Saturday, December 31, 2011

Touching the stars

Death Valley salt flat
The year is quickly coming to an end but I could not let it pass without expressing my deep gratitude to all of you for helping me through the few lows and sharing the joy of the many highs this year brought. My two greatest achievements this year: First, after 1 1/2yrs of planning and training I reached for the stars by completing my first Ironman in July, you can read all about it here. Second, after completing my first JDRF Ride to Cure event six years ago I wished upon a star and imagined one day riding as a coach.  This year I did it all.

Death Valley seemed a little daunting but who doesn't like a challenge like desert heat and the word "death" thrown in there? I wanted to take it on especially if I could do it as an Ironman. Like Rocky Balboa climbing the top of the stairs, I envisioned battling the desert heat an Ironman champion. After July's success I knew I would be going to the desert an Ironman, things were starting to fall into place. I studied for my Level 3 USA Cycling test and passed (yay!), our team went on a (mentally reassuring) final ride before our bikes were shipped and a week later we were desert bound! I was excited and nervous because I was going as a coach with 10 other teammates who were looking up to me to guide them to their goal. No pressure. No pressure at all.

Death Valley was absolutely amazing. Beauty that I can't describe. Silence like you've never heard before, it was deafening and humbling by its greatness. Oh and let's not forget about that heat. Normally temperatures in October are in the 80's - 90's, this weekend proved to be record setting with temperatures over 90 and reaching 100 degrees. Forget about what people say, dry heat is still quite hot especially when its 100 degrees.

My team made me speechless by their support of me as their coach and for becoming an Ironman, I knew I could not fail them. Ride morning brought a change of course due to the extreme temperatures, though the course was flat we were battling the elements and our mental fortitude. Two of the biggest obstacles an athlete can face. Despite that my team and the other 300+ riders were smiling with determined faces ready to take on the challenge.

The day unfolded successfully despite temperatures hitting a scorching 112 degrees. I rode with
Our 100 mile route
many first time riders swapping life and diabetes stories, training advice, received some coaching advice from the veteran coaches and I gave a mother some perspective on her sons diabetes management, her heartfelt thank you brought a smile to my soul. Last but certainly not least I was able to witness my team achieve their goals. I was so proud to help lead two of them to their goal of riding their first 100 miles.  As I write this I get chills thinking about it. I finally understood my coaches and how they used to tell me my success was their's. The pride I felt towards my team was nothing I'd ever felt before. I was grateful to have been part of their milestone weekend.

After I crossed the finish line, my mentor and dear friend stopped to tell me how proud he was of me, that I still had to learn a few things but most of all he reminded me how far I had come in such a short time and I should be proud of myself. Not sure if he knew it but his words meant the world to me.

JDRF Ride to Cure is my family an extension of myself, I hope you know how much your support each year means to us and that by default you are part of the family.

The year has been full of successful adventures and I'm looking forward (as I hope you are) to many more future adventures. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for helping me reach my wishes upon a star.

Happy new year!

All smiles post 100 miles

Me and the girls their 1st JDRF wknd!

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