Monday, 10 August 2015

The Ride to Conquer Cancer

This past weekend I was fortunate to participate in the Ride to Conquer Cancer. This is a 2 day event in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. I say I was fortunate because to ride you need to fundraiser a minimum of $2500 and my friends and family came through in a big way donating $3400. The entire event raised $7.8 million and this money will go to make advances for people like me fighting cancer.

Mom made the trek with me and volunteered at the event. We headed down Friday afternoon as I needed to be at the rehearsal as I was speaking at the opening ceremonies. We stayed at the Grey Eagle resort and casino and it was a really nice place to hang out and lose some money. 

The ride began Saturday morning so we set the alarm for 5:45. Ugh. I need to find sports where the start time is, like, noonish. Anyway, we got to Canada Olympic Park and downed some breakfast. After meeting up with most of team #Cancercanthackett it was time for me to take the stage. I was speaking on behalf of the patients being helped by the Alberta Cancer Foundation and my words were well received. But to be fair, who's going to boo a cancer patient at an event like this?

After speaking I hustled down to my bike and got ready to take off. After they counted down to the start it was really neat to see 1700 cyclists all riding together. At triathlons you don't see this because the swim is first so people get to their bikes over a long period of time, not all at once. The down side to this is the congestion. There is no rhyme nor reason to who is at the front. This means there is a great deal of passing and confusion for the first 10km or so. 

The course had a couple of steep climbs but overall was relatively easy. The biggest challenge for most is just the distance. The organizers did a good job of spacing out the aid stations so that you could fuel and hydrate at the right times. One difference from triathlon that o wasn't used to was a lunch stop. At 60km there was a full stop where you got a sandwich and salad and desert. We stopped for about 45 minutes and getting going again was tough. My stomach was full and my legs had started to seize from sitting. At lunch I also did a couple of interviews and my team mates were good enough to wait for me. Especially because the 2nd one was just as we were getting ready to head out. 

I was lucky to meet Lori-Ann Muenzer at one of the aid stations. Lori-Ann is a local hero as she was a gold medallist in cycling at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

The course was set up nicely as the hard climbs were before lunch so afterwards it was a little easier heading into the finish for the day. 
We crossed the line after 113km day one and felt very relieved. 

The camp area was a neat place to hang out. There were sponsor tents giving things away, Rogers had a phone charging station (phew) and Steam Whistle was giving away beer. This was a bummer because having cancer in my liver I've stayed away from all alcohol. Although, had I been able to drink o probably would have over done it and Sunday would not have been pretty. 

Supper was in the arena and it was a nice opportunity to sit down with friends and reflect on the day. I was recognizable because I spoke at the opening and I had a number of people come and speak to me either with well wishes or, even better, their own stories of survival. The most memorable was Mark; he told me he had the same diagnosis as me and he is now 7 years out and NED (no evidence of disease). 

After supper we hung out a little and then made our way to the tents. I hate camping so much so I was miserable. I couldn't get the right temperature, the bathrooms were a fair walk away and the ground was uneven. This isn't the fault of the organizers, it's the only way to house that many people, I'm just a princess. 

The ride started a little earlier the next day, 7am and it was fun to look around and figure out who had been good friends with Steam Whistle. Some people were dragging pretty good. We started the journey back to Calgary and again the first 10km were congested and a little scary. 

Despite the return course being a little tougher I actually felt better on day 2. This was likely because I focused on hydrating and got a massage the day before. 

We all agreed to keep our lunch stop much shorter on day 2 as we all felt similar after day 1's lunch. After a quick stop we were back on the road and cruising to Calgary. About 20km from the finish we got a burst of energy and really picked up our tempo. This was fun as John, Ben, Mark, Carlos and I held between 35km/hr and 40km/hr to the finish. 

Crossing the finish on day 2 was a really rewarding experience. Since I started chemo I've noticed a reduction in my physical abilities so it was nice to prove to myself I could still handle endurance events. The big test is in 3 weeks when I once again take on Ironman. This time in Muskoka. 

I need to say thank you to so many people for this experience. The people that donated not only enabled me to ride but also made a difference in the lives of people living with cancer. My sponsors Sugoi, KPMG, Coloplast, Aquasphere, Hoka One One and Xterra Wetsuits. Also, Quintana Roo is getting on board with #cancercanthackett. 

Finally, I need to thank my team mates. They kept me motivated throughout this adventure and it was so nice to share it with them! Mark, Ben, Carlos, John, Dayna, Kayla, Greg, Brian, and especially Vicky who came all the way from the UK; thank you all so much for doing this with me!

If you're doing the Edmonton Marathon or the ITU in Edmonton please come and visit my booth. I'll be passing out info on cancer screening and prevention and also selling sunglasses with the proceeds going to the Alberta Cancer Foundation.

Keep training hard my friends and ánimo.

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