Pro triathlete Amy Cottrill Marsh finishes second round of chemo for leukemia

Amy Marsh is undergoing cancer treatment at Seton Medical Center Austin. A bone marrow swab party is scheduled for Saturday at Austin Tri-Cyclist.
Amy Cottrill Marsh is undergoing cancer treatment at Seton Medical Center Austin. A bone marrow swab party is scheduled for Saturday at Austin Tri-Cyclist.

Pro triathlete Amy Cottrill Marsh remains at Seton Medical Center Austin this week, where she has wrapped up a second round of chemotherapy to treat leukemia.

A routine blood test last August showed unusual results that Marsh, 37, initially attributed to overtraining. She cut back the time she spent swimming, biking and running, but a retest in November triggered concern. She underwent a bone marrow biopsy and learned Dec. 23 that she had acute myeloid leukemia, a quick-developing form of cancer that affects the blood.

Amy and Brandon Marsh have both been pro triathletes.
Amy and Brandon Marsh are both pro triathletes.

“We went in at 2:30 p.m. By 6 p.m. we were checked in at the hospital,” said her husband, triathlon coach and former pro-triathlete Brandon Marsh.

Amy started chemotherapy the next day and has been at the hospital since. Doctors have told her she will likely need more chemotherapy and then a stem cell transplant. The triathlete, who is accustomed to training hard up to 25 hours a week, told her husband: “This is like an Ironman and we’re just barely in the swim.”

A “Bone Marrow Jam” in her honor is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Austin Tri-Cyclist, 903 Barton Springs Road. Participants will be orally swabbed and their information entered into a national and global registry for bone marrow donors. If a match is found, blood cells will be filtered from the donor and given to a patient who needs them.

Amy Marsh was diagnosed with leukemia Dec. 23.
Amy Cottrill Marsh was diagnosed with leukemia Dec. 23.

The pro triathlete, who had planned to retire after the 2015 season, works as a youth swim coach at Western Hills Athletic Club in Rollingwood.

“Being fit has really helped her handle the chemo more than anything and will help her handle the next phase, whether it’s additional chemo or if it’s a stem cell transplant,” Brandon Marsh said.

Amy Marsh swam for the University of Minnesota. She has won four Ironman triathlons and two Ironman-distance triathlons consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run. She also won a half-distance Ironman in 2014.

Brandon Marsh cut his wife's hair last week.
Brandon Marsh cut his wife’s hair last week.

Since checking into the hospital, she tries to get up and move 30 to 60 minutes most days, but she’s tired, Brandon Marsh says. She’s passing the time watching HGTV and playing Scrabble and other games, and pedaling a stationary bicycle that physical therapists moved into her hospital room.

“Cancer doesn’t care – it doesn’t care how fit you are, it doesn’t care how fat you are, it just doesn’t care,” Brandon Marsh said, adding that community support has been overwhelming. “Everyone responds differently to treatments.”

He cut her long hair into a bob last week, then shaved it short a few days later. “That was pretty emotional,” he said. “She’s GI Jane now.”The family has health insurance but a fund for incidental costs has been set up here.

Runners love to take selfies!

Dave Benavidez won our runner selfie phtoo contest with this shot of himself and his two kids.
Dave Benavidez won our runner selfie phtoo contest with this shot of himself and his two kids.

It turns out runners love to take selfies.

We felt sorry for Heidi Gaete, who took this selfie after falling down during a Christmas Day run.
We felt sorry for Heidi Gaete, who took this selfie after falling down during a Christmas Day run.
John Julitz took his runner selfie in Portland.
John Julitz took his runner selfie in Portland.

When we put out a call, asking readers to submit photographs they took of themselves during runs (or, perhaps more technically, while pausing during a run), we received a flurry of photographs.

The one overarching theme? Everyone was smiling.

Or almost everyone. One person – we’re talking about you, Holly Gaete – looked a little grumpy, but that was because it was taken shortly after she took during a Christmas Day run. (She got our sympathy vote, but in the end, it wasn’t enough.)

We love this shot of Jennifer Guernica and her dog Ferguson.
We love this shot of Jennifer Guernica and her dog Ferguson.

We got pics of runners with dogs, pictures of runners with their parents, pictures of runners with best friends, pictures of runners and their shadows and even a picture of someone wearing a bike helmet instead of running gear. We loved Les Morgan’s submission for his wife, who had never run a half marathon, Dana Boehme‘s happy shot of two women in burnt orange and John Julitz‘s shot in front of a mural in Portland.

Dana Boehme Johnson sent in this fun selfie.
Dana Boehme Johnson sent in this fun selfie.

But we had to pick a winner, and we couldn’t resist the photo Dave Benavidez took, with his two daughters in a stroller in the background.

We want to add to our collection of runner selfies. If you’ve got one you’d like included in our online gallery, email them to pleblanc@statesman.com.

To see our gallery, go to http://www.austin360.com/gallery/lifestyles/recreation/fit-city-running-selfies/gCQTc/ or visit the Fit City page on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/FitCityAustin.

Top swimmers racing in Austin at this week’s Arena Pro Swim Series

Natalie Coughlin will race at this week's Arena Pro Swim Series in Austin. Melissa Lundie Photography
Natalie Coughlin will race at this week’s Arena Pro Swim Series in Austin. Melissa Lundie Photography

Swim fans can watch Olympic gold medalists Ryan Lochte, Katie Ledecky and other big names streak across the water at the Arena Pro Swim Series in Austin this Thursday through Saturday.

The three-day meet at the University of Texas’ Lee & Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center marks the second stop of the 2014-15 Arena Pro Swim Series.

Ryan Lochte is also scheduled to compete. Melissa Lundie Photography
Ryan Lochte is also scheduled to compete. Melissa Lundie Photography

Other gold medalists expected to swim include Nathan Adrian, Tyler Clary, Natalie Coughlin, Anthony Ervin and Matt Grevers. In all, more than 40 National Team members will race, along with about 20 University of Texas men’s swimmers and Texas alumni Jimmy Feigen and Michael McBroom.

Prelims will begin each day at 9 a.m. followed by finals at 6 p.m. Single-session tickets will be for sale at the swim center during the meet. For more information go here.

The Arena Pro Swim Series features $300,000 in overall prize money. At each meet, $1,000 is awarded for a first-place finish, $600 for second and $200 for third. The overall male and female winners at the end of the series earn a $10,000 bonus.

Clary currently leads the men’s series standings and Olympic medalist Elizabeth Beisel, who is also scheduled to compete, tops the women’s standings.

“In many ways, it’s like playing in the same game as LeBron James or a Tour event with Tiger Woods,” said USA Swimming National Team Director Frank Busch.

Universal Sports Network will air live television coverage of the meet Friday and Saturday, Jan. 17 at 6 p.m. A webcast will also be available at usaswimming.org.

What are the biggest fitness trends of 2015?

Pro football players Fozzy Whittaker, Brian Orakpo, Derrick Johnson,  Emmanuel Acho and Pam LeBlanc take a barre class at Dancers Shape in 2014. Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman
Pro football players Fozzy Whittaker, Brian Orakpo, Derrick Johnson, Emmanuel Acho and Pam LeBlanc take a barre class at Dancers Shape in 2014. Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman

Fitness trends come and go, but I always seem to stick to the same basics for my core routine – swimming, biking and running.

Sure, I tried all kinds of new stuff in 2014. I punched away in a group boxing class, tested the waters of Bollywood dance, mounted a horse for a game of polo, joined a bunch of professional football players for a barre workout and trotted around an arena while standing astride two horses at once with a Roman riding expert.

So what will I try in 2015?

Pam LeBlanc, right, gets a lesson in polo in 2014.
Pam LeBlanc, right, gets a lesson in polo in 2014.

The American College of Sports Medicine predicts fitness trends each year, surveying more than 3,400 health and fitness professionals to find out what they think will be hot in the coming year.

This year, according to the organization, Americans will do more body weight training (it’s cheap and requires no extra equipment!), high intensity interval training (short bursts of activity followed by a quick rest), strength training, yoga and functional fitness (exercises designed to improve balance and make doing daily tasks easier).

We’ll also hire more personal trainers, sign up for fitness programs geared toward older adults and find a friend or two to take a “group personal training” session with us.

Want to know more about fitness trends in the coming year? Read the entire survey here.

I’m hooked on my new TickrX fitness wearable

Here's a screen grab from the home page of my WahooFitness ap. I'm using a TickrX wearable to track runs.
Here’s a screen grab from the home page of my WahooFitness ap. I’m using a TickrX wearable to track runs.

I’ve been swept up in the fitness world’s obsession with wearables.

Most recently, I’ve gotten addicted to a nifty new gadget called the TickerX from WahooFitness, which is smarter than me.

By far.

I wanted it so I could track mileage, pace, heart rate and calorie burn, and map my routes. I’m getting ready for the Big Bend Ultra 30K in West Texas later this month, and this little device gives me all that plus a lot more information.

tickrx

It tells me everything from cadence (stride rate) to smoothness in three dimensions – left to right, up and down and forward-backward. It tells me how many milliseconds my foot is in contact with the ground, and my body oscillation. All that, presumably, will help me correct my form.

To make it work, I snap on a chest strap and tuck my iPhone into an armpocket. (Or you can skip the phone and it’ll remember your heart rate, calorie burn and workout duration and sync it later).

It’s addictive.

When the workout’s done, I find myself scrolling through page after page of graphs that illustrate all my critical data. I can tell you that the hilly 14-mile trail run I did on New Year’s Day burned more calories than the flat 15-miler I ran on Christmas Day. I was a lot less smooth off road, too. The maps and graphs are so good I can see when I stopped for a stoplight or to tie a shoe.

My only complaint? I don’t like wearing a chest strap or an arm pocket to hold an iPhone, especially when it’s hot outside. But for now, it’s worth the annoyance.

It sells for about $100.

New 5K Spring Series ties together three small Austin races

The St. James 5K in March is one of the few races staged in East Austin.
The St. James 5K in March is part of the new 5K Spring Series.

A new Austin race series links three small but unique Austin 5K runs.

Runners who do the Paramount Break-a-Leg 5K on Feb. 15, the Austin Community College Fairway 5K on March 1, and the St. James Missions 5K on March 28 get a special commemorative shirt for completing the 5K Spring Series.

The Run Austin Project unveiled the series this week, saying it gives people who resolve to stay fit in 2015 a boost of motivation in the form of three homegrown, authentically Austin events. There’s no extra cost beyond each race’s entry fee.

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The series starts with the Paramount Break-a-Leg 5K, staged alongside the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon, which benefits the Paramount Theater in downtown Austin. The ACC Fairway 5K benefits Austin Community College student scholarships and takes place on the Riverside Golf Course adjacent to the ACC Riverside Campus. The series wraps up with the St. James Missions 5K, which benefits the Alzheimer’s Association of Austin and is one of the few races in east Austin.

To register, go to the 5K Spring Series link here or go to the individual race website for each event and pay the individual race entry fees.

The series is non-competitive and no awards will be presented, although each race gives its own age-group and overall awards.

“It’s a bit of an experiment in ‘social engineering,’ trying to get running events to collaborate with each other rather than compete with each other,” said John Conley, head of Conley Sports Productions and race director of the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon as well as the Paramount 5K. “Races seem to be cannibalizing each other and very few events work together to cross-promote. These three little 5Ks have a collaborative spirit that is sustainable for the long-haul.”

USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships take place at Zilker Park this week

Athletes race in the 2014 Cyclo-cross National Championships in this file photo by Eddie Clark for USA Cycling. This year's event is at Zilker Park.
Athletes race in the 2014 Cyclo-cross National Championships in this file photo by Eddie Clark for USA Cycling. This year’s event is at Zilker Park.

Video: Cyclo-cross National Championships rider Fred Schmid, 81

Think of cyclo-cross racing as steeple chase contested on bicycles instead of horses.

Competitors zip around a short course, leaping on and off their bikes, dashing over obstacles like rocky steps, steep hills or downed logs, and getting covered in mud. The fan base mirrors the sport – spectators get rowdy, cheering on their favorite athletes, drinking beer (and even offering it to passing cyclists) and getting splashed with mud themselves.

This week, the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships take place at Zilker Park, 2100 Barton Springs Road. Cyclists will scramble through woods, cross railroad ties, hop down limestone stairs and over wooden ramps, carrying their bikes on their shoulders at the toughest points as they compete for the national crown.

The athletes ride bikes that combine elements of road racers and mountain bikes – they’re lightweight with narrow tires and drop handlebars, but they also have knobby tire treads, lower gearing and bulkier frames. Races test riders’ aerobic endurance and bike handling skills – and their pit crew’s ability to get mud out of bike chains and make on the fly repairs.

The event is actually a second for Austin. The championships took place here 37 years ago. This year, they’ll unfold on a course that weaves all over 350 acres at Zilker Park. Packet pickup starts Tuesday at Bicycle Sport Shop. The course will be open for pre-riding from 2-6 p.m.The real competition begins at 10 a.m. Wednesday with non-championship races, and continues through Sunday, when the pros line up at the start line. In between are juniors, collegiate, masters and relay races for men and women of all ages. The pro women race at 2:45 p.m. Sunday, followed by the pro men at 4 p.m. Sunday. To see a complete schedule, go here.

Here’s the course:

map

Paramount to host ‘Anchorman’ pub run and screening

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The Paramount will host an Anchorman pub run, costume contest and screening on Jan. 13.

Time to brush off your leisure suit, folks.

The Paramount Theatre will celebrate the legend of Ron Burgundy and his Action News crew with a pub run, costume contest and movie screening on Tuesday, Jan. 13.

The run starts at 6 p.m., followed by the film at 7:45 p.m. Cost for both is $20. The movie by itself is $10.

Participants will walk or run to an as yet undisclosed nearby newsworthy destination and enjoy a pint of local brew before heading back to watch the movie. Everyone will get two tickets good for beer, soda or popcorn.

Registration and ID check begins at 6 p.m. at the Stateside Theatre, 719 Congress Ave. Proceeds benefit the historic Paramount Theatre. For more information go here. http://www.austintheatre.org/site/Calendar/1551530560?view=Detail&id=42521

And in honor of the movie, we now present some of our favorite “Anchorman” quotes:

  • “I immediately regret this decision.” — Ron Burgundy
  • “I love scotch. Scotchy scotch scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly.” — Ron Burgundy
  • “It is anchorman, not anchorlady. And that is a scientific fact.” — Champ Kind
  • “Discovered by the Germans in 1904, they named it San Diego, which of course in German means ‘a whale’s vagina.’” — Ron Burgundy
  • “Don’t act like you’re not impressed.” — Ron Burgundy
  • “They’ve done studies, you know. 60 percent of the time, it works every time.” — Brian Fantana
  • “I’ll have a Manhattan. And kick the vermouth to the side with a pair of steel-toed boots.” — Veronica Corningstone
  • “I’m very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.” — Ron Burgundy
  • “I love lamp.” — Brick Tamland

2015 Fitness Challenge planned in Round Rock

Family members participate in a Zumba class in this file photo from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Family members participate in a Zumba class in this file photo from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Want to get the entire family on track in the new year?

Head to Round Rock for the 2015 Fitness Challenge, set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 10 at the Round Rock Baca Center, 301 Bagdad Avenue.

A 5K Family Fun Walk (dogs allowed), a push-up contest, mini-classes in Jazzercise for seniors, seated yoga, Zumba, a fitness boot camp, food, health and fitness vendors, kids vision screenings and live music are all planned.

The event is sponsored by the Round Rock Noon Lions Club. Admission is $5 for singles, $10 for families and $10/person for the push-up contest. Proceeds will fund Lion projects in the community and around the state.

For information on the event call 512-934-2491. For push-up contest information call 512-468-8248.

Fit City’s favorite races of 2014 …

Team Statesman jumps for joy before the 2014 Zilker Relays. Photo by Chris LeBlanc.
Team Statesman jumps for joy before the 2014 Zilker Relays. Photo by Chris LeBlanc.

I raced up a mountain, down a river, through city streets and across a desert in 2014. In all, I crossed the finish line of about 15 events last year, and I’m already plotting my 2015 race calendar.

Here is my 2014 list of favorites …

  • Favorite free run: For nearly 20 years, runners have criss-crossed the city for the Black-Eyed Pea Run, starting near the Arboretum and heading downtown, with detours up Mount Bonnell for the gluttons for punishment in the group. For 2015 (because of city regulations) the Jan. 1 running route will start at finish at Rogue Running on Pressler and stick to city trails. Not sure if that’ll be as much fun, but I’m going to find out.
  • Favorite Long Distance Trail Run: For the last three years, I’ve headed to Big Bend for the Big Bend Ultra, where I opt for the 25K distance. Trust me when I tell you there’s nothing more soul soothing than watching the sun come up over the Chisos Mountains at Big Bend National Park. I’m headed west again this year, but the race moves to Big Bend Ranch State Park farther west. Onward!
  • Favorite local open water swim: The Cap2K starts at Red Bud Isle and finishes at the Texas Rowing Center next to Austin High School. The spring swim is chilly, it’s refreshing, you can watch great blue herons and turtles along the way, and it’s downhill – what else do you need? A post-race picnic? OK, it’s got that too.
  • Favorite Mountain Bike Event: Again, head to the Big Bend, where Texas Parks and Wildlife Department teams with Desert Sports to put on a multi-day mountain biking event which includes my favorite ride – a two-day journey with an overnight in the Big House at the park’s headquarters in Sauceda, where you can take a hot shower. Heaven.
  • Favorite Austin 10K: I love the annual rite of spring we call the Cap 10K, especially when you’ve made it up that brutal hill on Enfield Drive and are about to turn left onto the Loop 1 access road and a high school band underneath the overpass starts playing the theme from “Rocky.” Chills, every time.
  • Favorite Beach Town 5K: Another first for me in 2014 – the Bay St. Louis Crab Festival 5K. The best part? The prizes – an assortment of fireworks, which we set off that night along with several hundred other revelers near the beach.
  • Favorite Out-of-State Road Race: I’ve been racing the Blueberry Festival 5K in South Haven, Michigan, for more than 20 years, so I’m biased. Two years ago they added a 10K, so I did the races back to back. I did them again this year. The weather’s always cool even thought it’s August, and finishers get to gorge on blueberries. Yum!
  • Favorite Costume Run: When else can I pull out my Superwoman costume, complete with cape, and dash alongside Superman and Batman? The CASA Superhero Run, which moved this year to the Cedar Park Center, makes me feel fleet-footed and super-powered, and proceeds go to a great cause.
  • Favorite Relay: For the first time in 2014, I ran the Zilker Relays, a long-time tradition among the city’s running community. Teams of four blaze through Zilker Park for city-wide bragging rights, but you don’t have to be an elite to participate. This year, the weather changed for each leg of the race – hot and sunny, then pre-storm humidity, then downpour and finally clearing skies. And Team Statesman won the media division!
  • Favorite Out-of-State Trail Run: I tackled The Rut 12K in Big Sky, Montana this year, running about 6 miles straight up a mountain, then descending 2 more (with the help of ropes to get down the steepest parts) to the base. I still can’t believe how much fun it was!

What’s on your 2015 race calendar?