2015 Ride Round Rhody

Dani and Jacob Brier before the start of the ride.

We had the pleasure this past weekend to host Ride ‘Round Rhody with Jacob and Danny Brier.

Ride ‘Round Roady is an annual bike ride that raises money for cancer treatment and clinical research at local Rhode Island hospitals.  This year’s event started and finished near URI and had 3 different ride distances to encourage cyclists of all levels – 25 mi, 50 mi and 75 mi. The course was truly a nice ride ’round Rhody as it followed some beautiful back roads such as Shannock Falls but also went through downtown Westerly, Watch Hill, Misquamicut Beach before finishing under the Coast Guard House and the Narragansett bike path.  It had some gorgeous spots to it. 

You can still see the skin burns caused by the radiation on my
husband’s face and neck.  His hair was just starting to come back.
This is a cause that is near and dear to my heart as my own husband is Stage IV survivor and I lost a dear friend to cancer recently.  As I was out marking the course in Westerly, it was meaningful as I was riding past all the locations that reminded me of what it was like those few weeks after my husband was diagnosed.  We were living in Westerly at the time, we had just gotten married and found out I was pregnant with our first.  We were still reeling with all this when we were hit with the diagnosis.  We were 27 y/o, 5 mos pregnant and it was Christmas Eve.  I really didn’t understand what the doctor said until he spoke the word “carcinoma….”  Nasopharyngeal carcinoma.  Stage IV.  Aggressive treatment should start this week.  I’ll spare you the horrible treatment story as we all have them or know of them. But we all have sliding doors in our lives and that was one for us.  We took a different path than the one I had expected.

We moved from Westerly to the East Bay shortly after our son was born and my husband had finished his treatments and rarely come back.  So Westerly has a very emotional attachment for me.  I drive down the streets and the timeline from newlyweds to cancer patient to new parent all come reeling back.  The fact that I am marking these same roads for others that are affected by this disease and who are making a positive impact is not lost on me.  It was incredible.  Very rewarding.

It was an unbearably hot day but the riders completed their rides all with big smiles and happy faces. This event is a bit out of our wheelhouse as we tend to focus on LARGE, endurance running races but it was nice to break out of our comfort level.  Much more relaxing!  http://www.rideroundrhody.com/

It was truly a heartwarming event to see all these dedicated riders raise nearly $45,000 for the fight against cancer. Individuals such as these helped save my husband due to his experimental treatment.  

While it didn’t save my friend, Angie – I am hoping efforts such as this will save another life. 

Until there is a cure for everybody, we all must continue to fight! – LIFEcycle

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Bristol Independence Rhode Race

full-sized-promo-17.jpgWell – this event did not come out as I hoped but it was still an incredible day!  MONTHS of planning, running and re-running potential courses, lining up vendors, marketing, t-shirts, medals, promotion – and a torrential storm was looking to undo it all.   But it ended up being a FUN event because everyone felt they were all in it together!

I was SO EXCITED for this race.  The half marathon is my favorite distance and I always wanted a good local one.  I wanted to show off Bristol, not just Colt Stat Park!  And when is Bristol most beautiful – 4th of July!  The sailboats in the harbor, the striped center line, the quaint houses dressed in flags.  Color and architecture abound.

When thinking about the course, I looked to some of the races that I liked:  Bristol used to have a 10 miler in November that I loved – it ran along High and Thames St plus Colt State Park but is no longer around.  The 5 mi Hangover classic in January is one of my FAVORITE races – no better way to start the new year then with a COLD race with the BEST trophies!  But up and down Poppasquash through Colt State Park – you are really too cold to appreciate it.  I think my eyelashes freeze shut on the run along the water when on Colt Dr.  The half marathon in Colt State Park in November is just loops – no thanks!

Who gets to drink all the beer they use for their AG trophies?

So I designed the course using all my favorite parts of Bristol – start and finish right downtown in Independence Park, on the water.  I used some of the parade route, some of the neighborhoods, the Town Common, America’s Cup Museum and Colt State Park. Runners need cool things to look at to take our mind off the pain and agony going on below.  This course had views aplenty!

Then the weather reports start coming in.  Not just rain but torrential rain and potential severe thunderstorms.  The emails start flooding in (see what I did there….?).  My beautiful race…. being washed away.  This has been the year of bad weather for race directors – due to snow piles being too high for the roads to be safe, thunderstorms, blizzards.  Not a good thing for business.

The police recommended we cancel.  The runner’s wanted a delay.  Neither was really a good option. Many people plan their race calendars out months in advance.  They rely on certain benchmark or goal races.  Plus – rescheduling a race is so hard; vendors, volunteers, police, runners – we all plan on THIS ONE DAY.  As far as a delay – well then you run the risk of the storm arriving later, sticking around longer.  Add to that the summer traffic in Bristol once the day gets going – it just isn’t safe.

So I call on the big guys – Fred Campagna and Mark Searles.  Both local meteorologists, friends and both running the race.  Not only can these two speak best about what race day weather would look like, they understand the ramifications of the decisions.  We hashed it out for a while but essentially the threat of thunderstorms was equal between 6am and noon.  Delaying the start would be a worse alternative.  Canceling – LAST CHOICE.  We were going to line up at 6:30a as planned, Mark and Fred would check the radar and let me know if we had a 3 hour window to run or if we needed to delay until we did.
This race hurt.  Blisters on my toes and heels.

 

We runners pride ourselves on the suffer score.  After all running is 90% mental – anyone can run, it takes the mentally tough to run more than a half mile.  I trained for Boston in the floods of 2010, I had qualified the day it had snowed in October.  I have racing flats that I kept because they still had bits and pieces of my skin from the blisters incurred in a race.  We love to brag about running, but no more so than when we overcome especially harsh conditions!  And this race is going to be all of that!
So 3 am wake up and we start prepping the course.  SERIOUS wind and rain.  Cone guys are out, I am trying to set up mile markers in torrential winds and rain and they just won’t stay up.   At one point I grabbed an a-frame from the truck and thought it was going to sail me away!  6a – Cones are up, mile markers up, aid stations are dropped and most volunteers are on course.
People like Bryan Ganley made this event fun!

Back to the start – they are ready to go but then the fire chief said “Have you checked the high tide time?  We could have some serious flooding on Poppasquash!”  So now the race is a duathlon!  Run/Swim/Run  🙂  On the bright side, the rain and wind seems to be lessening.  We find Mark and Fred and they give us the go ahead – as good as it is going to get.  We start the race at 6:31a – our most on-time start yet!

So yeah, it was rainy and it was windy but it wasn’t terrible.  We had lost about 200-300 people who had registered but didn’t bother showing up that morning but those that did – WOW!  They loved the race, loved the course and felt such a HUGE sense of accomplishment racing in those conditions.  And they should!  Every single person that lined up on that start probably had serious doubts and wanted to give in to do the easier thing – sleep late, stay warm in bed, not push your body through 13 miles of wet pain.
But they didn’t!  I was so proud to bring this race to hundreds of people but I was more proud of the hundreds of people that raced in those conditions.  I was happy we didn’t cancel or delay – we all fought through and we all came out the other side that much mentally stronger!
What rain?!?!?

Thank you Bristol!  It really was a great race.

We love our pacers!
Says it all right here.
Colt State Park – filled with runners!
High tide???  But still smiling!