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Bill's Blog
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Bill's Blog

I Won The Marathon

I won the marathon.

I finished two hours behind the first-place finisher, but I guarantee that nobody in that field of 30,000 had a better time than I had. 

With Catherine by my side for the entire 26.2 miles, just as she has been through my entire journey through cancer, we crossed the finish line of the Seattle Rock n Roll Marathon together in 4:11.  It was one of my slowest marathons ever, but it was by far the most satisfying. It was Catherine’s first marathon, so that made it special.  It was my sixth marathon.  But this one was symbolic.  A year ago, I finished the Rock n Roll Half Marathon, halfway through cancer treatment.   Now that my treatment is done, and I am cancer-free (Man, I like the sound of that), I decided to run the whole thing.  I approached it like I was taking a victory lap, after kicking cancer’s ass.  As the miles dropped away, and I started to feel a dull ache in my legs, and my feet grew numb, I thought about what I was feeling as I ran the course a year ago, in the midst of chemotherapy.  I remembered the sickness in my gut, and the fog of fatigue that I couldn’t shake, forcing me to stop and walk several times along the way.

But on Saturday, I felt fantastic.  I had a smile on my face.  I laughed the entire way, taking pictures and shooting videos as I sang along with the bands.  I had a blast.  I hooted.  I hollered.  I annoyed some of the other marathoners.

At about the 22-mile mark, I was shouting loudly while backpedaling, checking on Catherine, who was plugging away like a champ.  As she passed a woman, she asked Catherine, “What is the deal with that guy?” Catherine replied, “Oh, he’s just waiting on me.” 

She could have said, “Oh, that guy? He just beat cancer, and now, he’s enjoying the heck out of himself as he crushes this marathon.”  But that was probably more information than the woman needed.

Catherine and I ran the marathon under the DetermiNation  banner, raising $1500 through friends and family for the American Cancer Society.  And now, I am launching a new fundraising effort.  Next Sunday, some of my more well-known friends from the Seattle area have generously donated their time  for what we are calling the Everett Aquasox Celebrity Baseball Classic .  The Q13 FOX “Q-Balls” will take on the KISW radio “Foul Balls”, in a baseball game, right after the Everett Aquasox game against the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. 

It’s happening Sunday, July 25th at Everett’s Memorial Stadium.  The Aquasox play at 2pm, so the celebrity game will get underway at about 4:30 or 5pm.

It’s a baseball doubleheader, and a portion of the ticket proceeds will go toward the American Cancer Society IF YOU BUY YOUR TICKETS HERE:  http://ea1.glitnirticketing.com/eaticket/web/logingroup1.php?&refresh=1274744082
**The password code is acs (lower case)

The Q-Balls are made up of 11 Q13 FOX on-air personalities and some other local notables, such as former Mariner Bucky Jacobsen, Silvertips captain Mitch Love, and two members of the National Champion Washington Stealth Lacrosse team, Jason Bloom and Lewis Ratcliff.

The Foul Balls are made up of KISW radio personalities including the hosts of “The BJ Shea Morning Experience” and “The Men’s Room”.  The Foul Balls have also tapped a few ringers, such as former Husky Basketball stars and current NBA players, Jon Brockman and Spencer Hawes.

There will be a number of fantastic items available at a silent auction which will take place during the game.  Among the items auctioned off will be the game-worn, autographed jerseys of the celebrities.

I hope you can join us on Sunday, July 25th at the Aquasox game.  It’s going to be a great time, as we raise money for a terrific cause. 

 

 

 

My TV Acting Debut: Don't Blink or You'll Miss It.

I recently had a chance to spend a day on the Dallas set of the FOX show, "The Good Guys ".  I had a chance to chat with the stars of the show, and even spent a day performing as an extra, a day that turned into a triumphant tale of Hollywood dreams coming true, in the blink of an eye.  Or something.

A day on the set of "The Good Guys" begins with a rehearsal.

And as the scene progressed, I watched intently, recording every moment on my iPhone. I wanted to be the best extra I could be.

Jenny Ryan is one of the co-stars of "The Good Guys". "I, myself, did background acting when i first moved to LA", Ryan tells me. So, I wanted to know what does it take to be a great extra?

"Hmmm", Ryan pondered a moment. "A great extra? Bring deodorant. And a good book. And a cell phone charger."

For my first scene, I was "cast" as one half of a happy couple, exiting the bank happily after receiving good news about a loan. The stars of the show, Colin Hanks and Bradley Whitford, were shooting a scene across the street, and we would be "background".

That's didn't go so well. After missing our cue to exit the bank, our role changed a bit: from happy couple leaving bank, to happy couple walking down street. And we walked up the street. We walked down the street. We chatted with other happy couples as they walked down the street. I mean, it was brilliant work we were pulling off there.

After one take I was pretty sure that Bradley Whitford noticed the fine acting that was being displayed. And as it turns out, I was right. He did notice.

"You were across the street", Whitford tells me. "I wouldn't consider yourself a great extra. My advice is less. Most people go with opposing hands when walking, but you were going with kind of a llama thing."

I told him and Colin Hanks that I was hoping to get noticed and clearly it worked.

"We'll see if you make the final cut", Hanks says.

As it turned out, I didn't make the final cut on the street scene. But all of that walking made me hungry. So I wandered over to Craft Services, which is a deluxe lunch wagon, that caters to the productions crews every need. Five different kinds of coffee, nine different kinds of creamer. Nuts, and candy, and snacks, and a full sandwich bar. But then I glanced over and noticed a sign which read:

"NO EXTRAS. SORRY"

And I was escorted out of Craft Services.

But just then, when I least expected it, my big break. One of the crew members asked me if I wanted to change roles and become a uniformed officer. I jumped at the chance.

You can see my network debut as "Officer #3" on "The Good Guys", Monday at 9pm, on Q13 FOX. But don't blink. You might miss it.

"Bill's Journey" wins an Emmy

When I was diagnosed with cancer last May, I walked into my bosses' office and said,  "I need to to talk to you." 

I sat down with my News Director and Managing Editor and revealed the breaking news.  I had cancer.  Hodgkins Lymphoma.  I didn't know what it meant for my long-term health, but was told that there was a very good chance that I would beat it.  I went on to tell them that I had discussed this thoroughly with my wife, and had decided that we were willing to go public with my diagnosis and do some stories on my treatment.

As my photographer Walker Anderson and I started doing stories on my treatment, I decided not to shy away from any aspect.  We took viewers inside my chemotherapy sessions, and showed what it's like to receive intravenous chemotherapy infusions.  We showed what it's like to lose your hair.  We showed what it's like for the family dealing with cancer.  We took viewers inside the radiation chamber, and showed what that process is like.  We did 16 stories on my treatment over a four month span, and covered it from the beginning of treatment to the end. 

Viewers have responded overwhelmingly.  It's clear that we've done some good.  We've raised some awareness and some money to fight cancer.

                                   

On Saturday, Walker and I were honored with Emmy awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for "Bill's Journey".  It's a pretty rough way to win an Emmy, but it is still gratifying. 

Race Ready? Expert Marathon Training Tips

Over 26,000 people are training for the Rock'n'Roll Seattle marathon and I'm one of them.

Last year, I was halfway through my chemotherapy in my battle against cancer, when I ran the Half Marathon.

Now, the June 26th race day is fast approaching and I'll be honest with you, I'm not ready for to run the Full Marathon. I injured my foot during training and haven't put in as much mileage as I would like, so I'm a little concerned.

So, I connected with 4-time Seattle Marathon champion and marathon coach Dave Steffens, who gave me some great training strategies, and convinced me that I really can do this.

Steffens told me at this point, with the race coming up in just three weeks, the one thing I shouldn't do is panic, because the truth is, almost all of us haven't trained as much or as well as we should have, but really, it's okay.

"Calm down, don't panic and don't try to do everything at once," says Steffens, "listen to your body in spite of what this says."

By this point, you should have completed at least a few long runs, a couple ten milers for the half, 20 milers for the full marathon.

But if you haven't, like me, now is not the time to play catchup.

Steffens says, "you really need rested legs, no matter what, on race day."

He also says you should try to get at least one long run in now, a month or three weeks out, and then back off on the mileage.

"You don't need to do it as close as you think," he says, "so, you don't want to get injured and you want to be prepared and if you do the long run too close to the event, there can be an injury issue."

A we get closer to race day, your diet becomes more important.

Carbs are your friend.

So, eat well, don't try to lose weight and don't be alarmed if you gain 2-to-4 pounds in the final days before the race.

Steffens says "If you taper and you eat carbohydrates, you are storing glycogen, your fuel, into your muscles. and for every gram of glycogen in your muscle it requires 2 grams of water. So you're gain some weight, it's not fat. and it's needed for the marathon or the half to get you through it."

The other thing to think about right now is your shoes. Buy a new pair of race day running shoes. You can expect to pay $100 or more for a good quality pair from a respected running store. It's the best investment you can make to avoid injury here in the final weeks before the race.

I'm running with the American Cancer Society's Determination team and raising money for cancer research. If you want to help me and the team out, click here to make a donation to my team .  I appreciate it!

DetermiNation

A year ago, I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. I shared every step of my journey through treatment with Q13 FOX viewers and I am very happy to say that I am now cancer free.

Halfway through chemotherapy, I ran the Seattle Rock n Roll Half Marathon . Now that I have completed treatment, I am running the whole thing--26.2 miles.

I've had some issues during training. I had a foot injury, which has forced me to cut down my mileage.

And there's this other thing. Even though it's been six months since I completed radiation, I still have this weird side effect. Every time I look down, particularly when i exercise, like when I look at my shoes when I run, I get this tingling down my spine and my legs go numb for a second. So I try not to do that. It's freaky. So, I just try to keep looking forward.

                                             
So, that's why I'm running: to celebrate my victory over cancer, and to symbolically complete my journey. I am running with the American Cancer Society's DetermiNation team for the Rock n Roll Marathon on June 26th, and I need your help. I am looking to raise $5000 to help fight cancer.

There is a link to donate to my team right here! I appreciate your support! 
                     

Down The Stretch I Come

Once I received the "all clear" from the doctors, I started training in earnest for the Rock n Roll Seattle Marathon.  I have run five marathons before, but this will be my first in six years.  It's been interesting getting back into the groove, and getting a feel for marathon training with this older, and battle-worn body of mine. 
                  
Last month, I got a little jolt of inspiration.  I traveled to Boston and cheered on my sister-in-law as she took part in the Boston Marathon.  Boston is Mecca for marathon runners, and I hope to one day qualify to run it. 

                                            

I snapped this picture while I was out for a run along the marathon course on the Sunday afternoon before the race.

The next morning, Patriots Day, Catherine and I went out and tried to track down my sis-in-law Sarah, out on the course.  It's tough to do.  With 30,000 runners, it's truly like finding a needle in the haystack.  The marathon provided some text alerts that never came down, so I was unable to track her that way, so Catherine and I took the train to the base of the famed Heartbreak Hill in hopes of finding her.  Miraculously, the moment we emerged from the train, we glanced out at the course in front of us, and there was Sarah! I immediately stripped off my sweatpants and ran after her.  Fortunately, I was wearing running shorts, or that could have been really ugly.  I ended up running the final 10 miles of the marathon with her, veering off the course near the finish.  It was a pretty incredible experience, running through the campus of Boston College, and through the streets of the city, among the screaming throngs of thousands.  It probably wasn't great form, jumping in and running part of the race like that, but Sarah really appreciated it.  She said I helped keep her going through the final miles of the race.  She and the other racers, in turn, inspired me to get serious about my training and the upcoming Rock n Roll marathon .  

My training has been anything but smooth.  Almost as soon as I began, the injuries started. Somehow, some way, I managed to injure my left arm.  I simply woke up one morning back in January and it was aching badly.  I honestly have no idea how I did it, but three doctors diagnosed it as bursitis.   It hurt badly.  I received a cortisone shot, and the pain has subsided, but it still hasn't healed completely.  My range of motion has been severely limited,and I still feel popping in that shoulder, and still have issues with a sharp, nagging pain at times when I run.

I also injured my foot.  I suffered a mild case of plantar fasciitis in my right foot, by stupidly training in worn out running shoes.  It was an honest mistake, though.  I accidentally started wearing an old pair of Brooks Adrenalines that are identical to my new pair.  I could figure out why my foot started hurting, but after about a week, I figured it out.  The damage was done though.  I had to back out of the Kirkland half-marathon a few weeks ago, and greatly decreased my mileage. 

The foot is feeling much better now, and my training is coming along much better now.  The problem though, is that I am way behind.  If I had been following my training schedule, I would have five long runs under my belt, ranging in distance from 17-20 miles.  As it stands, I have done one long run, a 17-miler, about a month ago.  I plan to get a few 20-milers under my belt and give the marathon a go. 

I won't finish with a great time, but I will finish the thing.   

Without a Trace

"No visible trace of cancer", read the lab report from my 6-month post-cancer PET scan.

I didn't celebrate.  I fully expected it.  I felt relieved.  I don't have to go back to the hospital for six months.  That means no more poking and prodding with needles.  No more scheduling regular appointments.  No more getting gouged for parking.  These are huge upsides.  Oh yeah.  And the death of cancer in my body.  That's big too.

I am very grateful to have my life back.  The problem is, my life looks completely different from the one I left a year ago when I was diagnosed with cancer.  My family is still here.  I love them more than ever.   My job is still here.  I can still do it pretty effectively.   I drive the same car, live in the same house, and have pretty much the same friends.  At the same time, it's like my entire understanding of my reality was sucked through a jet engine, now twisting and flailing in the jetwash. 

Realizing that I really might lose this life made it much more precious to me.  I gained a lot of respect for it.  I haven't spent much time dwelling on death, but I have spent a lot of time thinking about living.  I have analyzed the choices that I have made in this life.  The missteps and the triumphs.  I have come to one conclusion so far.  I need to wring every ounce of experience out of this thing or I will regret it forever.

This is not some great revelation.  I felt that way before my battle with cancer.  But now I am determined to live that way.  

I'm Radioactive

Okay, so I went to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance on Monday for my 6-month PET scan.  Once they inject you with this radioactive tracer, the tech leaves the room in a hurry.  At that point, I am nuclear.  I am truly radioactive.  When I leave, they give me a little card explaining to a potential airport screener exactly why I keep setting off the alarms.  I only stay radioactive for a few hours, but it sounds impressive.  That tracer will act like a beacon, illuminating my insides, and giving doctors a clear look at what is happening inside me.  The PET scan will pick up the most minute irregularities--something as trivial as chest congestion can be detected.

Unbeknownst to me, I was also scheduled to undergo a CAT scan.  For that test, they inject you with a sugar solution, which attaches to irregular cells.
 
I said to the nurse, "I bet it's probably a good idea to avoid sugar if you're a cancer patient."  She nodded and said, "The cancer is attracted to sugar like a moth to the flame, so it makes sense."  It's the first time I have ever heard anyone with a lab coat tell me that it might be a good idea to watch my diet.  It's not something medical doctors seem to be all that comfortable in discussing.

I can't make my follow-up appointment on Thursday morning, because I am doing the morning show this week.  They rescheduled me for April 14th.  That seems like a long time to have to wait for the results of a test in which my hangs in the balance.  I told the scheduler that if they find cancer or something important, go ahead and give me a call.

My training got interrupted a bit by the PET scan, but I am back on track.  Ran twelve miles yesterday, cross-trainined by skating with the Legends of Lunch Hockey today,  and I'll run six tomorrow.  I feel okay.  My legs need to get in better shape.  I got pretty fatigued toward the end.   The numbness in my spine and legs continues when I bend my neck forward.  So I try not to do that.  It's freaky.




The Big Climb

Last Sunday, I woke up early to climb 1,311 steps to the top of the Columbia Tower. 


     

Over 6,000 people showed up to climp 728 vertical feet.  Even more impressive was how much money we raised: over $1.4 million for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Truly amazing.

I was tired that morning, and Catherine said I was a little grumpy.  It's entirely possible.  I didn't get off of work until 11pm the night before and had to meet our team at 8:30am Sunday.  I was dragging, so I needed a jolt of coffee.  I'm usually not much of a coffee drinker, but in this instance, I made an exception.  I went to shake hands with a member of our team, and promptly dumped the cup of coffee all over my new shirt.  Brilliant.

Monday is my third post-treatment PET scan, which will show whether the cancer is staying away.  Obviously, I am praying for a clean scan.  The day before the scan, I have to eat an all-protein diet.  That means no sugar, no carbohydrates, no exercise, for 24 hours.  They need to have my body free of all sugars, because they need the body clear of all inflammatory agents so they can get a true sense of whether there is any inflammation in the body.  It's going to be difficult to do.  Will is having his 10th birthday party tomorrow.  No cake, ice cream or pizza for me.  I'm also falling a bit behind in my marathon training.  I am supposed to run 13 miles tomorrow, and I'm not allowed to do that.  I will have fudge my training schedule a bit next week.

I'll let you know how it goes.  Wish me luck.

Endurance

This might be my least favorite day of the year.  This is "spring forward" day.  It's the start of daylight savings, the day when we lose an hour of sleep.  It's the day when I get off of work, and all of a sudden, it's midnight instead of 11.  It's the morning after, and I woke up at 9:45.  Church starts at 10.  Despite that, I managed to roll out of bed, shower, rally the kids, grab a vanilla latte at the espresso stand, and make it to church by 10:15.  Impressive, huh?  I'm really glad I went.

The message by Pastor Peter Van Breda at Bellevue Foursquare Church was about endurance.  It really spoke to me.  I know a thing or two about endurance. He talked about how it seems like every time we achieve a little victory in life, we are then presented with a trial to perservere through.  It almost works like it's meant to be that way.  He discussed some specific characteristics of dealing with trials in life: humility, compassion and faith. 

A few years ago, I travelled to China with a fascinating group of students who were studying the topic of Christianity in China.  And you talk about strong faith.  Chinese Christians risk being jailed for their faith.  Just showing up at church puts them at risk.  Pastor Van Breda and I met with one Christian leader in the city of Xian, and it was complete cloak and dagger stuff.  We had to follow two blocks behind him, and make sure we weren't being followed by the secret police.  We were then secreted into a private room at a restaurant which was considered safe.  It was very strange to see such restrictions on what you are legally allowed to believe. On that trip, we also visited a large Christian church in Shanghai.  After attending secret services in Beijing and Xian, we wondered how this guy was able to operate this huge, markedly Christian church in downtown Shanghai.  Well, he isn't anymore.  The government shut him down, and made him discontinue his ministry.  He says he thought that he was getting so big and so powerful, that the government wouldn't want to take him on.  That was pride talking, and that caused his fall.  The government shut him off like a light switch.  A little victory, followed by a trial.

I have dealt with pride issues in my life.  One of those times was when I was working at Fox Sports Net. I was rapidly promoted to a primary anchor role there.  I was getting some national exposure for the first time in my career, and started believing some of the hype. I started feeling that somehow I was entitled to this success, that it was my destiny finally coming to fruition.  I think I treated some people poorly along the way.  My pride was getting the best of me.  Then came the trial.  After three years there, my contract wasn't renewed.  Suddenly, I was out of work.  I was hurt and confused and bewildered. 

I had a hockey game a few days after receiving that news, and I remember sitting on the bench before the game.  I was all by myself as the Zambini resurfaced the ice.  I closed my eyes, leaned my helmet up against my stick and whispered, "What is this about, God? What are you doing here?" After a moment of silence, I clearly heard a response:

"I'm sorry it had to be this way, but I had to get your attention." 

That was it.  All I heard. My attention?  Why?  For what?  I had to do some soul-searching.  I soon realized what it meant.  I needed to be humbled.  Once I stopped talking, and started listening, things started to turn my way once again. 

I remember very clearly calling out to God, claiming one specific job at KCPQ to be mine.  I had no reason to think I would get that job.  I did make a call to the news director there, and sent him a DVD of my work, but hadn't heard anything back.  I was driving home after a run, soaking in sweat, screaming to God, "I claim that job in the name of Jesus.  That job is mine.  I consider it done.  Thanks, God."  I went home and jumped in the shower.   Through the sound of spraying water, I heard Catherine calling my name.  "It's KCPQ", she said.  And a new chapter in my life began.  The job I ended up getting at KCPQ was even better than the one I had claimed.  In many respects, it was better than the one I lost at Fox Sports.  God works like that.

I've talked many times about how my journey through cancer humbled me.  And through that humility, I have been able to reach many people on a whole new level.  Through humility has come compassion.  I am honored to be allowed into the lives of others.  I think part of the reason why folks can relate to my struggle is because it is all so remarkably ordinary and common.  We all understand trial.  But it's really all about endurance.

As I continue training for the Seattle Rock n Roll marathon, I think about mile 20 a lot.  Or mile 22.  If you've never been there, you don't know what it's like after running for 3 hours--or more-- and seeing the sign denoting the 22 mile mark.  You know what you are feeling at that point?  Pain. A lot of pain.  And you're thinking, "Really?  4 more miles?  Oh no!  I will never do this again.  No chance"  Your thighs are aching.  Your calves are cramping.  Your stomach is queasy.  Your feet are swollen and sore.  But you keep going.  You look at all the people around you, looking tired and fatigued.  They are gonna make it.  And so are you.  You will make it to the finish line.  You will crawl to the finish line if you have to.  That's endurance.

Then the finish is in sight.  You sprint to the line.  You have no idea where that energy came from.  You raise your hands over your head in triumph.  Someone places a medal around your neck.  

And you think, "That was awesome!  I can't wait to do it again!"