Good Luck Peachtree Road Race Participants!

Best of luck tomorrow on the 50th running of the Peachtree Road Race!

Stay well hydrated, take it easy and enjoy a big carbo-loaded dinner tonight.

I had the pleasure of running the Peachtree from 1987 until 1999, minus a year I was on a Army Reserve tour of duty. It's much more than a run. It's a thing. I'd work on running a sub 50-minute 10k prior to Peachtree registration so I could get into a faster time group. Otherwise, you're walking for the first mile or two. My fastest Peachtree was 44 minutes. The last couple of years of running I backed in from the Peachtree and trained to do a half marathon on Thanksgiving day. I can't even imagine the dedication my friends have that do full marathons, triathlons and long distance endurance events. 

I've always challenged myself and set goals to do better.

To put things into perspective, when I was in high school, I barely passed my  PE / Gym classes. I was chubby. I didn't do any team sports. I was teased. I hit puberty later than most of the boys my age, so you guys know what that means. When I was 19 I enlisted in the Army National Guard. I wanted to challenge myself and I really wasn't motivated to go to college. I could only do ten pushups and could barely jog a quarter of a mile. To pass basic training, I worked up to over 45 pushups, 60 situps and ran 2 miles in under 16 minutes. 

My go to sport the past couple of decades has been cycling. I had ridden a bunch as a teenager, including some century rides (100 miles), but I really got my mojo for that when my wife, Kathleen & I moved to Zurich in 2001 with my company at PeopleSoft where I worked as a consultant / project lead on multinational IT back office ERP/HCM projects at large organizations (Think UBS & Credit Suisse). All the while I would travel to Mannheim, Germany for my Army Reserve duty each month (I loved to stock up at the PX & Commissary where I could get my American fix -- think Peanut Butter, Root Beer, branded cereal and even a good ol' Butterball turkey for Thanksgiving). 

I grew up in Michigan where the land is pretty flat. Riding in Switzerland, you don't have much choice but to go UP or DOWN. So I took riding in Switzerland as a mental challenge instead of an obstacle. To build up my fitness level, I'd just start out slow, and add more miles as I became stronger. 
The climb up to San Gottard Pass
One year I went with a couple of friends and we rode our bikes from Zurich across the Alps to Lake Cuomo, Italy. It was epic! You spend practically the entire day climbing. Just get in a groove and don't burn out. Pace yourself and don't let your heart rate get too high. 
Put on my game face for the climb -- Just kidding!
And of course we did lots of hiking in the Alps. The Swiss start out from a young age and as adults they just go & go like it was nothing. 

I've always been a fighter and won't accept the odds. 

In 2009 at the age of 46 I was diagnosed with stage two Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I was told my sub-type (Diffused B Cell) had a 30% survival rate. I didn't tell that to Kathleen. Who, by the way was always there for me, by my side and supporting me every step of the way. All the while working a full-time job. Don't forget about the caregiver. They sacrifice plenty and the stress level can be quite high. I went through eight rounds of chemo over a five month period at Emory Winship Cancer Institute. Treatments were several hours long sitting in a recliner chair wrapped in warm blankets. Generally I had three weeks in-between each treatment so my body could recover. With each round, your body doesn't recover as high as the prior round. 

Before I got sick, I had been really riding a lot. I had a great cardio level of fitness and my heart & lungs were strong. I had an F-U to Cancer positive mindset. I'd go in to the clinic and feel sorry for the other people who were being treated. I'd feel especially sorry for those with high blood pressure, diabetes, were overweight, and other health conditions that exacerbated their situation. My first chemo treatment really took me back. I had a bad reaction and could barely walk afterwards. Six days later, I put my bike on my car, drove to the river in Roswell and rode my bike 20 miles. I did it just because. Just because I wanted to not let cancer get the best of me. Just so I could go back for my one week checkup and tell the doctors I was in great shape. And I kept on riding as long as I could throughout my treatments. 

As a comeback, in 2010 I decided to ride the epic Six Gap Century out of Dahlonega. The full 100 miles, climbing 10,000 feet. I trained my butt off and did it. I didn't break any records, but I finished strong. The last couple of miles I got emotional, began to tear up and I screamed out F___ YOU CANCER!! You're not getting the best of me. PS: At the start, it was drizzling and the forecast called for off & on light rain. I sat in my car and said to myself, "Let's do this!". 

Note for those non cyclists: When it's raining in the fall and you're descending the roads in the North Georgia Mountains, you've got three big things to concentrate on: 1) Inexperienced riders barrelling downhill -- Just stay away; 2) The descent itself -- I'm not in the Tour de France, so I go for caution over speed; 3) Cold -- My teeth were chattering on the descent. Even though the temps were in the 60's, the windchill really gets to you. 

2010 6 Gap Century -- Light Rain. Just do it. 

And as I'm obviously writing this now, I guess you could say I'm in remission. Or cured. But cured is a really, really subjective term in my opinion. So let's just say I'm perfectly healthy in that regard. Aside from the first few years of checkups post treatment where I'd anxiously await the results, I honestly don't think about that time much. It's sorta like the year I was in a combat zone, too. I look back on it like it was a pause where things were on hold in my life's timeline. 

So what's my next challenge??? 

Career? --Well, I've happily joined a new company earlier this year and am very excited with that. Learning tons of new product, software, methodology, and everything else that goes with working for a 10,000 employee company. Plus working with a great team of people.

Fitness? -- Right now I need to lose about 4 pounds. Make sure I consistently go to the gym at least twice a week to work on core, upper, strength and flexibility. Get back to riding three days a week at 20-40 miles a go. 

Cleaning out my basement, closets and attic? 

And of course there's the "if the wife's not happy, nobody's happy". So I absolutely have to keep my personal & family life a priority. 

What else??? Stay tuned...