Last night I talked to Bob and Kate. I didn’t get to hear from Carl other than to get some push back on a text he sent to me about his ice cream cone. (I had commented that his ice cream cone in the group photo looked pretty wimpy at their Peace and Love Ice Cream fest on Sunday). And, so, my assessment is that it’s time for us to rally this group. They are moving into the “determination zone” now. They didn’t tell me as much but I could hear it.
Bob and I have, for those of you who know us, done plenty of endurance things. Who suggested backpacking with 40 pound packs for our 20th wedding anniversary? Yep, we did that and it was fun, and yep, I was the one who suggested it. I think Bob was excited that a woman would suggest something like this for a big anniversary event. Who ran in 8 marathons? Yep, Bob did. Who ran in 3 half marathons in 3 months lugging a neck of thyroid cancer a few months ago? Yep, I did that this fall and winter and finished a 4th event between my cancer surgery and my radiation. Who rode 100 miles in Savannah with Carl last September less than a year after his transplant? Well, no names needed here. And, so the list of things like that goes on and on. I mention all that, not so you think we are crazy or hard asses but that we tend to do stuff like that. And so, my point is to say that in last night’s conversation, I could hear that they are reaching the hard section of this ride. The determination zone. I’ve been there and I could sense it.
It’s not that they are wearing down, in fact, I got a text photo yesterday and had to look twice because Kate’s legs were looking so muscular that I almost thought it was someone else. It’s not that the route is getting any hillier. No, it’s the same coastal flats except for some nasty head winds. The issue, instead, is that the exuberance of the first 600 miles (can you believe that far?) is over and they are coming to grips with just how much more they have to go. A long, long, really long, way.
Darn, it, too, for those early colonists who mapped out teeny weeny tiny states way up north and huge expansive ones in the south. The riders enjoy clicking off the states like putting tick marks up to show achievement. Recently, in one day, they rode through 3. The really teensy ones around Maryland. And now, they are in the Carolinas and will soon be in Georgia. Bigger, former agrarian colonies that go on and on. And, then, the last third of the ride, the last 600 miles, is entirely Florida. Long, touristy, Florida with the Gators and the Mice and the Retired and the Cubans.
I know that our riders are holding up well and are into a routine but can only imagine the little voices they have to push back at mile 70 each day. Bone tired at 6 PM with laundry to do, email to read, weather to check, routes to cross check, and some modicum of sleep to catch. Knowing that tomorrow starts all over again with both a new adventure and a mind numbing similarity to the previous days routine. The determination zone. You may have entered it yourself in something you’ve done and know it all too well.
This point now along the ride reminds me of when Bob, the hard ass that he really is, was doing his chemo in 2009. It was this same mindset that got him through one round of chemo after another. Waves and waves of hospital stays, changing of chest port dressings, bottles and bottles of chemicals, aka drugs, that had unpronounceable names. Blood counts dropping to zero with every round of the poison/antidote/chemo and knowing that it was a life and death battle every step of the way. Red counts so low that taking a shower required 20 minutes of laying in bed to catch his breath. White counts so low that he could even catch an infection from the bacteria in his own gut. But, he held steady, keeping an eye on the outcome, pushing the demons back that whisper when things look grim. Me, as the care giver, sleeping with one eye open to see that he was still there haunted by the worry that I might have not cleaned everything to get the last germ gone. That I had not baked enough cakes for the nurses to be sure they loved having him on the 6th floor of the E wing at Emory Hospital. Watching for spikes in temperature; having the doctors on speed dial. The determination zone. We were in it and in it deep.
No doubt that was good training for this long ride. Who knows what lessons we each learn from life challenges and carry with us forever?
For now, it’s your turn to get busy. Be sure to send them well wishes. This is a fun and celebratory event. They are having a great time. But, they are getting weary; I could hear it in the voices last night. Help out. Spread the word. Send people to the website. Flood them with hellos and comments, and atta boys (and atta girls for Kate). No doubt you will be their tailwinds for the grind through the determination zone until mid Florida. Then, it will be “all down hill from there.”