for middle and high school students.  It is always fun to see these kids pull off a Broadway musical, ACMA Theater. Then hear about the all that went on with the production.  I am always impressed what these two can pull off each year and with the talented kids they get as well.

Wednesday was my first race – Honestly this is the one thing I was most looking forward to and dreading at the same time.  When the doctors at OHSU said I had a brain tumor and they were going to cut it out one of the first things I asked was how soon I could ride once surgery was complete.  I was assured 3 months.  Well three months and 7 days later I did just that.  I was more nervous for this race than all but my first one.  It really helped that it was the Wednesday night “Blind Date at the Dairy” race series as it is my favorite and I know this course so well.  Being on this Ketogenic diet has really thrown my nutrition and race prep dietary planning out the window.  I was not sure how my body would respond not having carbs to rely on as a fuel source.  There is not much documentation utilizing strictly fat for high intensity competition.  There is good literature when doing all day low intensity like ultra’s or centuries where you keep your heart rate relatively low and go for many hours.  Cross is not like that at all, it is 100% for 40-50 minutes. In addition to just the nutrition, I am still dealing with my balance issues (more on this on the Thursday post) so I was worried about being a pack and dealing with the unexpected in a race environment.  Plus my fitness is not even close to what it used to be.  This was going to be my year to move up in class and was why I was working so hard in the spring.  (Subsequently probably helped me get through this whole tumor/nuronitis issue as well).

I had two goals, finish the race and in true Team Food Baby form, “Not come in last”!!  I staged in the back and off we went.  The pack started off pretty slow so I thought it would be a good opportunity to move myself up a bit.  I wanted to just ride my own pace and got in a group of about 5 of us doing the same.  When I looked at these guys I told myself I have to beat them, I am better than this even with all I have gone through.  I used the first lap to “settle in”.  On the second lap as I was starting to push a bit harder, there is a path as you come out of the velodrome that follows some trees and bushes before you do a 180 and head back toward the main area I felt a sharp pain on my left butt cheek.  Then I felt it again in a different spot.  In looking at the guy in front of me I saw a bunch of yellow jackets buzzing around him.  Almost simultaneously 3-4 of us yelled I just got stung.  While I got popped three times on my ass I was better off than the guy in front who had one go into his helmet and he had to stop and quickly get his helmet off.  After the third lap the sting was starting to fade.  Thankfully the course staff rerouted us away from that section and got some wasp killer out. Typically these races are in the 4-6 lap range.  I heard the announcer say that this was a long’ish course (1.7) miles and he expected us to do 4 laps.  I was keeping an eye on lap times and was running in the 8 and a half minute per lap.  I was planning on just 4 laps, heck I was hoping for just 4 laps,  so on that 4th lap I started pushing to pass several guys I knew I should beat.  As we were coming into the infield just before the finish line I heard the bell.  The bell signifies the last lap so one more to go.  CRAP – I had expected this to be the last one.  When I looked at my computer I realized there was a lot of time left, I had to do one more lap – shit.  I had used up most of what I had on that 4th lap expecting to finish.  Once across the line and off for another trip I had to rest.  There is a long downhill stretch and a tight circle then an uphill that routes around the main course area then back into the trees and up a hill with steps cut into it.  I got passed buy this fat guy.  That is when the resting ended I could not lose to this guy, I can rest when I am done.  Somewhere in there I passed him, I think it was where we head into the trees and up the steps.  I just remember after the steps and turning back into the trees on a down hill seeing him fall over cramping up.  I knew I did not have to worry about him anymore and I could target the guy I really wanted to beat as I had lined him up on the 4th lap.  While I tried I did not have the gas to catch him BUT I did achieve my goals.  I made the race, and did not come in last.  My race is a mixed group of guys over 40 racing in two classes 3’s and 4’s.  I raced 4’s and out of all those guys (and starting in the back) I came in 54th out of 62 finishers.  5 guys did not finish.  Not bad for a guy that had a craniotomy a few months ago and still cannot walk heel to toe in a straight line without losing his balance.  I know I could have got the two in front of me if I had just pushed a bit more.  Will see what happens next week!

Oh and I almost forgot, the bee’s created a controversy on the OBRA Chat as the yellow jackets were referred to as bees and not wasps.  When it was announced that the dairy was going to “take care of them” one individual said not to hurt the bees as they are in a global decline and need to be protected.  It was pointed out they were not bees, they were in fact Yellow Jacket Wasps and they should be eliminated.  The race organizers announced a bee sting contest:

There were a lot of things that made last night special. Perfect weather, a magical sunset, the healthy competitive spirit shared by our competitors… oh, and the enormous swarm of angry bees full of hate. Once located we fought bravely, turning the course into a wild maze around the occupied tree and emptying a can of bee spray into their base. By that point rider and course worker casualties were extensive, and the offensive chemical tactic only seemed to make them more angry.

To honor our wounded (operations crew excluded), we’d like to announce the first and hopefully only:
BLIND DATE BEE STING CONTEST!
Submissions will be judged by location (no photo evidence, please), intensity, and number of stings. Extra credit for creativity and storyline. Winners chosen by a panel of medical professionals and celebrity guests, Prizes to be determined.
I repeat, photo evidence is not allowed, i’ll take your word for it. If i see that little paperclip on the email its going to be deleted.

My submission is as follows

Ode to the Bee

(In your best Forest Gump voice)

Something bit me!

Oh Mr B how can it be, you bit me?
Pop, Pop, Pop, One, two, three

UnBeelevable Mr B you stung me.
It wasn’t me, you say, Mr B

Vespidae Vespula, the left buttock wasp
Attack while we race cross

Yellow jacket alert
Skip that section, no dessert

Finish the race as the sting dissipates
Only to return as an itch that never abates.

Next week you will be dead
And I will not tread

On you Mr B
As you are a friend to me…

After the race was done we rushed across town to do our 2nd fantasy football draft.

Thursday was my long awaited testing of my vestibular system.  I did a hearing test, pressure tests, a bunch of tests with these goggles on that can track my eyes as I look at dots moving in front of me.  Then they blackout the goggles and watch my eyes with infrared so they can see what my eyes do when they move my head around but I have no reference point.  Probably the coolest and most interesting test was the water test.  They put water in your ear that is 7 degrees colder than body temp, then 7 degrees warmer than body temp for 30 seconds.  Then once they stop if the vestibular nerve is working you will feel dizzy. That worked on my right ear indicating normal.  My left – nope.  So she did a third test with even colder water and still nothing.  So basically my vestibular nerve on my left side is no longer working.  Since I have started vestibular rehab that is basically all I can do as these nerves generally don’t repair themselves.  While that is what they thought, the audiologist has seen two guys come back in with some partial recovery so maybe I will be lucky and get some recovery too.  But then, once I go back on chemo, I don’t think my body will repair like it would normally so I am not too optimistic there.  She said it generally takes about 6 months to start recovery and 12 months to get somewhat back to “normal” function with the rehab PT.  Given I had a little procedure in my first 6 months since occurrence she feels I have done remarkable in my recovery.  I meet with the Dr next week to go over the results in more detail.  So more on that later.

Thursday night was me suffering from Wednesday racing and FOOTBALL! First game of the season and it was a good one.  The Denver Carolina rematch.  Inbetween I was trying to pack and get ready for Saturday mountain biking at Alsea Falls.  It was shuttle day!! Pay $35 and you get a ride to the top and can do as many laps as you can fit in.  Whoo Hoo!!!

Friday FREE tickets to the last concert at the Oregon Zoo.  The Zoo concerts can be a lot of fun but a bit crowded.  This was really relaxing as it was mildly attended, we did not pay for it so were free to leave at any time, and got there right after work so had plenty of time to just wander and see some of the zoo animals.  Sadly after labor day they go to winter hours and the zoo officially closes at 5pm so we could not see that much.  Since I posted on FB live at the concert I will just include a couple of pictures here.  It was a very nice night!

Saturday was Alsea Falls shuttle.  I will save that for its own post as this one is now quite long.

Note: when my pictures were uploaded to Google Photos from my race, google put them into a little video.  Rather than me upload those pictures I will just upload that video.  It had most of the good ones in it.