The following is a combination of what I posted on my personal FB page after I returned from the Burlington Ride and also what I sent as an email to the incredible people who’s names are on my bike and donated to the ride. I’ve also added a few more details. This isn’t easy, folks.
This past weekend was the BIG day, the culmination of all the months training, advocating, and fundraising. I was ready, excited and a little scared to ride 100 miles with 238 other cyclists in Burlington, Vermont, all of whom were there to support and further the fight against T1D.
So what happened?During my training rides, I often had the song “Eye of The Tiger” stuck in my head when things got tough. Never by choice, it would just pop into my head. Many people don’t realize though, in the movie Rocky, Rocky Balboa did NOT win in his fight against Apollo. He lost, but the “win” for him was that he went the distance. I did NOT finish the distance in Burlington this weekend, at least not in the way I thought I would. I didn’t even come close to my mental image of victory. After all the training, it was absolutely crushing to realize I was getting my butt kicked by T1D, AT the actual Ride to CURE T1D.I had the perfect storm of diabetes fails brewing as I got my feet clipped into my pedals Saturday morning. At the dinner the night before Ride day, my buddy Brian did an fantastic presentation that managed to tie together The Ride program, his childhood with T1D, 19th Century Whaling (yep) and our AP Trial experience. As he had us all laughing and I finished my well carb counted dinner, I realized I was going low. WHAT? I’d been running on the higher side for days. Nothing had been working and then AFTER I’d finished the meal, that was when I was going low? Are you kidding me? The details are simply annoying, but I had a very stubborn low. Like would-not-go-away, lingering jerk low. Too much food in this belly does not end well. Needless to say I got up super early Ride morning to try to rehydrate as much as I could. I didn’t feel great but I would be DAMNED if I wasn’t riding. I started distance ride routine. Reduce basal by 50% one hour before I start pedaling, bolus for 50% of breakfast.
Adrenaline kicked in, I was going up and needed to pedal. When we finally got going, (we started on an uphill) I was ready for my BG to balance out. The hill would help. Nope. I knew I was in trouble before I reached the first rest stop. I was checking my Dexcom, and not where I wanted to be at all, but was convinced I could fix the situation. Regrettably, I could not. I can not put into words how completely and utterly crushing it was to accept I wasn’t going to jump out of the ambulance, hop on my bike, and catch-up to my teammates.
Sounds awful right? Yet my 3 days in Burlington were absolutely magical. Mike Clark, the National Ride coach told us the weekend would be life changing. He was right. NOTHING went as I’d planned on Ride day, nothing, but my unimaginable day was filled with incredible inspiration and love from my fellow cyclists, the team that runs the JDRF Ride program, the wonderful coaches, the families of the cyclists, people who are not connected to T1D but decided to join Ride (I LOVE those people so damn much), the medical staff who takes care of the riders (they know me VERY well), and the awesomeness known as “the Bike Room”.
Things didn’t get back to normal for me physically for the rest of the day despite everyone’s best efforts (I rode wearing 2 pump sites. One turned out to be a fail, and I ended up taking shots throughout the day too). I made enough progress to get the green light to meet my sister a mile from the end of the course, so we could cross the finish line together. When I finally returned to the hotel, despite keeping my chin up almost the entire day, the enormity of not obtaining my goal hit me like a ton of bricks. How could I possibly have clocked more miles on my very FIRST training ride in March when I didn’t even know how to switch gears, then I did on the BIG day, 3 months later?
At the banquet Saturday night, I could not have been more shocked as I listened to Mike describe this year’s Spirit Award winner, and although completely confused, I looked at my sister nodding and realized he was talking about me. I was the girl people had followed through her training highs and lows, I was the girl with a bike decorated with all her donor’s names, I was the girl who kept riding her bike in the bike room, unwilling to leave because I wanted to learn more. All of the ride coaches unanimously voted me for the award. What felt like defeat, turned into triumph. Honored seems like such a small word to describe how I felt then, and feel now.
One of my cycling buddies wrote the following on Facebook after I explained what happened,
“Just to add a bit more perspective for those who weren’t there…it’s not like Alecia just couldn’t finish the 100 because of T1D. She had severe T1D complications that involved getting paramedics called to administer an IV and so on. And, against medical advice, Alecia went on to the break points along the route to cheer on her friends to help us finish the ride. When I saw her at the 70 mile point with a big gauze covered hand I had this image of her yanking the IV out and running back to join us. The Crankees (NY JDRF team) could not be more lucky to have such a teammate. The reason we fight this fight is because T1D can be an extremely serious, life threatening condition and even in the face of just that *on* ride day Alecia fought on and won–the spirit award and the admiration of over 300 people in the room last night.”
There are more rounds for me, and everyone with T1D in this fight, and a century ride to be completed in my NEAR future. For right now, I am embraced by the incredible love of my family and that includes my JDRF Ride family.
Over $900,000 was raised by JDRF Burlington Riders this weekend to fight T1D. Thank you for your love and generosity. On Tuesday I went to my lunch time spin class. I’m back in the saddle (well spin is actually a lot of out-of-the-saddle). I think I need a little “me” time this week, but life is to be lived and I remain a fighter.