Sometime in the last 3 years I decided I wanted to ride in a century. It seemed daunting and hard but at the same time I knew I could do it with the right amount of training. I am a goal oriented person so goals work for me. I thought about doing Team In Training - but honestly the whole fundraising aspect was not appealing to me. I don't like asking people for money...or help - it's a character flaw.
It was sometime late 2008 or early 2009 the I received a call from my best friend, Jen, she just found out that her father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I didn't really know anything about pancreatic cancer at the time, that it was one of the worst types to get because typically when they find it, it's too late. Jen was getting married in September 2009, and as her father started going through treatment, it was really tough not knowing how the treatment would take and what kind of impact it would have. The week before the wedding was stressful, as most weddings are, but even more so because her father was not taking well to some of the medication. It was a tough week to be a part of as I had never really seen the effects of cancer and it's treatment before. I had never seen the toll it took on the human body and surrounding family members. Jen was married on September 19th, 2009 and her father was there to walk her down the aisle and give a beautiful speech at the reception. One month later, Jen's father, Charles Donovan, passed away.
Before Mr. Donovan's passing, I hadn't experience much death that wasn't somewhat "expected" because of old age. "Old age" death was something I could understand - something that made sense, even if it was tragic. But Mr. Donovan's death was a really hard experience for me. It's what got me thinking about Team In Training again. A year later, January 2011, I was signed up for my first century. I had seen how one type of cancer had affected someone I cared about very much. Suddenly the fundraising didn't seem like such a big deal. There were 2 rides that year, and one was effectively double the fundraising with a far away donation - I chose that one. Go big or go home.
During that ride, I met some truly amazing individuals. Warren Bruno, owner of Atkins Park in Atlanta was our honored hero last year. The honored hero is someone you ride "for", someone who can provide the inspiration to keep going if you lose sight of why you are training. Someone who currently is or has had their life changed by cancer. Dan Gennari, http://www.dangennari.com, was a frequent riding buddy (whom I've mentioned before in the recap of the ride last year) found out he was in remission just before the century last year - he is our honored hero for the ride this year.
And, unfortunately, the more I do this, the more people I find out have experienced or experience with some form of cancer. A co-worker and friend just recently found out that his father was diagnosed with an aggressive form of B-cell Lymphoma. This year I will also be riding for Ernie Bacalzo.