Archive for the ‘Triathlon’ Category

Ok, I realize this happened about two months ago but here is my story and race recap:

USA Triathlon National Age Group Sprint Championships

I am thankful just to be able to tri

After the Finish

After the Finish

August 9-10, 2014

The whole weekend was great despite waiting in line for race packet pickup and to check my bike into transition. I was also upset to learn that I would not be getting the official race jacket at the race and the hat in my bag has the USAT logo upside down. I have yet to receive my jacket in the mail several weeks after the event. The elite super sprint triathlon was great was also a highlight of the weekend. That event is one I would like to do in the near future.

Upside down USAT logo

Upside down USAT logo

Super-sprint

Super-sprint

This was it. It was time to start and finish race that I decided to make my goal race of 2014. This was decided when I crossed the finish line in the 2013 National Age Group Sprint Championships. It was then, when I made the attempt to finish the triathlon less than three months after having brain surgery, after 6 weeks of oral chemotherapy and only 10 days after finishing 33 radiation treatments for anaplastic astrocytoma in the left frontal lobe of my brain. Now a year later I was still alive and ready to race again. Like last year prior to my diagnosis, I expected to be competitive by finishing in the top 25 in my age group.

2013 FINISHED

2013 FINISHED

My training had been going well even during my monthly cycles of oral chemotherapy which ended in January. I had joined the Cyclone Triathlon Team last fall and tried to attend at least 1 swim session and 1 cycling session. In April, the day of the Minnesota State Masters short Course Swim Meet I caught a virus which plagued me for most of the spring and early summer. This virus caused an exacerbation of my asthma and chronic cough that made it difficult to train. Like last year I still expected to race hard and do the best I could.

Finish line

Finish line

Race morning began at 4:15 when I woke up had my coffee and oatmeal. Then I prepared my electrolyte race beverage Next I donned my Cyclones Triathlon Team kit and TriRochester long sleeve shirt and pants. It was a cool morning so it was a good choice. I had already applied my race numbers the night before to save an extra race morning step. It was time to head to the race site which was about a 17 minute drive from my hotel.

Once I arrived in the transition everything went smoothly. I unpacked my race bag and sent up my transition for the big race. The fancy bikes and equipment other athletes had around me was intimidating. I left the transition with my wetsuit on and my cap and goggles in hand for the swim start. This year was nice as I would not have to wait around 1 hour prior to getting into the water as I was in the second heat and was able to warm up for longer in the water prior to the start of the race. As I climbed down the ladder into the cool Lake Michigan waters, I was comforted and confident that my swim training with the Cyclones Tri Team would get me to the end of the swim fast.

Swim done

Swim done

The horn sounded and I was positioned in the back of the pack. I waited about 5 seconds before I started swimming to avoid splashing water and the mess of the pack. I stayed close to my strategy of swimming towards the buoys and staying on the inside but yet swim around them. About half way through the swim, I aspirated some water and started coughing. It took about 30 seconds of me swimming above water breaststroke to catch my breath enough to continue swimming. After finally starting to swim again, I swam strong and fast to the swim exit. Up the metal ramp I went grabbing the hands of volunteers that were assisting us. Swim 750 meters in 15:50.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holding my own on the bike

Holding my own on the bike

To the transition I ran, I actually ran out of the swim to the transition area. In the transition area I quickly changed into my bike shoes and helmet and sprinted out. As I began to ride my bike I focused on pacing to not start out too fast. People began to pass me but I held my own. The worse pass I got was a man who passed me and began going slow. Everyone was passing me and I could not pass this man. I could not even pass him at the turnaround. Once I got past the turnaround I passed him never to be seen again. Overall, I was not happy with my bike time, but I had spent little time training for the bike so I had no excuse for a slow time. Bike 12.5 miles in 44:18.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finsihing

Finishing

I rushed into the transition and headed out to the run. Using an interval timer from Jeff Galloway to set these intervals, I planned to run/walk with a ratio of 4 minutes running to 1 minute walking. The run actually went by fast. I had people cheering me the whole way and even while passing me they said, “good job, keep going.” I replied “good job” in response. I just stuck to my plan and the fact that people passed me did not concern me. The finish line came up quickly and I sprinted to the finish and ran across the line again hearing Karen Smyers call my name, “here is Dawn Johnson from Rochester, MN.” I finished the 5K in a total run time of 34:36 and a total for the triathlon of 1:40:45. Overall, I finished 71/81 in my age-group.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I finished I headed to the post-race lunch, cheered other triathletes to the finish, enjoyed the beautiful weather, and gave God thanks that I can still tri.

tri_quote MJ

5 K Medal

5 K Medal

 

2 Day Challenge Prize

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last year on Memorial Day Weekend I was in the Neuro-ICU recovering from brain cancer surgery. 1 year later, I finished the Med-City Half-Marathon  in 2:52 and the 5-K, the 2 Day Challenge, to celebrate 1 year as a cancer survivor. I like to thank all those people who made this finish possible.
In the past couple of months I have been busy, so busy that I have not made time for posts on this blog. My original plans were to finish the Med-City Marathon but in April I decided to switch to the half-marathon. This was a good decision, because I finished strong, enjoyed the perfect day, and was able to walk after the race.  I wore brain tumor awareness shirts for both events and dressed in gray for both events for brain tumor awareness. My training included weekly long “runs” with the longest duration of training 3 hours and the longest distance of straight run/walk a 15K.
Of course, the respiratory bug that I had in April did not help my run training or the Minnesota Masters Swimming Short Course State Meet. I went to this meet the day after I became sick and basically showed up to the meet. I tried to swam as fast as

13.1 Medal

13.1 Medal

I was able even with less than 5 minutes of rest between some events. The only reason I walked home with medals was I was either the only swimmer or there were only 1-2 other swimmers that were better than me.
Now with my first triathlon of 2014 less than 1 week away, I feel fitter, faster, stronger, and lighter than I have in recent years. In the race next weekend, I am going to leave nothing left at the finish.
There is another event less than 1 week away, my 1 year MRI. Yes, I am a little nervous, but who wouldn’t be. I am praying everything turns out fine. The truth is after a long year, I finally got my energy back, working longer shifts at work, and getting work done in my yard. Last weekend I went to my second annual Cancer Survivors Day event. I have been blessed, to meet all the cancer survivors I have met in this past year and by all that I have learned in the past year that has changed my views of cancer and life.
Citius, Altius, Fortius
~dmj

MP_stay fighting

Survivorship and the CrossFit Games Open

This post talks about my experience in the first two weeks of the CrossFit Games Open, recent MRI results, training, the weather, and competition plans for 2014.

BT_cancer survivor

 

My MRI last Friday, March 7 confirmed that I continue in survivorship. The MRI appeared better than the last one and to celebrate I completed WOD 14.2 of the CrossFit Games Open with a score of 10 reps overhead squats at 65#. Double-under jump rope got me on the first WOD of the open, 14.1. Double-unders involve two rotations of the jump rope under your feet for each jump. I only got 7reps, but going into the workout I thought, will I get at least 1, will my Open be over in the first WOD? I gave up on double- unders last  Fall. Here is the link to my CrossFit Games Open Profile http://games.crossfit.com/athlete/68416

Almost to the top

Almost to the top

CF OPEN WOD 14.2

CF OPEN WOD 14.2

Maybe a pull-up?

Maybe a pull-up?

My training continues to improve despite the awful weather and road conditions. Yes, the cold weather and snow have made it difficult to get to the gym to get any training done. Yes it may look beautiful, but it is darn cold and I am not going to slip on the ice with only screws and plates holding a piece of my skull in place.

Nice Winter's Day Walk Cascade Creek 2014

Nice Winter’s Day Walk Cascade Creek 2014

In addition, I have decided on a tentative competition schedule for 2014. On March 1, I competed in the Minnesota Power Pull and got 1st place (well out of 2) in the Women’s Masters Division. My time, although not a post 30 y/o PR, was in the upper percentile of all female competitors even with little specific rowing training.

BT_powerpull

MN Powerpull 1st place medal

My next big competition is the Minnesota Local Weightlifting Club Championship on March 22. Even though I have been weightlifting about twice a week, I think I have hit a plateau and my weights have not increased for several months. Although despite not increasing weights, my form is improving with continued training. It does get upsetting when everyone else improves except you. Yes, they work hard to improve but I do too. I will take a hiatus from CrossFit at the end of March to train for endurance events like my marathon and triathlons. The only thing that is improving is my running. I am running faster and longer.  I cannot wait to get outside and go running along Cascade Creek on the bike trail just a few blocks from my house. This were I spent much of my time in the early 2000’s.

MP_eyeonprize

Other bits of life include finishing my soccer refereeing, working on my naturopathic degrees, trying to apply to PhD school, applying to other better jobs, coaching swimming, volunteering at the hospital, working at my nursing job, and getting my wellness business, Winning Wellness Solutions, on track.  Overall, I am keeping busy and keeping a positive outlook. I am going to just keep moving ahead and not look back.

~dmj

MP_keepcalm

BT_keep_calm and wear gray

DO BOTH

On January 6, 2014 my neuro-oncologist and I decided to stop treatment for my brain cancer. Now I am officially in remission and have finished the marathon that is started last summer. I have been so busy in the last few months that I have not written a blog post.

I also have had a few viruses along the way too, that have zapped my energy.  The post radiation headaches continue and now I am on preventative medication which have reduced the number of severe headaches. Now I also wake up in the morning with numb and tingling upper extremities of unknown origin which improves as I am awake. I plan to see a chiropractor again and I also am having

At this moment, I have made several changes in my life to help me accomplish my goals. The recent Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia has increased my motivation. Though it would be a dream come true to participate in the Olympics those chances are slim. What I can do is take that Olympic training spirit and motivation into my training and cancer survivorship.

I have already signed up for a few races USAT National Championships and Med-City Marathon and have a pretty good idea of my event schedule for the year. One of the toughest decisions I had to make was to cut down on my coaching hours to accommodate training.  If I want to be a champion I have to put in the work. My nutrition is changing too and is another way to achieve my goals for survivorship and athletics. I have been reading about the role of nutrition in brain tumor survivorship. Maybe I will write a blog entry just on that.  In January, I joined the Cyclone Triathlon Team and l will be using their coaching starting in June. I have already started doing some swim training and bike training with the team. My longest run work out was last Friday with a 2.5 hour workout (2x (30 min of 2′ walk/3’run, 30 minutes Precor trainer) +30 min walk on treadmill at 15′ mile pace). The bike  trainer workouts are 1.25 hours including some intense intervals at race pace. The CrossFit Games Open starts next week but my CrossFit training is lacking. Overall, I have lots of expectations but I am willing to work hard to achieve my goals.

See you at the finish line,

~dmj

Christmas in Rochester, MN

Christmas in Rochester, MN

Happy Holidays,

I hope this post finds you well.  2013 was a tough year for me. The year brought both challenges and rewards. In March after having a CT for “spells” where I would not be able to use my legs and arms or blackout, I learned I had a brain tumor. After further imaging and surgery to remove the tumor on May 24, I learned that it was grade III anaplastic astrocytoma, a malignant brain tumor.  I spent much of my Summer at Mayo Clinic with 33 radiation treatments and adjunct oral chemo therapy.  That treatment is followed by oral chemotherapy 5 days each month x 6 months. I have completed 4 cycles so far and my MRI is stable.

I am still working at Golden Living Center-Rochester East skilled nursing facility in Rochester. During the beginning of the year I worked day shift but switched to nights in April because of a staffing shortage then stayed on nights after returning from surgery. Most of our residents are Mayo Clinic patients but we also care for several Olmsted Medical Center patients.  In addition to nursing, I am still an assistant coach for Med-City Aquatics. During the Fall, I coached mostly 10-13 year old swimmers and the adult masters group. I also earned extra cash as a soccer referee for youth, high school, and adult games. I also earned extra cash as a Mary Kay Skin Care Consultant and AdvoCare nutrition distributor. In addition to the above, I am still working on building my holistic wellness consulting business, Winning Wellness Solutions.

Even though my training was limited last year, I managed to participate in several events. Although about every event I participated in it rained. I finished in the lower middle third of the CrossFit Games Open. I raced a few 5K’s. My first triathlon saw cold 54 degree water temps and low 50’s air temps. I entered the water did about 50 yds and swam back to the shore. Half of my heat did not even start. The next day I participated in my first long-course meters swim meet which was held at the University of MN. During the summer, I walked a 5K as a relay in the RochesterFest Triathlon and walked a 1-mile race prior to the RochesterFest parade (and walked in the parade afterwards). The biggest highlight of my athletic pursuits in 2013 was competing in the USAT Sprint Distance National Championships in Milwaukee, WI. This was only 9 days after my last radiation treatment.  I managed to finish the triathlon. In September, I started tennis lessons.  I officially became a weightlifter in October after competing in my first sanctioned Olympic weightlifting meet.

I am in the process of applying to graduate school to earn a PhD in nursing.  Also, I just recently joined the St. Marys Hospital Auxiliary to volunteer in hospitality. My athletic goals for 2014 include Med-City Marathon, Minnesota Cup weightlifting, CrossFit Open, Ironman 70.3 Muncie, IN, USAT National Championship, and in my dreams an Ironman Inspired Kona spot.  My main goal for 2014 is to stay healthy. Thanks to all those who helped me achieve my goals in 2013.

Best Wishes for a Happy and Healthy New Year,

~dmj

Below are images from 2013

FINISHED

FINISHED

I am wearing the red swim cap

Luther College Alumni Meet

Keeping a slow but steady pace

Keeping a slow but steady pace

Thanks Coach!

Thanks Coach!

Up, down, and around

Up, down, and around

TRI-UMPH

TRI-UMPH

rochester fest

Mom and I

My incision CDI.

My incision CDI.

MN Open snatch

MN Open snatch

The bell rung

The Bell

Ready for treatment

Radiation therapy

LC Alumni Soccer game

LC Alumni Soccer game

Amen

Amen

I am wearing the red swim cap

Luther College Alumni Meet

Women's Session 2

Women’s Session 2

MN Open snatch

MN Open snatch

MN Open Clean and Jerk

MN Open Clean and Jerk

So October has had its ups and downs.  My athletic pursuits have included Luther College’s Alumni swim meet and The Minnesota Open Weightlifting Championships in which my performance was hampered by a bought of bronchitis and asthma exacerbation that need antibiotics. I also was on the last day of a 5 day oral chemotherapy course for the weightlifting meet and worked night shift the night before. I am happy,  I got a total on my lifts for my first weight lifting meet even though I missed 1 of my snatches and 1 clean & jerk.

I also went to the ER last week with a strange cluster of symptoms likely cause by a number of things working together. At the ER I learned my lymphocyte count was low which makes me a little worried especially when I work with sick people. My energy is low and I have been so busy that and little time I have I need to sleep or relax. My house chores are not getting done.

Today marks 5 months since my brain surgery. My incision has healed and my hair is starting to grow back. I just hope my tumor is not growing back. Although my last MRI showed a contrast enhanced area on the border of where my tumor was removed. My physicians are leaning towards scar tissue but are uncertain. Only time will tell if this is tumor growing back. If it is tumor, hopefully chemo will shrink it. I have my next MRI in about 1 month.

Today also marks the beginning of marathon training. The only way I can stay focused on exercising is if I have a goal.  My goal is to run the Med-City Marathon and 5K to mark the anniversary of my surgery and brain cancer diagnosis.  The Med-City Marathon weekend is Memorial Day Weekend the last weekend in May. May is also Brain Tumor Awareness Month. I am already planning to wear grey for the marathon and run the marathon to raise funds for brain tumor research.  Gotta  get my strength and endurance up to help find a treatment and a cure for this awful disease that is the leading cancer killer among youth under 20, the second leading cause of cancer deaths among males 20-39, and the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths among  females  20-39. These statistics are unreal since only about 25,000 people are diagnosed in the US each year with a malignant brain tumor and the majority of the people diagnosed are 40 and over.  Although the term brain cancer also includes some non-malignant tumors.  1 step closer to 26.2 and 1 step closer to a cure.

The WOD 10/24/13: CrossFit then 30minutes of 200yd run, 200yd walk

~ dmj

Thanks Coach!

Thanks Coach!

MP_limits

Rochester 5K:  3′ run, 1′ walk repeat until 2.75 miles then run fast to finish. 34:40

Instructions: take one WOD daily and as needed for weight loss, muscle toning, gaining strength, and energy

Instructions: take one WOD daily and as needed for weight loss, muscle toning, gaining strength, and energy

I will be posting each of my WOD’s and some statistics on my blog along with a motivational photo.  In addition the blog has a new domain name http://www.braintumorwod.org.

My USA Triathlon Sprint National Championship Experience

MY MOTIVATION

TRI-UMPH

TRI-UMPH

 

The day was Sunday August 11, 2013. Place Milwaukee, WI.  I had been waiting for this day since last Fall. I am a former elite triathlete and triathlon coach. This was supposed to be a race to be competitive and do well but the plans changed with my diagnosis of anaplastic astrocytoma and 7 hour brain surgery. Brain cancer was not going to stop me from neither starting nor finishing. In the back of my mind, I knew I was doing this for a cause, the American Brain Tumor Association and for those who cannot. It had been 11 weeks since my brain surgery and just over a week since my last oral chemo dose and radiation treatment. I had been unable to train much because of post-surgical restrictions, slowed recovery from chemotherapy, and fatigue from treatments. I reminded myself with a quote from President Obama at the Boston Marathon Memorial Service, “Even when our heart aches, we summon the strength that maybe we didn’t know we had, and we carry on, we finish the race.”

PRE-RACE

Pre-race Reminder

Pre-race Reminder

My morning started with getting my race kit on, my chip on, my race number tattoos on and drinking my meal replacement shake mixed with coffee.  Off to the race, just a 15 minute drive from the hotel to the Milwaukee lakefront. I was one of the first in transition, but where is my chip. Oh, we cannot leave transition bags in transition. One minor problem, my chip was gone. I spent over 15 minutes getting a new chip and renumbered. Where was I going to put my fancy transition bag that I won at a Duathlon a few years ago if I did not connect with my Mom?

Well I met up with my Mother then gave her my bag. I put on my wetsuit on and she zipped it up. The national anthem played, but I still had over an hour before my wave would start. Next, I headed over to the swim start and stood by the railing overlooking the harbor. I talked about the race and triathlons with other racers. We watched wave after wave begin.

SWIM

Done with the swim

Done with the swim

Finally, my wave was called. I walked down to the dock with other triathletes in my age-aroup and crawled into the cold Lake Michigan water. We had about 10 minutes to warm-up. My second open water swim this year. My third time swimming since my surgery in May. We lined up next to the dock and the horn went off. I started slow, kept it steady, and concentrated on my form. While swimming, I got a little dizzy from turning the head to breathe but that was not going to stop me. The swim went under the bridge, around the buoy and back under the bridge to the swim exit which was a metal ramp with wooden rungs. There were catchers to assist. My time was 17 minutes for 750 meters swimming, which was when I crossed the timing mat so it included some extra running.

T1

Thoughts for T1

Thoughts for T1

I was so excited that I finished the swim I ran into transition put my bike gear on. My bike gear did not include my aero helmet as I wanted to make sure I had a secure helmet. Under my helmet was a sweat cap to protect my bald spot from radiation therapy and surgical scar from the sun and my helmet. Next I ran with my bike out of transition. Someone was ahead of me. I tried being nice and letting them go first but they were too slow. This is the ten seconds that cost my one place in the Athena under 40 division or maybe it was the ten seconds that I choose to put sunscreen on after the bike.

BIKE

Up, down, and around

Up, down, and around

The bike was relatively flat. I kept a high cadence and built the bike portion. Not taking it out too fast and finishing stronger during the last few miles. There was a small hill before the first turnaround and a ramp to a bridge that we went up and down one way and reversed on the way back. I was able to remain seated in the saddle on these hills thanks to my CrossFit workouts. My average mph was 16.7 over 12.4 miles.

T2

Motivation for T2

Motivation for T2

Came in on the bike to run transition and continued to run my bike into transition. I put my running shoes on casually and took off putting my hat and number belt on the run.

RUN TO THE FINISH

Keeping a slow but steady pace

Keeping a slow but steady pace

I ran the first mile without a walk break. During the second and third mile I took 1 minute fast walk for every 3 minutes of running. Racers were passing my left and right and some with names and USA on the back of their tri suit saying “good work” and ”keep it up”. I kept my own focus throughout the run.  Once I heard the finish I continued to run it came up so fast. When I got to the carpet I was filled with tears. I took off my TriRochester cap and pointed to the bald area on my head while I heard Karen Smyers say, “Dawn Johnson from Rochester Minnesota still top 10 in the Female Athena division” I had finished my first triathlon of the year and my first triathlon since my brain cancer diagnosis. To top it off, I was honored to have Chrissie Wellington hand me my finisher’s medal. Overall, my run was 37:01 for an 11:55 min/mile pace. Here is the link to the finish video http://www.marathon-photos.com/scripts/event.py?event=Sports/CPUK/2013/Age%20Group%20National%20Championships&match=4178&name=Dawn

POST FINISH

FINISHED

FINISHED

 

 

I stayed long enough to get some food and wait to get my bike out of transition. Since I had placed, I was upset that I could not stay for the awards ceremony.  I had to get back to Rochester, MN to work night shift at my nursing position. My plans are again to race and place again at the National Championship event next year. Maybe even earn a spot to Worlds. The sky is the limit.

~dmj

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dawn in IM Wisconsin 2011

Dawn in IM Wisconsin 2011

In nearly 2 weeks I will be swimming, biking, and running at the USAT National Sprint Triathlon Championship In Milwaukee, WI for the American Brain Tumor Association.  This will happen nearly 1 week after my last radiation treatment and about 10 weeks after my brain surgery and diagnosis of grade 3 anaplastic (malignant) astrocytoma. My goal is to finish the 750 meter (0.5 mile) swim, 20K (12.4 mile) bike, and 5K (3.1 mile) run even if I have to swim slow, take breaks on the bike, and walk most of the run.  I am doing because I am able and for those with a brain tumor diagnosis that cannot.  I need your support to reach my fundraising goals. My fundraising goal is $2,210. Why $2,210? I have chosen $2,210 because for every 100,000 people in the United States, 221 are living with a brain tumor diagnosis. Please support brain tumor research and patient support. Currently the average life expectancy after diagnosis and treatment for my type of brain cancer is 2-3 years. I expect to live longer. Every cent counts and with your help people with brain tumors can live longer with a better quality of life. To donate click the following link.

http://hope.abta.org/site/TR/TeamBreakthrough/TeamBreakCYO?px=2271412&pg=personal&fr_id=2580

 

“Even when our heart aches, we summon the strength that may be we didn’t know we had, and we carry on, we finish the race.” -President Barack Obama at the Boston Marathon memorial service April 2013