What do you train for?


I am the sort of triathlete that makes the rest of you couch potatoes think you could be a triathlete, too.  I’m always bringing up the rear in races. It’s OK. My run is my weakest leg of the triathlon. For Honu Ironman 70.3 last June, I finished before they rolled up the lava fields, by minutes. But I finished!

My favorite part of triathlons is the training. I have a good solid family at Boca Hawaii. You make true friends. You have people and coaches that will hunt you down if you don’t show up. They make it fun to produce buckets of sweat on the bike trainers in the studio. I try so hard to swim as far as I can under water at the pool (and actually made it two or three times!). I run the hills at Waterfront Park but I get lapped by everyone else. Fortunately for me, most of them say, “Attagirl, Paula!” They are my heroes!

When it comes to race day, I have to admit that I can’t stand the jitters, getting clawed and punched during the swim, freaking out during transitions, losing gas on my bike ride, and knowing I have a 13.1 mile run after all that. I love the bike part, I like the swim part, but I don’t really like the run part.

I did one Honolulu Marathon, in 2012. My husband got a reminder on his Facebook page today with the picture of me finishing, smiling, and so happy to be nearly done with something that hurt me so much — more than eight hours after I started. One thing we are trained to do is to finish looking like a million bucks: SMILE!

Today he reminded me to hold onto that fighting and happy spirit.

Today was my third day in the chemo ward at Kaiser Moanalua. Today and yesterday I was put in the back and was soon joined by three other women. I tend to be quiet, I like to give people their space, but I think I probably come off snooty and rude. So once two of the women started talking, because they were already friends (for years), soon we other two were joining in the conversation.

“What kind of cancer do you have?” Nobody pulls any punches in the oncology zone.

Melanoma, I told her. She was perplexed. I’m surprised because I thought it was common, and because she was haole like me (LOL).

The woman opposite me said, “It’s Jimmy Carter’s Cancer!”

And yes, that is probably the best way for me to explain my cancer. However, we think that mine didn’t get beyond my lymph nodes and into my brain and lungs like our President experienced.

The ladies asked about the drug Pembrolizumab that healed President Carter, and I told them about how I was to be in a clinical trial to test it on Melanoma Stage3 patients, but I didn’t have enough cancer. We all got a good chuckle out of that.

They asked how I found my melanoma behind my leg, and that’s when I told them about how I train for triathlons (clasping my hands behind my knee and stretching my legs). And that’s when they told me “no wonder you’re doing so well!” “You look great! You’re going to beat this!” “This is what you trained for.”

I want to get back into my training with Boca Hawaii again. My favorite, the bicycle clinic, starts in January. That’s when the daily chemo will end, but that’s when the three-times a week self-injections of interferon begin. I can’t commit. I have to see how I’ll be doing.

Do you want to be a triathlete? The training and the community can be so amazing. There are several groups on Oahu, so it’s worth it to find a group where you fit in and feel comfortable.

I thought I was training for races, but I was really training to beat Cancer. During the run of the Honu 70.3 in May, I could not run. I tried so hard, but I couldn’t. But I had trained for six months to complete that race and to finish with a medal. I had never walked so fast in my life. That was my solution. I did what I had to do. And that’s what I’m going to do now.