Sunday, October 31, 2010

1...2...3... GO!!!

Motivation is a fickle monster. The reasons we do things and the impetus is takes to actually set and attain a goal can come from a million different places. The motivation to simply get out of bed in the morning can be a moving target (as it was for me today). Many times yesterday I found myself asking why the hell I decided to do this. I searched around deep inside myself, desperate for a reason to keep going when my mind and body were screaming at me to quit and end all the pain.

Then I'd see something like this:

Jerry from Team Awesome w/ my training partner, Jake

Master Tedd put little signs up like this all over the course

Team Neon was everywhere

I covered 26.2 miles on my feet yesterday, not all of it running, but I did it, and I got a big monkey off my back in the process. I've made it pretty public on twitter and facebook that my training was going well, and I felt pretty confident that I could check this challenge off my bucket list. I might have even looked a little past this race, thinking of newer challenges, or at least a relaxing month of November.

I should have known...

The first 10 miles of this race went according to plan. I felt great. The weather was perfect, and I was running with a good group of people. Then it all fell apart. I felt a bonk coming on, and, despite my best efforts, I couldn't keep it at bay. No matter what I tried, my body kept rebelling on me, with the added fun of the dreaded upset stomach that you can get when you mix nerves, water, gatorade, electrolytes, and energy gels. Long story short, the fun part of my race was done well before the halfway point. I hit the wall, hard, and my legs lost their power. From that point on, it was a matter of survival.

Which brings me back to motivation. This race was personal for me, for a lot of reasons that I won't belabor here. I did almost all of my training alone, with the exception of a few runs with friends and short/medium training runs with my dog Jake. I took a plan that Jeni made for me, and I did my best to get ready, trying to rely only on myself . I figured if I could bang out the training on my own, then the race would be a relative breeze, and the training went well. REALLY well. I had some points where I suffered, but I managed through it, and I felt confident. The last three weeks were kind of weird, but I chalked it up to nerves and a little bit of fatigue. I settled into my taper, and felt like I was going to have a fast race. When that all came crashing down, I needed something else to keep me going.

Those people up above are what did it. I cannot express, in words or in pictures, the level of love and support I received out on that course yesterday. Not 2 miles ever passed without me seeing various members of the Team Neon phalanx out on the course with signs, cowbells, chants, and encouragement. At one point, Legz Hernando, who had snuck up from Miami, pushed me up a tough hill. Unbelievable. At several points along the way, when the ignominy of quitting seemed the better option, there they would be, like a beacon (literally... see how bright those shirts are?) pushing me on, no matter how awful I must have looked. It's because of them that I found each new reason to keep going and push through to the end.

Speaking of the end...

The final mile of the course was a sadistic climb to the baseball stadium, and, by that point, the most I could do was shuffle, and I was having trouble breathing (I now know what it's like to have an asthma attack. It is not awesome). As I rounded the corner, they were all there, bringing me home:
There were about 20 more up ahead
If I had not been so tapped out, I would have been crying. I've always considered myself to be blessed, but it's not often that the shear magnitude of those blessings are revealed in such stark relief. About five hours afterward, I finally figured out how to describe it to Nikki: it was like having the experience of the Ride to Austin boiled down and mainlined into my heart in the span of four hours instead of four days. I was, and still am, overwhelmed...

I am now a marathoner. I trained alone, and I ran for very personal reasons and some friends who know who they are, but I finished because of an army of people lifted me up and collectively willed bib #123 to the line.

Done... with Dots...
Thanks to: Nikki, Mom and Pop, Jeni, Ron, Jen, RJ, Master Tedd, Anne, Mason, Kate, Scott, Robin, Jess, Officer Josh, JD, Rob, Jerry, Linda, Legz (who, again, showed up from Miami), Donna,Matt, Carolyn and everybody else who I might have forgotten or who sent well wishes at any point along the way.

I'm a lucky fool to have you all.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Trace Elements

One of the centerpieces of last year's and this year's Ride to Austin is the Natchez Trace Parkway. This long, smooth-as-glass road marks two important points in the route on the way to Austin.

First, it's the place where the ride makes it's turn south (or in this year's case, loops north towards Nashville first before turning south, causing mass confusion to certain info junkies following the route tracker).

Second, it's the point where the miles really start to melt away, all the teams hit their stride, and serious chunks of distance start getting chewed up.

Some of the best stories and experiences from last year's ride come from the shifts spent on the Trace. From people nearly getting run over by deer, to full moons being sited, to run-ins with the law, everybody has a yarn to spin from the Trace. It's one of the many elements of the actual riding-the-bike portion of the Ride to Austin so special. Already, I'm seeing pictures posted of sunny skies, smooth roads, changing leaves and smiling faces, and I know the P3C3 family is in a very good place.

For me, the Trace will always be at night, pitch dark except for some stars above, with mile markers ticking down one-by-one, the only sounds the hum of our tires, the hiss of our breathing, and the occasional critter scuffling around in the woods, barreling toward the Mighty Mississippi and knocking off my first ever century ride withe my wife and some of my best friends.

Nikki on the Trace right as the sun went down

Team Awesome in Vidalia, LA having just banged out 101 miles

The Trace will always feel a little like home...I'm sure everybody's having a blast.

Follow the team at

Monday, October 18, 2010


I'm a junkie. My life has been reduced to very basic things. Sitting. Watching. Refreshing Checking Facebook and Twitter to see what my P3C3 Family is doing. I have no power over this, either to help them or myself. All I can do is watch, pray, wait for my next fix, and hope that the road stays smooth, the weather clear, and the ride trouble free.

As challenging as the 2009 Challenge to Conquer Cancer was for me, I find this infinitely more difficult. Instead of being a part of this amazing adventure, sharing in the experience with some of my closest friends, doing what I can to help, and joining with the millions who have stood up to spread the word that cancer can, and will, be beaten, I am on the sidelines.I'm a spectator. A voyeur. A peeping tom.

When I did this ride last year, I called my father after we had arrived in Austin. He told me that he reckoned I was coming back a completely different person. He was right. The Ride to Austin changes you. Makes you better. Sharper. It also gets you hooked on emotional highs. That's the only way you get through a four day 1500 mile journey when your either pedaling a bike, crammed in a minivan, or trying to get some sleep in a hotel along the road. You come back from Austin with a growing sense of desperation, to do more, to at the very least be with the people who did it with you.

That feeling is coming back to me. I long to be with them. My heart and mind are, but I want to be stuffed in the back corner of the team van, telling jokes, passing bacon/cheddar scones around and being one with my team. I want to be fighting a headwind, taking a pull and pushing to the next transition. I want to be dancing in a gas station parking lot in the early hours of the morning, blaring Black Eyed Peas and not giving a rip who hears or sees me. I want to be rolling with my Warrior friends, staring in awe at their toughness and their pride.

I feel sorry for my co-workers, and not only because they have to deal with a very distracted version of me this week. I feel sorry that they can't have this experience like I did, that they don't know the most passionate, dedicated and loving group of people I've ever known.

And, yes, I feel sorry for myself. Which is about as much of a junkie characteristic that I can have. So, I'll be sitting here, all week, watching my friend thumb their noses at this most insidious of diseases, stare it down, and beat it back. If that means something to you, check out the blog at While you're there, make a donation. We're all in this together.