Breast Cancer Awareness Team Daily Rowing Diary

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Have you visited a Breast Cancer related website as a result of reading Brian's diary?

Yes, I have taken the time to become more informed about Breast Cancer thanks to Brian's efforts.
13
68%
No, I have not taken time to become more informed about Breast Cancer inspite of Brian's efforts to encourage me to do so.
6
32%
 
Total votes: 19

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Kristine Strasburger
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Posted by Brian on Sunday, January 27, 2008 at 9:21 PM

Post by Kristine Strasburger » January 28th, 2008, 1:23 am

Day 27...+134,109 to 2,651,592, or 82.34% done. Definitely not enough sleep last night, but I keep waking up before the alarm. The exultation of finishing yet another day is just balanced by the way I feel; I won't write more because I need to still enter these into the log book, and sleep desperately needed as well. Until tomorrow, then...

Posted by Brian on Sunday, January 27, 2008 at 9:21 PM
☆~Kristine~☆

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Posted by Brian on Monday, January 28, 2008 at 9:57 AM

Post by Kristine Strasburger » January 29th, 2008, 12:21 am

With neither foot strapped in, pushing one leg at a time, I managed to grind out hour 3 today--but finding it significantly more difficult than hour 12 yesterday, and having had my pace drop below 2:30/500 for the first time, I've decided to take in a bunch of carbohydrates and hope they digest during a 2 hour nap. +42,208 so far today.

Posted by Brian on Monday, January 28, 2008 at 9:57 AM
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Posted by Brian on Monday, January 28, 2008 at 9:13 PM

Post by Kristine Strasburger » January 29th, 2008, 1:23 am

Day 28...have to keep this short, need all the time I can get now. +119,751 to 2,771,343--or 86.06% completed. Could only force 9 hr 48 min out of my legs today. Unlike most rowers, I estimate that I get about 40-45% of the pull from my upper body--a greater fraction than is usual, but speaks to some weakness in my legs which I imagine I will be correcting this year at some point. 220 hours 48 minutes elapsed time.

Posted by Brian on Monday, January 28, 2008 at 9:13 PM
☆~Kristine~☆

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Nearly there!

Post by Dave_H » January 29th, 2008, 3:53 pm

Hey Brian - you are so close... :o B) :o

(And I know that is so easy for me to say, your remaining 200k is the same as half my monthly total to date :shock: ).

Just know that you have been in our (my family and I, and my work colleague's) thoughts here in Australia - and we wish you nothing but the best for the next couple of days of rowing (and then of course your recovery phase)!
Your efforts are truly motivational and inspirational. :D

Best wishes,
Dave

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Posted by Brian on Tuesday, January 29, 2008 at 8:54 PM

Post by Kristine Strasburger » January 30th, 2008, 1:36 am

Day 29...+143,669 to 2,915,012 in 11 hr 50 min. I thought I would just go until I couldn't go anymore, but it isn't that simple. I figured something would break; something small like a hamstring pull that I'd get over after a while. There is nothing in the way of carbohydrates or sleep or caffeine or adrenalin to explain for me why I can still be sitting there after so many hours. I slept about 4 or 4.5 hours total, I burned at least twice as many calories as I took in, and neither caffeine nor adrenalin last very long. The closer I come to the end, the more often I find myself crying. I was not going to mention this until sometime later--or perhaps not at all--but for one thing. It is that each time it happens to me, as if out of nowhere, a shock goes through my whole body down into my feet and it makes me realize that God is watching after me. It doesn't even happen when I think I'm close to my limit. It happens always at the times when I know I'm holding something back, which is as simple as saying 'when I don't have faith' that things will work out for the best. It should give me faith, I think, and it does. With about 305,000 meters remaining and two days to do it, I might believe that if it's to be, it is to be. Which is simply to say that after coming so far, I imagine if I absolutely HAD to, I could force myself through that much just by not going to sleep anymore until it is over. But I'm a good deal wiser than that now. Now I know that it isn't my will that accomplishes anything, and that no matter how hard we try to do something, we can forget it if we think we'll do it alone. 90.52% done, and somehow doesn't even feel like the halfway point.

Posted by Brian on Tuesday, January 29, 2008 at 8:54 PM
☆~Kristine~☆

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Brian's row

Post by Calamity » January 30th, 2008, 2:08 am

I have emailed concept2 with a suggestion to honor Brian's row and cause. here is:: One of the t-shirts available on cafepress after the row could be a special pink one or a pink JVC logo on a shirt. I suggested they mark these up and donate the extra money to breast cancer research.
Don't know yet if they can/will do this, but hope they do.
Jane

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Posted by james on Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 4:48 AM

Post by Kristine Strasburger » January 30th, 2008, 12:17 pm

Brian,
3,000,000 meters in a month is amazing!
It has raised my awareness of breast cancer.
You have proved you have the will to do anything.
Keep it up with 2 days to go. Then ice those knees and have a well deserved rest.

jim hall
novice rower illinois
jhallil@earthlink.net

Posted by james on Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 4:48 AM
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Posted by Kristine on Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 8:49 AM

Post by Kristine Strasburger » January 30th, 2008, 12:49 pm

Brian,

Thanks for sharing that last post. If you had been trying to achieve some sort of spiritual awareness through this exercise, I doubt that you would have.

Instead, by simply trying to make us all more aware of the suffering of those around us, you have been touched deeply in the spirit, and through your sharing this experience with us, we are all given a chance to see God in a way we might never have considered before.

Life is so much more than what we can see.

Posted by Kristine on Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 8:49 AM
☆~Kristine~☆

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Post by ratherBePaddling » January 31st, 2008, 12:34 am

My mother died of breast cancer.

My sister has survived it, but may have it again.

Tuesday I was away on business and couldn't row, but came back into town to attend visitation for a good friend who died of breast cancer on the weekend. So young, with children, so full of life.

I arrived home at 9 pm and thinking about my friend, rowed a marathon between 9 and midnight. Once I started I couldn't not complete it.

Whatever your final meter count Brian, you will have achieved your goal. We're all much more aware.

Thanks for doing what you are doing.

Larry Skelly
The Eh Team
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Posted by Brian on Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 6:08 PM

Post by Kristine Strasburger » January 31st, 2008, 12:55 am

+73,548 to 2,988,560 No more until tomorrow.

Posted by Brian on Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 6:08 PM
☆~Kristine~☆

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Re: Posted by Brian on Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 6:08 P

Post by Toothdoc » January 31st, 2008, 8:28 pm

Kristine Strasburger wrote:+73,548 to 2,988,560 No more until tomorrow.

Posted by Brian on Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 6:08 PM
Thanks Kristine for keeping us updated on Brian amazing journey. He is truly unbelievable. Did you check the 500k split times he is averaging? I can't do that for a 2k piece. How do you do that for 100,000 meters. (2.22/500m)

toothdoc

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Posted by Brian on Thursday, January 31, 2008 at 4:15 AM

Post by Kristine Strasburger » February 1st, 2008, 10:46 am

It is 4:27 am here, and I find myself awake again. It is in some ways hard for me to believe that I am sitting here flicking at the keys to write this narrative; my fingers at this point can think of better things to do. I write this last log to explain why I stop, although I have not given up in doing so.
There was always another reason for all of this, as I’m sure many of you have figured out, and as I’m sure there always is. Kristine correctly points out that I did not begin with the intention of finding God; it seems He is very difficult to find when you simply go out looking. No, the reasons were a bit more selfish than that. I didn’t go out seeking a record, to win, or even simply to bring much needed publicity to a problem that I know is within us to solve. Why shouldn’t we think so? Smallpox was as big a problem 150 years ago, and now it is all but gone. It is the things we pay attention to—the things we most want done—that eventually get done. Perhaps not in the way we expect, but done nonetheless.
I was dating a woman, and I loved her. Loved her like I could hardly believe was possible, and had a very difficult time describing—especially as she had a particular penchant for chastising me for being what she called, “dramatic.” Maybe I am that, but I’m not going to look the word up in the dictionary and come up with a defensive proof, as I might have in the past. Anyway, you can imagine what bottling myself up did to me. I didn’t understand what was happening at first; I just expressed myself differently—or tried. She told me once never to give her flowers, said she didn’t like flowers. I tried to talk to her, but we never talked about ‘that’ very much. I thought of myself as a fairly competent writer, and so I used that tool whenever I could. I think I got to be a much better writer along the way because of doing so—it is the kind of tool that becomes sharper the more often you use it. I know she read what I wrote to her; I was convinced that she loved me too. But our circumstances were quite different, or maybe it was just that I lacked integrity or something. Just do what you say you’re going to do, Brian. That’s all.
There were many times when I had reason to be proud of how well I restrained myself, despite that I knew I’d never felt like that before. I have felt strongly enough about things to put myself in the hospital three times in the past, and this was different even than those times. But I cracked a few times, and I look back at those times and they are a source of immense disgrace for me, beyond even the fact that I let myself down. I raised my voice at least once to her, and cursed at least half a dozen times when I was in her presence. Those last I had played out in my mind all the way—it wasn’t a matter of simply whether I raised my voice to her, or cursed around her, it was a matter of whether I did so at all. And so I set about the rest of my life becoming a quieter, humbler person. I knew the adage that “the way a man treats his mother he will treat his wife” and the character of my relationship with my mother changed, first somewhat slowly, but then so that she noticed something different about me. After that I thought, “why just my mother?” I reasoned that the way a man could treat anyone is the way he could treat his wife, if sufficiently pressed, and then I looked back at my life with a horror that defies description. I didn’t want to believe that at 36 I don’t have it in me to change anymore. I believe that people can change, and more than that, I believe that when someone feels strongly enough about something, one of three things happens: they change, they crack, or they die. And so then I set about looking at ALL my relationships differently. I went back to a boss who had fired me unjustly and I forgave him. Twice. Actually thanked him on the second occasion, because in some strange way I knew that my life would have turned out wholly different had it not gone down that way. The guy must have had a seriously guilty conscience, because despite being twice my size he looked at me with fear in his eyes and walked me out of the building that second time, vowing to call the police if I came a third time. I honestly feel sorry for him now. The person I hated more than I have ever hated anyone in my life—against whom I made a vow, after leaving there. Where he described me as incompetent, I would succeed. Succeed so much so that I would raise many millions. Enough to buy every parcel of land around his own property, regardless of cost. To erect pig barns all around and make certain that he smelled just the same on the outside as he did on the in. I forgave that man and even thanked him, not only because my life changed in a way that it needed to change at the time, but because if she ever did something to incense me that way, I wanted to have it in me to let it go. God really does look after me; I wouldn’t be able to come up with these sorts of thoughts on my own.
I saw a book in her room once. About an ultramarathoner, a guy who ran 100 mile races, who fell asleep while running before and nearly got hit by a truck. Who ate a whole cheesecake and a pizza while he was running, and ran in temperatures so high that the soles of his sneakers melted off unless he ran directly on the white line on the edge of the highway. I asked her about it, and she expressed some admiration, said that she hoped to do ultramarathons someday. It went out of my mind, and can honestly say it didn’t come into it again until perhaps one third or one half way through this little adventure. That wasn’t what compelled this at all, not consciously. Seeing the book was perhaps a five minute affair, and more than a year ago at that. No, what compelled this was firstly an attempt to be good on my word. In one of those times that I felt I had an overwhelming amount to say to her and not enough time or words to say it, I asked her this question:
“If you were stranded on a desert island, how far do you think I would row to come get you?”
She seemed to think it was a silly question, and responded that she didn’t know. I knew that I would row as far as I had to, but in the back of my mind I had already divided the Pacific Ocean roughly in half and estimated that the furthest point at which such an island could exist from any point of civilization would be about 2000 miles. I simply said, “2000 miles. That’s how far I would row.” Maybe she thought that I wouldn’t go farther, but she didn’t say anything—at least not that I can remember. I don’t even remember that she looked at me, and it seems to me I’d have a hard time forgetting that.
The day I believed she gave up on me, I made a vow to finally become a man of my word. It was sometime in early November this past year, if I remember correctly. I had fallen out of shape, and started making plans for the challenge of the New Year. I always regard the changing of the year as a good opportunity for setting a marker in my life. I trained in December, but not as I would have liked. Managed only about 200,000 meters. But doubt, though it usually crops up in my mind, was nowhere to be found. I beat that thing so severely that he only came back to bother me twice during this whole undertaking, and when that happened, I saw him coming and went promptly to sleep. Nowhere to be found in the morning.
I set this up because I believed I knew what it was to love someone, and I gave it up to the awareness of breast cancer research because breast cancer takes women away from us—women that are in their own ways and for other people like the woman I described is for me. Perhaps my logic is faulty, but it seems to me that any solution that can be found will eventually be found, and it is only a question of prayer and attention that it will be. For cancer research, this is the way I believe it will work out. The more of those things that get devoted to it, the less time it will take. The less time it takes, the fewer loves will be taken away from us. So it was with a great deal of satisfaction that I saw the poll that Kristine had set up, showing 13 people had taken the time to become more informed about the topic because of the effort I put in thus far.
Yesterday, my body would not go anymore. I did not set the alarm last night; I stopped setting it after it became obvious to me that I would get up when I was ready to—which in most cases has been before the alarm anyway. So I slept until I couldn’t sleep, rowed for two hours until my left quad gave me convincing warning it would tear, then got back in bed and started over again. After doing that three times, it came to about 9pm and the power went out of my system. I saw split times drop down into the 8:00/500m range a couple times and fought my way through 40 minutes more until it seemed to me the only option was to recharge again. At 2,988,560 meters, I stopped, logged progress, checked email, and then took a moment to figure out exactly how far the furthest island was from a major shore. It turns out that the most remote island is Bouvet Island, an uninhabited and small Norwegian island in the South Atlantic. Antarctica is apparently about 1600 km away, and civilized land in South Africa, 2600 km eastward.
When I went to church with my mother this weekend, I had every intention of taking time out to meet my father on Wednesday as well. He pumps gas for a couple hours for senior citizens on Wednesdays in Albion. I also planned to meet my brother for dinner sometime this week, as he is moving to Poland, has been packing, and his plane leaves today. As of yesterday, I had been close to my goal; it was within reach. Then yesterday I felt terrible, and a blizzard hit. I was trying to figure out whether God was trying to tell me something. It was easy to think that I should not be driving here; by the end of the day my mother had sent me a message telling me that two of the major routes out of Batavia had both been closed. It was also not hard to believe that this was a challenge for me, perhaps a challenge of my faith. I ran the numbers in my head and thought that if I could pull off 120,000 yesterday, God would see me through the other 185 or 190 today. But I pulled the meekest 73K of my life yesterday. I thought, “Well that’s a recovery day, tomorrow you’ll be good as new.” I checked my voice mail, and was getting ready to soak in the tub, and my phone beeped. After not hearing from her for 2 months, I saw the message was from her. I didn’t open it.
I sat in the tub for a while, then got out, ate, and fell asleep in front of the fire in the living room. When I woke up a little later it was 11:15 and I decided I should go to bed for the night. Five hours later I woke up, feeling no better than yesterday. At 4:07am, I looked at my spreadsheet and saw about 230,000 to go. I divided that by 17, giving me 53 minutes to rest for the day, and figured I needed about 13,600/hour. I went back to my room, turned the light on and put my shorts and t-shirt on though it’s about 60 degrees in here. I was hungry, and it seemed like it was going to be impossible, but I had faith anyway. It seemed to me that if I just did what I felt like I was supposed to do, things would work out fine. I eschewed the usual caffeine and Gatorade, and got out a loaf of bread and some water. I ate a piece of bread and I remember thinking that I only have about half a loaf left, and that it couldn’t be more than about 1000 calories at most. There was water too, and I thought okay, here it goes. On the point of getting on, I thought to myself, “sure, you’ll do an hour, maybe two, and then you’ll be a sweaty mess and won’t be able to go anymore, won’t be able to sleep, and you’ll need a shower on top of everything else.” I thought that and it didn’t matter because I was going to try anyway. Because I knew if it was in God’s plan for me that I would do it anyway. And on the corner of my desk I saw my phone. I took it up, opened the messages, and hers said, “I’m glad” just like I knew it would. I stopped and I won’t start this again until next year.
Thank you for all the support.
Brian

Posted by Brian on Thursday, January 31, 2008 at 4:15 AM
☆~Kristine~☆

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Posted by Brian on Thursday, January 31, 2008 at 4:23 PM

Post by Kristine Strasburger » February 1st, 2008, 10:47 am

Well I walked away from that last post content that I had described things effectively, but now that the day is done, I came back, read it over, and found it was missing what I originally intended to add to the end. An apology for perhaps having disappointed someone, or for appearing to be duplicitous. I hope neither has happened, because today turned out the way I think it was supposed to. More briefly this time:
I got up and walked away, showered and left to meet my parents, grandmother, and then my brother. As it turned out, I had breakfast with my father and then climbed into the backseat of my grandmother’s SUV with my father driving, and we turned away from her driveway. Not 100 yards past it, he spotted a female red bellied woodpecker on the side of the icy road, which had obviously been hit by a car. As it usually happens, he stopped, muttered “damn it” and went to see what its condition was. Very poor, it seemed. But he brought it back to the car, handed it to me, and I held it in my swollen but warm hands to treat it for shock. It had blood at the corner of its beak, one eye completely shut with a droplet of something forming over it, and the other eye mostly shut and rolling up and down at a slow, erratic rate. As it turned out, I held that bird for the next four hours—all the way to the Buffalo airport and then all the way back to the Brockport Animal Hospital (with several stops in between) after an attempt to release it was met with no response. We gave it droplets of water from the tips of fingers though it seemed pretty clear that it would not make it. The veterinarian checked it over for fractures, range of motion in the wings, grip of its claws, and pronounced that it would need a shot of steroids but would likely survive.
When I got back here, as I said, I read over my last post again, and also read an email from someone who said he was eagerly anticipating the click to 3 million. This morning I was content to believe that I hadn’t let myself down, and hadn’t let God down, then I looked toward my family and wanted to be around for them, too. My brother is going to be gone for a long time. When I returned I thought maybe I had let some of you down, and so I got back on the damn thing, comfortable jeans and all, and pulled another 11,441 meters to finish 3,000,001. Now let me summarize what I think of all this, and then go to sleep.
I don’t believe that I could have done what I did without the constant encouragement I received from the people who sent messages, or followed this. I am extremely competitive, often to a fault, but I don’t believe competitiveness alone will get a person to keep going like that. As I pointed out to Greg, it wasn’t even a striving for integrity that provided the incentive. And as he pointed out to me, this was and is a team game. For me that team was a group of people from all sorts of teams and who weren’t on a particular team at all that helped (including my mom and sister who helped with cooking.)
It has changed somewhat over the course of things, but the idea was dedicated to women who have been taken away from us, and who may yet be taken away. We don’t have to let it happen this way; we need to stop looking at things as being impossible, and stop using the word “can’t” so freely and easily.
Lastly I wanted to say that despite that she obviously inspired me, she knows nothing of this and I have no intention of telling her.
Regards,
Brian

Posted by Brian on Thursday, January 31, 2008 at 4:23 PM
☆~Kristine~☆

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Post by PJM » February 1st, 2008, 11:08 am

Awesome post.

PJM
B)
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Posted by Kristine on Friday, February 01, 2008 at 12:20 PM

Post by Kristine Strasburger » February 1st, 2008, 4:24 pm

Brian,

I am glad you got back on, and cranked out those last few meters.

I'm glad you wrote these last two entries, and shared these things with all of us who have been with you for this incredible month.

I'm glad you and your Dad took the time to stop and help a woodpecker, even if only to give him warmth in his struggle against death. Sometimes that is all we can do.

I thought you might like this picture I took on Thursday morning of a pigeon chick working his way out of his shell. His brother hatched the day before. A little blessing from God in the midst of the endless snow we seem to be having.

Image

Posted by Kristine on Friday, February 01, 2008 at 12:20 PM
☆~Kristine~☆

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