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

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Training: Week Ended 03/19/17

In the spirit of writing more often, I want to write a post at the end of each week to discuss my training and how things are going.  This is certainly not the ideal week to start this process because after my 3-1 Brick last Sunday (3 hour ride - 1 hour run), the cold I have been fighting for weeks resurfaced.  By the time I went to bed, I knew I was in trouble and when I woke up on Monday I was in bad shape. I spent all of Monday in bed except for a trip to the doctor where I was diagnosed with a severe sinus infection.  I was given stronger meds this time and the instructions to come back on Thursday for steroids if things did not remarkably improve. Thankfully things improved enough to avoid those steroids.

All of this completely derailed my training.  This is bad news except for the fact I actually listened to my coach who told me to back off. This was to be week 1 of an important build so I was quite frankly devastated to miss it.  I was going to take one day off and get back on the horse (exactly what I did weeks ago when this all started) but then my coach, Coach Gareth Thomas of TRIO, said I could push the entire schedule this week to next week (i.e. push my schedule back a week).  This meant I would not miss anything and could view my sick week as an extension of the recovery week that just ended.  This is exactly what my brain needed to hear because it allowed me to heal in peace.

Beyond the sickness, I felt pain in my ankle for the first time in 6-7 weeks while on my ride last Sunday. This was devastating because I was starting to get my swagger back.  In case you missed it, I had surgery on my posterior tibial tendon almost exactly a year ago.  Surgery was performed by Dr. Dan Geller who has done amazing work for so many athletes.  This was........I hope.......the last surgery tied to a biking accident in 2013 when I was training for my 5th Ironman distance triathlon.  This surgery has been the most difficult to recover from tied to how critical this tendon is in the process of running and tied to complications resulting when blood clots developed post surgery. It is a scary thing to hear you have blood clots in your lungs!!!  It took much much longer for the swelling in my lower leg to dissipate because of the clots.  This held up the rehab process and led to the most self doubt I ever experienced as an athlete. I still carry that self doubt today.  I start every ride and every run with a prayer that I get through the workout pain free......with a prayer that God hold me together through Ironman Kona.  My first steps of every run are filled with trepidation.  The first time I get out of my seat......usually to get going at a red light.........have that same trepidation because that is the movement triggering the pain.  Like I said above, I went a while with no pain until last Sunday.  I would like to think it is all in my head but my right foot is ever so slightly swollen and the ankle is a little puffy. Compression socks and prayer.....that is all I have for now but perhaps the sinus infection helped give the ankle a rest too.

I did manage to sneak in a 3 mile run yesterday just to see how it would go.  As for the foot, I felt some discomfort but a lot of that discomfort was in parts of the foot not surgically repaired.  I felt a few minor jolts at the surgical spot but nothing unbearable.  I now launch back into full scale training.  Monday's are always a rest day for me so Tuesday will see me back in action.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Kona Bound

Back in January I wrote a post about the journey that led to interviewing with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for a spot at the 2017 Ironman World Championships.  If you missed that post you can scroll down or click ROAD TO KONA.  It has been quite a lot of work to get myself in a position to be considered and it was quite a lot of stress along the way wondering whether I would be selected or not.  Well, I am happy to report that I was 1 of 5 people chosen nationwide.  I was surprised 2 weeks ago while at my 9 year old daughter's softball game which was quite a funny story.  Below is the video my wife took of the surprise........I will find the longer version that has 10 minutes of my yelling at my son that was trying to get me to leave the field where I was managing a hitting station.  He kept telling me I needed to go with him and I kept telling him I had responsibilities.  He kept saying nothing was wrong but that I needed to join him and I kept telling him that if nothing was wrong, I was staying on the field.
Anyway, it was quite a nice surprise and it caught me off guard because I was just expecting an email as to the results.  I will keep this post short but I want my main message out of the gate to be that this experience is about the money we need to raise.  I am so blessed and humbled to have the chance to go to Kona but I want to go as a representative for all of those that hate cancer.  This journey is not about me because crossing the finish line in Kona........God willing.......will be absolutely meaningless if we do not raise the funds.  I will be getting underway with fundraising in the coming weeks but if you feel so inclined, my fundraising page is set up and ready to go. The link is:

There will be many ways to help and one thing is very clear........there is no path to raising $130,000 without you talking about this journey with your friends and sharing this journey with your friends. There will be many ways to stay connected.  Some of the ways are as follows:

We Will Find a Cure (WWFAC) Facebook page:
My personal Facebook page: just search Christopher Wilno
WWFAC website (we are updating it so give us time to make it pretty):

Thanks to everyone for all your support over the years and thank you in advance for your support of this mission.  My efforts are nothing without you.

Christopher D. Wilno

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

9th Annual Super Bowl Pool

It is hard to believe this will be our 9th year.  Time flies.  A lot of progress has been made in the fight against cancer over those years but the road ahead is still a long one. Friends and family continue to receive life changing and perhaps life ending diagnoses. That is why we keep fighting and keep raising money. This year I will be interviewing soon to represent Team in Training at the 2017 Ironman World Championships.  I wrote about it here.  If I am successful, the funds raised here will go towards my $130,000 goal.  That will leave a long long way to go but it will be a start.  For now, we hope you join us and add a little spice to game day.

In case you have never participated in a Super Bowl is very easy.  Each pool has 100 boxes that are assigned a number for each team in the Super Bowl.  For each $20 box you buy, you will be randomly assigned two for the AFC team and one for the NFC team.  Using last year as an example, you may have been assigned a 4 for Carolina and a 0 for Denver.  If this were the case you are rooting for any score that has Carolina ending in a 4 and the Broncos ending with a zero (Carolina 24 - Denver 10, Carolina 24 - Denver 0, Carolina 14 - Denver - 30, etc, etc, etc).

The pool is a great way to add some excitement to the Super Bowl. As always, half of the pool will be distributed to the winners and half will go towards finding a cure for cancer via a donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Based off the $20 per box entry fee, $1,000 will be donated to charity and $1,000 will be split as follows:
  • 1st Quarter = $125
  • Halftime = $250
  • 3rd Quarter = $125
  • Final Score = $500 
The Super Bowl will be held on February 5, 2017.  Last year we sold out 3 pools and this year we are working on our 2nd one as I write this post.  It would be amazing to match last year but we are grateful for everything whether we do or do not.

To recap the rules:
* 100 Boxes per pool
* $20 per box to play
* We randomly place you in a box on a 10x10 grid. Each box contains two numbers - one for the AFC champion and one for the NFC champion. If the numbers match the score at the end of each quarter you win! Just to be clear, we literally randomly place your name in the grid and then randomly pull numbers for the grid.  It takes a while but assures every aspect of each grid is by chance.

How to pay:
1) Email Lori Jomsky or myelf (we can DM you our email addresses if need be) how many boxes you would like. The more you buy the more chances to win and fight cancer. You can also reach out via FB or Twitter @lj3000 (Lori) and @run2savelives (me)
2) Give Money directly to Chris or Lori if you happen to know us IRL
3) Mail a check payable to Lori Jomsky (so we can divide the money for charity/winners): 4211 Via Entrada, Newbury Park, CA 91320

Thank You!!!! We hope 2017 is off to a great start for you!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Road to Kona 2017


There has been a lot going on in my head lately and I believe I might better collect those thoughts if I attempt to put them down on paper.  I have applied to represent Team in Training at the 2017 Ironman World Championships next October.   Last year there were 3 entries available nationwide.  This year there might be less……….might be more.  I will interview with Team in Training next month but that is not why my mind is pre-occupied.  I trust the process and I trust Team in Training.  I am confident they will choose the person or persons that will best help us get closer to a cure.  If I am not chosen, I will certainly be disappointed but that will not take away from what I have accomplished to date and it will not change my feelings of sincere gratitude towards Team in Training for eternally changing my life.  If I am chosen, however, I will be ecstatic and petrified all at the same time. 

“Always Do What You Are Afraid To Do”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

A recent conversation with my Mom goes something like this:

Me: I have applied to participate in the Ironman World Championships for 2017.
Mom: Really???!!!!!  I was so scared watching you at Ironman Florida.  I am not sure if I can handle watching another one.
Me: There was no reason to worry in Florida.  You absolutely should be worried about Ironman Kona.  It scares the sh*t out of me!
Mom: Why do it then?
Me: That is why.

There are many subparts to the answer (which unfortunately for you I might detail) but at the highest level I want to participate in Kona because it absolutely scares me.  It is such a grand event in the world of endurance sports and it is a grand event in the world of Team in Training.  As such, failure has a greater cost and fear of failure grows exponentially.  I have completed 4 Ironman distance events to date.  Kona is different.  I have raised a lot of money for Team in Training.  Kona is different.  I have seen success but what does failure on the final stage mean?  Is it what you will be remembered for?  Will people look past your one failure and remember all the good you did?  Will I, myself, be able to look past failure and remember all the things I accomplished?  What will your family think?  What will your friends think?  I honestly do not know the answers to these questions but I welcome the opportunity to find them out and I will give it all I have to be successful for I will be all that much stronger of a person for having given it a shot:

"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start."
-John Bingham

As a coach for Team in Training, I always talk about the journey to race day being so much more important than the actual race.  When you are out on the course………no matter the distance…….it will be the memories you made prior to race day that invade your thoughts.  It will be the hard work, the tough workouts, the fear, the doubt and the stories you heard along the way that occupy your mind out on the course.  My journey has been a long one………….I will need every bit of the 140.6 miles to think about my road to Kona. 

The first part of this journey actually begins as a teenager sitting in front of a television with my best friend…… Dad.  It was 1982.  Her name was Julie Moss.  If you witnessed this race 34 years ago, you will never forget it.  She was leading the race by 20 minutes starting the marathon.  That is a mammoth lead as Ironman events go but over the course of the next 26.2 miles, her body would deteriorate.  She would ultimately lose the ability to stay on her feet as the finish line was in view just ahead of her.  She would keep getting up.  She would keep falling down.  She would ultimately be passed with literally yards to go.  She did not win on that day but she continued to crawl until crossing the finish line.  It was unbelievable and one of those moments that can forever change you. 

While all of this was transpiring, I was a high school cross country and track athlete.  I was decent.  For not having been in  the sport of running for long, I could knock out a 10K in 36 minutes and I helped my team out on the cross country course.  That being said, I watched the 1982 Ironman World Championship thinking you had to be insane to even attempt such a feat and despite some personal running success…………I remember clearly thinking this event was beyond me.  While that might be a normal thought process for a 16 year old (Chris McCormack excluded), my thought process would be the same 22 years later when stumbling across the doorstep of Team in Training.  Thankfully my time with this same organization taught me about self imposed limits and how to push past them:

"What we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true capability.  It is more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are."
Anthony Robbins

“What we could not do yesterday has no impact on what we can do today”
Yours truly

The second part of this story is the one many of you are familiar with.  It is why I ever started writing at this blog.  You can read all of my earlier posts but it started in 2002 when my father was diagnosed with leukemia.  

My Dad several days before becoming an Angel
He would fight until January 2004 when cancer would win their battle.  During the 15 months my Dad fought to stay alive, my daughter Isabella passed away. Shortly after my father lost his fight, my wife was diagnosed with cancer while pregnant with my son Jaden.  She would win her battle this time and again when it returned 5 years later.  This part of the journey is what defined me.  To be honest, I think this part of the story created me.  It woke me up to my potential.  It was a tough time. 
My wife winning the 1st of 2 battles

Cancer took a lot from me.  It has taken a lot from my friends.  It has taken a lot from the world.  What cancer did not expect, however, is for me to fight back.  For a brief moment after cancer took my  father, after God took Isabella as an Angel and after it tried unsuccessfully to take my wife, I curled up in ball.  I was defeated but only for a moment.  After that, I stood up in strength and started fighting back.  I started making a difference in the fight against cancer.  I started changing my life and the lives of others all the while trying to honor some promises I made to my Dad, daughter and wife.

During this second leg of the journey, I accomplished some amazing things. Once my father was in the terminal stage of his fight, I moved back east to be with my parents until the end.  During this time, I felt helpless.  There was nothing I could do to change things.  I tried my best to keep my Dad occupied and to make him laugh. We managed some good memories in those final months but I always felt I needed to do more so I came up with the idea to run a marathon in his honor.  Even when I was a solid high school runner, the thought of running a marathon instilled a great deal of fear in me.  My father was the kind of soul that looked for opportunities to stare fear in the face so I thought this was a meaningful tribute.  This is when I found Team in Training by accident………or perhaps God escorted me through the doors of that small running shoe store on Hilton Head Island.  The owner of the store was a coach for Team in Training.  Not only could I run a marathon but I could raise money to fight back.  Now that I knew there was an avenue to honor my father, I was off and running.  That introduction led to my first marathon which led to my first Century Ride which led to my first Ironman which led to coaching for Team in Training so that others might experience the joy of accomplishing more than they thought possible………so that others could fight back for their loved ones.  I have fundraised for 13 events.  Twelve were for Team in Training and one was the 2014 Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Man of the Year campaign which launched We Will Find a Cure.   I am not sure the exact total of funds I have raised over these events but it is somewhere around $250-260,000.  As a coach, my Westside team has raised millions of dollars to help us find that cure and many of the people I coached have gone on to do amazing things. It is my legacy, if you will, and fills me with great pride.   

While I am proud of all these accomplishments, I am truly the blessed one to have been granted the opportunity and ability to participate in these events.  Many of my favorite memories are wearing purple as part of this amazing organization……either crossing a finish line or coaching on the course somewhere in the country while others realized their dreams and potential. People often say to me that Team in Training should be grateful to me for my accomplishments.  I honestly never feel this way…….not for a split second. My story of loss made me who I am…….I was born out of the trying times but without Team in Training there would be no platform to realize my potential.  There are not enough years in my lifetime to repay Team in Training and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for what they have provided me.

To spend a little more time on Team in Training and perhaps provide a little more detail, my strategy as a participant has been to build from event to event and show progression so that I was putting myself on the line while asking for donations one more time. To leap to the conclusion, it is this progression coupled with the third and final part of my story (detailed below) that makes Kona the important final piece to this puzzle.  I started with a marathon.  Next I signed up for the Century Ride without even owning a bike.  I followed that by signing up for an Ironman without ever having swam one lap in a pool in my life.  Given this, it goes without saying that the Ironman was the first triathlon I ever signed up for.  It may not have been smart but it was strategic because I could write about my insanity when asking for critical donations.  I did not always outdo myself from event to event. Sometimes I simply changed the story and trained for a friend’s loss versus my own………. sometimes I did both as with 216.8 Miles For Ryan which was my last fundraising event for TNT.  Ryan was the son of Katie Mattingly who is an amazing lady that made her way to one of the marathon teams I coached.  Ryan is a survivor with a complicated story and I came up with this crazy idea to do three events on his behalf. I completed a marathon, my first 50 mile ultra marathon and closed out with my 4th Ironman at Coeur d’Alene in 2013………all adding up to 216.8 miles.  Shortly after this 4th Ironman (June 2013) and shortly before Sarah Weston Clark, friend and amazing LLS member, recommended me for the 2014 LLS Man of the Year campaign (December 2013), my athletic journey took a turn for the worse which is the subject of the third part to this story below.  Before getting there, however, it is important to talk about the Man of the Year campaign.  As I mentioned earlier, Sarah Weston Clark recommended me to participate in this competition.  Truth be told, she not only recommended me but stood by my side the entire way. She shared in my joy, my fears and stood by me when the tears started to flow during the 10-week campaign. 
Man & Woman of the Year top fundraisers

I am digressing but I will forever be grateful for Sarah believing in me enough to throw my name in the mix.  It was a life changing experience that was really difficult to sign my name to………tied to the same fear of failure that would accompany a Kona nomination.  Ultimately, it was the enormity of my fear that prompted me to accept the nomination.  My Dad would have done it.  I had to.  Besides that, I had coached hundreds, if not thousands, of people to stare fear in the face and shove it out of the way.  It was time for me to do the same.  I agreed to participate, some amazing people stood by my side and we won having raised $126,000 in 10 weeks.  You might look at this resume and think it is enough.  For me, there are still people suffering, I am still breathing, cancer is still breathing and circumstances changed that make Kona quite the challenge for me.  I am very afraid of it.  I think about it in my sleep.  I think about it all day with every step I take.  This leads to the final part of this story.

As mentioned, Ironman Coeur d’Alene was my 4th Ironman.  It was only supposed to be a training race before making a strong run at a great time for a to be determined 5th race.  Once my body recovered from this 4th event, I began to train again for number five.  I was in great shape.  I train by heart rate and I was at the peak of my life.  I was confident but I guess I should have known from my earlier story that life can change in an instant.

September 7, 2013.  Most of my Ironman workouts were in the dark or a lit pool late at night.  Ironman requires hours of work but I always commit to take as little time away from my family as possible.  This unfortunately meant training alone most of the time but the perk was being able to get to all of my kids events.  On this particular Saturday, I got a later start than normal although I was still one of the first people to hit the streets.  I was only riding about 25 miles so I started on a course I had traveled literally hundreds of times before.  I rode through Marina del Rey, across Ballona Creek into Playa del Rey and crested the hill on Vista del Mar that led to a view of the ocean to my right.  It would now be only 2 miles until my left turn on Imperial Highway to head into Westchester Parkway.  Because it was early enough, there was minimal traffic and minimal cars lining the street that would later be packed with beachgoers.  One pickup truck.  That is the only car I saw and the only one needed to disrupt the day and my life since.  I always scan car windows to determine if someone is inside that could cause some harm.  All looked clear but I was wrong.  In an instant, the door flung open too fast for me to make an adjustment.  I slammed into the door of his large Sanford & Son steel tank, flew about 10 feet and landed in the street facing the wrong direction.  I remember three things: the driver dropping an F bomb, some horrible pain in my left arm/shoulder and staring at a Volkswagon quickly approaching me as I lie in the street.  From there, other riders stopped, cars stopped, police and fire trucks showed up along with an ambulance and, of course, my family as they had been contacted.  

There is no need to relive the entire day.  I was in pain.  I hoped I would heal quickly.  I managed to only miss one week of coaching the 2014 Fall Westside Marathon team although I probably should have missed more.  At one point I thought all that was lost was my bike………an amazing bike at that.  I had a Specialized Shiv that was relegated to a trash dumpster.  Time would prove that the bike was not the only one to suffer long term damage.  I would spend hours and hours in physical therapy for my injuries.  In time, my right knee would give in tied to the impact from the accident and I would have surgery.  

Pre-surgery note to the surgeon

In more time, the tendon in my right foot would give in and I would have to decide on whether to have another surgery.  This decision was important for two reasons.  The first is that it forced me to withdraw my application with Team in Training for the 2016 Ironman World Championships. That was a very tough day for me but there was no way I was going to risk taking someone’s slot when I might not be healthy enough to participate.  The second reason this decision was important was tied to timing.  I proceeded ASAP with the surgery with the sole intention of giving myself a chance at this 2017 opportunity.  
That is my tendon. You can see the tear.

2 weeks post surgery. 2 hours pre blood clot drama

As it turns out, withdrawing my application was a smart move.  Complications resulted from the surgery.  I developed blood clots which significantly delayed my recovery.  Even as I write today more than 3 years later, I train with a great deal of caution.  I have had setback after setback but am finally making some progress (last week as of writing this I trained over 170 miles which is a great sign).  This being said, the road ahead will be full of land mines.  I can hammer out training on the bike and in the pool but will strategically run the least amount possible to finish the race.  There have even been days when my right foot creates challenges on the bike………..sometimes I cannot get out of the seat to pedal or have to use my left leg for most of the effort.  One of many things, none of which I can really pinpoint with accuracy, can trigger a flare up in my foot.  It will eventually pass but I proceed with caution on a daily basis all in the spirit of protecting my chance at crossing the 2017 Kona finish line.  My current life is having to practice everything I have ever taught.  Daily I have to push past doubt.  Daily I have to push past fear.  Daily I must believe with my heart when my mind tells me to give up.

“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere.”
Frank A. Clark

Kona would be full of obstacles.  My goal would be to raise $130,000 as it would be a personal fundraising record for me.  That is quite a significant amount of money and I will need an army of support to be successful.  Will people help me yet again?  I honestly do not know the answer but I must remain hopeful.  Will I be healthy enough to finish 140.6 miles?  I honestly do not know the answer to this question either.  I am damn certain I will have setbacks.  I am certain I will have to overcome injuries and I am certain there will be many times that $130,000 seems out of reach. If I get past these obstacles, there is the heat.  I am old which means I know my body well and it does not respond well to heat.  My heart rate is unbelievably higher in heat than the moderate temperatures of SoCal so I will have to train differently and race accordingly which means slow down.  My first Ironman finish was in 100+ heat.  I barely survived that day and barely crossed the finish line in time. For now, I can only hope I get the opportunity to face these fears. If I do, I will give it everything I have to be successful and I can only pray that you guys will stand by my side yet again.  Either way, thank you to everyone that has been a part of my journey.   I would have accomplished literally nothing without people stepping up time and time again to join me in battle. 

Forever grateful,
Christopher D. Wilno