August 13, 2014 posted by

Birthday/Chemo Challenge, Update & A Post-Cancer Goal

Birthday/Chemo Challenge, Update & A Post-Cancer Goal

Today’s post might be easier to read than to endure my rambling whilst throwing rocks for the dogs. It covers three topics:

A goal for my comeback

The Birthday/Chemo Challenge

A treatment update

Let’s take them in reverse. Even though UCLA had confirmed my diagnosis, they asked for more biopsy material last week. This means that something is still confusing. It also means that NIH won’t be able to provide my third confirmation prior to, well, today, so my chemo has been put off until we hear from NIH and/or UCLA again.

Since I’m not going to be able to do the big challenge slated for my birthday, I used Outdoor Retailer as an opportunity to have a long day outside with some friends. While it wasn’t a challenge in any kind of epic sense, just a long day of doing sports in the mountains. Not only would this be fun, it would give me an opportunity to see if it would promote any change in my cancer symptoms, which all had disappeared.  I dubbed it my birthday/chemo challenge.

The challenge was:

Ride 54 Trails with 5,400′ of elevation gain

Climb 54 boulder problems

Hike up 5 peaks

While I wanted to see how my body would respond, I also did not want to push too deeply. This meant the pace would be reasonably slow. With chemo on the horizon, tasking my cardiovascular system and some muscle fibers would be fine. I didn’t want to do a lot of fast-twich fiber breakdown or, for certain, central nervous system stress that my normal challenges induce in spades because it takes far too long to recover from. Going into chemo at 100% fitness is vital, if you can of course. Since I can, I wouldn’t risk anything.

This turned out to be “successful”, though probably not in a way I’d have preferred, as my shoulder hot spot returned. It had regressed along with my lymph node but seems back, full force. I’m guessing this tips the odds further towards me going into chemo asap. Other than that, I felt pretty much fully recovered one-day later. After big challenges my heart rate is elevated for days and cortisol release promotes some water weight gain for days after it’s over. Nothing like this remotely happened.

To recount, a group of us went for a very long, extremely aesthetic mountain bike ride on some of the best trails in the country. Then we watched the Tour of Utah crest the final climb of the race. Then went bouldering on some beautiful boulders that are a bit too easy to be called actual bouldering (even though all of us–and there were some double-digit boulderers present–fell off at least one problem). We then finished the day hiking up 5 easy peaks.

All and all it was a fantastic day in the mountains. Super fun, great friends, with plenty of Oly, all culminating with a soiree hosted by longtime friend and Nacirema Drinking Society member, Brittany Griffith. The exercise portion of the day lasted 13 hours.

Mega thanks to the crew:

Lisa Romney, wife, chief support crew and flop house organizer

Spenser Tang-Smith and Vikki Glinski (our storyboarders, videographers, and chroniclers of the bdc lore)

Bob Banks, my oldest birthday challenge partner

Hans Florine, longtime friend, champion speed climber, multiple-time challenge, climbing, project partner

Diane Payes, new friend who tagged along despite being super uncomfortable at altitude

Josh Fairchilds, another longtime friend and challenge cohort

Micah Elconin, ditto, as well as being the newest expert contributor to The Beachbody Blog

Steve Maisch, elite climbing, cyclist, and fitness trainer, out for some rest day support

Tyson Greenman, my most regular current climbing and riding partner, bike mechanic, and drinking buddy

Russ McBride, another longtime friend and elite endurance athlete

Kenji Haroutunian, show director of OR, also one of my oldest friends and very first climbing partner. Yes, we are both lucky to be alive.

Brittany, Patagonia ambassador, ex-downhill racer and professional climber, who dusted off her bike to join us.

Finnegan and Iris, it was very important to do a challenge they could take part because life is better with those two lunatics.

The Goal

In the back of my mind, I also wanted to concoct something cool that I could use as a post-cancer fitness yardstick. One of the reasons I make random challenges is that they’re great for motivation. Having a carrot to think about should keep my recovery on the straight and narrow. I guess I could just target a race, or something, but I’ve done plenty of racing in my life. Esoteric adventures are what keeps me psyched.  I ran the numbers last night and think that cutting 13 hours in half is possible. Therefore, one year from the day I enter treatment, my goal is to do the above challenge in 6 hours and 30 minutes or less. The gauntlet has been cast.

josh, kenji, hans, me, finn, tyson, iris – artistry by vikki


  • Another test. Sheesh, Facebook finds ways to f$ck with your life. Somehow they disabled these comments a while back.

  • “…the pace would be reasonably slow.”

    The above statement is complete bollocks. If I wasn’t walking my bike down steep/technical switchbacks, I was pinned pretty much the entire ride and ended up hitching a ride in the SAG wagon at the bottom (before the 3000′ climb back up the hill).

    • You were on a borrowed single speed with little suspension and hadn’t ridden in four months. With a proper rig and some training you’d knock that section out in an hour.

    • Maybe true, but I might have to move somewhere else to train. Next year then.

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