Saturday, December 23, 2006

Gear I use and Love

Sometimes I get some emails about what gear I am using and how I am liking it, so I've updated the "Gear I Use" section. There's more to come, I have some Avy gear to write reveiws about and some clothing, but for now, Enjoy!

Skiing Gear:

All Mountain
Elan Magfire 12 07/08 164'm on the Elan Magfire 12 with WaveFlex technology from 07/08, and I LOVE THIS SKI! It's heavy. It's hella heavy, actually, but I like that its a crud buster that way. Wide enough that its not a total torpedo, I hike in the back country with these in places like the Beartooths where you are just shouldering and lapping. Rob Sogard told me, train heavy, don't be a pussy and carry your back country skis if you are out for less than a day. Yes, sir. If I'm bootpacking, it's with my nimble little freight trains.

These skis are incredibly springy, responsive, I have sensation right from the tip, the transmission through the binding is outstanding, the binding is flat, not ramped, so it doesn't screw with my angles at all... I'm in a 164, and when I put them on, it seriously changed my skiing.

People have asked me if its the gear that did it, and my answer is, this is the first time that I'd put on a ski and didn't feel like I had to have a discussion with it. Or an argument. I moved my foot, I felt the tip and tail, the ski did what I was hoping it would do. Because of this, I didn't have to worry so much about my feet and could start focusing more on my other body mechanics, and made some serious movement pattern changes in a relatively short amount of time, which was awesome.

This is the ski that made me want to ride for Elan forever.

Elan SLX 164
Elan GSX 175

I'm really really new to racing, and these are the WC stock skis, so... hang on to your hats. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to bend or drive them, but they feel just as amazingly integrated to my body as the Magfires do. I demo'd a LOT of skis before going with Elan, and I have to say, I am a fan of the wave flex, I believe that it absorbs some of the leg numbing, muscle tiring vibration without reducing, and maybe even enhancing, your extended sensory perception of the snow you are coming up on.

Quick, nimble, strong, and easy to talk to. These skis tell you what you want. But its easy to give it to them, and the reward you well when you do it.

Alpine Boots
Dalbello Proton 12 Carbon

I was worried that this might be too stiff of a boot for me, and Brent, when he worked on them, did some magic to increase the flex a bit, but I have to say, I LIKE being in a higher performance boot. I have messed up feet so boot fitting was essential to me, but the sensitivity that I get not JUST in the bottom of my foot, but all around, combined with a stiffer flex was just amazing. I was comfortable and happy, but really felt able to put myself in a gas pedal position on the groomer and move through it, as well as lighten up in the skied out crud. I love this boot. And, you know, it's orange. I'd ski em if they were ugly as sin, but these are hot.

Protective Gear
Teaching Helmet: POC Synapsis

I love this helmet because it is so light weight, I forget I am wearing it. I can fit a skull cap under it for those -22 days, it has a visor for sun and snow, which really helps, (although I have to perch my goggles on the visor when I'm not wearing them, which I'm not crazy about), but best of all, I CAN HEAR OUT OF IT!

POC does an incredible job with their R&D, really exploring impact and crumple, focusing their energy on having their gear absorb the impact so your body doesn't have to. I wouldn't ride in anything else.

Freeride Helmet: Skull X with Downhill Faceguard

Yeah, its a bit unorthodox, but this is the helmet that keeps the downhillers alive when they wreck, and although full face is controversial due to neck snap issues, I knocked myself out with a "glass chin" fall last year. This helmet is warm, breathes and will keep my brain in one piece. Which I'm grateful for since I just suffered a traumatic brain injury in my car. This is my helmet for off the ridge, this is the helmet I will take to Alison Gannet's Rippin' Chix camp.

Body Armor Jacket

Why the heck does lil ole Kate Howe need Body Armor? Because I want to make it to my tryout, and I wreck a lot! I'm trying to compress about 20 years of skiing experience in to 5. I end up on my face. I've seperated both shoulders, and messed up my spine in a car wreck this fall, not to mention old figure skating injuruies that make me feel like I'm 90. The armadillo like plating on the back protector is awesome, it bends both ways, the construction "heavy lifting" type belt reminds me to pull my navel towards my spine, promoting good skiing posture, and I feel better about my next big wreck.

I usually just take the spine protector off and wear that, but in my first two days in camp, I had the whole thing on under my speed suit, and I was happy about that when I wrecked on aforementioned shoulder! Didn't hurt at all. Also def. wearing this on days when I'm learning to do drops or other. Plan to spend a LOT more time in the air and on steeper terrain and in gnarly bumps this year, must bring my skiing up, so I am happy to be well padded! I just found out that there is now a cervical spine protector that snaps on to this, so I am excited to protect my bulging cervical discs with this new feature!

POC Palm Comp

This is a great glove, I've tried a bunch, my fingers just weren't warm enough in Hestras, and I've always had to ski in mittens. Not only are these gloves VERY warm, I was able to ski gates in them without any pole guards! Well padded, well designed for easy on/off but still a nice, snug fit.

POC Print

EXCELLENT Spring Skiing glove, this has also become my glove of choice for shoveling out my car when it dumps. Just warm enough, sensitive enough to drive with, snug at the cuff... I'm a person who hates wearing gloves to do things like buckle boots, or any other tactile job. I like to feel what I'm doing. These gloves get it done for me.

Black Diamond Mercury Mit

I haven't tried the POC version of the Comp Mitten yet, but on really cold days, this is what I'm in. Very warm high cuffed, easy on and of, great suede thumb for snot soaker, these are pretty terrific mits, thin enough that I can feel my poles when its -25 here in Montana, thick enough that with hand warmers, I don't need undergloves.

POC Lobes

I've gone through a ton of goggles in the last three years with several complaints: face fit, field of vision, icing, helmet compatibility, range of lens use... Here are my all time favorite goggles ever! Huge field of vision, great fit (for LOTS of people who have tried them on), no icing issue... plus, you look like you are ready to be shot into space when you wear them!

Iris Comp

And here is the high performance Goggle of doom: All-weather goggles with double lenses for those who demand good vision and durability in all situations. In principle, Iris X will never steam up, even with major changes in air humidity and temperature. Available in white, black, brown or orange. There is also a smaller size for smaller faces. Identical to the standard Iris X. Its true. I had a major icing/steaming issue with my balaclava and neck gator today, because of the frostbite concern, switched to these goggles and saw clearly all day.

Speed Suit

Here is the beauty of this suit. It fits perfectly. Its padded. Its thick and warm. It comes in bright blue, which I was too chicken to get. And I regret it. I love this thing, it feels great, doesn't bind or ride, stays right where you put it, supports you protects you... And, in Ethan's words... it makes me look like the white Power Ranger! Which ROCKS!

Back Country

K2 Shucksan

My back country set up is amazing. I have K2 Shuksans (2006) at a length of 170. They are incredibly light and nimble, a very forgiving ski. The only conditions they don’t love are frozen crud, as they tend to skidder rather than want to bite. This also may have something to do with the fact that the conditions I don’t love are frozen crud, but it can’t be me… let’s blame it on the gear. These skis can float in powder, skim through crud, and even carve. I love 'em, and they let me cheat, which ain't bad, either.

Garmont Mega Ride

My boots are Garmont MegaRide (26.5 mondo, but I think I will get my next boot in a 25.5) These things are awesome, high, light, soft to walk in, rubber soles … amazing. They packed out pretty severely, and I’ll have Jay re-fit them soon, as they have 4 or 5 remolds. The flex is pretty severe, buckled as tight as I can get ‘em, and not on walk mode, I can flex them almost to the furthest extent I can flex my ankle! This is one of the reasons I am going to move my buckles back a bit and refit my liners to see if we can stiffen them up a bit.

Dynafit Binding

My bindings are the Dynafit bindings, which are super light weight. The DIN goes to 10, and I had them at 6.5 all season. I recently started stepping out of them while pushing hard on my skis, so Jay at Barrel cleaned them and upped the DIN. The bindings are great, I am riding them a bit hard for what they are meant for. They need to be hosed out after every spring ski trip!!

Everyone asks me about these bindings because they are so odd looking, and I have begun to think about what Josh said when he saw them: "Cool, but if I am 3 days out... can I fix them if they break?" Hmmm... The answer, after asking people who have had them for a few years is... take good care of them so you don't HAVE to fix them in the back country. The little plastic piece where you insert your pole to change the riser position is GOING to break. No matter how careful you are. I wish they were an ounce heavier and made of metal.

The package overall is unbelievable for the back country, it weighs nearly NOTHING, but I taught in this set up all season, and the loss of energy transfer due to the hyper flex, and the light tiny bindings on the noodle skis is starting to show in my ski performance in the resort.

Still To Come;
Ortovox Avi Beacon
Avi Probe
Black Diamond Quick Shovel
Black Diamond Covert Avalung
Osprey Spring pack
Black Diamond Guide Skins

Training Gear

Hydration Systems: CamelBak Bottle, CamelBak Isis

So, I love this bottle. And its not just because it has the world's greatest motto on it, "Hydrate or Die!", but it is easy for me to drink a gallon of water a day.

A couple of years ago, Tom and I took the WFR, which was an amazing experience in and of itself, but one of the biggest things i took away from it is how many maladies are just directly related to poor hydration.

Unless your pee is CLEAR, ODORLESS and COPIOUS, you are dehydrated! Holy CRAP! Thats 90% of us. Headaches, clumsiness, heat stroke, malaise, poor performance, depression (yes, really, actual clinical DEPRESSION is affected by how much water you drink!) and on and on... My beautiful little nurse friend, Virginia, put it this way:

Imagine your vascular system is a set of pipes that can constrict. Now, dehydrate your blood a bit, so it is like sludge. To keep pressure in the system to push the sludge, the pipes have to constrict, because sludge doesn't flow as well. Now, you have a headache. So you drink some caffeine, which is a vaso dilator. Now you feel better, but in about a half an hour, you feel jittery and woozy. That's because there isn't enough pressure in the system. So your pipes constrict, or you go lay down. And then drink more caffeine. Are you sensing a pattern here?

One of the BIGGEST issues is with winter athletes, because we don't recognize that we are loosing and using fluids when we are cold. But you have to drink just as much!! This year, I am going to buy a Camelbak Sno Angel
to go under my instructor jacket. I wish I had a picture, but I wore my Isis pack on the outside of my jacket for the first month or so before Kurt had to pull me aside and tell me "you know, Kate, this isn't really... uniform." I argued it with him. It matches. It is Bridger Bowls' Colors! No dice.

So anyway, I use this great bottle, I actually have five of them, (so my kids each have their own, and I have two with me, one always has SOMETHING in it.) I fill it with ice, it has a straw, so I can sip without opening it or spilling it. I am sad to find out that the plastic has been discovered to leach into the water, which can be very dangerous! I hope that CamelBak comes up with a stainless Steel bottle, because there are few brands I am super loyal to, but CamelBak is one of them.

My Isis is an amazing thing, it is a women's fit backpack that has a 100ml capacity, and straps down tight, so I can carry enough stuff for a 26 mile hike, (rain jacket, emergency blanket, first aid kit, water filter, map, food for two days, sun screen, bug spray... hat, sunglasses, athletic tape, my wildflower book... yeah, its a lot!) and then I can strap it down tight and actually RUN with it. It's the best CamelBak I've ever had, and I've had several.

Haflinger Wool Slippers

Ahhhhh... okay, so when I get home, I put on my very favorite slippers ever. Trust me, I have tried EVERY freakin' slipper out there. I am all about warm, soft, and barefoot.

Huzzah to Haflinger! At $60/pop they are definitely the MOST expensive slippers I've ever owned. But BUT BUT!! They are super soft, warm, dry, and DON'T STINK when you wear them barefoot all day!

Made of thick, non-itchy boiled wool, it's like walking around with someone hugging your feet all day. As you can tell, I've had mine for a year (I told you I was hard on shoes) and they've very accommodatingly worn holes in the toes where my poor big toes need to breathe.

FYI: my sister has the same slippers, and hers don't have holes, that's just me and my gnarly feet.

Training Gear:

Solomon XA Pro 3D XCR trail running shoe

These are my Solomon XA Pro 3D XCRs from last season.

About $90, things I love: super light weight, fast drying, quick on and off, nice closure, cushy footbed.

Not so psyched: The sole lasted longer than the shoe for me! The shoe offered great support for the first month, and then began stretching out quite quickly. Now, when I close it up, I have to tuck the laces in because I have to crank down the shoe so much!

A fun shoe, great to run in, but if you are a serious hiker logging lots and lots of miles, buy two pair, or three, they won't last a whole season. (Well, the sole and footbed will, but the support just won't.) I'll probably give these one more try and see how this season's stacks up.

The North Face Gore Tex XCR Trail Running Shoe

Okay, it's that season of the year when shoes become really really important. These are my North Face Gore Tex XCR's from last season. At about $110, they are a bit pricey, but well worth the dough!

Now, a caveat here: I am really freakin' hard on shoes. They have that new shoe feeling for me for about a month, and then most shoes are all compacted, broken down and just useless to me. I am also really REALLY picky about fit and comfort because I have chronic frost bite on both my big toes, whose toenails are always on the verge of coming off... so I'm hard to please.

And I have to say that TNF did it. They made my feet happy for almost 6 months before they started breaking down. These suckers are almost still goin' strong a full year and a half later! I think they have about 600 miles on them at this point, and the sole is finally coming off the last. I can also feel rocks through the compacted foot bed. BUT! They are STILL stable! Yes, indeed, they have softened quite a bit, but out of the hundreds of pairs of shoes I have run into an early grave, this sucker could take a re-soleing and probably last the summer.

They are a bit heavier than most would think they want (just over 1 lb), but again, I've worn lots of them, and heavier seems to equal bomber in this case. When they are dead, I am going to replace them with another pair by TNF, you can count on that!!

Now, let's test their customer service: I'm sending them in to see if they will fix the sole. Stay tuned!

Nike Triax Elite HRM/SDM

Crap. Crap and double crap. I have had this $275 heart rate monitor for a year. The SDM (speed and distance monitor) only works accurately on a 100m track. So, not so much with the hiking.

The watch has a little guy on a bike on it, but there is no way to use the watch on your bike. I called Nike, they said, Yeah, we wanted it to work on a bike, but we couldn't make it happen. The newer watches don't have that little bike icon. Fabulous. So much for the TRIAX (triathlon?) training tool.

It works in the pool but I have to strap my watch to my bathing suit on the shoulder or it won't read.

The data is amazing and interesting, but only when it works, isn't corrupted or lost.

I have emailed and called Nike numerous times, and have never heard back from them.

Long story short. Don't buy a Nike heart rate monitor. It breaks my heart to say it, I want the new Nike Ipod+, but with the customer service (or total dearth thereov), I wouldn't dare spend a dime, because I know if something goes wrong, Nike's response is gonna be... Tough sh*t.

So, I'm in the market! Anyone have a HR monitor that does SDM, Pool, Vertical Feet, Total Calories, Tracks HR in and out of zone, and downloads info to your computer so you can analyze your data? Post a comment here and let me know!!

Update: Nike answered, and asked what they could do. I asked for my money back. I haven't heard back yet. On the plus side, I decided to buy a Suunto T6 with a GPS SDM! Josh Foster's recommendation. Thanks, Josh, good idea! If Nike ever sends me my money back, that's where its goin'!

Performance or Race Base Layer:

Wool Base Layer
Down Sweater (!!)

Mid Layers:
Mountain hardware
Smart Wool

Boot Heaters:
Thermic Systems

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Bio Mechanics Blog

Tuesday Dec 16, 2008
Doing a better job with my left QL, but hate being sedentary. Feel like I'm eating a lot today, but I'm hungry. Haven't been outside in three days and feel like I'm climbing the walls. Back feels better sitting in my yellow chair in front of the fire, but probably due to elaborate pillow system and giant ice pack I sit on. Am certainly sitting in a big, relaxed C, with my sits bones close to the front of the chair, and my spine curled. Been tired tired tired for the last three days, think I've got Bodhi's cold. Just want to get out and climb up something steep.

Monday, Dec 15, 2008
Wrecked tired today, can't seem to get my posture back. Spent some time on the balance ball today, notice that my tendency is to pooch my butt out and be long legged, I need to lower my center of gravity, relax my shoulders, and let the ball roll, just like slack lining, the item I'm standing on is going to move. I need to let it do so in order to reduce the movement. I love that acceptance and mindfulness of the object behaving as the object will allows the movement to calm down and my mind to step out of the way of my body, so i am just observing myself on the ball or board or line.

Sunday, Dec 14, 2008
-22 degrees and the snow was KILLER. Only five runs on some screamin groomers, trying to be mindful of a strong inside half, moving my inside hip forward while keeping my head from rising as I shift weight from turn to turn, feels good. Alex mentioned that I'm not moving across my platform as aggressively as I could, and I'm not surprised, after booting out so many times the other day, I do feel myself holding back. Changed feet into GS skis to see if a change of sidecut would be distracting enough to force me to focus on the subtle core movement, and it worked, femurs rotated into the turn, met the critical edge angle, but I'm still static at the bottom of the turn. Got em up on edge much further than before, but these were BIG turns, so had to be super mindful of my center of mass traveling through the arc described by my feet, while keeping pressure on the outside ski. Managed not to lighten and diverge, was very mindful of the chair exercise I'd done with Megan. I'm happy with my carving skills, need to get them in front of an examiner and see what they say.

Keeping my belly button pulled up to my spine and my shoulders slightly rounded is so hard for me, but I notice that when I have the core functioning like that, I can hit any compression and I feel stable. It also keeps my tail bone tucked, which limits lateral range of motion in a way that I like a lot, I feel much more stable on my outside edge of my inside ski in the bottom third of the turn, where forces are accelerating. Must school left hand not to drop down and back, it unwinds all that functional core tension!

Saturday, Dec 13, 2008
Drove from home to Bridger to Big Sky today, and noticed several times in the car that I'm going that thing with my chin and my left QL again, not good. When I'm in the car, my pelvis tips to the right and my left QL is tight almost the whole time. My chin juts up and forward, I have foreword head posture, but in a slumpy, weird, pointed up way. Put a pillow in my chair, and try to pull my head back and down and actively relax that QL. No skiing today, pulled people out of the ditch (using legs, not back), and did a 360 and ended up in one myself. Ran around in the snow in my high heels that night, then had a MONSTER boot-fitting session from 8:30 to 1:45 am! Awesome to find out that my posture in my boots is MUCH better, I'm not reefing off my skeleton any more, not too much forward lean, so that's a big improvement. Discovered I needed canting on my right boot, to the outside, which I thought I needed last year, but there were so many other issues, we weren't sure. Got em' dialed this year, standing solid, pelvis is moving forward with body mass on rocker board rather than dropping down when I move forward, core is automatically pulling into proper position when standing in boots, YEAH! Belly Button UP!

Friday, Dec 12, 2008
School today, have a really hard time sitting in these chairs because my neck hurts so much all the time. Trying to stay off the pain killers so that I can feel my body and make sure that it is safe for me to ski. Focus consistently on health and training so I can be a massage therapist and a pro skier. Every day, all day, what does it take to stay connected to my kids, love and nurture them, play with them, make my body strong, fit, balanced, and ready for both massage and skiing. Every day, all day. Focus focus focus. My back hurts a lot today. Was going to go up to Bridger and get runs in the afternoon, but need to go to Dr.s Appts that I missed while I was at the world cup. Haven't done any PT at all in three weeks, resorted to meds, stretching, ice. Not good.

Thursday, Dec 11, 2008
OPENING DAY AT BRIDGER BOWL! Yeah, yeah yeah HECK YA! The snow was manky and thick, like setting up cream cheese, and I was on my Magfires, which I'd tuned the HECK out of, so we were sharp as all get out, which is good because it was fairly chilly and had frozen the night before. It's amazing, the snow was so different than Big Sky the day or two before, so different than the wet, low angle pow that we skied on Ajax in Co, and SO different than the iced up steep WC course I'd been on, and SO different than the glacier in Hood in August, I guess I've been pushing really really hard on my skis, which is fun, I like bending them, I love the rebound and the power and how much you have to focus on flexing and extending so you don't park and ride around the turn as your core travels down hill, just ahead of your tiba, but not too much... So I'm out there in the mank and I just got SPANKED.

I booted out right under the chairlift on Deer Park about four turns into it, they felt good, and I was super surprised. What is going on? I haven't had a massive wreck like that since JUNE! I was fine on the groomers, proud of the carving, skis were bending, there was one pitch on Deer Park where I let my mind dictate where my core went rather than crossing my platform with patient authority, thus tails broke loose and the turn was big, and of course, i gained speed... reducing turn radius at high speed is scary, and i need to work on it, its an essential task for tryouts.

landed on my face several times today, super contra indicated for the condition my neck is in right now. Finally FINALLY figured it out, after changing ski partners and skiing several different aspects, I booted out Three times on the same side... checked the forward pressure on my skis, of course, it was NOT that, it was operator error. So. On my turn to the right, when I am Left foot dominant, I am clicking out and am skiing away on my inside ski. What does this tell us, Kate? I am crossing the platform too fast, I am not pressuring the outside ski, and the move is too big and i'm pushing too hard. I wasn't listening to the snow. My forces alignment aspect of critical edge angle were off because I was juiced and psyched and trying to work the ski too hard rather than listening to the snow. What does it need?

Soften. More two footedness. The move was right, but too fast, I am playing too hard, not listening, the vibration comes up from the ski tip and warns you, even when you are shin deep in mank and having to twist hard to steer, you must cross over at the right time, not just jump and whack to the inside like you own it. Got afraid to get ahead on the ski, and started letting my left hand go back and unwind me, lost my strong inside half.

SO. Light. Patient. Strong steering, but slow across the platform. Listen. tight core! ESSENTIALLY tight core, functional tension, allowing flexibility and adaptive balance. School the arms, so you can move forward, the pole swing draws you into the next turn. All the moves are right, but you have to LISTEN to the snow. Had much better rest of the day, skied well, felt solid and happy, and light and free!

Wiped out, but had massage and energy work to do tonight. The massage went well, had to really focus on moving from my core, the energy work was better, but I tend to bend forward in my upper spine.

Wednesday, Dec 10, 2008
Body Awareness in school today! Funny that I can ski all day and my neck and back don't hurt at all, but veil dance for a half an hour and i feel like someone hit me in the back of the neck with a tire iron. Must go after class and refill painkillers. Someone took my ice out of the school freezer, that sucks. I love the challenge of choreography, that's something I really miss from skating, I really love to see just how fast I can get my body to effectively learn a new movement pattern, and how long it takes for mastery. The problem is, sometimes I don't listen to my injuries while I am doing that, so i suffered today. Sitting in the chair, I was definitely aware of my spine's proclivity to collapse and slump forward. My erectors get so tight when I sit straight, but I feel comfortable with my feet straight and my knees at 90, that's ski training. I did manage to spend two years schooling my feet into the right position, and its pretty anatomically friendly for massage, luckily!!

Tuesday, Dec 9, 2008
Skied Big Sky today with Chris Jones, an examiner in our division. The snow was firm but not death cookie firm, the turkey traverse in the bowl was GNARLY and I haven't been on anything like that since last winter! One of the things I love about being in Montana and skiing with people who have skied forever is that the warm up run is, you know, in the steep bowl off the double black diamond traverse. Oh, well, I've skied it before, I know I can do it, but CRIPES, there were big drops in the traverse, and rocks, have to ski part of it on one ski, have to get some speed on it, because it goes up hill a bit... wow. Well, it was a good balance check, that's for sure. Thought a lot about getting tips to point back down, plantar flexion as my tips went off the snow, dorsi as it met resistance, through the knees, but functionally tight core to absorb impact without folding at the waist. I've never wrecked on the traverse (knock wood) but it would HURT and SUCK, so I feel like my mind is as wide open as it can be, I am trying to take in every single bit of sensory I can to make decisions a split moment ahead... the light was flat, the pitch was steep as all get out (okay, its not the steepest thing either Bridger or Big Sky has to offer, but its steeper than anything I've been on since June).

I forgot how much I LOVE steep skiing, and the snow was friendly, I could really push in small turns, there were some small bumps, no huge moguls, and I was thinking as i watched Jones just dance down them, okay, reach into the trough, extend into the trough, open into the trough, belly button, hands, reach into the trough... my body was crossing over well, I was moving into the next turn just fine... but I was moving slow, and that's okay. I had to actively let go of my desire to rip it fast on Jones's tail, because I'm hurt right now, and its okay to ease into it. I listened to the snow and felt good, prepared... we did three runs, and they were all excellent, the last one we crossed under the chair and got a beauty little stiff pow shot, which was fun, I opened them up a bit, felt the bounce, but worked the ski more than I had to, ah well.

Ran down Mr. K after, and really wanted to work the carving drill that Megan had given me now that I have a better understanding of critical edge angle thanks to Kurt and Mr. LeMaster himself (and his book!), and the angle was such that I was able to play with it at all different pitches, listening for over angulation and milking the turn. I showed Jones the chair exercise from the US ski team, which is essentially keys for a strong inside half, but which makes the transition portion of the turn much more seamless, and we worked it on a folding chair for a while.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Breast Cancer Journal - Photos of radiation and effects

Kate's Breast Cancer Journal 
(DCIS with lumpectomy and radiation)

I started taking photos because I was having a hard time finding things that could tell me what I was in for on this journey on line. The pictures were scary, I didn't want a mastectomy, I didn't want to lose my breasts as a sexual organ, i didn't want to be in crisis, I wanted to make good decisions, and I needed more info. Turned out it was good I was documenting, as I have some unusual adverse reactions and luckily some very talented doctors who are checking out the situation. 

Donate funds to Kate's cancer treatment or just say hi, how ya doin' right here:

(right) Before lumpectomy and 3 radiation treatments. Lumpectomy removed about 4 cubic cms of tissue. Breast was SMALLER than this after lumpectomy.  (left:) after 3 radiation treatments. Instagram removed this post for violating their terms of service. Because cancer is so titillating. Wait. I mean boobilicious. 

I’m a healthy, active ski instructor, yoga instructor and bodyworker. I have a good diet and am quite fit. I am sensitive to most drugs and have many drug allergies. I ski all day about 170 days a year, both up and down hill, and practice about 3 hours of yoga daily, which I modify depending on my health and intensity of the season.

Early December 2017: Abnormal mammogram, diagnostic mammogram

Dec 19: Ultrasound assisted vacuum Biopsy confirms cancer Low nuclear grade DCIS.

Dec 21: Back to yoga with breast binding and 2 sports bras, slow practice. Small amount of leakage around nipple incision under steri strips. go to ER after class just to make sure, they think it looks ok.

Dec 25 - 31: Back on snow, 2 sports bras, private booking.

Dec 26: Fall while skiing on right breast on firm snow at moderate speed. Arm up, full brunt to right breast (of course)

Dec 28: Breast MRI, no further cancer detected

Jan 1-6: ski trip to Chatter Creek with guests

Jan 9, 2018: Met with team at Shaw Cancer Center

Jan 17 - 19: : exams for PSIA on snow

Jan 22 (aprox) genetic testing comes back negative for all 28 genes

Jan 27 - Feb 4 ski camp and private clients on snow

Feb 5 - pre op

Feb 6: Mag Seed Placed

Feb 7: Lumpectomy: surgery goes well, no surprises, no complications

Feb 10: (aprox) pathology comes back, it is cancerous, it is not aggressive, it hasn’t left the duct, no lymph involvement. Margins are clean, except anterior margin is only 1mm and due to proximity to skin surface. 5 weeks of daily radiation (except weekends) prescribed.

Feb 19: Evening ski in some good pow finally!

Feb 20: CT scan and cradle build at Shaw Wanna see a video of the radiation machine? It's pretty awesome: it's on my Insta.

Feb 24: back on snow: exam training for candidate

Feb 26: Three steroidal facet injections for pain in back and hip because of compromised discs in L2/3/4, flying in the morning.

Feb 27 - March 12: fly to eruope, ski camp for clients. Breast still tender, sore, painful and some swelling from lumpectomy but energy is good. 

March 12: fly home. big trip, hard work, almost miss seeing my kids. stressed to see them.

March 13: Drive to shaw, first set up for radiation, no beam today, 3 hour yoga practice resumes. Fondue indulgence regrets visit momentarily. (this photo is before radiation)

March 14: Radiation Begins, 3 hour practice after class. Breast is tender, red, I use the cream for burns they give me. I’m a little nauseous and a little tired, but not too bad. I assume I should be burned, tired and nauseous as I've heard this can happen and I'm Side Effect Girl. Plus, I assume this is why they have me staying at Jack's place and gave me the cream.

March 15: Feel good in the morning, 3 hour practice, radiation. Breast is sore, red, nipple is angry, swelling increases, I’m nauseous and tired. Throat begins to feel tight and like its constricting, but not sore like sick. Upper chest feels heavy, constricted. I ask again about practice, should be ok. Wonder later in the evening if I should go to ER. 

March 16: Feel good in the morning (but sleeping 10 hours a night, can not stomach sleep because of pain in breast. Pain spreads to right armpit. 3 hour practice, radiation after, no chest or throat issues. Super tired right after, sore, swollen, painful to wear bra. I drive home as it’s Friday. 2 1/2 hour drive back home. By the time I’m home, I’m exhausted and nauseous. I call my cancer buddy. He thinks I might have a cold and it probably doesn’t have anything to do with radiation because I’ve only had 3 treatments. (And people don't get sick like this from radiation this fast, and half my group was sick in Switzerland).

March 17: 90 minute practice, completely ass kicked after. Tired, cranky, in pain, swollen, hot/cold, armpit hurts, red sunburn feeling on nipple and breast. Continue using cream. Rest on couch for the rest of the day. Rally for dinner with clients. Feels good to connect, but exhausted. 

March 18: OK in the morning but not awesome. Leave practice after 45 minutes, dizzy, nauseous. Spend a half hour crying in the shower at the studio, feel much better after. I figure it’s the radiation load after 3 treatments, I have read you can get a sunburn and feel tired. Did not realize this was after 6 weeks of treatment, not immediately. On the couch all day, chest and neck kicking in again, hot/cold.

March 19: Good in the morning, assuming radiation load is easing. 3 hour practice, much more strong, present, happy. Breast still swollen, sore, angry. Armpit hurts. Nipple hurts, sports bra hurts. Drive back to Shaw for resumption of treatment.

Mention to radiation tech that my breast hurts and is red. She looks at it and suspends tx, asks me to see Radiation Oncologist first. Oncologist comes in, is alarmed. Clear delineated line of radiation field worries her. Color of nipple and amount of swelling is not good. No radiation today, come back in the morning to meet wth surgeon and oncologist again. Throat and neck and chest v. bad this evening. Still feeling nauseous and tired in evening. Rally for dinner by myself, bed early. 10 hours of painful sleep. Wonder about going to ER. Wonder if I am going septic. Hot and cold chills. 

March 20: No practice. Met with Radiation Oncologist and surgeon. Both are alarmed with color, swelling, symptoms. Bugs don't draw straight lines, so I have radiation field burns. But all the other symptoms say infection.  Ultrasound guided biopsy to draw off fluid. 6cc s of dark yellow but clear fluid pulled off, bringing swelling down. Breast V. painful, as is whole area. Hot/cold continues. They send me home to Aspen on oral Keflex and wait for lab results, suspend radiation treatment.

March 20, I drive home after meeting with docs, and rest. Throat and chest become concerning. by 6 pm, Radiation oncologist calls to check on me and sends me to the ER due to breathing. Suspend oral Keflex, IV antibiotics every 12 hours, oral steroid every 12 hours. X rays of neck and chest soft tissue show no constriction. Episode of constriction occurs while with ER doc, she gives me valium for it thinking muscle spasm, after about an hour it chills out. Discharge with IV in arm and go home for sleep.

March 21, wake up feeing better after 12 hours of sleep, go to ER, get IV antibiotics and oral steroid. Head home, no practice of course because of recent draw off of fluid. Hydrating and resting. Some but not all labs come back, high white blood cells in fluid, but not too high. (went from 9 to 13) Waiting for further analysis. Start to feel like crap again around 3. Nauseous by 4. Throat and chest begin around 5 big time. Actually looking forward to going in for next dose of antibiotics. Breast still hurts esp lateral side and armpit, but is not as painful or hot to the touch. Redness from radiation diminishing. Feel fluish.

Went into ER at 8, IV antibiotics, oral steroid, torodol, valium. Flushed, fever. 99.4 (my temp is 97.4 normally so that's high for me) flushed in face and neck. Discharged with big improvement in pain and swelling. Slept 12 hours

March 22, wake up feeling really good. Breast still hurts but not as much, radiation mark going down, armpit hurts but not too much. Throat tight but not as bad. Still flushed. Moved onto oral antibiotics, continuing oral steroid. Nothing topical to be applied at all. Spoke to my Radiation Oncologist, who took my case to the RO board yesterday, I will go in and see her at Shaw tomorrow for re-eval. Tom and I go out to the movies and dinner and it feels good to get out. Edible weed for nausea, 10 mg valium for chest and throat after 3. Start to go downhill at 3pm, feel horrible by 5, take meds, feel better.

March 23, wake up feeling much better, pain reduced in breast all over, nipple still very sore, medial lower breast painful, armpit less painful, chest, throat and cheeks flushing, throat and chest tight but not as bad. Swelling reducing. Continuing oral antibiotics and steroid. Headed over to Shaw for check up.

Right now, I'm on BIG rest for a week (not quite bed rest but UUUGH), and we will watch and see. Seems to be trending in the right direction. Once it clears up in a week or two, we will start radiation again and see how I react to it with a close watch.

Depending on that outcome, we will make a plan.

March 23, visit with Docs in Shaw. They are happy with progress. Considering Radiation Recall as a possible reason for reaction. Cleared to do yoga but not to ski (no falling). Felt good all day, moved out of Jack's place (lost my studio wahhhh), started to feel nauseous, throat, chest, sore breast around 3 pm

March 24 woke up feeling great. Home full primary practice, felt really good.  Throat and chest feeling tight and icky after practice. Dizzy and nauseous at 2pm. Walked around ranch looking for studio space, back on the couch, thank god for the Red Sox. Medicated for the rest of the day on the couch, tight sore throat, breathing, fatigue, big nausea.

March 25: woke up feeling throat choked. wondered if moist heat would help. Went to studio with plan to sit in the back of the room and just breathe and journal. Started the standing series, immediately sat down as i became dizzy and throat choked. Left class, showered, straight to the ER. They checked me for clotting (after five sticks ow), and found me positive. CT scan for chest and throat. Nothing clotting coming toward brain, lung or heart. Extreme pain in neck, radiating down left shoulder under collar bone, felt like I'd been punched in the throat on the left side. Scary. Ruled out Lumier's disease. Kept me on saline, steroid, and pain killers. Discharged me without a clue, but at least not in imminent danger of croaking.

March 26: long night of waking up to take antibiotics and new medpack oral steroid. slept in. Spent the morning unhappy and in pain neck and chest, like I'd been strangled the day before. Pain moving to right side. Did nothing, slept, realized I needed help with the boys who are wasting their lives on the computer while I sit on the couch trying not to complain. Ate my weight in sugar. (By the way, sugar is not good for cancer). Natasha came over and made me laugh, fell asleep in the arms of help and compassion watching Netflix, tomorrow is another day, in for another long night of alarms for meds. Hope I don't clot in the night for some reason. Emailed my friends to ask for help with boys, not sure what they will come up with, but i feel like a bad mom at the moment.

March 27: Woke up at 7 feeling rested and strong in spite of taking meds all night (steroid, antibiotic, steroid, antibiotic...) took myself into class, enjoyed a modified 90 minutes of bliss, rolled out of there, downed my water jug, took myself home, and with tom's encouragement, looked at the clock. I had two hours before I knew i'd start feeling crappy. The boys and I rearranged a corner of the living room so TOMORROW when I feel good, I can keep working on some of the integrated story telling projects I started while I was at shaw. Got it almost done before  time to surrender to the couch. Valium at 3 pm, no weed for nausea, it made me crave Jenny's chocolate graham cracker coconut evilness too much. Throat constricted, chest sore, breast sore lateral lower and nipple, but feel pretty good considering.  Liat will arrive tomorrow, making our tiny house even tinier, but thank god she will take them outside. On the couch ass kicked but ok from 3-8, chest and neck relived by valium. Still on oral antibiotics and tapering off steroids. Still sleeping in a sports bra, trying to keep that lumpectomy site together so no more fluid pools in it. Nipple sore, outer lower breast sore at bed.

March 28: Woke up tired but healthy feeling, I think waking up to take the antibiotics has been a bit disruptive but ok. Hauled my ass out of bed at 8:31 and was in the car at 8:33. I was late to class but it was  SO worth it. I never know if I will sit in the back and watch, practice a bit and leave early, modify a longer practice to be super gentle, just join the class, or get after it. I can never really tell that when I'm healthy either, I just have to show up on my mat with no expectations and see what happens. Most of the time its the opposite of what I expect, so I just finally stopped guessing. Today was amazing. Natasha taught a beautifully orchestrated class, and for some reason my body was into it and I felt strong and happy. Alternately laughing and crying through class, I really enjoyed myself, and had the first sort of vigorous practice in a while. Was pretty tired after, headed home to my new art studio in the living room and walked around it in happiness for a while. My pajama ridden children cleaned their room and gave me hugs and eagerly anticipated the arrival of my awesome little sister who is WAY more fun than I am right now. Well, in general, but especially right now. Natasha came over with food, i checked into the Hyperbaric Chamber situation here in Aspen to see if that could speed healing, I bit the bullet and put up a go fund me campaign.

By 1pm my throat was constricting and some chest pain was happening, but not nearly as bad as yesterday. My nipple is sore still around the incision, my outer lower breast also still sore, but no swelling or increased pain from practice. Nipple still feels like I have a sunburn.

Threw all the sugar away in the house yesterday and had a much happier emotional day today, it is so hard to be surrounded by unhealthy food and no way to escape it. Hoping I'll be healed enough to start radiation again on the 2nd, but I can still see the burn, we still have the mystery throat/chest thing, still have fatigue and general ick, no more fever though.

Liat is here, and I am so relieved. I need those boys out of the house and doing something creative with their lives. I feel like a terrible parent watching them play video  games from the couch. Today, Ethan mentioned that he missed his fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Shenck, who died of cancer when he was in fifth grade. This is hard and scary for them and I'm being too intense about them doing their chores and not being emo. Im so glad Liat came. Here's the daily boobie shot:

March 29:
Woke up sore but feeling strong. Went to class, had a good strong class, lots of work on hands, no swelling no pain in breast. After, nipple sore but outer breast feeling better. No fever, no chills. Throat tight and chest tight begin around 11am. Avoid meds till 3pm when chest and throat also begin to throb as well as feel constricted. Valium for constriction. Amazing Natasha brings more soup, about $1800 is contributed to the GoFundMe campaign, this is going to help us pay our rent since I have not worked much this year and help us pay Liat back for her ticket and to feed her while she's here. It is MASSIVELY stress relieving to have her here.

On a side note i'm getting sick at looking of photos of my lopsided boobs, although, there they are, and they've been pretty rad for me so far, so I'm not going to complain.

I over-scheduled myself a bit this weekend because i'm feeling better slowly and some wonderful things are lining up which feel like gifts from cancer, and Ive gotta follow what's out there... and stay balanced in rest and healing.

Im supposed to start radiation again on Monday. I'm honestly scared. I'm totally willing and I no we will learn a lot, but man oh man. I'm just now starting to feel like a human again.

But... I may have found an incredible creative space to work in, large, open, and able to contain the five projects that I'm obsessively sketchng and writing about and waiting for space to magically appear to produce.. Just the possibility made me so excited that I finally unpacked my bags from Shaw and organized my closet. That may seem insane, but for a person who has been moving not just ski stuff and city clothes but also an entire art and writing studio back and forth from home to the cancer center and on the couple of amazing trips we DID get to take with our ski guests this year, it was a big deal.

Of course, we get to pack it all up on Monday and move it back to shaw again!

Today's Pic March 29 end of day:

March 30: Big day planned, we'll see how it goes. I'm back to coaching clients on line, that was great. Sheena at European Skin Treatments had me come in for a facial, which was soooo sweet and lovely. Headed to yoga at noon, although throat started to feel constricted around 11:30 as usual now.  Class was rough. Took it easy. Unhealthy quick sandwich after, not the best choice, but food so... headed to Alya for a run through of Writ Large story, v. low key at her house, but tired, spacey, stupid, can't keep the thread. Headed to KDNK for an on-air interview at 3:30 about writ large, felt like I came alive on air and then wanted to crawl into my car and sleep after. Nurse called from Shaw, stop oral antibiotics. Had finished last steroid this morning, 8 antibiotics left, had already taken 2 today. Drove home at 5, tried to be social on the couch, felt horrible, went to bed and fell asleep listening to opening day of the Red Sox. Woke up 15 hours later to find out they'd lost. No photo today. Valium when throat and chest woke me up around 10pm otherwise slept thru

March 31 woke up at 9:30 am, felt strong and healthy, sore nipple, sore outer lower breast, not too bad. 20 minute home practice. Went with the family to watch the Met Live in HD Cosi Fan Tutte, which I love but UGH the story in the second half. Grrr Mozart. But yay Bodhi for coming and enjoying. Despnia was amazing. Tom is sick. 12:30 throat and chest, don't take anything. Tired by 4 (that's improving), get home, Tom in bed, sick sick and sleeping. 5:40 hoping the Red Sox and some painting can distract me from throat and chest and creeeping tiredness. Two days till we try radiation again.

April 1: woke up feeling great, did a full class and an extra 20 minutes on my own which was heavenly. Did not feel throat till 11:30, and not as bad as usual. Went out to Carbondale for a meeting about creative space and spent a lot of time walking and talking. Felt energy begin to tank at 1, super tired by 2:20, had to get home to get prone. Was able to concentrate and work from home, throat not too bad. Tylenol for pain around 5. Nipple sore, rest of breast feels good. Still V. tired all afternoon. No antibiotics or steroids today. I'm scared to see what happens tomorrow. But I feel like I'm pretty much healthy again. Not 100% by any means, but I don't think my breast is actively reacting to radiation or infection anymore. Cross your fingers!

April 2: Full class, felt amazing in class. 11:30 throat and chest hurt 3 out of 10. Better but annoying. Drove to Shaw, met with Radiation Oncologist, she wants me to wait one more week to get throat and chest to clear up. She suggested I might enjoy yoga ha ha. I'm to reduce stress as much as possible this week, but continue to be active. Possibility of beginning radiation again in one week on Monday just on lumpectomy site but twice a day.

April 3: woke up tight throat and chest but not too tight, big full class, felt amazing, decided not to double dip. Collected my sister, went to get a manicure and go to the hot springs, which helped my throat and neck and chest a lot. No meds till 8pm today, best energy today. Glad we are waiting another week.

April 4: woke up SORE from doing a big full class yesterday, that was a nice feeling! Double dipped today, light tightness in throat and chest still, it's staying the same, going from a 3-4 all day long from when I wake up. Gets worse in the afternoon, but energy in general is getting MUCH better. First class I was moving slow and was sore, second class I was warmed up enough to really dive in and enjoy. First day expending that much energy in the morning, I'm paying for it now, but I'm happy. No meds.

April 5: Woke up with chest and neck sore, have a performance tonight of Writ Large, should have skipped class and slept all day. Made the mistake of going to class. Worked hard for about 45 minutes and then chilled out to about half intensity and then just rested in shavassana for the rest of class. Exhausted and throat/chest intense after. A bit pissed at myself for pushing it. I want to be better so Im behaving like I am. Went home and slept before prepping for Writ Large which helped. Performed ok last night, late to sleep.

April 6: Woke up at 8 anyway, slight throat, slight chest, super tired, skipped class. Coffee, kids, back to bed till I have to drive to Shaw. Gonna sleep as much as possible today. Bodhi is really sick. Worried Ill catch it.

April 7: Better in the morning, full primary practice at home, nice and strong. Throat and tired at 3:30.

April 8: Feel good when I get up, great class, stressed about seeing people who have reached out, clients who are in town, can't get it together and spend the time with the kids. We go to the movies and I see my girls, who I haven't seen since my diagnosis and have a glass of wine. Very happy to see them. Didn't know how much I missed them and our lucky time together. Not tired till 6pm. I'm getting better!

Get ready for boobie pictures, here they come:

April 9: Up at 5:30 to drive to Shaw. Very curious about how this is going to go down. I feel really good, no throat, no chest, healthy and strong. 1st radiation at 8:45 am, move BACK into Jack's place, nap to the Red Sox, wake up to find them behind 1-4, head to yoga. One hour class, feel strong and happy. Begin edits of Drop In Yogi over breakfast. Second radiation at 3:45 feel tired but assume its from an early morning. Plan to go to 5:45 yoga, stop by grocery store, eat a quick meal and go to bed.
By 4:30 I'm ass kicked and glad I have a cliffbar to eat for dinner. In bed by 6:30 nauseous and super tired, sore breast. Use the cream they gave me.

I took pics before an after each treatment because i think the symptoms develop over time.

Before first radiation (second round) 8:45 am April 9

 Before first radiation (second round) 8:45 am April 9 (closeup)

After first radiation  9:10 am April 9

After first radiation  9:10 am April 9 (Close)

Before second radiation April 9 3:45pm

Before second radiation (close) April 9 3:45pm

After second radiation April 9 4:10 pm

After second radiation April 9 4:10 pm

April 10: Slept twelve hours, woke with tight throat, sore armpit, sore breast. 3 out of 10. Radiation at 8:00. Went to the store and then yoga. Went to an intense one hour class, ate lunch, came back slept for an hour before treatment number two. Tight throat. When the beam is on the right side of my breast on one of the treatments, I swear I can feel it's heat. My ribs below my right breast on the side and just below are sore as is my armpit, tight throat esp on right side. Beginning to feel tightness high in chest on both sides. Second treatment at 3;45 pm, came back and rested, took a bath, watched the baseball game, in bed by 7. No valium.

Before Radiation #3 April 10 8 am

Before radiation #3 April 10 8 am

After Radiation #3 April 10 8:20 am

After radiation #3 (close) April 10 8:20 am

Before Radiation #4 April 10 3:45 pm

Before Radiation #4 (close) April 10, 3:45pm

After Radiation #4 April 10 4:10 pm

After radiation #4 (close) April 10 4:10pm

April 11: It seems to be pretty consistent, it's sore and I'm tired and my throat and chest bother me but it's not swollen and I don't have achy skin or fever or fluid or bad swelling, so I stopped posting, not realizing it was indeed getting slowly worse. Good energy in the morning, in bed by 5. Laura came by and saved me, I felt pretty good tonight, asleep by 9 again. No valium. 

Before Radiation #5 April 11 8:15 am

Before Radiation #5 April 11 8:15 am

After Radiation #5 April 11 8:30 am

After Radiation #5 April 11 8:30 am

Before Radiation #6 April 11 3:45 pm

Before Radiation #6 April 11 3:45 pm

After Radiation #6 April 11 4:10pm

After Radiation #6 April 11 4:10 pm

April 12: Tough day. Woke up feeling good in throat but chest sore sore. Radiation, then yoga, strong class, happy, breakfast, nap. Still feeling pretty good until second radiation, after second one today I was immediately sore, throb-by breast, super tired, super nauseous for the first time. Achy skin, no fever. Came back and laid down. Nausea was bad. Stacey came by to visit, short visit. No Valium.

Before Radiation #7 April 12 8:15 am

Before Radiation #7 April 12 8:15 am

After Radiation #7 April 12 8:35 am

After Radiation #7 April 12 3:35 am

Note: Breast is sore ad swollen, throat and chest getting more present and painful. Met with Dr. H. and got a referral to an ENT doctor because throat and chest really bothering me and breast v. tender. 

Before Radiation #8 April 12, 3:45 pm

Before Radiation #8 April 12, 3:45 pm

After Radiation #8 April 12, 4:10 pm

After Radiation #8 April 12 4:10 pm

Note: walking back to room after treatment, breast is throbbing and swollen, hot, skin is achy, I'm super nauseous, throat and chest are tight and chest is burning. Massive fatigue for rest of the day. No valium. Asleep by 9pm.

April 13: Last day of treatment. Woke up with super tight throat, sore chest, super sore breast, inside, all around the bottom and outside. Swollen and angry. Two treatments to go.

Before Radiation #9 April 13 8:15 am

Before Radiation #9 April 13 8:15 am

After Radiation #9 April 13 8:35 am

After Radiation #9 April 13 8:35 am

Note: at this moment, 10:30 am April 13, I am still nauseous, throbbing breast, swollen, hot, armpit hurts, throat tight, chest tight and burning.