Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Pan Mass Challenge, part 2

Whew! I'm done. And it was, as always, quite a ride.

I didn't sleep at all well the night before; this is unusual for me, usually before the PMC I'm happy and excited and can rest. But Friday night was dreadful, I tossed and turned for all hours. When I finally fell asleep I had two dreams. In them both it was after the ride and I was incredibly happy. When I woke up to the blaring alarm I decided to take this as a good omen.

I rode for a lot of people this year, six of whom are in the midst of their battle with cancer. We wrote their names on my legs, as you can
see here. Two of them are people I rode for last year. I write their names on my legs so they can peddle with me. By the time I finished the ride they had all worked so hard they were mostly sweated off. (Yes, the tattoo is real. And the weird little spots are supposed to help with pain. I'm not sure if they did or not.)

We drove through heavy fog to the starting site in Wellesley, milled around, chatted, and then at 7:00 am the ride started.

You don't need a blow-by-blow. I don't need to write one. If you're interested in some details you can find them on my twitter feed. Go to twitter and search for storylaura.

But it was:
- inspiring. So many people coming together to form a community to do one, important thing. I feel so proud to be part of this.
- hard. I was in more pain this year than previously; I didn't train as well as I would have liked due to knee and back issues and I paid for it. At each rest stop I would think, That's it, I'm going to stop now. And each time I would decide to wait a little longer, rest a bit, then see how I felt. I kept going. I finished, I am so glad I did.
- heartbreaking, as always. Seeing all of the names and faces that people carry. Hearing all of the stories. Everyone cries on this ride.
- exhilarating. I rode really well. Sure, I dragged on the hills, but for the rest of it I was (by my standards) no slouch. Considering how hampered I was in training, I'm pleased.
- empowering. I am alive. I can make a difference in the world. This event reminds me of that in no uncertain terms. On the bus ride back I was talking with Ben, who just completed his first PMC. He talked about how yes, he gives money to other causes, but with this he knows he has done something that makes an immediate, real difference. It's that kind of thing. I know too.
(And you can still make a real difference too - donations are accepted until October 1, I'm still well below my required donation level.)

So that's the nickel summary. I am here. I am alive. I have the honor of having ridden yet again in the Pan Mass Challenge, of pedaling my feet off to save the world a little bit. And today I get to venture out and save the world in some other way. I'll see you on the road.

(c)2008 Laura S. Packer

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