The big day - Julia and Karen riding ten miles to raise money for cancer research through the Lance Armstrong Foundation - began at 4:30am. The rain fell and the wind blew all night long, and we had a little pre-ride anxiety and energy that made sleeping perilously evasive and too short. But the day was upon us and our little caravan managed to get on the road to Portland by 5:30am. Driving in darkness, on a rain-slick interstate, toward a very predictably wet and miserable ride... almost made me glad to be a spectator. And the confused arrival at the Nike World Headquarters was particularly comical (and would have been even funnier had I been able to disassociate the driving from the directions we received from volunteers directing us hither and yon in order to park the van).
But we made it. And the Nike campus is a beautiful place. We heard Lance give some inspirational words (like, "it's a great thing for all you folks to be here, especially in this kind of weather") and then the riders were off. Well, kind of off... the 100-mile riding group took nearly twenty minutes to slowly ride past the start line, then there were the 70-mile and 40-mile ride groups, and nearly 45 minutes after the first "start" the 10-mile group started. The rain and wind slowed everything down, and caused the entire post-race party to be moved indoors.
After an hour or so, and a small meltdown mid-course, our intrepid duo and their riding group (Team Wildwind) sloshed across the finish line to the cheers and whoops of their supporting crew (dad, two aunts, two grandmas, and one niece). Unbelievably, none of the group actually suffered hypothermia, and they only dripped and squeaked when they moved. :) After a change of clothes, some warm drinks, and some food, they/we enjoyed some of the post-ride atmosphere and then headed back home - tired and weary, but warmly satisfied with accomplishment. Thanks to Team Wildwind - Alison, Steve, Rebecca, Joe, Kimberlee, Julia and Karen - over $6000 was raised. Can we have a whoop-whoop for these riders/fundraisers, please?
From the sidelines, I feel honored to have witnessed this event, and plan to enjoy it myself next year. I think that a 40-mile or 70-mile ride is well within my ability. Let's make that our goal together, OK? And as for an intermittent health report, I have to say that despite the longer recovery this last time, I feel pretty good today. The extensive walking around the expansive Nike campus was tiring, but I got a very nice massage from the trainers there afterwards and consider that a good trade. I am up for treatment #9 (three-fourths done, if my blood work lets this treatment happen on-schedule!) on Wednesday. Living strong can mean so many different things, and does, to everyone that confronts cancer either directly or indirectly. For me, it is seeing the strength in my wife and daughters' eyes as they shivered through the rain and wind to finish the 2007 Livestrong Challenge; it is feeling the passionate support from my family, friends, and colleagues as I struggle with the physical and emotional demands of chemo-therapy; it is knowing that those struggles are mild in comparison with other cancer patients' journeys, and it is reflecting the unique beauty and wonder of life itself and the world that we each experience each and every day. Cancer - the new self-awareness drug for the 21st Century.
Peace to you and yours, and hugs for everyone.