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Saturday, June 16, 2001

American Cancer Society - Relay for Life

My Aunt Ellyn Schlageter organized a group from our ecclesia to participate in the Walk for Life last night and today, in Westerly. I'd never heard of this event before, in spite of the fact that this is the fourth year in a row this has been done in Westerly.

The idea is simple, and very similar to other fund-raise-a-thons. Each person on the team pays a small entry fee, and the team tries to raise as much money as possible to donate to the ACS. Then on the night of the event, one person from the team walks around and around a track for a set amount of time, and then someone else from the team walks, and so on until the relay is over (this one lasted from 6PM to 12 Noon the following day). The idea is to keep someone from your team walking at all times.

Sounds boring, right? Well, it would be, if that's all there was to it. First of all, the sheer number of people participating in this event helps make things interesting. When I first arrived, there were at least 2,000 people walking around the track, and many more than that sitting in the bleachers or in the team-tents set up in the field within the track. I was expecting a couple hundred! That was a lot of people!!

Also, there's the free food. They had free pizzas for every team.

My turn to walk started at 10:30 PM, and I was schedule for two hours. Unfortunately, they also started the ACS version of "Chinese Water Torture" at 10:30. That is, from 10:30 to 11:30 they read off the names - over the PA system - of everyone that was being "remembered" that night for for their battle with cancer (whether or not they survived - some of the names were of people there in the crowd). There were thousands. It was utterly monotonous. I joked with my team that I'd donate an extra hundred bucks if they'd just shut up!

One very bizarre thing happened. They had a one hour "pajama walk" that started at 11:30, which just meant that anyone who wanted to walk around in their PJ's were welcome to do so. That's not the weird part. The really weird part was the teenage girl (15 or 16) that changed into her pajamas (nothing but her pajamas) about 15 feet from the side of the track. How incredibly stupid.

I had a great time, and I'm definitely planning to do it again next year.

One question I thought of while walking, which nobody on my team seemed to know the answer to: what would they do if the cure to cancer were found during this event? "Called on account of cure."

;-)

Ride #32: Mystic to Sterling to Ashaway (long)

I mentioned yesterday that I would be riding to John Woodward's house in Sterling, and then from there to Darien Small's house in Ashaway. The plan was to leave the house by 8:00, get to John's by 10:00, and then to Darien's by 12:30.

Of course, that's not quite how it worked out. I didn't even leave the house until 9:45, but I did eat a good breakfast of Kashi cereal with sliced bananas and strawberries. Mmmmm! The trip to John's went very smoothly, and was only about 28 miles, rather than the 38 I'd expected.

What a beautiful drive! I'd never been on most of those roads before, and Route 201, after crossing over Route 2, was really breathtaking in places. It had everything from expansive vistas with lakes and big hills (there are no real mountains around here) to forests with babbling streams running through them. I might have to make this part of my normal ride (since I'm looking for some extra distance anyway).

I averaged about 18.5 on that part of the trip. The weather was already about 80 degrees (F), with around 94% humidity.

We were at his place for 30 minutes or so, and when he left he had a soft rear tire and his son Chase (all 30 pounds of him) in a baby seat. For a 25 mile ride. For his first ride of the year.

Not a good idea.

After about 10 miles, John was almost dead. We stopped at a hardware store so that he could borrow a wrench and adjust his seat, and he almost passed out. He was extremely pale, having a hard time breathing, and just sat down on the ground against the building and put his head down between his knees. This passed after about five minutes, thankfully.

We stopped again a quarter mile down at a convenience store (we'd planned for this stop). There I refilled my Camelbak with a big bottle of Grape Gatorade, and also bought a bottle of Gatorade for John and an energy bar for each of us. John downed his Gatorade and then went in and bought another, and after this he seemed to be doing much better. We were there for about 20 minutes.

Even though he was feeling better, we were both worried. He finally understood that he was overdoing it. I had Shane's cell phone with me (Corinne has ours in Syracuse), so I called Audrey to ask her to send Darien with the van to pick John up. We were going to keep riding, and he could just pick meet us somewhere on the way. At this point, we were only about 15 miles from Darien's house.

What I couldn't get over was how good I felt. I'd ridden exactly 38.01 miles already - exactly the same distance as the entire trip on Wednesday - but I felt like I'd only ridden 5, or maybe none at all. I'm not saying this to compare myself to John, which wouldn't be fair at all, bur rather to how exhausted I expected to be, and how I felt after my trip on Wednesday.

Anyway, Darien showed up about 3 miles and 20 minutes later. We stopped at a church parking lot, hung around talking for five minutes or so, and then I was off again while they loaded John's bike onto Darien's bike rack. I can't be precise, but I think our average speed from John's house to where Darien picked him up was about 10 miles per hour. That's actually not bad, considering everything John had working against him today.

They finally passed me when I was less than half of a mile from Darien's house. I averaged about 20 miles per hour for the last 13 miles of the trip!!

I took a quick dip in their pool, then rode a couple miles down the street to my parents' place for lunch and a lift home with my Dad.

Even now, four hours after the trip, I'm still not exhausted. Yes I'm tired, but I'm feeling much better than I thoguht I would (in fact, I'm about to go out and mow the lawn).

Oh, two last things about John and Chase. First, after Chase grew tired of turning around his seat to watch me, he fell fast asleep. That seemed funny to me, but I guess it shows the implicit trust children have in their fathers, and John and Chase are certainly no exception. Second, John said more than once that he's going to "get into shape this summer" and we'll do the ride again before the season's over - and he said I might not be able to keep up with him! Heh... well, I hope it works out, because this ride was a lot of fun, and would have been even better if John had felt his best.

Stats? While, my bike is still at Mom and Dad's house, so I can't be sure (I'll change this later after I have the numbers). The total trip was about 54 miles, and the average speed was really low, perhaps only 16.5 or 17. It would look better if I could count it as three separate trips, but I can't. Hey, at least it brings my average ride length way up for June!

(I'm looking forward to Tuesday night's ride. I know I can go 50 miles, but how long can I maintain their pace?)

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