Wednesday, October 3, 2012

"Why We Fight"

In October of 2010, I participated in the Half Full Triathlon. I was a member of Trakkers (now Team Rev3), and had learned about Ulman Cancer Fund through the local chapter of Mid Maryland Tri club. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the Rev3 crew would be at the race, providing timing and supporting some of the race infrastructure.

I completed the race with a torn meniscus in my knee. I knew I was injured, debated switching to the aquavelo, but decided to go for it. I walked 11+ of the 13.1 miles, but I finished. When I wanted to quit, I said "you can't quit cancer, and I am not quitting this #$^%&#*@ race!" So I finished, with my teammate Kati (who works for Rev3 timing) and Susie Rocks to meet me at the finish. (yes...the knee brace slid down there at the finish).

In 2011, I worked at the race, this time more connected to the cause and the Team Fight and Ulman crew.

In April of 2012, I embarked on 7 days of the Rev3/Ulman Run Across America. This was a truly epic adventure, in the name of young adults battling cancer, and young adult cancer survivors. All along Rev3 has been a huge supporter of Ulman. This year, Rev3 took a bigger role in the Half Full race. They included it in their race series and are focusing more of their resources on the race.

So then came the big announcement that has polarized the triathlon world...Lance Armstrong is competing as a survivor, and the Half distance race will not have USAT sanctioning. There are tons of opinions....honestly that isn't what this post is about.

This post is about Amy...a Mom of two young girls who fought cancer and now gives her time to others through Ulman's Cancer to 5K program.

This post is about Jessica...a cancer survivor and liver transplant recipient who is an amazing ray of sunshine to all who she encounters. Her positive outlook and her dedication to Team Fight is contagious.

This post is about a friend who is a mother, fighting breast cancer.

This post is about Harmony and Ryan...who are battling a fierce enemy with love, family, prayer, and medicine. Harmony helped kick off the Run Across America in raise awareness and share support.
Harmony and the Rev3/Ulman Crew

The Half Full Triathlon is about being Half Full. It is about helping young adults fight cancer. It is about providing navigation services, and support groups, and hope. So I choose to view this event as Half Full. I choose to see Lance Armstrong as an ambassador for Cancer awareness and cancer philanthropy. I look forward to seeing many of my Rev 3, Ulman Cancer Fund, and Team Fight friends this weekend.

For Amy, Jessica, Harmony and Ryan, and so many others...this is why we fight.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Tribute to "Old McDonald"

Many people knew my grandfather as Dr. Frank McDonald, who made many contributions to the world of physics and specifically the science of cosmic rays. He was chief scientist at NASA, the science advisor for Ronald Reagan, and played a large part in the Voyager spacecraft program. It is beyond poetic that the last thing he did was to give a lecture to a group of his peers.

From the "Encyclopedia Astronautica"
McDonald, Frank B American scientist, at NASA 1959-1989. Served as project scientist on nine NASA satellite programs, NASA Chief Scientist 1982-1987.
Frank B. McDonald began a career with NASA in 1959 as head of the Energetic Particles Branch in the Space Science Division at Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland. Thereafter he served as project scientist on nine NASA satellite programs. In 1982 he became NASA Chief Scientist, serving until 1987 when he returned to Goddard as associate director/chief scientist.

In other circles, he was known as "Frank", "Grandpa", "Granddad", "Old Mcdonald", or "EIO". (The last two were I think his favorite titles). He was an amazing patriarch, who showed love through actions more than words, and who led by example. As I sat with him in his hospital room this week, I talked to him about the lessons he taught me and the rest of our family.

Cherish Your Family
Grandpa and Rene created a huge, crazy (in a good way) blended family. You always knew that family functions would be large, and were never quite sure who you might get to catch up with. As I talked to my cousins and my sister these past two days, there are two distinct memories that are fond for all of us. The first is the annual trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. This actually started as a trip each year to Woods Hole in Massachusetts for a conference that Grandpa attended. Eventually it morphed into what is now our annual OBX trip. This trip entails 20+ family members in one or two houses. It can be hectic, but we all look forward to it throughout the year. Dinner each night is assigned to a particular family, and we eat as a group. With little ones, this means taking turns, keeping kids occupied, and varying levels of chaos, which Grandpa observed and seemed to soak up. I can see him right now, reading the Washington Post in the living room, grandchildren and great-grandchildren literally running around him. I figured out this year that he must have turned down his hearing aid at times like this because he seemed not at all bothered by the craziness. Grandpa would take an evening walk down to the beach when the sun cooled down to spend time with us. He loved the ocean, and loved being there with his family. The Outer Banks trips won't ever be quite the same, but I think all of us will feel just a little bit closer to him there.

Family dinners (especially Christmas Eve) are another thing that we were all so fond of. You knew the food would be good (his carrot salad was my personal favorite), and that there would be good company and good wine. Dinners were usually so big that we had to spread out to several rooms, and "the cousins" nicknamed the porch "the cool room". When Grandpa was a bachelor living in Greenbelt, dinners meant races to the elevators, trips to the trash chute, and cooking Goldfish crackers in the Easy Bake oven.

My sister, kids, and I were fortunate enough to attend a dinner he had for one of his colleagues a few weeks ago. Grandpa was holding court in the kitchen as usual, giving instructions and creating an amazing meal. His family dinners set such a precedent....amazing food but also the company and the feeling of warmth and family. As we prepare for a dinner tonight in his honor, I know that continuing this tradition is one way we will honor his memory.

Make Your Friends Feel Like Family
For as long as I can remember, family functions with Grandpa meant people other than our family would be included. He didn't see family as biology, but as people who are important in your life. Rogeilio is one of his scientific colleagues, and in an email yesterday his wife Paola described our family as Grandpa's "wonderful constellation". There are two definitions of constellation befitting our family " An arbitrary formation of stars perceived as a figure or design", "A gathering or an assemblage, especially of prominent persons or things". Rogeilio and Paola are part of that constellation, as are Fuji from Japan, Harm from South Africa, Ken from Australia, Vladmir, Nadia, and Yulia, and many others. Grandpa made his international colleagues feel like family. They spent holidays and celebrations with us, and I know that they feel his loss as much as we do. 

His friend and colleague Harm wrote this:
We deeply mourn together with you all. Frank was indeed a special scientist and an even more special family man. He drew all of us into his sphere, and we all benefited from his loyal personal friendship. Frank knew how to do his science not by himself, but with and through other people.

Shoot for the Stars
Grandpa did this literally in his work, but also helped his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren achieve their dreams. He provided moral (and lots of financial) support. He was quiet about it, and didn't place demands or expectations. He just wanted to see us all succeed. In our own time, each of his grandchildren obtained a college degree (some more than one), and owe much of our success (and smarts) to him. Even when he thought you were crazy (like when I ran a marathon, and when my uncles got motorcycles), he would tell you, but didn't make you feel any less loved. At that dinner a few weeks ago, he told me he wanted to make sure my children signed up for whatever music lessons or activities they wanted this fall. Here he was again looking out for the next generation. 

Grandpa's scientific legacy was widespread, and as we talked to him yesterday Rene commented that he would get the answer to all his scientific questions. He was an amazing man, who showed love and humility and showed us all what family means. We will miss you Grandpa, but I know you are proud of each and every one of us and I hope we will carry on your legacy in a way that you deserve.

"Right On"

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Emails Home From Katrina

This morning I read a blog post by my teammate Maggie about her experience living in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. With the impending storm, and the 7th anniversary of Katrina, I went back through the emails I sent home while we were providing medical care in the wake of the Hurricane. Rich (a co-worker and I) headed to Mississippi and then Louisiana after being told by the Louisiana Medical Board that they needed any help they could get. I have since joined the Maryland Disaster Medical Assistance Team so I can provide assistance formally through the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS). As I reflect on this 7th anniversary, here are excerpts from some of my emails home:

From: Kiersten Henry
Date: Sep 2, 2005 7:08 AM
Subject: Good Morning From Mississippi
Good morning from MIss. We are 30 min from Baton Rouge (it is 1 hour earlier here), and headed there this morning. We will either work at the makeshift hospital at LSU or at Baton Rouge General. Sprint service sucks here, so I have not been able to call on my cell. We already have some interesting stories about gas shortages (3 hour wait at the pump, but it only costs 2.51 a gallon). We met a woman who was evacuated by her brother, but left her parents and her husband in their flooded town with her quadraplegic brother while they waited for help. People are very grateful that we are here. We'll see what today is like. No worries..we will stay far away from New Orleans.

From: Kiersten Henry
Date: Sep 2, 2005 12:03 PM
Subject: Update from LA
Good morning from Louisiana. You may wonder how I have time to send an email right now, but I'll get to that piece in a minute... Rich (an RT from Montgomery General) and I got to Jackson, Miss last night. The first thing that struck us was the gas shortage..though the cost is still $2.51 a gallon, most of the pumps have trash bags over the handles because they are out of gas. They were out of economy cars at the Hertz counter, so we ended up with a Chevy Tahoe (roomy, comfortable, but a total gas guzzler). We came across a gas station where we were able to top off our tank in the event that there was difficulty finding gas.
At the WallMart in McComb, there were about 20 coach buses from the Carolinas staging to go to New Orleans and evacuate in the morning. We also met a family from coastal Miss. A woman and her daughter were evacuated by her brother-in-law from Northern LA. They lost their house, and her husband and parents had stayed behind in their flooded house with her quadraplegic brother. The stewardess on our flight down had given us a box of trail mix, and a bag of peanuts, so we were able to offer that to the family as they waited for a family member to bring them gas. Despite their incredible loss, they were so gracious, and gave us hugs to thank us for coming. Another local man was bringing fried chicken to the refugees who had parked in the parking lot.  

 We stayed at Rich's parents' house (they showed us tremendous hospitality, with a full breakfast at 6am). We headed to Baton Rouge this morning, with few signs of Katrina's destruction other than trees down along the road. Rich being a HUGE LSU fan, we went to the LSU campus where they had set up a "Special Needs Shelter". (This is basically a hospital shelter, complete with code carts, a peds unit, etc.). We reported there, and they were amazed that we had come from MD. They currently have 180 patients, with the expectation of 500 admissions today or tomorrow. They have critically ill patients, and apparently had a code last night. The saddest thing there is the area for lost children. The thing we can be thankful for is that these kids have food, dry clothes, and shelter.

Anyone watching Fox news network right now...we are not at the shelter with no physicians....ours is well staffed with docs from LSU.

We told them of our critical care experience, and they asked if we would please work the 7p-7a shift. We are thankful that Rich's high school friend Mary lives in Baton Rouge. We are at her house now, planning to rest, grab a bite to eat, and go back at 6pm.

The plan that we heard from the Head Nurse of the center was that they would get the less critical patients out, and turn the field house into a more critically focused hospital. (They are also talking about turning the neighboring building into an ED). They were thrilled that Rich and I could lend our critical care expertise, and that we would take on the night shift duties. If we get the expected influx of patients, it will be a busy night triaging patients and providing care.

Thanks for everyone's kind words (and to Tommy for taking on single parenthood....and everyone at MGH for covering for us when we picked up and headed down here). I'll try to keep everyone posted over the weekend. We hope you all are well. Celll phone service is great if you have Cingular (which Rich does), but Sprint is horrendous (which of course is what I have). 
Take care, ya'll. (Just kidding...I am trying to shed my "Yankee" nickname, which the doctor at the shelter bestowed upon me).

The hospital at P Mac arena.

A softball friend of Tommy's that I ran into in Baton Rouge.

Our critical care unit at P Mac.

From: Kiersten Henry
Date: Sep 3, 2005 9:22 AM
Subject: Re: Update from LA

So, we've just finished a 13 hour shift at our makeshift hospital at the "P Mack" stadium (LSU's basketball stadium). The entire floor of the arena was transformed into a makeshift hospital, complete with designated units (ICU, Peds, walkie-talkies), a pharmacy, a lab, and xray. The LSU students are awesome. Their school is cancelled until Tuesday, so they are all volunteering to serve meals, work in the supply room, empty urinals, change bedpans...We joked with them that this was not what they usually do on a Friday night at LSU (no loud music, water instead of other beverages). They are great sports, and everyone is just amazing. (Editorial Note: I still keep in touch with Tam, one of the students we met at P Mac)
 We saw a variety of patients, and are still seeing those that are being plucked from their roofs by rescue helicopters. Our "unit" (the red zone) was an ICU complete with vents, ABG machine, and lots of med students. Here are some examples of the patients we saw (our job being to triage, stabilize, and transport to the appropriate facility if necessary):

- A man who had been in his house (with 12 feet of water) for 4 days, and was GI bleeding
- An 8 year old boy who was in the projects in N.O. with his mom and younger brother. The mother was burning alcohol for light, and the bottle exploded, causing him a 3rd degree burn to the leg.
-Several chest pain patients (all of whom ruled out for MI).
-A hemorrhagic stroke that acutely decompensated, requiring rapid intubation and transport.
-There were so many stories of people still being rescued by the coast guard, and others who spent days in the Not-so-Super Dome. We did several transports to the hospital when the ambulance crew was not equipped for critically ill patients.
-One man was a trach patient on a ventilator at home...his daughter manually bagged him for TWO DAYS (with some help from others). After several hours at the "hospital", we found out that the daughter was a diabetic, and she had a blood sugar of 450. 

Some of the more humerous things we saw (because there always seems to be humor in these bleak situations):
-A med student who had a name tag that said "First Year med Student" (I politely asked if he had actually started med school, since school at LSU was on hold. He was getting quite an education).  
-My favorite name tag was "Henry. Ambulance Chaser" (his job was to get triage information from the ambulances coming in).

There is much more, but I am exhausted. We have met some great people here, and Mary is a fabulous hostess. Hopefully we will get some much-needed sleep today, so we can go back tonight and do it again. The great thing about being here is that there are so many stories of strength and sheer can't help but feel inspired by the people here.
Thanks for all your kind thoughts!

Sunday, September 4 2005
Well, apparently even disaster hospitals can go on "divert". Our P Mak hospital was inadvertently placed on diversion yesterday so they got no patients during the day. The nurse-patient ratio was about 6-1 for a good portion of last night, until they figured out that the operations center had us on divert and that was why we were not receiving patients. We did get several dialysis patients who hadn't been dialyzed in about a week, and some chest pain patients. The biggest difficulty seems to be sorting out the patients who were in nursing homes...we have no information on their baseline history, so we can't sort out whether they have dementia or a change in mental status related to a physiologic cause. For that reason, they are critical until they are hydrated and we get labs back (or we confirm a history of dementia).

A group of docs from CA showed up this morning, with a story similar to ours of banging their heads against the wall with Red Cross and fema trying to figure out if help was needed here. They finally just packed up and came, and we were very happy to see them.

The onslaught of patients started at about 6, when schoolbuses filled with patients started rolling in. As a colleague said, many are carrying a bag or a box that contains all their wordly possessions, while many of us have enough clothes that we never wear to fill several boxes. Despite their overwhelming loss, we have encountered very few patients who are unpleasant in their interactions with us. We are starting to see people withdrawing from alcohol and drugs, as well as lots of people with chronic issues that haven't been addressed for months (hypertension, diabetes, etc.). Those that did have good medical care haven't gotten their medications for days (antihypertensives, insulin, etc.).

We are well-protected in the arena, with military MPs, and police officers from all over looking out for us (nothing like being in a hospital where the security personnel have assault rifles!!!!).

The thing that I am most touched by is the people who have lost everything (houses, jobs, etc.) that are volunteering at P Mac. We had a pre-med student who was with us most of the night, and willing to do whatever we needed. I found out later that his family lost their house, their cars, and several friends. His attitude was that he could sit at home and be depressed, or come help others who were even less fortunate than him. If you are finding the news depressing, know that the atmosphere here is not depressing...the people are so amazingly resilient, and so very greatful. I am really in awe of some of the nurses that are working hours on end, despite the fact that their hospitals are gone, their homes are gone.... For every sad story you see on the news, there are so many happy stories of families reuniting and people who escaped. As they are saying on the news, we have no idea of what the big picture is. We don't know how many patients are left to come, and the rumor mill runs rampant in the arena (we hear that 500 patients are coming, then 4 hours later we get 100).

We are tired, having worked 17 hours, but we'll sleep and then go back tonight. We hope all is well with everyone!
By the way, all of the teams from different states have fancy names (DMAT, imet, etc.)... we have decided to name ourselves "MEAT" (Maryland Emergency Assistance Team).

We hope you all are well!

From: Kiersten Henry
Date: Sep 4, 2005 5:23 PM
Subject: Re: Update from LA
We are headed to the N.O. airport, where 9,000 sick patients are with lots of Army folks and some civilian healthcare providers who are working 24-7. They are in desperate need of assistance. We are not sure when we will be back in baton rouge, but there is plenty of security, and the people left truly are sick. Brian Hunt is our point person at home. We will be in contact as soon as we can, but cell phone service is impossible here at this point.
Love to all,

From: Kiersten Henry
Date: Sep 6, 2005 2:30 AM
Subject: Katrina Relief Update for Monday

Today was by far the most incredible day we have had during our time in Louisana. The trip to the airport yesterday was a bust. There were 5 healthcare providers for every patient, which just exemplifies the lack of communication that seems to occur here. We headed back to LSU yesterday evening, and Andy and I worked in the P Mac hospital. By the way, they told us that this is the largest ED (and the largest field hospital) ever erected in the US. We have treated lots of chest pain patients lately, as well as some with more chronic illnesses.

We were at P Mac this afternoon, when a medic came looking for help with gathering supplies. She told us that her crew and several MDs were going to set up a clinic for some of the New Orleans PD officers. We offered to assist, and to transport supplies in our vehicle. The drive into the city from Baton Rouge is over an hour, and we had the opportunity to survey a lot of the storm damage (many trees down, rooves torn off, etc.).

Driving into New Orleans is such a surreal sight. There are military helicopters everywhere, and a strong troop/police presence. We drove past some of the burned out, collapsed buildings you saw on the news (as well as the "staging area" for all of the news trucks.
If you look closely at the plywood, there is a sign that says "EMS" with an arrow to show them the way out of town.

A police car missing tires outside the convention center. 

The station we were headed to is the 8th precint in the French Quarter. The officers are actually staging in the Omni hotel a couple of blocks from the station, so that they have somewhere to sleep. They were very happy to see us, and we provided a lot of basic care (blood pressures, dealing with the rashes and cut feet that many of them had). It was unbelievable to me that we were standing in a hotel room in New Orleans, and I was taking the blood pressure of a Deputy Police Chief.

While we were in N.O., several officers told us that they had prescriptions (antihypertensives, diabetic medications, anti-seizure medications) that had run out. We tracked down as many officers as we could to find out who needed medications. There was a Walgreens across the river where medications could be obtained, but it was dark and we were having difficulty finding someone to make the trip with us (all of the officers were very busy). There was another Walgreens two blocks from the station, so Rob (an officer who moved here from Minnesota 3 years ago) drove Andy and I to the store and served as our armed guard and "pharmacy assistant". The store had been looted, and it was almost humorous that all of the drugs starting wtih "Z" were gone because that was the closest letter to the door of the locked pharmacy section of the store. While we were "shopping", Rob told us that yesterday was his birthday. What a crummy way to spend your birthday....especially because they are watching the news and hearing so many negative things. We kept telling the officers that none of the people we had cared for at P Mac had anything bad to say about the police. These guys worked so hard with so little to try and regain order in the city,

Many of the medications we needed had been looted, but thanks to the Tarascon pharmacopeia (those in school with me know what I am talking about), I was able to find substitutions to all but two medications. (For example, someone was on Lasix but all the Lasix was gone, so I grabbed all of the other loop diuretics to let the docs determine which one to give). If you are wondering what gave us the liberty to take all of these meds, the police had commandered the pharmacy and were obtaining many supplies there.

Most of the narcotics had been looted, but the thieves left all of the amphetamines and the antidepressants. Andy collected over-the-counter medications, and lots of antifungal creams as many people have athlete's foot. He also had the foresight to get prescription bottles and medications so we could dispense them to the staff. 

Back in the ballroom of the hotel, which is where our clinic was set up, we went to work substituting meds as necessary and preparing prescriptions. It was a great example of interdisciplinary teamwork, as I read out each person's individual prescription, and three of the docs helped me with any necessary substitutions. I was pretty proud that I was able to find medications to substitute for almost all of the needed prescriptions.

The NOPD officers were so grateful for our assistance, especially because they said we were the first healthcare providers they had seen. They are so tired, and living in a building with generator power (no elevators, limited lights and AC). They have worked so hard, and what they really need is to hear a little more often what a great job they are doing. It is obvious that most are shell-shocked by the things they have seen, and there is no support for debriefing because they are still in the middle of this crisis. They have seen so many horrible things in the last week, and truly feared for their lives. We felt so honored to be able to help them, even if it was just to take care of their heat rash and refill their prescriptions.

We plan to head back there tomorrow afternoon to assist anyone that wasn't there today, and then fly back Wednesday morning. Please keep these police officers in your thoughts.

From: Kiersten Henry
Date: Sep 7, 2005 9:42 PM
Subject: Katrina Relief Update for Wednesday

Good evening. This is my last Katrina Update email, as we arrived home today. It has been a long week, but we really feel that we contributed to assisting some of the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

We spent our last day and night back at the 8th Precinct's temporary headquarters at the Omni hotel. This time, we vaccinated all of the officers against Hepatitis A and B, and Tetanus. Some of them were out on patrol, so we waited outside the hotel (there was usually a crowd hanging out there to get fresh air, because the generators did not fully power the air conditioning). As teams of officers drove by (usually in the back of Pickup trucks, with each officer carrying an assault rifle), we would snag those who needed vaccinated. They were thankful to have us coming to them, because the alternative had been for them to go across town to get vaccinated. By the end of the night, we had vaccinated about 40 officers. We also treated various minor ailments.

We stayed at the precinct until 5am, when we left to head back to the airport in Mississippi. Prior to leaving, I got a 2am tour of downtown New Orleans. The French Quarter is very secure now, with police officers and members of the 82nd airborne patrolling the streets. I was able to see some of the historic landmarks (though it was dark), as well as some of the storm damge and looting. There are several burned out buildings, as well as cars that have been vandalized. (As if a new set of headlights is really that important after a hurricane). The Brooks Brothers store had been looted, which seemed ridiculous (at least you can wear a nice suit when you are evacuated). Some of the galleries and museums were damaged. I saw the street on which one of the big gun battles between police and looters occured last week. There were several officers who had never shot anyone before this point, and unfortunately have now been engaged in major gun battles with the armed looters. The most amazing thing about the tour of New Orleans was that it was so dark in the city that you could see the starts as clearly as if you were in a planetarium. It was beautiful to look up and see a sky full of stars above the historic cathedral and Jackson park.

I am attaching a picture of our field hospital at LSU, as well as an article about the field hospital. Thanks again to everyone who supported us and made this possible. It was through your assistance that we could go and aid those in need. Thanks and much love to all of you!!!!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"The Specialist"

I was totally addicted to the Olympics this year, watching as much as I could. Aside from all of the feel-good stories, one particular moment truly resonated with me. Mckayla Maroney was the clutch vaulter for Team USA gymnastics. Her sole job was to come to the Olympics and perform 5 vaults. She nailed one of the most important, helping seal the gold medal for her team. (Yes, her subsequent vaults "only" got her the silver, but girlfriend nailed that one vault).

Her vault was so good that it shocked even one of the judges:

She knew she had nailed it, and had a well-deserved celebration:

So how did I come to some potentially life-changing realization from watching this vault? It made me reflect a lot on MM's role as "the specialist". Her job was to be the best freaking vaulter she could, and she totally nailed it for her team. So what did a 30-something Mom, wife, Nurse Practitioner, wannabe triathlete take away from all this? It reminded me that I don't have to be perfect at EVERYTHING.

Does anyone else tell me I have to nail it all? No. I tell myself...and I put intense pressure on myself. I love Wonder Woman, but she didn't have kids, or a husband, or any bills to pay as far as I can tell. (Heck...if I had a lasso of truth and an invisible airplane I could get even more accomplished).

I'm not ashamed to ask for help, but I definitely load too much on my plate sometimes. I'm trying to cut it back a little, and focus on what is most important for my family and then my career and me personally. So if I don't volunteer for that school function, or I back off of something I wanted to help with, it isn't because I don't want to in my heart.

For me, the specialty is being a pretty freaking awesome nurse practitioner. This isn't me being cocky---I learned this at church this weekend thanks to Father Kathy. This is my gift, and one that I appreciate tremendously. There is always room for growth, but I believe I have the gifts of clinical judgement and compassion....and these make me good at my job. So is it ok to focus more energy here and not be awesome at everything else? I think so. Of course I will always strive to be a good mother, and always hold myself to a high standard in this area, but I don't have to do all of the other stuff.

So next time I start heaping more on my plate, please point me to this post...................

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Top 10 Reasons to Race (or Volunteer) REV3

(Disclaimer: I have been on the Revolution 3 Age Group Triathlon Team for the past 3 years. This means I have raced and volunteered at Rev3 races, my family are huge Rev3 fans, and I even spent a week with the people behind Rev3 living in an RV and running across America).

Here are my Top 10 Reasons to Race Rev3 (in no particular order):

#1 Awesome Race Venues
Rev3 adds amazing venues each year. Rev3 The Dells in Wisconsin sounded like a great race this past weekend and I can't wait to head to Old Orchard Beach in Maine. Each race venue is family-friendly, the courses are challenging but well-chosen, and the experience is top notch.

#2 Reliable, Real-Time Race Coverage on Rev3 Live
Rev3 provides amazing race-day coverage. Tweets, race videos, live race coverage, online updates.... It is quite easy to stalk follow someone doing the race. 

#3 If You are Going to get a Race Tattoo, the Blue R is Pretty Darn Cool

If you aren't a triathlete, the phenomenon of getting a registered trademark as a tattoo might not make sense. For some, it is a badge of honor after completing a race that spans 140.6 miles. This is how one athlete commemorated their journey.

#4 Kid Friendly Races at Every Event
Rev3 not only puts on phenomenal races for big people, they love seeing our smaller companions have run racing. The "Little Rev Adventure Race" has become a popular pre-race tradition. The race is open up to children ages 4-16 and is held at most Rev3 events. For $25 per family at the Old Orchard Beach race in Maine, kids get a medal, finisher's tee, and are eligible for prizes. Not only that, they run around and get worn out!

Knoxville Little Rev Race (

#5 Awesome Race Swag
Rev3 gives out very cool race swag at each event...including visors and race medals specific to the venue. Check out the swag for Rev3 Old Orchard Beach in Maine...


#6 The Rev3 Family (Staff)
Rev3 races aren't just family-friendly events for athletes. The staff are like family, and treat all the participants as such. The staff work all of the Rev3 events (and some of the Rev3 age groupers are staff at races). The races are put on by people who are triathletes, know what triathletes want, and put triathletes first. And they are just downright awesome people.... (and I would be remiss if I didn't mention the fabulous volunteers at races). 

Some of the Rev3 staff having at little fun at the Ulman Cancer Fund Blue Jeans Ball.

Rev3 staff having a little fun (before lots of hard work) in Costa Rica.

#7 Reasonable Race Fees
Want to race a 140.6? Thanks to Rev3, you can still register for the Cedar Point 140.6 (if you are a last-minute kind of person), and it would only cost $575 (and that is last-minute pricing). 

#8 Huge, On-Site Race Expo & Awesome Transition Area
The Rev3 Race Expo always has great gear for sale in the store, and great vendors. It is a party atmosphere pre-race, and during the race. Lots of smiling faces, fun for the family, and good triathlon gear to buy (in case you need something new, or need to look for something you didn't yet know you needed).

As for transition, Rev3 has the best bike racks! They afford you lots of space, and hold your bike nicely. 

#9 Rev3 Provides Awesome Support for the Ulman Cancer Fund
When the Rev3 crew does something, they do it big. Charlie and the Rev3 staff have been providing support to the Half Full Triathlon (which benefits the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults) since it began in 2010. In 2011/2012, the Rev3 staff took their commitment to fundraising for Ulman to a new level. For 21 days, Rev3 staff, age group team members, supports, family members, and Team Fight members ran across America. Several of the Rev3 staff ran all 21 days. It was a road trip for the ages, and the Rev3 staff showed just how much spirit and dedication they have. Rev3 has partnered with Ulman for the 2012 Half Full race and it will definitely be fantastic.

#10 Rev3 Races are a Top-Notch Experience for Athletes and Spectators
Anyone who has spectated a triathlon knows it is hard work. When I brought my kids, Mom, and Sister along for Rev3 Cedar Point in 2010, I knew I could entice them with the idea of playing at the park while I raced. The kids watched the swim start from our balcony at Breakers hotel, rode coasters and rides for the majority of my race, and were there to finish with me. They had a blast, there was minimal whining from my then 7 and 4-year-olds, and I got to finish with my daughter. This is my absolute favorite part of Rev3 races...seeing families run across the finish together. When I struggled on the run of the 70.3 race due to injury, the idea of seeing my daughter at the finish got me through. It was even better than I imagined. 

Haven't tried a Rev3 Race yet? Check out their site here and pick a race! I personally can't wait for Williamsburg 2013...only 3 hours away and so much for the family to do! One thing I didn't have in my list (and which could easily be #11) is the engagement of the pros who race Rev3 races. They are friendly, engaged, and have been known to pass out age group awards and cheer on finishers. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Cookie's "First" Year

It was June 30th of last year when Cookie came to us, her "forever family". If you haven't read Cookie's amazing story, check it out here... She was rescued from an abandoned house that was on fire (she was tied up inside- our guess is she was the pet of squatters). She was presumed dead, but then they realized she was alive. The following day, she lost all of the fur on her back as a result of third degree burns.

That was December of 2010. Cookie received amazing care form the College Park Animal Hospital, and then hyperbaric therapy at South Paws Veterinary Hospital. She lived at South Paws for over a month. We got to visit over Spring Break, and the staff was amazing. Cookie seemed at home, and it was amazing to meet people who put so much into making her better.

The last link in the chain of Cookie's recovery was Dawg Rescue and her foster family. Cookie's healing was far from over when she went to live with Kathy and her family. You can see from the video below (taken in March 2011) how well she did in her foster home.

When I came across Cookie's story, I knew she was the dog for us. Who better to adopt her than a firefighter and a nurse practitioner. The loss of our beloved dogs Spanner and Spridel was still fresh, but I realized we were destined to have another dog.

A year later, Cookie is right where she belongs. She is a crazy combination of hunter and herder, of high energy and relaxed cuddling... She is awesome. A great running buddy, a companion for all of this, and a wrestling buddy for Tommy. We think she is 2 1/2 years old, and she is still definitely a puppy. People do a double take when they get close to her. Initially they think she has unusual coloring and then they realize she is missing fur. Our hope is that as she matures Tommy can take her to the annual burn camp for children who have sustained burns. She would be perfect for the job.

Some fun pictures from Cookie's first year:
She blends right in!

Visiting South Paws

Her first week with us!

Winter running with Mom

Who couldn't love this pup?!?!?!

Cookie and Dylan making sure there are no "intruders" (squirrels and rabbits) in the back yard.

Even I am not ok with her laying in my spot!

Last week, getting back to running.

Shhhh...don't tell Daddy.

For a dog who needs sunscreen or a shirt outside, she finds every spot of sunshine!

"Helping" Mom do sit-ups

Running with Mom...the Fuel Belt doubles as a great leash holder.

Running around the lake behind our house. 

Cookie helping Dylan drive Aerial Tower 23 at Tommy's firehouse.

Cookie and Cooper

Keeping cool.

Cookie meeting her cousins, the horses.

The "indestructible" dog toy, 5 minutes after giving it to her. 
Many thanks again to all those who made it possible for us to have this truly amazing pup (and to Tommy, who gave into my begging and agreed to adopt Cookie...I think he is happy with the decision).