157 Blissful Miles – Day 2

After Day 1 of the MS Bike Ride I was surprisingly not as sore as I would have thought from biking 102 miles.  I think it really helped that Sherri and I stopped at every aid station and spent some time off our bikes throughout the day.  Day 2 was a 55 mile ride with a lot of climbing.

Miles and Trials Team Day 2

The first rest stop of the day had over 50 cyclists there hanging out, enjoying homemade banana bread and a few different kinds of coffee and latte (they really treated us right all weekend long!).  It was before 8 in the morning and we had ridden 10 miles already, but the atmosphere was festive and fun.  We took a picture with Maggie Schold, the Senior Development Manager for the New Mexico Multiple Sclerosis Society who put this phenomenal event on, and our 2 new best friends, Matt and John, the volunteers that helped us at every rest stop, racking our bikes for us, replenishing our water, spritzing us with lavender scented water (just like being at a spa!) and giving us cold towels when it was hot out, making sure we had sunscreen on, even cleaning my sunglasses for me!  These guys (and countless other volunteers) spent their entire weekend out on the course driving from aid station to aid station checking on the riders, helping change flat tires, transporting riders that needed it, and just all around helping make this a great experience.  My hat is off to all of them!

When Sherri and I finally pulled ourselves away from the party and back onto the course, we were met with hill after hill.  We had heard people the night before talking about how hard the Day 2 ride was, and we were now getting to experience what all the hype was about.  This was by far the hardest toughest hill I have ever climbed.  There were times when I was going so slow I thought I might just tip over or start rolling backwards.  Granted, I’m not much of a cyclist and didn’t train too much for this event, but I think it was even challenging for those that were good cyclists.  I tried to focus on the few feet in front of me and was repeating different mantras to get me through.  One of my favorites was “just keep pedaling” to the tune of “just keep swimming” from the movie Nemo.  At one point I looked ahead and saw another enormous hill to climb…big mistake.  I told Sherri “whatever you do, do not look up!”  Well, we finally made it to the top of the climb and were greeted by the most festive aid station of the weekend.  As soon as I stumbled off my bike, a volunteer was there to hand me a cycle-tini (I think it was Gatorade in a martini glass, complete with an olive!).

Me, new friend, Dan, Sherri
(see Dan’s cycle-tini?)

After refueling and catching our breath and starting to feel our legs again, we went on our way to finish the rest of Day 2’s riding.  Thankfully the downhill was much easier than going uphill!  We had met the rest of team Miles and Trials at this aid station and had left before them to get a head start since the guys are so much faster than Sherri and me.  After cruising through the downhill portion we kept waiting for the guys to fly by us.  Unfortunately we waited all day for them to catch us and by the end of the ride when they still hadn’t caught us, we realized something must have happened.  When Sherri and I finished at about 11:30 after 57 miles of riding and 3,400 feet of climbing, we found out that one of our team members had wrecked on his bike.  Thankfully he did not break any bones (although he took a very hard tumble with cuts and bruises).  After he got checked out by a medical team at an aid station, he went on to finish the ride!  Talk about perseverance!  Here he is (in the middle) riding in with my hubs and friend, Ryan. This was one of the most amazing and inspiring weekends of my life.  So many people both riding and helping out, all coming together for the hopes of some day finding a cure for MS.  6 months ago I never could have imagined the turn my life would take, but God is faithful.  Since my MS diagnosis my prayer has been that God use me and this disease for His purpose.  I know the journey may not always be easy, but with God and the wonderful people I have in my life that support me and pray for me I will get through this.  I will continue to do what I can to fight MS and to help raise money in hopes of one day finding a cure so that my children can live in a world without MS.

Thank you to the other riders, the MS Society, and all the volunteers that helped make this event not only a success but a weekend I will never forget.  Thank you to those that made a financial donation to support my ride and help find a cure.  Thank you to those that sent me encouraging emails, calls, and texts that helped me power through these 2 days.  And my most sincere thank you to my family and to the Miles and Trials team of Sherri, Rick M., Ryan, and my hubs Rick (and all their spouses and families) for going on this journey with me.  God has abundantly blessed me with you all in my life.

 

157 Blissful Miles

One thing is certain in life, well, maybe two, first God loves us unconditionally, and second, you never know where life will take you. Six months ago I never could have imagined being diagnosed with a disease that has no cure. And I certainly would not have entertained the idea of biking 150 miles.  Apparently God had different and greater plans for me than I could have ever even dreamed of. (Isn’t that always the case?)

I cannot even begin to put into words what this weekend at the MS Pedal Los Pueblos Bike Ride in Northern New Mexico meant to me. However, seeing as this is a blog, I will have to put some of my thoughts into words the best that I can. The rest I’ll leave up to the pictures and your imagination!

The first day was a 100 mile ride. Seeing as the longest ride I had done previously was 50 miles one time, I really had no expectations for the day. I knew I wanted to give it my best shot, but had no idea if my body could really go that long and far. My training partner, running buddy, and all around terrific friend Sherri, had signed up to do the ride with me (her previous longest ride was around 40 miles). I’m not sure if Sherri knew what she was getting into when said she would support me in this ride, poor girl! 

7am Saturday morning we started off on our journey. My hubs and friend are really good cyclists, so they took off out front and we never saw them again!  They cruised through the 100 miles and finished before anyone else.  Sherri and I had a different approach.  We decided to stop at each rest stop (they were every 10-12 miles) and get off our bikes to stretch, refuel, and get a little break.  This ride was one of the most organized, well run athletic events I have ever been involved in.  The volunteers were incredible.  Each aid station had drinks and the most amazing snacks.  Everything from trail mix to pretzels to homemade cookies and muffins to pickles (these came in handy to replenish the sodium as the day was getting hotter and hotter) and my personal favorite – the last aid station of the day had chocolate covered strawberries!

Chocolate covered strawberries after 90 miles of riding…Yes, please!!

Along the course we met many new friends.  Each rest stop was like a party, good friends, good food, good times.  It was hard to leave and get going on the bike again!

At one point we happened upon my friend David who had a flat tire.  David and I have been friends since high school, and he has done this ride every year since his diagnosis 5 years ago.  I first heard about the MS Bike Ride from David and shortly after my diagnosis I knew I wanted to be a part of it.  He has been a source of advice and support for me the past couple of months and is truly an inspiration to me and so many others.  I wish I could say I was able to help him change the tire, but in reality I have never changed a flat tire in my life, and fortunately I didn’t have to all weekend!

9 hours after we set out that morning Sherri and I crossed the finish line.  101.9 miles done!  Don’t even ask what we were thinking after the Garmin said 100 miles and we thought we should have been done.  That extra 1.9 miles felt like an eternity.

Part 1 of the mission accomplished!   Up next, how will we ever get back on the bike for Day 2?

A little nervous for 150 miles

We are headed to Santa Fe tonight for the Saturday morning start of the MS Bike Ride: Pedal los Pueblos in Northern New Mexico.  Supposedly I will be riding 100 miles on Saturday and another 50 on Sunday with my team Mile and Trials.  We are raising money for the National MS Society to fund research and help families who have been touched by MS.  Here is a picture of our team members from the Albuquerque Half Marathon this past April:

Seeing as my longest bike ride was a total of 50 miles, the idea of doing 3 times that over the course of the weekend is just a little bit daunting.  I’m going in without any specific expectations other than to enjoy the experience and be part of spreading awareness about MS.  There will be about 300 riders, of which 8 or 9 of us are riders with MS.  One of my friends from high school and college was diagnosed with MS 6 years ago and he has done this bike ride every year since.  He is a true inspiration to me and I hope to be able to ride a few miles with him (if I can keep up!).

If you would like to help support the MS Society, please click on the Blue “Bike MS” button to the right and you will be directed to my fundraising page.

For weekend updates and pictures from this crazy adventure I am about to undertake, follow me on Twitter @MilesAndTrials.

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”  Hebrews 12:1-2

 

Knowing What Your Body Can Handle

Last week was a good training week for me. I hit 50 running miles and 35 on the bike. This is my highest running mileage week ever, so I’m really happy with that. I wish I could say I regularly hit this mileage (or more) like these amazing women, Erin and Kris, who are hitting 90-100 mile weeks in addition to being incredible moms!  However, 50 miles for me is a lot, and I’m happy with that and hope I can maintain this for awhile.

A little cold pool recovery with my after run protein shake

In the past whenever my mileage exceeds about 35-40 miles a week I seem to end up in the red zone of injury. My body has not been able to handle much mileage in the past, but I’m hoping that since I have been running relatively injury free for about a year now, that I can slowly and safely bump that mileage up.  How am I doing this?  Through adding a couple of easy paced slow runs to my week. Some people call these “junk miles” and may not think they have a purpose, but for me I am using the slower runs as recovery runs and feel they very much serve a purpose.

I think a lot of my injuries in the past have come from wanting to do too many hard runs a week (speed, tempo, hills, and too fast of a long run).  I know some people can successfully pull this off, and I wish I was one of them, but what I have learned is that if I want to stay running, I have to stay injury free and for me that means not too many hard runs that over tax my body.  It has taken me years to realize this, but seeing as I am now happily experiencing my longest consistent period of running ever, I hope I may have finally figured out what works for my body.

My advice to you is know what your own body can handle and stick with that.  It’s easy to get caught up in what other people are doing – how fast they are running, how many miles their long run is compared to yours, how many miles a week they are hitting.  But one of the things I love about running is it is an individual sport, when you are out there running that 5k or that marathon, it comes down to only you and the work you put in.  So focus on what you can do and how to better your own running and what will work for you, not for someone else.

A few pictures from a really fun weekend:

Riding with my hubs and friends Sherri and Adrian. Getting ready for next weekend’s 150 mile MS Bike Ride.

35 miles of friendship and fun!

Baking a peach cobbler with a bunch of peaches my neighbor brought us.

Any lessons you can share about how much running your body can handle?

My MS Story on CNN’s Website

Please go check out my MS Story on the CNN website.  My sister heard that CNN was posting stories from people living with MS, and that’s me!

You may have heard recently that Jack Osbourne was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  Other prominent people living with MS are Ann Romney and Motel Williams.  The more attention that can be brought to this disease the better.  Currently there is no cure for Multiple Sclerosis, but I am confident that with all the brilliant minds working on it, we will someday see a cure.  Here is my story.

I will be riding in the MS Bike 150 Pedal los Pueblos Ride on August 25-26 to fund raise for the National MS Society.  If you would like to donate, or come out and ride with our Miles and Trials team, or simply cheer us on, click on the Bike MS button to the right for more information.

I’m not sure what CNN will be doing with all of these inspiring stories, but anything to advance the awareness of MS is a great thing!  Thank you for helping to spread the news.