Monday, November 14, 2016

BLOODWISE LONDON TO PARIS RIDE 2016.......I DID IT....

It all started 11 months ago when I foolishly signed up for the 2016 London to Paris 500 km bike ride with the blood cancer charity BLOODWISE to take place September 15-18, 2016.

We were the lead group heading to the finish line......(cobblestones are uncomfortable to bike over.....)
That's a long time to prepare and a chance to overcome each obstacle and convince myself it was possible for me to do.

I told myself I could only do it if certain things were in place to make me look and feel the part of a cyclist: custom painted bicycle with my "blood" red color and my motto "Be Brave Love Life," a cool Kask Helmet in the USA flag version, cycling sunglasses from Oakley with prism lenses and margarita flavored gel bloks with extra sodium in case I sweated too much.

Then the next hard part was getting on the bike and riding it- putting in the miles. My balance after the chemo hasn't been so good, along with loss of feeling in hands and feet while riding-made this more challenging.

The challenge of learning how to ride in traffic, picking myself up after a fall, and then three weeks before the ride, switching to clip-in shoes to use the power that I had built up and confirmed after my bike fit with Ben. (He complimented my long femurs which would make me a better cyclist.) 

So the 11 months went by and I prepared as best I could, nervousness crept in and laid itself just below the surface as the day to stand on the start line at Eltham Palace approached. 

There were almost 200 riders on the starting line but we were a team of friends united for the cause on the starting line.


Smiling before we realized what the day would entail.....
The awesome Ride Captains
The Be Brave Love Life Team: 
Peter, husband, my #1 supporter, a man who loves Lycra, he loves to cycle, he loves to talk and makes many friends 
Eileen, friend, St. Bonaventure University roommate, nurse and researcher, fantastic laugh, never gives up, made the journey from New York to support me and the cause
Aaron, friend, CFO for IKEA UK and Ireland, cycled in his youth, Australian, thoughtful and funny, a natural cyclist
Iannick- friend, very tall (an advantage when cycling), Canadian, has a funny sense of humor, strong rider to give that extra push to anyone who needs it


Eileen, Aaron, Iannick, Peter and I at the starting line at Eltham Palace.
Day 1 London to Calais
Early start, taxis with bicycles and luggage, nervous, nervous, tired, nervous, still naive!

Hills, hills, traffic, cursed by British drivers, heat, heat, ride captains, a story to tell, the last hill, the van, being in the "slowcial group" the ferry, hotels and bus problems, worry of crashing, losing feeling in hands and legs, seemingly relentless pace. 
Bikes -front wheel fit in taxi
Look ma, no hands
British countryside....
Helping hand up those dang hills.....
Day 1(according to Strava)
Data from Day 1: Cycled 115 km in 5:30 hours, total elevation 1,208 meters, 2,267 calories burned, average speed of 21 km per hour, maximum speed 52,2 km (holy crap)

Day 2 Calais to Abbeville 
Woke up early not feeling too bad thanks to the compression pants that saved me. Little did I know that today would be the ultimate MENTAL and PHYSICAL challenge. 
It was colder, raining, (I had only been a fair weather trainer), hills, hills, awesome ride captains, frustrations, by lunchtime- I was quite near to a mental break down, faster groups were already relaxing. Near exhaustion, physical fatigue and mental frustration- forces me to the van for part of the day- glad for that experience and chance to rest both the mental and physical me. Another perspective!!!


Another little hill.....early in the day...
I recommend resting in the van when necessary.


Another hill...in the beautiful French countryside.
Rejoin the group for the last 40 km in the pouring rain. For the last two hours I see nothing but the wheel of the biker ahead of me, tense in the entire body, wet like never before, wondered many times and why the heck I had signed up for this. Self-inflicted torture is not my usual modus operandi. 


Only Peter smiles in the rain!

Aaron and Iannick at the rest stop
The little French towns were very picturesque (when I could look around)
Eileen the determined one!!!!!
Before the rain.....


Pit stops in the middle of the French countryside included the ladies finding a hedgerow to hide behind as we emptied our bladder- not an easy or quick task- no vanity needed for this task. 

Felt good to finish- but no time to relish it as being the slow group and last to arrive, we had to hurry to the buses. I sat in my soaked clothes for about 45 minutes in the bus to the hotel on the Atlantic coast. Not so much energy left. Too tired to really think or appreciate what I had done that day. Ate dinner because I needed to and then it was off to bed and hoping that the 6 hours sleep would feel like 10 hours in the morning. Sleeping with compression pants was a saving grace.


Data from Day 2: Cycled 139 km in 6:44 hours, total elevation 1,487 meters, 2,809 calories burned, average speed of 21 km per hour

Day 3 Abbeville to Beauvais 

It was still cold but just drizzle and not pouring rain. Hills, I suck at hills, especially when I have to do hill after hill and no time to catch my breath- the amazing ride captains. I love ride captains (my saviours) and they showed up with a helping hand every time I needed it.

Arrived to Beauvais and we were welcomed by the town mayor - that was the first time I could breathe out and feel good and enjoy and look around a little bit. 
I think this was the day with the frolicking cows in the field- an amazing sight. 

Lunch time day 3.....

Bus to hotel at end of day 3.

Our recpetion at the end of day 3 at the local fire house with the mayor!
THIS. GROUP.
Also an amazing sight is the line of 200 riders dressed in the same kit, sweating, pedaling up and down each hill and all cycling for the same cause- TO BEAT BLOOD CANCER.

Day 3
Data from Day 3: Cycled 119 km in 5:56 hours, total elevation 955 meters, 1,947 calories burned, average speed of 20 km per hour

Day 4 Beauvais to Paris 
It's the last day, still apprehension on my part, the end in sight. I have determination. Peter and company ride with me and give the moral support that was so needed, that extra support with a hand on my back was an unspoken signal that they care and were there for me. Forever humbled by their actions.

The kit for the ride into Paris. LAST DAY!!!!!
Our team and some others had matching socks.....

A bike path just outside of the city center.

The Be Brave Love Life team just before the last 25 km into Paris.
Just outside Paris, we regroup and will all ride the last 25 km together. No stopping allowed because the motorcycle outriders close the roads and guard each intersection and the schedule can't be altered in any way. This makes me nervous and puts the pressure on me to keep cycling even though I can't feel my feet or hands at times.

At every regrouping during the 4 days- the command (suggestion and helpful hint) from the ride captains was "all slower riders get in the front" yep, they were talking to me!

So at the last regrouping, I was at the front with Peter, Aaron, Eileen, Iannick, Louise, Mo and Allan. We rode in together and they helped me keep up with a gentle hand on my back when it was needed. It was an exhilarating, exhausting and emotional feeling as we rode up the Champs Elysses, got bumped up and down over the cobblestones past the Arc de Triumph and rode past the Eiffel Tower to the finish line which I crossed first. I was almost last at every other pit stop during the 4 day ride. 

It was a dream to finish and to survive in one piece. The hardest thing I have ever done. 






Day 4
Data from Day 4: Cycled 103 km in 4:52 hours, total elevation 946 meters, 1,831 calories burned, average speed of 21 km per hour, max speed 51 km

During the 4 days there was a photographer and video crew on hand to record this event for posterity and to raise additional funds for this amazing charity. All the fantastic professional pictures taken here are by Digi Dave Hayward Photos.

This year's song was "Can't stop this feeling" by Justin Timberlake. I even got a "part" in the video at the 1:40 mark. This is a must see video: click here.


Finish line celebrations!

That's me.

Those medals look good!

The Medic and I

Happy and delirious



All for a good cause!


FINISH LINE CONCLUSIONS
A personal challenge for me. 
Only possible with the support of friends, family, the ride captains, support crew. 
I am only able to do it because I received chemotherapy at the right time two years ago and it worked. All thanks to cancer research made possible by the Bloodwise charity and their focus to beat blood cancer. 
So even though I was torturing myself- I was earning the money that so many have generously donated to my BLOODWISE page- knowing first hand that every penny counts.


Two years in remission have been a struggle.

Do I love cycling? No. (It still scares the shit out of me.)
Do I like cycling? Yes. (I proved to myself that I could overcome so many obstacles.)
Would I do it again? Not sure yet (I did enjoy immensely the personal interaction with the other riders, ride captains and support crew and the amazing French fresh pain riche with cheese on Day 3 lunch.)


So I kindly thank all those that have donated to this worthy cause!!!
And I kindly ask those of you who haven't yet donated to do so- for me and for the cause (and because Aaron and I are having a little friendly competition on who can raise the most and I want to win....) (we are at just over £8,000 and would be overjoyed to break the £10,000 mark with your help)


Here is the link to my page: Teresa's London to Paris    


PLEASE DONATE TODAY(hint, hint, hint)

Here is the link to our BeBraveLoveLife team



LOVE TO YOU ALL. 
THANKS FOR THE SUPPORT. 
HILLS. TRAINING. 
CHALLENGE. FUCK CANCER. 
BEAT BLOOD CANCER. REMISSION. 
TEAM. LOVE. FRIENDS. 
A GOOD CAUSE.




Monday, August 22, 2016

London to Paris with BLOODWISE

August 22, 2016

Yes, it's been a long time since I posted. I miss Sophie each and every day. I have come out of the clouds and fog of chemo a little bit. Those darn side effects have just made getting back to normal that much harder - which means that how I am now is the new normal. It has taken me a while to realize this.



Sophie is on the ride with me.

So the past months I have been learning what the new me is capable of....(still a work in progress)

On September 15, 2016 at 8 am, I will join 249 other riders at Eltham Palace and start the four day journey by bicycle to the Eiffel Tower in Paris to support the blood cancer charity called BLOODWISE.  It is 300 miles (500 km) from London to Paris. My husband did it in my honor last year and this year he will join me and 4 other friends so we can all do it together. (and raise that much more money to help fund research for life-saving treatments....which saved my life)



Training for this ride has been hard because I don't really like cycling. I am scared of falling, being clipped in, going to fast, losing control, being hit by a car, seeing the potholes and avoiding them, making it up the hill without walking, getting used to contact lenses, fitting into the bike kit, drinking from the water bottle while I am moving.......the list could go on forever.


But, I signed up for it and I need to do it to prove to myself that the new normal will be good enough.

#IAMBLOODWISE

I told myself that if I got my bike custom painted that I could do it. I am so pleased with the job that Cole Coatings Workshop did on my bike. It gives me confidence and makes me feel good. My conditioning has come a long way since I started riding in April, its not perfect but it will get me through - if only for the reason that I never give up and my mental strength got me through cancer. (Along with all my friends and family too)

Training has been in London and in Sweden. Slow, but steady progress, overcoming or conquering some of my fears along the way.


The best and coolest sunglasses were compliments of Michelle, Zulma. Mairead and Cris.  Thanks Girls!

Cycling in Sweden with rental bike. The Views...
My partner in this crazy adventure called LIFE.

Not only did I get my bike custom painted, I got a really cool Kask American flag helmet and some new Shimano shoes. If I look the part, it should be easier...right?



So in the next 24 days there is a lot of other stuff going on and I need to make sure that I focus on the ride......as much as I can
10 days until the two youngest start school
15 days until my parents arrive to watch the kids while we ride
17 days until my oldest son starts at university and moves out.....
21 days until my two youngest go on their week long class trips somewhere in England
22 days until my college roommate arrives from New York to join in on the bike ride
24 days until we stand at the starting line....



All this is going to Paris.

Nervous but excited. Scared but hopeful. Determined.

Please consider supporting my ride by clicking on this Justgiving link. I get energy from each donation and it helps to fund this life saving research for blood cancer.

LOVE YOU ALL. BRAVE. DETERMINED. LONDON. TO. PARIS. 








Wednesday, December 16, 2015

My Best Friend has passed away xxx

R.I. P. Kullaholm's Padme´ a.k.a SOPHIE 

Today I lost my best friend. She knew me like no other. She sniffed out my cancer. She was my sounding board. She was always there for me and made me happy when I was sad. Life will never be the same. I am so lucky to have known her. She brought happiness to everyone she met. She is gone too soon.



Here is her tribute:
Born in Motala, Sweden on April 8, 2009. She was the prettiest girl in her pedigree litter of 9. Her parents were champions like her grandparents and great grandparents. She had 3 sisters and 5 brothers. There names are Aayla Secura, Amidala, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princessan Leia and Yoda.

Those beautiful eyes.

Eric and Sophie

First visit to meet the puppies
At 8 weeks old, she left her brothers and sisters in Motala and got three new brothers: Kevin, Marcus and Eric. Just from the drive home to our house we knew she was something special. After 2 days, she learned to do her necessary business outside and made sure it wasn't even on our property. Good Girl!

Her younger days were spent playing hide and seek inside with the boys. Outside, she loved smelling everything, running in the park and playing with other dogs in the neighborhood. Her first summer was spent hiking in the North of Sweden and Norway. She totally loved drinking and running in the fresh mountain water springs. She loved running and playing with Peter in the wooded jogging trails around Stockholm.

Northern Sweden on a hike in the mountains
First Family Picture July 2009

When school started in the fall, she knew the routine of walking the boys to school each morning. The amount of groupies she had at school was amazing. There was always a large crowd petting her and saying hi each morning. She spread joy wherever she went - easily done when her tail was always wagging non-stop.

Her shiny black Labrador coat was one of her trademark features along with her sweet expressive face, especially her eyes.

Kevin was the one who taught her all her tricks. He had a special connection with Sophie. Marcus let Sophie onto his bed so they could cuddle and he always gave her big hugs. Eric and Sophie were always looking out for each other. She was very protective of him.

She was a traveling dog and loved to explore new places. She had many adventures in  Wales, Dover, Camber Sands, Canterbury, France, Holland, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Cliff of Dover
Sophie and Domino frolicking in the English Channel

Sophie and the Boys- Camber Sands


My girl

Eighteen months ago she moved to England with us. This is where her pedigree grandparents were from - so it was like coming home. She didn't like all the new noises here in the big city but she adapted and made new friends.


Domino and Sophie
Her qualities included the following:
  • Constantly tail-wagging with happiness
  • Happy Facial expressions
  • Unconditional love
  • Bi-lingual in Swedish and English
  • Great listener
  • Loyal
  • Generous
  • Smart and Wise
  • Caring
  • Best-friend
  • Young at heart with eyes that spoke to your soul
  • Tolerant
  • Beautiful
  • Loved life. Enjoyed every moment. All in, all the time.
  • Mediator
  • Amazing Frisbee catching skills
  • Honest
  • Expressive eye-brows
  • Friend to all she met
  • Squirrel chaser 

She did all the things on her bucket list:

Swim in the English Channel (or just dip my paws in) - October 2015
Swim in the Thames (definitely just dip my paws in) - October 2015
Eat popcorn- almost every day in November and December 2015
Run in Hyde Park- September 2015
Catch the squirrel in the park - very close on several occasions
Sleep in Mommy’s bed - First two weeks of December 2015
Family portraits - October 2015
Get lucky with getting my favorite table food (cheese, chicken, fish) every day....



Sophie and Kevin
Marcus and Sophie

Eric and Sophie
Sophie and Peter






In her last few months, her tail wagged a little less, although her spirit remained high, her limp became more painful and she ate gourmet food quite often. (Some of her favorites were popcorn, fresh salmon, chicken, fillet mignon, pizza and cheese.)

She passed away peacefully in our arms. We were lucky to have known her and share in all her adventures. She has brought joy to everyone she met.


She is survived by Teresa, Peter, Kevin, Marcus, Eric and too many friends and relatives to count. Her spirit will live on if we all live each day like she did: greet everyone you meet enthusiastically and show your unconditional love each and every day to each other. 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

PS. I am lucky to have had her in my life. The hole in my heart will never heal. The ache can only dull slightly with the passing of time. The joy she has given me is a once in a lifetime gift from a best friend. She was Brave and she Loved Life. ///Teresa




GRATEFUL. BEST FRIEND. SOPHIE. 
BEST DOG EVER. LOVED. REST IN PEACE.