Wednesday, September 2, 2009

And the winners are...

As promised, we did a drawing for one of the limited edition Team Athena jerseys. After we did that, we realized we could give away even more of the swag to the very donors who made it possible for us to receive LIVESTRONG swag anyway.

Oh, and the pictures of the jersey are courtesy of the other half of Team Athena, Kim & Judy! Kim raised $1,125 and Judy raised $432! We didn't get to see them at all on race day - and I've actually never even met Judy - because we were in separate corrals, but they did the 10 mile ride and confirmed that even that was hilly. Whew! Here are Kim & Judy:

And here is the jersey:

The front

The back

Now, I should explain the story behind the jersey a bit. The mascot of Team Athena is our Greyhound, Bea. Greyhounds are lithe and athletic. For those that don't know, Athena is a classification in running/cycling/etc... that is for women who weigh over a certain amount, typically 150lbs or so. I am the only member of our team squarely in Athena territory. Nice to be the team's namesake. Anyway, we thought it would be funny to have a Greyhound as the mascot for our team. That, and we just love our dog. Bea is awesome.

Here's how we did the drawing: if you gave a donation to either Alyssa or myself, you got an entry in the drawing for every $5 you gave. So if you gave $5, you got one entry and if you gave $100 you got twenty entries. Then she put those numbers into and we drew numbers for each of the prizes we had.

The first drawing we did was for a 2009 LIVESTRONG Challenge water bottle. That went to Ray & Linda Crough!

The second drawing was for a 2009 LIVESTRONG Challenge T-shirt. That went to Sarah Patterson!

The third drawing was for a 2009 LIVESTRONG Challenge messenger bag. That went to Jeffrey & Melissa Schecter! In the interest of full disclosure, they are family, but they were still randomly chosen. Being family members doesn't help you, but it doesn't hurt you in the drawing, either!

The final drawing was for the jersey. This is the biggie! So the winner of the 2009 Philadelphia LIVESTRONG Challenge Team Athena jersey designed by Alyssa Boxhill is...


Kara is a former co-worker of mine at People For the American Way and I am sure she will put the jersey to good use.

We will get those goodies to you all as soon as we can. Congratulations!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Real Wrap-up, Part II

In case you missed it, you can click here for Part I.

Once we got our tires pumped up, our pockets stuffed full of Clif and Luna bars, and our water bottles full of water and Gatorade, we headed over to the 100 mile corrals. We were both anxious to just get the show on the road, but the start time was pushed back 30 minutes to 8AM in order to accommodate the people stuck in traffic. I made us stick to the back of the 100 mile corral because I was afraid of getting swept up in the fast people riding the 100 miles. Before we got going, I took one last picture.

And then we were off.

The first five miles flew by, as they were relatively flat and not scary. I was feeling good, but making sure I stayed at my own pace. Alyssa and I mostly stuck together and we were moving along pretty nicely. Then we got into some more twisty, smaller roads and I saw the first major crash of the day. There were around six or seven people and their bikes strewn about the side of the road. The roads were still a little wet and slick at that point, so it looked like they took a curve too fast. We went around them and then hit some hilly stuff. The original plan had been that we would skip the first rest station at the 10 mile marker, but when I came upon it, I stopped. Alyssa was ahead of me and kept going, but stopped just beyond it to wait for me. We then tried to stick together again, but the hills were increasing in frequency and Alyssa weighs about 75lbs less than I do, so she's able to fly up them with relative ease. I was... Well, I was sucking. Plain and simple. I implored her to go on and just leave me behind, but she refused. She kept stopping to wait for me to catch up. I appreciated it, but I felt awful for her. How crappy is it to have to stop and wait when you're in a riding groove? Gah.

When we made it to the second rest stop, we peed and ate. Can I just tell you that humidity, sweat, and port-o-potty toilet paper don't mix? As Ellen DeGeneres would say, that TP was "like prosciutto." After we peed - and washed our hands - we filled up our bottles and made ourselves eat something. I ate a Luna bar and immediately felt like barfing. It was hot and I was exerting a lot of energy and I just felt gross. I sat down for a few minutes to try to settle my stomach and that did the trick, but it was then I realized there was no way in hell I could make it 100 miles. It was disappointing, but I was realistic. I knew that even if I tried the 70 mile route, I would probably get sag wagoned because my speed was atrocious. The 100 mile route wasn't going to be an option for Alyssa either because she'd spent so much time waiting for me, but 70 miles was definitely attainable. When we reached the turn-off, I gave her my blessing to go 70 miles and she gave me mine to go 45 and we left each other.

The funny thing is that at that moment, I thought the worst was behind me. I couldn't imagine that I'd have many more hills, but I was so very wrong. It was hellacious. I got off my bike and walked up more hills than I can recall. I was passed by hundreds of people. Several sag wagons stopped to make sure I didn't need to get picked up. I saw people being tended to by medics and loaded into ambulances. But I kept on going. Yeah, it was hot and my feet hurt and my back hurt, but it was nice. I was by myself a lot and I had plenty of time to think about what I was doing. Of course, I also kept thinking, "How many more @#)($*#@)*#@$ hills can there be?!" I made it to the last rest stop and stayed there for about 30 minutes, eating a granola bar and drinking water. I got back on my bike fully expecting that the last 10 miles would fly by, but I was very wrong. There were more hills! More traffic! It was neverending. The best part? Fatty rode past me and said, "We're almost there!" It was just the encouragement I needed to get me through to the end. Of course, he had done the 100 miles in the time it took me to do 45 miles, but that's ok! The funniest thing was when I got into a little group right outside the college. We were all coasting down a hill and expecting to cruise through the intersection and make our way to the finish line, but we got stuck at a traffic light. What a momentum killer.

So I rode across the finish line by myself. Honestly, it was a little sad to not have anyone there to cheer our arrival. People clapped and cheered for everyone crossing, but it means a little more if you know the people cheering for you. Still, I was very happy to be finished and I was proud of myself. Alyssa texted me to let me know she was about 20 miles out, so I knew I had enough time to drop off my bike at the car and actually move the car closer so Alyssa wouldn't have as far to go to get to it when she finished. After that, I headed back to the finish line to wait for her to cross.

The finish

I had sent Alyssa a text message to let me know when she was about 10 miles out so I would be ready to take her picture as she came into the chute. Well, she didn't get that message, so while I was taking a picture of myself, she yelled out my name as she came into the cute. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the camera turned around in time, so I missed documenting that moment. I felt awful about it.

She was fine with it, though, because she was so psyched.

Does she look like she just rode 70 miles?!

Actually, we both look pretty good, all things considered

My sign

Full bodied spandex, y'all!"


You know, I just want to say that I'm sorry I didn't make it to 100 miles, or even 70 miles. It wasn't for a lack of trying, but I feel badly that I couldn't make it. Hopefully I'll be better next year! Yes, next year. We were already talking about next year when we were driving home. Will you join us? We promise it's fun. Heck, even if you don't want to run or ride, maybe you can just be there to cheer us on at the finish line. That'd be nice.

Again, thank you. Thank you so much for your love, support, humor, and donations. We couldn't have done it without you and we are so blessed to know you all.

Oh, and thanks for following this blog.

The Real Wrap-up, Part I

I know - it's been over a week since we finished the Challenge. I wasn't sure where to begin, so I'll just start writing and see where it goes.

After dropping off Bea for a sleepover with friends - thanks, Katie & Jon - we headed up to our hotel in Plymouth Meeting, PA. We checked in and dropped off our bikes and stuff in the room, then took off to pick up our packets at the Montgomery County Community College campus.

Alyssa's stuff


We got to the LIVESTRONG Village to pick up our stuff and found it was unbelievably muddy. A major storm had gone through the night before, so the grassy area where the village was set up was pretty much a mud pit. It made walking around and looking at stuff less than ideal, so we decided to just pick up our packets. Because of the generosity of you all, Alyssa and I received many incentive gifts and, cooler than that, many cheers and much applause from the volunteers when they announced the amount of money we raised. It was very cool. We both received the same things: a t-shirt, hat, water bottle, cycling jersey, messenger bag, and tickets to the participant appreciation dinner that night in Chester, PA at Turbine Hall.

The appreciation dinner was very nice. It started with a cocktail hour, which was mostly awkward for us because we didn't know anyone else there. However, as I was standing and eating some very garlicky hummus, I noticed that Fatty of Fat Cyclist was chatting with some people right behind Alyssa. When I alerted her to this, Alyssa got very excited. I was pretty sure she'd be so nervous that she wouldn't actually say anything to Fatty, but she did! She introduced us to Fatty and he was lovely. He asked if we were part of a team, so we told him we were a small team of four called Team Athena. We told him we might join Team Fatty next year, but this year Alyssa wanted to design a jersey. He asked us what the jerseys looked like, so Alyssa told him and he said he'd be on the lookout for us on Sunday. We only talked for a few minutes, but it was probably the highlight of the night. Well, that's not true - the highlight was hearing Fatty's speech that he gave at the dinner. It was funny, touching, and the best speech of the night.

Turbine Hall

My giant plate of food

We ended up sitting at a table with a very lovely couple. I don't remember their names, but the husband was himself a cancer survivor who does work with a low-cost/free legal clinic for cancer patients in Philadelphia. He participates in the Challenge, but he said he was actually at the dinner because his organization is a beneficiary of the grants that the Lance Armstrong Foundation doles out to organizations. It was really cool to actually talk to someone who benefits from the foundation. He told us stories of the people who come to the clinic seeking legal advice because they're afraid of being fired from their jobs for being diagnosed with cancer. He also told us that much of his work involves estate planning and wills. What a great resource.

After the dinner, we swung by the other half of Team Athena's hotel so Alyssa could drop off Kim & Judy's jerseys. After that, we went back to the hotel and got in bed. We were asleep by 11:30PM. That was good because we had to be up by 4:45AM in order to get dressed, eat, and get to the Challenge on time. Last year the traffic was horrendous getting to the campus, so we made sure this time around that we were on the road by 5:30AM. We got there around 6:15AM and sat in the car for a bit, just finishing up our breakfast of bagels and oatmeal and relishing the final few minutes of calm. Then it was time to get out of the car and start getting ourselves ready to head to the start.

Taking down the bikes

More than a little nervous

To be continued...