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Success or Failure?

I set out a few days ago to attempt an Everesting (Pick any hill, anywhere in the world and ride repeats of it in a single activity until you climb 29,029 feet – the equivalent height of Mt Everest. I did not succeed – this time. Mark my word, though, I will be back! This was one of my chosen personal challenges. It’s a challenge because it isn’t easy. This one, I found out, is freaking hard and I’ve got more work to do! I’ve given myself challenges before that took several attempts before I achieved them and so too it will be with this one.

As my daughter, “the girl” pointed out, I may not have conquered Everest, but I did climb the height of Mt. Whitney (the mountain in the photo), so I’ve now ridden the Continental US both horizontally and vertically! I’ll take that for now. Thanks to her always positive perspective, I’m reminded that success and failure are relative terms.IMG_3443

My many successes from the ride:

  1. Elevation gained: 14,567 feet
  2. Distance: 122.29 miles (another century in the books!)
  3. Burned almost 9700 calories.
  4. Rode 115 repeats of the same hill and did not get bored.
  5. Kept my current expected pace of about 1000 feet/hour – just had too much unexpected down time.
  6. Brought new awareness to the LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry
  7. Raised $1200.+ for the Comfort Dogs
  8. Made some new friends
  9. Provided a good connecting activity for Team Aaron Comfort Dog
  10. Was able to keep my recording equipment charged.
  11. Had lots of love and support from near and far.
  12. Got a really cool custom jersey.Comfort Dog Jersey

What I learned:

  1. My husband is still THE BEST. He even earned a new title: SAG-E (Support and Gear- Elevated) for his always superior and unquestioning support. Who else would get up at 4:00 am to cook a hot breakfast and bring it to me at the base of the hill?SAG1.jpg
  2. I can do this, I just need much more work on my quads/gluts and climbing speed. (More HIITs and weights, here I come).
  3. When you injure your hip and foot in a crash on July 4, it might not be a good idea to commit to a major challenge two months later.
  4. There is a lot of crap in the air that we don’t necessarily see! Check out what my headlight picked up. I didn’t notice any of it (except the biting bugs!)

     

My hats off with so much respect for all those who have successfully Everested!  I still hope to join you some day. 🙂

Song of the day:

Ride on!

 

 

All In

Everesting – Pick any hill, anywhere in the world and ride repeats of it in a single activity until you climb 29,029 feet – the equivalent height of Mt Everest.

That is my next challenge. Looking to attempt it Labor Day weekend.

Why? That’s the first question people typically ask. Well, I’ve always been someone to do things all or none, all in or not at all, and to test and push my limits. If you can hold your breath under water for 30 seconds, see if you can do it for a minute, then for however long (Good test for other things if you know what I mean, DR-O!) If you can make 25 baskets (basketball) in a row, go for 50, then 100, then more. If you can ride 25 miles, go for 50, then 100, then 200, then ride across America! And the beat goes on.

I didn’t have a “challenge ride” planned this year. I decided I wouldn’t ask Mr. SAG to support me on any out of town, long rides.  After all, he gave up half his summer last year to do just that.  I figured this year was for him to decide on vacation preferences, and I didn’t think it would involve an RV or a bike! But, alas, me being me, I suppose the challenge idea was always there in the back of my mind. And once I heard about Everesting a few years ago, it has been calling my name.

I’ve also learned that the fitness benefit of cycling alone, does not motivate me. I’ve ridden substantially fewer miles this year since I had no pressing goal out there driving me – until the last 2 months. It turns out I need to have a challenge in mind and commit to it and it really helps if I tie it to a specific cause or need (purpose). I fit nice and neatly into what research says about motivation.

So, Everesting it is. This weekend! I’ve picked a relatively small hill to ride (average 5% grade, half mile long/mile lap). I picked it because it is fairly close to home so Mr. SAG won’t need to hang out there all day (he’ll want to), it doesn’t have a lot of traffic, and the grade is reasonable enough where even I may be able to sustain multiple repeats (about 250). I’m not a climber, so this is definitely going to be a challenge! Mentally too, I suppose.

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For the cause part, I decided that since the LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs were there for me with encouragement, food, shelter, and comfort/comic relief across the country last year, that I would support them this year. The LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry is near and dear to my heart. I am a handler on team Aaron Comfort Dog who is on staff at St. John’s Lutheran Church and School in Napa, CA. He is one of over 120 Affiliate Comfort Dogs deployed by Lutheran Church Charities out of Northbrook, IL. They bring comfort to schools, nursing homes, hospitals, first responders, and families in need on a regular basis. And they deploy to areas having suffered tragic events whenever requested. They have been present after horrific school and other shootings, floods, fires, hurricanes, etc. They are often able to bring just a moment of happiness/normalcy to those who are hurting and it is a blessing to be a part of that. They never charge to go anywhere, but they do incur travel and living expenses, so I dedicate this ride to them and am raising funds to help them continue their good work. If you would like to help out, you can give directly through LCC, a church with a Comfort Dog on staff, or through this link to my Facebook fund raiser. 

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Check out Aaron and friends at work.

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“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” ~ Sir Edmund Hilary

Say a prayer or two for me this weekend! Whether I succeed or fall short, you can bet the farm that I will do it ALL IN!

Ride on!

 

This Is Me

Hi there. It’s been a while. I don’t like to write just to write and I haven’t had much to say that you haven’t heard, so I took a break. Now I’m ready to share part 2 of my story.

At this time last year, I was well into my adventure of a lifetime – my cross country cycling trip, raising funds for Multiple Sclerosis research. This year, I am continuing a different kind of journey. If you read part 1 of my story, you know that I worked hard over the last few years to recover my fitness levels of long ago. I’ve engaged in many hours of cycling, running and other cross training activities as well as making better nutritional choices. Kick starting all of that was a trip to the dentist. For my own very good reasons, I had not seen a dentist in over 40 years. You can imagine the level of periodontal disease that developed as a result of that choice. The fix ended up being the removal of all my teeth – March 6, 2014. I actually refer to that date as my second birthday because I believe my dentist literally saved my life and gave me back my “joie de vivre”. I no longer have my original teeth, but I do have my smile (and health) back!

This year, since I had no chosen events to train for, I decided to heed my dentist’s advice and take steps to prevent future bone loss of the jaw (something that typically happens over time when you don’t have the teeth roots stimulating bone growth). That meant implants for my upper jaw to help preserve the bone. I finished that process for my lower jaw prior to my epic ride. In order to place implants in my upper jaw, however, I had to first have some extensive bone grafting. I had already lost a significant amount of bone to resorption starting even prior to the teeth extractions. So, in February, I started the long process. I had bilateral horizontal ridge and sinus lift augmentations done through two separate procedures. There had to be a period of at least six weeks before any denture could be worn again. It turned out to be fourteen weeks for me because we chose to do the surgeries back to back. Fourteen weeks without upper teeth!

Last year, my ride showed me that there is still good in humanity. I had someone find and return my ID/cash pack. I had people donate to the cause. I had people looking out for my safety, offering food and water, and giving shelter in a storm. And I met wonderful, supportive teams of people who are part of the LCC K-9 Comfort Dog ministry all across the country.Image 2018-06-05_17-00-54-447

This year, my dental adventure has shown me the same. I was worried about going to work (I have a very public job) and being seen outside my home without teeth. But once any bruising from the procedure went away, back to work went I.

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I don’t know what I was so worried about. No person over that time ever made me feel the least bit uncomfortable. If there was any conversation about it at all, it was more interest in the procedures themselves and the healing involved. No one snickered. No one looked aghast. No one pushed me to do anything if I showed any trepidation about it without question or judgement. I even met a large number of new people (hundreds). I am part of the LCC K9-Comfort Dog Ministry with Team Aaron Comfort Dog and deployed to speak and share the ministry at other congregations and schools, attended events and a large conference, and met with other teams at a regional gathering. I rode in a couple of large cycling events. And when I ate out at restaurants, no waiter or waitress ever had issue with my soft diet requests or substitutions. It turns out the only person who was concerned about being out and about with no upper teeth was me. Every other person I encountered was kind and supportive.

I do have my upper teeth back now. I smile again with abandon and it feels great! I’m back cycling and running and working on my next goals/adventures. Stay tuned as I figure them out. And later this year, after 6-8 months of healing, I’ll have the implants placed. I’ll be without teeth for a short time again, but I’m not worried!Image 2018-06-05_16-45-35-323

Lessons learned:

1- There are a whole lot of good humans out there!

2- Even without teeth, you can eat just about anything – blenders/hand blenders are great!

3- Everyone has something going on. They won’t judge you for yours.

4- Having oral surgery and being without teeth is a minor inconvenience. Cancer, heart disease, MS, ALS, strokes and clinical depression among others are real struggles.

5- Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. God and people around you will lift you up.

6- Dr. J is my hero! Dr. V isn’t so bad either!

Song of the day:

Ride on!

Don’t Wait

“If you wait until you can do everything for everybody, instead of something for somebody, you’ll end up doing nothing for nobody.” ~Malcom Bane

If you’ve read my blog before, you know that a big part of my motivation to get out there and move in some way is the opportunity to raise awareness and funds for various causes. I love being able to keep my fitness levels up while helping others in little bits along the way.

Today I signed up for a run to help people with spinal cord injuries (SCI). I’ve had a yearning to help those with SCI for a long time. My first clinical internship was at St. Joseph’s Rehab Center in Elmira, NY, and I worked mainly with patients who had spinal cord injuries. I learned what self motivation is from a 16 year old who never gave up hope and I’ve never forgotten him. I signed up for the race last year, but the timing didn’t work out, so I didn’t make it. This year, though, they added the opportunity to join via an app! It’s the Wings for Life – World Run.  It takes place all over the world, starting at the exact same time, May 6, 11am UTC. For me, that will be 3 am. Everyone finishes too, since it has a unique format.  A half hour after the race starts, a moving finish line, the “Catcher Car,” chases runners along the course, gradually getting faster until each one is caught. If you participate by app, like I am, you’ll be chased by a Virtual Catcher Car at the same time as all the other runners around the globe.

Sound fun? Stay tuned – I may try and organize a group app run. If you’re not into running, I’ll be participating once again in the Great Cycle Challenge in June. Join me!

Song of the day:

Ride on!

Days of Service

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Taking a break from my fitness adventures to tell you about a special trip and a different cause that is near and dear to me.

Just ahead of Martin Luther King Junior Day – a day of service, I had a great opportunity to deploy to So Cal with my friends Aaron Comfort Dog and Jennie. We were able to visit with so many people, bringing comfort and joy through this wonderful ministry.

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Aaron is one of many Lutheran Church Charities’ LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs, who are stationed and deploy all around the country to bring comfort in times of need. I am blessed to be one of his photographers and soon to be handler.

On the way down south, we met Andy, who moved to Bakersfield, but previously worked with Aaron’s friend Katie Comfort Dog and team. I met them in Nebraska when I cycled across America. Talk about connections!

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We even got to visit Concordia University – Irvine where the girl has returned to study after her semester around the world (#CUIATW).

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CUI

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The visit to Southern California was requested by Maeson, who is student teaching at Christ Lutheran School in Costa Mesa. We visited kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grades. Maeson was teaching about how to be loving and compassionate to others so they even role played with Aaron, which was a lot of fun and very heart warming.

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Serendipitously, we met people who were celebrating birthdays, and who wouldn’t want hugs from Aaron Comfort Dog on their special day? Happy Birthday RuthE!

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As a special treat, we visited the ocean at Huntington Beach – a fabulous reprieve from the fog and gloom we’ve been experiencing this week (normal this time of year in my neck of the woods). Of course we got to run around and play too!

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All in all, it was a wonderful experience and motivating to get myself back out into God’s country to run and ride and soak it all in!

Song of the day:

Ride on!

 

I Am a Cyclist

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Today I ran my longest distance of the year so far – not too hard to do since it’s only the seventh day of 2018. A friend and I finished the Hot Chocolate 15k in San Francisco. To quote Penni, “It was a sweet run! Ha, ha!” It actually was. The weather was great for running. Mid 50’s temperature-wise, and no wind or precipitation. And who wouldn’t want to run for chocolate and Make a Wish?

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Last year, we missed this run because the weather was so bad. We had one of the worst rain storms of the season with winds up to 60 mph. We decided it was too risky to drive in so we, and many others decided to skip it. The race took place, but it was even rerouted and shortened due to the conditions. We’re set to have a similar storm starting this evening or tomorrow, so I’d say we hit it just right this time.

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The run was in a beautiful area. It starts and finishes in Golden Gate Park and runs out along the ocean. While the setting was pretty, my own effort was anything but. I did finish, but it was mighty slow going by real runners’ standards. I’ll take it though, but I’ve decided I’m not a runner. My body tonight, is telling me once again, I am not a runner. So why do I do it? You’ve heard it before. I enjoy the challenge. For me, to run more than a 10k is a real challenge and I love that! I will go faster and I will go farther, just you wait and see (especially if my friends have anything to do with it).

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Song of the day:

At the end of the day, though, I have to admit…I am a cyclist. I can ride all day, with others or all by myself, going anywhere, or nowhere at all (loops) and I love it! It’s invigorating! It’s meditative! It heals my soul and I love it! I am a cyclist!

Ride on!

I Dare You to Move

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In 2010, Rapha laid down a challenge: ride 500km in the eight days between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Since then the Rapha #Festive500 has become a holiday ritual for cyclists, with tens of thousands of riders around the world attempting the distance each year. And what do you get for completing the challenge? A nice patch and the ability to tell yourself you persevered and made it to the end. I stumbled upon the challenge last year as I trained for my ride across America, and I completed it. So of course, I had to do it again. For my American friends, 500km is about 311 miles. But…

How do you fit in a #Festive500 ride when it’s the holidays?

How do you fit in a #Festive500 ride when your only child who has been traveling around the world for the past 5 months is home for 3 weeks and you want to spend time with her?

How do you fit in a #Festive500 ride when you and your husband finally have some days off from work at the same time – and he doesn’t ride?

How do you fit in a #Festive500 ride when you want to spend some time reconnecting with friends?

How do you fit in a #Festive500 ride when you have to work?

How do you fit in a #Festive500 ride when you’re supposed to be training for a 15k race on the first weekend in January?

How do you fit in a #Festive500 ride when you wake up every morning to an outdoor temperature hovering around freezing?

You just fit it in. I did. Here’s how…

You get up early and ride. You have lights on your bike that allow you to ride in the dark. You have clothing that allows you to stay warm and toasty when it’s near freezing outside. You ride some local loops so you can bump up the miles. You ride a little bit every day. You ride to and from other activities. My recap:

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Day 1 – Christmas Eve – I only rode 25.65 miles. It was a busy day, but I figured I should start with something. Christmas Eve was on a Sunday so we attended regular worship service at 9:30 am. We went to lunch at one of our favorite watering holes. Then in the afternoon, I rode my 25 miles since we were attending Christmas Eve worship service at 7:30 pm. Of course, I still had to wrap presents as I always seem to wait ’till the last minute!

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Day 2 – Christmas Day – I was actually up early, about 5 am. The girl usually is, but this year, she was the last to stumble out of bed. We had fun opening our gifts. Mr. Sag made the girl’s favorite breakfast – pancakes. I made Mr. Sag’s requested Christmas lunch – ham and potato salad. And then I headed out for my ride of the day. I ended up with 40.28 miles. Good thing. I needed to average close to that on each of the 8 days of the #Festive500 challenge and I was a bit behind.

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Day 3 – I headed out early and it was only 33 degrees F. out there! Luckily, I’ve stocked up on all weather cycling gear. I just donned my tights, flannel lined, long sleeve jersey, wind proof jacket and balaclava (face mask). I intended to ride at least another 40 miles but I got a flat tire at the 38.65 mark – 2 miles from home. Since I was so close, Mr. Sag picked me up and we fixed the flat later in the evening. I made it back in time to take in a movie with the girl – one of her favorite pastimes. Great day!

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Day 4 – Warmer today! At least it started out one degree warmer at 34 degrees. I rode through some of my favorite areas of Napa Valley and ended up with 56.69 miles on the day. Catching up with the average needed. Speaking of chilly, if I were still living where I grew up, I’m not so sure I’d even be out there. Thank goodness I live in California!

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Day 5 – Another early ride as I had to go into work in the afternoon. Only able to get 20 miles in so I knew I would be in the catch up game for the next three days.

Day 6 – A 44 mile day. I needed this average for the next two days as well if I was to make it to the goal. It was another beautiful Napa Valley day and I was able to sneak in lunch with the family and then dinner with some friends.

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Day 7 – Saturday…my usual running day with Penni and I didn’t want to disappoint. We have a 15k race coming up on January 7, after all. So I rode 4 miles to get to our meeting spot. I stuck my running shoes in my trunk pack (handy for so many things). I changed and we went out for a 4-mile run. Unfortunately, I felt very sluggish so the pace ended up being pretty slow. It might have been the wine I had with dinner laughing at me. Penni is so patient with me though! I love running with her. I was pretty sluggish the rest of the day too, but ended with 45 miles.

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Day 8 – last day! I headed out early again and was able to get 25 miles in before church. I attended worship service and then rode another 16. That was it! 502km in the bag.

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What a great way to end this epic (for me) cycling year! As we head into 2018 I am throwing down a challenge of my own. There’s a saying that fighter pilots have –

“Speed is life”.

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As a Physical Therapist, I prefer to say “Movement is Life!” So in 2018, I dare you to move. Any activity is good – walking, running, cycling, swimming, or other – you choose. It doesn’t matter if its 10 feet or 10,000 miles. Just get up, get out, and move! I dare you!

Thus, the song of the day:

Happy New Year! Ride on!