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By Leesa Gabel

Re- A prefix. Used with the meaning “back” or “backward” to indicate withdrawal or backward motion; indicating return to a previous condition.

That’s how I’m referring to this blogging hiatus….a period of Re-.

Craig and I are still as passionate as ever in our efforts to make a difference in the world around us. We’ve just been working on re-focusing, re-defining, re-evaluating, re-energizing…..all sorts of Re-.

And I’ll admit, life got busy in the House of Four Gabels and maintaining this website sank further and further down the priority list. But now that we’ve worked through our Re- period, I anticipate more activity and changes coming to this page.

So be watchful…and be prepared for the re-birth of Team WOBO!





By Leesa Gabel

I’m not good at juggling, but I am good at balancing. And that’s what I’ve been trying to do for the last two weeks — find my balance.

After a few stints with contract, freelance and part-time work over the last three years, I’ve finally returned to work full-time! I’m an Instructional Designer for Mediware – a medical software company. Ironically, the project I’ve been put on pertains to hospital blood banks….I know a thing or two about blood. Ha!

Me being back at work has been a big change in our house. Thankfully, I have the best husband in the world! Craig has an awesome domestic side and he took care of so many things around the house so that all I had to do after returning home from work is just sit and relax with the family. And my kids….I also have the best kids in the world! I went back to work right when they got off for Christmas Break. The first week they were home all day, but they got so much done….cleaned rooms, did fun projects, played together. I’ve definitely been blessed! But now, the holidays are over and school starts back at the end of the week. It’ll be another big change — getting myself and the family all ready to leave the house on time. Something that I’ve probably taken for granted over the last three years.

So now I’m working on finding balance. The right mix of work, family and other obligations. I was chosen to be a LIVESTRONG Leader again in 2012, but this year Craig will join me as one too! We’re definitely in this cancer fight together, so I can’t think of a better teammate to have!! Plus I still have Girl Scouts and Team in Training.

It’ll take balance to make all my passions work together. I don’t want to say juggle because of the possibility of ‘dropping the ball’. I don’t want that to happen. I want to make sure I’m successful at all that I do.



Magic number 42?

By Craig Gabel

Today is my 41st birthday. I am actually welcoming the day as my 41 year was a tough one. I reached my personal endurance goals and was left somewhat confused on what to do next. I reached the pinnacle of endurance sport…Ironman. 140.6 miles of pure physical and mental concentration focused on reaching that finish line. I never ever thought I would or even could accomplish such a feat but I did. I thought once I started down this path I would not only become a better athlete but I also figured I would become healthy and lose weight… far from it!
After my 40th birthday celebrating with my best friends I had high hopes of continuing down some training path that would help me shed some pounds and feel better but it never came to fruition. After the holidays it was time to get ready for the Lake Tahoe ride once again. Leesa and I both signed up only to find out a few weeks later that Leesa was relapsing and her CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia) had returned. It put us in a precarious situation since I was a team mentor and was obligated to continue with the training and ride not only for the team but for myself as well. It was supposed to be a great time in our life to celebrate the end of Leesa’s cancer and spend time together getting healthy. Over all training went well and we had some good times with old and new friends along the way. My head was never really in it 100% as something was missing. Leesa was not there and it never felt complete. I had been having some gall bladder issues for a couple months but seemed to be on the mend. I was eating well and feeling great. Then the day before we were to leave for Lake Tahoe my doctor called. I had an ultrasound on my gall bladder just to check things out and he noticed what appeared to be a mass in my gall bladder. That’s all the info I had! Was it cancerous? Was it migrating to my pancreas? Was it nothing at all? It was a real toss up on whether to go on the trip or not. It seemed very serious but maybe not urgent to have it removed immediately. My doc said take the trip but let’s get that gall bladder out as soon as you get back. I took the trip with the family and had a great time building family memories that will last a life time. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. So upon my return home, long story short, I had my gall bladder removed, the mass was apparently a shadow or something on the ultrasound and there wasn’t anything there…so that was good…but I later realized that I may have had it removed for nothing. Fast forward to today and I think I may still be a little bit bitter over having a probable unnecessary surgery but I bring myself back to reality with the internalized “better safe than sorry” argument. I was really bummed at the time since I missed half of my son’s Boy Scout summer camp and was laid up for several weeks recovering. I was miserable and slight pissed off. My thoughts kept reverting back to the day Leesa got the news of the return of her cancer and then all the stuff that happened through the spring and summer…frankly, turning 40 just sucked! Then things took a turn for the better…
Leesa conquered her cancer with 5 months of chemo and is now just past her 6th month of total remission. That makes me happy! Plus, back in September Leesa and I started taking a nutrition class. It seemed like the right thing to do since we are both stuck in a rut with weight loss and healthy living. Obviously you it is possible to training for and complete an Ironman all while still eat like crap and being 60-70 pounds overweight. That just proves some things really are very much a mental battle more than a physical one. Anyway, the class has been going great. I am down 30 pounds this week. We are eating so much better and are now so much more aware of what we put in our mouths before it goes in. It’s not a diet… it’s really a lifestyle change. I am in weight loss mode and right now protein shakes are working very well for me. I never in a million years thought I would be looking forward to a Strawberry Cheesecake protein shake on my 41st birthday but I did and it tasted awesome! I have been walking/running and cycling of late once again and it feels great to be training for a goal. My goal for my 42nd year is to see my lovely wife reach 18 months of remission and for me to complete another Ironman many pounds lighter than the first time around and hopefully I can shave some time off. Time will tell….stay tuned!



Ironman 2012?

By Craig Gabel

It’s hard to believe that just a little over one year ago I conquered my personal ultimate test of mental and physical endurance… Ironman!  The last 12 months have left me somewhat frustrated I guess.  There is a lot going on in the Gabel house these days and my focus on training has dwindled considerably to being almost non-existent.  I think my biggest challenge since Leesa got us off the sofa and out walking our butts off is living healthy.  Sure we walked, ran, biked and swam many, many miles over the 3+ years but the weight loss and general healthy living I think I kinda sorta was hoping for just has not happened.  It’s been a yearlong wake call.  Plus, maybe turning 40 has something to do with it…I dunno. In trying to channel that frustration, Leesa and I have committed to living a healthier lifestyle by utilizing proper nutrition.  Through healthy eating habits the weight loss should happen over time and hopefully see a significant energy boost and the desire to train on a much more regular basis.

In reflecting back on 12 months of blahh… I think it’s time to set a new goal.  I have found that I really need goals…short and long term. You know…something to help guide me and keep me on track.  After Ironman last year, I more or less took an extended break.  The down side is that I was still fueling my body as if I were still training for 1-3 hours (or more) per day.  That does not make the scale a happy camper… nor the mind.  So as a short term goal I am working to drop some pounds by eating healthier by watching calorie, fat and protein intake on a daily basis.  I hope to start training real soon to get my cycling legs moving again in time for the Tahoe kick off just after the first of the year.  Training for Tahoe will be fun as Leesa and I will be riding together once again.  Team WOBO will conquer.  For a long term goal I will use the Tahoe trainging to get my cycling endurance up to the century distance and I will also supplement with some corss training… running and swimming.  More to come on that down the road but I now have some goals… two big events next year… Tahoe and Ironman!



Back to basics

By Craig Gabel

After a year of chemo therapy for Leesa, surgery for me (with some minor complications) and more or less taking some time off from training, it’s now time to get back at it.  I was reading our “About Us” page this morning and it hit me how far off our original vision we have gotten.  Granted it has been a tough year for us but nothing that will completely stop us in our tracks.  It’s just been slow going.  Turning 40 has been a crappy year health wise for me…it’s just pure coincidence though.  After completing my ultimate endurance achievement of finishing an Ironman almost one year ago, I still find myself searching for the next “big” thing.  That’s where I have gone wrong.  It’s not about having “big” goals all the time.  We can all have big goals but it’s simply about having “a” goal.  So my goal for the remainder of this year is too work on eating better and dropping weight all while getting back to a swim, bike, run routine.  I think Leesa can agree and we will set our goals together as a team….Team WOBO!  What are your goals for the remainder of the year?



Tahoe post event report

By Craig Gabel

This year’s ride was another inspiring event. Although it was not quite as inspiring as last year’s event when my incredible wife inspired countless folks across the country, it was still amazing to see so many people do something they never thought possible.

They don’t call it America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride for nothing. This year’s ride was a bit out of the ordinary. The weather in California was extremely uncharacteristic. We drove into the Lake Tahoe area just after a 5-6 inch layer of fresh snow had fallen in the upper elevations. Thankfully, we had no issues getting there by car but hours prior apparently chains were required. Over the next few days the weather improved and it looked like ride day was shaping up but rain and cooler temperatures were imminent.

Friday was family day and packet pick up. We had a good time exploring and hanging out with some team members. No convertible Corvette this year since we had the kids with us.  So a convertible Mustang filled the void and provided a place for the kids to sit in the car.  At packet pick-up Leesa was approached by a coach from the Central California TNT Chapter. She had two pictures of Leesa from last year riding her bike with a sign on her back reading “finished chemo 6 days ago.” The coach said she uses the pictures to motivate the Central California TNT team when they need some inspiration. How awesome is that! The coach had Leesa sign the pictures for her. One year later and she is still a Rockstar… like none of us knew that already.

Saturday we rode the annual route to the Pearl Izumi outlet store (Cycling gear) and grabbed some breakfast on the way. The afternoon was free and we did some more exploring as a family. Saturday night was our inspiration dinner where we learned that as a TNT chapter we raised over $140,000 and as a nationwide group we cleared $6,800,000. That is a tremendous amount of funds going to cancer research. We could not have done our small part without all our awesome donors. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You for all your support!

Sunday. The morning of the ride I had four layers of clothes from the waist up including a rain jacket and two layers of clothes from the waist down. Rain was falling as the team prepared to head out on our journey. Jason gave his awesomely motivating “Go Team!” speech (which never gets old by the way) to remind all of us why we were there and as we left the cover of Harvey’s hotel the rain stopped. I think that boosted everyone’s spirits and was a great way to start the day. We rolled over to the start line and off we went. Rolling through South Lake was a nice downhill stretch the lets us get our muscles moving and thinned out the crowd a bit. The rain started to fall off and on but nothing to horrible. Once down in the forest a bit we approached the dreaded switch backs. I like them personally. It’s cool to see folks struggle through them in their own ways mentally and physically to conquer this steep climb while others ride effortlessly. I rode up a bit and stopped to see how others behind me were doing and ended up helping a young woman from the TX/OK chapter who was having a major asthma attack. I got her inhaler for her and got her calmed down after a few minutes. I then led her to the top taking the easiest line possible with a short break at each turn. She conquered the hill and had a smile on her face at the top. She thanked me and I said ‘thank you for being here and conquering that hill….now go enjoy the views’. We rolled into the first rest stop at Emerald Bay where we traditionally take a team photo. It was great to see Alex, Ashlee and Leesa cheering me and the team up the hill to the stop. As folks were rolling into the rest stop and hanging out talking about the journey thus far, Leesa stopped and said “Come on Mid-America. Let’s cheer the last few members in.” She knew the importance of having the team support from her experience last year and wanted to give that to this year’s team. We exuberantly cheered in the remaining members. One person I have to single out because I am so proud of her is Marsha. When Marsha came into the rest stop, the team was roaring for her. When she pulled in she said with no hesitation, “Okay…I deserved that!” Boy did she ever! As a team mentor I want to see everyone succeed and this moment was like seeing one of my kids overcome a big obstacle. I felt like one proud dad in weird way. It was very satisfying and would have been worth the trip if had ended right at that moment. Congrats to Mike and Maury who got engaged at this awesome scenic overlook during our stop. Well done Mike!

From Emerald Bay I took off for Homestead. I made it to the top of the first climb and started to descend down when I heard metal on metal when using my rear wheel brakes. I thought it was just road grime at first but this was much more than just some sand and dirty caught in my brakes. I reached back with my water bottle to squirt some water to help clean off the rim and brake pads but it made the noise and vibration much more intense. Finally I had to pull over before descending any further to see what was up. Sure enough my brake pad had worn down to nothing. It had this nasty black jelly looking build up and the brake pad looked like shredded cheese. I had to ride very cautiously down the remaining hills using only my front brakes for 10 or so miles. That was quite the challenge in this mountainous area. Once in Homestead I swapped the brake pads for some new ones that the bike mechanic dude thankfully had on hand. I was back on the road in no time. From Homestead on out to Truckee was a bit uneventful. I had a good conversation with Jacquie as we swapped positions drafting off each other. Once in Truckee I fueled up on some boiled potatoes and PB&J bagel bites. On the way back I rode with a few people and drafted where I could. Then sun finally came out for a while and Dollar hill got me by surprise….Again! I seriously think that may be the toughest climb on the entire route. It was starting to get warm so I shed off a layer of clothing to help cool me down a bit. I then rolled into King’s Beach with Jennifer as we commented on the beautiful scenery. Lunch was tasty…turkey sandwich, chips and a brownie.

Rolling out to Incline Village with Jennifer and Laurie was nice and relaxing. Chase and Rick blew by us like we were standing still. Those boys were having a good time which was awesome to see. Leaving Incline Village offered even more spectacular views of the light and dark emerald and gorgeous blue contrast of the lake….it was just breathtaking. Then came the Spooner climb. The mountain climb was not too bad this year…maybe because I know the route now?! I took it easy and rode with Jennifer and coach Jen most of the way up. Leesa and the kids cheered us on all day and Spooner was no exception. Spooner was humbling as always and the rain had come back for a bit but did not stick around for long. At the top of the pass I was greeted by Leesa and the kids. The folks manning the rest stop had chicken broth which tasted really good after such a long climb.

Now the fun part…the 8ish mile decent off Spooner Pass through Zepher Cove and back into Southlake. The fast decent topped me out just over a 40 mph consistent speed for several miles. The skies were clear, view of the lake unobstructed and the ride was very fast. The remaining hills at the end sucked but I knew they were coming so I could somewhat prepare mentally. Just before the finish was the team cheering us in with adult beverages in hand. We crossed the finish line and then rejoined the team for a celebration as we cheered the remaining members in. Once everyone finished, we rode together as a group across the finish line. We did it!

Ironically the next day we woke up to quite a bit of snow in the upper elevations and even down into the lower sections where we had ridden less than 24 hours prior. Glad we got the ride in when we did. It was amazing to see the vast weather ecosystem of the lake. There are many forecasts to consider depending on where you are around the lake. Pretty wild stuff!

I can’t wait to do it all over again and will do so until a cure is found for blood cancers.

Wanna help? Make a donation today!



Almost there…

By Craig Gabel

Tahoe is just a little over a week away.  I am mentally and physically prepared for the challenge.  Fundraising is going well but I still need a final push to reach my personal goal of $5000.   Training is in taper mode so not too much physical stuff for the next week…I like that!  Leesa just wrapped up her trip to Washington DC on Monday and Tuesday of this week in which she participated in the One Voice Against Cancer lobby day on Capitol Hill.  As the lone representative from Kansas, she visited all the Kansas state representatives and both senators.  I am so proud of her.  She’s the real deal when it comes to being an advocate for cancer research.  She has been pretty well wiped out since she got back late Tuesday night.  This is a chemo week for her but next week she is off the juice as she calls it.  Then she just has one more two week round to complete in the latter part of June.  Then….God willing…she will be done with chemo for what we hope and pray to be a very long time.



Counting the days until Tahoe

By Craig Gabel

It’s getting close to packing up our stuff and heading west.  I absolutely loved our trip to Tahoe last year and cannot wait to get back out there.  This year the kids are coming with us.  We fly into San Francisco and will spend a couple days touring northern California’s historic cities and gold mines on our way to Tahoe.  The kids have never been past Colorado so this will be a fun time for them and us.  Not convertible Corvette this time around but we will have a convertible of some type.   Then it’s TNT weekend time.   Ya the Tour of California starts today riding most of the same route around the lake as we will ride but they don’t have our numbers.  On the first weekend in June, over 3000 cyclist from all over the country will converge on Lake Tahoe.  A vast majority of these cyclists will be Team in Training volunteers collectively raising well over 7 million dollars for cancer research.  Beat that Amgen TOC!  Okay, I being a little facetious.  The TOC rides to support cancer survivors worldwide.  It’s a great event to follow on the Versus channel if you have the time to catch it.  Stage one starting in about an hour will give you a perspective on America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride.  It a wonder all in its own but then you layer on the team mates and TNT support staff, the other cyclists, the spectators, the volunteers and most importantly the cause and it becomes a life altering event.  100 miles in the saddle…… Bring it!




By Leesa Gabel

Passion is an intense enthusiasm for a subject or activity.

Within the last few weeks I have definitely found my passions…in no particular order…

Girl Scouts – I’m a second year Daisy Girl Scout Leader for my daughter and 10 other of her 1st grade friends. I love being a leader!! But that’s not all I do….I’m also Registrar for my Service Unit and in the fall I will be the Girl Scout Organizier at Mahaffie. I’m also a certified adult learning facilitator (I teach classes on how to be a GS leader). And as of Saturday afternoon, I am officially a Delegate to the National Convention. In Novemeber, I’ll travel to Houston as a representative of my local GS Council. Not quite sure yet what all I’ll be doing, but I know it’ll be fun. I’ve seen the positive effects that Boy Scouts has had on my son, now I’m looking forward to the same for my daughter. Girl Scouts builds girls of courage, confidence and character!!

Team In Training – I LOVE my TNT peeps!! It has to be love because not much else would get me out of my comfy bed at 5:30am on a Saturday morning. I actually feel bad when I can’t make it out to a training….even if it’s just to man a waterstop. Being a part of TNT has changed my life….it is so inspirational to be a part of something that is so much bigger than you first realize when you join. It’s shown me that I CAN…even with cancer. My kids and I joke that I have CANcer, not CAN’Tcer. I do still need a cool nickname though….

LIVESTRONG – The name says it all…Live Strong….and that’s what I’m doing. In March of this year I received word that my application to be a LIVESTRONG Leader had been accepted!! WooHoo!! Little did I know the exciting doors it would open for me and the feeling of awesomeness it would give me. As I type this I am patiently waiting to hear if I’m one of 40 who will be traveling to Washington, DC as a respresentative of LIVESTRONG to join them for One Voice Against Cancer Lobby Day! OMG!! I was doing the happy dance when I learned that I had been a selected as a potential advocate. I’ve been writing to my state and federal reps for a while now as part of American Cancer Society….traveling to DC really ups the anty!!! LIVESTRONG has also been there for me as a cancer survivor…..they have SO much support available….so many options. It’s very comforting to know that I’m not alone.

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society – Of course they’d be on the list….Hello! I have leukemia!! LOL!! Seriously, the folks in that office are a second family (like second cousins or something). This is also where I’d like to put ALL my focus on fundraising. It was a hard decision because there are so many organizations out there that I believe in and want to support. But in the end, my desire to find a cure for my type of leukemia swayed my decision. I HATE having a chronic disease. Hate it, hate it, HATE IT!!! I’m tired of treatment, I WANT A CURE!! I do my part by doing clinical trials….someone has to be a guinea pig. But those trials take funding and right now I’m not trusting our government to help with that…..perhaps a dose of my passion on Capitol Hill will help change that!!

There is one other to add to the list…..Flootle……but you’ll need to wait a bit longer before I can tell you more about this new passion.




By Craig Gabel

This year has been a tough year to get motivated.  I think seeing Leesa go through yet another round of chemo has really affected me in ways that I haven’t yet comprehended.  I am motivated to help fight the cause and have done a decent job fundraising but the physical and emotional side to this has taken its toll.  You take that and couple it with achieving my ultimate goal of finishing an Ironman…then what do you do?  Well I sat on my rear all winter long losing the physical stamina I built up over the last 2+ years. I thought getting engaged in the Tahoe team experience as a mentor would cause my physical being to open up like a spring flower but I have to say that has yet to happen… but it might be close.  It’s been a frustrating year for lack of a better word.  I am trying to be the rock of the family but lately that has been a very hard role to fill.  All the things you think of associated with the word “cancer” have seemed to finally set into our family even though we’ve been fighting it since day one.  The hardship of dealing with the treatment, the emotional pitfall that affects the whole family, the financial drain, etc…it all adds up to depression if you let it get the best of you.  I think that has hit all of us at some level.  Well it’s time to bounce back.  I am not real sure what that entails but it’s time to step up and do something about it.  Maybe my two mile run this morning is a good first step!  I haven’t run since Ironman so it’s a decent motivator for the time being…how long will it last is the question.