Monday, February 14, 2011

Team Inspiration's Healing House Open House

The Healing House Open House

On January 30, 2011 we held The Healing House Open House as an inaugural fund raising event for Team Inspiration.  At the Open House we offered many of the services that we believe are important for healing body, mind and spirit: Yoga, meditation, massage, acupuncture, reflexology, music, healthy food, herbal teas and the sharing of our energy and love! I would like to thank everyone who was a part of this very special occasion and vision for Team Inspiration!  Your support and love made this event truly a magical experience. 

The Healing House Open House was inspired by my journey with so many incredible cancer warriors including my friend Kristen Adelman, my brother Mike Blimmel, my brother-in-law Mike Tingler, my mother Barbara Blimmel, and my very special patients at University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center, especially Michael Dahan and Jessica Hensley.  Michael was one of my very first patients and he and his wife, Isabelle designed and published our website. Michael also wrote a beautiful essay about his journey titled “The Dragon Gate” which you can find on our website; just follow the JOURNEYS link from the main page.   Jessica has also written a beautiful essay about her journey as a cancer warrior and our journey toward the creation of the Healing House which you can find on our website on the HEALING HOUSE page.

We had a wonderful turn out with over forty guests, ten practitioners and several wonderful volunteers who made the day very special. With all my heart, I want to thank the wonderful practitioners who offered their gifts of healing with such overwhelming generosity, and all of the guests and volunteers for supporting Team Inspiration and the Healing House.  It was truly a gift just to be in the presence of so much unconditional love and support. Thank you!

Ashley Litecky and Jessica Sunder led us in wonderful explorations of body, mind, and spirit through yoga and relaxation classes in our yoga room. Our youngest yogi was five year old Ty, who is Jessica Hensley’s son and our eldest yogi was 92 and she participated in the yoga class while sitting in a chair. Ashley guided her through modifications so that everyone was able to participate in this wonderful experience! We are pleased to share with everyone that we will continue to hold weekly yoga sessions with Ashley in our Yoga Room on Wednesdays.  Please call Brenda @ 443-745-0749 for more information or visit our website @

We had a delightful mix of exquisitely prepared raw foods, music, and healing books and gifts at the Gratitude Café.  Sunday Alexander, a graduate of Johnson and Whales Culinary School and now pursuing her degree in nutrition so that she can fulfill her dream to be a registered dietician and nutritional chef, prepared tomato bisque and curried wraps for us. She will continue to work with us as we develop the Healing House. Sunday and I met at UMMC where she is also an excellent patient care technician. 

One of our fabulous yoga teachers, Ashley Litecky, is also an herbalist and graduate of Tai Sophia Institute. She provided us with wonderful herbal teas. Our beautifully decorated cake was made by Stacy Duncan. Her daughter, Ashley Ernst, is working with Team Inspiration to create Vision Journals for cancer warriors to use as a means of expression and empowerment as they face the many challenges along this journey. 

We were also blessed to have a very gifted musician, Ian Collins, who played his acoustic guitars and sang for us in the Gratitude Cafe. He wrote and performed our Healing House Open House song titled, Letting Go, which is so exquisitely beautiful that it brought many of us to tears!  He also brought his African healing drum, called an djembe shared with us and played duets with other gifted musicians and singers who “just happened” to be there!

If this was a bit too much excitement and one felt the need for a little quiet time, there was a wonderful selection of healing books and a few quiet places where one could find time for a massage acupressure, craniosacral work, zero-balancing and reflexology to provide an opportunity to experience all that is within our reach to facilitate our own healing process!

The Healing House Open House would not have happened without the tremendous support, talent and enthusiasm of my girl, Brenda McCabe. In fact she has given support to Team Inspiration in every area imaginable in the past year, from stepping in last minute as a cancer warrior triathlete, hand painting my bike helmet for Kona, providing vintage tea cups for our herbal teas, creating a beautiful banner for our Gratitude Café, and the list goes on!

I would like to thank all of our guests and practitioners who were a part of our Healing House Open House.  We will continue to grow the Healing House, so please join us for our next event! 

We will also begin holding yoga and meditation classes on Wednesdays, beginning February 23 from 4:15 – 5:30 and 5:45 to 7:00 p.m.  
Please contact Brenda McCabe for more information and registration @ 443-745-0749.

Once again, our deepest and heartfelt gratitude to Our Healing House Practitioners:

Ashley Litecky, M.S., ERYT:
Jessica Sunder, M.A.., A.T.R.: 443-889-1396,,
Kristina Garner, CLMT:  443.415.8838,
Nyjla Littlejohn, CLMT: 443.850.7504, 
Christine Ruan, C.M.T.,, R.Y.T., 410.852.3613,
Laura Mueller, M.Ac., L.Ac.:  410.707.1394,
Jean Werner, CTACC, NBCR, 443.445.3732,
Sunday Alexander; 443.985.0031
Ian Collins, 410.491-4424
Brenda McCabe, Life Coach, Pilates Instructor, Woman Extraordinaire, 443-745-0749

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ironman World Championship 2010

Ironman World Championship Kona, Hawaii

Aloha and Mahalo!

I received this email the day before my race at the Ironman World Championship in Kona on October 9, 2010.  It is from one of my beloved cancer warriors, Michael Dahan: “I am thinking of you every minute and, as you lifted me in the past to my personal victory, I want to be the wind in your wings tomorrow, with all the others that you touched.”

As many of you know I am an oncology nurse and my qualifying race was in Arizona where I wore 140 Livestrong bracelets with the name of a cancer warrior on each one.  Matt Fitzgerald, one of the editors at Triathlete Magazine wrote a wonderful article about my Ironman Arizona experience and titled it, Fueled by Gratitude. If I were to sum up Kona in one word it would be Mahalo, which means thank you and is used to express true gratitude. It was my mantra throughout the race and actually throughout my entire experience in Hawaii!  In Kona I wore a lei around my race belt with the name of my cancer warriors on the pedals of the flowers. For me the lei also represents the Aloha Spirit which is the joyful sharing of life energy in the present moment. The theme for the Ironman World Championship was KA ALAHELE O KE KOA which means the way of the warrior. My journey at Kona was an incredible experience of affirmation in my belief that we are here to help and inspire one another through life’s challenges.

I came to Kona, not exactly where I wanted to be as far as physical preparedness. I had a great training program and all the support I could ask for from my wonderful coach Mike Matney.  However, I had a rather complicated foot/ankle injury which kept me from running through what would have been my peak training straight to race day.  My last run was at Iron Girl on August 22nd.   Despite this grim reality, I held to the conviction that I WOULD run race day.  In the weeks preceding the race, I went to physical therapy, acupuncture, massage, reflexology, reiki, ART (active release technique) and my podiatrist in my quest for healing.  I know this too was part of my journey.  I met many wonderful people along the way who cared for me in much the same way I care for my patients and this again affirmed my belief that we are here to help one another in our life’s journey. My journey also led me to the realization that we can set and achieve our goals even while ill or injured. Dreams have no boundaries; they are a source of powerful intention.

One of the many great things about Ironman races is that they have fantastic support, including a team of the best ART therapists from around the world.  On my first day at Kona I went straight to the ART tent.  I still was unable to run with only five days left to race day!  I met a wonderful ART therapist from California named Pali Cooper. I told her about my inspiration for coming to Kona and she told me of a similar journey she was involved in. She was a member of an event called Climb Against the Odds, which is the Breast Cancer Fund’s annual mountaineering expedition for breast cancer prevention. Pali climbed Mt. Shasta carrying prayer flags with the names of breast cancer warriors on each one. She immediately took me under her wing and worked diligently with me every day so that I would run on race day. She also gave me the names of her dear cancer warriors for me to add to my lei.
I also met Mike Leahy, the founder of ART who is  a cancer survivor and Ironman World Champion with an incredible story of inspiration which I will share with everyone at greater length under separate cover.  Stay tuned!

Finally the big day arrived.  My Aloha Spirit was flying full force as the day began! 

A friend and member of our Team Inspiration Iron Girl team hand painted a beautiful flower lei on my bike helmet. Her son made decals for my bike that read Aloha Spirit and Team Inspiration and he also made wonderful hibiscus flowers for my bike. I always dreamt of a riding a blue tri bike with hibiscus flowers at Kona; dreams do come true! My race belt lei was overflowing with cancer warrior energy, KA ALAHELE O KE KOA! I was ready! 

There seemed to be a palpable calmness at the pier that morning.  As I write this, I realize that it was probably because each of us was in a quiet place of overwhelming gratitude to be here. Mahalo! After the usual final transition area check, we headed into the water.  I was still in a state of disbelief as I looked at the very familiar scene of the race start: The Kona coast line, with the white steeple jutting above the shops and trees on Alii Drive and the swim patrol on their surfboards holding the line. It was getting very tight as we waited for the cannon to go off and I was looking back at shore because I wanted to see the smoke from the cannon shoot across the water. I didn’t get to see it; the cannon went off and 1800 triathletes were ready to swim! 

This was the most incredibly beautiful swim of my life and probably the least stressful Ironman swim.  I was able to take in all of the beauty of the Pacific Ocean’s marine life and crystal blue waters. It felt as if it was a solo swim, but each time I sited the buoys I realized I was still surrounded by a sea of triathletes. All went well until the very end when I got nailed in the ear so badly I thought I had ruptured my eardrum!

Transition went smoothly with the help of many wonderful volunteers and I was feeling good starting out on the bike. The bike course is pretty much an out and back on the Queen K, formally known as the Queen Ka’Ahumanu Highway. 

It is an amazingly beautiful and brutal ride as you climb along the coast to Hawi which is the turn-around point. It is not so much that the climbs are steep or long, but the headwinds, side gusts and heat are the real challenge for the Kona warrior and that’s why we came!  I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.  

 At some point on my return from Hawi, when I was going downhill at a ridiculously slow speed because of the headwinds, I looked out over the Pacific Ocean strewn with white caps and glistening under the sunlight. I was overwhelmed with the spirit of Mahalo for having the opportunity to experience this event. I realized with absolute certainty that I was not here alone.  I could feel in the wind that danced around me, every person who was a part of my journey just as my cancer warrior and friend Michael had written in his email.  I realized at that moment I probably will never be able to fully express the Mahalo I feel for having been blessed with such a wonderful life and so many wonderful people to share my journey, but I will keep trying! 

Off the bike and into the transition tent once more.  I could really feel the heat and could tell I was getting a little cranky as I tried to figure out if I should go with the arm coolers and compression socks!  It was too hot to fool with either, so I grabbed my cancer warrior lei and headed out of transition.  It took a few minutes before I realized I was running!  Not terribly fast, but I was running down Alii Drive!

There were gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean, and crowds of cheering spectators lined the streets.  I was feeling good until I got to the Queen K Highway where the heat from the day got the best of me and I started feeling pretty nauseous.   I had to stop on the Queen K a few times to get rid of the little bit that was in my stomach, and I thought I might not be able to continue to run, but things settled after a bit and I kept going. I was grateful to be running, but frustrated to still be out on the course and it seemed as if I would never get to the turn-around point at the Energy Lab. As I entered the Energy Lab at dusk, I felt a renewed energy coming on.  I looked out at the setting sun on the Pacific and remembered the beauty and honor of being a part of this race and all the people who were with me in spirit.  

 There was music at the turn around point at the Energy Lab as I came through. They were playing Knocking on Heaven’s Door, and I felt as if I could almost touch heaven! Then as I returned to the Queen K, the stars came out and I felt the energy and love of all the cancer warriors; those who were on my belt and the many others I have not met, but they were out there once again as the wind under my the wings!  At that moment I thought of a mantra I created for one of my yoga classes: May I feel love and gratitude for all that is and may I feel connected body, mind, and spirit to all on this earthly journey and to all that is beyond this world. I did. Mahalo! 
On to the home stretch and Alii Drive! 

To a triathlete, just the mention of Alii Drive ignites a sensation of excitement and victory; it is the road to victory for a journey filled with challenges and an overwhelming sense of Mahalo for the journey itself.  My friend, Michael Dahan, writes of his journey as a cancer warrior and his victory as he passes through what he calls The Dragon Gate.  The finish line on Alii Drive was my Dragon Gate, and one I hope to return to in the future. 


Friday, October 29, 2010

Iron Girl Sprint Triathlon August 22, 2010

Iron Girl 2010!  The entire Iron Girl weekend was a blast!  Saturday was a fun filled day of racking the bikes and volunteering at the expo.  One of the biggest perks of helping at the expo besides meeting so many fabulous Iron Girls is multiple passes through the expo itself. Lots of great purchases for the Team Inspiration Iron Girls and I have to say we were styling before, during, and after the race!

Although it did end up raining during the race, it didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits in the least.  Our team was amped up with the energy of carrying our cancer warriors in our hearts and on our Livestrong bracelets.  Each team member had at least one honored teammate they were racing for and carried that person’s name on their bracelet.  It was a very rewarding but emotional event for each of us.  The day was filled with wonderful smiles and moments of tears, but the tears were mostly an expression of gratitude and love for having this moment to share, and remember or honor our beloved cancer warriors.

I received this lovely email from one of our teammates after the race:
Dear Roseann, Thank you for giving me the opportunity to join team inspiration in the irongirl triathlon. I have participated in all 5 of the Columbia  irongirl events.  This year's was a far different experience and more rewarding than one could imagine.  You certainly run harder and faster when you are running so others can have a chance to one day do the same. I dedicated my race to three special people in my life.  Each of whom had an uphill battle with cancer.  I wore three livestrong bracelets with their names.  One for the swim, the bike, and the run.  When I would get tired or cramp, I would  picture the people on my bands, shed a few tears, and go harder and faster. When I felt exhausted, I would remember the words on the back of our team inspiration shirts, "Cancer Warrior". Again, I would shed a few tears and surge.  Finally, a mile to go and I passed a race participant  that just a few years back won her battlle with breast cancer. (at least for now)  I ran by her yelling, "WOO HOO, We're going to beat this cancer."  Again, an emotional rush that pushed me to the finish.

Team inspiration not only provided me the training support to get me to the start and finish line, but gave me an opportunity to meet so many wonderful caring individuals.  The support for each other from team members was rewarding and inspirational.  I will never just "do" irongirl again.  I plan to join team inspiration every year. It fills my heart and soul with emotion and purpose.

Looking forward to next year,
Patty Myers

We can’t wait until next year, and hope to have many new teammates join us and our cancer warriors at Iron Girl 2011.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Eagleman Ironman 70.3 Triathlon

2010 Eagleman Ironman 70.3 triathlon was Team Inspiration’s Super Girl race! I love triathlon because it always presents a challenge for body, mind, and spirit, and you must find your Inspiration. I am very fortunate because Inspiration seems to find me! For this race Inspiration came in the form of what I now call Super Girl Spirit!

Our newest member to Team Inspiration is Cathy Tucker. This was her first 70.3 Ironman race and she wanted to do something special in honor of our Cancer Warriors so she decided to wear 13 LiveStrong bracelets on the run with the name of a Cancer Warrior on each one. I did the same and we carried 25 very special Cancer Warriors. The math is very basic, so it would seem that we would have a total of 26.

However, we had 25 because both Cathy and I carried a bracelet with the name of Jessica Hensley who is my newest patient and future triathlete for Iron Girl 2011!

She has resolved to meet her leukemia diagnosis with absolute positive energy and take a warrior stance of courage, strength, faith, and love to overcome this illness and move forward in her life with her beautiful and loving family and friends. She has already been a source of Inspiration to me and many others. Please visit her blog at and you will very quickly see the power of the Super Girl Spirit!

So back to race day! The challenge of Eagleman70.3 is the headwinds on the 56 mile bike and the relentless heat on the run. This year was no exception and while no one likes the heat, I really hate it; my body hates it! The forecast for the day was temps in the low 90’s and I was worried if I would “bonk” on the run from the heat, but at the same time I knew this would be a good training race for Kona! The swim went slower for me and probably just about everyone else since we weren’t allowed to wear wetsuits. Once I got on the bike I felt pretty good, and although I was worried about the run I was thinking I might have a chance at one of the Ironman World Championship 70.3 slots.

Visualization is a big part of my triathlon training and life training. When Cathy and I met the night before the race to get our bracelets ready, she asked about my plans to qualify for the IM 70.3 Championship. This sparked a little flame, and I thought “Anything is Possible” so I’ll go for it!

I also had another source of Inspiration to qualify for the IM 70.3 Championship: My most awesome, super triathlete, super training partner, super friend, super nurse, and super person, Julie Caprio, aka FASTGIRL! Julie had already qualified at a previous race and I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity for us to do a World Championship together!

Julie is completely hardcore and when we do training rides together, it’s pretty much all I can do to hang in there. She certainly got me ready for Ironman Arizona last year. I know without our many training rides I would not have been as strong race day, and so she was instrumental in my success at getting a Kona slot along with my many Cancer Warriors!

I believe I was about 45 miles or so into the bike leg of the race when I heard someone from behind shout in utter disgust, “Roseann, what are you doing? You’re not even focused! Pull up on that back pedal stroke!” It was my dear friend Julie, and she was not kidding! So I put it in gear and jumped about 15 beats on my HR monitor for the rest of the ride.

I hit T2 and things were looking pretty good because of Julie’s Inspiration on the bike. So I’m thinking I might have a shot.

I hit the heat of the run and although it was brutal, I knew the most important thing was to stay positive! So while tucking ice under my hat and down my race top at every aid station, I chanted to myself “I feel great, I can do this!”

And so it was with the support of so many (the list of wonderful people in my life who are my Inspiration is just too long for me to put in one race report!) that I’m on my way to the Ironman World Championship 70.3 with FASTGIRL!

The most important part of this journey is the realization that “Anything is Possible” and we are all here to Inspire and support one another through life’s challenges and find JOY along the way!

And never forget you have Super Girl Powers!

Columbia Triathlon Post Race Report

Columbia Triathlon 2010 got off to a very soggy start! I woke up at 4:00 a.m. race morning to the sound of pouring rain. But then I remembered what a wonderful event this is rain or shine! The rain didn’t dampen anyone’s spirit for the race, especially Natasha!

Most of all I was very excited because our honored teammate from the 2009 Columbia triathlon was now our teammate racing on one of our relay teams! Dan Alderman was a cyclist on one of our relay teams and my son, Ben, was also a cyclist for Team Inspiration. Last year Ben rode in honor of Dan who was one of my patients receiving chemotherapy.

Dan is a lacrosse player at McDaniel’s College and Ben played lacrosse at University of Denver. Although they were in touch throughout this past year via Facebook, it wasn’t until the day before the race at packet pickup that they met. It must be their background as team players that they decided to do the race together as teammates rather than as competitors. It was an excellent racing strategy as they both had an awesome race time averaging 18.2 mph!

I was at work the Friday before the race and one of my patients asked if Team Inspiration was going to wear the Livestrong bracelets again for this race. He also knew that Dan was going to be riding in the race and asked if Dan would carry the bracelet with his name.This was an extremely wonderful request that deeply touched all of us  and we decided that each team member would wear a bracelet with the name of a very special Cancer Warrior.

For all of us racing with Team Inspiration, we recognize that we are very fortunate to have this opportunity to be a part of the triathlon community and we are tremendously grateful to be able to share that experience with our Cancer Warrior friends and teammates.   Thank you!