Monday, June 19, 2017

Slow Start to Spring Training

On the new bridge on the Lower Neponset River Trail
It's been a wet spring here in New England, which has been putting a damper on my Pan-Mass Challenge training. In addition, it's been a busy spring - weddings, new house upkeep, and tending to my broken-legged husband have taken up more of my time than normal. I've yet to clock 50 miles in a single ride, which is usually an early milestone in my training. 

I haven't been sedentary, though! The Lower Neponset River Trail was just extended behind our new house in Milton - we can see it from our back yard! From our house to the new terminus in Mattapan Square, then to the ocean and back is about 11 miles round trip. I certainly need to be biking more than that, but it's a peaceful, beautiful ride through my neighborhood and others. Ian has been biking with me - he's rebuilding the muscles in his leg, and I'm getting some much-needed miles in!
View of the Neponset River as it meets the Atlantic Ocean

One aspect of preparing to ride the PMC that I haven't been slacking on is the fundraising. I am exactly halfway to my fundraising goal of $9,000 thanks to some very generous donors. You could (and should, IMHO!) be one of them! Here's my standard run-down of why supporting your local PMC rider is an excellent idea:
  • 100 percent of your donation will go straight to the Jimmy Fund, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's fundraising arm. That money funds cancer research that saves lives.
  • Cancer SUCKS. This year more than ever, I'm learning that lesson as people close to me battle a form of cancer. 
  • PMC donations are making a difference in the fight against cancer. Click here to read about how last year's $47 million is making a difference.
I could go on, but I think you get the point. Making a donation to the Pan-Mass Challenge is an excellent way to take a stand against cancer. Do it for Maya, my team's pedal partner who is battling Clear Cell Sarcoma right now. Do it for a loved one who may have passed away from cancer. Do it for yourself. Please make your cancer-fighting donation today by clicking here. Thank you!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Riding for Maya

On August 5 and 6, I will ride my bicycle 190 miles across Massachusetts. This probably comes as no surprise to you – I’ve been doing that for the last 13 years as a Pan-Mass Challenge rider. Many things in my life have changed since my first ride in 2004 (I was only 22!), but one thing has remained constant – my dedication to contributing to a world without cancer.

Since joining Team Kinetic Karma in 2010, I’ve had the pleasure of riding for and getting to know several Pedal Partners – children undergoing cancer treatment: Charlotte, Megan, and Anna. Now that all three of them have completed their treatments and are cancer-free, my team was looking for a new Pedal Partner for our 2017 ride. Little did I know that our next pedal partner would be so close.

Maya, our Pedal Partner
In January, my officemate Gina’s daughter Maya turned five years old. In February, doctors found a large mass on one of her kidneys. Following surgery to remove it, doctors told Gina and her husband that Maya has Clear Cell Sarcoma, a very rare renal cancer. Maya completed six days of radiation and now is undergoing seven months of chemotherapy to beat her cancer. Gina reports that Maya is taking her treatments in stride and that she is starting to see positive results!

I truly believe that the funds that donors contribute to Pan-Mass Challenge riders is making a difference in the fight against cancer. While still a terrible family of diseases, I think that there are more and more success stories about cancer than there were 5, 10, or 20 years ago. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, one of the premier cancer research hospitals in the world, is helping to lead that charge, and I am honored to raise money for their work to save the lives of children like Maya.

Team Kinetic Karma ready to ride for Maya!
Earlier this month, my team and I were delighted to spend time with Maya at the Pedal Partner Party at Fenway Park. Sporting a unicorn hoodie that even the adults were jealous of, Maya charmed my teammates, and all fell in love with her. While Wally the Green Monster was a little too scary for her (he scares me too, Maya), all in all it was a good day. We look forward to our team training ride to her house this summer and seeing her at the Pedal Partner water stop on Day 1 of the ride!

Please join me in my continued quest for a cancer-free world. My 2017 goal is to raise $9,000 to support the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s innovative cancer research and compassionate care that is saving lives like Maya’s. 100 percent of your donation goes straight to this important cause – the fight against cancer. Please make your donation today. Thank you!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Back in the Saddle!

Sun and smiles in the Blue Hills!
It's finally starting to feel like spring here in Massachusetts! The warm weather on Sunday compelled me to get back on my bike to go for my first training ride of the cycling season.

Ian and I moved in January to Milton, the first town south of Boston. It has great cycling infrastructure - a recently extended bike path that runs right behind our house, bike lanes on major thoroughfares, and, perhaps most importantly, smooth pavement! In addition, Milton is one of the towns that includes the Blue Hills Reservation, which is a great place to ride a bike! I did a short 21-mile loop to kick off the season, and it felt great!

That was just the first of many rides that I'll do to get ready for my 14th Pan-Mass Challenge on August 5-6. While the riding is a lot of fun, that's not the only reason I do it. I've set a goal of raising $9,000 to fund the innovative research and compassionate care going on at Boston's world-class Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The funds that we raise are quite literally curing cancer and extending lives. I'm proud to be a part of two excellent Boston institutions - Dana-Farber and the Pan-Mass Challenge.

Please join me in the fight against cancer by making a donation today. 100 percent of your tax-deductible donation will go directly to Dana-Farber's Jimmy Fund. Thank you!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

13th PMC a Huge Success!

It's been over a week since the ride, but I'm still coming down from the high that was my 13th Pan-Mass Challenge. Every year the ride is special, but there were many reasons to make this one particularly poignant.

Day 0: On Thursday evening, 16 of my teammates and I set out for the New York border to prepare for the optional and unofficial Day 0 ride. This is a ride before the official PMC that starts at the western edge of Massachusetts and continues to the starting line in Sturbridge, making the weekend a TRUE  Pan-Mass Challenge. This year, we rode in memory of Danno, our beloved teammate who passed away after a cycling accident in November. We wore his bike shop's cycling kit to honor him.

Danno was a great motivator and cycling coach, and we all heard his encouraging words in our heads as we rode that grueling route through the Berkshire mountains. The hills were tough, and the miles long, but this is what we trained for. We did it together, as a team, just as Danno would have done with us. He would have also gotten a huge kick out of the best rest stop of the day, at the Magic Lantern in the "Champagne Room." :) Day 0 was a success, if a bittersweet one.

Day 1: Once we get to Sturbridge, there is a very specific order of operations: Day 0 team photo, beer, registration, shower, beer, food, beer, and opening ceremonies (thank goodness for Harpoon!). The next morning, my teammates and I (and, you know, 6,300 other people) set off at sunrise to begin our day of cycling. It was fantastic weather for riding - not too hot, relatively dry air, and a beautiful pink sky over us. The first few miles of the ride are overwhelming because there are SO many of us, but over time we start to spread out and the density of riders becomes more manageable.

At mile 49 was another bittersweet moment. That is where every year, Danno's wife, Jacqui, holds a special water stop for my team complete with baked goods and fresh fruit. What was missing was Danno, but we knew he was watching over us from the bike shop in his garage. Jacqui, it was so good to see you, and thank you so much for treating us so well over the years!

At the lunch stop, I saw Theresa, my teammate who recently kicked skin cancer to the curb! She was hurting (and rightfully so - she had just gotten out of her post-surgery wheelchair two weeks prior) but her determination brought tears to my eyes. Cancer struck way too close to home, but we, all 6,300 riders and 4,000 volunteers, were here to do something about it.

At the Lakeville water stop, at mile 85, we were greeted by Anna, our Pedal Partner. In prior years, she was shy, afraid of loud noises, and reserved (2.5 years of chemo will do that to a kid). She finished her chemo treatment in December, and since then, her hair has regrown, and so has her energetic personality! She was dancing and singing to the music the whole time! You should have seen the look on her face when she saw "Anna's Bike Team" roll in! The look on her face - pure joy - and the look on her parents' faces - pure relief - said it all: this is why we ride.

Day 1 wasn't my fastest, but it was one of the most emotional I have experienced. From seeing Anna to watching Theresa pedal on to a rest stop at Danno's, it was an emotional roller coaster. But with the best teammates in the world, we got it done in pure TKK style - with laughter through tears.

Day 2: On my third day of cycling, after having ridden over 200 miles the prior two days, I felt surprisingly ready to tackle Day 2. After a very slow ride over the Bourne Bridge (apparently everyone decided to leave at the same time), and a nice sunrise rise along the Cape Cod Canal, the fun really got started, Service Road parallels Route 6 but has a series of rolling hills that, if you build up momentum, you can fly up and down them. I did, and it was exhilarating!

On Day 2, more than any other day, I rode with a larger group of teammates, which truly makes a long ride turn into a rolling party. The laughter was constant! Since we wear our team kits on Day 2, we looked like a more cohesive team, and the crowd loved it. "Hey, look at that great-looking team!" we would hear (we sure are, lady!). One mile from the finish line, we stopped at our traditional photo spot for our "champagne" toast team photo. Another successful PMC ride in the books!

The ride is over, but the fundraising continues. I am $630 from my $9,000 goal! 100 percent of your donation will go straight to the Jimmy Fund, which supports Dana-Farber's life-saving cancer research and compassionate patient care. Making a donation to the PMC is one of the best ways you can make a difference in the fight against cancer. Join me to help make cancer HISTORY. Donate here: Thank you!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Getting Stronger!

The Pan-Mass Challenge is in 11 days! I've been ramping up my training over the last few weeks to prepare for my 3-day, 275-mile journey across the Commonwealth - all with the goal of raising funds to fight cancer.

Last weekend, Ian and I did the annual Climb to the Clouds ride, a 60-mile ride up to the top of Mount Wachusett (2,000 feet above sea level!). It was a hot day, so we got an early-ish start. The foothills that lead to the mountain are tough, but are a breeze compared to the two-tiered climb to the summit. The first section is on aptly named Mile Hill Road - it's over a mile at a relatively steady but steep angle, starting at the mountain's base and climbing to the Visitor Center. From there, you get a brief reprieve before tackling the summit road (which is steep enough to be a ski trail in the winter!). That road has more flat and downhill parts, which means the rest is even steeper than Mile Hill Road. I can't explain to you the sense of accomplishment when you get to the top! It takes a few minutes for my heart rate to come down to actually appreciate the view. But it's a nice one, as you can see in the photo above!

Yesterday, Ian set out on another hot day (sensing a theme) to the South Shore to do one of our favorite routes: the South Shore Coastal Loop. If you look at the map on that link, you'll see that what we did isn't actually a loop. Instead of driving to Rockland to start the ride, we left from home and rode through Dorchester, Quincy, and Weymouth to get to the starting line. That let us enjoy the coastal scenery and end in Hull, which is a long spit of land that sticks out into Boston harbor. Instead of riding back down through Hull and on boring, busy roads back to Rockland, we took the ferry from Hull to Boston - a mere 23-minute ride. And THE BOAT HAD A BAR! It was the perfect end to a great training ride.

As fun as this all sounds (and it is VERY fun!), I'm doing all of this for an extremely worthy cause. I have committed to raising $8,000 this year for the Jimmy Fund, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's fundraising arm. If you choose to support my efforts, 100 percent of your donation will go straight to the Jimmy Fund, which supports Dana-Farber's innovative cancer research and its life-saving and compassionate cancer care. Please join me and donate today. Thank you!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

$2,000 in 7 Days Challenge!

I did a training ride in the dunes of Provincetown yesterday!
It's that time again! I'm setting a goal to raise $2,000 over the next 7 days for my Pan-Mass Challenge ride. The funds that I raise, with your support, help to fund the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, one of the world's leading cancer research and treatment centers. The PMC provides over half of the Dana-Farber's annual funding to support innovative research that is leading to cancer cures, and compassionate care of the patients they serve. 100 percent of your donation will go straight to the Jimmy Fund, the Dana-Farber's fundraising arm. I strongly believe that supporting the Dana-Farber through the PMC is one of the BEST things you can do to fight cancer. Please join me and make your donation today!

2016 marks my 13th year riding the PMC, and I couldn't be more excited to get back to it! This year, I am doing the unofficial "Day 0" which includes an extra day (and 90 miles) of riding through the Berkshires and Western Mass prior to the start of the official ride. I am doing Day 0 in memory of our beloved teammate, Danno, who passed away last year. We will have quite a contingent in Danno's honor - I know he'd be proud! Three more weeks to train!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

PMC Training in the Green Mountains

The Lesbaru loaded with our bikes!
Last Saturday, Ian and I drove up to Vermont to ride in the Long Trail Century Ride, which benefits Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports, an organization that empowers people of all abilities through inclusive sports and recreational programming, regardless of ability to pay. We were both excited to support this cause and to ride the 60-mile that the ride organizers had put together. Riding in a state whose motto includes the word "mountain" was a good way to train for the PMC as well!

A few of my Team Kinetic Karma teammates (Joe, Vicky, Amanda, and Christine), joined Ian and me on the ride. The route is gorgeous and simple - only 5 turns - which helped us keep our focus on conquering the climbs instead of fumbling with a cue sheet. The route starts with a gradual downhill with some rolling hills. Then, around mile 10, you start a 6-mile, 700-foot ascent. Ian, Christine, and I skipped the awkwardly placed rest stop at the tippy top of the hill (just on the side of the road, no real place to pull off comfortably) and spun out our legs on the fast, bumpy descent. We met up with Joe, Vicky, and Amanda at the second rest stop (37 miles in). After saying goodbye and getting back on the road, a nice Canadian gentleman joined our paceline. Then he dropped his chain and we ditched him like true patriots. Murica!

There was a gradual ascent that led back into another gradual descent - we took advantage of our momentum and picked up the pace. My average speed kept climbing as we approached the Brewery (and BEER). We finished earlier than expected, just before 1 PM - just as the heat of the day was settling in.

I decided in advance that I'd be happy with a 16 mph average. I haven't been training as much as I usually do, and it was a new course in a mountainous state. I set the bar low. Way too low apparently. We finished with an average speed of 18.2! Those are PMC Day 2 speeds for me, not June training ride speeds! I have Christine and Ian to thank for doing much of the pulling!

This is just one of the many training rides I will need to undertake to prepare for my 3-day, 275-mile Pan-Mass Challenge ride in August. Please consider making a donation to support my efforts to raise money for the Jimmy Fund! 100% of your donation will go directly to the Jimmy Fund in support of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's life-saving research and compassionate care. Please visit my fundraising page to make your donation today. Thanks!