Friday, June 18, 2010

Is Tahoe REALLY OVER?? ALREADY?

After doing these endurance events, most of which are outside the Dallas area, I think it is interesting that the first thing I packed (the Wednesday before we left) was my event gear – helmet, shoes, cycle shorts, jersey, and food….I was leaving Friday morning June 4 and hadn’t even packed a change of clothes and we were gone for 4 days! I did manage to throw a few changes of clothes in a bag at the last minute : )

Ok – Tahoe was already 2 weekends ago so my apologies that this is late but we got back from Tahoe on Monday June 7 late at night, got caught up on our home-life routine and then left again on Friday for a wedding in Austin. We are back to some semblance of reality and I have sorted through all the thoughts and feelings of the training season and event and I might actually be able to make sense enough to put everything down on paper. First, of all the events we have done, this is by far the one I have looked forward to the most since I met Dianna in 2000. She had completed Tahoe a few months before we met and really displayed a sense of accomplishment and pride – both qualities that I found attractive – and it was certainly the catalyst for my involvement with TNT. So for me, personally, the Tahoe event was 9 years in the making and I can’t even begin to articulate how excited I was so I am not going to try – let’s just say I was totally pumped…enough said!

Before totally focusing my thoughts 100% on this weekend, I have spent a significant amount of time thinking about the past 6 months – most notably my new friends and my new honored hero Georgia. I guess (for me) it all started when we signed up for the White Rock Marathon to honor Allie’s remission. Dianna and I wanted to do something for her and with TNT but I didn’t really expect much more after that – I kind of went into it with the thought that we would train and finish the event and then go back to doing events and training on our own without a team. Those thoughts changed for me when I met David and Meg Burdette – our White Rock Marathon coaches. As a coaching “team” they were simply wonderful in how they helped the entire team train – from beginners to seasoned marathoners. The way they displayed kindness and respect to everyone was simply a life lesson in how we should treat others the way we want to be treated. Not only were they great to the team but even more important was no matter how cold, hot, miserable, or tired we all were Dave and Meg made sure that we spent time at EVERY training session to remember our honored heroes and why we were there. There were times that were sad, happy, funny, and touching but Dave and Meg never forget (or let us forget) the importance of what we do and who we do it for. They alone are responsible for our continued participation and efforts with TNT….so thank you to Dave and Meg!

To continue the theme of new friends and new honored heroes, it was distressing to hear from a high school friend of Dianna that one of her family members (Georgia) was diagnosed on her 10th birthday in December. I knew that this was all we needed as a “sign” that we had to keep going, we had to keep fundraising, we had to keep up the momentum, we had to keep training with the team, and we had to let Georgia and her family know that, although they were just hit with a life changing event, and even though we did not know them, they were not alone. So after embarking on this new mission, we continue to be happy to pass along the reports that Georgia is doing well with treatment, she is in remission, and almost to her full maintenance phase of treatment. Every time I tell someone Georgia’s story I think about how a strong-willed little girl, advances in medicine, and the generosity of all our friends and family can make such a monumental difference – not just in beating one case of Leukemia but in the overall fight to end it once and for all. While I am thinking of everyone’s generosity, I have also been thinking that it is important to remind everyone where donations go. A great example is a drug called Gleevac which was formulated by a Doctor that was funded by a grant from The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Gleevac works by targeting, and turning off, specific proteins in cancer cells that cause the cancer cells to grow and multiply. The great thing about Gleevac is it is a pill, it works well with newly diagnosed patients, and provides treatment without chemotherapy! Please know, remember, and be proud that pledging a donation doesn’t end when the check is sent – that is simply the beginning of a process that ultimately helps save lives! In fact, I have a teammate, Krissy Drupp, that rode Tahoe with us and she currently takes Gleevac. Krissy was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) in February 2009 and she will take Gleevac every day for the rest of her life. Simply amazing…is what comes to mind! Krissy was also featured in the TNT June newsletter and stated that her positive attitude made her a success for the 100 mile ride and she couldn't have done it without her "new TNT family!"

Now for the ride!! All through the training season the Tahoe alumni all said the same thing – “it is never windy in Tahoe”….well Mother Nature must have known I was coming because it was windy….20mph gusts. Fortunately, training in Texas prepares any cyclist for the wind but when you couple it with mountains it becomes a bit more challenging. The morning started out sunny, chilly, crisp, dry, and quiet – a perfect morning to start a ride. Lake Tahoe is beautiful – snow capped mountains, blue water, white sand, and spectacular views from the mountain roads. 12 miles in was our first significant climb – Emerald Bay – about 800 feet of climbing over a 4 mile stretch of switch-back road. Good thing this climb was at the beginning because it was tough. Our team started the ride earlier than most so I did not see anyone get off their bike to walk up. What I did see, and I am likely one of these, was folks that were spinning their cranks just enough to stay upright to get up the mountain. The great thing about climbs like this is what goes up must come DOWN!!! The other side was almost straight down for about 800 feet over about 2 miles which was nothing short of thrilling. The middle 50 miles was fairly uneventful as it was mostly flat with rolling hills. The last rest stop came at mile 72 at which point the climbing started again…this time roughly 1000 feet over 8 miles. The climb itself wasn’t too bad except for the fact it was toward the end of the ride and most folks are getting tired. I came into this rest stop thinking I should he happy as the ride was almost done. But for some reason I wasn’t feeling the excitement of most of the others. I knew I would make it through the ride and I knew the coaches prepared us adequately. I had completed many tough training rides, finished the Shiner event a few weeks prior, and managed through all the typical aches and pains of training. I knew that I had done everything to get through all the climbing so I wasn’t worried about what lay ahead of me in terms of riding. As I look back on it I was thinking about what lay ahead of me after the ride. I was riding toward the end of the season, the end of training, the end of Saturday morning rides with the Team, and ultimately the end of something I had looked forward to for so long. I was definitely sad because in my mind I was riding to THE end. I didn’t really know how to articulate my feelings at the time so I made it a quick rest stop and told Dianna I was just ready to go. Ultimately, I almost felt that it wasn’t fair that I was done and many of our honored heroes – like Georgia – are still almost at the beginning. I spent 6 months training for this event and the season all came to a close in one day. Georgia, and many others, undergo 3 years of treatment and a lifetime of concern that their Leukemia might come back. So in a way I was feeling like I didn’t want our season to be over – I wanted to keep going because I knew our momentum was amazing and ultimately, I felt like every time our team went “out for a spin” we were there with our honored heroes, fighting right along beside them.

We will continue our momentum with TNT as Dianna has already signed up for more running events and will likely be mentoring on the winter run/walk season which begins in August (again with Dave and Meg as our coaches), so it isn’t really over for the Bacons with a Cause. Dianna is running her first FULL marathon on October 31…the 35th anniversary of the Marine Corp Marathon in Washington DC…one of the top 10 in the nation. She is doing this to celebrate her 35th birthday which is the week before. She also registered both of us for the San Antonio Rock and Roll Half Marathon in November – the weekend of our 8th Anniversary. Meg said she knew we were hooked because we sign up for endurance events to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. We have to agree with Meg and think it is easy to see where our minds are these days. I think this past year may very well be just the beginning for us! We also think we got our kids hooked as we ran in a Memorial day 1k and our little man who is almost 3 ran the entire 1k…he refused to get in the stroller. It was a proud parent moment to say the least!

Thanks so much for all the generosity everyone has shown - every little bit helps and there are many ways to donate money or time. Since the first funding in 1954, LLS has awarded more than $680 million in research funding….donor funding, your funding, so be proud that you are all part of the fight!

Until next time – keep Georgia on your Mind and be on the lookout for more from Bacons with a Cause! If you are considering completing an endurance event…please contact us as the winter season begins in August and we’d love to have you on our team!

Oh and one more thing…as you watch the video Dianna put together…the red cowboy hats on our helmets help others know what chapter we are from. Remember there were 3300 cyclists in the event and 1300 are Team in Training all wearing very similar jerseys…so each chapter wears something symbolic on their helmets. It is very entertaining for all the spectators!
video

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