Sunday, November 15, 2009

Week 1: Back on the Bike

It's a crisp fall Sunday morning. Week One of Team in Training is behind us. This is my eighth season with Team In Training.

Some things are a little different this time around:

1. I'm a fundraising participant - not coach, mentor, captain or ride support. Fundraising; because this is a great cause. Cancer continues to wreak havoc in people's lives, tearing families and hearts apart without rhyme or reason. As I write this, an ex-team mate is with his mom as she is in passage from this life.

2. This season, I'm trying to be conscious and present in the journey. 100 Miles *is* a long way to go; but with planning and preparation, things should go well. I watched Lisa run the New York Marathon two weeks ago. A marathon is a Very Big Deal. Bigger, perhaps, than a century ride. I calculated that the marathon itself, all 26.2 miles, is "only" another 3% of the total distance she ran in training. It's the last 26.2; the most significant; but I don't know you could call it the most important.

3. We're required to do Strength and Conditioning. I had thought that Strength came from riding up hills; and Conditioning came from riding up hills a lot. Apparently, cross training and stretching, happening every Thursday in the bitter cold of Kezar Stadium are now parts of our lives. Fortunately, certain aspects of training - most especially rehydration - continue to be important. In conversation with one of my friends it transpires that I'm not the only one for whom upper body exercise was an ungracious reminder of sinews unused

Some things are the same this time around:

1. The first day of training is full of two sorts of people - those of us who have done it before, renewing friendships, surreptitiously inspecting each another's tummies to see what the depredations of time off the bike have wrought upon them; and a stunned mullet of new folk, wandering around, variously wondering what they've gotten themselves in for, what happens next, and why complete strangers are walking up to them, being so friendly and engaged with them. I remember that day - it happens exactly once. Thereafter, you're in the team. You've survived the first week and you think, maybe possibly, you can do it.

I remember my first day with the Team, back in 2006. We spent two bewildering hours being fit to our bikes, shown clothing and lectured about safety and etiquitte. Then, a ten mile "sorting ride" How hard could it be, I wondered? I discovered. Quite hard. At the end of that, a sense of belief entered my life. I knew I couldn't ride 100 miles. But I was prepared to believe that the coaches and the program could help me learn how to rdo it.

There was another question I was asked that first day: "Why are you here?" I stammered out a response - equal parts of
  • "I should do something to counter the karmic payback that was accruing from my then-capitalist role of making old white men rich"
  • "It seems like a good cause"
  • "I needed to get off the couch"

My answer now is different - Cancer destroys lives and loves. It's wrought havoc and brought indescribable pain to the lives of people I love and care for deeply. There's little enough that I can do. But I Can Do This.

So, I'm doing it. Training through the winter; aiming at the Solvang Century in 2010.

And fundraising. Because tomorrow, cancer will be cured. I'm not sure which tomorrow; and I'm not sure which dollar; but something we do will lead to the cure.