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!

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!

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!