We’re 152 days out from Pelotonia ’19. That’s 21 weeks (and change) to prep for two days of cycling 180 miles across central Ohio. It’s been 210 days since we wrapped up our 200 mile ride with Pelotonia ’18. I’m still stuck in the mental desert between 180 and 200 miles.
I wrote here about the mental exercise of testing myself with a double century ride to wrap up last year’s effort. I reread that entry this week to see how it resonates with me now, removed from that August heat and those hilly (but beautiful and fun) new 20 miles on the front end of the day two route. I think I’m settled on the notion of the 180 miles this year. And I don’t want to scare Pelotonia rookies from the 200 mile route — or make anyone think that riding less than the full 200 makes the experience anything “less.” My hope is that people find a route that allows them to test themselves mentally and physically while still celebrating the lives of cancer survivors, those we’ve lost, and the battle ahead.
It’s the import of the experience that means so much to me. That’s what I want others to find in Pelotonia — or what I believe may help people sign up and overcome their fears. In such an endeavor, one that is both intensely personal but clearly a massive social event, you need to find your own motivation. You need to find your own arrow. Push yourself, embrace and cherish the road ahead…from today until August 4, 2019. Find a route, and join the greatest team ever. And be proud if it’s 25 miles or 200. Every mile counts the same.
I’ve also used this space to share my need to find new motivation. I’m sorry to say that the new motivation arrived this year when I wanted it the least. We’ve been watching my dad deal with the effects of chemotherapy since November. The plan originally was surgery first, to remove the tumor, followed by chemotherapy as a precaution. But immediate surgery was deemed too risky so chemo came first. And it has destroyed him. The past few months have been hell watching him suffer — and I’m lucky enough to be removed by a few states in Georgia. I can only imagine the mental anguish that my mom and brother have endured. Care-giving and worrying. Powerless to ease his pain. And all this pain and suffering by a man who has lived with more physical pain every single day of his life than I would wish upon my worst enemy. (Though, of course, I think cancer is my worst enemy. Our worst enemy. Because it’s agnostic. Cancer doesn’t care. It wants all of us.)
There is light on the horizon. He had surgery this past Friday to remove the tumor. His body was finally recovered enough from the chemo, and all of his organs agreed to work together long enough that the physicians deemed him healthy enough for surgery. It hasn’t been lost on me that he’s the same age as his father was when he went in for surgery, survived a few days, and then his heart gave out. He never left the hospital (alive).
My dad was never going to live to be 100 years old. If I’m being completely honest, I am 100% amazed that he’s lived this long. I hope we can see this blessing — that he is here, and has lived such a full life — and I hope he sees it. (And at the same time, I want him to know that I accept 100% if he wants to stop fighting. It’s his body, and it’s given him hell since day one.) There are so many who love him, who have loved him, this kind, well-wishing man. I can’t imagine myself maintaining the way he has through all of that pain, and on top of it, always putting others first. What a role model.
Writing this is hard, of course. It’s sort of a dry-run at his obituary. That’s what cancer does to us. That’s sickening. So here’s a different take.
Let’s think of this as an obituary for his cancer. It led a brief, evil, insidious life. It did as it pleased. Caused the harm, hurt, and suffering it wished. It was everything that he never was. As of last Friday, it is gone for good.
And he can get back to being his full, selfless self as a husband, father, grandfather (don’t get him started on those grandkids!), and friend.
Need another reason to ride? Let’s write the final obituary for cancer.
Some team members will contribute periodically throughout the season as we ramp up to Pelotonia weekend in August.