First off, let me apologize. This post is insanely late! I came out of the ride feeling surprisingly good (maybe a little too good thanks to all those endorphins), but within a few days I went down hill. I finally dragged my butt to the Dr's - the diagnosis Pneumonia - YUCK!
Now, just over 3 weeks later I'm finally getting back to my usual self and catching up on the things that need to be done.
The question that has allowed me to put this off for so long is this...where do I start? what do I share? how do I put into words what this ride has been?
This morning I had an email from a friend who had originally intend to ride beside me. He was apologizing for taking so long to ask me how the ride had been. This was my response:
"Oh my goodness! It was quite the experience. It was in many ways an emotional roller coaster. The joy of what I was doing, the pride that I actually made it through, the overwhelm of all the support along the route including my parents and fiancé, the grief as we rode past my late Aunts house (it had been less than two weeks since her passing), the determination to keep push on in those last 3 hours in the pouring rain on day two, and so much more."
The recap for those who haven't heard:
This year I challenged myself to complete the 2014 Embridge Ride to Conquer Cancer. It's a 200+ km bike ride from Toronto to Niagara Falls to raise finds for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation in Toronto. PMCF have a huge goal in mind to "conquer cancer in our lifetime" and are leading the way as the #1 cancer institute in North America and one of the top 5 in the world!
At the time I signed up I was biking 10km or so a couple times a week with the family and figured "why not?"
To be honest, in that moment when I signed up I had two opposite theories going in my head....
1) I'm superwoman and can do anything!
2) I will never raise enough to be allowed to participate so it's ok.
Days later as the reality of this 200+ km bike ride started to sink in I realized that along with my excitement and nervousness something else had started to emerge. What if I did it? How would I feel? How would my daughter and fiance feel to watch me finish this huge task? What would my co-workers and students think? What if I really could make a difference? I could make a difference in the lives of current and future cancer patients with the money I raised. I could make the difference in my own health (physical and mental) with this huge challenge. I could make a difference in what my daughter believed not only I, but she was capable of too. I could show my insanely patient and supportive fiance that I wasn't just dreaming big but that I could follow through too. I could set an example to my students by showing them the things I was doing with raising the money, eating healthier (I sat and ate with them 2-3 times each day), biking to work (so they could see me being more active). I didn't tell them about these things, I just did them and answered their questions anytime they asked. Suddenly I saw all the potential of what this ride could be. What a positive force it could be and that I was not the only person affected by my decision to participate or not.
As often happens, life through curve balls. Schedules got busy, I made excuses, and training did not go as planned. Finally, three weeks before I kicked my butt into gear and got my first 45km day in. The next day I planned to do the same, or maybe a little more. I only got 20km in that day. That night I got the call, my Aunt who'd been in hospital for a few days at this point was fading fast. I rushed to be by her side and with my family. A week later I returned home after days at the hospital and the following memorial services.
At this point I once again doubted everything I was doing. Could I really make it though this? I wasn't as worried about the physical at this point as the emotional. Thank goodness for the friends and family who stood by me.
Come 8am on Saturday June 7th, there I was...all suited up among the sea of riders ready to go with my daughter and fiance looking on. It was actually here!
There were moments when my body ached. There were times when I sat on the side of the road and cried (my late aunt's home was on the route). With some encouragement of friends and family who came out and supported in person or sent words of encouragement along the route I made it to the finish line with my new friend Robert by my side, my amazing Fiance Ross smiling and snapping photos, and the rain pouring down on us. As I crossed that finish line I was overcome with emotion. Relief that I had crossed the lien and could rest (and get warm and dry). Pride that I had completed this journey. And so many more, but, I held it together. I really did...until Robert leaned over to hug me just feet behind the finish line and whispered in my ear "Your aunt would be proud!" Then the waterworks truly began.
Today I'm thrilled to share this experience with you. I know I haven't shared so many of the moments along the way...the stories of riders encouraging each other, of survivors sharing their stories, families by the road with signs of encouragement & how their own lives have been touched, of my parents & niece joining me in camp, and so much more but let's face it, I could write novels for days!
I still have a ways to go in my fundraising (you can still donate at www.conquercancer.ca/goto/RebeccaNash) but I am still in awe of the entire experience. I know that I came out of that ride a little different from the woman who stood at that starting line and I'm so grateful for this experience.
*Huge thank you goes out to my fiance Ross for not only his support, his belief in me, his cheerleading, but, also for his photography skills in capturing the ride so you can see a little of my journey!