Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tour De Cure 2011 - Pittsburgh, PA

This post comes almost a month late but hey, never too late for a story.  This year I participated in the annual Tour De Cure charity bike ride in Harmony, PA.  The Tour is put on by the American Diabetes Association and is a fund raiser for diabetes research, prevention, and education.  As I have people in my own family and know of people with diabetes, I decided not only to participate in the ride but also make my best effort to raise $500 towards the cause (the ride required only a donation of $150).  Thanks to my family and friends I was able to exceed my goal and raised $535!!!!!

Originally I planned to participate in the 50 mile route; however, due to a later release from wrist therapy and time (I def was out of shape) I decided I would do either the 20 or 30 mile route.  The morning of I was feeling a little groggy and sore from exercising during the week and felt that 20 miles was going to be enough.  The drive to the race start was about 1 hour and I arrived a little early to check in, check out my bike, and stretch.  I rode under the Pittsburgh Major Taylor Cycling team but the other members had already started the 50 miler so I ended up tagging along with a team I met a the race start.

Race start line
The 20/30 mile ride started at around 9:30 am.  We started out led by all of the "Red Riders", riders with diabetes.  They all had red cycling jerseys and the rule was that every time we pass a red rider during the ride we chant "Go Red Rider".  It was nice to see though pretty sobering given there were Red Riders of varying age, size, sex, color, and background.  Diabetes really can affect anyone.

The first 10 miles of the course was BRUTAL!!!! I don't know if it was because of the time, the fact that I hadn't really did many long rides, the steadily rolling terrain, or the Burger King Crossaintwich I had that morning but I was STRUGGLING.  By the time we reached the first rest stop, I didn't know if I'd even be able to finish the 20 mile ride!  Thankfully there were snacks at the rest stop to provide a "pick me up" if you may.  I will say this.  I have found that when cycling distances and in hilly terrain, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and orange slices are like magic.  I pull up to the rest stop, tired and winded.  All it took was a PB&J, 3 orange slices, and a shot of Gatorade (yes they had shots of Gatorade) and it was like my energy was restored.  I knew for sure I could push out another 10 miles definitely.

The second 10 miles was very nice.  There were a few nice downhills and the scenery was very calming and beautiful.  Thankfully, it wasn't a terribly hot day and the cloud coverage made it the perfect weather for a distance ride.  Also, since people were arriving and leaving the rest stop at varying times, I sometimes found myself as 1 of a few bikers in an area with no cars, no noise, just the sounds of nature and the occasional gear change. I must say, it was a very pleasant 10 miles.

As we approach the 2nd rest stop (at 20 miles completed) I am pretty confident that if I eat another PB&J that I can finish 30 miles and be proud.  And behold, nice delicious PB&J's waiting for me prepared by the sweetest little volunteers.  I told one of the PB&J makers (a little girl about 6 or 7 yrs old) thank you for helping out and making us sandwiches.  When I was walking away I heard her tell her mom "Mom, she said thank you to me for helping".  Awh sha baby.  LOL.

The last 10 miles was great and at the end we were welcomed back across the finish line to people clapping and congratulating us for finishing the ride.  Also, there was good food and ice cream waiting for us.  The ride was great and I would recommend it to anyone.  I know people who battle diabetes on a daily basis and if I can endure a 30 mile ride through the back hills of Pennsylvania and raise some money to help find was to make their lives better, it's the LEAST I can do.

Snapped this pic in leg 2 of the ride

I would like to take the time to thank all of my donors who supported me on my ride.  Your contribution, whether big or small, was greatly appreciated and for a good cause:
Paige Taylor                                                                Xavier Hariston-Khan
James Tolbert                                                              Rickey Thomas
Tyelisa Shields                                                            Lorant Szasz-Toth
Harlan and Jeanine Hardy                                           Harry Clarke
John Porche                                                                 Kevin Washington
Shavia Jones                                                                Sarah Harris
Satish Singh                                                                 Brian Becker
Frank Richards                                                            Brandy Guillory
Daphne Isom                                                               Prince Chavis

Me sporting my Champions of Diabetes medal for raising over $500. Thanks to my supporters!

Me and the other PMTCC members who participated

Monday, June 20, 2011

Where'd She Go????!!!

Sooo, it has been a while. I know.  Last you heard, I was becoming a snowboarding G.  Had gotten my heel and toe side turns together and even managed to exit the ski lift with an error of only  0.32 (no I didn't really calculate it....but if I wanted to I could :-)  Well let me update you on the happenings of the last 3 months.

It all begins with a thesis proposal....

I am a PhD student (if you didn't already know) and part of our requirements is called a thesis proposal.  This is were PhD candidates present his or her great plan to change the world to a committee who will then tell you if you are lazy, brilliant, ambitious, crazy, or just out right stupid. This tends to be a slightly stressful time in a student's life. 

Two weeks before thesis proposal:  Snow Angels Clinic, Hidden Valley Resort, January 29, 2011

Hidden Valley was hosted a women's snowboarding and ski clinic called Snow Angels.  Though the clinic was scheduled for 2 days, I could only spare the time for 1 day given thesis proposal preparation and was able to register for the 1 day.  The skiers and snowboarders were separated.  There were only 2 other women snowboarders in my group which ended up being awesome in terms of learning.  Our instructor, Julia was awesome.  I also quickly became friends with the two other ladies Danielle and Newlin.

Before going to Snow Angels, I could not turn well and I could not get off of the lift well.

Danielle and I posing at Snow Angels Camp
Thuggin on the slopes
After Snow Angels, thanks to Juila's awesome instruction and a visual exercise she gave us, I was a threading machine!!! It was that day I gained a little confidence in myself and comfort in the board. I was becoming a snowboarder!  Check out my little clip taken by Julia.

Weekend before thesis proposal....... Newell Simon Hall, Mrs. Sumitra's desk

I was very very stressed about the proposal and was taking a stroll around 4th floor Newell Simon.  I decided to have a chat with Mrs. Sumitra, the receptionist.
Me:  I need to do something to get my mind off of the proposal for just a couple of hours.  I think I'll go snowboarding.
Sumitra:  No, don't do that. Got for a walk or shopping or something.  You don't want to snowboard the week before your proposal.  What if you get hurt?

OH BOI....

Day of thesis proposal, February 14, 2011

OWNED the thesis proposal!!! Passed without modification and with great comments from the committee.  Needless to say, I'm pretty amp'd and pretty excited.  The first thing I can think about doing is......yeah you guessed it. SNOWBOARD...

....but for some reason I didn't go that day.  I waited until the next day.

February 15, 2011, Hidden Valley Ski Resort

The day was beautiful and I was about to OWN the slopes like I OWNED my thesis proposal.  It was a beautiful day.  Sunny, kinda warm actually, and the slope conditions were pretty good.  I explored more difficult terrain at Hidden Valley that I had never tried and even perfected dismounting the lift!!!  It was a Tuesday in the middle of the day so there were not many people on the slopes in general.  Run after run I felt more and more in touch with the board. It was my first day on my new DC board and I was loving it.  Life was good!

It was getting to be 4:00 pm and I decided to try to make it back to campus for the weekly Graphics Lab meeting at 6:00 pm.  But before I would leave, I needed one more run!  The run was great. My speed and confidence were up. My turns were crisp.  I was approaching the bottom of the mountain towards the "Slow Zone" so I started to slow down.  I was riding heel side when I noticed a teenager on skis to the left of me riding a little close and a little wild.  So I decide to switch to toe side and turn right as to get more space between myself and the kid.  I wasn't going too fast but when I made my turn, the kid decided to come behind me at the same time and switch to my right side.....the side I was turning into!!!!! Needless to say, he was not quick enough to clear my path and I caught the ends of his skis with my board.  Queue the tumbling........

When I realized what happened, I was crouched down in the snow on my knees facing up the mountain, holding my tailbone for dear life.  I really thought I would loose my butt (literally) that day.  After the initial pain subsided a little and I was able to breathe normally, I rolled over to take my board off.  That is when I realized that I had no function in my right hand.  I pull off my glove and said "Dang, that doesn't look good".  The kid stopped and asked if I were okay.  I started to curse him out and say what the $%$# was that but I refrained and just sternly requested that he take my board off my feet.  Once it was off I picked my board up with my left hand (right hand is broken) and carried it and myself to the Ski Patrol office where I was put in a makeshift splint and sent along the way.

Here is a picture of what my wrist looked like post fall.  Swollen and shifted to the right.  Not good at all.  Now wrapping up the story.....

I decided that driving 1 hour back to Pittsburgh to the emergency room was not a great idea (at this point I figured the bone was broken but didn't know for sure).  So I drove about 15 minutes (in the opposite direction of Pittsburgh) to the Sommerset Hospital emergency room.  There I spent about 4 hours of my life, had to request ice, and the receptionist had the audacity to ask me only after my xray's were taken/viewed and I had been waiting for 3 hours if I wanted pain meds.  Seriously woman!!!! I've been sitting here for 3 hours with a broke ass wrist and you ask only after the obvious was confirmed if I wanted pain meds?  Naw I'm good.....really it didn't hurt as much as it looks.  Actually I wouldn't describe it as pain but as extreme discomfort.  I knew the wrist was broken but thankfully the discomfort was manageable.

After hearing the bad news, I am written a prescription for Vicodin and sent on my merry way.  Back to Pittsburgh.  A 1 hour 15 min drive.  At night. That I made with one hand....

I was able to get a doctor's appointment that Friday in Pittsburgh with the sexiest orthopedic surgeon ever, Dr. Lance Brunton.  I was scheduled to have surgery on February 21, 2011.  It went well.....I'll tell that story another day.  Below are some pre- and post-surgery xrays.  I sustained a distal radial fracture to my right wrist.  Apparently its one of the most common fractures in snow sports. Go figure.  I had surgery in which Dr. Brunton placed a plate and screws in my wrist in order for it to set in it's proper place.  I am happy to say that I am now bionic!!

Now that's a nasty break

My arm looked like a sausage from all the swelling

I am now bionic!

And fixed!!!! Thanks Dr. Brunton