Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2018 in Review

Happy New Year everyone!

 I haven't updated my blog in over a year and that is good news.  It means life is humming along.

In my last post, I was recovering from what ended up being a prophylactic mastectomy. That marked surgery #9 in the past eight years and thankfully it already feels like a distant memory.

This past year, I hit some significant cancer milestones. May was my 5-year cancerversary from my recurrence! And just a few weeks ago I took my very last Anastrazole pill. Anastrozole is an Aromatase Inhibitor (AI). AIs block the production of estrogen and since my particular breast cancer was fueled by estrogen, we have been medically (and surgically) eliminating the estrogen in my body. AIs are typically prescribed for 5-10 years, however, based on some testing my oncologist felt that I had gotten maximum benefit from taking the AI for 5-years and that the benefit no longer outweighed the risks/negative side-effects (bone loss, joint pain, hot flashes, and more). I'm really excited to see what my body feels like as I clear the Anastrozole from my system.

2018 has also been a year of change. After living in Utah since 1999 we moved to Las Vegas, NV.


While the move was difficult for me and definitely bittersweet, it was also perfect timing to move to a warmer climate where I could immediately ramp up my training in preparation for some early season mountain bike racing with my eye on hitting good form for the 4-Island MTB Stage Race in Croatia.

I raced True Grit 50 a few weeks before leaving for Croatia and had a fan. 
Coolest poster EVER! 

4 Islands races across a different Croatian island each respective day for four consecutive days. My recovery from surgeries was smooth and uneventful and preparation went well; we arrived in Croatia ready to perform to the best of our ability.


This race was definitely a highlight of the year for me. Not only is Croatia a beautiful and interesting country that I had yet to explore, but the race terrain was challenging and the competition tight and fierce. Because of this, even though the race was only four days, it was one of the more physically taxing stage races I have done. Day 1, I was on fire. Our competition was close and we traded positions multiple times throughout the stage.

Finding flow Day 1 photo: Sportograf

We finished the day in 3rd overall in the Co-ed Duo category against an international field.

Day two was probably the most adverse conditions I have faced in a race for a long time. The skies opened up and it poured from start to finish making the course a combination of muddy and slick as snot and really, really cold.

A ferry would take us to a new island each morning and we would race off the ferry
photo: Sportograf

 4+ hours of this
photo: Sportograf

.....and this
photo: Sportograf

I never really recovered physically from this day and we played defense for the remainder of the race. Other teams struggled too, with one team have a major mechanical that set them back an insurmountable margin. The final day came down to a 20-second difference between 2nd and 3rd overall in our category. Shannon and I came up just short and finished 3rd co-ed duo. Despite missing 2nd by only a few seconds, after four days of racing, I knew that I had given 100%, and therefore I was 100% satisfied.

photo: Sportograf

While in Croatia we also took the opportunity to explore Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik is a Medieval-like city (known for where Game of Thrones is filmed) on the Adriatic Sea. We stayed at a little Airbnb inside the city walls and since it was shoulder season and overcast weather, we got to experience the city without the crowds. Visiting Dubrovnik was definitely an unexpected surprise.

 Riding bikes above Dubrovnik

 Me and my adventure partner

I barely felt like I had settled into Vegas when summer arrived. Vegas is scorching hot in the summer; that is my cue to retreat to the mountains! Since I work in the schools, I also happen to have summers off. In June, I returned to Park City and was back for two short weeks when I had a silly crash while on a weekend trip to Crested Butte, CO that resulted in a broken wrist (scaphoid).

This is what a broken scaphoid looks like on the outside

Most of my summer plans were derailed, but I took the opportunity to go for big hikes and attempt to trail run. While breaking my scaphoid was a bummer, I was happy to see my body heal a broken bone nicely, especially a precarious bone like the scaphoid.

Summer in the mountains is always good, even with a broken wrist.
This particular view is special because it is ours.

By the end of August, I was back to mountain biking (mostly) pain-free.  Feeling like I had missed out on my summer of racing, I put together an ambitious Fall campaign with marathon distance mountain bike races in Beatty, NV, Big Bear, CA, Pinetop, AZ and Kingman, AZ.

Grizzly 100k podium with Dizzy as my biggest fan
I finished 2nd to my teammate and National Ultra Endurance (NUE) series overall winner, Jen Toops

 I also committed to racing the local Nevada Cyclocross series. While I put in some solid training to prep for my Fall races, the first cross race was definitely a rude awakening. My body is well trained to race strong for 4-5 hours, but the power required for a 45-minute race was simply not there....and my cross skills were just plain rusty.

photo: Hugh Byrne

It was really rewarding to put in some hard work (ie intervals so hard that I collapsed off the bike) and see my body respond. Possibly the best part of racing the local cross series was that we found some Las Vegas like-minded bike crazies who also like Type2 Fun. Vegas is starting to feel more and more like home ❤️

In 2018, I also had a great interview with Dair Magazine.  Dair Magazine is UK based and is dedicated to exploring how the best coaches, athletes, and artists achieve what they do. I especially appreciated that they not only covered breast cancer survivorship and my athletic achievements, but also Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) which is near and dear to my heart.

Warning: here comes my soapbox:

  MBC is when breast cancer has spread to other organs of the body (brain, bones, lungs, etc). There is currently no cure for MBC. While the pink movement has done a great job of increasing awareness of early breast cancer/survivorship, little awareness and less than 2% of research funding is dedicated to MBC. 30% of early breast cancers progress to MBC and 40,000 people die of MBC each year. 

As for 2019, it is going to take me all over the country....and hopefully the world! I have lots of racing planned, but I am also challenging myself with some new endeavors. In March, I am heading to Boise, ID to be the keynote speaker at the Expedition Inspiration fundraiser for breast cancer research dinner. I am so incredibly honored to be asked to speak at this event and also nervous! I really want to blow them away with my presentation. Here's to new challenges in 2019!

I wish everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year and beyond! ....and because no blog post is complete without a photo of my Dizzy dog ❤️