Tuesday, July 7, 2015

America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride – June 7, 2015

"WE are part of a very elite group of people – we are not only athletes, but we INSPIRE others. We encourage colleagues, family and friends to not only donate to our cause, but to participate. Being part of this group is a life changing experience…our walls fall, we share pieces of our lives with each other that we may have never revealed. We are a family, we are friends, we are a TEAM"
100 miles is a lot of miles.
I knew coming into this Team in Training season that it wouldn’t be easy. I  knew that it would require a lot of work along the way, that there would be a lot of learning, that it would be a test of my endurance but also of my drive, strength, determination and heart. But, I also knew that it would be worth it. And it was more than worth it. The #roadtoAMBBR, the 100 miles around Lake Tahoe, they were worth every hour on my bike, every fall throughout the season, every bruise that had to heal, every tear shed, every bead of sweat and every early morning practice. The time. The miles. The training. The thousands of dollars raised. The friendships made. The Cancer Killing. The entire experience. WORTH IT, and more than exceeded any expectations I had.

I came to this season as a Team in Training alumni. I knew the reason I would train. I knew what it was like to raise thousands of dollars for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  I knew the mission, where my passion for a cure thrives. I knew the bonds and friendships that could be created when joining the team. I knew the impact that the TEAM could have on my life, obviously it greatly impacted my life because I joined the marathon team in 2011 and came back for 5 more seasons as a volunteer and participant. 

What I didn't know coming into the Cycle Team was how to properly ride a road bike. I didn't know what it meant to shift gears and how to cycle efficiently.  I didn't know the proper way to hydrate while on the bike. I didn't know how to clip into pedals. I didn't know how to change a flat tire. I didn't know the importance of padded shorts. I didn't know any cycling terminology. I didn't know what I had to carry with me when riding. I didn't know what a pace line was. I didn't know just how much time I would be spending on the bike. I didn't know the incredible sights I would see. I didn't know the feelings that would come with the milestones hit. I didn't know how much I would grow to enjoy cycling-- with the wind in my face, the road beneath my tires, the beauty surrounding me and incredible people by my side. I didn't know just how full my heart could feel. But through the season I learned, I grew, I discovered, I opened myself up to new experiences, I got knocked down but also got back up, I found friendship, strength and I found a missing piece to my healing journey.

100 miles is not easy. 
It requires a lot of heart. The journey encompassed an array of emotions. From tears of anger and frustration to those of sadness to those of support and encouragement to those of utter joy and happiness. It has taken me a month to figure out how exactly to put into words the AMBBR experience. I've started and stopped many times. I've written and deleted. But I've finally figured it out. Instead of paragraphs and paragraphs sharing the journey. I shall put it into a list! Everybody loves lists!
I bring you: The AMBBR 100 mile journey--  From the excitement at the start line to the feeling of accomplishment at the finish line and the miles, the joy, the struggles, the laughs, the incredible people, the tears, the support, the beautiful sights and the emotions in between. Are you ready? Take a seat and get comfy, grab yourself a beverage of your choice and feel free to take a read and see a glimpse of my 100 mile journey around Lake Tahoe.

1. The START LINE of 100 miles. 
Surrounded by my awesome teammates, excitement and nerves filled the air as we got ready to embark on the 100 mile journey we had trained 4 months for.

2. My CREW at the start of 100 miles.
The people that have been by my side for our 4 months of training. From my numerous falls through the season, they were the ones helping me up and dusting me off. The supporters, the encouragers, the ones I shared hundreds of laughs and tears with, the ones I shared hours and hours with.

3. Meet Audrey Duffy (well, this is her back)
Incredible teammate. One of a kind individual. One of the most passionate people I have ever met. Astounding Cancer Fighter. Diagnosed with cancer 3 times. 36 rounds of chemo, 34 rounds of Rituxan, 5 1/2 weeks of daily radiation, 6 surgeries, a bone marrow transplant, and for the past 4 years she continues to receive IVIG infusions every eight weeks for antibodies that were destroyed from treatments. She may have cancer but she has not let it hold her down.She has used her voice and her story to inspire us all. I had known who she was for years, as most who are part of TNT do, but had never met her until this season. So glad to have shared the road with her and to have her in my TNT family. Beyond blessed to know her and to be inspired by her.

4. Off we go. 100 miles here we come! Thanks to my sister for this capture and for waking up super early so she could send us off on the start of our hundred miles.

5. The week leading up to the ride the weather reports were saying that Lake Tahoe was going to have rain and lightning during our ride. So we made sure we were prepared, sleeves, jackets, long fingered gloves, helmet covers (or shower caps), shoe covers, etc. We did our rain dances and crossed our fingers and toes, and to our joy and delight the rain passed and we didn't have a drop during our ride! #winning

6. My face was frozen for the first 10 miles.

7. Mile after mile, all we could say was just how BEAUTIFUL our surroundings were. They weren't lying when they said this was "America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride"

8. Here is a glimpse of the elevation of the ride.

9. At around mile 10 we started on a climb with some Switch Backs to make our way to Inspiration Point (6828' ft elevation)

10. The view climbing was not bad at all.
Beautiful trees, the fog below us, the blue sky.

11. Along the climb there were some large cracks in the road. I had done my best to maneuver around them. As I was following my teammates there was a huge crack ahead of me and I hear my teammate Carly yell back at me to watch out for them, at that same moment my tire lands into the crack...

12. I try my best to maneuver but it takes control and leads me into the guardrail on my right side.
13. It all happened very fast, a crack in the road pushing me directly into the guardrail throwing me halfway over the guardrail with my feet still attached to my bike, my saddle pushed into my thigh and me grasping tight with all my might to the guardrail that was pushing into my side.

14. As I hit the guardrail a rush of fear & adrenaline went through me. I hear the crash of my bike into the guardrail and hear my teammate (and mentor) Erika who was behind me (witnessing the whole thing) scream  "SAM! I'm coming"
This is Erika joining me in the tears that came with the crash, saying "It's too early for this" and of course Carly captures the moment of MANY tears and the look of defeat upon my face. A beautiful backdrop, a guardrail that saved me from falling over, and my teammates there to support me.

15. The crash was definitely my scariest moment this season.
 I had many falls throughout the season but they were mostly when I was stopped or about to stop. They weren't next to a drop off the side of the road.
That Angel (Bye Thanks, Felicia!) atop my helmet was watching over.
That guardrail, as hard as it was- was a life saver.
The fact that I am short and my bike, T-REkX, isn't that big to tower over the guardrail and flip over it- the fact that my feet stayed clipped into my pedals holding tightly to me to stay on the road side instead of the tree side, Iam beyond grateful. #BLESSED

16. My incredible BLUE CREW rushed to my aid and care as I stood there in shock with tears down my face.  I couldn't have recovered and pushed through from it without them sticking by my side with such love and care. They held onto my bike and made sure it was okay to ride (thanks to the TNT coach that stopped to check my bike as well, making sure my gears and brakes worked correctly and straightening everything out). They embraced me with much needed hugs. They were there through my tears and frustration and let me know it was okay to cry it out. They brought laughs in the midst of the tears, it was "nuts". They assured me that I could get through the rest of the miles ahead. They had me do some stretches to make sure I was physically okay. They made sure I allowed myself to take a moment to take some deep breaths, to compose myself and to catch my breath before getting back on my bike. They showed a support, a love, a care that I can't fully explain.
All I can say is, THANK YOU BLUE CREW. You know I love all y'all.

17. I got back on my bike with a little fear riding far away from the guard rails and rode with much caution.

18. As we pedaled along to reach the first Rest Stop, we couldn't help but be mesmerized by the impeccable sights surrounding us.
photo from : Dave Sweet

19. No words. Just Beauty.
photo from: Dave Sweet

20. Reached the first Rest Stop- mile 14 (Vikingsholm)
Not too shabby of a view.
Removed jackets.
Embraced the scenery.

21. Just taking it all in with Felicia.

22. We got back on our bikes to head to our next Rest Stop which was 12 miles away.

23. Beautiful sights. Fresh crisp air. More climbing. Which led to fantastic downhills.

24. Through the climbs and descents we had laughs galore. Playing a bit of leapfrog as we made our way up and down, up and down.

25. There is something very peaceful about the sounds that come with cycling.
The sounds of pedaling. The shifting of gears. The tires rolling along the road.
Music to my ears.

26. Somewhere around mile 20-something we saw "Grumpy Grandma" walking her dog. She was not pleased with us riding because we were causing traffic. According to her we needed to hurry up. Sorry, GG we were going as fast as we could.
27. My BLUE CREW sang along the ride.
We smiled. We enjoyed. We encouraged. We laughed. We supported.
We took in this unforgettable ride, together.

28. Rest Stop #2 at mile 26  (Homewood Mtn. Resort)
Thank goodness for the heads up about the real bathrooms in the building!
Stalls. Mirrors. Sinks! What a joy.
It was a party at this stop.

29. "The triplets" at the Rest Stop.
Me, Sheila & Carly.
My gals. My crew. My family.
All of us came to the TEAM new to cycling. We learned together. We rode hundreds of miles together. We climbed together. We laughed together. We cried together. We shared frustration. We shared pains. Through the heat, the wind, the rain. We supported one another. We hit cycling milestones together. We saw beautiful sights. We grew together. We crossed a 100 mile finish line together.
Bye, Felicia!
<3 you gals

30. Potatoes are delicious.
They had tons of potatoes at the stop and let me tell you, they were fantastic. The perfect fuel. I loved potatoes already, but in that moment my heart grew a little fonder.

31. As we were gearing up to leave this stop, it was decided that Audrey and Erika were going to do the 72 miler.  There comes a time when you have to listen to your body, as hard as it may be. Cue more tears. There was also a feeling of much appreciation for these incredible teammates. To have shared miles together, to have been inspired by such caring people, to see the support that radiates from them. We embraced. We shared tears. We continued on.

32. We made our way together to mile 32 where the 72 milers (Erika, Audrey, Ken) and 100 milers split off. We would be turning left on Highway 89 towards Truckee for the additional 28 miles and they would be turning right onto Highway 28.

33. Before we parted ways we needed one last photo together <3

34. And then it was off to the Truckee Stop, 14 miles away.

35. The road to Truckee had some flats, some hills, and some nice downhills.
But that meant coming back from Truckee we would have some climbing to do!

36. As we were making our way to Truckee we saw lots of cyclists heading back from Truckee.
Lots of TNTers cycling away. Lots of "GO TEAMS", cheers and smiles exchanged.

37. There was always an extra burst of energy when we saw our teammates!
38. Around mile 40-something Cassie's hits something in the road, I hear a hissing sound and what do ya know, it's Cassie's tire going flat.

39. Sad faces! Clearly Blue Crew is not in the mood to change a tire.

40. But the Crew comes together (mostly) to help out.
Cassie, Shannon and Sheila working together (who needs tools? Sheila has tools!)
Me and Carly?
Carly getting energized with delicious Sport Beans.
Me? Clearly not helping, just doing some documenting.

41. But luckily TNT support came to the rescue.

42. The TNT support on the course was absolutely awesome.
So friendly, so kind, so helpful.
43. Once the tire was changed we continued on to the Truckee Stop.
As we waited at the  stop light to make our turn to the Rest Stop we were told from one of the guys directing traffic (I shall call him "The Liar"), that we were lucky because when we left Truckee we would have a nice tailwind for the climbs. These words brought our spirits and hope up.

44. When we got to Rest Stop #3 at mile 46.5ish (Truckee), it was the complete opposite of Rest Stop #2. It was pretty deserted with less than 5 other cyclists there. Not gonna lie, it was kind of depressing. We were one of the last groups to reach that stop. I was feeling a bit defeated but I knew we had a little more than half way to go. I knew we had to push on. We knew we had 25 miles to go to reach the lunch stop. We knew we had to reach it at a certain time before it closed. We knew we NEEDED that lunch stop. All that ran through my head was, " I hope the lunch stop isn't empty like this stop because if it is my morale is gonna plummet"

45. We got back on the road. Heading out of Truckee for those 14 miles to get back on the course that meets with the 72 milers route on Highway 28.

46. Remember how we had all those cyclists on the other side of the road heading out of Truckee when we were heading in? Remember the cheers? The "GO TEAMS"? The boost and excitement that it drew?
That was no longer. The opposite side of the road was barren. We were making this trek out of Truckee with just a few other cyclists within sight.
We saw the incline. We felt the incline. We kept pushing on.

47. Remember "The Liar" and his promise of tail winds?
Yeah, those tail winds were no where in sight. What we did have were some head winds and side winds. Fun for the 50+ mile mark, right?!
48. With this uphill climb out of Truckee, it was getting warmer, the wind was pushing on us, pace was slowing, and I knew I needed to bring out some mantras to help me push on.
"For dad. Pedal On"
"Shut up Legs"
"Keep pedaling. Lunch is near"
"Your miles matter"

49. The miles were getting tough, luckily the sights around us continued to be gorgeous as ever. How great it was to have such extraordinary views the entire ride. 

50. There was a bear sighting. Actually a few bears, right Blue Crew?

51. Somewhere along the route out of Truckee, Cassie, Sheila and I split off from part of our crew (I heart you Carly & Shannon). Sad times, but don't worry we were reunited with our girls later on.

52. Getting out of Truckee was not easy. My spirits were not as high. The wind took a toll on me. My butt was sore. The talking diminished. But we kept pedaling away and I kept wondering when the heck we would get onto Highway 28.
53. Finally mile 61ish we make our way onto Highway 28. FINALLY. Hello civilization! Reunited with people walking the streets and new things to see. 
54. To reach the lunch spot we would have to ride close to 10 more miles. 
Not gonna lie, those miles seemed like 50 miles.
55. We did our best pace lining for a bit...

56. I was hangry. I was tired. I had to stop many times along the way.

57. We had some more climbing to do before we had some downhill at mile 64 and my legs were not in the mood to climb. Practically every time I was in the back of the group I found myself in tears. Trying my hardest to keep going. Questioning whether I would be able to get through the rest of the miles to the finish.

58. It wasn't easy.
I had walls to knock down and more tears to cry.
Every time I stopped, every time the struggle was taking over, I had to look down at my bike and REMEMBER the reason I was riding. I looked at these 70 names written on my bike.
70 names. 70 loved ones. 70 stories. 70 reasons to ride.
I pedaled on.

59. We had some downhills and then we reached some flats and ever so slight incline, that we could definitely feel. We would try again to pace line, and it was not easy. Cassie asked if we wanted to take the lead and we couldn't. Physically we could not do it. We tried. But we couldn't do it. The exhaustion levels were reaching an all time high. I kept going to the back of the pack, to get
I have major props (and I know Sheila feels the same) to give to Cassie, our leader of the CREW that is BLUE. For miles Cassie took the lead. She stopped when we found ourselves exhausted. She encouraged us and supported us mile after mile. She provided the hope that WE COULD do this.
Thank you, Cassie!!!! Thank you for believing in us.

60. We finally reached the turn into the Lunch spot, Mile 70.3 at Kings Beach.
To our utter joy and surprise there were cyclists there. It wasn't deserted like the Truckee Stop! There were actual cyclists there enjoying their lunch! This was a definite boost to morale. We weren't alone on this ride anymore!

61. Once we grabbed our lunch we sat down and this was our view of Kings Beach.
Not too bad of a view to enjoy lunch.
We agreed we would spend no more than 15 minutes at the lunch stop so we could make sure we made it to the final Rest Stop on top of Spooner (mile 87.6) before it closed.

62. We composed ourselves. We stretched. We ate. We hydrated.
At this point I was feeling exhausted. I was feeling defeated. I was seriously questioning the last 30 miles to come. The 8 mile climb up Spooner we still had. The witches climbs before the finish. Could I do it?
I questioned myself. I questioned my ability. The vans taking people to the top of Spooner to skip that long climb was looking mighty tempting.

63. I checked my email and I saw that I had received donations from some of my TNT family during the ride. With their generosity combined with those of my donors through the entire season I had reached $6,000 raised for LLS, a milestone I questioned if I could reach by the time I crossed that finish line. The joy, the appreciation, the love I felt in that moment, seeing $6,000 on my fundraising page it was like an embrace from all of you that have supported me through the years and especially during this cycling season. It was an incredible feeling, it was encouraging beyond belief,  it was the boost I needed before heading out back onto the road.

64. As we were getting ready to head out of the lunch spot, we were reunited with Carly & Shannon!!!
Before we parted ways again, we needed a photo. OBVIOUSLY! <3

65. Once we left lunch we were immediately met with a 2 mile climb. A 2 mile climb that my legs were not ready for.
My butt was not in the mood to be back on the bike.
My legs were not in the mood to climb, they had some warming up to do.
My energy levels needed some work.

66. Photograph taken near mile 75 (i think)
No wave, no big smile on my face. Just concentrating on pedaling and finishing the last 1/4th of the ride!

67. We cycled and cycled, and then we stopped for a beautiful photo op before we headed to the Spooner climb. Thanks for making us stop, Cassie!! WORTH IT.

68. First time ever lifting up my bike. Of course I chose the moment when I'm close to 80 miles into a ride.

69. <3 My gals. Beautiful backdrop with amazing TNT sisters.
This is when we ran into a guy we met at Rest Stop #3 who talked about his bike named Helen. He took this photo for us, and then he could not stop talking to us. But we had to go! ( this isn't the last time we would run into him)

70. Texting with my sister before heading out to Spooner.
They may be simple words, but they speak volumes.
They provided an extra boost, an extra support, and made me ready to take on the Spooner climb!

71. Time to leave this beautiful stop and make our way to the top of Spooner Junction.

72. Spooner
About 8 miles.
With 3 major climbs.
~1000ft elevation gain
Fun right?!

73. Starting the first climb my energy wasn't that high, but who do we see driving down the road??!
MY FAMILY!! Screaming "GO TEAMS" and waving out of the car!
My crew was so excited to see these smiling and energizing faces. And of course it brought more tears to my eyes (I feel as though I had tears streaming from my face for about 50% of the ride)

74. A renewed energy was in all of us to keep climbing!!!!

75. Atop the first climb my family stopped and parked to cheer us on.
Of course we had to stop and get a photo with our awesome personal cheerers!

76. It was warming up along the ride and what did TEAM CELERA they have with them?
ICE! ICE! BABY!!!!!!
The coldest and most refreshing ice we have ever encountered!
Oh ice, you are so delicious.

77. And then after the cheers, smiles, and encouragement we were back on our bikes!
Re energized. And ready to continue our ride on Spooner.
And my family would stay there until Carly and Shannon reached them so they could send more cheers and encouragement to the rest of our BLUE CREW!

78. After leaving the family we were met by the oh so awesome, Coach Kurt!
He rode many miles by our side during the season, he climbed many hills with us, he captured some of our favorite moments, he joined in our many laughs and he taught us so much. To have him there ready to climb even more hills with us after riding with the rest of team already...my heart was ecstatic!
79. There were many moments we had to stop and take a breather on Spooner. I had to continually look at my bike to see those names, those incredible individuals I was riding for. I would read the names, remember their stories, tear up (as usual) and push past the pain. If these people could go through chemotherapy treatments, through radiation, through the roller coaster that is cancer, then I could put myself together and cycle these miles to the top of Spooner and after that to that 100 mile finish line.

80. At around the halfway point on Spooner there were bathrooms and a water stop.
So with the heat beaming down, our water running low, our bladders full, we knew we needed to stop!
As we cooled ourselves down with some water on our heads, and one of the volunteers see's Sheila pour water on her head and asks if she wants him to pour water on her. She says yes, and this guy grabs the huge jug of water and pours close to a gallon of water on her head. A waterfall of water!
I wish we had evidence of this moment.

 81. Since a stop is involved we needed to document it!
This is what I call a "Cassie sandwich with Filipino bread"

82. These peeps right here = my lifesavers.
Getting to the 83 mile mark was possible because I had these incredibly encouraging individuals alongside me.

83. And then we were off... ready to do the last 2 climbs on Spooner. Along the way we see my family once more, blasting music, screaming "GO TEAM", providing the energy we needed to reach the top of Spooner. We kept pedaling, climbing and climbing, and then just like that the second climb was finished and we had one more to go. 1 1/2 miles to the top of Spooner.

84. There were many stops along the way to reach Spooner Junction, as I watched Cassie and Kurt ahead of me cycling away, no longer in sight. I can't even count the number of times I had to get off my bike. I would regroup with Sheila and then off we would go.
 On our bikes. Off our bikes. Bring out the tissues. Hydrate. Fuel. Pedal Pedal.
*throw in some mantras and tears in there as well
85. And then we reach Coach Kurt and Cassie and you know what Coach Kurt tells us? He says we are at the top of Spooner! And we believe him! And you know what? He was telling the truth!We cycled along and didn't even realize we had reached the top. But we did, and what an incredible feeling it was. And you know what else? The Rest Stop at Spooner Junction (mile 87.6) was still open! Thank goodness!!!!!
At this stop we knew we had less than 15 miles to go, a nice long downhill a few pedals away, and after that a few more shorts climbs, some rollers, and then we would be crossing that 100 mile finish line. Excitement ran through me and I knew the finish line was in reach. I knew that I WOULD be crossing that finish line.

86. While at the stop Cassie got her bike checked out, and what do they do? They give her a brand new tire since she had a good sized hole in hers. And who was also by the tire changing tent? The guy from Rest Stop #3 with the bike named Helen. Of course making more conversation, and sharing his story for the 3rd time about how his bike got its name!

87. While we were waiting for Cassie's tire to be fixed who do we see rolling into the Rest Stop???
Our girls!! Carly and Shannon!!!!! I told you we would be reunited. Cue the singing that always occurs: Reunited and it feels so good...
Seeing them roll in made tears roll down my face (what's new?). Why? I was so happy! What an absolute joy to be back together with them. My teammates. My family. My crew. TOGETHER.
My heart was jumping for joy because I knew how far we had already come and knew that we were just miles away from reaching this goal we set at the start of the season. I knew we would be finishing this ride together, as ONE.
88.  It was time to get back on our bikes and enjoy an awesome downhill. Moving into our drops. Pedaling with all our might. Reaching speeds we had never reached before (I finally hit 41+mph). Enjoying the blur of the beautiful sights.The wind flowing through our helmets. Our tires spinning and spinning. What a rush. Such a freeing experience. Extremely exhilarating. I was in my element and it felt  AWESOME!

89.  Around mile 93 we made our way through Cave Rock Tunnel and Coach Kurt was there to capture the moment!
Thanks Coach!! This is one of my FAVORITE photos from the entire ride! Smiles on our faces, thumbs up, and less than 10 miles to that finish line!
90. After the AMAZING downhill it was time for our last few climbs and rollers.
Hello witches.
Those 3? 4? last climbs were not fun. The elevation gain wouldn't be as much and they wouldn't be as long, but after having already ridden close to 93 miles, those climbs felt like they were going on forever. SERIOUSLY!
I had more mantra's running through my head (and of course more tears to come with them)
"TEAM CELERA with every pedal. push. push. push"
"For dad you can. For dad you will. GO. GO. GO"
"100 mile finish, here I come"
Those last miles I was constantly thinking of my dad's battle with cancer. The fight he had in him. The strength he carried, the strength of my family. The 4 1/2 months we fought by his side and the impact he would forever have on my life.

91. As we got ready to finish the final climbs and the final miles, of course we needed a final photo <3

92. We finish our climbs, we ride our hearts out, and we see the hotels in the distance. We see where we started from hours and hours and miles and miles ago. We know that this finish line is within our reach. Less than a mile away from the 100 mile finish line and the tears are running down my face. We make the turn into the hotel, and we have just a few more pedals to near the finish line. Hearts racing. Smiles on our faces.
We are so close.

93. And there we are... finish line in sight.
Our teammates and family lining the sidelines.
My heart bursting.
Cheers. Screams. "GO TEAMS".
Tears streaming down my face.
Smiles all around.
A heart full of love and support.
A few more pedals to go.


94. And there we have it. 100 mile finish crossed and I was ready for sweaty hugs.

95. Without a doubt, cutest supporters at the finish line.
Right? Right!
Glad you agree.

The best support there is and greatest cheerleaders EVER. A support all these years but especially through the cycling season. Caring for me through all the miles traveled. Through the aches and pains. All the falls had.
Coming to Tahoe with me and going on course to cheer us on during a part of the ride when I needed their encouragement the most.
Providing a love and care that is immeasurable.
They are my constant support.
They are love in action. 

They are my family <3
I love you TEAM CELERA!!!

97.  Time for another sweaty hug! Meet Daniel, he said he was 5'6' :)
Incredibly awesome teammate and he is trying to get me to join him when he goes onto the IRONTEAM, so we could both get our triple crowns. We'll see Daniel, we'll see!
98. With tears down our faces, we did it.
My girl Sheila and I  (rocking our BFF tattoos thanks to Shannon) hugged and cried together after crossing that finish line.
WE DID IT!!!! 100 freakin' miles!!!!

99. For 100 miles these gals were by my side.
I am forever grateful.
Their support is something that I will always treasure. Their care and encouragement helped my conquer all those miles. Every mile. Every hill. Every pedal. The hundred miles in Tahoe, and the hundreds upon hundreds of miles we cycled together throughout the entire season, I couldn't have completed them without them by my side.
BLUE CREW fo life.

100. I did it.
What an incredible feeling it is. It is indescribable. I feel such a sense of accomplishment.
  100 miles is a lot of miles.
But I did it. I couldn't have done it without all of my amazing teammates by my side. The leadership of my coaches. The support from my friends and family. The incredible donations I received from all of my generous donors. And the encouraging words every pedal of the way!
At the start of the season it seemed impossible to be able to ride 100 miles. It was hard to envision that it could actually happen.
But it happened and I am filled with ALL THE FEELINGS!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Blood Cancer Awareness Month

"Every 4 minutes someone in the US is diagnosed with a blood cancer.
Every 10 minutes someone dies"

A few years ago, I didn't know what blood cancer was.
I didn't know there were so many types of blood cancer.
I didn't know anyone that had a blood cancer.
I didn't know there was a whole month dedicated to blood cancer awareness.
But then 3 years ago my dad was diagnosed with a blood cancer. He was diagnosed with Non-hogkins lymphoma.
And I researched blood cancers like crazy. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society was one of the websites I often browsed
Blood cancer was my focus, and I searched non stop. Looking for answers. Looking for a cure. Looking for what could help my dad.
I found that september was blood cancer awareness month and made it my mission to raise awareness as much as I possibly could.

For 4.5 months I stood by my dad's side as he fought his battle with cancer.
I saw him go through chemotherapy.
I saw him get blood transfusions.
I saw him with every procedure.
I saw him weak and strong.
I saw him fight for his life.
I saw him in practically every unit of the hospital.
I saw him taken to the hospital in an ambulence.
I saw him in good days and bad.
I witnessed low white blood counts.
I witnessed the roller coaster that is cancer.
I sat with him for hours.
I felt a 5+ minute embrace with him on one of his last day.
I felt tears down my face.
I listened to doctors and nurses.
I listened to the machines stop beeping.
I listened to the sound of crying fill a hospital room.
I lost my dad to blood cancer. I lost my hero. I lost a piece of my heart.

As painful as it was to lose my dad, I do what I can so no other daughters have to face losing their dads to cancer, so no one has to wonder who will walk them down the aisle one day, so no one has to say goodbye to a love one.
I train, I run, I fundraise for a CURE.

"Every September The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society observes Blood Cancer Awareness Month as a way to raise awareness about blood cancers and the work LLS is doing to advance research to find cures and provide access to breakthrough treatments for blood cancer patients.

Since 1949 LLS, with your help, has invested almost $1 billion in research to advance therapies and save lives. We are working everyday to provide resources and improve the quality of life for patients and their families. Your funding is helping us save lives not someday, but today.

We are at an extraordinary moment in time. A time where cures are not out of reach. But we aren't there yet. It's your generosity that advances our mission to fund cures for blood cancers and provide access to the patients who need them." - www.lls.org

Please join me and make a donation for a CURE!


Sunday, August 18, 2013

The day my life was changed.

Today, it marks the day that my life and world was completely turned upside down. August 18, 2010, 3 years ago, marks the day my dad was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins T-Cell Lymphoma. It is a day that I will never forget-- a day forever ingrained in my heart and my mind. I clearly remember sitting at the dinner table with my mom and having her tell me that my dad had been diagnosed with lymphoma. For close to 2 weeks my dad had been in the hospital for a cough that wouldn’t go away, in the hospital for what they thought was pneumonia and after multiple tests and consults from a Nephrologist, Pulmonologist, Infectious Disease, Rheumatology, and finally Oncology- the mystery had been solved. The cough and difficulty breathing was caused by the Lymphoma in his lungs as well as his spleen and abdomen. Oh, how my life was changed.

When my mom told me I immediately started crying --and crying. And as I tried to go to sleep that night, tears continually streamed down my face and I found myself screaming into a pillow so upset with the diagnosis. When I woke up that next morning I remember thinking that it was just a dream, that I was going to go visit my dad at the hospital that day for his pneumonia and soon he would be home with us and we could continue planning our annual family vacation to Pismo. But it was not a dream, and reality set in. We put our vacation on hold, came together as ONE to FIGHT and TEAM CELERA came together in full force! I even had bracelets made TEAM CELERA on one side and T.C.K.C.A (Team Celera Kicking Cancers Ass) on the other. August 18 will always have a place in my heart. It marks: the day of my dad's diagnosis, the day my life was changed, the day I began my fight for my dads life! It marked the start of chemotherapy treatments, X-Rays, MRI's, blood transfusions, dialysis, it marked up's and downs, seeing my dad bed ridden, to days my dad was able to get out of bed and walk those hospital hallways. It marks the start of drained energy, daily hospital visits, taking notes from the doctors when I was the one in the room with my dad, breaking the "only 2 visitors in the room at a time" rule, transferring to different rooms in the hospital: DOU, ICU, CCU.. Neutropenic Isolation. It marks family taking over the waiting room. It marks makeshift beds in the waiting room. It marks homecomings, family time at home, sharing an In-N-Out burger in the comfort our home together. It marks being able to spend our last Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years together. It marks the 911 calls for them to take my dad back to the hospital. It marks numerous tears shed. It marks low blood count, failing kidneys, high creatinine levels, low platelets, fever, fluid in the lungs, storming heaven with prayers. It marks a rollercoaster of emotion. It marks having loved ones surround my dad as he took his last breath on January 7, 2011, sending him with lots of love, prayer and tears. It marks my dad now being pain free and at peace. It marks my dads journey. It marks strength. A battle. My families journey. Our fight for my dads life. It marks a journey that has changed my life.

Losing my dad has been the HARDEST thing I have ever faced. When he passed away I had no idea how life would go on without him, how I would be able to go through each day knowing my dad wouldn't be there anymore, how I would no longer hear him singing songs as he got ready in the morning, how I would no longer be able to play a round of golf with him on his birthday, how I would no longer have In-n-out runs with him when he had a Friday off of work, how I would no longer be able to listen to him making up stories as though he knows the name and life story of everyone person we pass on the street, or how I would no longer be able to see his smile or hear his laugh. My dad's journey with cancer has impacted my life, more than I ever imagined. And it continues to change my life. And although my life is incomplete without my dad-- I continue to remember what he taught me. I remember the good times that we had. I remember our family roap trips, with his cassette tapes as the background music for our travels. I remember the laughs- the smiles- the hugs. I remember the golf lessons he gave me. I remember the sound of his voice as he sang songs around the house. I remember our trips to home depot when I was little, and having to watch the shopping cart full of supplies and wood, while he ran around the store. I remember pretending to be asleep so he could carry me up the stairs and put me in my bed. I remember his heart- his generosity- his love. I remember and cherish all the years we had together. The impact he has had on my life. The legacy he left.
He is my reason for running. He is the inspiration for my fundraising. He is at the root of my passion for a cure. He is FOREVER IN MY HEART and ACTIONS.
If you want to make an impact in the fight for a cure, and have a few dollars to spare, please consider making a donation towards a cure for cancer http://pages.teamintraining.org/los/nikesf13/punchcancerintheface I can't tell you how much it would mean to me. Especially TODAY, the day my life has been forever changed.

Thanks for taking a read!

Live with PASSION,

Thursday, July 18, 2013

10 reasons why I choose to PUNCH CANCER IN THE FACE

As I was thinking of what I was going to write today for an update on my fundraising page, I looked at the date and realized that in 6 days it marks my dad’s birthday. This will be the 3rd year we won’t have ice cream birthday cake as we sing him happy birthday around the kitchen table. And that makes my heart sad.

I find myself a bit more upset than usual. I find myself extremely angry that he is no longer here. I find myself looking for an outlet to express these feelings, and the way that I know how, is by writing. So I decided to remind myself, and all of you Why I train, Why I fundraise, Why I choose to punch cancer in the face.

So here I have compiled my list of:
10 reasons why I choose to PUNCH CANCER IN THE FACE.

10. I have an amazing group of people fighting alongside me.
Through Team in Training I have personally met hundreds of individuals sharing my passion, my fire, my drive, my heart, my longing for a cure. They fight for a cure alongside me. Cancer survivors, runners, fighters and people who just want to make a difference.

9. Because I can.
I have the voice to spread awareness. I have the words to write about my journey and the journey of so many others. I have the ability to raise funds for a cure. And I have working legs, that will go as many miles possible, towards the ultimate finish line a CURE FOR CANCER.

8. To give someone else more days
Hearing of lost of loved ones, days cut short, moments unable to be shared. It breaks my heart. I punch cancer in the face, to provide more days for those fighting the fight. More days for them and their loved ones to cherish. More moments to be captured. More unforgettable moments to be had. More lasting memories for them to make.

7. I know what I do makes a difference.
Raising funds and awareness makes a difference. I know, with every fiber in me, that we are doing good, and making a positive impact in the lives of others. I will keep punching cancer in the face to continue making a difference in the lives of those I know, and those I will never meet.

6. To inspire others
By punching cancer in the face. By running. By training. By fundraising. By spreading awareness. By sharing my connection to cancer... Who knows, maybe I can inspire another. Maybe, my words can impact someone. Maybe the story of my dads cancer journey and my journey alongside him can touch someone else. Maybe, my actions can lead someone else on a journey towards punching cancer in the face, as well.
5. To help improve the quality of life for patients and their families as well.
I've seen first hand the lives saved by the money The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has raised. I do this for more success stories. For more survivors. For a world with no more cancer.

4. I want to change this statistic: “Every 4 minutes someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer. Every 10 minutes someone dies”
I aim to change this statistic. That is far too many people being diagnosed & far too many lives lost. I will keep fighting, keep running, keep fundraising, keep pouring my heart into this until a CURE is found.
3. With every day that passes my list of those I train for, grows longer. The length of the list needs to diminish.
Every name I add to this list, I carry them with me. Every person that I know, those that I don't. Stories that I hear about others. Every honored teammate I have the privilege to meet. Every cancer jouney I encounter. For every person I will not meet. They all hold a place in my heart. Always. I won't stop until the writing of names stops.

2. Because CANCER SUCKS.
Obviously. It's an asshole. End of story.

1. Because not having made any new memories with my dad for the past 2 ½ years is absolutely heartbreaking.
All I want is one more day, one more celebration, one more hug, one more smile, one more laugh, one more moment. I’d give anything to do what he loved, play golf. One more dad and daughter day at the driving range, one more birthday round of golf, one more large bucket of golf balls shared.