Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Precious Memories

All good things must come to an end. Isn't that what they say? Well I refuse to accept that!!! Because the memories always remain.

Today, Sue and I went for our final long ride before Pedal to the Point next weekend. We have several rides planned this week, but this was the end of the long training rides. After Pedal to the Point there will be fun long rides, but without a goal event.

As we were in our final miles in the rain today, I started reminiscing on the year, and actually became sad that this ride is almost here, and the training is almost over. Why would it make me sad? Because the summer has been so much fun! The year, really has been so much fun.

I have promised myself that this blog would not turn into a blog about my MS, but it wouldn't be appropriate to tell this story without mentioning what MS can do to the mind. This year has been a struggle, I learned what my new normal is for my body, and it isn't quite what I was hoping for. I run and bike, but it is harder than it used to be. Needless to say, the emotions run high when you are learning something new about your limitations. One of my friends was posting on a challenge on FB about the word can't, and how no one should ever use that word, but when you learn that that word has become your reality with certain things, it is disheartening.

This summer, I haven't given up running, but I have certainly done less of it, not because I can't run, but rather because I can't walk very well after a very hot run. That is my new reality... Again disheartening. So, I picked up cycling. Sue and I have logged over 1,600 miles, now that I have done all the math, and that riding has been the gift that has turned my 'can't' with running into a can with cycling.

The twists and turns of life, and training are the most exciting moments. If you have ever gone on a long bike ride, you have inevitably encountered a turn where you can't see all the way around the bend, and once you get to a point in which you can see, you have to make a new decision. In those moments the adrenaline runs high. It is the same with MS. I'm not kidding here... You wake up in the morning and something new is numb, twitching, burning... And you are met with the same adrenaline. How you focus that adrenaline basically defines you. I would like to say that I always have a positive attitude, but I would be lying! I will say, that everything I have learned has been exhilarating though. You turn that corner, and you recognize something new you can do. What is not fun about that? I would actually say, and have said, thank you MS for opening my eyes.

I have been granted this opportunity to participate in this 175 mile ride with some of my greatest supporters this summer. They have taken this journey with me because they believe in me and don't want me to have to find more situations in which I have to say I can't. I am thankful. We have all taken this journey together, albeit we have taken different roads to get to the week before the ride, but they are all the correct paths for each of us as individuals. The moments and stories that have been shared through facebook and texting and phone calls are amazing, and sometimes unsharable in public forums. They are stories of our journey for which we should all be proud.

These moments are etched into my steal trap mind, and will be cherished and carried with me forever. I'm a horrible blogger and did not take a lot of pictures while riding this summer, because the moments with my friends and family were too precious to look through camera lens; they deserved my undivided attention, even if I was plotting our next adventure in the moment, but the moments incuded the following:: beautiful rivers, that reminded me of A River Runs Through It; the tears that were shed because of raw honesty with myself; the laughter that was shared because of a stupid things that came out of my mouth; the 1600 miles that were ridden through Ohio and Illinois; the cookies and coke at a small concession stand; the rural and urban graffiti; the corn that mysteriously appeared in my back pocket; the majestic blue birds; the hoho's and blizzards (although I recently learned these are not appropriate as training food); the flowers and cows; the falls off the bike... I really could go on forever. Most importantly is this, I shared these moments with very special people who have taken time out of their lives to share the training experience with me.

So what? It has been a long and winding road (not in the Beatles definition), and no picture could replace these memories. So when I go back to the bench above in several years, on my newer bicycle, and sit there again with my friend Sue, we will be able to reflect on the memories that were made this summer. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The 91.5 Mile Ride

72 Miles Into the Ride
This week I was blessed with two friends who filled in when my training buddy and friend wasn't available. Susan and I went out for almost 20 miles yesterday, and Laurie and I went out for 20 miles today. I didn't ride ALL the miles I planned because I opted for much needed sleep, but it was AWESOME to spend some time with some awesome friends.

I think I mentioned that Sue and I rode 91.5 miles last Saturday. It was quite the ride!!! Of course there were tears, as that seems to be my trend lately, but there was also laughter, silence, talking, and lost money.

When we go out for these rides, we always take 'lunch money' with us. The idea is to ride to a half way point, get some much needed food and then ride on. Well, last week was no different. I threw 40 dollars in my back pocket, fussed around with stuff for a bit before we started riding, and then we took off. We rode about 35 miles, when we decided to stop for lunch. Our server brought us some sandwiches and potato salad, followed by desert and regular coke for me. The server then brought the bill, at which point I noticed my $40 was gone, nowhere to be found. Some might say I was trying to get a free lunch out of Sue, but Sue knew better than that, I think...

Anyway, we hopped on our bikes with the intentions of making it five miles further, turning around and then stopping again, in Loveland, Ohio for some Italian ice (I swear, riding does come with its perks), however, as we were nearing our turn around point, I asked Sue if we could go to the next town. I mean, who wants to turn around in the middle of nowhere? Sue agreed, because I promised the town was only three miles. Well, that is where the first fail appeared. We rode on, and the next town didn't appear for five more miles, which meant, by the time we were done, we will have ridden 90 miles. Oh, and the town was so anti-
climactic that Sue made some comment about how well worth it those last five miles were. Whoops... I knew at that moment, we should have turned around at 40.

We turned around and headed back to the car, only 45.75 miles to go! We decided the Italian ice place was our next stop, and rode on. We both ordered the medium Italian ice which was almost as big as our heads! It was so delightfully delicious, and the perfect snack to get us through about 12 more miles.
The Best Dr. Pepper EVER

This is the point at which we both started to slow down. The Italian ice did the trick, fueled us for awhile but we had over 50 miles on our bikes at this point, and we knew we had 40 more to go! We stopped again at 72 miles to try and find my 40 dollars, because we were both convinced I had dropped it at that stopping point on our way out. Much to my dismay, the $40 dollars was nowhere to be seen, and so we rode across the river to get another snack, on Sue. Notice, at this point, Sue was funding my ride... At the snack stand across the river, we got the most delicious Dr. Pepper I had ever consumed. It was perfectly sweet, and went down like that light beer on a rough day after work, meaning very easily. We took our typical selfie and moved on to finish the ride. We slowed again...

We rode, and rode, and rode, and rode, basically in silence for the final 17 miles. I decided to teach myself how to ride without holding on to the handle bars, cyclists passed us, we passed cyclists, and then we saw the car. I honestly think both of us wanted to shed a tear because we finished the darn ride. My deal with Sue was that when we got to the car, she could leave her bike and I would pack everything up, after all, she funded my bike ride.

Sue got in the car, we drove in silence for about 25 minutes, until I was ready to talk (Sue was silent almost the entire ride home), at which point we planned our meeting time for the triathlon the next morning...

And so the story continued...
The Finish Line Pic

Friday, July 18, 2014

Getting Excited

I've put in the miles and I'm feeling ready. The bike ride is just around the corner and I'm extremely excited about it. I didn't take nearly enough photos of my training, but I have the fondest memories from moments on my bike this summer. I'm now 1000 miles into this journey and have close to two hundred more miles, before I embark on the 2 day 175 mile weekend!

I honestly can't thank everyone enough for their generosity through donations, support and care through this process. I am truly grateful.

I am going to have this last big push. Three folks are still seeking donations. My aunt, my mom and my cousin. Sadly, my mom and aunt had to back out of the ride because they both got bionic parts put in their bodies in the last two months. My cousin is planning is trek to Ohio from Colorado.

If you are interested in donating during this final push, here are the details to donate.

To donate to my cousin, David, simply click here. He is still seeking $290 donations.

To donate to my Aunt Mary, click here. She sadly can't ride, but would still like to raise a minimum of $300.

Finally, to donate to my Mom, click here. She got a new knee and can't ride either, but it going to be there to support us on our ride. She too, would like to raise at least $300.

Also, if you would prefer donating to me, you can click here.  My goal was $1500, and I'm almost there!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Race that Wasn't, Or Was It?

Remember the great DNF from last year? If not, you can read about it here. Well, today was the day to redeem ourselves. The race started at 7:30, about a half an hour away from my house. I overslept until 6:15, hopped in the shower and got to the race location right about 7:00 am. I got Sue's bike out, racked it, and then ran into Sue. I picked up our chip and ran to my car for the goggles I had forgotten. then to the swim start. I headed out and actually felt really good. It took me about 45 minutes to swim a mile, which is fairly slow for me, but I felt good. I ran out of the water, handed off the chip to Sue, talked up a storm and sent Sue off on her ride. 

Jen and I then waited for Sue to come in from the ride. When she came flying in on her bike, we then sent Jen off on the run. About a half an hour later, I knew something was amiss when I looked at my cell phone and realized Jen had called me twice. I thought, her phone must have butt dialed me, but I called her back anyway. Apparently she missed the turn around. Sue and I sat there and commented on the fact that we both finish our athletic pursuits with very different talking energy, meaning she was quiet. Anyway, Jen came running in about 20 minutes later, missed the next turn around and crossed the finish line. Probably a couple miles short of a 10k, but who cares, right? We started each leg, and last year we didn't even start the run. Our runner even crossed the finish line, albeit a couple miles early, but whatever... We all had fun and that is what matters.

On another note, Sue and I rode 91.5 miles yesterday. That was a distance PR for us. I'll write about that later in the week! 

Monday, July 7, 2014

You Are What You Eat!

A picture from my Saturday ride with Janell!
I don't totally believe that statement, because food is food, right? Well, if I were what I eat, then I am a burrito bowl, mixed with a beach club and ice cream; oh yeah, and also a bubbly diet coke! I eat my share of fruit and veggies, too... Generally, I don't eat crap all of the time... Or do I?

So, I was walking out of my parents' house yesterday, and my dad handed me a few bucks and told me to get lunch 'on him' while driving home. What did I do? I stopped at the gas station half way through my drive to fill up and then I purchased lunch AT the gas station. Why? Because my cat traveled with me, and I didn't want to leave her in the car too long so I did what made the most sense... Anyway, what does one get from the gas station for lunch? You can take a guess, I'm too embarrassed to even disclose my lunch choice. It tasted bad, but like one of my friends always says, food is just food. I should also mention that this friend of mine insists that she doesn't like food; Blasphemous!!! Who doesn't like food?

Anyway, what does this have to do with anything? Saturday, I went out for a long bike ride with my sister and we found ourselves at a reservoir in Illinois that happens to have a snack stand. We stopped and got a snack. My sister got potato chips and a diet coke, after all, salt is necessary. Once again, I am too embarrassed to mention what I got from the snack stand, but it did include a REGULAR Coke. Interestingly enough, the gentleman who worked at the snack stand came out to talk with us. He was telling us about a two day touring class he took, in which he learned how to eat well while riding. I chuckled when he walked away and told my sister that he probably thought our snack choices were horrible.

So, recently a friend of mine offered to help me figure out nutrition for the remainder of my training for this bike ride. I am actually kind of interested in what she would have come up with, although it might be a hair too late for that to be beneficial. Thing is, I think I struggle on my long rides because I'm not fueling properly. My ride on Saturday was fantastic actually, however I think that had more to do with me not having a clue what our mileage was the entire ride and less to do with what I ate the day before. After all, the day before was the 4th of July and I ate my weight in chipped beef dip and desserts. Also, I also have the 'new mother goal' which is trying to get down to their pre-pregnancy weight. I recently got down to my pre-MS weight and am looking forward to that number going down even more. I will admit though, that I do like ice-cream and potato chips, and so that has stunted my progress.

So, are we really what we eat? Well, I don't know. All I know is that if we are, I kind of like being a burrito, beach club, mixed with ice cream, but my riding legs would probably enjoy me being a little more like a potato, some spinach and water.

PS. I had a great ride with my sister on Saturday, and it made me even more excited for the big ride in August. How awesome is it going to be to spend time with all of the folks below :)

Me and my Big Sis
Both big sisters!

Me and Sue.

My brother in law


My Sister in Law

Me and Tina


My brother Bernie