Cycling

Running for Me but Riding for Them

Obilteride2013This past Saturday, Suzanna and I jumped on our bikes and rode 30 miles as part of our training for the 50 mile Obliteride bike ride on August 9th to raise money for Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, where I also happen to work. Then on Sunday, we drove up to Snoqualmie Pass, got off at the Hyak exit, and Suzanna dropped me off for a run through the Hyak tunnel and along the Iron Horse trail where we reunited after 21 miles. You see I am also training for my 11th marathon, the Light at the End of the Tunnel race on June 14th and I was running the first 21 miles of the course.

RuningOnTrack2013I am running the marathon in two weeks for myself and my goal to finally qualify for the Boston Marathon. Two years ago, I actually qualified at the Eugene Marathon but, alas, that was the year that the Boston Athletic Association dropped the qualifying times in September another minute and 38 seconds for the 2014 race and I no longer qualified. They dropped the qualifying times again for the 2015 race by 1:02 so who knows what the real eventual qualifying time will be this year for my age group. Anyway, it has always been a life-long goal to qualify for the Boston Marathon and I am hoping to do it in a couple of weeks.

On the other hand, I am riding Obliteride, not for myself, but for all those who’s lives have been affected by cancer.  So whether or not I qualify for Boston, I will continue my training and fund-raising for Obliteride and Fred Hutch. And as much as I want to do well in the maratObliteride_Logo_Horizontal_4CP_Regv2hon and qualify, Obliteride and cancer research is so much more important.

Won’t you please consider donating to my ride?

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Kicking Off Obliteride 2015 Training and Fundraising

2015-05-16 13.56.27A couple of days ago I decided to join Obilteride 2015. I also participated in this fundraiser for the amazing place where I work back in 2013. This year, I am riding the 50 mile ride with my wife, Suzanna. Unlike many charity events, 100% of the money raised for Obliteride goes to fund the awesome work being done at the cancer research center that I work for, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. That’s right, since a number of sponsors are picking up the overhead to run the event, 100% of the money donated will go to directly to cutting-edge cancer research done at Fred Hutch; research aimed at curing cancer and reducing suffering from this horrible family of diseases.

I have to admit that I am very lucky to work at the world-renowned Fred Hutch alongside some of the brightest scientists in the world. Fred Hutch has done a lot of wonderful research in order to understand, prevent, treat, and yes, even cure cancer. The funds raised by Obliteride when combined with grant funds from the National Institutes for Health and other funding agencies will help Fred Hutch continue its pioneering research to help obliterate cancer.

So while I continue to train for the ride on August 9, I am hoping you will consider making a donation to my Obliteride campaign. Thank you!

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My Obliteride

Me (in the middle) at the StartTwo weeks ago on Saturday, I got up at 5:30 am after a night of not-so-restful sleep. (We had thunder and lightning much of the night and I was a little anxious about the ride.) Unfortunately for Suzanna, she had to wake up two hours earlier since she was on the first volunteer Saturday shift for the event.

Even though I woke up at 5:30 and the ride didn’t start until a little before 8:00, I managed to fritter the time away so that when I finally left I had to Suzanna at the Friday Night Pre-Partyride like a mad-man to the start. And instead of taking the longer, flatter route, I rode the 5+ miles straight over the NE 65th Street hill to the start at Magnuson Park.

When I arrived, Suzanna was there at the start in her orange volunteer shirt. There were four different routes and we were each release in waves. First, the 180 mile riders, then the 100, then my group, the 50 mile riders, and after we were gone, the 25 milers.

 

The Route

With all due respect to the event organizers – they did a fantastic job in so many ways – whoever designed the routes must be a sadist. Check out the elevation chart: one huge hill after the next.

Hills, Hills, and more Hills

Now I understand that Seattle is hilly but I’ve lived and run and ridden all over this area during the past 30 years.That said, there are ways to avoid the hills and not to pound hills them into the participants of a ride.

Nice Caribbean Band at a Rest StopOh, and while I am mentioning it, one other issue was the bad signage. The course signage consisted of the occasional “Course” sign on a telephone pole and four different colored arrows on the pavement: one color for 25, another for 50 (blue), and two other colors for the 100 and 180 mile routes.

Suffice it to say, it was really easy to miss the arrows. I know that I and a number of other 50-milers managed to miss at least one turn and ended Relaxing after the ridethe race with only 41 miles on the bike odometer (and we really wanted to ride 50). I spoke with a number of other people riding various routes and many rode either too many miles or too few because of missed or extra turns in the route.

On the other hand, this is only the first year for the event; I’m sure they have heard their fair share of complaints about the hills and signage issues, and likely make things better next year.

 

The Money Raised for Cancer Research

raisedDespite the hilly course and the other minor issues, It was an amazing event. After all, the point of the whole thing was to raise money for cancer research and thanks to my sponsors, we managed to raise over $3,100 (not including the matching corporate donations that should be coming in Getting a massage after the ridesoon).

All totaled, the event has raised 1.5 million dollars for the live-saving research that happens at the place where I work: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. So far, that is. Money will continue to come in from late donations, matching donations, and riders who hadn’t met their minimum donation amount by race day (they have until October 1).

Aside: The Seattle Times wrote a nice article on the race. I’m even depicted in the starting line crowd in the second of two photos. For some reason, I wasn’t smiling at the moment the shutter went off. But I was happy inside!

I am so happy I got to be part of the first Obliteride; I plan to ride it again next year. In fact, Suzanna and I area talking about riding it together next year. And we likely will up the mileage and tackle one of the longer routes. But we have a little time to work out the details.

Thanks again everyone for your support!

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Better Care Starts with a Better Diagnosis

30cancer2-tmagArticleYou may have read the recent article about the National Cancer Institute coming up with more precise language when talking about cancer. Sounds silly perhaps, but this is so important when dealing with this scary disease and the language that physicians use can subtly change the care given to patients as well as their comfort level.

At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute where I work, I have been involved in two studies of cancer diagnosis, more specifically in how pathologists read pathology biopsies for Melanoma (skin cancer) and Breast Cancer.

These ground-breaking studies, led by Dr. Joann Elmore at the University of Washington, are taking a hard look at how well pathologists do in diagnosing cancer, and how diagnostic procedures can be improved. My group has provided the programming support for these studies, including the development of a web-based slide viewer, data collection forms, and the infrastructure to support the projects.

Donations made to my Obliteride campaign support studies like these as well as many other life-saving scientific research studies in diagnosis, prevention, and treatment at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.


I’m riding in Obliteride on August 10th to help raise money for the life-saving research at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, where I work. Please consider donating to my ride to end cancer.

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Keeping Track of Leukemia Specimens

Over seven years ago, I was asked to create a system to help scientists keep track of specimens at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center where I work. The system I created, the AML Specimen Bank, is still used today by researchers studying an often fatal type of leukemia in children called acute myeloid leukemia or AML.

amlBack seven years ago, Dr Soheil Meshinchi, a pediatric oncologist at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Seattle Children’s Hospital, came to me asking for help in replacing an aging system they were using to keep track of the specimens they collected for the AML registry they maintained. The original system, a desktop program written in Visual Basic on top of Microsoft Access, had a number of problems. After evaluating the system, I decided to rewrite it in ASP.NET Web Forms, C#, and SQL Server.

amldbThe system lets scientists collect information about the patient who supplied the sample, about the type of specimen collected (blood, tissue, etc.), and where the samples are stored (freezer name, stack, level, and location within the box). AML researchers use the system to store samples, maintain related data, manage the freezers that store the samples, and locate and check out samples for use in their research.

It’s nice to know that seven years later, Dr Meshinchi and his colleagues are still using the system to keep track of the AML sample repository. In fact, the system we first created seven years ago works so well that it has been Cancer-of-the-Bloodcloned and reworked for four other sample repositories for other types of cancers. We are currently in the process of creating a brand new edition of the system for a more comprehensive leukemia repository that we are building using .NET 4.5 and ASP.NET MVC.

I am very lucky to have found a job that blends my programming aptitude with my love of science, research, and improving the lives of others.


I’m riding in Obliteride to help raise money for the life-saving research at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, where I work. Please consider donating to my ride to end cancer.

donate now

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My Dinner with Mike

Share-The-Road-Sign-K-6751A couple of weeks ago we were supposed to meet out contractor, Mike the Plumber, as he likes to call himself, at a restaurant and pub for a drink to discuss the finishing our basement.

At one point, the conversation shifted to cyclists and Mike became quite adamant about how cyclists were unsafe and didn’t pay for the roads and thus they should have no say in how roads were used. Only when cyclists were licensed and paid a fee for that license should they have a say.

Though his presentation was a bit over the top, thanks to a few beers, Mike does have a point about safety and the fact that many cyclists flagrantly and repeatedly break traffic laws. In my eyes, you’re either to be treated like a car or a pedestrian. And if you want to be treated as a car, you need to follow the rules of the road, including but not limited to, stopping at stop signs and red lights. I do!

Regarding Mike’s point about cyclists having no say because they are not paying for the roads, that’s just absurd and here’s why…

  1. Who said that the sole purpose of all roads in a city was to host motor traffic? I don’t buy that: there are other users in our society who need to be accommodated.
  2. The vast majority of adult cyclists also have motor vehicle licenses and thus we ARE already paying license fees… and federal income taxes, and sales taxes, and property taxes.
  3. Cyclist should be thanked and compensated for (a.) reducing traffic and thus commute times of drivers, (b.) reducing carbon emissions and global warming, (c.) freeing up parking spaces. This is true for bus riders and pedestrians too. Perhaps, we should be getting annual carbon-reduction rewards and single car drivers should be paying carbon surcharges?

shareIn fact, the more people who commute using alternate forms of transportation, the better the experience for automobile drivers. So instead of cursing us, Mike, you should be thanking us.

Enough said.

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