adaptive cycling, adaptive sports, Animal Welfare League of Alvin, Beth Sanden, Bike MS, BROL Bent Rider Online, Challenged Athletes Foundation, Coastal Challenge, disability, Ellen Morgan, Fermin Cararena, Friedreich's Ataxia, Greenspeed Magnum recumbent trike, illness, John Elliott, Leary Firefighters Foundation, Life List, Million Dollar Challenge, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, No Opportunity Wasted, overcoming obstacles, Phil Keoghan, recumbent trike, San Diego Tri Challenge, triathlete, triathlon
And since I’ll be starring as Matron of Honor in my best friend’s wedding in mid-October, I won’t be able to reprise my dream-manifesting ride from the Bike MS Coastal Challenge in Ventura, California.
Yes, that’s me riding with MS Advocate Phil Keoghan. And, yes, he does have a rose in his mouth 🙂
So, with the distinct lack of a Next Big Thing, a new larger-than-life cycling goal for the not-too-distant future. And I need things to look forward to. I need definite, challenging goals to train towards. I need wild, seemingly-unreachable dreams up ahead, marking my calendar with stars & asterisks. I just don’t do well in the day-to-day without a fixed thing to pin my hopes on & dedicate my efforts to. Trust me, when every single day is rife with more pain, fatigue & other assorted “complications” than you can shake a stick at, being able to focus all of your mind & energy on your dream, a goal which has a time, date & place, a purpose & passion affixed to it, makes all the difference in the world.
That’s why the No Opportunity Wasted philosophy means so much to me, and why making – and always adding to – my Life List is so crucial to my happiness, to my health. What’s better than using TV or the internet to distract myself from the Yucky (& truly burdensome) Stuff of each day with MS-ness? What’s even better than (no, I’m not kidding) pain meds? Keeping the No Opportunity Wasted mantra foremost in my mind & keeping focused on whatever Life List dream/goal I’m currently striving towards. There are small & large bumps on the journey to reaching any goal, of course, so when unexpected obstacles (& the same/familiar/enduring roadbumps served up courtesy of MS) arise, nothing stokes my faith like focusing on the prize.
I imagine how I’ll feel at the start line, how I’ll feel meeting all of the fabulous folks along the ride, how I’ll feel knowing the Finish Line is closing in, and how I’ll feel pedaling across that Finish Line with my husband, my service dog Luke, new & old friends cheering for me. Some of my dreams & goals aren’t actual cycling events, but all of them are journeys, “rides,” to me, so that’s how I always envision them. What can I say? It works. No broke-y, no fix-y 🙂
More than my own potential success in reaching a goal, what keeps me pushing forward when things get tough are the charity organizations I’m raising funds & awareness for, such as Leary Firefighters Foundation, The National MS Society, the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance, the Animal Welfare League of Alvin & local cycling organizations here in Texas. I tell myself the stories, remind myself of who needs help & why, the difference I’ll be making. And suddenly my personal ills feel so much smaller that I’m able to get up out of bed & squeeze myself into those compression cycling tights (no easy feat, let me tell you), then get my butt in the seat of the trike, my shoes clipped into the pedals, and RIDE. All of my goals have making a difference in the lives of others as part of the dream. I highly recommend finding a cause that motivates you, a mission you’re passionate about. It helps tremendously in terms of getting out of your head – out of your own body (and all that may be going wrong with it) – to be able to do what you didn’t think you were capable of doing.
If you’re a reader of this blog, you may already know that I’ve been looking for the Big Thing I want to do to celebrate my 50th birthday next year, August of 2014. Well, I think I’ve found it: a little ride in California called the Million Dollar Challenge. It covers 620 of the state’s “most gorgeous and challenging” miles. Best of all, I’ll be raising funds & awareness for an organization I’m excited to support, because they champion people like these. And these,
They help my friends: Fermin Camarena,
If you don’t already know about Challenged Athletes Foundation, you should really check them out. Since 1997 they’ve been providing opportunities & support to people with physical disabilities to help them live an active lifestyle and, if desired, compete as athletes in a variety of sports (all the way up to the level of Paralympics!). The Challenged Athletes Foundation believes “involvement in sports at any level increases self-esteem, encourages independence and enhances quality of life.” I couldn’t agree more, especially given that I’m living proof.
Bringing me back to my current dilemma-of-sorts, that one of needing something to look forward to, because, while my 50th birthday & the Million Dollar Challenge are absolutely worthy of anticipation, those events are a little too far forward on the calendar to serve up the kind of immediacy I require for daily motivation. Which is why I’m in recent possession of a round trip ticket to San Diego for the end of this coming October, where I plan to participate in the first triathlon I will have done since multiple sclerosis joined up with my life, The San Diego Tri Challenge. This event, like the MDC, benefits Challenged Athletes Foundation.
In fairness, I won’t be doing an entire triathlon on my own, I’ll only be doing the cycling portion with my trusty recumbent trike. So it’s probably whishful-thinking-sort-of-cheating to entertain the idea of actually reclaiming the label of Triathlete. But, hey, it’s called a triathlon, and even though I’m just a part of a relay team, I am going to be competing in a triathlon. Those are words I thought I’d never be able to say again after being diagnosed with MS. So I’m pretty dang happy about that.
Oh! And I desperately need a swimmer & a runner for my team!!! Someone willing to do both or 1 person for each leg. Could that be you??? :0) Here’s the course info.
Geez, I just realized in the writing of this post that my flights were booked with frequent flyer miles, and therefore refundable. I don’t want to feel as if I’m anything less than 100% committed to participating in the San Diego Tri Challenge, so I had to stop writing mid-post in order to go take care of my official application. Ta-daaa!
I held off officially registering because there are still so many things I need to work out & I’m not sure how to navigate around those quandaries. Traveling is always difficult for me as it is – suitcases, mobility assistance dog, transporting a recumbent trike, rental car large enough for all of that, etc. – and participating in an event where I’ll need Luke right up until I’m on the trike & then whenever I’m off the trike is uber-tricky. Especially when I’m out of town, away from any friends & family eager & willing to be service dog wrangler while I’m riding. I won’t bore you with the other things I need to figure out between now & then (like nearby lodging that will also accommodate said service dog & recumbent trike), just suffice it to say that these things were causing me to hold off on the registration. In the writing & revising of this post I realized I needed to fully commit myself, then work out all the details. This system works for me; it serves me – a person who gets overwhelmed very easily by lots of To-do’s & the complexities inherent in being a person with illness/disabilities who’s traveling alone & with a lot of heavy stuff – well. I’ve learned that I need to fully commit, then go about the business of finagling the oft-messy details. No matter how thick & twisty the knots appear, once I’m all-in, I will find a way to make everything work. So if you really, really want something, my advice (not that you asked for it) is to move yourself (your mindset & spirit, not your physical body) from the place of strong desire to the place of whole-hearted, no-backing-out devotion. As in, a kind of contract & sacred vow to the organization – and thereby, to all the gorgeous folks whose lives your efforts will be benefitting – as well as a sacred promise to yourself, to follow through with your journey, your quest to make a difference.
Just imagine her pedaling a really cool warrior-worthy trike, okay? Like this one, for example.
Here’s where you can donate to my 1st triathlon as a challenged athlete & make a difference in the lives of folks with illness & disability who need our help to enjoy a more active, independent, wild-&-wonderful life. Like this guy, JJ.
If he’s my direct competition at the San Diego Tri in October, I’m pretty sure he’ll leave me in his dust – look at those shades, that killer determination. God, I love Challenged Athletes Foundation!
As always, thanks for reading. It’s nice to you’re out there, on “my team.” And, btw, if you ride a recumbent trike – or hope to someday soon – you need to know about the marvelous resource & community that is BROL. If not for Bent Rider Online, I wouldn’t be the rider I am today, that’s for darn sure. Now, here’s a little bit more of CAF & my amazing friend Beth. Lordy, is this woman a force of nature, or what?!?