Thursday, January 16, 2020

Wake Up Call

I have written a lot of Isabella posts.  This will be likely be the last one.  What started with a phone call 16 years ago is ending today with a story about a very different phone call.  More on that to come.

It really is amazing how a phone call can alter the direction and perspective of your life.  On July 31, 2003 a phone call from my wife not only disrupted our 4th wedding anniversary but changed my life forever.  We were two days away from the expected birth of our daughter Isabella Soleil when God decided he needed an Angel more than we needed a daughter.  To date, and hopefully until the day I leave this Earth, that is the worst day of my life.  You all know the rest of the story.  Approximately 6 months later my father passed away from leukemia (specifically AML) and shortly thereafter my wife, Crea, was diagnosed with cancer while pregnant with our son Jaden.  Five years later my wife’s cancer would return and years after that my older step daughter Tiana would be diagnosed with the very same type of cancer.

Life can change paths in an instant and doesn’t always seem fair and this short time frame certainly ingrained the lesson on my being such that I will never forget it.  I have shared my story a lot.  Some would accuse me of being too open with the personal accounts of my life but my hope has always been that my story would find its way to those that needed to hear it.  I firmly believe that Blessings come from the worst of times.  I firmly believe that if we are breathing, our purpose here is not yet fulfilled.  Even if we are taking those breaths at a dark time in our lives……..there is more left for us……….more things to accomplish………more lives to impact………more blessings to receive.  Even if you are curled up in a ball, you can battle back, you can stand up and fight.  Some unbelievable things came from my difficult moments.  I met amazing people I otherwise would not have.  I accomplished things I certainly never thought possible.  Five Ironman finishes.  Countless marathons.  A few century rides.  An ultra marathon and over $400,000 raised to fight cancer.  Along the way I like to think I impacted a lot of lives as I shared my story and coached others to train for half and full marathons while also raising money to fight cancer.

While I can put positive words to a tough series of events, I have never found a path around the sadness that resulted from the loss of Isabella.  If you have ever witnessed me share my story…………..whether it was at Isabella’s memorial service or 16 years later…………I cannot speak of this loss without getting emotional.  I just cannot get through the words that speak of the night we lost her without crying.  It took a long time to do so but this past year I decided to accept it is okay not to be okay.  I came to the understanding I will never fully recover because Isabella took part of me with her to Heaven.  How can you get back to 100% if only 90% remains?  While this realization provided some comfort and helped me feel less ashamed at the unwavering sadness, it didn’t do much to ease the actual sadness.  I know it probably doesn’t make sense that I accepted I would never be whole yet still try to find that path around sadness but losing a child is a whirlwind of emotions and I just want to find a more stable emotional mindset about all of it.  I have faith………..complete faith………that I will see Isabella again.  I have faith God had a greater need for Isabella………..truth be told both of these thoughts are the only way I made it through all of this but this understanding and faith does zero for the emptiness I feel when I miss my little girl.
What does all of this have to do with Light the Night?  Good question my friends.  Light the Night is another fundraising arm for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Most of my time with LLS has been as a coach and participant for Team in Training.  Of the $400,000 I have raised, approximately $275,000 was with Team in Training.  Beyond the funds I raised, as a coach for Team in Training, my amazing Westside teams raised millions of dollars.  I also participated in the Man and Woman of the Year campaign in 2014 where We Will Find a Cure (WWFAC) and I raised $126,000 in ten weeks.  Every time I ever raised money for LLS, I was doing something I was afraid of.  I was petrified to run 26.2 miles, I was afraid of riding 100 miles, I was afraid of completing an Ironman, I cried at the start line of my 50 mile ultra from fear of not being able to see it through and I was very afraid of failure for the Man of the Year competition.  My pushing past fear comes from and is for my Dad.  He could stare fear in the face and push forward.  It seemed to come natural for him.  For me it is a bit forced but I try to conquer fear to honor who my Dad was and what he meant to my life.  It is my way of letting him know in Heaven that I was watching his life and learning from his actions.

You might think fear was not a factor for Light the Night but you would be very wrong.  True, there is no crazy endurance distance to cover and there is no lofty fundraising goal.  You walk about 2 miles and you can do so only raising $100. Easy stuff. That being said, I have steered clear of this event ever since I learned about it.  What it lacks in athletic intensity, it makes up for in emotional overload. At the event, everyone carries a lantern.  Survivors carry White lanterns.  Supporters carry Gold lanterns and those walking in memory of someone carry a Red lantern.  You relive your story.  You look it dead in the eye.

The Red lantern was my fear.  It was the dark cloud of sadness that is never too far away as it pertains to Isabella.  I can always find a way to keep that cloud out of reach but the Red lantern was the bridge to that cloud. For an entire evening I would stare sadness in the face and I was never ready to do that until 2019.  This year was different.  I reflected a lot about Isabella. I came to accept I would never be whole again and I came to accept that was okay.  Everyone handles things differently.  I know great people that have suffered great losses and they handle their pain much better than I do.  Don’t get me wrong, I think I stood tall in the face of these losses.  I fought back.  I raised money.  I honored promises and I will continue to do so.  I just cannot escape that cloud.  Light the Night was all about that cloud and that emptiness.  I hoped the evening would allow me to expel my sorrow and see things differently moving forward.
The funny thing is the night accomplished exactly what I hoped for but in a manner I never saw coming…..with a phone call. 

Thalia, Crea and I arrived very early to the event….it is my nature to always be early.   We checked in, got our lanterns, grabbed some food and took a seat.  I could feel the emotions starting to well up as the clock inched forward to the start time.  The Red lantern was staring me in the face as a reminder of what was to come.  I did my best to stay occupied and helping with this task came the opportunity to meet Rod Carew.  It really was unbelievable timing.  Thalia was only 2 days removed from learning who Rod Carew was when we found ourselves standing before him in conversation.  He was so genuine and kind.  He spent a lot of time talking with Thalia about softball which helped to motivate her.  Underlying this pleasant diversion was the fact Rod Carew was one of my Dad’s favorite players.  We talked about him all of the time.  We watched him play all the time.  So the distraction turned into a reminder my Dad was no longer with us which brought my thoughts back to Isabella.  I actually got choked up talking to Rod Carew just because of the history admiring such an awesome player.

The evening creeped on.  We ended up back at our seats.  I kept taking walks trying to hold it together.  I had built this event up in my head and heart for many years.  We eventually were minutes from the start of the event.  Minutes from my plan to purge my sadness and march into the future with a different perspective. 

Then the phone rang.

It was my son, Jaden, calling from North Carolina.  Without going into great detail, 5 weeks earlier I had dropped my 14-year-old son off 3,000 miles from home.  He was attending a school in North Carolina catered towards children with ADHD.  It had been a rough few years trying to help him be happy let alone successful.  There was a lot of tension in our home trying to figure things out.  I had not always been the best Dad.  My son is literally the smartest person I know.  He has tested above college level for a long long time.  That being said, ADHD made executive functioning a challenge for him so traditional schools were not a good fit.  He could ace the tests but the little things held him back.  As much as the public schools say they understand and will help, there is no way to completely adjust to his needs in a school of thousands.  Jaden and I flew into Atlanta.  We had some good food, caught a Braves game, toured around where I grew up and played a lot of Minecraft at his request.  More importantly we started to rebuild a friendship.  I tried to do a better job understanding his challenges and he tried his best to meet me half way.  Dropping him off at the end of the trip and driving away was gut wrenching.  Flying home alone was gut wrenching.  Not being able to talk to your son every day was gut wrenching.  I was praying he found friends and found himself but it was all a mystery as communication with Crea and I was infrequent at best.

The phone rang and I was ecstatic to hear from my son.  I was also petrified because the first month was sure to be a difficult time in a space so unfamiliar to him.  Everything about this new school would test his comfort zone and invade his safe space.  He went from being alone in his room most of the day to being bunked in one room with 8 people.  He went from avoiding people socially to having to interact all day with a lot of strangers.  I was so proud that he took on the adventure hoping it would be a path to improvement…….to finding a better way to work around his challenges……… friendships and interaction and confidence. 

The call was everything I feared.  Jaden was not in a good place.  He was hurting.  He was sad.  He was scared.  He missed home.  I know I keep playing on the distance from home but he was only 14 at the time (he is 15 now).  To hear such pain in your son’s voice without the ability to make a difference face to face was so distressing.  I wanted to give him a hug and dry his tears and tell him it would all be okay while looking him in the eye.  That would not happen today.  Only a phone call.

As difficult as the call was for Crea and I, it was the first of two enlightening moments as it pertains to Isabella.  For the entire call, I forgot about my sadness and the Red Lantern.  I let go of that pain because my son needed me.  God had given me this amazing gift.  As tough as ADHD can be, I would not change anything about my son.  God made him.  He has amazing talents that we will learn to tap into and ride to a successful future.  He is here.  Despite the fact his Mom had cancer during pregnancy and during his birth, Jaden was here.  My time with Isabella will come when my time here is finished but as I said above, if we are still breathing, there is more left to accomplish and my son needs me to be present and focused.

The second wake up call, albeit similar in nature, was when I paused the conversation with Jaden to hand the phone to my daughter, Thalia.  She immediately burst into tears.  Despite all of the fighting and animosity that Jaden and Thalia may show each other, she was hurting.  Her brother was far away for the first time in her life.  When she walks upstairs to her bedroom, he is no longer across the hall if needed.  I honestly had no idea of her suffering until her face showed so much pain.  My daughter needed me.  She is an amazing gift and one I speak of often when it comes to talking about Isabella.  Thalia would likely not be here had Isabella not passed away.  Crea and I were going to have two children.  Thalia would have been number 3.  If you know me, you are well aware I could not imagine a life without my princess.  I always appreciate her but seeing her pain took me away from my own pain.  It helped me see past the loss of Isabella and gain crystal clear focus on what I have versus what I lost. 

After the conversations with Jaden were over, I hung up the phone.  Light the Night began.  It was unbelievable and I highly recommend that you participate in the future.  It is a great way to fight back, honor and remember.  I did shed a tear or two but not for Isabella.  When Crea held her White Lantern and stood in the Survivors Circle, I shed a tear of gratitude that God spared my soulmate, gave me two amazing kids and provides me the opportunity to see my Angel in Heaven when my time here is through.

Thanks for reading.

Christopher D. Wilno

PS           To my dearest Tiana, if you are reading this, in my eyes you are my daughter.  I view you as my own but reference ‘step’ in writing only because I often refer to Isabella as the first child for Crea and I.  ‘Step’ is just a way to avoid confusion to people reading that do not know our family.

PPS        We raised over $8,000 for Light the Night all in Thalia’s name.  She was a top 10 fundraiser and we are grateful for the support.  In a few years she will be in high school and will participate in the Student of the Year Campaign for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society where we hope to raise more than $50,000.   We hope you will join us in that battle when the time comes. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

April 30th Weekly Update


Well this felt like a recovery week on all levels.  It certainly was for training which my body needed.  On the fundraising front, a late week push helped generate some funds but I had expected the week to be more about planning anyway and we made good progress there.

We generated approximately $1,800 this week.  Not much has been coming in the mail any more from my letters.  I will send a second round over the summer that will hopefully generate more funds.  We did good out of the gate but there was less participation than I had hoped.  I am super grateful for everyone though.  Many folks have given to me over the years and this venture might be the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Later in the week I sent emails to all of my prior teams and that generated most of the funds that were raised.  We had non-monetary wins/progress though.

Community Team
The biggest announcement ties to Community Teams.  This will allow anyone to create their own page for this journey and raise their own funds that roll up to the total for the Road to Kona.  As I keep saying, I want this journey to be for everyone touched by cancer and this will allow you to join the battle and fight back.  You do not have to do a race. You can send letters and emails (I can help), you can have a garage sale, you can sell lemonade………whatever you want to do to raise funds is fine by us.  There also is no minimum.  You can raise $10 or $10,000.  If you do want to incorporate a race it can be any distance you wish……….1 mile, 5K, 10K……..anything goes.  If you choose to go the race route and want me to build a schedule for you, I would be happy to.  I should pause here to mention a good friend of mine Javier Rivera is helping to lead the Community Team effort.  He has already created an individual page and has spoken to folks that might be interested in joining.  Javier and I met at Team in Training.  He was a participant for my team and went on to great things.  He has coached many seasons, he is currently on the Board of Directors for LLS, he is a fellow Ironman and he does all of this for his Mom who is a survivor.  Our goal is to get a research grant in her name!!!  Our goal is also for the Community Team to raise $30,000.

I will write a separate post on the Community Team and put it on our home page but I also want to point out that anyone who raises $300 will get a virtual or live entry to our Road to Kona 5K.  It comes with a t-shirt, medal and if you join us live, all you can drink Bloody Mary’s  or Mai Tai’s.  If you feel you are ready to do this, you can create your page now with zero obligation.  Just click the link below.  Once you get to the site, click on JOIN AS INDIVIDUAL on the left side of the page and follow the instructions.

We finalized our logo and I really like it.  I am a sucker for turtles.  A huge thank you goes out to Teresa Weiss-Paczkowski of Elena Trevino Design for all her efforts to produce this logo.  They have been there to support my efforts since I was in the 2014 Man of the Year campaign.  They designed the original logo and they volunteered their services to produce the Gala program which helped to generate more fundraising dollars.  Please check them out at:

Website: (website is being remodeled)
FB: Elena Trevino Design
Twitter: teresa paczkowski @tpacart
Instagram: teresa_elenatrevinodesign

Anyway, the logo is above.  This allows us to produce t-shirts.  We will have this design on the front and the quote that has driven much of my experience at Team in Training on the back:

“It always seems impossible until it’s done” Nelson Mandela

It really is a great shirt and we hope you will like it.  The logo and the t-shirt allow us to finalize the medal so that we can launch our virtual 5K and lock down our date for the live 5K in Venice, CA currently slated for Saturday, September 9th.
I believe that is it for fundraising.  There was certainly a lot of work and planning but not all of it is newsworthy.

Paloma Sol
This is my daughter’s site .  She makes unbelievable jewelry.  She is also a cancer survivor.  She has, without any intimidation by me, agreed to donate 25% of your purchases back to this mission.  Check out her amazing work and use the code ROAD2KONA for free shipping and to make sure she knows to set aside the 25%.  I will write a separate post about this as well.

As I mentioned above, this was a recovery week.  I always ramp up 2 weeks and then recover the third week.  That means this week ramps up but my workouts will be challenged Tuesday and Wednesday because I am old.  By old I mean I am having a Colonoscopy on Wednesday.  Truth be told I am a little freaked out.  I have spent so much time fighting cancer that I always feel it is out to get me………like it is some living breathing entity that seeks revenge.

Anyway, I only trained 106 miles last week.  The toughest swim was a 3,000 yard swim.  It was my longest of this training season and felt good.  It was certainly a boost to the confidence.  On the weekend, I had a brick workout that had me ride 3 hours and run 1.5 hours.  I rode 50 miles and ran 9.62 miles.  The best part of the week is that I remained pain free.  It is unbelievable to train without any pain…….it has been so long

That is it for now.  I hope you will join via a donation or via the Community Team.

Christopher D. Wilno

Monday, April 24, 2017

Week Ended April 23rd: Strong Results

This post can also be found at 

It was a strong week for training and fundraising although I really need to improve on reaching folks that do not know my story.  That is the only path to reaching $130,000 and to date all donations have come from individuals that personally know me and/or my wife.  I have said this before but on some days it feels like this journey could be easy if we could just get 100,000 people to donate $1 each.  The challenge is how to get this journey in the hands of 100,000 people.  I am an open book so feel free to share your ideas.

I will let two Instagram posts do the talking but this was the best training week I have had since my biking accident in 2013.  If you made it to this post without reading my story, someone opened their door in 2013 while I was on the bike and it has been a huge setback.  This week things went differently for me though.  The overall stats are that I trained 195 miles consisting of 3 swims, 2 straight runs, 2 trainer rides, a 2 hour ride and one 5.5 hour ride followed by a 15 minute run off the bike.  I did all of this with zero pain which stresses me out to put in writing but to hell with superstition.  The most amazing workout was a 13.1 mile training run.  It was the first time since my accident that I ran without the fear of pain. I was able to let my mind escape and just enjoy the run through some amazing landscape.  I followed this up two days later with my first tempo run where I allowed myself to run at a sub 8 minute mile pace.  That is a big step mentally for me.  I have been utilizing extremely conservative run-walk intervals in the spirit of staying healthy.  I will continue to do so because finishing the race is far more important that pushing myself to an injury.  If my confidence continues to improve, I will allow myself to push from time to time.  My weekend was mainly about the bike.  Seven and a half hours of total riding split up into a 2 hour ride on Saturday and a 5.5 hour ride on Sunday.  I cleared the 90 mile mark on the long ride with 5,600 feet of climb.  It was good mentally to get in the distance.  I now enter a recovery week which is a good thing because I am most definitely sore as I type this Monday morning.

We had a good week raising approximately $4,800 towards our $130,000 goal.  On the surface it sounds like we are way ahead of things but most of these funds are from letters and emails I have sent out.  I have budgeted out various ideas and I have a path to $70-75,000 which means we still have a very large gap to close………or we need 60,000 people to each give $1.  We also did a lot of filming for the video to be featured at .  It will take some time to edit but a huge thank you goes out to Paiwei Wei for taking time out of his busy schedule to shoot all the footage and help to produce the video itself.

I expect this might be a slower week on the fundraising front but we have a lot to accomplish.  We will launch our community teams, we will finalize our logo thus finalize our t-shirts and thus be very close to launching the virtual 5K and locking down a date for the live event in Venice, CA.  There is so much to do but nobody said ending cancer would be easy.

Thanks for your time and for following this journey.  If anything here inspires you, please share our story.  If you would also consider a donation, we would be grateful.  This journey is about everyone touched by cancer.  Join us.


Monday, April 17, 2017

Week Ended 04/16/17: Community Teams

Note: we are keeping a blog at  This is copied from our website but I want to make sure you know to visit our main site tied to #Road2Kona.

A lot happened on the #Road2Kona this week and I believe the most important is a development that allows 'you'.....yes I mean you..... to join the journey and raise money on your own.  We will announce more details this week but this news ties to a Community Team.  Beyond my personal fundraising page, you will be allowed to create your own site and raise money however you choose.  You can choose to do a sporting event, send letters and emails, hold a car wash………..however you choose to spread the word and for whomever you choose to spread the word.  There is no minimum.  You can raise $25 or $2,500………whatever the total it will be considered a part of the We Will Find a Cure total that is generated for the Ironman World Championship.  Once we finalize our t-shirts, I will be sending a shirt to everyone that raises $250.

As far as fundraising goes, we had a good week. Someone stepped up with an offer to match up to $2,500 through today, April 16th.  We have raised $2,450 as of my typing this post so we are very close although I did see the $2,500 anonymous donation come through so I suppose they exercised some faith in us.  If you check out our fundraising page, we cleared $10,000 and technically there is another $5,500 of match that is on the way but I would rather count the matches once they hit.  A huge thank you to everyone that donated this week to help us achieve success.  I am truly grateful.  While this is a great start, we have a long way to go and I absolutely cannot do this on my own.  This journey needs support via financial donations, spreading the word, getting press, items/experiences we can auction off, etc.  Please visit Ways to Help to learn more.

Other things I would consider wins this week are:
  • a local magazine, Fountain Valley Living, returned my phone call and is considering my story for the June edition.
  • my daughters elementary school is going to include my story in their weekly email in a few weeks.
  • a friend of mine works at Compass, a technologically driven Real Estate Company. They offered some philanthropic help and my friend is going to push the virtual option for our 5K once we are up an running. The 5K, and especially the virtual option, has a chance to be one of our biggest fundraising ideas.
  • our new logo should be close to complete which will allow us to finalize the t-shirts and the 5K. Our live option will be held at the end of the summer but the virtual option can launch immediately.
On a training front, it is more of the same.  I still have another 40 minutes to put in on the trainer.  If you assume a 16.5 mph pace I will close the week at 186 miles.  My coach went a little heavy on the bike this week and scaled back the run which was probably genius to allow my ankle to feel better.  Same as the last few weeks, I have struggled with pain.  Frustration set in this week so I simply cut out my walk breaks starting with my Friday run.  I would not say it is a smart move but I honestly am not sure.  I am so far removed from surgery that the pain is a mystery.  I have taken it so easy that it would not make any sense this is still a tendon issue.  I have had many MRI’s on the surgical site and the tendon appears fine.  My theory is to run in a manner I was always accustomed to and pray that things will work itself out.  I believe I said this in a prior post but I have to put this race in God’s hands.  If I am meant to get to the start line, it will happen.  I just have to put in the miles and raise the money……..the money being by far the most important.

One last thing before I sign off.  I was able to meet the Orange County IronTeam Saturday night thanks to an invite from coach Monica Jan.  My family and I visited where they were camping out this weekend and I provided a Mission Moment.  It was nice to share my story with folks that had never heard it before.  As you would expect, it was a great group of people that are giving up their time to make a difference in this world.  To close out my talk I used a quote from Nelson Mandela which is really sticking with me on a daily basis these days.  It is included at my fundraising page:


This quote can apply to so many things in all of our lives.  How many things have you accomplished that you never thought possible?  Most of what I have done since my father’s diagnosis would have been on that list.  A cure for cancer might sound impossible but I believe we can get it done.  We can change the world………….I just need you to join me.

Christopher D. Wilno

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Week Ended 04/09/17: Fundraising and Training

Note: we added a blogging feature at our website so you can see every post at We Will Find a Cure

One more week in the books.  It is freaking me out how fast it is going but such is life.  Time to kick things into high gear:

Consistent with prior weeks, I made a lot more progress on planning and behind the scenes items and prepping for what I hope will be donations.  That being said, I am grateful to have raised another $1,200 this week.  I also have some commitments for donations as well but we will not count those until they appear.  I wanted to point out here that if you read anything and want to get involved or offer grand ideas, I am very open to that.  Like I have said and will say many times again, this journey is for everyone that wants to fight back against cancer.  Perhaps it is a financial donation. Perhaps it is sharing this journey with others.  Perhaps it is an idea we can put into action.  It all helps.  here are some specific things that transpired this week:

  • Mailed hundreds of letters to friends and family that I know in real life and some that I have only met virtually over the years by sharing my story.
  • Made progress with the website. There is a lot still to do but we are getting closer.  A huge thanks to Leah Beck and Craig Harrison for all of their time to date.  
  • Received nine different shirt samples.  We just need the new logo and we will have shirts for sale and for the 5K we will hold (both live and virtual).  We also made progress on finalizing our medal.  We are upgrading the medal this year so it is going to be very nice. The same company that produces medals for Boston and for Ironman will be producing the 2017 Road2Kona medals.  Much thanks to Sam Felsenfeld of Operation Jack for the introductions to his vendors.
  •  A key member of We Will Find a Cure was in a position whereby she was getting rid of a lot of her furniture.  She offered that furniture to me so that we could find the best path to selling it.  My house is now bursting at the seems with furniture!!! All proceeds will go to this campaign.  A huge thanks to Lori and Jules Jomsky.
  • Team Hotshot offered to share my story at the blog at their website. I have been utilizing their product to deal with cramping and it has been amazing thus far. I will write a separate blog post about the product in a few weeks.  I have 2 long rides coming and I look forward to sharing the results.
I am sure there is more but that is about it for now on the fundraising.

This was a recovery week so not too much exciting to report except I survived the week with little to no pain in the ankle that has been causing me issues tied to a repaired torn posterior tibial tendon. It was good timing for a recovery week and I feel strong going into the next build phase. On Saturday, I did get some quality time with my coach, Coach Gareth Thomas of TRIO.  I had my second lab tests for the bike and it showed improvement with the level of lactose at every heart rate level.  I still have a lot of work to do but the good news is I have time.  I also spent an hour with him to evaluate my swim.  I am not very strong in the pool and he took a look.  Luckily my form is not too bad.  I just need to tweak a few things and get more time in the pool to build some strength.  We talked about having some swim heavy weeks in the near future.  

That is it for this week.  As always, if any of this inspires you join WWFAC via donation or any other means, we welcome the help!!  DONATION LINK    WWFAC WEBSITE

Monday, April 3, 2017

Week Ended 04/02/17: Fundraising and Training

Well this was a challenging week on the training front for sure.  I was able to get in most workouts but I definitely suffered in the confidence category tied to pain resurfacing in my surgically repaired ankle.  As for the totals, I trained 153 miles.  Two Swims. One Brick Workout albeit a very short run.  Two straight runs.........I had to miss one tied to the pain.  One straight trainer ride and a long 80 mile bike.  The week was going very well until midday on Wednesday.  Tuesday night I had a tough trainer ride followed by a 15 minute run.  It went very well.  I woke up early on Wednesday for a 4am 6 mile run.  This also went fine.  I experienced zero pain during the run but hours later, shooting pain developed right where my torn tendon was repaired.  It was not a consistent pain.  It would come and go but if I stepped down the wrong way, the pain was a 10 on a scale of 1-10.  It was very discouraging for sure.  I could not do a toe raise without excruciating pain which was not a great sign but I held on to hope or at least I tried to.  On Thursday, I stuck to a swim only and pushed my scheduled trainer ride to Friday morning.  I was happy that the 90 minute trainer ride only produced minimal pain if I was sitting up in the seat.  When my ankle was at its worst, I could not get out of the saddle so I, of course, tried to get out of the saddle and it did not initiate pain.  I swam again Friday night then slept on the thought of trying my long run on Saturday.  My kids had soccer and softball games so I did not have to make a decision about the run until the afternoon and that is when I chose to give it a shot.  I was extremely nervous.  My thought process was that in a worst case scenario, I just need to get off the bike in Kona with enough time to walk the course if my ankle is in a bad place.  That being said, I was prepared to walk 13 miles on Saturday.  The schedule only called for a 110 minute run but I figured I would need to cover as many miles walking as I would running.  I began the walk and a few minutes in changed the settings on my Garmin to a 1 minute run, 3 minute walk.  I gingerly started out for the first minute of run.  I was literally crawling only slightly faster than if I was walking.  I felt the pain but I tried to push through hoping it would pass.  Not to get all religious on you but at this point, I gave it all to God.  I asked him to hold me together and I just kept my 1-3 interval.  13.1 miles later I had survived.  I was definitely not 100% but I felt okay with the results.  On Sunday the big test would be a 5 hour ride and while I felt a little pain at the beginning of the ride I had no pain by the end.  As I sit here to type, I have intermittent pain but nothing too terrible and thankfully I am in the middle of a recovery week. I can handle the pain. What troubles me is the uncertainty. I never take a step with 100% confidence and that forces me to be uneasy all of the time.  All I can do is keep moving forward.  My goal is to get to the start line healthy.  If I do that and extreme circumstances do not invade my race day (10 flat tires as an example), I can get to the finish line......KNOCK ON WOOD!!

As for fundraising, I am still not pushing very hard but I did post daily on Facebook while I continued to work with friends and family to get things in order for a big push.  We raised approximately $2,000 more which is really nice.  A friend and teammate of mine from the 2006 Ironteam that went to Ironman Coeur d'Alene surprised me with a really nice donation on Sunday night.  Some folks that had never heard my story stepped up and then there were folks that have stood by my side many times that came to the rescue yet again.  I am so blessed to have crossed paths with some amazing people..........the blessings that came from my trying times.  I just sent out the first batch of letters in the mail today and as soon as I click 'publish' on this post I will continue stuffing envelopes, sending emails all while watching Gonzaga and North Carolina play some hoops. 

Chat with you next week.  If you are so inclined to make a donation and join this #Road2Kona, you can do so by clicking HERE.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Week Ended 03/26/17: Fundraising and Training

Being the main part of this journey is raising money to fight cancer, I thought I would include an update on the mission each week in addition to my training. I will say it a few hundred more times before race day, but crossing the finish line in Kona will not mean very much to me if we do not raise the money.  It will be 140.6 miles of disappointment and I really want to avoid that.  This is where I really need your support.  We are still getting organized and mapping out the plan but our fundraising website is live and ready to take donations.  If my story has inspired you and you want to join the battle, please consider a donation at .  Beyond that I am drafting all the ways you will be able to help make this a successful journey.  For now, sharing the heck out of my story would be a huge help.  The more people that know what I am trying to do, the more likely we are to raise the funds.  While some days $130,000 sounds daunting, other days I think about just needing to reach 130,000 people and have them give $1.  From a fundraising perspective, here are some of the events from this past week:

  • We continue to update  For now we updated the video to my Facebook Live video where I shared the news of being nominated for Kona.  We have a lot of ideas to incorporate.  I am going to move the blogging to that site.  I want to add a page for all of your stories. The Road to Kona is about all of us and I want to be able to publish your stories and why it is you want to end cancer.  I want to know how cancer touched your life.
  • We received $1,100 in donations but one of those donations has a nice match so we really raised $3,100.  I have not really pushed the fundraising too hard as we get everything in order but, as I said above, donations are why we are here so please consider donating.
  • I made contact with and am very grateful to the folks at Team Hotshot.  You can visit their page at I mentioned one of my big athletic challenges for Kona will be the heat and the impact it has on my body.  I lose a lot of salt in heat and struggle with cramps.  Hot Shot was created to help with this and they sent me some product to try and are considering sharing my story at their blog.  That would help me get the word out and would be greatly appreciated.  One of my big hopes is that someone will step up with a corporate sponsorship but that is a work in progress.  I will write a separate post once I have more time under my belt with the product but today was the first time I utilized it and it went very well!!!
  • I made contact with a shirt and medal company thanks to Sam Felsenfeld of Operation Jack.  Sam is to autism what I am to cancer.  He is an amazing dude and has raised a lot of money.  
  • We are working on a new logo.  We are updating the We Will Find a Cure logo with some Kona flair.  The new logo is expected by April 15th.
  • I finalized my fundraising letters and will start to get these out over the next week.  Check your mail :)
I think that is about it for now on the fundraising front.  As for training, I had a good week.  To me a good week primarily means minimal pain tied to the ankle that had the posterior tibial tendon repair. Yesterday I would have told you I have zero pain.  Today, I am going with minor pain.  I got in 3 runs this week.  One was very short as it was 15 minutes off a trainer ride.  I also managed a 6 mile and 11.5 mile run.  The important thing with the run is that I backed down my run-walk interval to a 1-1 (run 1 minute, walk 1 minute).  That is the most aggressive I have been in a while.  I am using the interval as a means to stay healthy.  It forces me to walk and it forces a slower pace.  I did average under 10 minutes per mile for the first pace while running is closer to 8 minutes but that is why I throw in the walk.  I honestly could live with 10 minute miles in Kona.  I just need to keep staying healthy as I ramp the mileage.  For the bike, I had 2 longer trainer rides and then today I had my longest ride in a while at over 75 miles.  My pace is nothing to brag about but I did climb 2,900 feet which certainly has an impact.  My swim as usual suffered a bit.  I did not get in 3 swims and I feel very behind but I did feel good in the pool.  Having been sick for about 4 weeks, there was no way to get in the water.  I was always coughing up a long which is not a good combination for a guy that doesn't swim great in good health!!  I was going to get in a 3rd swim today but the 75 mile ride took a toll on my neck.  I probably should have eased into the aero position for that long but I don't really have that luxury.  By the end of the ride, there was so much tension in my shoulders and the back of my neck that I decided to postpone the swim until tomorrow.  In total, I traveled 143 miles this week.  There is still a lot of work to do as I need to increase this to 200+.  The schedule for the coming week is to mirror last is week 2 of a build.  

Have a great week.  

Christopher D Wilno