Since 2015, I have challenged myself in a range of physical feats from Spartan Trifectas to Tougher Mudders, Ragnar Relays, Seaweeze half marathons, and soon my biggest one of all in July, the 500-mile Empire State Ride (#ESR20) for cancer research. I wouldn’t have the courage to do them if it weren’t for the support of friends, family, volunteers, and donors.
Physicality is a crucial aspect of training and performance, BUT never underestimate the power of positive mentality. Even though I trained hard, I wasn’t the strongest or the fittest in any of the races I have done. I cannot control those factors for a variety of reasons. Instead, I turn to what I can control, my mental focus, and attitude.
I repeatedly say to myself while training and during events that I am my only competitor. I never look at courses in advance in detail. I read about what a course consists of to help me train properly, but that’s it. I rather face the challenges at the moment and not give in to potential thoughts of psyching myself out.
Also, I don’t believe that mental strength is a solo accomplishment. Think of all of the times you mentally call upon living or deceased family member(s) or friend(s) to help pull you through a situation.
What about the influence of volunteers? A volunteer cheering for you along a race route can have a powerful effect on lifting your energy level and your mental spirit. That is one of many reasons why I have gratitude for event volunteers. When you travel solo and do races, a volunteer’s physical presence and encouraging words can have a significant impact on your success by helping refocus your mindset when you start to feel drained!
Then there are donors, who play a key role in fundraising events. Whether it’s in the form of money for the charity or goods from a company. Each time I receive a donation from a person or business, no matter how small or large, I am grateful. It makes me feel like the person or company believes in me!
The moment of clarity about the power of support by others came to me during a peaceful training ride this past Sunday while I was “talking with” a friend who recently crossed from living to deceased.
I received word nearly two months ago that my friend Beth, battling breast cancer for the second time, was moving to California at the end of February to be with her daughter. I spoke with Beth, and the last thing she said to me was wow, about the 500-mile ride, and that once she is back on her feet, I have to come to visit her in California. But two weeks later, on March 13, she passed away. Beth was super kind and spunky with an F cancer attitude. If anyone was going to beat cancer, I thought it would be her.
Three days after Beth’s death, my friend Maureen, Beth’s best friend, contacted me to say she had a healing stone for me with a guardian angel on one side and Beth’s thumbprint on the other. Maureen explained to me that hospital volunteers helped Beth to make them. The healing stone came in a small powder blue drawstring pouch.
I immediately went home and attached the pouch to the front of my bike handlebars. Each time before I do a training ride, I say, are you ready, Beth? Let’s do this!!! Some of my training days go better than others, but I always know and feel that Beth is with me, nudging me on.
The Empire State Ride benefits cancer research at a time when funding is needed more than ever to help those battling all forms of cancer. The pandemic significantly increases cancer patients’ vulnerability to losing their fight.
I have a lot more physical training ahead of me for the ESR, but I know from the past, that with positive mental focus drawn from the support of others I can do it! Especially with Beth riding my handlebars and steering me along the way!
If you would like to make a contribution on #GIVEFROMHOMEDAY to the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation, and help me reach my goal of raising $3,500, please click on the link to my donation page. THANK YOU
Shout-Out to My Supporters:
Thank you to each of my Empire State Ride donors, especially those who gave during the pandemic financial crash. Also, recognition to Terry Bicycles, particularly Lisa and Camarin, who have generously helped me to get the quality and safe cycling gear that I need.
Alicia Zimmerman Kenney