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Team Livestrong 2011 – Geek Turned Athlete

Team Livestrong 2011

My friend, Bryan whom I met and raced with in Germany, needs your help!!! Here is his story. To think that he could barely walk up stairs in 2008, then accomplish all of these things is amazing to me.  Get ready to be inspired. 😉

In 2008, I was diagnosed with and treated for Thyroid Cancer. The surgery, time without thyroid hormone, and the radioactive iodine treatments left me barely able to walk up a flight of stairs without help. The seemingly endless search for the proper medication dosage didn’t make it any better.

This “low point” showed me how bad I could feel and helped me appreciate the simple things in life. Being able to run, something I hadn’t pursued for years, became a focus for me in the next few months. Although slow at first, I was gradually able to build back my strength and start a new phase in life.


A year after my treatment, I decided to try my first triathlon in Metz, France. As a lifelong swimmer, I was able to complete the first leg without a problem. As someone who never really rode a bike, except around the neighborhood as a child, I found the cycling leg to be the most challenging. The fact that I was riding a $90 “Catapult” mountain bike probably didn’t help. Although only a sprint distance, it was enough for me to realize that it was a sport I enjoyed. I took the advice of a friend and catapulted the “Catapult,” in favor of an Orbea Onix and began my cycling training. One more sprint in Regensburg, Germany ended my 2009 “season.”

A year later I was declared Cancer Free. In order to celebrate my full recovery, I decided to participate in several races to include the Paris Marathon, Berlin Marathon, and Antwerp Ironman 70.3 Triathlon and raise money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Since the LAF inspired me to bounce back from cancer, I figured I could pay them back.


My fundraising efforts began with a goal of $1000 for my run in Paris (yes, that is me in the pic too!). Since my last marathon—let alone “long run”—was in 1994, I wasn’t sure how I would react to pushing myself for an endurance event. The race went well, however, despite a bad fall just past the halfway point, and I was able to beat my previous marathon time by more than 10 minutes. I was still just over the mythical “4 hour” point, but I was happy to have finished and be able to walk the next day.


“Remission Euro Tour 2010” continued with many other events to include the Deutsche Weinstraße Halb marathon, Metz Triathlon (this time the Olympic distance), Bonn Tri (international), and the Baumholder Tri (Olympic). All of these events led to the highlight of my season—the Antwerp Ironman 70.3 Triathlon.

To someone who had only been in the sport for a year, the idea of a half Ironman event was daunting. I was determined to complete it, no longer how long it took. Setting my goal at a realistic “finish the race” allowed me to train without worrying about time—just focusing on getting in the distance. After completing the Bonn tri, I was pretty sure I could finish. I decided to skip my scheduled Luxembourg tri in order to do a 56 mile training ride on the hottest day of the year—just to make sure.

In the end, Antwerp went much better than expected. Not only did I finish, but I finished in just over 5 and a half hours (WOW!!!). This was almost inconceivable for someone who could barely walk up the stairs two years prior.

Katie Livestrong.jpg

Can I just say that I find it adorable that she is wearing a bracelet too. 😉

The 2010 season was halted briefly for the arrival of our third child, Katie. Although the Berlin marathon was just a month away, I decided to “wing it” and extend my running taper that began just after Paris. I was able to participate in the Saarschleife-Halb marathon and Rhein-Ahr-Triathlon in the weeks leading up to Berlin, but would arrive at race day without running more than 15 miles since April. Despite this, the Berlin Marathon became my new PR—breaking the 4 hour mark with 3 minutes to spare!

Berlin stadium.jpg

For 2011, I was selected to join Team LIVESTRONG in the London Marathon. This is a chance of a lifetime for me–first, to run in London, and second, to represent the Lance Armstrong foundation while doing it. In order to get this opportunity, I will be raising $2,500 for the LAF. You can follow my progress on Posterous or Twitter.

Eeeeeek!  He met Lance!!!

If anyone is interested in making a contribution, Please click here. For those that have already donated, thanks again–all I ask is that you pass this on to anyone else who might be willing to support the cause. If you haven’t donated, please consider a donation to TeamLIVESTRONG Livestrong to help me celebrate my Cancer Free anniversary.

Fundraising postcard - Page 001.jpg

Bryan, you are truly inspiring, and I’m so proud to call you my friend. :)

First off, be thankful that you CAN move, and you are healthy enough to even walk if you are!!!

Second, please donate something if you can to this great cause! Even if it is just $5. Every little bit helps!! Please link or tweet if you want to as well!! The more people we can get this out to, the better chance Bryan has to get to his goal!!!

Thank you so much!!!

{ 8 comments… add one }

  • Heather (Where's the Beach) February 8, 2011, 5:51 am

    What an inspiration. Thanks so much for sharing this!
    Heather (Where’s the Beach) recently posted..Not So Fun Facts Friday

  • Melie February 8, 2011, 10:53 am

    this is such an inspiring story! And a great way to celebrate a cancer-free anniversary! I’m sure he’ll make his goal. I will totally help a little bit :-)
    Melie recently posted..Surf City half-marathon recap

    • Nicole February 8, 2011, 11:27 am

      Thank you so much!!!

  • LIVESTRONG February 8, 2011, 1:33 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing this story with us and with others. We are so glad to have Bryan on Team LIVESTRONG. See you soon and good luck!

    • Nicole February 8, 2011, 1:36 pm

      I’m happy to do anything I can to help! LIVESTRONG is such an awesome organization doing great things!!

  • Joanna Burgraf February 9, 2011, 12:42 pm

    Nicole, thanks for sharing such an inspiring story. Bryan you are an amazing testament to what the human body can achieve. You are living proof that human beings are strong, resilient and can do whatever they put their minds to. Congratulations on being a living example to others.
    Joanna Burgraf recently posted..Full flavor and food philosophy

  • Jess February 9, 2011, 2:08 pm

    Wow. Speachless. Totally inspired. And YES, this totally reminds me to always, always, always be thankful to be ABLE and HEALTHY to run, bike, swim, to MOVE. Thanks for sharing.
    Jess recently posted..Step into my home gym- won’t you

  • Queenie February 9, 2012, 2:56 am

    Live your life to the fullest until you feel truly satisfied. I had made your story as one of the thing that truly inspires me to keep moving on. It was never easy to be like you, you should be also feel lucky then and as well make your everyday life worth.
    Queenie recently posted..thyroid hair loss in women


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