In addition to the training Kacie and I have been putting in, our crew has been putting in work too. Chief Anne has been booking flights, working logistics, putting out fires with her glitter shooting extinguisher. Gear Guru Jason made countless trips to the store buying things to get the 8 page list of items we needed to bring as organized as possible. He kicked me out of the garage to make room for his work, and spent hours separating and organizing. I hate to tell him this, but it will likely all get undone in about 2 days of racing. George is our navigation man. I don't know what he has been doing for RAAM, but I know that he has made us some really great routes that we used for our 24 hour simulation rides. The man can read a map!
We have tried the best we can to prepare our crew for what they will encounter at RAAM. In early February we had a crew retreat. This was our "this isn't going to be all glitter and butterflies" meeting. Chief Anne laid out the expectations and what our goal was. We asked our crew to make the choice then-you are vested in this journey with us and believe in this goal or bail now. Fortunately they choose to stay. Having your crew believe in your goal is one of the most important aspects of this race. In the event that we want to quit, our crew HAS to make us keep going. They have to want to see the finish line in Annapolis as much as we do. I have full faith in them and their abilities. When my chiropractor was unable to make the trip, we replaced her with a massage therapist from Iowa, Kim and Ben Murphy, whom we met at the Florida Double. Although they are new to the crew, we are still thrilled to have them and have full faith in their abilities as well. So we trained, raced Heart of the South 500 miler as a team and did two 24 hour simulations with our crew. We have faced adversity, cold conditions at Heart of the South. I got hailed on during a 24-hour ride (we packed that one in and had a redo!) I'm used to training in conditions that aren't ideal, and this year Kacie got her share of rain as well. Cold,hot,windy,rainy, dark, light, flat, hilly, we have tried our hardest to spend time in it all.
It's impossible to plan for all the things that can wrong in a race of this duration. We know things are going to happen. It's how we react to them that will affect our outcome. In January I convinced Jason to bundle up with me as I finished a long, super cold day in the saddle. As we finished out last 5 mile loop Jason got hit by a car. We went to Grady because he also had a head injury. I had to coordinate dog care and get someone to pick up our bikes. By the time we left grady trauma center it was 2 am. I had ridden 130 miles, had very little to eat, no shower, and was exhausted. Jason jokingly said "this is great RAAM training. You should go home and get on the trainer". Sadly, he was right.
I've been overwhelmed the past week or so. Feeling anxious about whether or not I've forgotten anything. I am not worried about my training, honestly, my body is in the best shape it's ever been in. I feel great about that. But looking out at the 75 people that came out to our send off party it really hit me. There are a LOT of people that support us. They've followed our training and racing. They're counting on us to do well.
I cried today. I don't normally cry. My boss called me. She's known me since I was 19. She's been in my life when I was overweight, when I got hit by the car and broke my leg, and when I took up bike riding. She asked why I was crying. I told her I wasn't sure. I felt overwhelmed. I told her about our crew, who have so selflessly given of themselves, both their time and resources. I worried about letting them down. Martha's insight meant a lot. She told me that I should take that concern totally off the table. Our crew might get to the end of RAAM and say "I'll never do something like that again" or "that wasn't a good use of my vacation time" but that they'll never regret the experience. Because experiences like this can't be bought, or read about, or made up. These experiences are only felt through doing it. I agree, and hope our crew leaves this experience and is glad they did it.
So as I clean my house (because who wants to leave their house dirty before a bike ride!) I am left thinking about how incredibly grateful I am. I am grateful to the people who have encouraged me. Inspired me to do more, be more, try harder, never give up. I am also grateful for the people in my life who could care less about bikes or bike races, but support me because they love me.
This is an amazing opportunity. Someone asked me at work if I was going to do this again. I told him I doubted it. I likened it to having quadruplets. Sure, you may want more kids, but just one next time.
Many of you have asked how you can follow our progress. Tracking is available online at www.raceacrossamerica.org under the results tab. Click on our team "Power, Pedals, and Ponytails"
We are still fundraising and will continue to raise money for Camp Twin Lakes. Please consider donating at www.raam2013.org
Am I scared? Of course I am. I wouldn't have signed up for it if I wasn't. But I am confident in my abilities, Kacie's ability and the amazing people who make up our crew. We WILL make it to Annapolis. We WILL break the 2-person females record. It will not be easy. It will be the hardest thing I have ever done, both physically and mentally. We are Annapolis bound via a million pedal rotations, sweat, tears, pain, and every other emotion that is known to man. But through it all one thing will remain the same- relentless forward motion from Oceanside to Annapolis.