Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ironman 2011

2011 has been an IRONMAN year for my friends!  

It has been bittersweet for me, as I should have progressed with them, but I know my limits with my EDS and I'll get there eventually.  It was really awesome though to see so many achieve such awesome goals this year.  I spent more time than I care to admit following people on the blackberry on the crappy Ironman tracker (which by the way SUCKS).  My friend Kevin had a pretty good tracker  http://www.myathletelive.com/index.html  but it was difficult with the blackberry and Val had one that would automatically publish her splits to facebook: www.racedaytracker.com. 

The year started out with Glenn.  Glenn was a shotgun triathlete.  He started out shy with a 'oh I don't know' then all of a sudden he's doing several 70.3 and after his first Ironman he's blowing 20+ avg MPH distance bike rides and scheduling ironmans like they're 5Ks!  Glenn is truely an IRONMAN!  Here he is finishing Ironman Texas in May!


Next was Karla who finished a 70.3 Ironman the Rev 3 in Maine in June!

I met Karla 2 years ago in a group that I was assistant coaching (along with Julie below).  It's pretty cool to see them excel!  Karla is known to have these explosive finishes, and she prides herself in getting noticed in her jumps of excitement at the finish line.  Way to go Karla.  Full Ironman next year?
 Then we have the Providence 70.3.  This one was a little sad for me, as I was supposed to do it with Alexis, Julie and Karla, but my EDS got in the way.  I paid for it, but had to back out.  (I paid for it again for 2012, we'll see if it works out).  It was very awesome to see them finish though!  
Alexis is one of TWO of of my friends recovering from a broken clavicle from last season.  Biking can be very dangerous (please get a RoadID).  She recovered from the break and came out strong! 
Alexis finished first, of course!  She's our coach! 

Being there for her finish was great, I cry at all of the finishes, but we do push each other (I tend to push her INTO the pool) one of these days I'm going to get in trouble. hehe..  
Julie and her Sister Karla also finished Providence. Julie has been there with me through many trainings and so many races.  We even WON a sprint this year with a relay team!  I can't wait until next year! Way to go girls!

Next was Kevin. I remember talking to his wife Lori and saying I wanted to do an Ironman in 2012. She yelled to a couch comfortable husband "hey you want to do an Ironman? you said it was on your bucket list." to which he mumbles "yea sure."  I presume he then thought "uh WHAT??" ( but the damage was done, he said it outloud).  Kevin turned into a triathlon machine.  He's fast and competitive.  He completed not only his half but his full Ironman in the same year!
In July he went to Racine to complete his 70.3 in front of most of his family!  Great Job Kevin, I'm so proud!

Next was Rick.  This wasn't Rick's first Ironman, he finished Ironman Florida several years go! I'm including him because he has been a mentor to me in triathlon, AND he had a tough break last year.  He was training for Ironman Placid 2010 and just short time before the race, he had a bike accident and broke his clavicle!  (again GET YOUR ROAD ID!).  He had a long road to recovery but was able to finish Ironman Placid in 2011 THIS YEAR!  I am including him for overcoming that obstacle!  Great Job Rick!
Next was Laura.  I met Laura at a Sprint Triathlon in NH.  She is a good friend of Christina, the woman whom I wrote about and is one of my most popular blog posts.  Laura and I stood at the waters edge and chatted as we cried and watched Christina get ready for her first tri.  We also waited for her at the finish line.  Something that we'll never forget!  Laura pushed herself to new heights this year by finishing Timberman 70.3 in August.  Not only did she complete a 70.3, but one of the more hillier ones on the east coast!  Some of the grades are upwards of 10%!  (try walking that let alone riding your bike!?!).  Way to go Laura!
Next up was KEVIN again!  He was READY on Sept 11 to tackle IRONMAN WISCONSIN!  Luckily he has these great races right around his house and could be surrounded by his family, what a great opportunity!  . Way to go Kevin!  Way to push it!  Hope to do a race with you someday! (even a sprint!)!
Next is Megan.  I met Megan through my blog!  She is another blogger!  We share many of the same philosophies and have become friends.  She is one of the most positive people and has recently been elected MAYOR of her town!  GO MEGAN!  (how are you going to fit in your Triathlons now though?).  Megan finished the Rev3 Cedar Point 70.3 in September.   - Go Megan!  I love your spirit!  - Can't wait to do a race with you either!

Next is Val- I wrote about Val in my last post. I met her through my blog and she IS My blog!  She is just amazing!  In 2 years she has lost 100 lbs, ran her first mile > then 5K > then half marathon > sprint tri > Olympic > half marathon > and October she PLACED THIRD in the Rev 3 Anderson SC 70.3 for the Athena division!  - Val are you sure you're real?
Next is Tim. Many of you know him, if you don't know him personally you probably know his work.  He is the race director for the Max Performance Race series here in New England.  These are the best run races around!  I don't know how Tim has time for all he does!  He makes sure the rest of us have an awesome season, yet he manages to squeeze out a couple 70.3's and this year  in Florida, he was finally able to hear those words..
TIM you are an IRONMAN!
Last, but not least is Val.. she just finished Ironman Cozumel this weekend!  I am waiting for a picture!  What a year she's had!   VAL YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!
What a year ALL Of you have had!  I am so proud of each and every one of you! I cry at all the events, they are so fun! I know the dedication it takes to get there.  I hope you are all proud of what you've done!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Athena’s Represent!

I love how this blog has introduced me to some amazing people!  Today I’m going to introduce you to another one! 

Meet Val!

Val contacted me recently saying that she was doing Ironman Cozumel in Nov and was so proud to represent the Athena’s out there.  Yea that could be the end of this and I would be so proud to give her the support she needs but just wait until you see what she’s done!  She is one amazing woman!

In January 2010, less than 2 years ago,  Val weighed 295 pounds! She was, however, always athletic, swimming 3 seasons in High School even at 257 pounds!

Her story begins with weight loss surgery in Jan 2010. She has since lost 110 pounds and counting.  Val labeled herself a ‘gym rat’ for the first 5 months after her surgery, but found herself wanting more.  She decided she wanted to “TRI.”  I guess she was bitten by the bug!

In her own words “I had the swimming covered, figured anyone could bike...I just had to really, really work on the running since I’d only run a mile twice in my entire life” – yea that’s how I still feel about running! 

In July 2010 she tried her first sprint Tri and followed that up with 3 more that season!  She couldn’t stop, so after the tri season, she continued on and ran a half marathon in under 2.5 hours!   Like Forrest Gump she just KEPT RUNNING and did a SECOND half marathon in March of this year, followed by her first Olympic Triathlon in April! All this while she just continued to MELT AWAY!

As if that weren't enough, she signed up for the  4.4 mile swim lottery in Chesapeake Bay- and WON!  (Is swimming for 2-3 hours considered winning?).  I know I love swimming but MY MY girl!  She said YUP I'm doing it!

Val then had her eye set on a Half Ironman in July 2011!  When she decided to sign up for the half her longest bike ride had been only 40 miles.  WHO CARES she says..BRING IT!! -- WITH A SMILE!

Val sets her goals high and ACHIEVES THEM!  She completed a half ironman in July and then immediately signed up for a SECOND one in October. Rev3, where she not only shaved 30 minutes off her time but she took SECOND PLACE ATHENA!  Talk about setting the bar!

I’ve been following Val through her last month of training.  Ironman training is hard, it takes dedication and more mental focus than any one person can imagine. She’s reaching to new levels of finding out who she is and what she’s made of!  I’m so happy that she contacted me, as she is the embodiment of some amazing spirit! She’s positive, goal oriented, and quite the trend setter.  She does have a large triathlon team, I consider her the team representative for ALL of us Athena’s out there!


Go Val!  We’re cheering for you!

You are a fighter, a leader, a teammate, and a role model!

**follow me on Facebook, I’ll be sure to post updates as Val gets closer to hearing VAL YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!**

Monday, October 3, 2011

I Didn't Wanna

  • I didn't wanna go for a 30 ride in the rain yesterday, especially when my friends said “hey its going to rain! .. but I did!
  • I didn't wanna get out of bed this rainy Monday AM at 4:30AM – but I did!
  • I didn't wanna go to Spin  - but I did!
  • I didn't wanna keep the resistance cranked – but I did!
  • I didn't wanna sweat my arse off –but I did!
  • I didn't wanna stand up and push –but I did!
  • I didn't wanna keep going when many in the class left at 6:30 – but I did!
  • I didn't wanna do intervals –but I did!
  • I didn't wanna go to work – but I did!
  • I didn't wanna shower at the Y, but I did (OK that one’s for the rest of you)!

See, we do things we don’t want to do, ALL THE TIME!  Do something for yourself, even if you “don’t wanna.”
Because it feels good LATER! 

You know you PLAN TO and you don’t want to “WISH YOU HAD.”

Stop wishing.. Do it!

Friday, September 30, 2011

More Motivation: Finding YOUR Activity!

If Rick and Dick Hoyt don't motivate you.. well you're in the wrong place!

Getting Motivated is more than just looking at your friend and saying “eh I’d like to get in shape.” BOOORRING!!!!  You have to find what WORKS FOR YOU TO HAVE FUN!

It took me a LONG time to find that!  I used to love to play volleyball, that kept me active for a long time, but that’s not really a great activity for my EDS!  Also my scuba diving is awesome, especially diving in New England as it's pretty strenuous.

There are countless activities you can do that get you MOVING!  Take the kids for a ride on the bike (YOU RIDE TOO, don't just stand there and watch them).  There are so many cool trails out there now!  Go for a walk/hike, get a camera, you will be surprised how far you walk without knowing it when you’re interested in the scenery!

There are lots of different activities, please don’t just go to a gym, try it once and say “this sucks.”;because YEA that does suck!   I need the spin class with the loud rock, or to swim with an mp3 player blaring in my ears.  I get on a dreadmill once in a while and want to poke my eyes out!  

Take a bunch of different classes:  spin, aerobics, pilates, yoga, kickboxing, etc. You’ll eventually find something you LOVE.  If time is a problem, classes happen ALL of the time from pre-dawn bootcamps, to late night workouts.  No excuses!

Now me, I’m motivated by sports, friends, or numbers.  I just LOVE triathlons!  Once you're bitten by the bug it's a stupid addiction!   Seriously those of you that keep telling me “I could never do that..” GO WATCH  A RACE! 

You will find:
  • People 3x your weight!
  • People 3x your age!
  • People that have 3-4 more kids than you!
  • People that have less money than you!
  • People that have one less appendage than you!
  • People that are fighting Cancer!
  • People that have other disorders that you can’t see!

I know way too many people now that really ‘Can’t’ do it, if your legs work – you certainly can!  I’m soooo slow it's rather funny.    Speed is not a pre-requisite for the sprint triathlons; finishing is!   I can’t even explain what it feels like to finish your first one, or really to watch people finish their first one!! You accomplish something you NEVER thought you could do, and do something most people DON'T!   

 Stop with the excuses and as Nike says “Just Do It.” 

**for those of you who like my blog, please like my facebook page too!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Getting Some Motivation

Everyone needs some right?  I’ve had so many people tell me that they would love to “do what I do” – (I will be writing MORE on this one)… but one thing that everyone needs to find is their own personal motivation!  Some dig positive reinforcement, some negative! 

Most of you know we lost one of our dogs in May, but before that we had the best example of opposite motivation! Same breed, both super sweet and gentle dogs, but Gemini was very, very, very  responsive to more ‘negative’ reinforcement.  Apollo on the other hand, POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT ONLY!  If you yell at him, he pouts for days.  If you would yell at Gemini, she would basically laugh at you.  If you had a squirt bottle or a can of pennies to ‘startle’ Gemini, she was all ears!  Very different, just like US! Both well behaved, but the path to getting there was sooo different!

It’s taken me a long time to figure out my own motivations.  Last weekend I was reminded of one of them.  I’m sorta negatively reinforced.  One of my relay buddies took a bunch of great pics at the race.  I was horrified at the pictures!  I would post them, however most of you would say “what are you talking about?”  

So here’s the deal, have someone take pictures of you doing some random activity (DO NOT POSE), then look them, closely.  I’m sure you’ll find something you don’t like, chin(s); batwings, bakery in your middle, extra person trying to escape from the arms of the wetsuit…..  You all know what I mean. 

We each find something in ourselves that we want to improve.  No one EVER keeps those pictures, and no friend EVER agrees with us when we say “LOOK AT THIS CRAP.”   I see a much smaller me when I look in the mirror, I don’t see what that camera just captured!   Our friends just say “oh that’s cute” (cute my gigantic butt)!

So, I have this picture;  it’s now stuck in my head.  I also have a pic that I did pose for and  I probably had spanks on, but who cares!  I have them side by side as a reminder of where I DO NOT want to be, and where I want to be!  (now don’t go get a picture from 25 years ago that is unrealistic).  Tape them somewhere that motivates YOU!  Inside of your closet, inside of your medicine cabinet where you brush your teeth, or if you’re brave, the refrigerator! (it won’t motivate you if you don’t see it).

I have a 13.1 magnet on my fridge.  I really want to be able to do a half marathon – it’s there to motivate me to keep moving!  I’ve never done one, but I will eventually.  When I do, I’ll take that magnet off the fridge, put it on my car and get a new one for the fridge (26.2)!

Find out what motivates you and put it IN YOUR FACE!

Monday, September 26, 2011

End The Season with some BLING!

It has been a VERY ROUGH season!  I haven't written that much because it has mostly been negative and I didn't want to bring down the blog!  From my mom's accident to my just absolutely miserable season with my EDS, but let me tell you - yesterday was the way to go out and go out strong! NOT TO MENTION get me all fired up again!

About 2 months ago, Lisa and I started asking Julie (in white) if we would be doing the SheRox Triathlon.  It's VERY late in the season and can be pretty chilly.  Most of us are pretty burnt out by this time, but I am so compelled to do any race that's on Webster lake because I live so close!  I secured a coupon so I started the peer pressure!  We were all swim buddies on Sept 11 and that did us all in; Lisa said "lets do a relay" - so we all said "ok fine."

Truth be told, I hadn't been in the water to swim any distance in about 6 months - and I now had 2 weeks to be ready to race! YIKES!  I immediately renewed my YMCA membership and jumped in the water.  My first swim was NOT what I had hoped!  My time was "ok", but my shoulder was TERRIBLE (see the post New way to Adjust your Shoulder).  It felt like every stroke someone was stabbing me in the back with a knife - AWESOME!  How was I going to do a relay in 2 weeks!?!.

No way I was telling Julie and Lisa!  So the next day I went to the Chiropractor (my deity on Earth).  I saw him about 7x in the next 14 days.  I also saw my Massage Therapist about 5x !  I could not LIVE without those two!  By the time they were done beating the crap out of me, my swim time was 'ok' and the knife was  gone.  

Onto SATURDAY - my diveshop was going out of business and had the last sale, I can't tell you how sad this is, but point for here is that I purchased some additional wetsuits.  Not that I didn't have enough already. (Stay tuned to the Facebook Fatgirl site, I will post a pic there of my wetsuit closet, there are over 25 in there).  The really exciting thing is I got a GREAT deal on one tri-wetsuit for my friend Ericka!

She's so stinking fast in the water anyway, now look out! She's going to win some races! Ericka and I went for a little "TEST DRIVE" of her new wetsuit on Sat, as you should NEVER try something on Race day.  

We noted that they moved transition to a full quarter of a mile AWAY FROM THE BEACH.  That's all I could think about!  Man!  I hate running, and I was sooo excited of doing a RELAY, I could swim and that's it.. but NOOOO they created a quadatholon for us.  1/4 mile of running BAREFOOT through the crappy parking lot -YEA!  I can't tell you the last time I ran anywhere! - Ok, I'll do it though, right? (I'd hate to see me if I got caught up in the wrong crowd, all this damn peer pressure).

So Sunday rolls around, I had planned on riding my bike over to the race but I neglected to plan for the SUN.  No sun until well after 6:30.. so I had to drive.. boo!  I drove over, and subsequently was eaten alive by mosquitoes in the dark!  Late season tri's do have some extra considerations, that's for sure!

I met up with Julie and Lisa, we racked our stuff and sized up the competition.  There were some TINY runners, and some BIG mountain bikes. We thought 'eh ok.'

When it came time for the swim wave, I'm normally REALLY freaked out by being in the last wave, because I would then be THE LAST ATHLETE.. not today!  I knew I would go all out, and I knew I had Julie to bike and Lisa to run!
The course was a triangle, and the last leg of the swim shown here was the longest.  I'm guessing this part was about 1/4 mile (of the 1/2 mile course). I looked behind me and most of my wave (yellow) was there!  I only saw a couple in front of me, which was a first!  Then I saw a bunch blue and green caps FRONT of me so I knew I had to gun it.  They took off 3-6 min ahead of me so I had some hope! SPRINT SPRINT SPRINT! 
Lisa snapped this shot of me coming out of the water.  Man I was out of breath.  I've never "sprinted' in a tri, usually you go 'your pace' so you have energy for the REST of the race.  Then I remembered the RUN.  I was happy to see Lisa there to run with me to the Transition area.  I walked for a very short bit to catch my breath, then  I ran, and yes I RAN.. the whole way.  Those who know me know how crazy that is.. but I wasn't letting my team down!  And in hindsight, holy crap 14 seconds is all that separated first and second place!  

I ran into transition, Julie took the timing chip and off she went.

I wasn't that fast on the swim, I was in the middle of the 'relay' people.  But I'm pretty happy with my swim. Julie on the other hand ROCKED that bike, she was 2nd in the bike!  GO JULIE!   While Julie was out on the bike, Lisa and I looked around, we didn't see any other bikes back yet.  We figured we might have a chance at first place, but we weren't sure.  Then we saw one team come in.. YIKES.. they were just a tiny bit a head of us! 
Now it was Lisa's turn, who by the way has a sore heel from marathon training!  I don't know how she did what she did with a sore foot!  The sisters passed off the timing chip and off went the Rocket Lisa!
Lisa ran her 5K in 24 minutes.. I've been known to run a MILE, maybe two in that time.. She was 2nd in the run.  Wow Lisa, just wow! She crossed the finish line and the first thing out of her mouth is "I CAUGHT HER AND PASSED HER."   - Julie said "what?" - so we had to explain.
Then we waited...

and waited...

and waited...

I can honestly say I've never been around to "wait" for anything, I'm always the one people are WAITING FOR!  Eventually they brought out the individual results.. relays weren't on there.. UGH... so I went in the trailer.  I heard some Elites and some other athletes somewhat bitching "well I could be near the top but, blah blah" - no real excitement, just a matter of fact.

Then the woman actually handed us the paper rather than putting it on the board.  It was like when the 7 year olds went to the next level on "Americas Got Talent" we just screamed.. we won by 14 seconds.. yup 14 seconds.  

 I'm so proud to be a part  of Team LL cool J.

Thanks Lisa & Julie for making my season!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pan Mass Challenge - RECAP

Well, I finished my first PMC ride where only 30% were female riders!  2 days of riding, 192 miles, ~16 hours in the saddle, almost 16K calories burned, and almost $7,000 raised for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute!   It was definitely and experience, but not the one I expected! 

I joined the team Phils Phriends, a great group of folks that offered some comfort and support during the weekend.  I'm thankful for them for keeping me sane!  We met up on Friday night for opening ceremonies.  There is a huge dinner and lots of excitement about the upcoming weekend.  Then we all herded into a large room (and overflow went outside for a simulcast) to listen to Billy Star, Lance Armstrong and others speak.  In the beginning, they played this video.  How do you not get the emotion of the day from this??

PMC 2011 Deputy Video from David Hellman on Vimeo.

We got to hear Lance Armstrong speak, I wish I could have met him..maybe next time! There are stories, as you can imagine.  Everyone is riding for someone, sometimes even as a survivor.  Those are the most awesome riders!
A man spoke, his son had a rare form of cancer, less than ~30 in the country.  He was given a prognosis of weeks.  His emotional story ended with "I am so proud to introduce to you, my son.. " who proceeded to ride his bike up the middle isle through all of us!  I'll probably say this 14x during this blog post, but this is why we ride! To have amazing successes like this!  To think that a little peddling and some begging for donations could give a boy a chance to ride his bike down the isle! 

I left Friday night ceremonies, very emotional and excited to embark on the next day's ride!  2 of my teammates spent the night with me. I'm lucky and live near the start so I didn't have to trudge to a hotel!  I was more than freaked out at what I would forget!  I'm glad I had my teammates there to help me, and my forgotten items were few. I forgot a brush and SHEETS for Sat night! 

I have such a small bike and finding realestate on it for my needs for a long ride were pretty tough!  I have to carry my own fuel as I'm allergic to some things, medications, and of course my gadgets!  Thanks to Abby's dad I had a 'spot' GPS, so my friends and family could track me. And I had a helmet cam, which required me to carry additional batteries and cards.  (I will eventually edit the video and post it here). 

I was so excited and could not sleep, when I finally DID fall asleep I felt a migraine coming on.  YUP, can you believe it? I actually talked to it and swore at it, saying "F.. you can't have me this weekend, F-U Ehlers Danlos Syndrom, see me next weekend, ok?"  I've done plenty of races with a migraine, but I wanted to ENJOY this one! 

With about 4 hours of sleep, the alarm went off at 3:30AM!  I woke and took some medication and hoped for the best. I made sure I had enough meds packed into my bento box and just left it at that.

We arrived in the dark and many people were already there!  You line up in a parking lot, and people just lay their bikes down!  Now I have a speedfill hydration system on my bike so if I just laid it down, my electrolited water would have spilled out.  Phils Phriends lined up on the side and luckily I had a tree!

We then stood in line for breakfast.  I normally have a english muffin and peanut butter before working out.  They only had bagels and as I've said before, don't anything new on race day, so I didn't!  I had a banana, a little pastry and a coffee cup lid full of peanut butter.  The odd thing was no one even looked at that twice!  There is just a sea of bikers everywhere!  When you stop to think about it, its crazy, all of us here to do the same thing!  Amazing! 

Next thing I knew we were ready to go (man that hour went FAST)!  There was yet another emotional moment for me, the National Anthem.  Regardless of the situation, I always get emotional when at sporting events when they play the National Anthem.  Today was no different.

This giant sea of people half 'walk' half 'ride their bikes through the hotel exit.  If you think the peleton in the Tour de France looks crazy, this was just insane!  Thousands of bikers all in the same spot!  It was about 100 yards before I could clip in and start peddling.  As you leave the Sturbridge cheerleaders are up and at em, and the street is just LINED with people ready to watch this awesome event!

We rounded the bend and off to route 20.  A road I would NEVER ride on unless I was accompanied by such a crowd :).  Immediately I hit a bump and lost one of my water bottles!  OF COURSE it had to be the water bottle that I was using as storage, so I had to go back and get it!  That was fun!

From here everyone was finding their groove.  I was doing ok in this part because it was flat. Once we hit the first hill, I was done keeping up with everyone.  I can fly on rollers but if I have to climb, I'm stuck!  I also can't really ride in a paceline because I have aerobars (it's dangerous).  With my EDS, if I tried to ride a regular road bike, my shoulders would be around front or something by mile 30!  The aerobars make me able to ride, I just have to ride harder!

The first hill (which was the steepest) wasn't as bad as I expected.  Luckily I train on hills (even though I'm not fast) so this was ok!  Looking around, especially on the hills, there were people THANKING us.  "thank you for riding."  Little kids holding out their hand for you to slap them five!  And many, many signs that said "I'm [X-age] because of you."  Seeing those kids is very inspiring, and makes you keep peddling!   One person even said "kick ass for Abby, do you want a push?" They offered to PUSH me up the hill!

By the first water stop, most people had passed me and they were starting to 'clean up' already!  I stopped and talked to this volunteer who wanted to know about Abby.  All you want to do is talk to everyone, but you have a job to do! - keep peddling! 

Before the next water stop I saw one of my teammates on the side of the road with a leg cramp.  I stopped and gave him some packets of biofreeze (a MUST in a ride like this).  This did the trick and we were off!  YEA I had someone to ride with!  We were Phils Phriends Caboose!
We rode the whole way to Bourne together.  It was nice to have someone to share my first centry with, and to cross the finish line with - Thanks Rick!   We peddled and peddled, at the back of the ride!

What I didn't expect is that the ride would 'wrap up' before we all made it!  By mile 50 or so, the police had gone home (or weren't paying attention).  So we had to clip out and stop at all stop signs/red lights because there was no support.  This just made us slower! 

Then we got to the lunch rest stop, most of it was broken down, AND there was no water!  They had dumped it out!  Rick and I weren't the LAST riders there were at least 20 other people 'around' us, and we heard that some folks were way behind us at this point.   I started to get frustrated and disillusioned at this point.  I thought of Billy Star's speeches where he said that 'people even take 12 hrs to finish.' To me, I expected to have at least water and the police at intersections, we weren't going THAT slow.

But take it as it is, and we were off!  The spectators did not falter.  People stuck around for us at the end, there were families sitting in lawn chairs in their ROBES.  Kids still out to cheer each of us on.  Even a man on this pretty long hill who just waited for each rider to 'take us up.' (let us draft from him).  I wonder how many times he did that climb?  We got to the notorious "Cherry Street" and everything was gone. Rick told me that it's usual hopping.. all I saw was remnants of the party. 

I found that I LOVE long distances, but have a 'wall' around 80 miles.  80-90 were probably the hardest for me. They seemed to take FOREVER!   We landed in the last water stop, and knew the finish was just around the corner.  We took off and tried to end the day on a high note!  We pulled into Bourne and most people were gone, no cheering, just a couple of volunteers to 'scan' us in.  The photo people were gone, and it was a relative ghost town right at the finish (compared to what I've seen in other people's pictures).  Another teammate came to get me and helped me find the bike rack and my room! 

What I was most disappointed in, is the fact that they close up the FOOD before all the riders have completed the day.  I mean, if you ride 110 miles and expect to ride another 82 the next day- you need DINNER!  One woman told me "there are some potatoes over there"  (POTATOES?).  I was literally in tears wondering how I could do the next day's ride without any protein.  AND I wasn't about to eat another GU.  Then this WONDERFUL volunteer thanked me for riding and said "if I can get a grill hooked back up I will make you a hamburger."  GOD LOVE THAT MAN!  Another volunteer saw the issue and went into the truck and brought me some corn on the cob out!  The volunteers are AMAZING!  I hope that next year they save some plates for the 'end of the pack.'

We stayed at the Mass Maritime Academy, I was in one of the dorms.  Another teammate was stuck with 3 guys and my room appeared to be a threesome so we moved her into my room.  That ended up being a highlight of the day.  At night we giggled like 4 schoolgirls.  We even got "shusshed" by our neighbors, that only exacerbated the giggling!   It didn't matter that I forgot sheets. I slept with a tiny blanket and my pillow was a clean pair of riding shorts! 

Again that 3:30AM wake up, but Sunday it was to an absolute DOWNPOUR!  This pic was taken later in the day but it's about what the AM looked like.
Everyone was texting each other and trying to decide IF they would do the ride or not. To me, there was no question. I don't give up.  Migraine, weather, who cares!  I'm here to do a job!  I said to one other teammate "I'm doing this no questions" - her reply "Yup me too." We all trudged to breakfast and as the sun came up, the weather started to clear a bit.  We all got a later start than we would have liked, but it was not pouring on us! 

The day started out better.  No headache, I had food, no rain! WHOOHOO.. here we go!  The Bourne Bridge was a bear for me. This is from the car, but you can see the incline.  BUT, behold the other side is DOWNHILL!

My team waited for me on the other side of the bridge.  I tried to tell them I'm too slow but they were awesome and waited anyway.  We got to the canal bike path- that was pretty fun for me.  I was cruising at double my speeds from the day before!  My team waited for me again at the first water stop.  I knew this wouldn't last .. I really would like to be faster!  I hope training and EDS lets me!  The first two waterstops of the day were as I had EXPECTED.  Lots of people, lots going on!  I had to get some of the crud out of my gears and brakes so I stayed behind the team when they took off this time.

I stopped to reflect on this sign:  Apparently this boy would stand at this waterstop every year with a large sign over his head "I'm 12 because of you, I'm 13 because of you, etc"- THIS year he was able to RIDE in the PMC!  What an accomplishment!

I left that water stop with a little hope.  I thought "I'm not at THE END, people are still around today!" Day 2 was shaping up to be a little better!  John snapped this picture at one of the water stops.  I fully plan on donating that braid to locks of love in the spring.  So far I think it will be 15-20 inches by then!  Maybe even TWO wigs! 

I'm glad day 2 was only 80 miles.  I found it harder.  I LOVE the rolling hills.  Apparently many people hate them. At one point I met up with one of my giggly roomates.  It was her first ride as well and she didn't know how to gear.  You absolutely need to know this to get over these rollers so I stopped to help her.  One the 2nd hill, in pure Laura style.. I FELL OVER... INTO A STORM DRAIN!  I was circiling at the top and I decided to stop. I couldn't get my foot out quick enough and I fell over.  My sunglasses were in my helmet and I lost one of the lenses into the drain!  Only me!  I had some bruises up my entire side.  I was really looking to see if I had grid on my face "Drain face." 

After this I was incodent free for a while.  Getting closer and closer to the end, I turned a left and my back tire fizzled.  GREAT a FLAT!  I had to put the wheel on my lap because there was so much sand around.  In the 3 minutes I was sitting there, two of our team support vehicles stopped and then the PMC road crew stopped.  I had the tire off, but that's all I did - the road crew fixed me up in no time!

The rain had held off mostly, but there was a slight drizzle. I welcomed the drizzle as it was refreshing!  There were a few spots that were dangerous, especially if you rode "the line."  Then came this awful hill!  It wasn't that steep but it was torture!  The Cape is full of traffic on a normal day, so I was passing cars on the uphill, but it just went ON and ON and ON and ON!  Prior to this weekend I never thougth of The Cape as HILLY!  I have a different perspective now!

I turned onto the 'access road' and was very much alone. No other riders in sight.  I knew I was at the end again!  Then came a bright smile.  Abby and her family drove past me! They rode next to me for a mile or so and I knew that shining face would be there at the finish!

Those last few miles were pretty, but LONG.  I turned the last corner and KNEW the end was in sight.

I did it! - Then came the real treat!  Abby and her family at the finish line!  It is so amazing to be a part of her life.  She has such spunk.  She's since told her dad that she "saw Laura today."  This is when she saw a random female rider!  Her mom says "I guess you are every female rider." :)

She saw the picture on my bike "hey that's me." - Yes Abby- I ride for the most awesome little girl ever! :).

Seeing her smiling face at the end was just the best.  We know we're doing a good thing out here, but when you see the little ones who are fighting Cancer, and see them with such bravery, you know it was the least you could do to help fundraise and ride in their honor!  I continue to be amazed that 100% of rider donations go straight to research and care!  This is where it belongs!  Knowing what we can do and why we're here, made the issues of yesterday seem stupid. 

I will continue to do what I can! I think I'll ride again.. I'd like to see some of the rest of the ride.  And our job isn't done until there's a Cancer Free world!

PS: It's not too late to donate, we have until Oct 1.- then I imagine I will start this all again in January!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Pan Mass Challenge - Why I ride

I can't think of one person that hasn't been touched by Cancer. I always thought "well everyone is raising money for cancer, I'll keep my focus on other charities."   This year I decided to join a 192 mile ride across Massachusetts and raise over $5,000 for Cancer and here's my story!

The Pan Mass Challenge is an amazing charity that supports the Jimmy Fund. 100% of rider donations go directly to research.  I am in awe of this fact alone!.  This is one of the largest fundraisers in the country, and MANY people I know 'do' it.  Over the years, I've thought about it, but have always been extremely afraid because of the fundraising commitment.  Each rider doing the 2 day ride has to put down a credit card, pay $175 to enter and then whatever you don't raise out of $4200 is CHARGED to your card in October. That is SCARY!   I didn't think I knew enough people to ASK.  I'm not good as ASKING!? - so I never signed up.

This year, so many people I know and love were hit head on with this horrible disease.  I've lost many over the years as well, including my Godmother (aunt), Godfather (uncle), another uncle, maternal Grandmother, Maternal Grandfather, just to name my immediate family!  In September alone I sat praying for some inlaws, my best friend, THEN it hit me.  
I got a note from a friend at work, her 18 month old had a Brain tumor called Ependymoma (I still can't say it).  WHAT??  WHAT?? that is so not fair!  It's not fair for anyone, but a baby hasn't had a chance to experience ANYTHING yet.  A mother shouldn't have to deal with any of this.  I also understand how helpless the REST of us feel.  How can we help them? We know we only offer them our ear, shoulder to cry on,  prayers, understanding, love, and hope.  

I ride for the most awesome little girl Abby.

Abby had surgery when they found the tumor, The doctors were optimistic about Abby's progress, how she recovered after the surgery with no neurological deficits.  And her personality exploded!  After surgery, Abby received a lesser known radiation procedure using protons rather than photons.  This is something that patients are selected for on a 'case by case' basis because of the complexity and limited availability (there are only 9 centers in the entire country).  Unlike photon radiation, protons do not have an exit dose which makes it a preferred treatment for children under 3 with brain tumors. 

So far she's had 3 subsequent clean MRI's as well!  She and the family have a long road ahead, really for the rest of Abby's life, but she's doing GREAT.  It's research and fundraisers like the PMC that help continue amazing stories like this one! 

I asked Abby's mom Laurie if I could ride for her and she said well in her own words from her blog "She [laura] tells us that she feels honored that we are allowing her to share Abby with the world. I’ve [laurie] told her that I have no words to express my feelings for what she is about to do. We agreed that we’ll call it “even”.  Every time I think about it, I can't believe I'm riding FOR this amazing little girl!  She's hilarious, she's got a spirit and an attitude that well, I LOVE!

Deciding to ride was easy, then came getting my legs ready for 192 miles and FUNDRAISING! Abby's friends and family have been amazing.  Really this is her ride.  She may not be riding the 192 miles, but she certainly helped me with fundraising!

I started early, and I decided, due to my circle of friends that I would hold events that people would WANT to do.  I held a very successful spin-o-thon sponsored by: Golds Gym, Fish Window Cleaning, Subway Sandwiches, Adventure Boot Camp, Webster Massage Therapy, M&J Auto, Chi Running, RoadID, & Max Performance Triathlons.  That was quite the production to put on, but WELL worth it.  We raised $1600 in just this 3 hour event!  Everyone had an awesome time!  IF (I mean IF) I do this again, I will do most of my fundraising this way.

I joined a team, Phils Phriends, but I ride a tri-bike so I've been reluctant to train with them.  Cycling in a group is different than riding in a triathlon.  I was nervous about riding in a group, AND about fundraising.  Due to my genetic disorder (Ehlers Danlos) I won't ever ride in a real paceline, unfortunately.  I am just so comfortable riding in my aerobars.  My shoulders don't kill me and my back can handle the long rides, so I'm stuck toughing it out 'myself.'  Plus, 'road cyclists' don't like 'tri-geeks' very much.  I say too bad, they're missing out, we're awesome!  I will ride "next" to my friends and team and I'm sure we'll have an awesome time.  

I've had some amazing training rides, DESPITE my crazy summer!  Last Saturday was a long training ride.  My HR monitor said I burned 5,595 calories (NO WONDER I WAS READY TO EAT A COW)! Although I don't think that's right, I would guess it more around 2500 or 3000. 

We road 67 miles, with a max speed of 42.1 and unfortunately an avg mph of 11.  I'm slow. The elevation gain was 3,179.  

This is what the elevation looks like, I LOVE running down those hills! 

I have my last long training ride tomorrow, it is 80 miles. I can't wait.  I can't believe that I used to be so in awe that I would ride 12 miles.  I thought riding in an Olympic triathlon 26 miles was CRAZY.  Now, when I pass the 50 mile mark on the bike I feel great!  I think "BRING IT."  I guess its "runners high" except you can go LOTS faster.  I am enjoying this process, I am hearing about many stories along the way.  

The Webster Times featured me on the FRONT PAGE!  This has sparked some additional stories, people are coming out to tell me about their loved ones.  It took me a while, but I figured out how to ride for Abby, yet support everyone else's loved ones as well!  I have silicone bracelets and I will write "PMC 2011 - 192 miles in HONOR of (or in Memory of...)" for anyone donating $25 or more.  I will wear them for the whole race in true 80's fashion and will send them back to everyone after the race!  I think this is a pretty cool tribute to everyone!

We bought an HD helmet cam that I will be attaching to the bike.  So expect some cool video (or amusing?, this is ME we're talking about).  I will also have a SPOT GPS tracker. Abby's dad is a pilot and is lending me his GPS.  So if you "like" the TEAM BLUE EYES page, you will see the link to follow me!

Lastly, if you haven't donated and wish to, especially if you want a bracelet please go to my PMC site:

I look forward to writing more next week!