Sunday, December 30, 2007

Marathon Woman

In 1967, Kathrine Switzer became the first woman to enter the Boston Marathon. Little did she know, women were not supposed to enter the Boston Marathon, a belief brought home to her when Jock Semple, the race's organizer tried to knock her over and take the number off of her, iconically captured in a series of AP photos.

Her book, Marathon Woman, is a study leading up to that day, and the revolution that followed. It is interesting to note, in this day and age of instant celebrity, that after "the incident" Kathrine Switzer managed to fade back into relative anonymity.

But we runners can rarely leave things alone, and Boston kept gnawing at her, as did the larger picture of women's running, and the grand picture of women's sports. Her book chronicles her journey through a period of time, not that distant, when women had few sporting opportunities and the prevailing belief was that long-distance running just might damage the baby-maker (my phrase, not hers). Switzer fought to develop women's only running events to empower women across the world, eventually leading to the first women's marathon in the 1984 games. Improbably, Switzer called the race as an analyst for ABC that day, as Joan Benoit ran into the history books.

Kathrine Switzer's story is amazing, her grit and resilience is admirable and the story she weaves, through the ins and outs of the women's liberation movement, the empowering of women through sport, and the revolution of which she was both participant and leader, is a riveting read.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas...

This is my Christmas Concert:

This one not for the video, but I think her voice is beautiful:

Friday, December 21, 2007

What I want for Christmas!

My friend Eric sent me this. I'm sure Mrs. Fish will be okay with us going and trying it out.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Quote of the Year....

The Yale Book of Quotations came up with this year's list of memorable quotes, and this year's big winner, if you want to call it that, was, "Don't tase me, BRO!" the words shouted by a University of Florida student, moments before the security personel who were dragging him out of a John Kerry event decided to go "golf ball" on him and do the exact opposite of what he was begging of them. Of course they tased him. He was being disruptive, and it looked like the only way to quiet him down was to jolt him with 50,000 volts. And of course, the whole thing was captured and posted on youtube...

....and moments later, the inevitable spoofs began. To wit:

A close second in this year's quotes was Miss South Carolina, which really needs no spoof...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The say it's...

I had/am having an excellent birthday. I got loved up by my wife and daughter yesterday. I've been fighting a cold and spent most of my "day off" closing a deal, so I was a little bummed. They decided to give me an early birthday so they brought out my gifts. I got a triathlon mouse pad because they thought it would be good for work, so my coworkers could know a little something about me. I got a cycling jersey Chirtmas tree ornament, because we get ornaments that mean something to us. Extra credit--there's a bulge in the middle back pocket where my musette bag is.

The coupe de grace is the inner tubes, for snow tubing. Mrs. Fish and Little Fish thought it would be great fun, and the kid in me absolutely agrees. And, we have a blizzard on the way this weekend--COME ON SNOW!!!!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Book Review

I just finished reading The Hard Way by Mark Jenkins. Jenkins has written for a lot of magazines, including Outside. This is a collection of his adventures as he travels the world, climbing mountains known and unknown, kayaking through Turkey, and making friends along the way. But he also speaks, in his spare but unblinking narratives, of something deeper.

There is a need in men, in some cases long-dormant, to seek out and live adventure. Jenkins does just that, but also serves to remind us that it is an essential part of who we are. He writes of his friend, John, as they are thinking about an adventure together:
I was beginning to fear for John, and lately, for myself. The integument of everyday life seemed to have begun to harden. We were both working too much. john was struggling to keep a small magazine alive; I was battling to finish a book that had lost its bearings. We'd call each other at midnight, still in our offices--appalling for a couple of tree bums who once lived out of a VW van and survived on tins of sardines. John, in particular, was in trouble. He'd spent so much time trying to build a business he was in danger of becoming one more Cubicle man, ass-wedged between a green screen and four white walls.

It's hard not to see some of myself in this. Later, he writes about a competition he has with his brothers, where they compete to do the most pull ups. As they approach middle age, the contest is just as heated as it was the day they invented it, shortly after college. Why pull ups? Jenkins writes...
You seldom see anyone in a weight room on the pullup bar. Pullups are too hard. They aren't like pushups. With pushups, half your weight is still on your feet. And they aren't anything like most of the arm exercises you can do with machines, where all your weight is on your ass. All those machines are just crutches. They're designed to make working out easier. Massive muscles mean nothing. The only real measure of strength is in contrast to your weight.

To do a pullup, you must lift the entire weight of your body off the ground. It is as if you have raised your arms in jubilation and then must bring your body up with your spirit. It is an angelic act, a strenuous act. It goes against gravity. Against the will of the earth.

Because pullups are difficult, over the years it's easy to get lazy. Easy to get heavy. Life and beer and kids conspire....

I cannot recommend this book highly enough for the men on your list...or for your yourself.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

So I got to wondering why God appeared to the shepherds? I mean, you have all these other cats running around who were imminently more qualified to receive the news that God was on Earth, right? Why not some king, who could tell everyone right away that the Messiah was here and it was go time? For that matter, what about the inn keeper? It his casa where the baby Jesus is born, so he's got right of first refusal, no? And then you have the local religious leaders, who could sway the people and let them know. Heck, you have entire cities of people going home to get "censusized"--why not them? Then they could go back to their home towns and tell EVERYONE!

Then I started thinking. The kings were powerful and influential people, but they were much too busy, and probably too focused on themselves to think about God. I mean, come on, they have kingdom's to rule...surely someone else can think about babies and that stuff...

In the same way, the inn-keeper was probably too busy. This guy has customers to take care of, he's got meals to fix, rooms to get ready, bills to's a wonder he had time to say, "NO ROOM!" Let's face it: Christmas can be a busy time.

The religious leaders would have never understood a baby as the Messiah. They thought he was going to be a King, riding out of the sun like Jack Jack Bauer on a nuclear Apocalypse to sweep away the Romans and anyone else who bugged them. There is no way they would have accepted a stinky baby in a water trough. Thirty years and countless miracles later, they still didn't get it. Sometimes, Christmas is misunderstood.

So what about all of those townspeople. They had parties to go to, dinners to enjoy and gifts to open. They saw this time as a giant celebration, and were not looking for a baby in a manger.

So, I think God’s angels appeared before the shepherds because, unlike everyone else in the entire town of Bethlehem, they were watching, waiting, and ready and willing to respond.

It seems to me a lot of people missed the miracle of seeing the Christ child because they were too focused on themselves, too busy, too sure they know who the Messiah is and what He would be like, or too busy going to parties and dinners and opening gifts.

When I looked closer, I saw the shepherds did exactly what God wanted them to do, which was spread the good news that Jesus was born. There are people who believe that the Old French word, Nouvelle is translated into English as Good News. Over 400 years ago, someone wrote a song about the very first Good News, when the angels came to earth and declared to a bunch of lowly shepherds that God’s son was among us. Except, we don’t call it Nouvelle anymore. We remember it as the First Noel, the FIRST GOOD NEWS.

The First Noel, the Angels did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep
On a cold winter's night that was so deep.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


I went for a run this morning. Finally. I watched the IronMan in Hawaii yesterday on tape delay and was, once again, inspired. While Chris McCormack was favored by many to win the race, especially after Stadler dropped out due to a stomach bug, the women's race was quite the surprise. Christie Wellington came out of nowhere to win the women's race, and Sam McGlone, one of my favorites, finished second. My favorite part of the race is the story of the everyday people who make it to the Big Race, which I got to share with Little Fish this year.

Anyway, all that to say I was a little more motivated when I woke up this morning. It was cold but not bitterly so. Mrs. Fish stole my favorite running hat, so I had to grab something out of the bin. I ran in my French beret. It serves me right, I suppose. If I had been wearing it to run three or four times a week, the only time she would pick it up would be to throw it into the laundry hamper.

The run was brisk, a 3.3 mile affair over my usual route, and I felt pretty good. Also, there was no sign of Teh Carnivorous Bunniez. I'm hoping they are hibernating...but we know better.

It is expected to snow here (Central PA) today. I'm sure that will give me another opportunity to get outside and exercise.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


For those of you who watched the Ironman last year and loved it, this year's contest is on Saturday (4.30 to 6 here in the east). They usually do a great job with the pros and the amateurs, showing just what it takes to get there, and how much it takes to finish. The stories are usually amazing. If you watch one show this year, this might be the one...

Sometimes People Can Surprise You....

..who knew the Fenway Faithful had such good hearts? This is from Disablity Awareness Day in Boston, and it brought a smile. I hope it does the same for you.

Sorry about the impersonal nature of the blog lately, if anybody is even out there. I'm trying to find time for everything I love, and BLOG falls somewhere below Mrs. Fish and Little Fish. Peace to you.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

64 Degrees

That's right, it was 64 degrees outside today. And, it was sunny. And I had the day off. So what's a Loadasaurus who hasn't done ANYTHING in weeks to do? I got out and rode my bike for the first time in two months. It was amazing. Fall has lasted a long time in Central Pennsylvania this year, so the trees are still blazing with color.

I rode through the back roads, over the river into Harrisburg and along the Susquehanna River. The return trip was sweet, as I got to do some decent hills, and I found I hadn't lost half the strength or speed I had imagined I would (or should) have. All in all, it was a beautiful day. I capped it off with a trip to the library with the family.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Woke Up This Morning...

I woke up extra early today to go for a run and there was snow on the ground. It's the third snow I have seen, and this is the first snow to stick. It's little more than a dusting, honestly, but just enough to make a run in the dark an exercise in stupidity. I wrote off the run.

All-in-all, it was a really good weekend. I went shopping with Mrs. Fish while Little Fish went to a movie (Mr. Magorium...she panned it. It's pretty wild to hear a nine year-old with a critic's voice). I spent a lot of time with Little Fish this weekend, just hanging out, doing projects and having fun. I showed her how to make a fort. She was mightily impressed. Then I put a light in it and she was blown away. We spent a couple of hours in there reading about dragons and hanging out.

We also watched Ratatouille, then she helped me make soup. Ratatouille got a big thumbs up in her review and in mine. If you have kids and you didn't see it, make a point of it. The soup was wonderful too. Just when I thought the weekend couldn't get any better, I decided to go all in and make my chili. I don't make it a lot because I am the only one who eats it, really. I paired it with a brown rice and a red wine...delicious.

Add to that the fact that I made it to Men's Bible Study (Romans 14...a good reminder) after about six weeks away and the weekend was just about perfect. If only I had found some time to ride...perhaps next weekend.

Friday, November 16, 2007


So, the new job is kicking my butt. Which is not to say that I am not kicking right back. I want it to know with whom it chose to tangle. I've learned so much, but the more I learn, the more I realize I don't know. I mean honestly, how complicated can the Yellow Pages be? Apparently pretty confusing.

In with all of that is a list of things I have accomplished and a list of things i have not done. I closed my first sale. I presented my first BIG sale (pending...) and I offfered my first Internet-based solution. All very exciting, but I can't wait to really get rolling.

On a personal side, I miss working out. I think I have run three or four times in two months. Lifted not at all. And my beloved Cannondale is sitting in the garage, wondering what she has done to offend me...nothing, dear girl. I get going pretty early in the morning, and when i get home I am wiped, so I just haven't made the time. And, the time I do have, I'd rather spend with my family. I make sure to spend my time with them. That being said, I'd really like get going with working out again.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Photographer That Rocks

I came across this at a cycling board (of all places) and thought it was simply amazing. Joey Lawrence (NOT this one) is a 17 year old photographer who is doing some pretty amazing things with the camera. Check it out by CLICKING HERE.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Where Do They Find These People?

Last season, Britain's Got Talent found a mobile phone salesman named Paul Potts who sang opera like he had been at the Met. This year, they found a six-year old who was equally amazing. I just can't believe she's six....

I think I'll go back to chewing on blocks.

For the record, this is still my favorite rendition of the song....

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Monday, October 29, 2007


The Sox have won the World Series...again! And, oh yeah, the MVP is a testicular cancer survivor. How about those Sox?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Jon Lester

Last year at this time, Jon Lester was fighting for his life, undergoing chemotherapy to beat the crap out of anaplastic large cell lymphoma. You don't need to be a doctor to know that just doesn't sound good.

Tonight, in about half an hour, he looks to seal the Red Sox's second World Series sweep in four years. You don't need to be a baseball fan to think that sounds pretty good. Amazing stuff--GO SOX!!!

Read more about him HERE.

General Stuff


Okay, so here's the deal. It's going to be a while longer before I can really start doing anything regularly. If I wake up extra early, I go into work so i can get a start on my day. If I get time in the evening, I'd rather spend it with Mrs. Fish and Little Fish right now. So, it's going to be a while, until things settle down a bit, before I start "training"...until then, I'll run, bike, swim when I feel like it, and refuse to feel guilty when I can't.

There. I said it.


I went trick-or-treating with Little Fish on Thursday. She grabbed a clipboard, a skirt and turtle neck, pulled her hair back in a ponytail, threw on a pair of glasses and declared herself a teacher. When she went up to the houses, adults tried, in that adult way, to guess what she was. A librarian? A scientist? A doctor? I don't think any adults got it right. So we're walking, and this little five-year-old turns around, looks at Little Fish and says to her friend, "Look! A teacher!" It reminded me of the exasperation of the Little Prince when he showed people his drawing of a snake eating an elephant, and every adult thought it was a hat.

It was a blast listening to her sing "Does Your Bag Hang Low?" while she struggled with this year's take. She did very well. The other funny was when I stopped to talk to a friend when we were trick-or-treating. Little Fish came up to me and said, "Come on DAD! Time is CANDY!" I lost it.

Bonus: I take a tax every year for guiding her on her journey. This was a VERY good year for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Rules of New Jersey Driving

Holy Carp! I survived Basic Essential Sales Training (BEST) with my new company, Idearc Media...but only barely. I was planning on the training being tough, but that was not the hardest part, by far. I had forgotten just how dog-eat-dog Jersey driving is. Here is a little help for those of you who may someday need to drive there, or a list of reasons NOT to drive there if you have an option otherwise.

* If the right lane is closed for construction, don't believe it. It's really just a contest to see how many people can cut in line by passing you on the right as you sit in the left lane waiting for the same jerks to squeeze their way back in before hitting the construction barrels. It's even more fun when they encounter the guy who sticks his car into that right lane to prevent it. FISH ADVICE: Feel free to be either of these people, but only if you are armed and talk like you are from New Jersey.

* Turn signals are just clues as to your next move in road battle so never use them. People will take advantage of you if they see the blink of your turn signal. FISH ADVICE: Maintain an aura of mystery and unpredictability--swerve often without signaling.

* Under no circumstances should you leave a safe distance between you and the car in front of you, or the space will be filled in by somebody else putting you in an even more dangerous situation. As noted above, they will not use a turn signal when they do this. FISH ADVICE: It's only tailgating if you hit the guy. It's only a crime if they catch your license plate as you flee. Go ahead and do it.

* Crossing two or more lanes in a single lane-change is considered going with the flow. FISH ADVICE: Go ahead, but remember--DON'T use your turn signal! Extra credit if you do it and squeeze into a space someone has inadvertently left between themselves and the car in front of them.

* The faster you drive through a red light, the smaller the chance you have of getting hit. Amazing how this works. FISH ADVICE: Just remember to stop at green lights because you have no idea who is coming. And look twice--someone might be turning from the far lane here. Seriously.

* Never, ever come to a complete stop at a stop sign. No one expects it and it will inevitably result in you being rear ended. If you want your insurance company to pay for a new rear bumper, come to a complete stop at all stop signs. FISH ADVICE: Lower your deductible and stop.

* Braking is to be done as hard and late as possible to ensure that your ABS kicks in. I think Jersey drivers do this if they have ABS to get that nice, relaxing foot massage from the pulsating brake pedal. Those without ABS just use it as an excuse to "stretch their legs." FISH ADVICE: Get a rental with ABS. You'll be glad you did.

* Never pass on the left when you can pass on the right. It's a good way to scare people entering the highway. This is even more important when the person in the right lane is driving less than 90 miles per hour. FISH ADVICE: Pretend your on a slalom course--just bob and weave, bob and weave...

* As above, I think speed limits are just arbitrary figures, more like suggestions than laws. For some reason, the speeding laws don't seem enforceable in New Jersey during rush hour...or at any other time for that matter. FISH ADVICE: High Octane.

* Picture yourself in the left lane. You're going bumper to bumper, so that would be about 75 mph. You have no room to speed up nor do you have room to move over. In New Jersey, it seems perfectly acceptable for the kind gentleman behind you to flash his high beams behind you. I think it's because he thinks he can go faster in your spot. FISH ADVICE: You can either swerve left without signaling or come to a complete stop, either of which should solve your problem. You can also wave to him, with the Jersey salute. You thought New Yorkers invented that? You thought wrong.

* Please remember that there is no such thing as a shortcut during rush-hour traffic in New Jersey. FISH ADVICE: Get out and talk to your new neighbors. They're friendlier when out of the car. Bonus points if they share their beer with you. Even better if it's from the can they were sipping while weaving through traffic when it was moving.

* The only time you should EVER slow down on a New Jersey roadway is if you see an accident. On the other side of the road. FISH ADVICE: Go with the flow, rubberneck with the slow.

* Learn to swerve abruptly. There are three seasons for New Jersey drivers. Construction Season, Pothole Season and Not-Pothole Season. The third of those is just a rumor. Potholes are always found in key locations to test your reflexes and keep you on your toes. FISH ADVICE: Keep your eyes open...and DON'T come to a complete stop (as noted above).

* If you look split second up in the dictionary anywhere in the world, you'll find something like this:
split second
–noun 1. a fraction of a second.
2. an infinitesimal amount of time; instant; twinkling.

In New Jersey, it's a little different...and shorter. The tradition in New Jersey to honk your horn at cars that don't move the instant the light changes. The time between the light change and the honk is a New Jersey Split Second. Scientist have been baffled in attempts to quantify this moment. Fish Advice: Have fun with it--see how good you can get. Extra credit if you can scare another person from your home state.

* Remember that the goal of every New Jersey driver is to get there first, by whatever means necessary. Rules are, there are no rules. Fish Advice: Don't be the person that gets in their way. Ever.

* There is a unique subspecies of New Jersey drivers which warrants a special notice. New Jersey's Women Drivers can put on pantyhose and apply eye makeup at seventy-five miles per hour in bumper-to-bumper traffic, while lighting their cigarette, talking on the cell phone and balancing their family's budget on the open laptop in the seat next to them. They view people who steer with anything less than their left knee an amateur. Fish Advice: Admire them. There's nothing in the world quite like it.

People ask me if I'm glad to be home, and I can't find the words to express the relief I feel. The color has returned to most of my knuckles. Most of my teeth still have the enamel on them, though I have questions about a couple of the back ones.

I went for a ride with Mrs. Fish to the grocery store today. It was nice and relaxing, and easy to drive, until she looked over and asked if 75 was a little fast to go through the neighborhood, or if it might be wise for me to actually stop at stop signs. I looked at her, smiled and said, "Fuggetaboutit."

Then I swerved across three lanes of traffic and made a left turn on red.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Welcome Home!

I've been in training the last three weeks for my new job. When I'm away, I REALLY miss my family, which makes it all that much sweeter when I come home. That being said, there are plusses and minuses to coming home, and I miss some more than others.

Thanks to my buddy Eric for that replay of my mornings at home, usually starting at 5.30 or so.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Yes, I'm Still Alive...

I've been in training with my new job for Idearc Media for the past two weeks. It has been unbelievably intense, and every session is completely packed with must-know information. I've never had training before where so much has been essential and relevant to my job. Anyway, all that to say I'm still alive, I'm just living in a cave...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Still Standing...

I got a new job and quit my old one, so the last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of preparation. I've been trying to transition eight years of clients and work at the old office while getting everything ready for the new position. All that to say, I haven't fallen off the edge of the world, I was just really crazed. More later...

Friday, September 07, 2007

Bumblebee...a Haiku

The Laws of Physics,

Demand flightless bumblebees

Glad they don't listen.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


The best part of events like the LiveSTRONG ride are the people you meet, the stories that they bring. One such person is Ann, a local woman who rides a lot and leads groups with the Harrisburg Bicycle Club, my local group. When she read my story, she sent me hers, which, as you'll see, are mixed together. She writes:

I read every word of your ride experience. What a great record of your ride! In a huge way, it mirrors my own experience riding in my first LAF ride in Austin in 2004. I was one year away from my cancer diagnosis (six surgeries and a really rough chemo experience, complete with a bout of pneumocystic pneumonia). At age 48, I hadn't done any serious road cycling since college. I set out in June with a brand new bike to train for the 100.

The ride in Austin had some rolling hills, nothing much, but at my level of experience they could pose an obstacle. In the preceding weeks I had ridden 86 miles in the HBC Century, and I had done the Fall Tour to Cape May. It was beautiful cool fall weather in the Northeast. What I didn't plan on was the heat and incredible wind in Texas. I had a plan on how to complete the hundred, mileage and average speed required. That was all. This was immediately blown by a very late start on the course. I lost about an hour before even leaving the gate. In order to make up time, I rode my heart out for the first 30 miles, never stopping once. I averaged 19mph getting to the cutoff at around 30ish miles. This was a personal best for me. I'm a middle-aged C rider, and, gosh, was I pumped. The cutoff was closed but I ignored their warnings and continued on the hundred. Then the hills started and the wind shifted. The rest of the day it was in my face. The heat cranked up to around 95 - 98 degrees.

There was wreckage everywhere on the course that day. College boys on the side of the road doubled up with cramps. I kept on pedaling past them, but as the day wore on my average speed slowed down. I had to work all day to try to make up for a deficit of fluids. I hadn't even had a sip of water in those first thirty miles, and I paid for my mistake the rest of the day. But I kept pedaling. The wind got stronger. I have never felt wind like I felt that day. It never quit. It was an incredibly hot wind that only served to dehydrate the riders more than just the heat.

At around 65 or 70 miles, I was pretty much spent, but kept pedaling. More wreckage everywhere. I think the fact that I could still maintain forward motion in view of all those, younger and stronger, who had called it quits, was the only thing that kept me going. Anyhow, at about mile 85 or so I remember looking down at my speed. I was going downhill, into the wind, pedaling and my speed was about 8 mph. I got to the last rest stop at mile 92 at 4pm, with the course closing in 30 minutes. At the rate I was peddling, I knew I couldn't make it in. So, I waited for the SAG wagon to take me in, rather than getting pulled off the course.

The SAG took us in via a back entrance where I met my husband and young son. I didn't ride across the finish line. I didn't get a rose. Even though 92 miles was more than I had ever ridden in my life, it was a huge letdown to be brought in so unceremoniously. I tell you my story, because I insisted this year that riders being SAGGED in be allowed to ride across the finish line.

As I said, to even get on a bike after cancer is a huge triumph. So, Rob, I am glad you were able to ride across the line, be cheered by Family Fish and friends and receive your rose. You are awesome, and I hope to meet you in person soon.

Words cannot express how much Ann's ride, and her advocacy for the riders who are brave in their attempt, mean to me. ANN--you are a gem and YOU ROCK!!!

Pic is of Ann after her 92 mile odyssey, with her husband and son...Rock on, Ann!


I got the following message from Geoff, a Philadelphia LiveSTRONG mentor and coordinator and grand-poobah of sorts, after he read my blog, regarding Diane, the woman I slowed down to talk with.

Just to let you know Diane did finish. After hearing her story the SAG vehicle followed her all the way in.

The whole day really puts the meaning into Lance's book, "Its not about the bike".

Great story, look forward to seeing you and your friends next year.

Geoff Philly Mentor LSC

She finished! Outstanding!!!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Behold! FirstTrax, King of Photoshop

This just makes me laugh, from FirstTrax at RBR...guy is a genius with Photoshop (Click pic to see larger):

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

LiveSTRONG 2007: Part III

I leave the aid station and begin a rapid descent. The problem is that the road has just been freshly cindered…on a descent. I’m not sure who had that brilliant idea, but it seems to me they could have postponed it ONE weekend. Seriously. How hard is that? I put the brakes on and feel some slippage in the back tire. I ease it up and the bike straightens. I continue this dance with the cinders, my bike, and the downside of a hill. I reach the bottom and mercifully turn off onto a normal road.

I come up on a woman who is struggling mightily up the next set of rolling hills. I ask, “Are you okay?” She nods she is, concentrating on her effort. I am about to just pass on, when something stops me. From that moment to this, I honestly don’t know what it was. It is like the Spirit of God whispered something, deep within my heart, to slow down.
“Do you mind if I ride with you?” I find myself asking.
“Not at all.” She seems glad for a little company—like I said, it was a little lonely.
I learn her name is Diane, and she drove out to the event from Chicago. She is working on her PhD in speech issues, and we talk about Little Fish, who stutters. Then, she explains that she has finished her chemotherapy, and that she has planned her first round of radiation to start AFTER this ride. In essence, she has planned her treatments to make riding the LiveSTRONG 100 her window. I thought I was tough; she humbles me and inspires me at the same time. We ride together for some time.
“I don’t want to slow you down,” she says.
“You’re not.” It was the first time I wasn’t thinking about the time.
She explains that she is going to stop and take a break with two other riders who have stopped, and are rubbing out cramps. I wish her all the best, give her a (BIG) BUTN and pedal on.
“Good luck!” she calls after me, and I shout the same back to her.

The aid stations are an interesting mix. The one at the top of the 60 mile hill was a blast. There was a party atmosphere, people were blasting music and it was more than just the pretzels, oranges and Gatorade. The next one I pull into is at a Fire Station, and it is the lamest aid station. In the world. EVAR. They have Gatorade. Period. The volunteers don’t even talk to the three or four riders who are there. If I sound bitter, it’s not intentional, it’s just that this one was in sharp contrast to the others I had been to up this point.

It makes me think of Donald Carnes. Donald’s family sponsored me in the ride, in his name. Donnie was a teenager from my church who was taken in a tragic car crash this year. He was one of the funniest teenage pranksters, always looking for a good time. But Donnie also had a heart for service, which is how he came to be a volunteer firefighter, and I can’t help but think if he were here at the Fire Station, people would be having the time of their lives. It makes me smile to think of him, and a little sad that so many will never know his spirit.

I leave TLASITWE (The Lamest Aid Station In The World EVAR) and pedal on. I am now at mile 70 and trying to make up time, but the cramps have begun again. They start out manageable, but keep getting worse. I am shotgunning the Gatorade to try to stay ahead of them, but I am barely keeping up with the tightening, at best. At one point, they are so bad I tear up. It hurts so bad. I think about Diane and it hurts a little less, but only a little. I do not have the fuel I need to make it to the next rest station in good shape. I take my last two GU packs and pray for a miracle at the next rest stop.

I pull into the next rest stop. I have pushed my body as hard as it has ever been pushed before. I eat every salty thing they have—pretzels, crackers, peanut butter, anything. I shotgun more Gatorade. I have about 20 miles to go. I look at my clock on the odometer and it is 3.20. I am not going to make the 4.30 cutoff.

I look around the rest stop. I realize there is a group of riders, just kind of sitting around, and it occurs to me that:
1) This is the first large conglomeration of people I have seen since "The Party"
2) They’re not being very active about refueling or even moving.
One guy is talking about how the SAG Wagons have already started picking people up at the back of the course, coming up behind us. He resigns himself to wait for the SAG wagon to meet him at the rest stop. Apparently, all of the others at the stop have a similar outlook.

I realize I will not make the cutoff.
I realize they will probably pick me up and put me in the van.
I realize it will be easier to just sit at this comfortable oasis of salty Heaven.
FUCK THIS! I came to ride.

I grab another cracker and get on my bike. I focus my mind on doing everything I can to go as deep into this ride as I possibly can. I am pedaling with incredible efficiency. I look down at the speedometer and I am cruising at 24 miles per hour on a slightly declined flat. I feel…good. The cramps return within 2 miles of leaving the rest stop. I take in more Gatorade, but I am hurting for sure. I don’t care. All I can think is about how far I can pedal. I am on rolling hills now, and I pick up three other guys. We work together, nobody talking. We are all focused.

The burning in my legs is like the branding irons of the Inquisition, expertly applied to the one part of my body critical to succeeding: my quadriceps. Still, I plough on. On one uphill, the pain becomes so intense my field of vision shrinks to a toilet-paper-roll-sized tunnel. Everything outside of that is pitch-black. The downhills offer a merciful reprieve.

I look up and see, inexplicably, the 90 mile aid station. I have covered 10 miles in about 40 minutes. Again, I grab anything salty I can, but I know my stomach is wickedly close to open revolt. I need to feed my legs, but I know my stomach will reject it if I stuff it in. I eat a couple of pretzels, grab more Gatorade and pedal out. I have 20 minutes to cover ten miles. Maybe, if I get close enough, I rationalize, they will let me finish.

I pull out, throw down the gears and roll. The pain returns very quickly, my legs not responding to the signals I am sending them. The last ten miles of the course are rolling hills, small by comparison, but at this late stage, and in my current shape, they are murderous. I pedal on. Over hills, around corners, down slight descents, trying to balance between conservation and momentum to make it up the other side with a minimum of pain.

I crest a hill…and I see it: the SAG wagon. A guy is holding his hands out for me to stop. I look at my odometer. It reads 95 miles.
“I’m sorry, we’re closing the course,” he says.
All I can think is that I won’t get to finish. “Please, I say. Can I just finish?”
He explains that they have to close the course, but they will take the people down to the finish line and drop us off about half a mile from the line. I will be able to finish the ride in front of my family. I’m sure everyone else will have departed, but I know TEAM FISH be there.

I get in the SAG and there are two other guys in there as well. We chat about the ride, the utter brutality of it. I tell them that I am celebrating one-year cancer-free, and they both talk about relatives, one man his wife, the other his father, who are survivors. We agree that we’ll be back again next year.

I talk with the SAG wagon people and it is then that I realize who they are. It is the same people who stopped to help us with my brother Pat’s FIRST flat tire. I look and they are wearing their “I Support TEAM FISH” BUTNZ. They both want to shake my hand, and I oblige. They drop us about half a mile from the finish. I call TEAM FISH and let them know I am on my way in as the SAG people unrack my bike.

My legs are okay now. As I sit on my bike, I settle in. I ride to the entrance to the college, and there are very few people still there. I wind through the maze to a cattle chute that will take me to the finish line. The adrenaline is flowing, there is no pain, only the joy of riding, of finishing. I hear Little Fish screaming “DADDY!!!!” and I see my family, in the t-shirts my wife made, erupt to my right. They are going crazy and I feel tears well up…only, there are no tears because I am so dehydrated. I raise my arms, a thank you to God for seeing me through all of this.

My brother has a cup of water and he launches it high in the air, allowing me to ride through it perfectly. It is so blessedly cold, and I use a little to wipe the salted crust from my face.


I cross the line and pull off to the side. I look back to where TEAM FISH has assembled, and I see Little Fish tearing across the field at top speed, screaming “DADDY! DADDY!” Her feet don’t even touch the ground. She flies into me and gives me a huge hug.
“I love you, Daddy!”
“I love you too, puppy.”

Mrs. Fish is the next to reach me, and I melt into her arms for a moment, allowing myself to finally soften. “I could not have done this without you. I love you,” I say. She just holds me.

Then TEAM FISH is mobbing me: My cousin LizFish, my brother (and fellow LiveSTRONG rider!!!) PatFish, my sister-in-law SaraLouWhoFish and my parents, NiniFish and Pop-Pop Fish.

I wasn’t sure what to feel after the event. Cheated that I missed the cutoff? Angry because I didn't plan properly and they didn’t have the GU I needed to survive this thing? Cursed because of all the flat tires? I took some time in quiet to think about everything, to put it into perspective. This is what I arrive at.

There are people who may think I didn’t finish the LiveSTRONG Challenge. I know better. Sure, I might owe Lance 4 miles (you'll get them next year, Lance) but I wanted to gain strength, to pass along that strength to others, and to show that cancer hasn’t and never will stop me. I gained it from people like Diane, who showed me what it is to have that desire in your belly. I passed it along to Melissa as she walked her bike up the hill, telling her she was going to be a great nurse (and cyclist!) because she believes in herself. And, I pedaled 96 miles over grueling climbs in a brutal heat with TEAM FISH by my side, hurting with every stroke but never, ever quitting until someone stopped me and peeled me off my bike. I was stopped, but I never quit.

I love TEAM FISH. You guys RULE! And next year, I’m going to bring more people, and we’re going to serve notice on cancer: Your days are numbered. Believe it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

LiveSTRONG 2007: Part II

MILES 20-32
The next twelve miles are an all-out suffer-fest. I have done the math in my head, and I know I must make it to mile 32 before 11.30 or I will be redirected to the 70 mile course. That means an average of 16 miles per hour. For the next 45 minutes. Over the hilliest terrain I have yet faced. I make up my mind to give everything I have to make the cutoff.

The first climb is tough, right out of the refueling area. I grit my teeth and go. I rise, passing people who are walking their bikes up the hill. I think about Pat, and hope that he gets the nerve to face the hill, and that he finds the strength to conquer it. I come to the split, where Pat will take a left to go back to the finish. The volunteer cheers out, "40-Left! 70-Right!"
"HUNDRED!" I shout back to him.
"Hundred?" He sounds surprised. "To the Right! GO!!!"

I reach the top of the hill and then I am flying down the back side. I know I must make time, so I am pushing the limits of speed. I glance at my odometer: 41.5 miles per hour. I can do this. I can do this. I WILL do this.

I am hurting, my legs are burning. I hear the JP Fitness Crew for Team Fish in my mind: "You've got no quit in you." It was my mantra for a triathlon, the one that got me through. I look down again. 30 miles. I am getting close. It's after 11.00. Then, I see the road, the split, the volunteers. I cross over into the hundred-mile course at 11.18--twelve minutes to spare. The volunteers again seem surprised.
"He's going for it!" one of them shouts, and another adds the French cycling cheer, "ALLEZ!"

I am thrashed and trashed...but I have made the cutoff! I pedal a mile up the road to the refueling station. I learn later that Pat decided to face "The Hill" and that he made it all the way up, without stopping or putting his feet down. He said later, "Rob. I just made up my mind that I was going to make it up that hill, or I was going to pedal until I lost all of my momentum and fell over in a ditch." TEAM FISH PWNS YOUR FACE!


When I make the turn to go onto the Hundred-Mile Course, I know that almost the entire ride group is ahead of me. I also know what this means: No drafting, no camaraderie, no easy pedaling. I resign myself to a long, lonely pedal. To my surprise, there is a small group of cyclists still in the fueling station. I quickly hook up with them and they help me through the next ten miles, but it is becoming apparent that I have not taken on enough food. At the next rest stop, they refuel quickly, but I need carbs, salt, electrolytes. I can feel the beginnings of cramps on the insides of my quadriceps. I need to take care of this now, but the station does not have any GU left, my fuel of choice. I take in Gatorade and Captain's Wafers with peanut butter. I feel better.

I leave this station, and again the cramps begin in my legs. I ignore it as long as possible. Finally, I reach a point where they are so bad I cannot straighten my leg on the pedal-down-stroke. I grind to a halt at the edge of the road. I cannot go on. I can't straighten my legs past 90 degrees. I am sucking down Gatorade. Then, I feel it hit my legs--I can straighten again, slowly, but it's there. I look back and there is a woman walking her bike up the hill. I wait for her, and ask if I can walk with her.

I learn her name is Melissa, and she is from Oregon. She traveled east to go to school in Boston, where she is studying to be a nurse. We get back on our bikes, coast downhill for a bit and then I give her a BUTN and wish her Godspeed. I am feeling better, and I am off again.

I am also alone again. I look at my odometer and see I have passed 50 miles. I have a private conversation with my cancer. It is, paradoxically, both a low point and a high point for my ride.

When I look up, the mile 55 hill is in front of me, rising over 500 feet almost straight up, or so it seems. I slip down into my low gear and just start spinning up. I pick out landmarks and just resolve to make it to the next leaf....that stick...the rock...again, it hurts. And then, I phone? There is no way I can answer it. But I know who it is. It's Mrs. Fish and Little Fish, and they're calling to spur me on. I make up my mind to own this little chunk of hill. A guy passes me going the opposite direction in a SAG wagon: "Dude! There's a party at the top of the hill!"

I find myself thinking of the Road Bike Review part of Team Fish--how they would handle the hill, the heat, the adversity. They'd buckle down and get the job done, probably with "a Corgi and like that." I dig deep and find it. I can hear RBR laughing as I jolt up the hill.

I reach the top of the hill and there is....A PARTY! People are eating hotdogs (I think I would toss 'em if I ate 'em), drinking homemade sports drink, and...what's this? Chicken and rice soup? You'd think it would be gross, as hot as it is, but it is salty, carb-laden, and easy on the stomach. I have three cups of it. Again, they have no GU, a trend that is becoming just a little alarming as I am down to my last three. I hear a guy asking about them, because he has none. I give him one of mine. Surely one of the next aid stations will have more...right? I now have two.

LiveSTRONG 2007: Part I


Mrs. Fish and I journey down the day before to pick up my race packet. It is extremely well-organized and only takes one minute to check in. That’s awesome, as I’ve been to these events. Some are organized better than others, and I am glad this one is better organized. I also take a walk around the event area, spending some time with “Lance” and then return to home base: my Mother-in-Law’s condominium. I lay out my transition area (T-0?) to make sure I have everything, call all of the people who were coming down, cook salmon and asparagus with a baked potato for dinner (AWESOME!) and called it a day.

The essentials: Lucky Socks, cool jersey and Assos Chamois Cream (trust me!):

Also, my SURVIVOR card, a reminder of just how far I've come in one year...

I wake up around 5.00 am and made breakfast: oatmeal, mango, peach and some turkey. I get on the road and it is still dark out, arriving at the site and it is still dark, but lightening. I put the bike tire on by my neighbor’s headlights, pull my gear together and cruise over to the event area. I spend some time talking to people and pass out some of the Butnz that Kurt had sent me—again, they totally ROCK! People love them. Note: The "I Survived..." is from my dear friends Diane and Steve)

I am waiting for my brother, who is going to ride the 40 mile course, when some guy cruises up next to me and forgets to clip his foot out of his pedals. Those of you who ride know where this is going. He couldn’t clip out and fell over right onto my leg. HOLY CARP! Ouch. I thought, “This is just perfect—I get prepared for this whole thing and some dude in the parking lot breaks my leg before I get on the course. OUCH!” Luckily, nothing was hurt, and he has the foresight to land on his leg and shoulder to protect the bike. Good man…everyone is fine.

Pat arrives and I decide to start my ride with the 40 mile group. It will put me at about a 25 minute deficit, but I know I can make that up easily enough. Furthermore, there is a cutoff at the 32 mile mark of 11.30, but that still gives me almost 3.5 hours to get there. In essence, I will have to average 10 miles per hour to make the cutoff and proceed onto the 100 mile course—otherwise they will redirect me at that point onto the 70 mile course. I can average 10 miles per hour backwards, so I think I will be great—no worries. Right?

Pat has two friends that hook up to do the ride, Sean who works with him, and Chris, who used to. They’re very nice people, and I would have like them a lot if they had signed up with Team Fish or Cut Bait instead of Team WMMR (kidding…).

Lance gives the opening remarks, greeting the crowd, and thanks us for the work we have done to raise money to fight cancer. He also announces a Presidential forum to discuss cancer in America and what the role of the President is in helping to secure funding for the research. It’s long overdue. It’s funny, because Lance is not anywhere near as eloquent as I thought he would be. He seems almost shy before the group, like he doesn’t know quite what to say or how to say it. It is kind of interesting…I just picture him as more polished.

So Pat and I start rolling with the 40 mile group, Chris and Sean riding with us. It is a good group, chatty, ready for a good ride. About three miles out, I am chatting with Pat and I hear POP-SQUEEEEEEEE…

Yes WAI…Flat Tire! Oh carp. We pull of to the side of the road and the 10 milers are going past us. The SAG wagon pulls up to make sure we are okay and I assure them we are. I watch as Pat takes his tire off—his first time ever! He does a good job and he puts the wheel on. Off we go.

We pass a grandmother and her granddaughter and even though she is weaving a little, I tell her she is doing great. “Keep on rolling!” Another 2 miles and we’re talking about Brazilian soccer and Tom Cruise watching soccer matches and how the announcers think he’s a wanker and POP-SQUEEEEEEEE…

I wish I was TRIPPIN' but I'm not…Flat Tire--AGAIN! What the carp? Pat busts the wheel off and takes the tire off the rim quickly. It’s a good sign – he learns quickly. Riders continue to roll past. I think we are now DFL. Dead Freakin’ Last. In the ENTIRE LiveSTRONG Event. Okay. A BikeLine guy pulls up and offers to help. “YES!” Pat and I say. He mounts the tire quickly and gets us back on our way.

The entire course is supposed to have volunteers at the intersections, supported by local police or state troopers. We come up on one intersection and there is a mother and daughter riding. The daughter asks her mom, loud enough that I can hear, “Do we just go through? Do we just go through?” The mom does not reply, but I quickly look and see there is no police officer OR volunteer. “No, no, no,” I think, and something of the Daddy in me comes out as I see this girl rolling against a light. “STOP!!!!!” I yell and she slams the bike and skids sideways as a car rolls through the intersection. It would surely have killed her. She is shaken, but unharmed, and we roll on.

Pat and I are picking up steam and feeling pretty good about things. We pass the grandmother and granddaughter (again) and I tell her she is still doing great. “Thanks!” she says. I show Pat how to tuck in and draft off me. Again, he learns quickly. We come to some rolling hills and rise over them, down the other side, around a corner and…POP-SQUEEEEEEEE…

Yup...Srsly and like that…Flat Tire--AGAIN! You have GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!! We are less than eight miles into the course and Pat has had three flats. God I love my Gatorskins…but I curse the monkeys that made his stupid tires! Again, Pat has the wheel off in a flash and strips the tire off. He looks like a Marine field stripping his M-16, now. Steve, a BikeLine SAG wagon guy stops and helps us out. I explain that we’ve had three flats in eight miles, and he triple checks the rim tape, tire and everything else. I show him where this one was a side blowout and he replaces Pat’s tire along with the innertube. At this rate, I think Pat might be able to get a TREK Madone by the time the 40 miles are over.

We get going and rolling forward. We pass….the grandmother and granddaughter…AGAIN! “You’re still doing great,” I say, trying not to let the irony of my situation into my voice. “Look,” she says, “it’s those two hotties again!” I’m still laughing my butt off!

We get to the first help station at mile ten, stock up on innertubes (two more....EACH) and get rolling. It’s a decent pace, and I realize the hills are hurting Pat a bit. I show him how to spin on the hills, using the granny gear to spin up instead of grinding it out. Again, he learns quickly and soon we’re rolling along more comfortably. I look up and see a lone rider coming down on the far side of the road. There are two police motorcycles behind the rider. He draws near me and I recognize the form because it is so unique in cycling, long before the face…Lance. Too late, I realize I could have yelled, “Yo Lance! On your left!” I’m not sure it carries the same weight if he’s traveling in the opposite direction, though.

Pat and I arrive at the second aid station. It is now 10.45 and I have only 45 minutes to cover nearly 12 miles of the hardest part of the course thus far. Pat is taking the 40 mile turn and he has reunited with Sean and Chris. He is debating whether or not to do the big hill, and I hope he does. It occurs to me that rides like this are, in large part, a way to find out what lies inside of us. Pat isn’t sure he could finish the 40, especially with the hill at mile 20, but I suspect he can. He has a lot of grit, and when he puts his mind to something, he’s unstoppable. Again, I hope he goes for it, but I realize if I am going to make the cut off, I am going to have to go all out (bust a nut?) to make it. I do the math and realize I am going to need to average 16 miles per hour over the hills. I grit my teeth and roll out.


To my family, and my friends who are just as often like family,

I wanted to take another opportunity to thank you for all of your help, love and support. Riding in, and finishing, the LiveSTRONG ride was probably the second hardest thing I have ever done in my life (cancer and the hit-and-run still top the list), and there is no way I could have done it without you. Your thoughts, prayers, and encouragement lifted me up, and I am assured that finishing this incredible ride was thanks to you: TEAM FISH!

Together, Team Fish raised $1,920.00 to fight cancer, fund research, and support people who are battling this disease. In short, your kindness and generosity is saving lives, like mine.

I will be posting the story of my experience here. Note, there is a place at the bottom of each entry that says “Comments” and you can click on that to leave comments in the blog, or to respond to something that was said, if you’d like.

Again, my heartfelt thanks and most sincere gratitude to each and every one of you. You have my deepest respect and sincerest thanks. I could not have done it without you:


Thursday, August 23, 2007

One Last Request...

One last plea--if you are able to give, and you would like to support me on my LiveSTRONG Century CLICK HERE. I assure you no amount is too small.

Thanks for everything, and a HUGE THANKS to those of you who have supported me already. It means the world to me.


Sure, he's in a rec league on a Tuesday night, but even my friend Lt. Dan has to admit this is pretty amazing.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Buttons, and like that...

Kurt at read my story online and made a bunch of buttons for me to give to friends and family members. It's truly one of the nicest things anyone has done for me. This is one of the reasons I sometimes believe cancer is the best thing that happened to me. It enables me to see what is best in people. Thanks Kurt! Like the buttons, YOU ROCK!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Tour of South Central PA

Some pics from my ride yesterday. You can click on them to make them bigger. The rolling country roads...

Along the Yellow Breeches, some of the best fly fishing east of the Mississippi...

Over the Breeches...

This guy uses the caboose as a mother-in-law quarters or an office, I think...

Winding roads...

And rolling hills of South Central PA

This was pretty cool: you come up at the top of a shaded hill and someone has hung an American flag:

How did they KNOW?

God, I love the feel of fresh, smooth asphalt in the morning...It feels like: VICTORY!

Children's Lake: Boiling Springs, PA

Looks yummy....

When I'm done, I LOVE me some pickles....

...and Apple Juice, from my local!