Sunday, November 2, 2008

My longest ride to date

Just today I cycled 80 miles with my team. We were supposed to initially ride on Saturday but the storm was so bad that we pushed our ride to today.

The ride was beautiful. We started about 20 minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge....we headed west towards the ocean...after doing a few maze like turns we were heading towards Highway 1 (along the coastline). It was cold, slightly rainy...and did I mention cold? My knees don't do so well when it is cold out like that so I had double layers on my knees to keep them didn't work.

At about mile 40 I was feeling some discomfort in my right knee and it was wrapping around my whole knee area. I have never felt a pain like that before and it worried me. We got to the second food and water stop (or SAG stop) and I pulled our team manager aside to talk to her. I knew that I had some big hills to ride up today (one of which I just cycled down and got to see cyclist coming back up and it concerned me since my knee was bothering me). I explained where I was hurting and said that I was going to attempt the hill and A) either have to get off my bike to walk it B) get off my bike and get driven to the finish line if something doesn't go right or C) make it up the freaking hill. I was hoping for the later...but you never know with my knees.

I dropped off the pace line to take it really nice and easy while we were heading up to the hill. I was the last one in our group to start to get up the hill...and I am proud to say I was the 4th one up the hill. I didn't push it up the hill by any means...but I did the slow and steady and my knees survived! It was the hill on Sir Francis Drake that my knee didn't like at all. I got about 3/4 of the way up the hill (it was a long and steady hill) and the pain came back with a I actually listened to my body and got off the bike, stretched a bit and then decided to walk up the hill or at least to where my team manager was parked to cheer us on (she drives the courses all day long to cheer us on!). She saw me walking and got concerned. I told her that I just needed to stretch out my leg b/c it was hurting but that I wasn't ready to thrown in the towel. At this point I was only at mile 52. She gave me a "That a Girl" salute and then I jumped back up on the bike and finished the hill....with no pain might I add...then the downhill came...which was a much needed break from the climbing that I had just done for the last 45minutes or so.

At the bottom of the hill we had our 3rd and final SAG stop...and we had about 22 miles to go. I stayed for about 5-7 minutes (too long b/c I got cold again)...and then jumped back on my bike. One of my teammates and I decided to ride to the finish together. We both knew that we had one more pretty good size hill to get up and then the back of it was a huge decent...which I was really looking forward too.

The headwind came back with a vengeance around this time and my teammate and I both complained about being tired, about having sore bottoms and private areas (after sitting on a bike seat for that long I dare you to tell me you aren't sore!), and having wet shorts (again b/c of the rain and of course the rear tire throwing water back on us and the padding in our shorts soaking it up!). We were ready to be done for sure...but knew that we had another 22 miles to go. We closed the gap down to about 10 miles and then started to climb again. We had about 4 miles of climbing to do before the downhill was to start. I struggled with myself on this last part. I wanted so badly to stop...every part of my body was hurting and I was extremely tired. I played that horrible mental game with myself all the way up to the top of the hill...where again our team manager (Merla) was waiting for me...she was my savior today. Every time I was ready to stop she was there to cheer me on. As I saw her cheering for me I smiled...b/c truly that is what I needed at that moment. Someone yelling at me that I could do it....b/c in my head I didn't think that I could. As I got close to her I said, "Holy Crap that was hard!". Then I remembered my manners that my mom taught me and said, "Thank you so much for being here!" I also said a few other things that shouldn't be repeated. :) Again my workout tourettes took over me!

The rest of the ride was uneventful. I had about 4 miles of downhill and about 2 miles of flat to get back to where my friend would be waiting for me! I knew that I could do at that moment. As I was riding to the parking lot I heard horns honking and I looked over to the opposite lanes and there were some of my team members leaving but wanted to show their support with my finishing the longest ride I have completed thus far.

In a few weeks I will be in Solvang riding 100 miles. Am I nervous? Yes. Am I terrified? Absolutely...heck 100 miles is a long way! Am I going to do everything that I can to finish the the 100 mile ride? ABSOLUTELY!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Aches, pains and fundraising!

I missed last weeks 70 mile ride b/c I had a horrific pain in my neck. I woke up on Sunday not being able to first of all get out of bed b/c my neck hurt so bad and second of all I couldn't turn my head to the left (which as you can imagine is vital for cycling, driving, etc!). The left side of my neck was swollen and I had no idea what to do but to ice my neck as much as I could. The pain was so bad that I couldn't hold anything in my left hand b/c it put too much pressure on my neck.

After a few days I called the doctor (b/c really it was going to go away on it's own!) and got an appointment to get it looked at. The mobility was coming back into my neck, but it still hurt a lot. After some investigation on the doctor's part he realized that I had scar tissue built up in my neck (probably from one of the car accidents I have been....yes that was plural people...but only one accident was my fault and no one was injured and my Grandma got a nice new car out of it!).

I was told that it will take about 6 weeks for the pain to really go away and to have my neck and shoulder on the mend.

To top it off my knees have been having moments of being fine and then having longer moments where they aren't doing so well. More and more lately I have felt older than I am and in all honesty I through out the question that I hate to admit that I have even thought, let alone said, "Why me?" Lame I know...but I really don't quite understand why I have to have the knee issues and now this mysterious neck thing! I am obviously working around these issues and still doing what I want to do, but it makes it difficult!

And as if that wasn't fundraising hasn't been going well. The economic downturn has hit everyone and people are finding it harder and harder to donate b/c of the unknown of the future. Who can blame them? I am able to continue receiving donations through the end of November...I just hope that people will continue to donate. Because really...who wants to be considered pro cancer?

In all seriousness, the generosity of the people, even with the downturn of the economy, has been so great! People that I didn't even think would donate have. I am constantly amazed by how generous people can be.

Is my dream of living in a cancer free world just that...a dream? I hope not! The cases of cancer have been on the rise, and granted yes the treatments that are being created have helped prolong some people's lives and have saved others, but I long for the day where I won't get a phone call or an email about another person with this dreaded disease.

Years ago when I first joined the TNT cross country ski team I knew that I had found my purpose. Some people feel like they are on this planet to be the next CFO of a large organization, or to be a mother/father or to be a rock star/movie star....all of those are great ambitions. I know that I am here to help make a difference in cancer research. Will you join me?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Walking a mile in my sister's shoes!

I know that I have been a bit laxed with keeping my blog up to date. The training has been going well. Since my last entry I have completed a 55 mile ride in Half Moon Bay and a 70 mile ride in the north bay area.

The 55 mile ride I had to complete on a Sunday with only a few folks from the team b/c I had decided months ago to sign up for a relay tri with my sister and one of her friends. I was the swimmer (I can't run b/c of my knee...and really why cycle when I was going to have to do so on Sunday anyway....and in all honesty I love swimming!), Lynne (my sisters long time friend was the cyclist and my sister was the runner. I got up to the Napa/Berryessa are late on Friday b/c I got lost on the way there (typical!). The tri was to start on Saturday morning at 9am. The wind was pretty bad on Friday but I knew that it would calm down for our tri. I was wrong. The wind woke us up throughout the night and the next morning as I was putting my swimsuit I threw out to the universe that I really needed it to not be so cold b/c I left my wetsuite in SF b/c I wasn't supposed to need it. As we got ready to leave I pulled up the door to our room and the wind was so strong it pulled the door closed. That is when I looked at my sister and Lynne and said, "Holy crap we are in trouble!" We walked out to my car to load up and my sister (gotta love her) yells out, "Holy S**t, look at the whitecaps in the water!" She either wanted to scare the crap out of me or didn't realized that she actually said that outloud! :)

We got to the tri location and I just kept hoping that I wouldn't drown in the water (I know that I am an experienced swimmer but the water was really rough!) and as we got out of the car I hears some magic words that I hadn't even thought I would hear, "THE SWIMMING PORTION HAS BEEN CANCELLED. WE CAN NOT GET THE LIFEBOATS IN THE WATER AND IT IS TOO UNSAFE FOR PEOPLE TO SWIM TODAY. THERE WILL BE A 1/2 MILE WALK INSTEAD." I never thought I would hear such sweet words!

I would also like to add, that since I was only doing the swimming part of the tri that I hadn't brought my tennis my lovely and super sweet sister offered up her shoes and socks so that I could walk that first 1/2 mile so I could at least participate in the event that I choosen for us. So in the freezing cold I passed over my flip flops and she handed me her socks and her shoes (that were too big for me). In honor of my swimming portion I walked that 1/2 mile in my swim cap! Oh yeah!

So to say the least I didn't get much exercise in that day...and my make up team ride was in Half Moon Bay (45 minutes from SF...and since I was in Napa would take me at least 2 hours to get there in the I left before it was light out).

The ride in Half Moon Bay started off great, but I knew that I had 4200 feet of climbing that I was attempting to go out slow and keep the ride slow and steady. I don't think I had a real concept of how much 4200 feet of elevation climb was until that day. Can I just say it is a lot! I yelled out my classic line that I tend to yell when cross country skiing...This is BullS**t (sorry mom I can't help it...I have workout tourettes)....and in all honesty I yelled it that day more than I ever have. I had to take a bail out route back to the cars b/c my knees couldn't withstand the climbing. One of my knees just had nothing left to give on that ride. I cried in pain and in frustration when I had to admit that I just couldn't do that last hill. I know that I have knee issues...but seriously can't the fates give me a break and allow me to do this....don't they know that I am doing this for a good cause? Very frustrating....

The following week I completed 70 miles with the team...and that ride went WAY better. In preparing for the ride, I got my bike refit to make sure that everything was perfect for this ride. All I have to say is that it went beautifully. I had so much fun that day. Multiple times through out that ride I knew exactly why my Pa was so addicted to riding. I even grew to love eating baked red potatoes at the feeding stops for us (something that I thought I would like at all...but holy goodness they taste so good after riding so hard!).

After that 70 mile ride day I knew that I was going to take to be able to kill the century in Solvang! I just knew it....

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Riding in the Rain!

This past Saturday my team and I were slatted to ride another 50miles...which I thought would be a piece of cake. I quickly learned that I was wrong. We started out the ride with it ever so slightly sprinkling on us...and then the sprinkle turned to a more persistant shower. I have yet to ride in the rain and quickly learned that water resistant gear isn't really that....and the padding in your cycling shorts will absorb the rain water....yep...not so comfortable!

The flat tires were in abundance and everyones spirits were luckily going strong! We all were keeping a very steady pace. I knew that we, somewhere ahead of us, had a big hill to deal with...but who cares this early in the game...we were pace lining and have a great time with it! As the hill continued I quickly found myself hoping that the rain would start up again...I was getting warm and felt that the rain would cool me off. It got to the point that I was so cooled down that I was having problems staying warm.

I finished the ride that day...but dropped off the pace group b/c my knees where hurting and I was so cold that I just felt like I couldn't warm up!

The conclusion that I have come too....rainy days are fun for when you can stay indoors, under a blanket , with some hot chocolate and watching movies. Rainy days aren't fun for days where you are wearing cycling shorts and having the padding in the crotch of your shorts soak up the rain water that is being kicked back on you from your rear tire. :)

After we got to the top of one of the hills there was a sag stop....meaning that they had food and water for us. The folks that run the sag stops are wonderful...they have wonderful options for us to eat to refuel our bodies.

My pace group started to roll out after about 10 minutes at the stop and that is when I heard that the big uphill and downhill were ahead. Since my GPS wasn't working that day and I hadn't been told how far in the distance the hill was and which was first the up or the down hill I was sort of ridng blind.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Half way there!

It has been awhile since I last updated this blog....I am going to blame it on my having been sick and being embarrassed that I haven't been on the bike training for about 2 weeks. This past Saturday my team and I were slated to ride between 40-50 miles. I was very nervous b/c I haven't really been training b/c of having been sick but there is no way to get over a fear unless you face I did!

Saturday morning I drove over the Golden Gate Bridge to meet the team in Sausalito. We all parked behind the bike store to started to unload our bikes and prepare for the ride. I was having issues that morning, not really being able to do anything right, not speaking properly....and so I was a bit nervous that was a sign as to how the ride would go.

This is a nice ride, but there is a lot of traffic to deal with....and for those of you that know me well and know the story of my know that I don't want cars near me at all! And judging how my morning had started off I was a bit concerned about sharing the road with cars. Since we ride in big groups I knew that I would be okay...but it is still a fear of mine.

The ride started off easy enough. About 7 miles into the ride (if that) we started to climb up Camino Alto. It is a nice climb (did I really just say that it was a nice climb???). The top came faster than the last 2 times I had cycled this route. This route takes us through small cities (Ross and Fairfax to name a few). Once getting through Fairfax then we head up a hill on Sir Francis Drake Blvd. The tempature was hot and the hill was in the direct sunlight. I made it up the hill and felt great and then took the back end of it as fast as I felt comfortable...I got up to for someone like me that doesn't like speed!

After climbing one more hill, we got to the halfway point for the 40milers. That is where one of my teammates and I decided that we were going to add the extra loop to make our ride that day 50 miles. My friend Christine asked me what my distance my last ride was and when I responded with about 27 miles she looked at me like I was on crack! But I had made up my mind...I felt great and I was going to go for the 50miles!

The loop up to Skywalker ranch was a gradual felt good...sort of like spreading your wings...kind of. :) Anyway we looped back down the hill and cut left towards the Sir Francis Drake hill.....I was starting to get a bit tired (well heck I had been sick for about a week and I hadn't been training!). I was halfway up the hill when I quickly realized that my sportsdrink that I was drinking might be coming around for a second visit...meaning I was pretty dang close to barfing on myself! I was cycling uphill, in heat, in direct sunlight, pushing myself beyond my limits and I thought I was going to fall over barfing...horrible visual I know..but I did really think that was going to happen. I made it to the top of the hill, but barely. Once at the top of the hill I got off my bike to wait for my coach and teammate to get up the hill. I took that moment to drink and eat more, breathe and focus on not barfing! It worked b/c the feeling soon passed. As soon as I saw my teammates round the corner I knew that I was good to get back up on my bike!

We were close to finishing at this point...we had about 10 miles left to go and just one more hill. Which was freaking me out a bit. My legs were getting tired and I had ran out of water. We made it through the small cities and soon enough the final hill, Camino Alto, was there in front of me! I made it up the hill pretty quickly...much to my surprise and then the downhill began!

I ended up riding 50.5 miles that day....the longest I have ever cycled! I did it! I was so proud of myself. I even finished feeling like I could have cycled a bit more! I am half way there with my training!

As I finished my ride last weekend I felt my Pa smiling at me....tell me, "I knew you could do it Pete." Off and on during the ride that day I felt very close to my Pa...something that I hadn't felt in over 7 years. I have known for a long time that I would pick up cycling but I never knew how much it would mean to me....I am raising money for cancer, I am helping make it possible for people to live longer lives and I am feeling the presence of my Pa every weekend with me. Who could ask for anything more? I sure can't. In light of everything happening in the world, at least I can feel at peace for a few hours every weekend.

Thank you to everyone for your continued support....This weekend I have another 50+ mile ride. Let's hope that it goes as great (minus the barfing feeling) as this past weekends ride.

Until later all....

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tell me that was left over Snapple!

I drove through town to pick up my team mate...we met at the gas station near her house where there is a starbucks. I parked the car so I could load her bike while Deb ran in to get her coffee. Right before Deb left to get her coffee I felt something warm and liquidy on my foot....I looked down and saw a bottle that I had tipped over and I don't think it was a bottle of Snapple! I think a local homeless person had used it as a toilet and NOW it was on my foot!

I freaked out of course and immediately grabbed a bottle of water that I had for my ride and poured it on my foot. I am the biggest germ-o-phob and the not knowing was worse for me then the knowing for sure! I was so grossed out the whole rest of the day.

This is not the first time that I have seen some strange things in that neighborhood...just a few weeks prior my friend Christine and I had driven to where Deb lives to pick her up for our first team ride and we witnessed a homeless lady using an Audi as a bathroom!

The things that one sees early in the morning when getting ready to go enjoy nature! :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I can't believe that I am back!

I really did think that I would be done with TNT for at least 2008...then my friend, Christine, mentioned the possibility of training with the TNT cycle team to ride in Arizona. The thought was oddly appealing to train to ride 109 miles. I knew that if I could pull this off that it would be my biggest accomplishment. Then after a few weeks of taking off early on a Saturday morning to get in a 20+ mile ride.....we made the decision to change our event to the Solvang Finest Century. Who wants to ride 109 miles on flat land when you can be challenged with the hills in Solvang for 100 miles...We sound crazy don't we?

Simply put, why not push ourselves beyond what we think we can do....don't people facing cancer, chemo, surgeries, radiation, etc get pushed beyond there limits? Training for 4 months is the least that I can do to try and ensure that we have a cancer free future.

I will be updating this blog on a regular basis to keep people abreast as to how the training is coming along. I think that this season will peak a lot of people's interest b/c this season is not only dedicated to people that have battled cancer but it is also dedicated to my Pa. He had a love of cycling that I am still trying to grasp. I like my bike and do enjoy being out cycling...but my Grandpa adored his bike and riding. I only hope that I feel half of what he felt while he was alive and cycling.