In less than three weeks I’ll be pedaling along my second JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes route, this time 100 miles along the Mississippi River in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. Am I ready? I think so. One thing I do know: once again, I’ve learned so much from my training and fundraising experience.
I did a 68 miles ride the other day. At my slowwwww pace, that gives me a lot of time to meditate, ponder, reflect, whatever you call it. Some thoughts I had are worth sharing, because, as always, this ride experience gives me a chance to think things over, consider my daughter’s long road with Type 1 diabetes on board, my own long road of advocating for her and life in general. So here goes: What I learned on my training ride part eight billion (or something. Here’s link to many other “what I learned” Blogs)
*You are stronger than you know. I was afraid to do this again. Not because of the training or riding, but because of the fundraising. I asked a LOT of my friends last year – and boy did they step up (#3 rider in America; nearly $40k raised. I’m still at “wow’ about all that). I was quieter this time, but I sucked it up and got brave about it. Sure, people get tired of hearing about it. But you know what else is tiring? A disease that never, ever, not even for an hour, stops messing with you, mixing you up, demanding your attention and causing you stress. That what Lauren lives “in peace with.” I realized I, too, can go ahead and be a little annoying on behalf of finding a better future for her. Friends responded (and those who did not or could not I am totally cool with that: you’ve all done so much for us. Thank you!) So I stepped up and sucked it up and asked even when I felt a wee bit uncomfortable. Nothing compared to Lauren, who has gone back on a CGM and is working hard at daily care …. Even though she really cannot stand doing it. We are stronger than we know.
*Past good work really does carry over. I remember when Lauren was younger, her endo telling me at a rough time “her body has those strong miles in it too – don’t worry. It really is a long road and the harder miles are balanced out with the stronger ones.” A friend told me last year after Death Valley “you’ve got that base now. You’ll see the difference from here on in.” He was right. Even on my first outdoor ride this past spring, I just felt stronger. Sure, I was not a perfect athlete all winter but you know what? My legs know that I can do this, and I’m so much stronger this year. Good sticks with you, even if you ignore it for a little while.
*It feels good to move forward. Even if I don’t raise the whopping amount I raised last year, I’m helping research move forward. At first I thought I’d not feel good; that I’d feel guilty for not being able to dig as deep as I did last year. But you know what? I am helping move research forward. And I’m showing my young adult daughter that I’m still totally on her team. I also believe this good to move forward thing works for bad days as well. Sometimes, you get on your bike and it’s just not there. You feel lousy. Or you are just not into it. But …. Another day you get back on it and you feel great. I see my daughter have rough days or weeks with diabetes. But I see her charge ahead. Instead of giving up, she just thinks it over, erases the bad memory and charges forward with a new day. And I know that feels good for her.
*You don’t have to be the TOP champion to be a champion: I admit it: I wanted that flipping green jersey last year. The top fundraising rider gets a green jersey. I tried with all my heart last year, but this lovely gentleman who has had T1D for 50 years beat me with ONE CHECK. And you know what? That was fantastic. I knew I only had one chance to get that top jersey, and that has passed. And it’s okay. I’m still helping and moving forward. I hope my daughter feels the same way about her care. She does not have to win the a1c Olympics. She does not have to download the CGM more than anyone in the world. She just has to try. That’s great enough. I know I cannot possibly ever win the top fundraiser jersey or the top recruiter jersey (yellow)! Or the spirit jersey (pink polka dot!!!!) but I am proud of me. I might even wear a tiara out training, that’s a win!
*I have friends with me every moment: This year is cool – I am riding with a group of friends who all asked to ride with me – many of us have never met in person before, but we know one another from on line support. I cannot wait to share this with them. But I know, too, that I have friends “with me” that day who are rooting me on and who share my passion. Some also have loved ones with D. Some have lost loved ones to D. Some are just awesome friends who truly care. I’ll feel each and every one of them. I hope people with diabetes feel that every day too. Friends might not say it all the time, but we all care so much about you and understand the flipping marathon you are running or riding or whatever metaphor you want to use. Just as I know friends think of my journey, I hope you all know many MANY of us think of you every day – and care deeply.
The friends I wont have with me in person on my ride this year are my family. Unfortunately, the weekend of the ride is the same weekend Sean must drive Lauren back to DC for her FINAL year of college. That means I won’t be there for her final “move in,” and I’m sad about that. That means my dream of having family members hug me and hold signs and yell at the finish won’t come true …. But that’s okay. Because all Lauren’s life I have told her: diabetes will never, ever get in the way of you living your life as it was intended to be lived. So to school she must go. And when I get to the finish line, I will call her on the phone and ask for a virual cheer from her.
It will be the best cheer ever. Because she’ll be in her world, not the diabetes world.
And in the end: that’s exactly why I ride.