Monday, October 26, 2009

AH - MAZING.....

Is the one single word to describe this past weekends events.

I participated in the LiveStrong Challenge this weekend with a handful of lovely friends - we all united together to raise funds for cancer research and the LAF (Lance Armstrong Foundation) and also take on a physical challenge of running and biking.

If you are not familiar (although I presume most of you are) the LAF is a non profit organization, founded by Lance Armstrong in 1997 that inspires and empowers people affected by cancer.

Just a brief overview (I stole from the website)

The LAF believes that unity is strength, knowledge is power and attitude is everything. Read LAF Manifesto here. LAF also provides the practical information and tools that people with cancer need to live life on their own terms and also take aim at the gaps between what is known and what is done to prevent suffering and death due to cancer.

The LAF unites people to fight cancer and pursues an agenda focused on:

It truly is becoming a passion for me; especially after this last weekend.

To see the community of cancer survivors, individuals who are still fighting the battle, loved ones, care givers, etc was truly amazing. The camaraderie amongst this group of individuals is truly a testament to the impact that cancer and the LAF has had on each person that was there. Cancer, like the LAF, not only affects those that are diagnosed... but all.

We (Cayla, Hunter and I) arrived in Austin late Friday checked into the hotel, visited with Della and Dave, Newbie and Zeke and then headed to bed (we had an early morning).

Saturday morning we arrived at the race site at 6:45ish to pick up our packets and get ready for the 5K. There were over 3,000 people there to participate in the run. The support was also unreal. The streets were lined with supporters, volunteers, friends, family, yellow balloons, signs, etc.... It made running a whole lot more fun for me :) (I hate running remember)

I enjoyed looking around and reading all the signs that were on people's back... let me explain.

At the race start they had a table with little signs you could pin on your shirt that said "In memory of", "In Honor of", and "Survivor". You could take these signs and put the name of the person(s) you were competing for. Most people pinned them on their backs so as you were running you could read who that person was competing in the Challenge for. One little boys said "In Honor of My Mom"... so sweet....

Mine said "In Memory of Jessica Gage Bonesio" (pics to come later)

It made the time pass quite nicely to read these; and also read the shirts of the many teams who had them made. Also very inspiring.

After the 5K we headed for a fantastic post-race breakfast at Austin Java... delish! Then went to the convention center to visit the "LiveStrong Village". The convention center was set up with booths, tables, etc for vendors. (It was basically a vendor-expo). There were all sorts of bike shops, doctors, fitness equipment, cancer centers, etc there advertising and giving free goodies... I loaded up on Aquaphor (which I have an addiction to), cliff blocs and bars, LiveStrong bracelets, and water bottles (seriously every booth was giving out water bottles)

Then we headed back for a much needed nap.... then dinner...

Sunday was the 20 mile bike race and probably the most sobering and awe-inspiring event of the weekend.

The race finish was lined with supporters (again) and yellow balloons - as you came across the finish line they stated your name over the loud speaker and how much money you raised. The lines of people cheering you on was crazy!!! It was so motivating and un real. I just kept thinking... I wish Jess was here to see this!!!

The bike course was hilly (hence the name HILL COUNTRY)... it started at Dripping Springs high school and wove through Dripping Springs... there was a 10mi, 20mi, 45mi, 65mi, and 90mi course. Lance was there... he rode the 90mi. to come of him coming in from the course.

OMG - speaking of Lance... I totally forgot to tell you that we saw him, up close and personal, on his bike on Saturday riding through downtown... he was literally an arm's length YUM-O :)

The bike start was a little hectic.... we were on about a 15 minute delay...but really didn't start riding until about 1.5miles into the course.... it was so back logged with riders at the start that you ended up walking your bike until it thinned out. It was frustrating.... but it is for such a good cause you couldn't get too upset! We had a hectic morning that morning anyways so we may have all been a little on edge...

Our morning started out just fine... drove 30min. out to the course, parked without hardly any issues. Began getting ready for the ride into the staging area (about a mile or so) then I realized I had lost the car keys. While tearing the car apart and every bag in the car I still couldn't find them.... Cayla realized she had a flat tire on her bike so we had to change that.... meanwhile I'm still looking for the keys. I was about to say "f" it and make Zeke and Hunter look for the keys when I realized that I put them in the pocket of my jersey... seriously Allison??? These pockets are supposed to be handy dandy - but I clearly never use them or else I probably would have checked there first...oops! But we found them and were on our way.

The staging area to the start line was PACKED with riders of all levels, a ton of pros that were riding the 90miler with Lance...I wish I could have been up there to see all of them. Then towards the back were all of us 20milers and 10milers. There were riders of all shapes, sizes, and ages... There was one kid who participated in the 10mile ride that I swear had just taken the training wheels off his bike. There were dads that had the carriers strapped onto their bikes in back with their kids in tow... professionals, grandparents, all sorts of people... all riding for the same cause.

Seriously - you should all join my team next year and participate in this incredible event.

Registration opens December 1 for next year and you bet your ass I will be on that list.... Team Tri for a Cure in full effect!!!


Pics to be posted soon....keep checking back!!!