CF is the most common genetic disease in the Unites States affecting about 30,000 children and adults (70,000 worldwide). The genetic defect renders certain organs of the body susceptible to obstruction due to thick mucus secretions. The most severe manifestation is in the lung where thick secretions lead to chronic lung infections which require a daily regimen of drug treatments and chest physical therapy to help clear airway secretions. Thick secretions in the pancreas compromise food absorption leading to nutritional deficiencies that can be partially overcome with nutritional supplements and oral enzyme replacement. Advances in the clinical management of CF have improved the prognosis, although current life expectancy is 37.4 years of age (median). There is no cure for CF, however, lung transplantation is the only life saving treatment in those with end stage lung disease.
Exercise and CF
Exercise programs have the same benefit for people with CF that they have for people without CF, namely, increasing their fitness and sense of well-being, and probably improving their overall outlook on life. “Increased fitness” is defined as being able to do more physical work, and having a lower heart rate for the same workload. Some studies have shown better lung function after a CF exercise training program, and other studies have shown no change in lung function. It is thought that vigorous activity with deep breathing and coughing may promote airway clearance and assist with moving mucus out of the lungs.
One very important study (Nixon PA, Orenstein DM, Kelsey SF, Doershuk CF. N Engl J Med. 1992 Dec 17;327(25):1785-8) showed that CF patients’ fitness level corresponded more closely with their survival (how likely they were to be alive eight years later) than any other factor did (including traditional lung function tests).
Patients with CF can and should exercise, at virtually every stage (and age) of life. They reap the same benefits from exercise programs and an active lifestyle that other people do (and perhaps even more): they can become more physically fit, and can do more exercise than if they are sedentary. Exercise helps CF patients keep their lungs clear of mucus. Exercise helps a lot of people emotionally, too, by reducing stress. Exercise may even enable CF patients to live longer.
These past couple of months have been extremely busy trying to get prepared to go back to school, which has involved several observation hours, doctor’s appointments, and of course refreshing my brain , without neglecting my duties at work or on the bike. Following a lackluster performance at Lumberjack where both my bike and body were rejecting the idea of a decent finish I took a few weekends away from racing to get in some solid training in preparation for the last few NUE races of the season.
Two weeks before the Wilderness 101 I decided to test out my speed at the Bulldog Rump XC race in northern Jersey where I was able to take my first victory of the season, winning by a couple of minutes within an hour and a half race. Now that my anaerobic fitness was in check I was psyched to do the Curse of Dark Hollow 40 mile race the following weekend in my back yard in Michaux State Forest. Everything started out really well there. I was able to ride in the lead accompanied by Rob Spreng for the first 30 miles without riding much harder than tempo before my rear tire punctured. Normally this isn’t a deal breaker at Michaux, but when your backup tube also has a hole in it the game is over. So my endurance felt great throughout the day and I took the flat tire as just a part of racing. Maybe it was for the better as I would feel just a little more rested for Wilderness.
A week later and I’m back on the starting line in Coburn, PA. The Wilderness 101 seems be be gathering a faster group of racers each and every year ant this time around was no exception. The start of the race was the same as usual, but before mile 40 hit I was already all alone chasing whoever was in front of me. Fortunately with a deep field of talented riders I spent the entire race battling back and forth with Garth Prosser, Rob Spreng, Jake Sitler, and Mike Simonson and was able to finish up with a solid 8th on the day, which wasn’t bad considering the top 5 had finished all within 6:45:00!
With my confidence, endurance, and speed back where they should be I took the next couple of weeks to do a pair of XC races at Bear Creek to keep my speed in check and have some fun in the rocks. I finished 4th the first weekend and 3rd the following weekend and was 1st place working man both weekends, which was not too shabby. The following week would be another test of endurance with the next stop of the NUE series, the Hampshire 100.
Going into Hampshire I knew I would have a great race, but with another competitive field to race against I wasn’t sure where I would end up. The start of this race was much like Wilderness with a large group taking the front of the race for the first 20 miles. After that was a series of steeeeep rollers that would just suck the power right out of you if you could not stay on top of a big gear. This is where the pack splintered into a small lead group and several small chase groups. I was in the first chase group with Rob Spreng and two others trying to track down the leaders (or not let them get too far away)! By mile 40 we caught and passed Jonathan Schlotter who had an impressive 2nd place at Wilderness two weeks prior along with Jeremiah Bishop who was repairing a tire at the moment. Once Jeremiah was back on the bike he flew by us all and most of the chase group followed trying to hold his wheel. Schlotter and I were left behind and soon I would drop Schlotter and eventually bridge back up to Spreng by mile 50. The two of us rode and worked together through the end of the first lap and all the way to the aid station at mile 90 where the course would enter one of the final singletrack sections. While on the second lap we were both surprisingly informed that we were in 4th and 5th place which was hard to believe and motivating at the same time. We would again catch and pass Bishop who was again having tire issues around mile 80. This is where I decided to pick it up a little without making an attack on Rob. I knew if we worked together we could probable hold of Jeremiah improving our positions as well as helping out Christian by giving him an edge over Jeremiah for the NUE Series overall standings. As we rolled into the aid station at mile 90 I attacked hard assuming we were much closer to the finish. After a few miles I realized my early move, but was able to continue my pace to the finish placing 3rd for the day! It looks like I’ll be back in the running for a top 5 overall finish in the NUE Series, but only time will tell.
Cheryl and Christian are unstoppable with another pair of wins this past weekend at the Hampshire 100. Brandon finished with an impressive 3rd place. Way to go team!
This years W101 was another great success for Team CF with Cheryl Sornson taking first place and Kristin Gavin taking third!
This year’s race at Fair Hill in Elkton, MD was one of the hottest days of the year. If anyone has been in the Mid-Atlantic region this time of year, you know it can be oppressively hot and humid. This past Sunday was no different. Even so, we had a few Team CF racers show up to work it out on the awesome trails maintained by the Delaware Trail Spinners. As has become the norm at the MASS races, the women of Team CF took the top few steps on the podium. Kristin Gavin finished in first, with Kathleen Harding securing second place.
This weekend Team CF’s Kristin Gavin took the top podium spot, Nikki Thiemann took fourth and Team CF Philly’s Jesse Kelly had a very impressive finish taking first in Men’s Masters and seventh overall at the very challenging and rocky, Stoopid 50 in State College, PA. Selene Yeager partnered with another local and friend of Team CF Aaron Snyder (Scott/Team CF) to take the win at the Big Bear Lake 2 x 12 this weekend and placed 3rd overall!
Over the past few years the Mohican 100 has always treated me well. I almost always seem to feel fresh going into the Mohican and the course itself plays to some of my advantages beginning with a long stretch of singletrack in the beginning and ending with redundant steep short climbs. After settling into my pace a few minutes after the start of this year’s event I expected to have my best Mohican yet. As soon as we hit the first section of dirt I found myself at the front driving the pace, but at the same time being careful to not go too hard too early. Once the trail funneled into the singletrack of the Mohican Wilderness Christian pushed towards the front to take control of the pace. At first I had thought that this would be the perfect opportunity for the two of us to work together and blow apart the front of the race, but when Christian’s pace had not dropped after the first 10 – 15 miles I decided it would be safest to back off a bit and save my legs for later on. I finished out the rest of the first 25 miles of trail riding with Rob Spreng who has really stepped up his game this year and is killing it at every race. So we rode together and traded some pulls until we were caught on a gravel road around mile 30, just before aid station #2. Our chase group now included some other top NUE contenders including Mike Simonson, Chris Peariso, and Jordan Wakely. I thought we would be catching up to Christian for sure. After aid station #2 we powered on and quickly reached aid #3, but to my surprise the gap to Christian had not shrunk. It was mind blowing to imagine how hard he must have been pushing it off the front by himself and taking on a steady headwind without losing a seconds time. After aid #3 I noticed that I was beginning to fade and started to be even more conservative, but somewhere before reaching aid #4 I was forced to drop off the pace and recover a little more. Once I felt a little better it was back to hammering, but this time alone. I was kicking myself for not sticking with the chase group, but at the same time felt it was a good decision as my race could have been ruined by a heavy bonk. I kept the gap to the chase group manageable until the final aid station where it had grown to 9 minutes. With only one section of 1 track left I enjoyed the final miles of the race satisfied with my 6 place finish with a time of around 6:55:00, which was my best time yet for this event! Check out this clip and others of the Mohican 100 at cyclingdirt.org.
The 2012 TSE has come and gone and everyone that was there had an amazing experience. Team CF was everywhere with a total of 9 racers including an Epic Team. Cheryl Sornson took top honors in the Solo Women’s race beating Sue Haywood by just under 10 minutes. Newcomer Cary Smith placed 7th in Solo Men’s against a seriously stacked field. Jim Wilson (team director) placed third in Solo Men’s Masters 50+ and our Epic Team which included Kaitlyn Broadhurst took 2nd place. What is really special about this team is that Kaitlyn has CF. Check out this great video of her at the TSE.
The third race in the NUE happened this past weekend. With some of the team at the TSE it was up to Christian Tanguy and Kathleen Harding to bring it, and bring it they did. Christian took first place in Men’s Open while Kathleen finished in fourth for the Women’s Open. Results here.
After placing 3rd in the 2011 edition of the Syllamo 125K in Mountain View, AR I had nothing but positive vibes going into this year’s event. I was a little unsure how the start was going to unwind on the short 1 mile climb leading to the singletrack since the fight to be near the front at Cohutta was a real battle. However once the race began and we started to climb, the steep grade immediately started to string out the pack. I was fortunate enough to be at the front with Christian and Drew. As we neared the top we already had a sizable gap on the next rider and I took to the front getting the holeshot and the Strava KOM. Once on the trail I kept the pace high and simply enjoyed myself on the rough Arkansas terrain skating around the gravelly corners and floating over the rocks. I even put on a show for Drew who was right behind me as I unclipped both feet flying over a rock garden in an attempt to pull off a Superman followed up with an X-factor, but I was not confident enough to let go of the bars. The three of us continued pushing the pace at the front and were also joined by Rob Spreng until he suffered the misfortunes of a sidewall tear about 20 miles in. The miles were flying by and I was expecting it to be one hell of a sufferfest at the end. However just before aid station 2 Christian took a header in a rock garden in front of me. I came to a stop to see if he was ok as he laid there with his bike on top of him. After saying that he was ok I took off to catch back up to Drew. Unfortunately for Christian the damage was a little more than he expected as he noticed a puncture wound in his leg after standing back up which ultimately forced him to end his pursuit for the day. I caught back up to Drew, but then slowly started to lose him again as he steadily picked up the pace. After just chasing back on I decided to keep it steady and hope for a payoff by the finish as we were not yet at the half way point. Everything was continuing to go smoothly until after aid station 4 when I really began to notice the heat and humidity that the Southeast is known for. I went out on the second lap of the red loop which was approximately 12 miles expecting to only need 1 bottle of Perpetuem but with 90 degrees of sunshine blasting the course my body was running on fumes and 3 bottles would have been much more appropriate. I soon began cramping and knew the last stretch of the race was going to be painful. Each pedal stroke seemed harder than the last and I began to worry about other racers coming up from behind. I pressed on, but not without looking over my shoulder every 5 minutes. The final hour and a half of the race felt like it was longer than the previous 5 hours, but I was able to hold onto 2nd place which was my best NUE finish to date! Looking back over the past few weeks of racing I would have never expected a result like this, but now I know that my form is back along with my confidence which will hopefully lead me to having a very successful campaign in the 2012 NUE Series.
Another great weekend of racing for Team CF. As is becoming the norm, the women of Team CF took the top 4 podium spots with Cheryl taking 1st, Kristin 2nd, Kathleen 3rd, and Selene rounding it out with a 4th place finish. On the elite men’s side, Chris finished in 4th place with Brandon finishing 5th.
The start to this year’s racing season has been a little shaky at best and that is being on the optimistic side. I missed the first race of the season, Dragon’s Tale, near Roanoke, VA due to a mild knee injury, followed up with a mediocre XC race in Big Bear, WV and then a 14th at the Cohutta 100. It was after this race that I realized it was not just bad luck. It was simply my WORST 100 mile race ever. I missed the lead group at the start, did not have the legs to catch back on, and did not start to make any passes until the second half of the race. I had better results as an endurance newbie shoving oatmeal creampies and cinnamon buns down my throat at aid stations. On the way back from Cohutta I obsessed about the hours that I put in on the bike over the past 6 months and realized that I have been lacking something… the taste of blood in my mouth before being replaced by vomit on my 5th hill repeat, or was it riding to the point of becoming dizzy and lightheaded and so hungry that the last 5 miles of a ride feels like a full century. Although I have been hammering out the miles I feel like I have not been challenged enough recently so Monday morning, two days after climbing 14,000′ in TN I delighted myself with some hill repeats and it felt oh so good. I hit it hard for a couple of more days and then went to VA for a 40 mile race at Douthat State Park. I had ridden the trails there before and they are spectacular, so there was no doubt that it would be a good time. From the start I took the holeshot and was out of sight on the first climb. What I did not realize was at the top there must have been some sort of a course marking pointing across the ridgeline with much more significance than the 6 red arrow pointing down the mountain to follow the XC course. After unknowingly going off course I continued on at my endurance race pace for the next hour until I came to an intersection without any course markings at all and finally found my way back to the start/finish area realizing that I had completed a poorly marked XC course and not the 40 mile adventure I had signed up for. This time it was back luck, but sucked a lot less. After a hard week of riding I could feel that my legs were coming back. So here we are a week later and I’m on the starting line of the MASS XC race at French Creek. All of the usual fast guys are there plus a few youngsters that found some real speed since last season. From the beginning I had an excellent start going into the woods in 2nd behind Aaron pushing so hard that I vomited at least 3 times on the first climb making for a wonderful second breakfast. I lost a couple of spots on the second climb and found myself somewhere around 10th. The frustration at this point was off the charts, but I kept on digging deep and worked my way back into 5th riding consistently on every lap. This I was really happy with. Aside from the small setback on the first lap I felt strong and fast throughout the entire race and expect to be throwing down at the front again very soon. I will most certainly be ready to rip some legs off next weekend at Syllamo’s Revenge, my hands down favorite NUE race.
The IRON HILL Challenge is a part of the Mid-Atlantic Super Series and the USA Cycling American Mountain Bike Challenge (AMBC) as well as Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship (MARC) race. I was especially excited for the race since in 2011 I was the winner. I like the trail system at Iron hill a lot because it’s twisty and fast, with just enough rocks. My relationship with rocks is love-hate. I prefer speed over obstacles, but a good combination of the two is ideal. Iron Hill provides that. Team CF had a big showing at the race. We were a dominant force in every field. I was especially excited when I was driving into the venue and I saw our very own Kaitlyn Broadhurst warming up for her race. I turned to my friend and proudly stated “see that woman there? she has Cystic Fibrosis”. He was very impressed by her presence in the race. We both lamented how our race would be hard, but we weren’t overcoming anything like Kaitlyn was, as she lined up for her race.
I suited up in our new race kits, and went out on course for a warm-up lap. To my surprise the trail was very slick. It wasn’t the dry, fast course I won on last year. I wanted a drag race and instead it felt like an ice rink. Where did my skills go? I needed to find them fast.
The gun went off for the start and I was positioned well in the top 3 after the prologue lap. I soon worked my way to the front and rode off solo. Without drafting, I figured, why not ride solo. I thought I could go faster anyway, if I had the trail to myself. I was putting time on the field (most of the field anyway) when my main rival so far this year rode across to my wheel. Ouch. Aaron Synder, who I have huge respect for, was sitting on me. I was rattled. He was not even suffering, while I was seeing stars as my heart rate soared in to zone 6 (I only use 5 zones to monitor my effort with heart-rate). I rode on the front hoping he would magically fade off and I would pull away – I might have been hallucinating too I guess. Suddenly I heard Aaron’s team mate, Cameron Dodge bridging up to us. My problem was about to get bigger. I pulled over to give Aaron the lead hoping he’d increase the pace and I could hold his wheel and Cam would not make it across. That plan back-fired as Aaron rode away and Cam rode up to me. OK, I thought, stay focused, ride with Cam to get Aaron and then drop them both on lap 3. That was the plan. Well the reality was I was not handling the slick trails well (at all) and my confidence was shattered… my biggest asset. Cognitive Dissonance is my worst enemy in these situations. I couldn’t get it together and found myself going backwards. I’d settle for 3rd for the day.
One of the best things about bike racing in the Mid Atlantic – there is always next weekend. Rematch scheduled for Saturday at French Creek.
Congrats to my other TeamCF team mates, who represented our colors very well on a beautiful spring day.
This year Iron Hill, just outside of Newark, DE was the location of the Delaware State Championships. Team CF had a great showing and some great finishes at this years race. Cheryl Sornson and Selene Yeager took the top two podium spots, respectively in the 4 hour endurance race. Chris Beck placed third in the Elite Men’s race and Kathleen Harding placed third in the Elite women’s race – her first riding for Team CF. The local Team CF Philadelphia racers also did well with Jesse Kelly taking first in Endurance Masters Men’s 45+ race and Dan Vickery finishing third CAT 2 Men 40-49.
The NUE got started this weekend in Tennessee with the Cohutta 100. The ladies of Team CF showed up in force with Cheryl Sornson taking the top spot, Kristin Gavin finishing 3rd and Nikki Theimann placing 5th. For the men Christian Tanguy grabbed 2nd place and Cary Smith finished in 6th. Since one endurance race a weekend isn’t enough for Cheryl, she once again made the trip home to race the Michaux Endurance Series opener for her second 1st place finish of the weekend. This weekend also featured the Greenbriar Challenge which is also the Maryland State Championships. Chris Beck once again found himself on the podium with a 2nd place finish! Way to go everyone.