Monday, August 19, 2013

Last


Last can be an evil word in any sport. No one wants to be picked last for dodgeball, no one wants to come in last in any race, but is it a stigma that isn't worthy of it's name!  Last really isn't a bad place to be.

If you are an Olympian but come in last in your sport, are you bad? Should you be ashamed? NO WAY, because YOU ARE AN OLYMPIAN! How many people get to say that?  If you come in last in the Daytona 500, are you bad? nope, but you just did something not many folks get to do!  Finish last in the Masters, uh you got there somehow!... I could go on and on!

When I started this blog, I often said "I have 2 goals, finish and not last."  I was TERRIFIED of coming in last, until the day I did.


I was so mad this day. It was a 'stupid little sprint', and it actually wasn't my fault I was last.  The swim was re-seeded and I started 10 people from the end in a 1 by 1 swim start. Meaning when I started, I knew I would be last.

I rounded the last corner and had the (insert expletives)  police woman following me.  She was in a car, she didn't look like she ever walked more than 10 feet in her life, and she was cheering for me  "you go girl, you got this." I was PISSED, I wanted to punch something, I wanted her to shuttup.  I didn't want to be last.   I rounded the last corner as they were tearing down the finish line, my friends ran in with me as I heard my name, no it wasn't for the finish, it was for a "winner must be present" prize. Luckily I had friends scream "SHE'S AT THE FINISH." I was mad,  but I finished.  It was one of those consolation races where everyone says "at least you finished" or "awesome you tried." I was mad at all of them, especially those comments from the ones who said that and have NEVER TRIED.

I had a 10K last year that made me angry, I was last, but I ran 3 or 4 miles BEFORE the 10K.  I was trudging up this hill and when you are last you get a pace-car, a Kayak, a biker, police car, police Harley, etc.  Well this day I had an ambulance following me.  Not only did I have the annoying rumble of a diesel engine, I had  2 guys who had ZERO interest in acknowledging me.  Normally you can have a conversation (like the police woman I wanted to shuttup ?!?). No if I slowed down these guys backed out of my way.  Grrr.  I eventually passed the finish line and I did hear one guy say "hey I saw her running BEFORE the race,wonder how far she ran?"

After that day I broke the "I don't want to be last" mold. SO some days I might be last, you never know who is in the field? I mean if you run a half marathon with all Kenyan runners, and you are last, how bad are you?  It is relative!

I was last for the Providence Half Ironman.  Actually I am THE last finisher EVER for the PVD 70.3!

What did I get out of that? Well, I had a Harley pace 'car', I had my own SAG wagon, I had my own cheerleaders at the last 2 water stops, and I had the finish line TO MYSELF.  All of my friend were allowed IN the chute!  That's the only way I got this picture! My friend Lisa took it (the professional photographer missed this one and caught me on the ground after).

I've been doing this for a long time now, I know my strengths and weaknesses. I know I can DO it though.  I have way too many friends who say they could never do a half iron (or even Olympic).  They think you just take your speed from the shorter races and you should be able to carry that out for an endurance sport.  It doesn't work that way. You can't multiply your 5K speed out to get a marathon time. 

I don't mind being last now. As a matter of fact, I will 'take' that spot from a woman who is upset about it. No need to tell us we're ahead of the guy that didn't start, we know it.  We know we're awesome. 

I did a swim race on Saturday.  2.7 miles.  Who does a 2.7 mile swim? I knew before we even STARTED the race that I would be last. I knew most of the participants and there was NO WAY I would be close.  My goal was MY time not theirs.   I came in last by about 15 minutes, but still 30 min from the cutoff. Plenty of time and I did not fatigue myself.  I had my own kayaker the whole way, and let me tell you, THAT was nice.  Sighting was a little difficult and she was a great way to sight!. 

If I want to do an Ironman in 8 weeks I cannot expend all of my energy on the swim. I must pace myself and if that means last, then I will be last.  It is a very individual sport!

What was VERY cool about this past weekend, Back of the Pack Productions is a race company that recognizes that the last athlete matters just as much as the first!  They give the exact same prize to last place as they do first place.  WOOHOO.. (If you have a chance to go support them, please do)!

It really is OKAY to be last!  I am looking forward to being last at Ironman Florida. I will get a Harley pace vehicle, TONS of supporters telling me 'you go girl'- (I welcome that now)!, a GIGANTIC standing room only crowd at the finish line, fireworks, and most likely have my medal placed on me by the Professional champion of the day!  

Last is good.


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Monday, August 5, 2013

The Essence of the PMC


Ask any rider of the PMC to describe it and they'll tell you that you can't explain it. I thought about this while I rode 192 miles from Sturbridge MA to Provincetown MA this past weekend and I hope this can give you a glimpse.

Everyone is inspired to do this 2 day ride to benefit Cancer for a reason.   A mother, sister, daughter, granddaughter, grandmother,  father, son, grandson, grandfather, brother, cousin, friend.



Most people that think about the PMC, are concerned about the very large fundraising amount. $4300 is a large undertaking, but this ONE reason pushes you over the edge.  You forget the amount and just put your head down and do what you can.

Friday of PMC weekend rolls around, you walk into the Sturbridge Host Hotel, you see thousands of bikes, thousands of riders, thousands of volunteers, supporters, all there for the same reason, that ONE inspiration.

 Although that ONE inspiration has suddenly become thousands.  You find that you are riding for many.  You think about all your supporters and why THEY supported you, each having a "one" inspiration of their own. You think about all your friends whom you didn't even KNOW fought a great fight. You think about friends or family you lost and weren't your initial inspiration.  The miles don't even matter. You are riding to give people hope, you are riding to give survivors something to cheer for, you are riding to unite humanity, even just for one day.


You walk in to get your packet.  Every few minutes you hear "FIRST YEAR RIDER" - and everyone in the room cheers loudly and embarrasses the first year rider.  You get goosebumps.  You are excited for that person to experience this THING. You are emotional over the number of people here to do the same thing you are.

You attend opening ceremonies. You bring tissues.  You are inspired .

video

You hear stories of why everyone else is here, you hear stories of battles won, of battles lost, of new battles, of parents fighting for their children, of children fighting for their parents. You suddenly have lost your sense of "ONE" and have become ONE with this Essence, you are a collective unit with 5500 riders, thousands of volunteers, hundreds of corporate sponsors, and thousands of supporters that line the streets of Massachusetts.

You get up at 3AM ready to pedal.  You see thousands of supporters out already lining the streets before the sun is up.  They have signs, they are 'proud of you',  they are inspired, they are thankful.  You think to yourself, "I didn't do anything,  YOU did, you fought, I just feel helpless with this disease and this is what I could actually do. "  You know you can't take the pain away, you can't make a mother feel better, you can't even understand, but what you can do is this little fundraiser.  And at 5:30AM on PMC Day 1, it feels like "that little fundraiser."  You meet others, you see pictures of dedications, you ask about those people.

They talk about it, lovingly, with a tear, but some, for the first time can just TALK.  The PMC ride is a place to talk about their fights, their losses, and their triumphs.  You meet people who's loss is so fresh you cannot understand how they're here, yet you gain strength from them.   They gain strength from you.

You pedal, you climb, you pedal some more.  You watch the signs on the side of the road. "I"m 3 because of you", "I'm a survivor because of you."   You are emotional, you know they are cheering for the collective unit, you don't feel you've done anything. The "YOU" Is the essence of the PMC, you are part of it, but it is more than you.



You find energy in the crowds, people dressing up in costume, people sitting in their pajamas at 6AM to cheer you on, survivors who just want to thank someone for the treatment they found, fighters who just want to have a day to be happy and cheer on the hopes of a cure.  It is the one weekend of celebration for many, it is the weekend to celebrate loved one's journeys.  


You meet up with survivor riders.  They pedal, they fight so no one else has to suffer what they went through.

You think about every rider passing you has raised thousands of dollars. You think about the magnitude of $35 million dollars generated from one weekend. You hope, you are inspired, You pedal.





There will be one thing, it could be large or small, that brings you to tears:

You approach the pedal partner stop, and see posters staring a half of a mile from stop that line the street all the way.  They represent children that many teams ride for who are battling Cancer. They are fighters, their families are here, they are having fun today.  A pedal partner sees his picture on your back and says "hey that's me."  You see courage in his eyes, even though they don't fully understand. For that one day, you see hope in the parents eyes. 


You ride over the Bourne Bridge in the dark and find a family standing there, waiting for the first riders.  They cheer.  You pedal.  You ride past "da hedge", a large group of cheering folks.  You squeak your squeaky toy  and the crowd goes crazy.  They cheer for the collective you, for the cure, for the hope. 


  
You are overwhelmed at the number of riders joining you on day 2.  We are all still here.



 You find a collective unit to ride in, you find your team, you make a team.  You ride as one.  You are one today.  



For this one weekend, we are all part of the solution. 




**If you would like to read more about my 2013 PMC ride, please visit my  facebook  page, or if you would like to contribute, please donate here: www.pmc.org/profileid=LB0212










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