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.

Double Dipping

Returning home from workSo the reality of my late summer athletic commitments has finally settled in. I’m training for both a September marathon (the tiny Tunnel Lite marathon) and the August 50-mile cancer fund-raising bike ride (Obliteride).

What this means…

  • I need to run five days a week including one long run on Saturday and one hill or speed workout on Tuesdays.
  • I need to bike to work most days. Only 5 1/2 miles each way but it’s valuable bike time none-the-less.
  • I need to do a long bike ride at least once a week. Typically on Sundays with Suzanna.
  • I recently added strength training. Weights & core stuff. You know the drill.

10 minutes later suited up for Tuesday night hills workoutIn many ways, it’s like training for a triathlon without the swimming. So far, I have to say that everything is going well. The big fear, of course, is of injuring myself. Which means that while I have to be consistent and push myself I need to also train smart.

Also, for Obilteride, there is the fund-raising task. And that is going phenomenally well. I am mainly using social media (Facebook, Twitter, and this blog) to publicize my efforts and ask for donations. Plus a few emails to my friends and co-workers. If you are one of the 28 people who have already donated, thank you! And if you haven’t donated, please consider donating today. You can read more about the cause in prior blog posts.

Fred and William Hutchinson

As you may have read, I am riding in a cycling event, Obliteride, that is a fund-raised for the cancer institute where I also work and have worked for the past 9+ years, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

What, you ask? Why is the place you work named Fred Hutchinson and what does that have to do with cancer? Many years ago, I wondered that same thing.

Well, it turns out that Fred Hutchinson was a person—a moderately famous major league baseball player and manager who grew up and went to college in Seattle. And it turns out he died of lung cancer in 1964.

Just as important, Fred had a brother named William who was a surgeon and who decided to found a cancer research center in honor of his brother, Fred, in 1975. This was the birth of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, which has done many great things in the effort to eliminate cancer and reduce suffering from it.

I am riding Obliteride and raising money because I believe so strongly in the place where I work and the good we are doing.

Recently, I ran across this great video about the Hutchinson brothers.

 

Please consider donating to my Obliteride campaign to end cancer by clicking below. Thank you!

donate-now1

Cancer Gets Personal

Cancer definitionIt seems like not too long ago when I didn’t know anyone with cancer and then it seemed to hit, like summer here in Seattle…One day it’s 50 degrees and raining, and the next, boom, it’s hot and sticky summer weather. All of a sudden all around us, just like, for me, cancer.

In 2011 though it was my turn. First, some background: After a birth defect necessitated a kidney transplant; my father donated a life-saving kidney to me in 1995, I have been blessed with pretty-darned good health. So much so that I was training for the RSVP (Ride from Seattle to Vancouver and Party) bike ride with Paul (we did STP (Seattle to Portland) the previous year) when, after a 100 mile training ride I didn’t feel well.

Of course, you might think that after 100 miles on a bike, most people would feel crummy; but it wasn’t just being tired and sore. That night I couldn’t get warm and watched as my temperature started to climb, up to 101, then 102, an finally 103. Now, as a transplant recipient you can think of two causes of a high fever; infection or rejection. So a trip to the ER was an absolute necessity. Here we were back from a trip to Europe, where Paul had just proposed to me, and now it’s off to the emergency room with my new fiancé.

After an initial evaluation, I was told I most likely had a kidney infection and they ordered an ultrasound. I was hospitalized and, when the results of the ultrasound came back, the doctors started saying they saw something, but they couldn’t really determine what it was and wanted my infection to die down a bit before confirming a diagnosis. I don’t remember when the “c” word was uttered for the first time, but I do remember getting the phone call in the evening at home, from the surgeon telling me that I had cancer. It hit me like a brick.

Of all the places for me to get cancer, did it have to be my precious kidney? My one and ONLY kidney? Talk about shock and awe…

Kidney cancer really only responds to one thing, surgery– to remove the tumor. As someone who carefully guarded her only kidney, the last thing I wanted was for it to be cut into. However, I certainly didn’t want to walk around with cancer–does anyone–so the surgery was scheduled.

My surgery was successful and I recovered just fine. Now when you have cancer surgery you think, well, that’s that; they cut it out! No more cancer for me, let’s celebrate! It’s such a downer when you go for your one year check up and the doctor says, let’s do a chest x-ray because that’s where this kind of cancer goes next. Well, so far so good, no cancer in the kidney or the lungs and my follow-up will only be the chest x-ray and my prognosis is good. Bullet dodged.

Of course another cancer scare has come & gone since then… Just recently an innocent enough looking line on my fingernail was biopsied and luckily did not turn out to be melanoma. It did require the removal of my thumb nail and a few days of quite a bit of pain, but the melanoma-free diagnosis was worth it.

But both Paul and I know plenty of people going through similar, even more challenging cancer scares and long-drawn out battles. Nothing makes you feel more vulnerable than cancer because it never seems to go away, you feel like it’s always lurking.

obliterideIt’s easy to not think about cancer and donating for the cause when you aren’t affected personally by it. But when you or a close friend or relative gets cancer, you can no longer ignore the fact that it’s a real and horrible disease. It also makes you want to rid the planet of cancer. And that’s what the researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center where Paul works are trying to do. This is why I believe so much in Obliteride. And why Paul is riding in Obliteride, why I am volunteering, and why we are donating to the cause as well.

Please consider donating to Paul’s Obliteride campaign.

tripledAnd because I believe so much in the cause, Paul and I will match all donations between now through Sunday, July 7th, up to $500 dollars total. And because I work for Microsoft who matches donations at 100%, any money you donate will therefore be tripled! How’s that for some incentive to donate today?

Suzanna Litwin

Post Script: Suzanna’s challenge raised $550 so we matched it with the limit of $500 which Microsoft will match again.  Thus, her challenge raised at least $1,500 (not counting the fact that some of the donors also worked for Microsoft and will be submitting their donations for matching as well).

Why Obliteride and Fred Hutch?

PaulOnBikeSammRiverTrain3_thumbIt’s been over nine years since I started working at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, or as we like to call it “Fred Hutch” or just “The Hutch”.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center was established in 1975 by Dr. William Hutchinson in honor of his brother, Fred, who died of lung cancer in 1964.

So What’s So Great About Fred Hutch?

So what’s so great about The Hutch? Fred Hutch is truly a world-class research center dedicated to curing and reducing human suffering from cancer, AIDS, and other diseases.

One measure of the strength of a research institute is the awards it receives and many people will agree that the Nobel Prize is one of the highest honors in science. Well, three Nobel laureates (that means they each won a Nobel prize) have walked the halls of The Hutch. They are…

  • Donnal Thomas, who won his Nobel prize in 1990 for his ground-breaking work in bone marrow transplant. Donnall died in 2012.
  • Lee Hartwell, who was awarded the Nobel prize in 2001 for his work in understanding cell division. Lee was the center’s president for many years and many days could be seen riding his bike to work.
  • Linda Buck, who received her prize in 2004 for her pioneering work in the human olfactory system. I remember drinking champagne in her honor the day she was awarded the prize.

Of course, that’s just three of the fine scientists of our institute. Much amazing work happens here every day, including work in basic science, clinical trials, bioinformatics, and cancer prevention. In future posts, I’ll share some of the projects I have had the honor to work on while here.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (1)In the mean time, you can read more about Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center at fhcrc.org or wikipedia.

What’s Different About Obliteride?

obliterideOkay, let me be frank, the bike ride is just a front to raise money for this amazing institution. (Mind you, that’s not meant to disparage the amazing feats of athleticism that are part of an endurance event like Obliteride. Most participants will train for months to get ready and will endure somewhere between moderate discomfort and extreme pain in riding the event.) I mean that’s true for any event that raises money for a cause. For the most part, however, the event itself is not the important thing: it’s what happens with the money.  And, unfortunately, many events have a fairly high overhead, which means that for every dollar you donate, only a portion goes to the organization benefiting from the event. For example, I rode in the Ride to Conquer Cancer four years ago and was saddened to learn afterward that less than 50% of the money I raised made it to the organization. To me, that was a huge disappointment and a reason I have not ridden again for that event.

What is awesome about this event, however, is that a number of sponsors (as well as the participant registration fees) completely cover the expenses of the event. This means that 100% of every donation goes to the benefiting organization: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Let me repeat that: 100% of every dollar you donate goes to the ground-breaking and life-saving research of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Now, that’s something to get excited about.

How Can You Help?

it’s simple, just click this button to donate to Obliteride and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

donate now

Thank you.

Ending My Sounds of Silence

LaurelAndHardyHushLike many bloggers out there, I started with a bunch of ideas that I wanted to get out into the blogspace last year, and then got distracted and this blog has suffered.

Let’s see if I can restart this thing and put out something that others may be able to benefit from.

Catching Up

Wedding-87Since I last blogged seriously, a lot has happened. I got married in a wonderfully romantic wedding in Monteriggioni, in Tuscany, Italy to my soul mate, Suzanna, last October. I started to run seriously again and ran a 5K back on New Year’s Day of this year. I also joined a running group at the beginning of the year and set my sights a little higher: first signing up for the Lake Sammamish Half Marathon and then the Eugene Marathon, which was held April 28th.

Running for Boston

I am happy to report here, that running has gone spectacularly well for me this year. Not only did Eugene go well, but I managed to qualify for the first time in my life for the Boston Marathon, which has been a life dream, and which I finally accomplished in my 8th marathon finish with a time of 3:39:22. Not bad for an old dude.

TrackWorkoutApril2013Cropped-2013-2Unfortunately, the qualifying time margin for me is only 38 seconds, which isn’t a lot with the renewed interest in Boston after the horrific bombing this year. Thus, I have decided to run another marathon on September 15, the Tunnel Lite Marathon. It’s a very fast course so I am hoping to clock a finish time of more around 3:30 which would give me extra cushion in registering for Boston 2013.

Cycling for Cancer Research

PaulOnBikeNewOrleansOh, and a couple of days ago, I registered to ride in a cancer fund-raiser bike ride, the Obliteride, to raise much-needed research money the world-class cancer research institute where I work: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Expect more blog entries on my Obliteride journey. Meanwhile, if you are so inclined, please consider supporting my effort and the efforts of the scientists at “Fred Hutch” by donating to my Obilteride.

Thanks for reading!

Paul.

Electronic Lives That Live On

Many years ago during the 90’s I knew a very nice guy, a professional acquaintance named Michael Groh. He was the editor of an Microsoft Access magazine that competed with a Microsoft Access journal I edited but we got along just fine even if our publishers didn’t at the time.

We both moved on from the Microsoft Access world into other pursuits and I can’t frankly tell you precisely when we lost touch. However, several years ago, in November of 2011 to be precise, I heard from a few mutual friends that Mike had died from pancreatic cancer. I was saddened by the news as were many who knew Mike professionally and personally.

mikegroh2Fast forward two years and—I kid you not–I have started getting suggested LinkedIn invites to connect with Mike. Here’s one from today when I was perusing my profile.

Needless to say, this is kind of strangely morbid. Some would say even creepy. When this started a few months ago, I was busy and thought it would stop but it has continued so that I now see Mike as a suggested connection quite regularly.

I finally sent an email to LinkedIn today with a link to Mike’s obituary from over two years ago. I am hoping they will quickly act to verify the truth of my claim and suspend his account.

Of course, this brings up a good question: how will online communities deal sensitively and wisely with the death of their members? It doesn’t take a lot of thinking to realize that this sort of thing could be misused by those into identify theft and other less-than-positive pursuits.

Anyway, rest in peace, Mike. I am wishing you the best in the afterlife. And as for LinkedIn, I am hoping they will act soon to fix-up this rather macabre mix up.

I’ll update this post to let you know how what happens to my LinkedIn help ticket.

2013 is Coming into Focus

magnifying_glass_by_hillllallll-d59skm5Boy, I haven’t posted in a while. Sorry about that. Bet you’ve heard that one before. It’s funny how you can be so gung ho for a time period, posting like mad. Sometimes, even having to wait to space out your blog posts. While other times, you just get busy—like me for the past month or two—and don’t either have anything to say, or are too busy to say it in your blog. I guess the latter was true in my case. But here I am, with my laptop in bed late, deciding to hack together a post sometime after midnight on New Year’s Eve 2012.

Catching Up

Today is the beginning of the last day of 2012. So the good news is that I have been fairly consistently running and spinning and less consistently lifting weights. Additionally, while I am not currently logging my food intake into My Fitness Pal, I have maintained my weight at more or less where I want to be. I am currently 165 pounds, which is at the top of the range of where I want to be. Considering this is the pinnacle of bad eating season, I am pretty okay with that. In comparison, at this time last year, I weighed 185. Yes, 20 pounds more than I weigh today.

But weight is not everything. I am also pretty happy with my fitness level, although with the craziness of the holidays and my kids being in town, I managed to run only twice last week. However, during each of the weeks in December prior to last week, I ran at least 3 times. And I have started running on Saturdays with the Seattle Greenlake Running Group that I found on meetup.com.

In fact, I ran long runs of 9-10 miles with the group the past 3 out of 4 Saturdays.

Plans for Next Year

I have big plans for 2013 and have already signed up and paid my entry fee for three—count ‘em, three—races. They are:

1. Resolution Run

This run is tomorrow, January 1st at 10:30 AM. it’s a 5K followed by a jump-in-the-lake. (And in case you are wondering, it’s likely to be raining and very cold!) The trick, of course, is not to stay up too late New Year’s Eve and get too drunk. Otherwise, the race will be very painful. (It will be cold and wet, regardless, however.)

2. Lake Sammamish Half Marathon

This is the one I actually have to train for. 13.1 miles around Lake Sammamish in Redmond, Washington. The race is Saturday, March 9th which gives me about ten weeks to get ready. And while I can run 10 miles without too much trouble, I’d like to ramp up over the next ten weeks and use this race to really improve my fitness.

3. Pacific NW Spartan Sprint

Okay, now we are getting a little crazy. I have to say I have been intrigued with these so-called extreme obstacle course races since I first started hearing about them this past year. They include Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, and the one I just signed up for a couple of days ago: the Spartan Race. The deal on Living Social was just to good to ignore so I nabbed it. The race is Sunday, August 4th in some town I have never heard of in Southern Washington state. Oh, and yes, as a matter of fact, I am crazy. ‘Nuf said (for now).

By the way, I am loving my new iPhone app for tracking runs: RunKeeper. The also have a version for Android phones. It’s free, addictive, and highly recommended. And for the most part, it makes GPS watches obsolete. Expect a post on this fabulous app sometime soon.

Oh, and we got a dog a couple of weeks ago…

PorterKidsXMas2012-1

So that’s my story. What about you? What do you have planned for 2013?