Honoring My Mother

May 2017 marked a major milestone in my journey back to me and my fitness. At the end of that month, I took off on my bike ride across America, supporting Bike the US for MS. Along the way I met many teams associated with the  LCC K9 Comfort Dog Ministry and began some wonderful friendships and solidified many more.

In May of 2018, I made my first attempt at an Everesting. While I did not succeed that time, it turns out that the ride counts for what  the Hells 500 crew now call a Basecamp (half way to the summit – 4424 meters). I did another basecamp in May, 2019, and finally completed one in September, 2019.

I don’t think I would have done either of those things had it not been for my Mom. She taught me to challenge myself, not settle for mediocrity, persevere, build character and give back to the community. She was my biggest fan years ago when I cycled from Chicago to/from New York.

In the midst of this super weird 2020, with COVID-19 changing almost all aspects of life, I have been working nearly every day – I am a healthcare worker. Tomorrow is my first day off since New Year’s week. If you know me, I can’t just sit around, so I got to thinking. I haven’t done a 24-hour challenge in a while. And it’s Mother’s Day weekend. So, I decided to honor my mother, who passed away from cancer in 2012, with a 24-hour marathon. I set out to run 1.1 miles every hour for 24.

In the spirit of giving back, this run will support my biggest cycling event organizations: Bike the US for MS and The Great Cycle Challenge (for pediatric cancer research). If you can help, you are welcome to donate here:

https://ride.biketheusforms.org/fundraiser/2759330

https://greatcyclechallenge.com/Riders/MicheleArnold

My thoughts on this run by the hour:

09:00 – Well, let’s go ahead and see how this goes! Nice running weather so far!

10:00 – Feeling pretty good. Nice to see the neighbors.

11:00 – Sun’s out. Warming up. Getting a little glitch in my R lateral quad. Ordered Panera for pick-up after this lap. Will pick up and the eat 1/2 after next lap.

12:00 – Getting hungry. Glad We picked up sandwiches for after this lap! Found my knee strap. Quad feels good.

13:00 – Getting warmer. A little harder breathing to start.

14:00 – It’s hot and windy now. Glad it’s only a mile!

15:00 – The wind is stronger now. Of course it’s a head wind for the last half mile. It’s taking me about a 1/4 mile to get warmed up from having sat/rested.

16:00 – Time to walk the dog! With that, I changed course to his usual path. Mr. SAG walked Scoob while I ran ahead. Looks the the neighbors are getting ready for a socially distanced barbecue. Smells good!

17:00 – Time for dinner when this lap is done! Good thing. Slowing down.

18:00 – Refreshed by dinner. Finally feeling better. Knees are doing OK.

19:00 – Interesting. All of a sudden, that wind turned chilly! I should have worn a jacket. Definitely pulling one out for next lap! Half way there! Passed the 13.1 mark!

20:00 – Yep! Chilly! Need a different jacket next lap. Sun’s going down. Need my headlight and reflective vest now.

21:00 – Neighbors have gone in. Still more traffic out than I’d like. No one else out running or walking, though. Bedtime for others at home.

22:00 – Pretty big party going on down the street. Probably 25 people making a lot of noise whooping it up. Must be a birthday party or something. Other than that, I’m alone on the streets.

23:00 – Party is still going.

24:00 – Getting tired and sluggish. Need caffeine! 🙃😤

01:00 – The cat and dog don’t know what to make of this. Every time I get up to put my gear back on, and come back in the door, they think they are getting fed. 🤣

02:00 – Nobody else is up and about! No one walking, cycling, or running. No lawn parties carrying on. No cars or trucks on the streets. Quiet! Except for the birds.

03:00 – This is the coldest so far. Should have grabbed my gloves. Maybe it will motivate me to run faster.

04:00 – Getting close!

05:00 – Normal wake up time. I’ll have to feed the animals when I get back this time.

06:00 – The sun is coming up. Won’t need my headlight anymore. Mother’s Day gift from my best girl (who’s in Indiana) was waiting in my chair when I got back. 🥰

07:00 – Feeling surprisingly good. Maybe it’s the cool air. Maybe because I see the finish line. Maybe because I just face timed with my best girl!

08:00 – Done!!! Finished!!! Finis!!!

And the ceremonial finisher’s prize…1A42C674-7FE7-4DA8-9CEC-B01228BEBBEE

Thanks Mom! Happy Mother’s Day!

This seemed fitting for the song of the day…

Ride (or run) on!

Everesting 2 – So Close, Yet So Far

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”   ~Jimmy – A League of Their Own

I’ve learned once again that completing an Everesting is really hard!  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 ended my second attempt last night after I had gained 26,703 feet! I would not have stopped except that it started to rain (not the ride killer – I’ve ridden in the rain plenty of times), I got a rear tire flat, and my derailleurs started to majorly malfunction. I think it had something to do with the minor crash I had a little earlier (no injury).  Mr. SAG changed the tire (at 1:00 am), but the derailleur issue was a bit more to deal with in the dark and rain. I had been up for nearly 60 hours at that point too and was becoming disoriented and it felt dangerous. Did I really need to put myself at risk to get those last few thousand feet in? I decided “no.”

Everesting 2

I may have another “fail” or “DNF” notched next to my name (virtually, at least), but I don’t see it as a failure. It was a great couple of days of riding, and I learned a lot, once again. Not too shabby for 56 either!

What was different this time, and what did I learn?

The hill I chose this time was shorter, but a bit steeper than the one for my first attempt. This meant I could do more repeats in the same amount of time and gain roughly the same elevation. I chose the hill because it is at the end of the road I live on. Mr. SAG could stay at home and just come by if I needed something. He decided to hang out for a while too.

I have the most unconditionally loving and supporting SAG team on the planet!

I trained better for this one. I did a lot of cross training over the winter, including TRX training, running, weights, stair climbing and core training using various methods. My power to weight ratio was much improved and I even improved my VO2 max (Seems I still have a ways to go, though).

I refueled and hydrated better and more consistently. (I did have my breakfast of champions after I finished!

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I had the right gear with me – including cold and rain gear, charging stations for my electronics, glasses with lenses that work in different lighting and lots of lights for night riding.

The high number of repeats did not bother me at all. I completed 315 of the necessary 341 (or so). I say “or so”, because the altitude measurement is based on barometric pressure. Since we had a cold front moving through the area, when I started the ride, my Garmin gave me credit for about 85 feet for each repeat (the Strava segment for that hill gives it about 90 feet). By the last hundred or so climbs, Garmin was only showing the gain as 72 feet! That’s a big difference!

I can stay awake for a long time! I knew I could, as I’ve done a few 24-hour challenges in the past. The moving time for the ride was just over 24 hours, but with my rest stops and the mechanical issues, I was there for 60 hours (something to work on reducing).

I actually can do this. I could see the finish. I feel like actual Everest climbers might, who get to the final camp, awaiting the final push to the summit when something happens – weather changes, altitude sickness ensues, etc., and they end up not being able to summit after putting in all that time and effort. It is still a great accomplishment, just not the ending hoped for. Although I did reach the height of Annapurna, it’s not the same.

I called it last night when I was feeling disoriented and exhausted in the dark. Since I was so close, I know that if not for mechanical challenges (I should have had my back-up bike ready to step in) I could have finished, so I expressed that I was DONE! No more Everesting needed for me. But, Mr. SAG, knowing me better, argued that I will try again because once things get in my head, I can’t let them go. Apparently he was right. I’ve already started listing things that I need to change for my next attempt! Dang!

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If you feel so inclined, I am using these personal challenges to help fund Multiple Sclerosis research. I’ll be participating in a Bike MS ride in the Fall, likely after another Everesting. You can find my fundraising page here:  Bike MS Personal Page

In search of up!

Thanks for your support!  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.

Henry Hill

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!