Weekend Review – STOKR

You guys, I made it out a live. I completed a century ride on Saturday! I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day or better group of friends (well, it would have been better if Dan were there) to keep me going.

We left Friday afternoon for Libby, MT which is in the northwest part of the state in the Cabinet mountain range. The ride is called STOKR and stands for Scenic Tour of the Kootenai River (they really like their biking acronyms in Montana). It’s a beautiful area with lots of trees and mountains. My friend rented an AirBnB right on the river so we spent a lot of time on the back patio watching the river rush by.

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This is how you get ready for a 100-mile bike ride.

We woke up early Saturday to start riding at 7am. It was 17 miles until the breakfast stop. The first 17 miles were amazing and gorgeous. We rode along the Kootenai River and there was a blanket of fog over the mountains that dissipated as we went along. If you’ve never enjoyed a sunrise in Montana, you’re missing out. The blue skies here are nothing like I’ve seen before and Libby did not disappoint.

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Peaceful sunrise.

The breakfast stop consisted of bread and bagels with peanut butter or cream cheese, some fruit, and cookies. Because eating cookies at 8am is acceptable when one is riding 100 miles.

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We got a little off track…

It was 27 miles to the next stop, the longest stretch. During that time, we encountered a flat tire that cost us 20 minutes, got lost by going on a walking trail instead of staying on the road, and had to climb a super steep hill for four miles straight. We did stop by Yaak Falls where there was a clothes drop off (the weather went from 34 degrees to 70), water, and candy.

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Yaak Falls

I was so happy when we pulled into the second food stop, which was a table filled with carbs. There was potato salad, multiple types of pasta salad, Asian noodles, and of course, cookies. It was probably the best stop of the ride.

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All the carbs in the world.

I left a little before the group to get through the next 17 miles thinking they’d catch up to me, but it didn’t happen until half a mile before the next stop. It was actually pretty nice biking alone, I didn’t feel the need to ride fast to catch up to anyone and could go at my own leisurely speed. I did miss the social aspect of biking though.

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Where Sasquatch turns into the Hulk???

The third stop was soup and sandwiches (and cookies). The sandwich was ok (pretty sure it was from Subway), but their soup options looked pretty good and I went with the salmon chowder. It was a smart choice and I wanted more, but the fear of having too much cream-based soup on a hot afternoon with a 12-mile hill climb ahead stopped me.

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Definitely could have hung out here the entire day.

One of my friends decided to take off early to start the ascent and I followed shortly after. I ended up passing her on mile two and continued climbing. The first four miles were steep, but the ride evened out and I felt confident I could get through the next eight miles (it got steep again at mile six). Around mile 70 my Apple watch decided it was time to shut down, so I debated stopping mid-hill climb and saving my workout (I’ve learned if your watch shuts down it doesn’t save your workout, though I could be wrong because it ended up saving my second ride), or waiting until I got to a flat spot to stop the watch. My pride won out and I stopped mid-hill to save my workout and start a new one that would go until my watch died. I continued up the hill and hoped that it would flatten out soon, but apparently I was going to have to keep climbing until the top.

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Bourbon fuels bike rides.

I kept biking around the same six people, and we cheered each other on as we passed each other. Actually, they would cheer me on as I passed them when they took a break to stretch, and then they would cheer me on again when they passed me after their break. There were fun signs at the last mile that helped me keep going, but I have never been happier to see an aid station when I hit the top (I take what I said back about the carb stop, this was definitely the best one). There were people cheering, a warm fire (it got colder as went over the pass), and the best cookies I’ve ever eaten (and not just because I was exhausted, they were the butterscotch type cookies that also have nuts, one of my favorites). I relaxed and waited for my friends to finish their climb. When they all arrived we enjoyed a swig of bourbon from the flask I’d been carrying around, rested, and then sailed downhill (up to 29 mph!) to the infamous pie stop.

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Not that tasty, but makes for a pretty picture.

I have to admit, I was a little disappointed by the pie stop. My blueberry pie was meh, but my friend’s rhubarb was pretty tasty and I was sad I picked the wrong pie. We didn’t hang out for very long because we were eager to get the ride over with. The last leg of the ride was pretty flat, but I was hoping for more downhill so I wouldn’t have to work so much! I stayed with the group this time, but ended up getting ahead because again, I was eager to get the ride over with! We finally sailed into town and ended up at our AirBnB, but we were only at 97 miles! There was no way I wasn’t going to finish a century ride. We went to the race hotel to pick up clothes we had dropped off earlier, and took a scenic tour through town to get those last three miles in. I was exhausted, but it was worth it.

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The view biking into town.

It’s hard to believe that nine months ago I was finishing up chemo and couldn’t muster enough energy to get off the couch. My hematologist said that it could take awhile before I got back to my old energy and strength levels. I would like to think that I’m rocking this whole post-chemo/radiation thing.

Now that I’m finished training for STOKR I was planning on turning my attention to my half-marathon Memorial Day weekend in Calgary, but I have run into complications of being a female and spending too much time biking and on the saddle. Hopefully things will clear up soon and I’ll be able to start running again. If not, well… This may be the worst half-marathon I’ve ever run. Oh well. At least Calgary will have great food and shopping!

Have a great rest of your week!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

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Weekend Review

This weekend was filled with more of the regular — biking and running. After spending Friday night making Thug Kitchen’s Chickpea and Green Chile Soup and finishing up season 1 of Game of Thrones, Saturday was much more social with a 52-mile bike ride with friends, a baking party, then dinner with friends. Sunday was Easter brunch and an 8-mile ride.

The 52-mile bike ride really kicked my butt. My friends and I signed up for STOKR and I’m doing the Saturday, 98-mile ride. It goes over a pass so I need to get my legs ready for a 17-mile hill climb. I’ve been told the food stops on the ride are amazing, but is it really worth 98-miles? I’ll let you know.

After gorging myself on french fries and a veggie burger after our ride, a couple friends came over to help me with my March bake. Making amaretti biscuits for the cake batter was a one person job, so we stood in my kitchen and snacked on dessert bars one friend brought over while I made the biscuits. After the biscuits baked and were crushed down, I made the cake batter, one friend left, and the other friend’s husband came over for dinner.

A couple of months ago I borrowed a some Rick Bayless books from the library and we made the most amazing pork tacos. I couldn’t find the recipe anywhere online or remember which book it was from, so I borrowed both books again to find it: Tacos de Picadillo Oaxaqueno from Mexican Kitchen. It uses pork shoulder and has a tomato and chile adobo sauce that the pork cooks in and is topped with toasted almonds. It’s time-consuming, but worth it.

On Sunday I woke up early for Easter mass, then came home and assembled my cake. I went over to my friend’s to prep pancakes while the group was out bike riding (my legs said no) and we celebrated with a big brunch that included homemade bagels, my cake, and of course, mimosas. I fought my instinct for an afternoon nap, and instead went grocery shopping, cleaned the yard, and went on an 8-mile run with a friend. Suffice to say my legs are completely dead today.

I’ll get a nice exercise break next weekend when we go to Seattle. I have a six month scan and a check-up with my Gyn Onc. Dan’s dad’s side is meeting us up there so we’ll have a weekend filled with good food and fun times!

Have a great week!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Weekend Review

The picture above is a good summary of the weather this weekend: Sunny and stormy, all at once.

We kept pretty busy this weekend, starting with watching the Quebec folk group Des Temps Antan at our local performing arts center, then went to an after-party with friends and the group, staying up way too late.

Saturday we went with friends on a 35-mile bike ride down to Bandit Brewery to take mine and Dan’s new Kona cyclocross bikes out for a spin. It was my first time biking on a dirt road and I loved it. It was much easier to talk to friends on a road less traveled and fun going over bumps my road bike couldn’t. While the bike ride was beautiful, we fought a head wind and some grapple. At least the precipitation was dry so we weren’t soaking wet. And it was like getting in an extra workout fighting the wind.

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After the bike ride, I needed to bake a dessert for a BBQ we were going to that night. In my quest to continue using my cookbooks, I looked up the dessert section in Ina Garten’s Foolproof and decided to make the Raspberry Crumble Bar, using strawberry jam since it’s what we had. I imagine Ina saying, “store-bought, strawberry jam is fine.”

The BBQ was fun and we spent the evening hanging out by a fire pit, but it was still so cold. I’m looking forward to summer where we don’t have to bundle up to be outside!

Sunday was meal prep day. Well, not really since we don’t meal prep. Sunday was spent cooking, and I forced myself to do a 3 mile run.

Ever since the cruise, Dan and I have been trying to lose the cruise weight (plus the couple pounds I’ve put on since I’ve been back…) and get back on our budgeting track. We have about $20 left in our budget before the month ends, so I looked through our cookbooks and tried to find what would last for the rest of the week.

After going through our cupboards and seeing what we already had, I settled on making NYTimes Cooking Curried Split Pea Soup (we pay for a NY Times subscription and the app comes with it, like a cookbook…ish) and Thug Kitchen’s Curried Hand Pies from their Party Grub cookbook. The Curried Hand Pies was also a great way to use up coconut cream from a dessert disaster that happened earlier this week. Both turned out pretty good, but I would add more curry powder to each.

Both recipes also included ginger, which I had been avoiding since the “Great Ginger Drowning of 2017”, aka what I am calling my mom force-feeding me ginger drinks during chemo. I peeled and grated the ginger without gagging, so I think I’ve finally conquered one of my chemo battles! Though now the weight is slowly coming back, so maybe chemo will win the war.

I’m planning to make Thug Kitchen’s Chickpea and Green Chile soup from their Thug Kitchen 101 cookbook later this week. Fingers crossed we got everything we needed today, because we can’t grocery shop until Sunday!

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This weekend’s baking/cooking: Top: Ina Garten’s Raspberry Crumble Bottom Left: Prep for NYTimes Cooking Curried Split Pea Soup Bottom Right: Thug Kitchen’s Curry Hand Pies

Speaking of the cruise, I’m still working on posts about the trip, there’s so much to tell though! It’ll show up someday, I promise.

Have a great week!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

One Year

One year ago today, I received a call from my doctor asking if Dan and I could come into the office ASAP. One year ago today we sat in her office and I blatantly asked if I had cancer because she was describing things, but not using the word. One year ago today our world turned upside down.

This past year has seemed to crawl by. It seems like ages ago Dan and I were traveling to Seattle and Houston to decide my treatment plan. Chemo and radiation seem like a distant memory from years past, not something I just went through six months ago.

Today though, I am spending the day biking around Montevideo with Dan and spending time with his mom and stepdad. I thought by this point we would have a six-month old taking over our life, but instead it’s just me and Dan. Life may not be where I thought it would at 33, but I’m taking what I have and trying to make the most of it.

I feel better and am getting stronger. I recently ran 5.5 miles at a 9:18 pace, then ran three miles under a 9 minute pace the next day. I’ve started doing spin, yoga, hot yoga, and rock climbing.

Dan and I have booked a trip to Europe over Christmas and will have that to look forward to once we’re back from South America. While Dan and I have traveled a lot this past year, minus a work trip to Boston, everything has been for health reasons. We haven’t seen his siblings in over a year since his youngest sister got married last September. We’re hoping to meet up with them, his dad, and stepmom in Seattle in April, and we’ll be doing a week in Hawaii to celebrate his stepmom’s birthday.

We’re trying very hard to make up for all that was lost last year. While I know nothing will take away the pain that we have gone through, trying to enjoy what we do have helps to ease some of it. Here’s looking to future adventures.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Hello 2018!

Happy New Year! As with everything I do, this message comes a little late. But at least it showed up, right? I hope you had a great Christmas and New Year. I had time off between the two holidays and had grand plans for reading, cooking, blogging, and binge-watching Big Little Lies, but instead I got sucked into reading the new Dan Brown novel, Origin, and then began re-reading the Robert Langdon series. Should I have read something a little more thought-provoking? Maybe. But it was a fun way to finish out the year — A little European, art history adventure.

Dan and I hosted Christmas dinner for friends who were staying in Montana which was a fun evening filled with good food (crab over-nighted from Seattle!) and lots of wine and bourbon. New Years Eve was spent in Spokane at our new favorite bar, Durkins. We sipped French 75s and champagne all night. I may have fallen asleep at our hotel before the fireworks went off.

2017 was a horrible year, but it also brought a lot of support and love. I’m hopeful for 2018. I am going to try and spend this year enjoying life and doing more things. I want to make up for things that didn’t happen last year: travel, cooking, baking, reading, outdoor adventures, and more.

We are headed to South America next month, and are planning on running the Calgary marathon/half marathon (and hopefully the Lululemon SeaWheeze half marathon in Vancouver). We’re hoping for another big trip around Christmas as well. And of course, my every 3-month follow-ups in Seattle start up again next week. We’ve talked to family about doing a weekend meet-up in Seattle for one of these trips.

My friend gave me a Great British Bake Off calendar for my birthday, and I plan on making the baked good on the calendar each month. Great for dusting off my baking pans, maybe not so great for my waistline, but definitely worth it! I have also started borrowing cookbooks from the library to try different recipes. I was barely in the kitchen last year, and this year I’m going to make up for it.

As for reading, I should challenge myself to read books with a purpose. I love a good dystopian novel, perhaps throwing in a book about finance or self-betterment wouldn’t hurt. I’m also hoping to spend more time reading instead of watching TV shows that I don’t even like.

And finally, I’m sure outdoor adventures will come. Our love of trying new things and living in Montana, I have no fear we’ll get out and do things.

Here’s to a great 2018!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Thirty-three

Ever since I was little, I had always thought 32 would be my year. My mom had me the year she turned 32, and in my mind, I always thought I would be 32 when I had my own child. Life has a way of letting you know you’re not in charge, and obviously that didn’t happen.

Last year  we celebrated my birthday with an evening party, watched the Sounders win the MLS Cup, and I was pregnant and didn’t know it. This year we celebrated with brunch, and watched the Sounders lose the MLS Cup. We went XC skiing on my birthday again which is always a fun time.

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It was so cold I couldn’t do a real smile.

A year ago I thought we would possibly be celebrating as a little family. It was bittersweet to try and celebrate, but also wondering what could have been. I have definitely felt supported by all my friends this year, and that means a lot.

I’m hopeful for 33. I look forward to what it will bring. I already know we are going to South America and most likely Hawaii. We have a ton of Seattle trips planned, and it will be good to spend time with friends.

Goodbye 32, hello 33.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Giving Thanks

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We celebrated with two Thanksgiving dinners (that included a turkducken and prime rib plus the regular turkey and sides). I’m thankful that we have found so many friends here, we get to do two Thanksgivings! My jeans on the other hand, not so thankful.

We started the day with our local Turkey Trot, and I’m happy to say that I was able to run the three a 9:51 pace (while slightly hungover). That’s the fastest I’ve gone in a really long time. I ran four miles yesterday at a 9:40 pace, slowly getting faster! I’m definitely feeling it today though. I’m thankful for my body starting to finally pick-up the pace.

I had my follow up appointments on Friday with my hematologist and radiologists and they said everything looked good. My blood tests came back with a normal white blood cell count, meaning my immune system should be back to normal. My hematologist did say that it would take 6-12 for my hair to start growing back normally, and that it will take at least six months for my body to get back to working out normally. I’m thankful for normal test results!

I’m thankful for friends who have gotten me through this year. From those here in Montana who house/pet-sat at a drop of the hat when I was hospitalized and took care of us during my treatment, to those in Seattle who drove me everywhere and let us stay with them whenever we need to. I’m also thankful to friends from afar who offer a shoulder to cry on and thoughtful gifts to cheer us up.

I’m thankful for family who support and love us, taking care of us through treatment, and through all the awful things we’ve been through this year.

And most importantly, I’m thankful for Dan, who is an amazing support and rock through this. He has always been great at taking care of me, from donut and cereal runs during the pregnancy, to donut and cereal runs during treatment. Without him, I’d probably still be in a ball refusing to get out of bed.

Dan and I are especially thankful for our Gestational Carrier. Hopefully she is able to help us on our journey to becoming parents. We’re still in the holding stages on this part, but we’re thankful that she offered to give us this great gift.

And with that, I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, and are looking forward to a great holiday season!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Fork to Farm

Remember in my last post when I said it was way too smoky to workout? Well, apparently the weather gods were listening and now there is snow on the mountains a couple miles away and the temperature has been in the 40s. It’s so cold. What happened to fall???

After a couple days of rain and freezing cold, we got a quick reprieve on Sunday just in time for a 40-mile bike ride called Form to Farm. We rode around the Bitterroot Valley to four different farms where we got to tour each one (including farms where we get our CSA and milk from) and get snacks. It was a great ride, but exhausting. 40 miles is harder than one thinks. I thought I’d be ok with breaks in between, but man, were my legs tired. Luckily, one of my friends have ibuprofen and that helped me get through the last 15 miles.

The doctors told me working out wouldn’t be the same as before, and while I believed them, it’s still frustrating to live out. I can now run a mile without stopping, but it’s at an 11-minute pace. I can do a yoga class without going into child’s pose, but my body shakes while holding poses (ok, I’m pretty sure it did that before as well). We started doing spin class and I feel like I’m lagging behind everyone when we’re sprinting or trying to “climb that mountain.” At least I’m getting out there though, right? #smallvictories

I should actually be out for a run right now because the sun is out, there is blue sky mixed with clouds, and it’s 52-degrees. Instead I did some housework, prepped dinner, and am trying to keep this blog alive. I also think that I’m pms-ing right now, or supposed to be on my period because man, do I have that period feeling of lead-legs and exhaustion.

Here are some photos from Sunday’s ride. Mostly Dan eating food.

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Dan enjoying frittata at stop SweetRoot Farm (where we get our CSA box).
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Dan enjoying some local bread, passing on the ratatouille.
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Piglets!
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The cow our future milk will come from at Lifeline Farm.
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Last glimpse of summer.
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Local cheese and honey. But seriously, that cheese (from Tucker Farm and Lifeline).

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Easing Back Into Working Out

It’s been two and a half weeks since my last chemo treatment and one week since my last radiation. I’m feeling pretty good and back to eating almost normal. I am not loving meat as much as I used to. I’ll eat a couple bites and then not able to do anymore. I had a moment of panic last week at a friend’s dinner when I tried red wine and thought it tasted horrible. I was devastated. I had been looking forward to red wine for months! But luckily the same friend came over last night and brought red wine and it was delicious. Whew. I still don’t like beer, but… I suppose that’s better for my waist line?

But back to the main topic; I’ve been trying to get back on the workout bandwagon. The first week after chemo I did a yoga class, and I’m pretty sure the instructor, a friend who knows what I’ve gone through, did a pretty easy class to help me ease back in. There was also only four people in class so it was easier. This past week though, class was full and it was pretty difficult. Near the end I started to feel faint and had to stop mid-pose to regain my composure and catch my breath.

I also went on a couple “runs” last week. I took Fred who stopped me every 3 minutes, and I had to do a run/walk combination, plus I could only go a little over a mile. The smoke has been really bad here lately, making it even harder to run and motivate myself to get out there. It’s slowly clearing out, so I might I try to give it a go today.

I have also been doing some biking which I’m new to. After years of owning my bike, I finally got it fitted this summer so I have better posture, and bought clip-ins so I have more power biking. The routes I’ve gone on have been around 13-16 miles at around 11-12 mph, which apparently  is slow. But whatever, I’m getting a good workout! My legs have been tired. On Wednesday I got home from a bike ride and was exhausted, and felt the sort of sick I get after a long run. It’s hard to remember that I’m not at the same fitness level as before.

It’s nice getting back to normal life. I can clean the house now, and do other things besides sit on the couch, curled in a ball watching tv. I spent yesterday evening prepping for a BBQ we’re hosting today, and three hours in the kitchen wore me out. My legs are still sore from all the standing and walking around! My weight has stayed the same, so now I’m just trying to tone everything, and as always, get rid of that extra pooge that hangs around my tummy and thighs.

Have a great Labor Day weekend!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Radiation Treatment: Check!

You can mark radiation as completed! On my list of “Things I never imagined I would have to do”, radiation and chemotherapy have both been checked off. This week I completed two rounds of brachytherapy.

Brachytherapy, for those of you lucky enough to not be in the know, is a type of radiation in which a plastic tube called a dilator is inserted vaginally and the radiation comes from a source, and specifically targets a certain area, in my case, the apex of the vagina. The dilator looks like a church altar candle, and is closed on the end that is inserted, but has an opening on the other side that the source is fed into through a wire. You awkwardly lay on a gurney while they insert the dilator and make sure that the angle is correct, and hold it in place with an intense looking metal device. The device reminded me of the Black Widow scene in the Avengers when she’s being sterilized, guess it’s a good thing that doesn’t effect me anymore! They then take a CAT scan to ensure everything looks good, then moved me to a room that the source is held in.

What is the source you ask? That’s a great question. I am not 100% sure, but I know it’s held in a radiation specific box, that’s not that big, and just hangs out in a room by itself. It goes through a wire that gets fed through the dilator. It’s not painful, but you definitely feel a weird thump during it. Well, it is painful, because there is a lot of pressure on a sensitive spot, but not any sort of burning sensation.

The first day, the whole process takes about 45 minutes with the angling, measuring, CAT scan, moving to another room, waiting for the program to give all the information needed for the treatment, and then treatment was three minutes. The second day, I went straight to the source room, had the measuring and angling, then had the treatment, so about 15 minutes all together. Not too bad.

It feels amazing to finally be finished. I have my follow up appointment in Seattle in October with a PET scan. I’m a little scared something will grow between now and then, but one cannot focus on that. I’m still trying to recover from chemo, my appetite is slowly coming back, but I’m still sensitive to certain foods and smells. I went to yoga on Tuesday which felt amazing, and tried to “run” a mile on Wednesday which was painful. Not sure how this half marathon in 3 weeks is going to go… Hopefully I can try another “run” this weekend. I use quotes, because honestly, it’s more a shuffle than an actual run.

It’s bittersweet celebrating this moment. We should be celebrating something else tomorrow instead. I’m trying to stay positive and not focus on my alternate reality, but it’s hard. It will continue to be hard. I’ve been dreading this weekend for months. I’m hoping if I surround myself with friends and keep myself busy, it will make it easier. I’m sure it won’t be though. I know the moment that silence hits or that I’m alone I’ll start crying. And that will be ok when that happens.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl