Saturday, October 31, 2009

No Boulder, CO

I got all packed, the car packed and everything all ready to rumble down good ole I -80 yesterday for the Boulder, CO cyclocross races but the weather had way different plans for me.

I -80 was closed due to snow and high wind yesterday and actually still is today! Ok, I can take a hint already. I won't go to Boulder.

Yeah I could have gone I-70 but that is a longer drive (10 hours) and Vail pass even got hit lightly too. And if I am going to drive 10 hours, I am heading to the beach!!! It is only about 7 hours going on 80 to Boulder.

So I stayed home and ended up just riding and not racing. Chris, Chad and I hit Dutch Hollow Trails today. Dang it was nice out here! Amazing weather on Halloween in the Wasatch.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wind Catcher

Chris is still getting in as much Kiteboarding as he can when the wind is good.

Let's see.....the doctor was supposed to release him next month for this but he has been at it since August!!!

I don't say anything to him because I know how it is to be laid up. Had I not gone through that myself last year he probably would be getting an earful . There is a lot to be said for feeling happy emotionally while healing broken bones and ligaments instead of being disgruntled about it. Plus, he is taking precaution - HA!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Utah Cyclocross Race #4 - Draper, UT

Today was interesting. I felt like absolute junk. I hate to say that since I won but it is the truth. While warming up I kept lieing to myself trying to convince my head and body that I felt good. You know, those mind games you play? But they didn't work - I suffered.

Erika P. and Tiffany P. had rippen starts off the line which started the drag race up the pavement for poll position going into the more technical part of the course. My goal was to get in front before the technical section and I accomplished that. Then I accomplished maxing myself out enough to eat it in one of the singletrack u turns. I got up pronto and hopped back on my bike luckily still in the lead. Was feeling the love for whatever reason on the run up which was a great thing! Then proceeded to crash AGAIN on the next lap in some gravel. It amazes me how much you can fall all over the ground and get up MOST TIMES with only dust on your leg!

It was at that point that I started telling myself and admitting to myself that I was indeed TIRED and that I probably need to back it off some. But really.....try convincing any pro racer to back off. Yeah right.

As I went through the start/finish area for the 3rd time the announcers started talking about my mom and all that I have been through with losing her last month. They were saying that this was an important race and I am going for the win and doing this for mom today. And that was the only sign I slow down!!!!

What my mom would have wanted was to have me slow down and to just be careful. Anytime I ever called her after a race it wasn't to tell her that I won or lost it was to tell her I was ok..........and THEN to tell her how I did. She was always more concerned that I was having fun and in one piece over anything else.

And THAT was all the convincing I needed to back off today.

So I did back it off just a hair. Just enough to get me through the corners safely but to keep the pressure on for the rest of the 40 minute race. It was pretty obvious to me that I needed to back off anyway with the fatigue I was feeling but trying to convince myself of that was a joke, until the announcers chimed in that is. That was my sure sign.

It won't always work that way for me (slowing down) if I think of mom during a race because I have certainly gone harder just thinking about her. It will just depend on the situation during the race.

And, a big shout out to Karl at Revolution Mtn Sports who I cornered in the parking lot TWICE before my race because, first, I couldn't unscrew my tire valve (it was stuck shut with sealant) and then again to put on a chain guard. Both times he dropped everything to help me out even though he was getting ready for his own race. What a guy! I think I owe him more rice krispy treats!!

Jets raced across the sky several times during the men's race.

Resting up big time then off to the Boulder Cups in CO.

Friday, October 23, 2009


View from our house as I do everything I need to do right now. At least it is a pleasant one!

So at this point I am feeling completely overwhelmed with how much my brother and I have to do. I am in charge of planning moms Celebration of Life that is on Nov. 14th which is like planning a wedding minus the invitations - the obit served as those.

Don't get me wrong, I want to do this for her, but throwing this together in a few months time is a lot. But that is only because I want to do it right. I want her celebrated in the best way with a power point (which I need to learn how to do) of pictures of her displayed from childhood onward, her awards and other things organized and there at the party, the things that she loved (favorite books, favorite poems) there too, etc. This has all meant that I have had to go through everything at a rapid pace and reproduce it somehow whether by scanning, copying or just writing it again on my computer.

I have learned more about my mom by going through everything and really I am loving it. It has been a really good process to go through and it hasn't been difficult. In fact, more times than not, it has put a smile on my face.

I am celebrating her life the way I would like for me one day. She deserves to have all her accomplishments out for everyone to see. She was an amazing women!

But that said, the 14th is turning into a big all day event to include a burial service because moms marker (as they call it) for her grave site MAY be in by then, then having the party itself and after that maybe going out to eat with all the family......all things that need coordination. And if it were only that simple, life would be good right? Gotta figure in wheelchair access, appropriate places to go, timing, who, what, when, where, blah blah blah.

No really, it is all good, I am just up to my eyeballs right now and my mom is very worth it. She gave me everything she had and now I am going to do the exact same for her no matter how much it takes. It is the least I can do for her to see her out of this world in the best way possible.

So the party is only one portion of it right now too because my brother and I are also in the middle of attorney hell, guardianship junk, car insurance that is expiring and all the rest to include taxes that need to be filed for 09. Mom got an extension but we know what happened there......

Everyone keeps asking if the dust is settling but quite frankly, the longer she has been gone, the more we find out and really, the dust is stirring!

It will all be fine I know. Just will take some time as we muddle through everything.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Riding Park City

This was one of those days where everyone had the same thing in mind.....get out and ride before you can't anymore this year. There were probably over 30 or so people that started the ride in our group at Park City Mtn Resort. Pretty cool.

The leaves were gorgeous on Sweeney Switchbacks

Taking a water break at Deer Valley Resort

Great day with great friends!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Utah Cyclocross Race #3 - Heber, UT

Dayna was hot on my tail today!

It was so nice to race only 6 blocks from my house today! It got super warm too. So warm that I thought I was getting sunburned at one point. That is crazy at 5600 feet in October.

So today it was about goatheads. No, not goat heads...goatheads..little pointy thorny like deals that sit on the ground waiting to be picked up by the next $90 tubular tire. Nice. I think I could have set up a booth selling Stans Sealant and made some serious cash. But even though it was goathead fever, my rear tire decided to stick with picking up a tiny staple instead while I was warming up. For my warm up I was only getting 5 minutes out of it before I had to find a pump. Why didn't I get my other bike? Because poor Chris had been recruited by me to help help help with the goatheads that were in that bikes tires. What a cluster.

Once the race and I got going, I was a complete tool bag. I couldn't find my my technical abilities over the barriers and on the run up to save my life. Sometime I think that too much cyclocross practice during the week is not a good thing. I think I over did it quite frankly. And I think that because I was the same way during practice on Thursday (tired, stumbly, timing was off). Did I mention that I was a tool bag today?

I went to bed 2 hours early the night before the race and wasn't sure what to expect today from myself. I guess I should have seen the signs but they are signs that you just don't want to see the night before a race, you know!!?

Mount Heber

So tool bag and all, I somehow got out front right away and raced around the course running up "Mount Heber" (a large pile of dirt) and going over the barriers that were set right after a corner. I was able to somehow maintain my lead as I practiced my corners and other skills that seemed like they needed a brushing up on. Oh and I chose to have my chain drop too while I was at it.......and I have a single ring up front so whats up with that?! Like I said, nothing went too smooth today but I did take home the win and I am happy.

Sly was out there in full force handing out the cash but also sneezing away I would imagine too!

Race Video:

Friday, October 16, 2009

I Love Riding In Heber!

Get your pumpkin and/or gourd here on the honor system to pay.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

09 Cyclocross Clinic

A big thanks to everyone that turned out for the Cyclocross Clinic that we put on again this year. It was so fun to have you all out there and it was fun to see how much you all improved over the course of the day!! Amazing what practice and hard work will do. Nice work to everyone!

See you at the races!

Good luck and go get em!!!!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Utah Cyclocross Race #2 - Odgen, UT

I didn't know what the heck to expect today. It had been 2 months since I have competed and a lot has happened since then namely my mom passing.

I was off the bike for 1 month total with only a few sporadic rides in before my mom passed unexpectedly. And after getting things "settled" with the estate and to some extent, my life, I started to train again with what time I had left to do it in.

So I am kind of wasn't ready to be racing yet since I officially started training 5 days earlier but here I was getting ready to do this thing! I was a bit uneasy about it all because I had no idea what to expect. Not training can be a good thing when done at the right time but it can also be a total and complete disaster. As for any high end training?? Yeah....maybe I did that like 2 months ago and we all know you lose that faster than fast if you don't train it. So not only was I going to hurt today badly I might suck too. Awesome thought prior to a race eh? A thought that I haven't had in a very long time. Not a great feeling.

I got to the venue early and just took a chill pill. I mean what is a girl to do? I have only done what my body has allowed and is what it is and I have done what I was able to do when I could. I have unfortunately had bigger fish to fry this last month or so.

I lined up on the line getting ready for go time and getting ready to do my first race pace effort on my new pretty Ellsworth Roots bike (notice the flat section of the top tube to allow for easier carrying/shouldering up hills- NICE).

The start took everyone right into the wind and I thought since I didn't know where I stood fitness wise that taking the 3rd wheel would be smart since I didn't want to stick my nose in the wind right away either. So I did just that as planned, taking 3rd wheel and as the leaders turned into the 4th corner all I could hear suddenly was squeaking brakes!! Next thing I knew I was hearing the sound of bikes hitting each other as everyone slowed suddenly causing quite the pile up including myself and Tiffany. About 6 people went by us as we gathered ourselves for now what was going to be the chase to get back on the group.

At least at this point I had Tiffany, who is a superior sprinter and criterium racer to share the work with. She rocks. We fought and pulled our way past everyone again to get near the front which is always quite an effort. We got to the race leader at the barriers/run up section on the back side of the course and this is where I found out that all my cyclocross practice every Thursday was a super good thing. I dismounted for the barrier and passed the race leader in the least suspecting place for me to do that in - the barrier section! I was psyched.

From there I just put my head down and hammered around the course for the next 40 minutes. I really wanted/needed this win for soooooooo many reasons. After asking my mom for help while I was leading the race I realized too that it was up to me to put the effort in. She can't help me with the physical part but I will say that I felt effortless the rest of the day on the course so bless her for that! If every race could feel like that I would be happy.

And with that, I secured the victory!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mom's Obituary

Not a good day for me at all. We got moms obit in the paper today. This was one of the hardest days since she died a month ago exactly. I think seeing this all printed up made it so very real. For you to read for those that new mom:

Wendy J. Gaston
February 25, 1930 – September 7, 2009

Please note: Mom wrote her own obituary prior to her death and wanted to share a summary of her life in her own words with friends and family. Our beloved mother passed away peacefully at her Lakewood home surrounded by family after a battle with multiple health issues.

Wendy was born in Kansas City, Kansas where she attended high school. Always active and involved, she was Girls Club President and a member of the National Honor Society. She acted as Social Editor of the school newspaper and participated in many high school activities.

Upon graduation, her family moved to the Northwest where she attended the University of WA becoming a member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority and upon graduating she was elected District Alum Chairman (1979-81).

Wendy received her BA in English as well as a teaching certificate. In 1953 she married her college sweetheart John Gaston.

During the following year, while busy raising their family, Wendy became active in the Junior League of Tacoma (President 1968). When her children were grown she became a member of the Tacoma Garden Club (President 1992) and enjoyed learning new garden techniques and made many new friends.

Upon her husband’s retirement in 1993, they moved to Arizona where she became active in Republican politics and was elected State Committeeman in 1996. She thrived in the political environment which she maintained was due to her Midwest Conservative values. In 1997 they returned to the Northwest.

Wendy loved poetry, especially Wordsworth and Henry Van Dyke. The song “America the Beautiful” always brought tears to her eyes. Her favorite past times were skiing, aerobics, gardening, reading, sports (Go Huskies!) and traveling and before the onset of Rheumatoid Arthritis made several trips to Europe, Hawaii, Mexico and toured Thailand. She enjoyed family and friends and was always there for them. She had a strong belief in God, country and family and was always willing to laugh at herself. She will be remembered for her “can do” attitude, organizational abilities, efficiency and her unending honesty and loyalty to family and friends.

She is survived by her husband, John, of 56 years, son John Jr. (Kathryn) of Bellevue, WA and granddaughter Marissa, a source of much pleasure and her daughter Katherine Sherwin (Chris) of Heber City, UT. She is also survived by her sister, Donna Boring of Renton, WA and her niece, Dani Gray (Warren) also of Renton and their family.

Note from our family: It is just like mother in her organized ways to have written her own obituary! She will be remembered for her kind and generous spirit, her willingness to help others and her contributions to the community. Known for her devotion and dependability to our family we are going to miss her dearly but she will forever be in our hearts. The family would like to especially thank Karen Hartley and Sandy Brizuela who were a source of positive thinking and support for the family over the last few years.

In accordance with mom’s wishes a Celebration of Life Reception will be held on Saturday, November 14, 2009 from 1pm to 3pm at the Tacoma Country and Golf Club, 13204 Country Club Dr. SW, Lakewood, WA. The family invites Wendy’s many friends and family to her Celebration of Life.

Wendy requested that you consider a contribution in her memory to your favorite charity.

Please sign an online guestbook at for condolences and remembrances.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Life Beyond Death

I am finally taking the time to update everything. Life has been crazy since mom died. And on that note for those that don't know, my mom died only 20 minutes after getting her home on Labor Day.

After I made that post about her coming home (Sept 7) it was an insane day preparing for just that. I cleaned her house, contemplated where to put the hospice bed that was being delivered that day, waited for the oxygen delivery, went to the hospital to pick up the Comfort Care Kit which is just basically prescriptions for morphine and such to be filled. It was that part that scared me most because the nurse gave me the run down on what I was supposed to do and it was as though I became an instant doctor with 6 medications to give mom. But of course they all had directions like give this one for that and not this one if that and don't over do this one and only this many for that one. Oh my goodness as if my head wasn't spinning enough already and I had to administer all of these to mom as well once she got home?!!!! Ok then. I was left to administer morphine to my mom by myself which doesn't seem right. My brother and I had no help on any of this. No one to guide us through.

That was the other thing, hospice couldn't come in on Labor Day (the day mom was coming home) and my brother and I were left to our own devices on how to care for mom and figure out how to do things on our own if need be. That was not cool in any sense of the word. Hospice left us high and dry. We were actually lucky to even get mom home at all on that particular day. We had to fight in the nice sense of the word to get her home. They didn't seem to understand that when you say someone has 2-3 days at the most left to live, that was for an average "healthy" person, not someone at 68 lbs who is already half in the bag when considered "healthy". She wanted to be home - she begged us to get her there and that is what we wanted to do for her. It was her right.

Thank heavens my brother DEMANDED nicely she get home that day knowing time was ticking and wanting to respect moms ONLY wish to die at home. Some of the hospice nurses didn't even return our phone calls that weekend regarding all of this which we found astoundingly unprofessional. It was not a good situation and I am sure they must have learned from this scenario, (at least I hope they did) because they dropped the ball big time.

On another note, hospice WAS able to coordinate the bed and oxygen to be delivered which was great. Unfortunately the bed came with NO sheets, pillows, blankets, or anything. That meant that we had to go sheet shopping among everything else while trying to actually BE HOME for moms delivery by the ambulance. What a mess!

When the oxygen delivery came I also got to become the new oxygen expert in the house learning how to turn things on and off, make sure it was the right flow, make sure the mask was working, all the parts in order. OMG I was overwhelmed with one huge tank, another mobile tank and then the other automatic tank that was just a plug in. My head was whirling on trying to absorb all the info all by myself knowing that know one else was going to be there to help me.

Getting moms prescriptions (the Comfort Care Kit) from the pharmacy that day was also an interesting adventure. All they cared about was figuring out who was going to pay for it! Hospice did in the end (good on them) but I almost missed moms return home because of the "who is going to pay for it" scenario. I had even allowed ample time to pick them up in case there was a snag! Thank heavens I had moms purse with her drivers license, medical insurance card and social security card in it because without that I would have been left high and dry with NO prescriptions for mom at home and no advocate to help me!!! You know......because it was Labor Day and all. Need I remind everyone that death doesn't care about holidays.

But I did get home about 15 minutes before the ambulance showed up. They transported mom from the hospital she was in back home. That ambulance showed up at 5:06pm. When they took mom out she was sound asleep, breathing heavy and the breathing was in between long pauses. That was just how she looked during the day when I went to the hospital to pick up the prescription sheet from the nurse.

As she was being wheeled from the ambulance to the house my brother leaned down and slightly woke her up when he said loudly "Mom, you are home!". She opened her eye up just ever so slightly and shut it again going back into her deep slumber. I did not see any of this as I was in the house.

I asked the paramedics how she was doing and they gave me her vitals which were already worse than what they were at the hospital when I was there early afternoon. Her heart rate was up and her blood pressure was falling. Two signs that her time is near. Plus they said her vitals had already changed for the worse in the 45 minutes or so that they had her. She was going fast my poor dear mom.

They then took mom from the gurney to the hospice bed that was surrounded by sentimental trinkets, pictures, a rosary and things mom loved. It was my niece who thought it would be a great idea to set up everything like that and it was. The paramedics then hooked her up to the oxygen that had been delivered earlier in the day and said sorry and left. Man they have a tough job!

My brother, myself, Karen the caregiver/good friend of the family, my brothers wife and daughter were all there next to mom. We sat for the first time that day and just stared at mom while taking a moment to rest. Mom was so sound sound sound asleep and breathing incredibly heavy. She hadn't woken up through any of this process except when my brother woke her up with his voice. I even wondered at one point if she may be in a coma.

I then went over to where the prescriptions were to try and remember what I was supposed to do or not do and give or not give. While going through the instructions for everything I saw a pamphlet that was full of phone numbers to call in case you need 24 hour live in care. I took one look at it and thought to myself that there was NO WAY we would need it; mom was going fast. I threw it out and just as I did my brother yelled "Kathy Kathy!" My first thought was that mom was awake and we could say a quick good bye to her but it was just the opposite, mom had stopped breathing.

I got over to my mom immediately to watch her final breaths. It was a surprisingly a very very peaceful moment.

Because we were at home we all got a chance to say our good byes one by one without being rushed. It was actually nice hanging out with her and talking to her - she just looked like she was sleeping. I didn't want her body to leave the house but we finally called 911 and told them that it was an expected death (which we had been instructed to do). They sent over the fireman with the defib kit and I thought you have got to be kidding aren't going to try and revive her are you? We started rushing around trying to find the DNR (which was at the hospital!) orders and it was a stressful moment that was for not. They weren't going to try and revive her. That would have been ghastly and we were freaking out there for a while indeed.

Then next up was the police and then the medical examiners that had to come by and treat everything like a crime scene. That was just the icing on the cake for the day. I guess they had to make sure that we didn't do something to edge mom out of this world faster. That was a bit horrifying as well watching as they took photos of her and stuff. That was lame.

By the time the coroners came about 4 hours after her death we had seen all that we wanted to see, we had said our good byes and we were ready for her body to be taken. That would be the last time we saw her because she was being cremated.

Death at home is the way to go for the surviving family that is for sure. We got all the time that we wanted with mom. It was amazing.

I didn't get to talk to mom at all that day, only the day before on Sunday very briefly when she was still in the hospital. You never know when you are going to utter your last words to someone do you? I think for mom to me her last words were her just trying to get me to leave the hospital room because she was tired. I have to chuckle at that. She knew what she wanted at least!

She also knew that she wanted to die at home and once she knew she was there, she did. It was as though she crossed her own finish line. Good for her!

The next day, Tuesday, Chris and I went out for a breakfast before we got to work with the estate and I must say that people surprise you in so many ways. The waitress, once she found out my mom died not even 24 hours before, hugged me repeatedly, teared up and even sat down with me. She then gave me my breakfast for free. Wow. People can be amazing and understanding can't they?

But on that note, I am amazed at the disconnect some people have regarding death. We ran into some very interesting situations where people (not family mind you) felt that we were not taking the right steps or not taking the steps quick enough and were very quick to judge. We were even called disrespectful children at one point by a non family member. Wow thanks, that is just what I needed to hear right now.

But yeah.....the next day. My brother, myself and Chris all met at moms house and just kind of sat at the kitchen table going: what do we do now? Like seriously. What do we do?!!! I think it is at that moment that you realize you are completely overwhelmed with SO MANY things that you need to do that you really feel like you have no idea WHAT to do...or more so where to start.

The whole next week was chalk full of moving mom out of her assisted living apartment, changing address, discontinuing services, thinking about the obituary, making tons and tons of calls to family and friends. Mom even had a list of people she wanted called upon her death! Miss organized I tell you.

We also had to go to the funeral home to discuss the arrangements that mom had done ONE MONTH earlier. She was such the planner. She had already even paid for it all - a GREAT gift to the family on that one.

The visit at the funeral home took 3 hours because they mixed up the plot for her ashes that she bought!!! The guy who helped her pick it at the funeral home remembered her picking one spot but he wrote down another and was confused by what he wrote. So we had to go look at the area and guess where she had wanted, then make a few phone calls to my aunt and uncle who happened to by with mom on the day she chose the spot and finally got it nailed down. What a cluster but it was very good of this guy to fess up and let us know what was going on because he certainly didn't have to!

The other thing we decided we needed to do was tell dad what happened to mom. We thought he had to right to know since they have been married 56 years so we marched into his Memory Care unit to do just that and the nurses stopped us. We ended up having a panel discussion with the nurses as to WHY we would not tell dad the news and they made some extremely good points. One of those points was that a person with dementia can for years relive bad news on a daily basis as if it were a new thing. That isn't good and we don't need to add to dads suffering.

We are also are VERY aware that of course the nurses don't want us to tell him because it can change everything (his blood pressure, routine, heart rate, attitude, can make him combative etc) and there is some interest on their part for us not to tell him - we get that. But more importantly we don't know what dads comprehension level is, if he can even hear us well, understand a whole sentence vs. only getting half of it before shifting to la la land. Too many factors and bottom line is we want dad to have the best care possible and want him to be happy.

For that matter we don't even know if dad can distinguish hours from days/months/years so just because mom isn't visiting him anymore may not mean a thing.

But what dad DOES have left is the ability to pick up on his surrounding, our body language, our facial expressions and simply just knowing us (his kids) and how we operate and I am sure that him seeing Chris there suddenly, then my brothers wife too, and my niece ......but no mom.... may have raised some red flags in his mind. Never mind the fact that I completely broke down in front of him which I did not want to do for the fact that he may pick up on it.

So we did not tell him and we may not but what an ethical dilemma! Yet another thing to figure out for us kids. Yikes.

On a side note, I also kind of feel like moms last act of parenting was dieing on the day and week she did. Chris, my husband happened to have the next 10 days off and he was able to fly in the night she died and was able to get me through things and help with everything too. The timing couldn't have been better and knowing how my mom planned things, I am sure she planned it this way the best that she could.

Her last act of parenting was to make sure the kids were ok and taking care of in every way. She was worried about me I know because one day the week before she died while in her hospital bed she looked at my brother and said "you take care of her!" I also know that she knew how scared out of my mind I was to take her home. I was so scared and knowing her, she didn't want to put anyone out so the faster she went once she got home the better in her mind. She was something else I tell you! A strong willed women.

The timing of things being as it was, we rented a moving truck later in the week, went through and split everything up 50/50 with no problems (it is just STUFF, no sense arguing about junk you can't take with you into the next life) and packed for 6-8 hours a day until we were ready to leave 6 days later for Utah. We could not have done this process without Chris who was so awesome loading up the truck. The timing was seriously amazing that we were able to get all this done.

My brother and I split things up even as for the duties that lye ahead. We are in charge of everything because dad cannot handle anything. So brother is doing the bills, attorney stuff, dealing with accounts, cars, insurance and I am doing the more fluffier things like obituary's, calling moms friends, writing thank you letters, handling moms active email account, getting items to people that are requesting them (yes people do this!!!), planning an estate sale, dealing with cemetery stuff and most importantly planning the Celebration of Life party which will be held in November.

My friends and family members have been such pillars of strength for me through all of this and without everyone, I wouldn't be where I am now. Thanks for your kindness, generosity, your understanding and your willingness to listen. You are all amazing people and I am so lucky to be surrounded by people that love me the way you guys do. Thank you!