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!

Monday, July 25, 2011


Wow, it's been a while and BOY has it been quite the spring and summer!  I feel like if it can go wrong, it will!  The earth is going crazy, weather is insane!  I mean from blizzard snow to 100 degrees in New England for several days.  How can we not think we are in purgatory?

I do feel "stuck" though.  It's quite ironic, considering I have Ehlers Danlos and the main concern is that I'm VERY quishy and my bones are in a constant state of movement.  I'm stuck in my training, I'm stuck in my current plateau, I'm stuck with my current weight, I'm stuck with the speed of my bike, I'm stuck with the hours in the day, I'm stuck with work, I'm stuck with my car, etc.  I'm sure I'm not alone in this! 

There are parts of me that are NOT STUCK - my ribheads continue to have a mind of their own and that slows me down.  That and the dislocated shoulder were two of the things that kept me from doing my Half Ironman this year.  The event was very inspiring AND emotional.  I went anyway and saw my friends cross the finish line.  I wish I was doing it, but life had a different agenda for me!

As if the dislocations weren't enough my mom was in a bad accident in May.  Someone was texting and driving and hit her head on! 
People - DO NOT TEXT AND DRIVE!   - it's not worth it to put someone in the hospital (OR KILL THEM).  She's been in a rehab hospital for 2 months and counting with numerous broken limbs.  I tell ya, I'm afraid of cars while riding my bike, but I never even considered that one would cross the center line and hit me head on!  -- now I think different!  (GET YOUR ROADID). 

I haven't written and I feel bad about it.  So much has happened, but most of it icky news.  I went for a ride on Saturday and a thunderstorm was rolling in.  My friend said "eh will you melt?" I just said "HAVE YOU MET ME???" - I WOULD get struck by lightening, but would live to tell about and have some weird story.  So, we went a different way to avoid the storm.

On Sat we rode 67 miles, my longest ride ever and I hit my highest speed ever - 42mph!  It felt AWESOME!  I finally have my aerobars adjusted to where I need them.  They cut almost 2 inches back.  That is a gigantic adjustment!   Then on Sunday I was a swim angel for the Danskin Triathlon in Webster. 

I love being a swim angel / swim buddy!  You all have seen my post Oh yea that's why This is the best job at a triathlon!  The last two days have helped me get 'unstuck!'

I have 12 days until my Pan Mass Challenge - oh yea I haven't written about THAT yet either!  I'm riding 192 miles for an amazing cause!   I'm riding in honor of the most amazing 2 year old little girl who is battling brain cancer(and kicking Ass!).  The PMC is so awesome that 100% of rider donations go directly to the Jimmy Fund (no admin, not even credit card transaction fees)!! 

Visit Laura Backus's Paceline page at this link:  to read more about my ride and to donate! I have a goal of $6400!

I will write more I promise!  I'm trying to find a helmet-cam so I can document the PMC in VIDEO!!  I'm already finding such inspiration in this event and I'm not even there yet! (anyone have one I can borrow?)

That's all for now!