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One Stroke at a Time

I am a long time lurker in the blogs and in the forums. I borrow an occasional workout. I post very rarely. I have diligently posted to a Flog for the last 4 years. I am starting a blog now due to a life altering event that happened a little more than two weeks ago. After having 4-6 weeks of mild nausea and vague abdominal cramping, I was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. I have completed my first round of chemotherapy and will start my second this Friday. After having to wait ten days for my port site to heal, I swam for the first time yesterday and it was wonderful.

Why a blog now? Well, I have always been a swimmer. I started to compete when I was 7 and swam through college. Other then a few years of sporadic swimming when I was in medical school, I have always been in the water (I am now 43 and the mother to 6 and 9 year old sons along with being an endocrinologist). I have always found peace in the water, whether it be in the pool or in the open water. I recognize that an important part of my treatments will be to remain sane (and active). My oncologist encouraged me to stay active. I am looking for my own strength and the strength to continue to fight. So here it goes.

Who I am :

Where I swim

  1. 20 Million Radioactive Particles Later

    by , January 15th, 2016 at 02:54 PM (One Stroke at a Time)
    Lunch Bunch
    2 x (300-250-200-150-100) middle 100 of each distance IM. 1:40 base
    8 x 50 on 1:05 odds swim/kick IM order evens choice kick
    2900 yards

    This was my first swim since before Christmas. I was pretty happy to make it through the practice but won't likely be back until next week (my son has a meet this weekend with trials and finals on Saturday and Sunday). I have had a challenging last month. I have known for a while that the tumors in my liver were having limited response to the chemotherapy that I had been getting for the last 2.5+ years. This was a very good run and I'm lucky to have had a response for so long. In early December, I found out that they were slowly growing despite the chemotherapy so it was time to change things up. This freaked me out and I was fairly depressed for a few weeks. I had felt decent and knew what to expect with the medications and was pretty discouraged that I was facing a lot of unknowns again. Changing things up meant, radiation delivered through my femoral artery to my liver directly (called Y90). This involved a screening/diagnostic angiogram followed a few weeks later by the treatment itself. After each procedure, my activity was limited to allow the femoral artery site to heal. I felt pretty crappy too so swimming wasn't really on my radar. Well yesterday enough time had passed and I felt ok so I decided to head back to the pool. There was a pretty light crowd so I had a lane to myself with Lisa swimming next to me on the same interval so I had some company. My strokes felt fine but I was definitely deconditioned. Amanda who was coaching asked me several time if everything was ok. I'll try to get back to 3-4 times a week but will need to build up to that. I was pretty tired last night but slept better than I have been. I'll go back to my oncologist on Tuesday to discuss what's next so keep me in your thoughts (It will take a while to know anything about the response to the Y90 but I'll likely need to start back on some sort of chemo in the next few weeks to month).
  2. 100- A thank you to my team!

    by , November 12th, 2015 at 03:17 PM (One Stroke at a Time)
    Lunch Bunch
    3 x (12 x 25 on 30 round 1 fly, #2 back, #3 breast then 300 done 75 free/25 stroke of the round on 5:00)
    12 x 25 kick on 30
    300 pull
    200 easy 50 kick/50 swim

    I enjoyed this practice. It was what I needed today. Between finishing chemo at 10:30 pm on Tuesday and recovering from a URI with laryngitis, I needed something mellow. There is a bigger reason for me posting today though.

    In the summer of 2005, I moved to Houston from Baltimore. At the time, I had a son under two and my husband and I were starting our first faculty positions. When we got off the plane at 8 pm at night in 100 degree heat with one of us holding the two year old's hand and the other carrying the two cat plane carriers, I could sense that we were entering a different place. I knew that I was going to have to balance new responsibilities but it was important to me to stay active. During that first summer, I tried out various different exercise regimens. As a person who generally doesn’t like to sweat, it became clear that first July that I would keep swimming and I joined Rice Masters. Being generally motivated by goals and carrots, over the next several years I set out a list of swimming goals. I then began slowly checking them off—swim at masters Nationals, swim in at least one meet/race a year, #1 US relay swim, #1 US individual swim, world ranked relay, world ranked individual swim, go someplace cool for an open water swim, 2 mile swim, 5 K swim, 5 mile swim, 10 K swim and 10 mile swim.

    In May of 2013, when I was diagnosed with unresectable stage IV colon cancer, there were 2 things left on this list. As I started chemotherapy that summer(which I have continued every two to three weeks since then), I assumed that was that and I wouldn’t get back to it. When I unexpectedly won the 200 breast at Masters Nationals in Maryland, there was one left. At that time, I had long since lost count of the number of chemo cycles that I had gone through but I had a renewed interest in my list. With the publishing of the preliminary 2015 LCM top ten lists, I got the last one—100 Top Ten times (I stand at 105 with these). This includes 14 Rice relays which might explain some strange requests I have made over the years (like wouldn’t it be fun to swim an 800 SCM mixed free relay by ourselves?). I wanted to take the time to thank my teammates. Not just Heidi, Kelly, Susan, Rick, Carlos, Suzy, Jen, Jennifer, Marissa F, Jami, Vicki, Leslie, Jerrah, Daniel, Ana, Matthew, Keith, Steve, Nicole, David, James, Marissa C and John (soon to have Benjamin and Michael added) who swam on those relays with me but to thank all of my teammates. It is swimming with all of them that keeps me coming back to the pool. Plus, I wanted to thank anyone who takes the time to read this blog as it is written for me but I have felt the support of the larger USMS community through it. I am tremendously grateful for your support over the last 2 and a half years.

    Onward to 200,

    Updated November 12th, 2015 at 03:29 PM by MaryR

  3. The 200 Fivecta

    by , November 9th, 2015 at 10:27 AM (One Stroke at a Time)
    I swam at the SCM November Classic in the Woodlands over the weekend. Sometime in the last year or so I've started to do theme meets. This time it was the 200s. I was only doing the 3 strokes and the IM but then my teammates whom I had recruited for a 400 free relay decided that an 800 free relay was in order so I got all five 200s (plus the 400 free and IM).

    I had the pleasure of swimming with Chowmi in 2 of my 200s (fly and breast). I have been a little under the weather the last few weeks from both chemo (I had a week of eating mainly apple sauce, yogurt and string cheese because I couldn't tolerate anything else) and a URI that I picked up from my middle schooler so my expectations were low. I once again swam my slowest master's times in each event but was close to a previous time in the 200 back (my two previous swims were from many years ago) and the 200 breast. I would have liked to sneak one in there-- maybe next time.
    The events I swam--
    800 free relay. I swam 2nd in a 2:34 with our total time being 9:18 in the 160-199 age group
    200 fly: 3:01
    200 back 2:48
    200 IM 2:52
    400 free 5:31
    400 IM 6:06
    200 breast 3:12

    For my seeds, I guessed at my times and had 3 faster and 3 slower so not to bad for where I thought I was.

    Updated November 9th, 2015 at 11:52 AM by MaryR

  4. 100%

    by , November 3rd, 2015 at 03:38 PM (One Stroke at a Time)
    500 (every 4th length non-free)
    4 x 4 x 50 on 1:00 kick/free, drill/free, stroke/free, all stroke IM order by round
    4 x 25 IM order on 40
    200 pull on 3:00
    4 x 25 IM order on 35
    200 pull on 3:00
    4 x 25 IM order on 30
    200 pull on 3:00
    4 x 25 IM order on 25
    200 pull on 3:00
    200 kick
    200 easy back

    I swam at Lunch Bunch today. It was a great day to be outside. The weather was beautiful and the water temp was just right. I was surprised when I put my work-out in my FLOG because it said that I was at 100% of my goal for the year. I don't generally pay too much attention to the count toward the goal but the 100% caught my eye. This is shocking to me. I set the goal at 520,000 yards or 10,000 a week. I have been trying to not get too caught up in yardage. I knew that 10,000 a week translated into 2 weekdays and 1 weekend practice a week (with my goal really being to get to the pool 3-4 times a week. I had a rough beginning of the year with getting to practice--my oncologist had changed my chemo around and I just wasn't motivated to get into the cold outdoor pool most days (due to feeling generally blah and having a cold sensitive neuropathy--plus being tethered to an infusion pump for 48 hours every two weeks). I just looked back and I only swam 10 times between February 1 and March 21st so I am really surprised to be sitting just short of 300 miles for the year today. I will take this small victory for today and keep moving forward.
  5. OTC

    by , October 19th, 2015 at 11:17 PM (One Stroke at a Time)
    Last April at Nationals, I saw an advertisement for the US Swimming Foundation's Swim Camp at the Olympic Training Center. I knew immediately that I wanted to go. Back in my twenties, I was convinced to swim in a 25 K with one of the carrots that was held out being a possible trip for training camp to Colorado. I swam the race which was 25 K Nationals for US swimming in Wrightsville Beach North Carolina. The race was rough-- The start was delayed when the start buoy blew into shore and then the course had 1000s of jelly fish on it. I finished and was invited to the National Team Training Camp--only the camp was moved to Atlantic City that year. This was a great camp but not at the OTC. At the end of that summer, I started medical school, then went to residency, fellowship, got married, etc. When I saw the flier in San Antonio, I realized I still had a very unfulfilled desire to go to Colorado Springs. I signed up on the first day of registration and have been looking forward to the trip for months. It couldn't have come at a better time as three weeks ago, I got bad news from my oncologist with finding out that my blood tumor markers were increasing along with the size of several of the liver metastasizes. I was changed from maintenance treatment back to chemoreductive treatment at that time and have been a little down.

    The trip had an inauspicious start. My flight was delayed 12 times (including once when they marched us down to board and then made us turn around to wait for a part) before it took off. I sat in the boarding area worried that the flight would be cancelled. In the end, I went from arriving 4 hours early to 40 minutes late so not too bad. First up, we had a stroke seminar with Russell Mark where he showed us videos of great swimmers and talked about aspects of technique. This included Katie Ledecky's freestyle, Missy Franklin's backstroke and Michael Phelps' fly. There were videos from every angle and position imaginable. It was interesting when Todd Schmitz's (Missy's coach) said what year is this from when he saw her backstroke. He knew immediately that it was from a few years ago. Next we went to the pool and had a workout with Todd, Debbie Meyer and Rowdy Gaines. The swim work-outs (four in the three days) generally consisted of a general warm-up followed by a stroke technique session. This would be drills, kicking and small group stations that focused on different things. The first one was long axis strokes with drills focused on balance, centering, rotation and stability while creating power. In the evening there was a reception with a few speeches and a viewing of the 2008 men's 400 free relay. This helped to prepare us for the next day when Jason Lezak and Cullen Jones were arriving. The next morning we did dry lands. During this session, I learned a lot about dynamic warm-ups (which I never have done). Next, it was back to the pool. During this session along with the stations there was video taping of two strokes (freestyle and then a choice) and I got to try the pulley. I don't actually know what it was called but I put on a modified rock climbing harness and was tethered to motorized pulley. I did four 50s while Rowdy critiqued my stroke. On the last 50, the machine was cranked up high so I completed a 50 LCM free in 22 seconds (You can get the sense of how fast it is to swim at world record speed). We then went on a hike. Upon return, there was a video review done with the coaches (Mine was done with Jason and Todd). I choose backstroke as my second stroke since I was doing the review with Missy's coach. I hadn't seen underwater video of my swimming for decades so this was fascinating. After a many year hiatus (except in IMs) I started swimming backstroke again about 6 months ago. I knew I was swimming in an "old fashioned" manner so had deconstructed my stroke based on videos I watched. The underwater view gave me a great understanding of what I hadn't fully appreciated during this process and gave me a lot of things to work on. That night we out to dinner and had a Q and A with all of the coaches. This included a behind the scenes account of "the relay" from Jason and Cullen, including an explanation of why Cullen wasn't in those early pictures with MP and GWG after Jason had pulled off the upset. Sunday, we went back to the pool for a final session and then had an amazing tour (led by US triathlete Erin Jones) of the OTC. Before I left, I went for one final meal in the OTC cafeteria and snapped a picture for my son-- When I went out to sit down, I looked at the picture and realized that Conor Dywer and Becca Mann were in the background. NBAC was arriving for a 3.5 week training camp (Michael and Allison hadn't arrived yet-but I did see their IDs when I checked out).

    I almost forgot the best part-- I didn't know anyone who was going so I was randomly assigned a roommate. It was USMS immediate past president Nadine Day. I had met her briefly once before at a meet and we have a few mutual friends. I felt like we had known each other for longer than a weekend when I said good-bye.

    I know this is long but I could write 3-4 times more. I can't stop raving about this experience to anyone who will listen. It was pricey but to me was worth it. The memories that I made will make me smile for a long time-- which is good because I'm back to chemo tomorrow.

    Updated October 19th, 2015 at 11:30 PM by MaryR

  6. 99

    by , July 28th, 2015 at 03:11 PM (One Stroke at a Time)
    4 x 100 25 stroke IM order/75 free on 1:40
    200 easy on 4:00 100 back/50 whip kick/50 flutter kick
    4 x 100 50 stroke IM order/50 free on 1:40
    200 easy on 4:00 100 back/50 whip kick/50 flutter kick
    4 x 100 75 stroke IM order/25 free on 1:40
    200 easy on 4:00 100 back/50 whip kick/50 flutter kick
    4 x 100 on 1:40 IM descending
    200 easy on 4:00 100 back/50 whip kick/50 flutter kick
    4 x 100 on 1:50 50 kick/50 back

    I haven't blogged recently but have been swimming semi-regularly. If I go one more day this week it will be the most swims for a month this year. I went to Lunch Bunch today and got my own lane. The pool's pretty hot right now but seems a little better than summers in the past. I was happy with this swim because I injured my neck a few weeks back and couldn't turn my head very comfortably (Silly injury related to a new head board on the my bed and watching too much Netflix). Today was the first time I felt like I could turn my head to breath without a lot of weird contortions.

    Since I last checked in, I did swim at our zones in the Woodlands. I was pretty slow (I swam 6 events and had my slowest masters swim in each event) but I was not disappointed as my training has been pretty disrupted and I did manage to swim everything legally (200 back, 200 fly, 200 IM, 50 breast, 200 breast, 50 free on a relay and 800 free).

    I have continued on chemotherapy every two weeks since early February with the 46 hour infusion but was just changed back to pills today So now, I have a short 45 minute infusion every three weeks with pills for two weeks. This is a relief because I was getting very tired with the interrupted sleep. The infusion pump makes a sound like "fsst" every 5 minutes so it is difficult to sleep. When I was an intern, when it was really quiet, I used to sometimes imagine I heard my pager (even when it was off)-- "do-ta-do-ta-doo". Now at these moments, I hear "fsst" when I am not wearing my pump. Hopefully, my brain will find something else to "hear" during my time away from the pump.

    I am also about to hit my goal of 100 top ten times-- Hence the title of this blog. With the publishing of the preliminary list, I stand at 99. (I was actually 0.12 in the 200 back away from #100). I have managed to swim a legal 200 fly and 400 IM this summer along with a decent mixed 200 free relay so I suspect I have #100 in there somewhere. I will have to wait and see!
  7. 12 days off, 3 practices then a meet

    by , June 22nd, 2015 at 11:32 AM (One Stroke at a Time)
    Summer Sizzler-- Dad's Club

    I had continued to swim pretty regularly (3-4 times a week) until two weeks ago. I went on vacation to the big island in Hawaii for a week. I swam a tiny bit but mostly just while snorkeling. I came back and had kids things to do and then chemotherapy (still with a 46 hour infusion every other week). I started swimming again last Thursday and swam 3 long course practices (3K, 3K and 3.6K) on Thursday, Friday and Saturday am. I entered the meet at Dad's Club at the last minute. It was a fun, short meet. I swam the following:

    100 back-- 1:21. This is only the second time I have swam this in Masters and surprisingly this was faster than the first time. In contrast, the other three events were the slowest times I have swum in masters but not by a lot.
    100 fly- 1:23
    100 breast 1:32
    400 IM 6:12

    My fly was definitely a struggle (The 100 time was about 7 seconds slower but this was the first time I have swum this since starting chemo two years ago). I could tell I hadn't really swum much LC when swimming it. My 400 IM was a second slower than last year but the fly by itself was three seconds slower. So my half full glass tells me the last 300 was 2 seconds faster. This week might be tough for swimming with my kids activities (There are summer league or club swim meets 6 of the next seven days) but I'll try to get there at least three times. I/m thinking about zones in 3 weeks with maybe a reprise of the Nationals schedule (200 fly/back/breast/IM) plus relays if we have the people.
  8. Floods

    by , May 26th, 2015 at 07:35 PM (One Stroke at a Time)
    300 on 4:30 (100 free/100 IM/100 free)
    2 x 50 kick on 50 #1 whip, #2 flutter
    250 on 3:45 (75 free/100 IM/75 free)
    2 x 50 kick on 50 #1 whip, #2 flutter
    200 on #:00 (50 free/100 IM/50 free)
    2 x 50 kick on 50 #1 whip, #2 flutter
    150 on 2:15 (25 free/100 IM/25 free)
    2 x 50 kick on 50 #1 whip, #2 flutter
    100 IM on 1:30
    2 x 50 kick on 50 #1 whip, #2 flutter
    4 x 100 on 1:45 (50 back/50 kick IM order)
    8 x 25 seahorse breaststroke drill
    50 easy

    I swam at Lunch Bunch today. It was pretty well attended because many things were shut down due to the flooding but the pool was open. My family and our house were spared which is a huge relief. School's were closed so I stayed home. My husband also stayed home so I got to go to swim at lunch. I was going to swim sparingly as my right shoulder is tweaked but once I got into the set I just went with it. My strokes felt decent with the exception of the fly and I was happy to make the kicks on 50 with 5-6 seconds rest.

    In the morning, we rode our bikes down to Brays Bayou (one of the flooded bayous that they are showing on the news is about 1.5 miles from our house) to look at the water. Just a few blocks from our house we started to see abandoned cars and then there started to be standing water on the roads. As we got closer the roads were completely flooded with thigh deep water that had a strong current and flow. I was shocked that there were still many crazy people out in their cars trying to get through the water. There were helicopters overhead looking for people. Thankfully, there was just a few minutes of rain today although there is more predicted for tomorrow.
  9. Ups and downs

    by , May 22nd, 2015 at 01:50 PM (One Stroke at a Time)
    Thursday May 21

    Started halfway through work-out then swam the part I missed at the end.
    2 x (5 x 100 1:40-1:30- 2 on 1:20-1:15 then 50 easy)
    200 pull on 3:30
    6 x 50 pull on 45
    100 easy

    6 x 75 on 1:20 kick/drill/swim 2- fly, 2- back, 2 breast
    6 x 50 on 1:00 2 x fly/ back, back/breast, breast/free
    6 x 25 sprint on 40 2 fly/2 back/2 breast
    50 easy
    6 x 50 kick on 1:00 odds whip/evens flutter
    50 easy

    Since Nationals I have been swimming pretty regularly. I have made 3-4 workouts a week. Last week, I quietly passed the two year mark of when I was diagnosed with cancer. So, I’m now outliving my original prognosis. By the end of last week was feeling like I had some stamina again. Unfortunately, due to my husband’s travel, my kid’s activities and my chemotherapy, I was out for about 5 days.

    This was not the real down part of my week however. The oldest member of my team suffered a massive stroke and is now in hospice. This has made me incredibly sad for the last two days. So bear with me while I reminisce. I first met Renee when she was in her late 70s and moved to our team from a different local team. I had spoken to her a few times when I found myself responsible for setting up the women’s relays at long course zones. We had a small group at the meet and I went around and asked everyone if they wanted to swim a relay. When I got to her, she looked at me and said, “Dear, you know that I’m not really that fast.” I told her that I didn’t care how fast she was and asked her again if she wanted to swim on a relay. She smiled and winked and said that if we needed her she would swim. I took that as a yes. The next day we had a 200 mixed medley relay with ages that spanned 39 (me, 7 years ago) to 79 (her). We swam our relay and then she went off to swim an 800 free. During the 800, we found out that we had won our age group so when she finished, we took her the medal. At which, she exclaimed cheerfully and thanked our whole relay explaining that it had been a long time since anyone asked her to be on a relay (She went on to become a vital part of our team at the annual Woodlands Relay Meet). After that, we became friends. I think that this is one of the wonderful things about master’s swimming. You can meet people and become friends with people from all walks of life and of all ages. Outside of my work, I don’t interact with people that are 40 years older than me on a very regular basis but on the pool deck this is not the case. During my illness, she has always reached out to me to find out how things were going and make sure that I was okay. I last saw her last week when I was at Lunch Bunch. She swam her workout and then came over to ask how I was doing. When I found out that she was in the hospital earlier in the week, I debated going over to see her but realized that it was really the time for her family. My last memory of her on the pool deck in her swimsuit smiling in the sunshine is perfect. She was fiercely independent, very funny and extremely kind. I will miss my friend but am extremely fortunate to having gotten to know her over the last 7 years.

    Updated May 26th, 2015 at 07:37 PM by MaryR

  10. Four 200s and a 50

    by , April 27th, 2015 at 11:08 AM (One Stroke at a Time)
    I swam at Nationals over the weekend. I had never been to the pool before and thought it was great--Plenty of warm-up/wardown lanes, a cool place to sit inside, Olympians to watch and lots of fun. I stayed with my friend Susan who swam awesome. She owns the Texas Swim Shop (for 27 years). She knows everyone so it is always fun to hang out with her.

    Sometimes I sit down after a trip and think I can't believe I made it through last week and today is definitely one of those days. It started on April 17th-- I swam at lunch and then headed to the airport for a one day conference in Florida. I flew back on Saturday night then woke up early on Sunday morning to drive my oldest to Texas A and M for a club meet. Monday I worked and then had a CT scan in the evening (short swim in the morning). Tuesday short swim in the morning, a doctors appointment and then started chemo. Wednesday I worked (with my chemo running) and Thursday I finished chemo (short swim in the evening). Friday, I worked for few hours in the morning, swam a little at lunch and then headed to San Antonio. I hope to make it to the pool before our team's mixed free relay but arrived about 15 minutes late. A bunch of us went to dinner from the pool so I was glad that I went to pool instead of directly to the hotel. Then Friday night happened. It's a funny thing about chemo, I usually have a bad day every cycle but it's completely unpredicatable as to when. I woke up about 1 am and felt very sick. I spent about 90 minutes in the bathroom searching for the cool place on the tiles with my cheek (admit it, we've all been there). I decided I would try to go back to bed and then just drive home in the morning. Well, a huge storm blew through, we lost power and overslept. When I woke up, I felt better. We went to the Egg and I for breakfast since there was no breakfast at the hotel and then headed to the pool.

    On Saturday, I swam the 200 back for only the second time ever as a master's swimmer. I placed 8th and swam a master's best. I then discovered that the 200 fly is no joke when you haven't been swimming very much. I felt great at the 100 and thought I went out to slow but at the 175 I definitely thought I had actually gone out too fast. I managed to get 6th and swam 0.01 faster than last year (out 3 secs faster than last year) so I'll take it.

    We went to dinner at a place called "The Cove" which was a burger joint attached to a laundromat. It was really fun and I got a chance to talk to some of the people who swim in the faster lanes than me at practice or swim in the mornings.

    Sunday, I started with a mixed medley relay that was 3 breaststrokers and a freestyler. We were fourth. I swam fly. I swam after David Guthrie and was standing on the blocks just amazed at how fast, strong and smooth his stroke is (My start probably suffered a bit from my gawking).

    I don't sprint a lot so my arms were really sore within about an hour of the relay. Next up I swam the 200 breast. I was 9th and felt like I was nearing the end-- and for the 4th 200 it was the IM. I was 7th. I raced well and held someone off on the free.

    Then we had a nice surprise. Our team was 5th (2 points out of fourth). So Susan and I collected our banner and then I headed home. Today, I rest (after work of course!)

    Updated April 27th, 2015 at 11:20 AM by MaryR

  11. Nationals

    by , April 23rd, 2015 at 10:42 AM (One Stroke at a Time)
    I haven't blogged in a long time but got a little motivation today to do so. I had a rough winter and early spring so wasn't that encouraged to share. The winter was hard on my hands and feet due to the ongoing hand foot syndrome that I was getting from the Xeloda. I was extremely sensitve to cold and since we swim outside it was tough. I have access to an indoor pool but was not motivated to swim by myself when I was not feeling well. As a results I only swam ten times between February 1st and March 22nd (I still keep my Flog up) and most of these were partial. At that time my medicines were changed around to help my hands and feet and also because there had been some increase in the disease (which a CT last Monday shows is on the decline again with this change). This has helped but involves a 50 hour infusion every other week (so no water access during that time-- not even to shower). I did manage to swim at Zones on Easter week-end after about a week of solid swimming (I did 4 full work-outs and 3 lighter ones). I decided to go outside of my comfort "zone" and swam all 50s and 100s with the exception of the 400 IM. My 400 IM was actually a little more than a second faster than last year at zones. I figure I have a lttile less cancer in my body this year than last year but a little more chemo agents so it must have somehow balanced out. After that, I was able to swim for about 2.5 more weeks. Nationals is close so am taking the plunge. For the record, I am swimming just Saturday and Sunday doing the 3 stroke 200s and the 200 IM along with a relay. It's been a long time since I did a backstroke start but I watched the recent Swimswam video of one a few times and will give it a go. I'm not sure how it will go but it will go. Well, I am about to go get "unhooked" so will try to get in a short swim today and tomorrow mid-day before heading out.
    Good luck to everyone swimming.
  12. November Classic

    by , November 12th, 2014 at 03:22 PM (One Stroke at a Time)
    I haven't blogged much but have continued to swim 3-4 times a week (My flog tells me I'm at 283 miles for the year). Seeing Michelle's blog post about the meet inspired me to do the same. I am still having an Avastin infusion every three weeks followed by two weeks of Xeloda. The timing of the meet was good in that it came on my weekend off from medication so I decided to give it a go. This is the fourth time that I have swum at the November Classic and the first time doing a large number of events on back to back days since I was diagnosed with colon cancer 18 months ago.

    I got to meet Michelle Chow on Saturday (although I had read her blog in the past this was the first time that I had met her). I swam a few of the same events she swam but was she was in different heats so I got to watch her swim. I also swam events with some other really fast 45-49 year old women (Stephanie Stone and Amy Hays were both there) so got to see some swims that will likely be #1 for SCM this year.

    200 fly 39.65-44.32-45.00-44.61 for 2:53.58
    I was happy with this. I had a disappointing 3:10 for LCM this summer so was pleased with how I split this. In fact, I told someone after the swim that I could skip all the rest of my events, go home and still be pleased about how I swam.

    Mixed 400 free relay
    34.9-36.88 for 1:10.36
    Its been a long time since I swam a relay and I drafted people onto this one because I wanted to swim with my friend Nicole (who had earlier in the day done a rocking 18:56 for the 1500).

    100 breast
    42.81-45.64 for 1:28.45
    This was a funny swim because the whole time I kept thinking, "why are my stroke counts off" so I was a little distacted. Only in the warmdown pool did it occur to me that the pool was SCM. D'oh.

    200 IM
    38.43-42.64-48.62-38.35 for 2:48.04
    I was happy with this since I was starting to get tired and felt that I was able to race the people in my heat.

    400 free
    1:18.35-1:22.47-1:22.06-1:19.10 for 5:21.98
    I was in a race with two gentleman in my heat and caught one on the last 25 (my last 50 was 2.5 seconds faster than the pace I had been holding) but finished behind the other.

    400 IM
    1:24.33-1:30.59-1:40.44-1:21.29 for 5:56.65
    This was about 0.2 seconds faster than last year so I'll take it (Last year, I just swam on Sunday last year so it had been my first and not my 6th event). My splits were remarkably similar (1:24.01-1:30.58-1:39.58-1:22.62) so i thought it was not too bad for being a year older and having been on chemo for 18 continuous months.

    50 breast 41.46
    This was actually a half second faster than last year but I knew I was reaching my limit after this

    200 breast
    44.40-48.55-49.40-49.60 for 3:11.95
    This was 2.5 seconds slower than last year and I was a little disappointed but not too as the meet seemed much smaller and the events seemed to come up faster

    800 free
    1:20.63-1:25.29-1:25.63-1:25.62-1:23.69-1:24.55-1:24.29-1:21.54 for 11:11.24
    I was pretty much toast by this point but was hapy with the negative split. This was about 3.5 seconds slower than last year with the difference really being on hundreds 2-4.

    All in all I was happy with my swims. A few should make the top 10 which will put be a little closer to 100 (with the preliminary LCM rankings I stand at 92). I planned to take Monday off and swim on Tuesday but the heater at the Rice pool broke (for the second time in the last several weeks and I just didn't feel like being cold plus I had waited for almost three hours for a thirty minute infusion at MD Anderson yesterday so was in no mood to do anything after that. It still baffles me a bit how they can get three hours behind at 11 am). Hopefully, I 'll be back in today. No meet plans for awhile. My team is hosting a meet and short course zones plus nationals is close so I'll probably hit one of those up. I need to started scheming on how to convince/con people into swimming some relays at Nationals.
  13. National Champion

    by , August 18th, 2014 at 12:43 PM (One Stroke at a Time)
    On Friday, I swam the 400 IM (3rd) and the 100 breast (5th). The 400 IM was a sufferfest. Mostly, this was because I have no stamina to swim fly. I was determined to go out faster than I had in the 200 fly and I did by 4 secs. I paid the price for this in the last 200. This of course was not necessary as I was solidly in my spot having to swim considerably faster or slower to change positions. I was happy with the 100 breast as I was right off my totally guessed seed time. I watched the race on the feed and was surprised that I passed two people on the second lap which gave me some confidence for the 200 breast on Sunday.

    On Saturday, I didn't have any events. I was exhausted from the treatments, travel, swimming and getting up early for the warm-up so I slept in (I think that I was close to 11 hours in bed-though not asleep the whole time). I spent the rest of the day relaxing. I went to the Bethesda Pool and warmed up. At night friends that I haven't seen in many years came over for dinner. They had just moved back to the area the day before so the timing was great for a reunion.

    On Sunday, I decided to skip warm-up in the competition pool with the plan to arrive right before my teams men's relay swam. I got there with about 2 heats to spare. They were awesome and swam the fastest time of any relay regardless of age (They are in the 200-239 age group). I warmed up and then decided to splurge and went to the shopping area and bought a new suit. I got the new Speedo in blue and black since blue is the colon cancer support color. I was really happy with my 200 IM and was about a half second faster then my guessed time for 5th place. Again, I passed someone coming home on the free.

    My last event was the 200 breast which was my best event as a kid. Many of the faster breaststrokers in my age group had opted for worlds over nationals so I knew that this was an opportunity. I was seeded first but was not sure about my seed time. It was the time that I did last summer right after my second round of chemo. I had been about 6 seconds slower this weekend than my 400 IM time from that same weekend so was a little worried. During warmup I felt really smooth and decided to just get after it. My start was kind of deep but then I got into my rhythm. I went out 0.7 faster than I swam my 100 and ended up wining by 2+ seconds . My time was actually faster than I swam the 200 fly on the first day. It was a great way to end the meet.

    I went back to my friends house and had a wonderful lunch of Polish purple (beet) soup and then was off to the airport. It was a great time with some ups and downs but ended on a fantastic note. I am really grateful to my friends who I stayed with (definitely a 5 star trip advisor review-- this was running joke over the weekend). My team of five people ended up 16th in the team standings and we are already talking about strategies for getting more people to meets. I think a trip to San Antonio is definitely in my future.

    Updated August 18th, 2014 at 01:03 PM by MaryR

  14. Nationals

    by , August 14th, 2014 at 05:25 PM (One Stroke at a Time)
    I haven't been blogging much and have been swimming rather sporadically. I was pretty regular at practice until mid-July. My son had two multiple day swim meets (including TAGS which is a big deal here) and then I went on vacation in the UP of Michigan where the closet pool was over an hour away. I did get in Lake Superior a few times. The temperature in the low 60s prevented any long swims. I decided to come to the meet despite suboptimal preparation. In order, to get here I moved my treatment from Wednesday to Tuesday, worked half day on Wednesday and then flew out on Wednesday afternoon. I started my 2 week cycle of oral chemo on Wednesday night so my timing is not great for the meet but that's life. I'm staying with friends in Bethesda so drove to the pool this am. Seeing the traffic at 6:30 am going toward DC reminded me of one the reasons that we moved 9 years ago.

    I had an inauspicious start to my meet as I couldn't get into my new suit. I wasn't planning on getting a new suit and ordered one at the last minute so had it delivered to my friend's house. I ordered an A3 suit (I with someone who wears this kind of suit so I thought I would give it a try). I ordered one size larger than what the sizing chart said and still couldn't get in it. It seemed like a really nice suit so I was a little disappointed. I ended up wearing my 2 year old Tracer Lite which was fine. I swam 2 events. I was third in the 200 fly and second in the 800 free. My times were fairly slow but I would of had to be substantially faster to move up any places. I saw quite a few people I hadn't seen in awhile and watched my teammates doing their sprints (We have four men here and me and we figured out that I'll probably swim more meters in my events than the four combined). I'm looking forward to watching them swim some rocking relays. My day also ended on a slapping my hand against my forehead note as I walked out and saw that I had a parking ticket issued 6 minutes before I got to my car (15 minutes after the meter expired). I'll swim the 400 IM and 100 breast tomorrow and then have Saturday off. Good luck to everyone who is here.

    Updated August 14th, 2014 at 08:50 PM by MaryR

  15. Is that a pickle I see?

    by , June 1st, 2014 at 08:41 AM (One Stroke at a Time)
    4 x 3 x 50 on 55 drill 1 each stroke-kick-swim
    4 x 100 on 2:00 25 IM order/75 free
    5 x 200 on 3:20 25 fly/175 free
    100 easy
    2 x 50 on 1:00 1 fly/1 free
    5 x 100 on 1:50 50 stroke/50 free
    4 x 100 pull on 2:00
    100 easy
    3800 meters

    I actually swam 5 days in a row this week. There was a 1/2 and 3/4 work-out due to weather. I was quite tired by the end of this. I have forgotten that a 50 LCM fly is actually way longer than a 50 SCY fly. Near the end of practice, I noticed my friend Nicole with her fins on at the bottom of the deep end of the pool (I could have never made it down there but she plays underwater hockey and this was no problem). She was inspecting something on the bottom of the pool that was long and tubular. She decided it was a turd or a pickle, somehow managed to get it up to find it was indeed a pickle. The origin of the bottom dwelling pickle is unclear.

    After practice I stayed at the pool to watch my oldest swim in Rice's Double Up Meet. He's 10 so swam the 100-200-400 free (and dropped 7-11-26 seconds respectively). By the end of this, I was exhausted. Hopefully, I'll get back to the pool today.
  16. Friday and Sunday

    by , May 19th, 2014 at 11:36 AM (One Stroke at a Time)
    Friday, May 16
    Lunch Bunch
    8 x 100 kick 2-2:10, 2-2:05, 2-2:00, 2-1:55
    50-100-150-200 50 sec base
    50-100-150-200 50 sec base pull
    50 fly/back-100 IM-150 25 fly/50 back/50 breast/25 free-200 IM 50 sec base
    3000 yards

    Sunday May 18

    5 x (200 on 3:20 then 2 x 100 on 1:40)
    200 on 3:20
    12 x 50 on 1:10 odd 25 scooter drill/25 swim evens alternate 25 4 kicks/1 pull fly/25 fly and 2 kicks/1 pull breast/25 breast
    200 easy
    3000 meters

    I had a rough weekend. My feet and hands are better but other parts are acting up. Without any TMI, I'll just say it was an immodium/zofran kind of weekend.

    I did have the pleasure of going to my ten year old son's swim meet. When he was younger he really struggled to learn to swim fly. His team is into getting everyone to do their IMX (200 IM-100 fly-100 back-100 breast-200 free). Last year, he swam the 100 fly to finish his IMX and I was very proud of him for getting through it and not giving up (He was near vertical the last 5-10 meters). On Saturday, he swam the long course version for the first time since that swim and dropped 46 seconds (!). He made an A time and won the event. This encouraged me to go to the pool on Sunday even though I didn't feel very well. I skipped the first 30 minutes of the work-out and was still pretty tired at the end but am feeling a little better today (I won't likely swim again until Thursday since my husband is out of town and there are some end of year school things to attend so it was good that I made it yesterday).
  17. One year later

    by , May 13th, 2014 at 08:53 PM (One Stroke at a Time)
    50 (yeah, I missed warm-up. I used the first round of the main set as my warm-up)
    250 on 4:00
    6 x 50 on 55 1 fast/1 easy
    4 x (250 50 fly/50 free/50 back/50 free/50 breast) on 4:00 then 6 x 50 on 55 1 fast stroke/1 easy free)
    200 easy
    3000 yards

    So today was my year anniversary of being diagnosed with unresectable stage 4 colon cancer (I was actually diagnosed a few days later but a year ago I had the ultrasound that set everything in motion). I worked in the morning then went to Lunch Bunch. After Lunch Bunch, I went home and rested. Today is also the last day of my current chemo cycle so will have a week medication free starting tomorrow.

    I enjoyed this work-out. It had the right balance of stroke and free. I was able to hold the same pace on all the 250s. The hardest thing about the workout for me was walking to and from the pool. One of my medications is giving me a side effect called hand foot syndrome so the soles of my feet are super sensitive. I have been wearing thick socks and cushioned shoes so I had forgotten how painful the tiles and concrete are (I hadn't swum in a week-- I went on a mini-vacation to Healdsburg, CA). I've never worn flip flops or shoes from the locker room to the pool but I'll need to go out and get a pair. If anyone has any suggestions I'd love to hear some. I won't be able to wear any with textured soles but ones with support and some cushion should do the trick.
  18. Still Swimming-- Twin Lakes Swim

    by , May 6th, 2014 at 05:42 PM (One Stroke at a Time)
    I haven't blog in awhile but have continued to swim. My FLOG tells me that I've done 113 miles so far this year. This has included two open water swims and two swim meets. One open water swim was a 5K in Conroe and other was a series of three races this last weekend.

    Last year about two weeks before I was diagnosed with cancer, I swam our teams open water races. These were a 800 M, 1600M and then a 3200 M race. I knew they were coming up so decided to give it a try. The format was slightly different this year in that there were not separate old people's heat so I had to mix it up with the age groupers a bit at the start of every swim-- I have one large bruise on my right forearm for my efforts. I was happy to finish the three races and found myself sprinting at the end of the 3200 M swim to stay ahead of my neighbor (who is 13 ).

    Despite only swimming about half as much as last year, my times were very comparable-- The 800 M swim was actually faster.

    800 M 2014 12:17.13 2013 12:28.05
    1600 M 2014 24:56.49 2013 23:59.43
    3200 M 2014 52:24.94 2013 51:50.90

    There is only one long course meet in Houston this summer and I will be out of town on that day so am not sure when I will next swim in a race. I wish there was another one here but there is not. I have some designs on going to Summer Nationals since I used to live in Bethesda and Columbia, MD but will see. My treatments are continuing. I am on three week cycles with an infusion on day one followed by two weeks of pills with one week off in between. It is hard for me to believe that it has been almost a year since this started. I have good days and bad days but have continued to swim about 3-4 times a week-- I even got an impromptu breaststroke lesson two weeks ago from Rice's resident expert, David G! He called me over during the middle of Lunch Bunch and asked me if I wanted some pointers. To everyone out there who is struggling with something, keep up the good fight!
  19. November Classic Meet Wrap-up

    by , November 14th, 2013 at 08:33 PM (One Stroke at a Time)
    November 10
    Woodlands Masters Swim Team November Classic
    I warmed up about 1200 then swam 5 times (with warm downs after each swim)

    400 IM
    2013 5:56.79
    2012 5:43.61
    2011 5:49.37

    Splits 2013
    39.64 44.37 45.31 45.27
    49.83 49.75 41.88 40.74

    50 breast
    2013 42.16
    2012 swam 100 fly instead
    2011 40.28

    200 breast
    2013 3:09.36
    2012 3:05.85
    2011 3:08.22

    Splits 2013
    44.13 47.40 48.76 49.07

    50 breast on 200-239 Mixed 200 Medley Relay
    2013 41.50
    2012- No relays
    2011 40.26

    800 free
    2013 11:07.95
    2012 10:37.19
    2011 10:48.51

    Splits 2013
    38.82 41.85 42.71 42.60
    42.07 41.76 42.60 42.46
    42.00 42.67 42.29 42.26
    42.07 41.51 40.76 39.52

    I swam just on Sunday. On Saturday, I went to a chess tournament then to a soccer game and then back to the chess tournament (all for the 5th grader). This was a lot of driving so I was pretty tired by the end of the day. I took a bath in the evening, put my sons to bed and then went to bed myself at 8:30 (I had been pretty much dozing since 7:30 but rallied to get them to bed).

    I have swum at this meet the last three years (and pretty much the same events each year). The meet was really fun. I got to see some people that I hadn't seen for a while, including a former teammate who was visiting from San Francisco and swam. I felt like an age grouper on the 400 IM because I had a whole cheering section at the end of my lane. This was great because I am still having difficulty swimming fly so I needed a boost. I wasn't sure about my seeds but ended up in the right heat for each event (except the 400 IM where I was in lane 4 and was about 20 seconds faster than my seed). Honestly though, who doesn't like to swim the 400 IM way off the front. I thought that I split my races well. My legs were shot by the end of the 200 breast stroke (I did 400 total breast stroke for the day) and I knew this would happen because I did a pretty hard kick set on Friday with 100s on 1:30 at the end of it (and even when I was doing it I thought I should stop). I am not sure when I swim in another meet. I heard that the Woodlands is hosting our short course zones so maybe then (but only if I can drum up some business for relays from my team).
  20. The night the lights went out

    by , November 14th, 2013 at 07:35 PM (One Stroke at a Time)
    Thursday November 14
    Lunch Bunch
    12 x 50 pull on 50 sets of three fly/free, back/free, breast/free
    3 x 100 Im on 1:30
    300 easy on 5:00
    3 x 100 IM on 1:25
    300 easy on 5:15
    3 x 100 free on 1:20
    300 easy on 4:30
    6 x 50 kick on 1:00 sets of 3 dolphin/flutter, flutter, whip/flutter
    100 easy
    3300 yards

    Tuesday November 12
    12 x 50 pull on 50 sets of 3 fly/free, back/free, breast/free
    4 x (25-50-75-100 first length of every distance stroke IM order by round then 100 IM fast) 30 sec base per 25
    12 x 50 pull on 45 descend 1-3
    150 easy
    5 x 50 kick on 55
    3050 yards

    Sunday, November 10
    November Classic Swim Meet

    Friday, November 8
    Lunch Bunch
    8 x 100 kick 2 on 2:00, 2 on 1:50, 2 on 1:40, 2 on 1:30 (I made these!)
    20 x 100 (5 on 1:25- 1 on 1:15- 4 on 1:25- 1 on 1:15- 3 on 1:25- 1 on 1:15- 2 on 1:25- 1 on 1:15- 1 on 1:25- 1 on 1:15
    3500 yards

    Thursday, November 7
    15 x 100 on 1:30 (75 free/25 stroke IM order (no all free)
    3500 yards

    Tuesday November 5
    3 x (IM set that involved a 500 of broken free and IM swims and then a 200 IM)
    3400 yards

    Monday November 4
    9 x 250 on 3:45
    3400 yards

    On Tuesday, we had some excitement. I was kicking a little after our practice was done. All of a sudden, there was a large flash and then all the lights went out. Apparently, there was a power substation that malfunctioned. Other than the emergency lights, the campus was dark (This included the basketball court where a varsity game was about to start). My son claims that he was jumping in the pool and was able to switch directions mid-jump to avoid getting wet.

    I have continued to swim. I just haven't had a lot of time to blog. I did manage to remember most of the main sets from the last 1.5 weeks. I can hold a pace on most things (although pretty slow). I am still attempting to balance everything in my life. This is happening somewhat successfully. Last week was hard since my husband was away for a conference. I did manage to get to one day of the November Classic which I will make a separate entry for. All in all, I am continuing to take one day at a time and setting small goals for each week.
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