Monday, February 18, 2008

I'd Like To Thank - My Mentor, My Teammates and My Helmet

Saturday's bike ride was, well, unfun. Cycling is one of those things that when things start to go wrong, the wrongness just keeps building on itself.

The short version is -
  • My bike saddle was too far forward; therefore, my leg stroke was inefficient.
  • Between my pedaling inefficiency, my poor shifting technique and riding with a faster pace group, I managed to exhaust myself after 20 miles with another 10 to ride.
  • The bike saddle position put pressure on my knees and my right knee was super painful and cranky.
  • Because my knee hurt, I couldn't quickly unclip my foot from the pedal on my right side which meant I was frightened that I was going to fall whenever we needed to stop.
Do you see how the wrongness builds exponentially?

To get around the cranky right knee/unclipping problem, I started unclipping my left foot. It worked until we got about 500 yards from the end of the ride. We stopped and I needed to unclip on the right side and get that foot to the ground. I couldn't do it fast enough and fell over. At that point, I just couldn't take it any more - the painful knee, being afraid for hours, being so close to the finish, the fall. It was simply too much for me and I started to cry and babble (humiliating, I know).

I have never appreciated a Team In Training mentor or group teammates more than I did on Saturday. I was ruining their ride - they couldn't go as far or fast as they should have been able to go and they were still so incredibly supportive to me. I'm not very comfortable needing help and I was incredibly frustrated. My teammates put my bike back together, pulled a clump of grass out of my helmet, wrapped an arm around my shoulders, cheered me on when I got back on the bike to ride to the finish.

The fall gave me a whippin', but at the time I didn't notice it. Now I'm sporting a very tender shoulder and swollen elbow and some nice bruises on my legs. That begs the question, why can't I just stop now? Last week, I got an email from one of my first Honored Teammates. Honored Teammates are people who are fighting blood cancers who agree to dedicate time to TNT teams. Each Honored Teammate is special to me and several are young children. Children fighting cancer is sad, but childhood Leukemias now have a high survival rate which is a direct result of money raised for research.

The email last week was from an Honored Teammate, Michele, who has always touched my heart. She's just a bit younger than I am and from a similar background. She's me, only she's fought back cancer 4 times. The cancer has returned and this time things look bleak. Chemo isn't an option this time and she's looking to alternative treatments - an alkalizing thing, an oxygen thing. Before they talked about a cure, now they're talking about quality of life.

That helps to keep things in context. I had a bad couple of hours training, but I'm healthy enough to train for an endurance event. It's hard to quit knowing that my Honoree won't have that chance. If I just wanted some training partners for every Saturday, then I could join a running club or a bike club. I picked TNT, because I wanted to raise money to fight blood cancers.

Michele is going to be featured on TV program about understanding cancer which does a great job explaining her story.

1 comment:

  1. now i'm crying at work. thanks for sharing.