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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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 Believe

Merry Christmas! I LOVE Christmas! I have always loved the magic of Christmas! It’s 5 am and I am awake. I was always a night owl. Still am for the most part, but I’m up most days by now, too. It’s a habit that started with the big dog wanting his walk as soon as he heard anyone moving about. We go for two miles in the morning and then again in the early evening. I don’t mind. It gets the blood moving.

This morning, as I wait for the rest of the house to stir, I am sitting here reflecting a bit. Christmas does that for me. The sights and sounds and smells of the season always bring up memories steeped in the many traditions that pop up this time of year. I’m surprised the girl isn’t up with me. She loves to get up way too early to see if Santa came. As she got old enough, she would even make coffee for me and Mr. Sag so the aroma might wake us too. As I look around, I see the stockings are full. My grandmother and then my mom made stockings for everyone in the Streeter clan. Now my sister and others carry on. Any time a baby was on the way, a stocking would be started – just awaiting a name. Any time there was a marriage, the spouse was welcomed to the family with – you guessed it. You could tell those of us with the same or near birth years by the color lots of the yarn. The one I have is my second. Sadly, a mouse got to my original.

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Christmas is magical for me because it really drives home the sense of believing – and not just in Santa. All year I was reminded of things I believe in wrapped up in an epic adventure.

I believe in the unconditional love of family. I never would have been able to cycle across America without them. Who else would help someone accomplish their dream by dropping everything and living out of a mobile box for a month and a half – no questions – no complaints (well, not really) and cheering the whole way? Who else would hunt you down based on an article in a newspaper because they knew we had a long lost connection? Family.

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I believe friendships never die. They just fade away at times and then sneak up and pick up right where they left off. Friends make life interesting and livable.

I believe in giving back. Part of what keeps me riding and running, is that they give me the opportunity to do so for a cause. I have several causes that I’ve mentioned throughout the year and I’ll keep helping them in 2018. Come along with me.

I believe in forgiveness and redemption. My journey over the past few years helped me understand that one does not always represent the many. I have faith in and respect for the dental profession again thanks to Dr. Tom, Jena and others. Time does heal many wounds. And you can smile again!

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I believe in the goodness of humanity. People really just want to help each other. We’re in it together. If you don’t think so, go on your own epic adventure and see who you run into. It will surprise you in a good way!

And just as Christmas isn’t about Santa, I believe in Him and that He is with us always.

I leave you with a favorite holiday memory of mine. My mom was a wonderful pianist and she played every evening. I loved the sounds that filled the air and I love hearing that instrument played any time. The pastor at our church reminds me of her because he can really tickle the ivories too! In December, my favorite was always “Carol of the Bells”.

Merry Christmas!

Ride on!

Giving Thanks and Paying it Forward

Thanksgiving is a holiday that always makes me feel good. No matter where we celebrate, or what we have for dinner, or who we dine with, there is always the giving of thanks – taking time to be mindful of the many blessings we are given daily.

Some things I’m thankful for:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Good health
  • Safe home
  • Ability to run and ride
  • Beautiful places

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As I am reminded of the many blessings I have, it’s time again to think about paying it forward. Since giving Tuesday is coming up this week, I’ll take this opportunity once more to share links to some of the organizations I like to give to throughout the year. Some I give to directly. Some I raise funds and awareness for by riding or running in their sponsored events. Thank you for considering giving to them or your favorites.

Bike the US for MS

Great Cycle Challenge

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

American Heart Association

American Cancer Society

Pink Heals – Napa Valley

Neurofibramatosis Network

The Pathway Home

Wounded Warrior Project

Lutheran Church Charities – Comfort Dogs

Make a Wish

Compassion International

Napa Humane Society

Samaritan’s Purse

American Diabetes Association

Lutheran World Relief

Fisher House Foundation

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Michael J Fox Foundation – for Parkinson’s Research

Song of the day:

Ride on!

 

Be Not Afraid

Do I get scared when I’m riding? Sometimes.

DSC01463When I was in my twenties and riding across the Midwest, I rode solo and through areas where the corn was so high you couldn’t see anything else all around. My mind would play tricks on me and I would imagine all kinds of things jumping out at me. It didn’t help that a film based on Steven King’s Children of the Corn was released in 1984. I didn’t even have a cell phone to call for help if I found myself in trouble. They didn’t exist yet.

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I’ve ridden in parts of the country where storms come up seemingly out of nowhere and are fierce as all get out. I remember one time coming back home with a friend from the South Bend, IN area. A storm rolled through and a huge lightening bolt hit the ground about 25 feet from where we were. I didn’t think I could run so fast. We left the bikes and ran into the truck stop that luckily was near by.

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Years ago, I was riding on a remote country rode in Ohio late at night. Unfortunately, my bike light ran out of juice (back up batteries were used up as well) and it was difficult to see anything. The moon was not bright that night. I can still remember the odd clomping sound coming at me from a distance. I was so relieved to finally see the dim light on the Amish buggy and be able to connect the sound to the horses hooves.

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I’ve reached 62.3 mph coming down a hill on a bike. That can be a bit scary on a 25 mm wide tire! It’s exhilarating at the same time, though, so scary hasn’t stopped me.

My bike has slipped out from underneath me when the rear tire hit sand on the shoulder while climbing a mountain road – I fell into traffic coming up behind me. An angel slid me out of the way. It has happened on wet railroad tracks as well. I’ve since learned to walk across wet tracks. You don’t have to tell me twice!

I’ve been chased by dogs and was once bitten.

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I’ve been on roads where triple semi trailers have passed so closely that I swear I could have reached out and touched them.

Since Mr. SAG now calls me Wrong Way, you know I’ve been lost!

All of these experiences were scary but we can’t let scary stop us! If I had, I would not have accomplished what I did this past year. Happy birthday to me! Since my last birthday, I’ve ridden across America on the way to 7,632 miles (about a thousand more than my previous best when I was 27). That includes 40 centuries (100+ Miles), or if using metric, 68 metric centuries (62+ miles) and 210,340 feet of climbing (7 1/4 times the height of Mt. Everest). That’s way more climbing than I’ve ever done since most of my previous riding was in the Midwest.

Along the way, with your help, I’ve raised over $12,000 for organizations like Bike the US for MS, The Great Cycle Challenge, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Tour de Fox for Parkinson’s Disease and Tour de Cure for Diabetes Research.

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Song of the day:

Don’t let fear stop you. Ride on!

Revival

Revival. Sometimes it happens by circumstance. Sometimes it comes by choice.IMG_7237 (2)

This past weekend I rode one of my fairly regular training routes. It’s a 32 mile loop with a fair amount of climbing – about 1600 feet and gets up to a 12% grade in parts. It takes me out along one of the roads where fires raged two weeks ago. They are actually still smoldering a bit in some places around the valley as they are not yet fully contained. There is evidence of the fires in the sporadic charring seen, and in the fire crews still maintaining watch, and in the PG&E crews hard at work restoring normalcy (power) to areas where it was lost. This route doesn’t go into the heart of where the fires actually burned ferociously, but already, I am seeing signs of revival. It will be a long hard road for some, but it will come.

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My Ride.

Fall (or Autumn to some) has always been a favorite time of year for me. I am from upstate New York, and the colors of Fall are astounding. When I see them around the Valley, my longing for home is always revived. I love the smell of fallen leaves. I love wearing shorts with a bulky sweatshirt on breezy, clear afternoons. I love the feel in the air that says change is coming. And if it weren’t for recent events, I love the smell of smoke telling me people are snuggling with families by a warm fireplace. I don’t always enjoy the feel of acorns crunching under my feet or tires, though. I love the knowledge that after fall and winter, nature will revive us with the fresh smells and brilliant colors of spring – my new favorite time of year since living in California.

My revival began in the fall, about four years ago. I chose to renew health and fitness levels and revive quests for adventure once thought lost. What a ride it has been! I am reminded every year though, that sometimes revival involves hard work and conscious decisions. It can be harder to get up and work out every morning when it is dark and cold outside. It can be harder to get a ride in after work when the sun fades so quickly. It can be hard to make healthy food choices when the season says “bake!” But onward we ride. Revival doesn’t always just happen. It can be a long, persistent journey.

Song of the day:

Ride on!